Tim's June 2010 Checkpoints Class News Article

HELLO '68!! Is this a great country or what?! One political party wants to give me a stimulus check, the other wants to cut my taxes, and a whole bunch of neighbors carrying signs just invited me to tea! Could life get any better than this?!

FOUNDERS DAY WITH THE CHIEF: Whilst celebrations for the founding of our alma mater were occurring throughout Checkpoints Land this past April, your DC-based crew had the pleasure of joining our Chief of Staff and his bride, General Norty and Suzie Schwartz, at Maggiano's Restaurant in Tysons Corner, Virginia for a great meal and thoughtful presentation on the legacy of USAFA's Long Blue Line. After citing a host of graduates' honors and accomplishments in America, around the world, and outer space during the past 56 years, General Schwartz emphasized the need for our graduates to provide the wherewithal for our Academy to remain a top educational institution that produces Air Force officers of the highest moral character and integrity. He said we are lagging far behind our sister service academies in giving back to the institution that gave us our start in adult life and we need to come together as a graduate community to preserve the greatness of our Academy. In addition to formal proceedings, we had spirited conversations about politics, the wars in the "Great Sandbox," work, and grandchildren. All in all, it was a wonderful evening with dear classmates and friends.

Founders Day with the Chief: L-R: Ladies: Mary Gonda, Polly Seifert, Karen Eberhart, Suzie Schwartz, Karla Lamont, Bonnie Coolidge; Gentlemen: Scribe, John Gonda, Charlie Seifert, Ed Eberhart, Norty Schwartz (USAFA '73), Warren Lamont, and Charlie Coolidge.

BETTER-HALF NEWS: Greg Varhall was elated with the 15 March 2010 Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) News Release which reported: "Air Force Colonel Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Urrutia-Varhall is currently serving as the senior military assistant to the under secretary of defense (intelligence), Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence), Pentagon, Washington, D.C." To Greg and Linda, a very hearty '68 congratulations!

With the largest source of our class' information arriving at "chez Scribe" during the Holiday Season, I am digging deeper into the mailbag to bring you up-to-date on the comings and goings of our fellow '68ers.

From Hendersonville, NC, our favorite mayor, The Honorable H.T. Johnson, checked in with rhyme in mind. In his own words, "And Henry and Fair, well, another year's passed; we're starting to notice, they really go fast. As kids-Christmas Day, why it never would come; yet now it's upon us, didn't we just finish one? No matter our blessings, and challenges, too; our hearts are wide open, to your families and you." Within the poetry were happy notes about daughter Caroline who managed to stay busy in Hollywood in 2009. Her "gigs" included: a role with TNT in a series called "Dark Blue;" a role as a very happy consumer in a commercial with Ford Motor Company; and a role with HBO in a new series titled "Enlightened." Finally, H.T. mentioned that Fair is dealing with the effects of Parkinson's Disease and both of them are maintaining a positive attitude.

From Buffalo, NY, Dave Kozak writes that his wife, Vera, and he are enjoying his retirement from the airlines with the "busy-ness" of their lives now under their control. He also noted that much of the joy for 2009 was overshadowed by the loss of Dave's mother and former father-in-law (a WWII B-26 pilot).

"RK & Kathleen Brown In Stars and Stripes"

From Temple, TX, Rayford and Kathleen Brown write, "We had the joy of visiting friends and family in Colorado, Tennessee (where RK, a former Commandant, took part in the celebration of the last officer training class at the Knoxville Airport), Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma." They are grateful for the life they lead and are celebrating 10 years in the same abode. As Kathleen states, "it's the longest we have pitched our tent in one place during 26 years in the military, 18 years of retirement (for RK), and 41 years of marriage (to our first draft choices). RK continues to teach flying in and out of Civil Air Patrol while Kathleen seeks a job opening at the VA Medical Center. In addition, she is communicating with other music therapists about putting together programs for our soldiers and their families at Fort Hood.

Chiming in from Ann Arbor, MI, Ernie and Jo Houghton placed heavy emphasis on quality of life events with their two married daughters, Marcy and Shana, and their adorable grandchildren, Brodie and Colby. Highlights of 2009 included spending the holidays in Hawaii and relishing in family reunions with Ernie's mother and father, who are both in good health.

From Universal City, TX, Steve and Henrietta Polk sent holiday greetings from the Lone Star State. Their home places them in close proximity to their son, Hank, who works as an IT program manager at Randolph AFB; and their granddaughter, Teal, who is completing her senior year at Canyon City High School. As written in their note, "Steve continues to enjoy his board of directors' work with Sourcefire, Inc.; the Daedalian Foundation (where he presides as National Commander); and the AF Retiree Council (where he serves as the Council's Co-Chairman). He also teaches an occasional course for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is active in several community groups. Henrietta stays busy with reading, traveling, and looking after the house. She likes to spend time on Canyon Lake and on the Guadalupe River and even lets Steve play a round of golf."

"Mike and Fran Lawson Finally Pictured in Checkpoints"

After eluding class columns for more than 40 years, Mike and Fran Lawson surfaced long enough during the USAFA - San Diego State football game last fall to be ambushed by your friendly, special operations-rated, paparazzi scribe with camera at the ready and Carl Janssen's assistance to distract them while I snapped the photo. Not even the exploitive national gossip journals could have executed this coup so craftily. Many thanks to Carl, Mike, and Fran for playing along! For those, like me, who have not seen this couple for a while, Mike and Fran hang their hats in comfortable quarters in Stanton, IA. When asked, as in the Field of Dreams movie whether Iowa was like heaven, Mike opined, "It is pretty close."

THAT'S A WRAP: Mind the flak; keep 'em flying, and keep those cards, letters, e-mails, and photos coming in to Pat Russell and me. Please go to the Class Website to see photos included in this column in color and in full size by clicking on Scribe's Page. Ciao for now. Tim

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