Tim's June 2017Checkpoints Class News Article

HELLO ’68!! It’s that time of year, again! Freshly minted 2nd lieutenants from the Class of 2017 are about to toss their hats into the air and join our ranks on the Long Blue Line. Congratulations and best wishes to one and all for clear, spacious skies and fair winds from USAFA’s great Class of 1968!

                                      “Two of USAFA’s Finest. L-R: Generals Ed Eberhart and Charlie Holland"

On April 7th, in a packed USAFA O’Club (now known as the Falcon Club), Superintendent, Lt Gen Michelle Johnson, welcomed returning alumni and their entourages to the 63rd anniversary of the founding of our alma mater. It was a first class effort from beginning to end with choral tributes to the nation; video presentations of USAFA life; and video interviews of the four distinguished graduates for 2016—Gen George Lee Butler-USAFA ’61, Mr. R. David Yost-USAFA ’69, Col Gary Payton-USAFA ’71, and our own Gen Charlie Holland. Colonel Gary Howe-USAFA ’69, did an outstanding job as master of ceremonies by keeping us all in stiches with his comedic and witty quips throughout the evening. As mentioned in my last column, Charlie joins Ed Eberhart as the second member of our class to be honored as a USAFA DG.

Charlie was joined by his wife, Nancy, and his two sons Lt Col Chuck Holland-USAFA ’99 and Justin Holland, a millennial MIT grad. In addition to Charlie and Ed, classmates who attended the awards dinner were: Dave Barrs, Jim DeFazio, Bob Denny, Garry Dudley, Bill Eckert, Carl Janssen, Bill Maywhort, Jim Neu, Dale Oderman, Gene Rose, Vince Rusinak, Ben Stephens, Gary Vasek, Jim West, Doug Wilson, Bill Wood, Rhip Worrell, and your Scribe.

Our heartiest congratulations to Charlie and Ed for their distinguished service to our nation and USAFA!

Holiday greetings this year included a note from my Doolie roommate, Jim Parker. Jim is ensconced in Wisconsin and a life-long Green Bay Packers fan. He recently resigned his position as a Special Investigator with the FBI where he had been conducting security background investigations since retiring from the Bureau in 1998. He said he finally has more time for fishing, part-timing with the U.S. Marshals, substitute teaching, and playing bridge. Now, as a full-fledged retiree, he said: “Got to love the old Civil Service Retirement System, which gave me credit for all my AF time, including the Academy, on top of my FBI time.” Can anyone say “Sweet pension?!”

Jim’s wife, Janice retired from nursing and now fills her time with various volunteer activities, including serving hospice patients. They spent Christmas in Fresno visiting their oldest daughter, Anne, who is a major in the USAFR and is assigned to the AWACS unit at Tinker and get to visit their youngest daughter, Jen, from time-to-time, who lives in LA and works for RAND.

“Fun in the Sun at Old Colorado Springs Airport. L-R: Nancy Rusinak, Jeanne and Dave Allen, Barney and Sandy Mills, Bill Eckert, Gary and Nancy Vasek, Garry Hoffman, Ed and Peggy Leonard, Vince Rusinak, Garry and Tina Dudley, Neal                                                             and Sharon Starkey and Don and Barbara Caughlin"

‘68’S COLORADO LOCALS DO NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WWII AVIATION: With much appreciation to Vince Rusinak for passing this information along, Vince writes, “Eleven local 68ers and wives gathered together in March to tour the National Museum of WWII Aviation, which is near the old Colorado Springs Airport, with lunch afterwards at The Airport Restaurant. Our docent for the tour happened to be a Misty FAC and one of those responsible for the FAC memorial we contributed $10K of our class funds to build at our 40th reunion. The tour brought back more than memories of our Academy days studying about WWII and its aircraft. Our docent raved about the accuracy of the A-1 Skyraider. Don Caughlin happened to fly one in Vietnam and not only did he agree about the accuracy of the weapons, but he claimed that flight time was not limited by the fuel on board, but by the amount of oil it could carry!

There was a 1929 WACO Aircraft, similar to the one Dave and Jeannie Allen rebuilt and currently fly. Dave let us know that the name comes from Weaver Aircraft Company of Ohio and it’s not pronounced like the city in Texas, but rhymes with TACO!
Then we were shown a WWII aircraft being restored that is owned by Microsoft’s Paul Allen. This led to a lengthy discussion between Gary Hoffman, who used to work for Paul Allen, and the owner of the WWII museum. And finally, Neal Starkey had previously donated his father’s WWII memorabilia to the Museum and discovered that it was assembled by the Museum and was almost ready to be put out on the floor for display.

After the tour, we headed over to The Airplane Restaurant for lunch. This restaurant is built around an actual KC-97. Imagine eating lunch under the “starboard” wing of a KC-97…and having more than a box lunch to choose from!”

Vince opined that Mike Parkinson went on the tour, but could not stay for lunch due to a need to go home to “let out the dog.” Vince believes that “this was code for doing something else like when we were younger,” but, admittedly acknowledged that “Mike does have a dog.”

      “Classmates at Special Operations Banquet: L-R: Bill Drennan, Bob Durham, Charlie Holland, Scribe & Charlie                                                                                            Coolidge”

SCRIBE RECEIVES NATIONAL SPECIAL OPERATIONS AWARD: On 13 February 2017, at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict Division’s Annual Awards Banquet, your Scribe received the R. Lynn Rylander Award, the Division’s highest honor. A portion of the citation accompanying the award reads: “Colonel Davidson’s early years saw more than 120 AC-130 combat missions in Southeast Asia, followed later by his development of tactics and procedures for the then-new night vision goggles that have become signature capabilities of special operations aviation. He helped draft the legislation that created U.S. Special Operations Command and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. His impact is impossible to overstate. He authored the study documents on all Army and Air Force special operations aviation which established, funded, and formed the basis for their fore structure, and outlined their current U.S. basing arrangements.”

I was honored to have my family and classmates Charlie Coolidge, Bill Drennan, Bob Durham, and Charlie Holland join me for the banquet and award presentation.

THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS: We offer prayers for John Swanson in the recent passing of his wife, Lori. We also pray for others who are fighting the good fight. Please give them a call.

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. Note my new e-mail address above for future correspondence Ciao for now. Tim

                                                                  “Founders Day ’68 and ’69 Scribes’ Reunion”
Now, it’s your turn Lindsey!

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