Tim's September 2017 Checkpoints Class News Article

HELLO ’68!! In thinking about all the time that has gone by since we threw our hats into the air at Falcon Stadium, I thought it might be a good idea to have our Class President, Phil Pignataro, get our reminiscing going by catching us up on what he’s been doing since hanging up his Air Force blues.
                    “Our Class President and His Family.” L-R: Greg, Martha, Phil, and Taylor Pignataro

Phil writes, “My family and I left Maryland and the DC area in November, 1993 and moved to Chicago, which was the United Airlines domicile for the Airbus A320. I flew as a First Officer for three years then moved to the Boeing B-777. UAL used this aircraft mostly on international routes to London, Paris, Frankfort, Buenos Aires, and Sao Paulo. Again, after three years, I moved back, to the A320 but this time as a Captain.

I turned 60 in September, 2005 and had to leave United because of FAA age restrictions. However, I started flying a month later with NetJets, Inc. as a copilot on the Cessna Citation X. This job lasted two years, when I decided to spend more time at home with my teenaged sons. I still worked, though, part time as a barista for Starbucks, then Borders, and finally Barnes & Noble until 2015. These jobs gave me a greater appreciation for people in the food service industry - and tangentially, Flight Attendants.

Martha started working part-time as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Lake Shore Pediatrics in Barrington, IL, in 1996. She is still there and hopes to continue for a couple more years. This part time job and raising two boys while I was away flying kept her quite busy.

Our two sons, Greg and Taylor, were only 4 and 2 when we moved here. Shortly after getting settled in, Greg started playing soccer. Of course, his brother had to do the same. It was a pleasure to see them progress all the way through rec soccer, travel teams, high school, and finally, to college. They both went to Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. They played together at Carthage for two seasons which was especially enjoyable for us. Greg now works in the fund raising department at North Central College in Naperville, IL where he is also the assistant coach for their women’s soccer team. Taylor lives near downtown Chicago where he works selling software/website access to companies for OSHA compliance management. The company he works for is VelocityEHS.

Kids from my first marriage, Julie and Matt, are currently living out West in Colorado and Wyoming respectively. Matt enlisted in the Air Force in 1993 and worked his way up to Lt Col, where he currently serves as the Commander of the 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron, F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne. His previous assignments with the Security Forces took him to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and Afghanistan. One note here, following in his father’s footsteps, he also married an Air Force nurse. Carolyn is now a retired Lt Col and they have a son, AJ. My daughter, Julie, is a Program Manager at Ace Info Solutions, Inc., Fort Collins, Co. They are a government contractor providing IT support to various government agencies. She also has a son, Linden, who just turned four.

Fifty of anything is a big deal, so the 50th Anniversary of our graduation from the Academy is a significant milestone and it is just around the corner. Mike Parkinson, Gary Hoffman and their team have been diligently working to make our reunion a memorable one. From what I have seen, they are doing just that. Here’s your chance to share in a half-century of life-adventures of classmates, squadron mates, and teammates. I am confident there are some fantastic stories and tall-tales to be shared. It’s not too early to start making room on your calendar to be at the reunion on the weekend of 6 October 2018 when, as a bonus, the Falcons will take on the Navy.

Let’s live up to our unofficial motto of “68, we’re great” with record attendance. I look forward to seeing you there!”

                                                        “Joel and Lin Gordes Send Greetings”

I received a great update from Joel Gordes, along with news of his significant scientific recognition. Joel writes, “Gordo Lives! While I am retired, it is really semi-retired. Since I have been looking at cybersecurity issues for about 20 years now, I have been relatively busy in writing on this and developing long-term strategies with an all-hazards approach to keep the lights on. I see many instances where one strategy to make the grid safe from increased or more powerful storms may actually weaken overall security in other areas. We are too specialized!
Much of our training from USAFA stands me in good stead as many of the very basic military principles can be applied in this field. USAFA, itself, is doing great work in this area and has had a detailed article on it in a recent Checkpoints.

As a result of my work back here on cyber and many other studies, I was involved in for the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) and had an incredible surprise when they elected me to be an Honorary Member, the only one inducted this year. Consequently, I was asked to give a 90-second speech at the annual CASE meeting and dinner in May. Not bad for a Poli-Sci major! Now it’s back to the drawing board on what we have to do to make the grid safe from cyber as well all other hazards.”

THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS: We are deeply saddened by the loss of three of our classmates—Russ Schwengels, Jim Estes, and Stu Thomson.

Lt Col (Ret) Forrest V. "Russ" Schwengels, II, CS-03 passed away on 4 Apr 2017 in Oak Ridge, TN. He is survived by his wife, Joyce; their children, Dawn, Forrest (Chip), Matthew, Steven, and their spouses; his 12 grandchildren; his sister, Suzanne Schwengels; and brother, Paul Schwengels. A private graveside service with full military honors was held on Monday April 10, 2017, at East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery.

After a long battle with cancer, James Tyler Estes, Jr. passed away in Hawaii on 25 April 2017. At the Academy, Jim spent his first two years in First Squadron and his last two in Eleventh Squadron. He was buried in a private ceremony in Honolulu, HI.

Col (Ret) Stuart W. Thomson, CS-01, class of 1968, passed away on 22Apr 2017 at home in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. He is survived by his wife, Janis; their children, Christopher and Lauren. A celebration of his life was held at his home on May 6th complete with military honors.

Please keep Russ’, Jim’s, and Stu’s families and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.

Mind the flak; keep ‘em flying, and keep those cards, letters, e-mails, and photos coming in to Pat Russell and me. Ciao for now. Tim

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