FEBRUARY 2010 WEB COLUMN
“…But It’s a Really Good Story.”
George Luck was my roommate during First Class Summer (August 1959, following Summer Leave). He was Flight Commander, and I was Cadet Master Sergeant and led the flight while he spent weekdays on the firing range instructing the Class of 1963 in M-1s to guard against an attack from the Bolshevik hordes. George’s approach to training New Cadets was: “Emphasize aggressive training, skill and pride, versus sarcasm and ridicule.” For the backdrop to this riveting story which I am about to unfold, it’s important that we review George’s extensive academic preparations from 1948 through his graduation in 1960:
Wrightsville High School, Wrightsville, Georgia—1948-1950 (two years).
Georgia Military College, Milledgeville, Georgia--1950-1953 (three years--two
years high school, one year pre-engineering).
U.S. Military Academy—1953-1954 (one year).*
Georgia Tech—1954-1956 (two years--Co-op with General Electric).
U.S. Air Force Academy—1956-1960 (four years).
*(This provides background for that first-ever football game between USAFA and USMA in Yankee Stadium during the Fall of 1959—George marches in wearing ‘Army Grays’ with West Point’s Corp of Cadets, ditches that uniform when the Corps has assembled on the field, then proudly runs off while displaying his dazzling USAFA-Blues!)
George was a “Doolie” at West Point from 1953-4, and must have disliked that romantic French language—so much so, he flunked the course! And, those USMA guys--you know, the ones without any sense of humor--kicked him out (for a really interesting scenario describing the methodology under which that “kick out” occurred, ask George—firstname.lastname@example.org.) George’s roommate at West Point was Frank Willett, who, only two years before, had been booted from the US Naval Academy (Frank personally told me that “I am electronically challenged. I flunked out of the Naval Academy when I received the lowest grade ever achieved on the electricity laboratory exam. I only held this honor for a couple hours, as the next group taking the exam had a middie that touched his two live leads together and was carried out on a stretcher! His grade was lower than mine.”) R: Coincidentally, Frank just happens to live right here in Sarasota, only four miles from Karen and me.
In these photos portraying this ménage à roomie (literally: “Three Guys, Three Stories, Three Academies”) are (1) Frank and Rosie, (2) Frank and George, (3) George and Rosie….(we tried getting these “Brothers Three” together in one photo, but George’s flying activities in Lakeland February 3-7, Frank’s and wife Bunny’s departure for St. Croix February 7th, didn’t properly align our nearby planets and cause those cosmic tumblers to click into perfect formation). Q4U: How many service academy graduates had roommates at both USAFA and USMA, with their West Point roommate having also been roommate to a Midshipman at the US Naval Academy? A: In our exhaustive research, we found only one—George Elliott Luck.
Pause to Rewind. At this juncture, I’m reminded of the movie “Field of Dreams,” where James Earl Jones (Terrance Mann) asks Kevin Costner (Ray Kinsella): “Is this a really long story?” Costner (Ray) replies: “Yes, but, it’s a really GOOD story!”
Now, let’s add another dimension to George’s connection between USMA and USAFA: “When I reported to Third New Cadet Company in the South Area of West Point in the summer of 1953 for Beast Barracks as a Plebe in the Class of 1957, my Platoon Leader was Cadet First Class Joseph Yeager,” wrote George. “Joe was always ‘out front’ leading our platoon. He taught us the basics of drill, shining shoes, and military culture, and was the primary instructor of the entire class for bayonet training.”
Flash forward three years to 9 July 1956: “I am now reporting to Second Squadron for New Cadet Training with the Class of 1960 at the US Air Force Academy’s Interim Site at Lowry II,” wrote New Cadet George Luck. “My Flight Sergeant is Air Force First Lieutenant Joe Yeager, who graduated in USMA’s Class of 1954, attended Navigation Training and was now an ATO. Yeager appeared to recognize me, and looking at my highly-shined black cap-toed Stetson shoes (West Point issued), he studied my processing card hanging from my shirt, and in that strong Kentucky twang asked: ‘Mr. Luck—where have I seen you before?’ ‘Sir, in the Third New Cadet Company at the United States Military Academy.’ ‘That’s right—get your neck in. This time, you’ll get a real Plebe Year—I’ll personally see to it.’ In fact, Joe Yeager and I had a wonderful Cadet-ATO relationship, and continued our friendship throughout the future Air Force years.” (Joe Yeager died in Lexington, KY, 9 Sep 93).
On Sunday, February 7th, I drove up to Lakeland, FL and collected George at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, and he stayed with us in Sarasota until Wednesday, when I drove him to the Tampa Airport on the 10th (R: We showed George the best of Sarasota—waterside dining at the Crow’s Nest, Bay Front, Venice and Lido Key beaches, Barnacle Bill’s, Ritz-Carlton, Ringling Museum, Circus Lore, SILL lecture on China, Bentley-watching, St. Armand’s, my ‘30s-era DVDs of the Thin Man, Mr. Moto, Charlie Chan, Bulldog Drummond, Rogers/Astaire, others). However, here’s what Certified Flight Instructor Luck was doing in Lakeland: “For the past 12 years, I have been an ad hoc Flight Instructor for the Beechcraft Pilot Proficiency Program, Inc. This company is affiliated with the American Bonanza Society, and it promotes annual continuation ground and flight refresher training for twin-engine Baron and single-engine Bonanza airplane owners. I initially instructed them two weekends a year in California, but my assignments now include as many as six sessions in Tulsa, San Antonio, and Lakeland, FL. Typically, I fly with three customers—giving each two flights—landings and maneuvers, then an instrument flight. Each customer gets a flight review, and an instrument proficiency check. The aircraft owners’ confidence, skills and safety are enhanced, their insurance companies are happy, I benefit from the experience and the program costs them $1400-1500.”
"Most of our travel has been to visit 18 grandchildren and one great grandson whom we share with Dean and Phyllis Vikan," wrote Gary Sheets, Plano, TX. "Sylvia and I waded into unknown waters by becoming involved in some interesting Texas Political Campaigns, mostly walking neighborhoods and directing some 30+ callers. We also became involved in that Senator Scott Brown campaign through contributions and volunteering to make calls into Massachusetts. Jerry de la Cruz spent some time with us several months ago, which we thoroughly enjoyed." (Gary’s e-mail: email@example.com).
Camille Sweigart says that “I thought you would like to see what keeps David busy while it’s raining and he can’t play golf. This play called ‘Clue’ opened February 18th, and runs three weekends.” David has a leading role, and performances are in Marble Falls, TX, at the Hill Country Community Theater.
(E-Mail Dave at: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Karl McMaster Jones writes: “I'm still in NW Florida (R: Niceville, in the Panhandle) where I've been for the past twenty years since ‘retirement.’ I went from ‘black-world testing’ to ‘white-world consulting,’ but, when the market turned north in 1995, I started working for myself as an options market investor. Since then, I’ve made a million and lost a million. Also, I’ve taught math at several local colleges. I had open-heart surgery last July to change a defective valve, but I am now back, and will probably be around for another 15 years or so. I saw your recent photo of Norm Haller and Mike (A) Clarke, both of whom were my former roommates--Norm still looks young and Mike still ugly, so the ravages of time haven't changed them much. Your columns keep ‘loners’ like me up to speed.” (Karl’s email:email@example.com).
John Michael Loh has been designated a Distinguished Graduate for 2010, and will be honored at the Founder’s Day Dinner April 9, 2010 at the USAF Academy Falcon Club. Those wishing to attend should RSVP to the AOG at www.usafa.org, click "Calendar/Events," then "Event Registration." Those with questions may call the AOG at
(719) 472-0300. (Mike’s E-mail: BULL60@aol.com).
Ken Alnwick sent this
presentation, which was played before the Air
Force-BYU football game last fall (2009), and shown on the video screens at the
football stadium in Provo, Utah. “Later, the USAF Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen.
Gould, showed this clip to the faculty and staff,” said Ken. “He told
everyone that BYU ran it just minutes before the kickoff at the game. He was
clearly moved by it, as were those who watched. It was classy, on the part of
BYU, to play this video.” Click this URL to view the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72OhOWFMf84.
It’s fun to watch a Falcon football game on television, but, these 19 beautiful pictures from young Greg Thomas taken at the AFA-Wyoming game on October 7, 2009—we won 10-0--show just how much nicer it is to actually BE at the game and in the stands rooting for the Falcons. Click HERE to view the display (R: Greg was given tickets on the West Side by our son, Scott).
Bits and Pieces. In the November 2009 Web Column, I included a photo of Ken Biehle climbing a mountain—but, I neglected to properly identify that mountain as “Dicks Point”…RG Head wrote, from California: “Latest news is that I was elected Rear Commodore of our Coronado Cays Yacht Club, and I took office December 1st, 2009 for one year.”…When Ted Hopkins told me that “last July (’08) I bought the first 2009 Corvette delivered in Phoenix. It is a candy-apple red hatchback, and the last car I ever expect to buy,” it reminded me that we’re all getting old(er)—How’s that for a surprise!(when we get to the point of not buying “green bananas” or “three-day deodorant,” then we’re really getting old!)...Mr. Answer Guy asks: “How did Johnnie Kuenzel get the nickname “Herb?”…47 of our classmates are deceased—227 graduated, leaving 180 still living…To find out how chickens mate, contact Phil Meinhardt for a rooster-to-chick expo: “Dr. Phil”@ firstname.lastname@example.org ...JT Smith’s wife Diane said that her “new knee is doing quite well.” She’s holding off on surgery for her foot, since that will ground her for two months.
“On the happy side of life, we're grandparents! Jim's son James and wife Sandra have a new son (another James), born February 19, 2009, and that makes THREE ‘Jameses’ in our family,” wrote Jean Walbridge, wife of Jim Clark. “We got to see him before my surgery when he was two months old. Then we spent two+ weeks in England, one of which was living with an English farm family in the Cotswolds (their house used to be a farm implement storage shed made of Cotswold stone—see photo). It was a beautiful experience---both with the surrounding countryside and the people. We then went to Santa Fe, Gallup and the Navajo Reservation, which are some of our favorite spots. And, we've been back to see ‘Little James’ over the Labor Day weekend--busy year!”
“The first good-looking Clark is our very own James Walker Clark, Jr., and in the middle is Jim's son James Brigham Clark, who is holding his son, who is also Jim Sr’s grandson, James Holden Clark.” (Photo taken at James Brigham Clark's home near New Paltz, NY, E-mail: email@example.com). Jim—the Elder--has a flourishing business in Arlington, TX making wooden crafts and art--to view photos of Jim’s work, click HERE.
“Sandy and I returned 31 October 2009 from visiting my sister and her husband in Estes Park, CO and her Mother at Fort Morgan,” wrote Vic Thomas. “My routine is two days a week working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, driving as volunteer for the American Cancer Society, being active in the Sunrise Rotary Club in Boulder City, NV, and flying power planes and gliders for the Nevada Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. I am one of only two CAP cadet orientation pilots in southern Nevada, and that keeps me busy one weekend a month. I serve in a City Council appointed position on the Airport Advisory Committee here in Boulder City, NV. We're taking an Eastern Mediterranean cruise next spring, and I'll send you a picture of that.” (Vic’s E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.) Vic later added: “I'm doing some CAP work with the Army over in Louisiana--it's a new project with a surrogate Predator, and I'll send more on this because I think the Class will find it interesting!”
“Rosie, I just got this photo from Dick Sexton showing John and Deanne McCullough with their grandkids presenting a sign of encouragement for the Class of 1960 at the AFA-Army game last fall,” wrote Les Querry. “At the left are AOG CEO "T" Thompson and his spouse.”
Anesthesiologist Dave Reed, who spends summers in Boulder, CO and OUR winters in New Zealand, writes: “I have been getting medications in New Zealand for years from a local pharmacist, and he has opened an online pharmacy that is Canada web-based (www.express-medicine.com). If any classmates wish to avoid the horrendous prices for USA medications, he will fill their requests and ship them. Search the link and let me know what you need (my e-Mail: email@example.com.) I do not receive anything, but, if I can reduce costs for classmates, I am happy. As always, visitors to our home in NZ are welcome and you will have a built-in tour guide--at least ‘til the first week of May ‘10 when we return to Boulder.”
“Rosie, we had five members from the Grant Reformed Church (MI) join five ladies from Rhode Island and Maine for this work mission in Comayagua, Honduras,” wrote Gary Van Singel. “We left January 8, 2010, and returned January 15th. We built a cement security wall around a day care center run by the local Catholic Church, and also got to visit some previous projects by our church. I have been accepted to go on a two-week work mission to Cuzco, Peru in April ‘10; this will also be sponsored by the Grant Reformed Church, where I’ve been involved since my baptism 72 years ago.” Gary mentioned his photos: “Not bad for a pocket-size digital camera. BTW, I got an E-mail from Dave Weist after responding to his story about cars and jobs. I reminded him that we pulled that Berkley back to Denver behind my ‘60 Ford Convertible using a parachute cord!” Click HERE for additional photos. (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
On January 27, 2010, Karen and I drove to Venice (south of Sarasota), and met Al and Gale Johnson for a waterside dinner at the fashionable Crow’s Nest Restaurant. Al and Gale had been to Key West, and then drove to Naples on Florida’s southwestern coast to visit Brian and Carol Kaley. On the 28th, they left for Umatilla, FL (Orlando area) to visit Al’s sister, and then Tampa for their flight home in Alexandria, VA. Our friends were scouting Florida for a get-together resort over Christmas for their family, and have selected the rapturous Captiva Island west of Fort Myers for the 2010 holiday. (E-mail: email@example.com).
Pat “Ogre” O’Grady, Class of 1968, is contacting Gymnastics Team Captains for a planned “55 Years of Gymnastics Reunion” in 2011. Anyone in our Class who was on the gymnastics’ team and is interested in attending should contact “Ogre.” Contact Mr. O’Grady by e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org, or phoning Pat at 512-264-0224.
“I am delighted to announce my marriage next month (March ’10) to Sharon Ranalli, and subsequent move to Ecuador. Sharon and her husband Al began their missionary work among the Quichua Indians, the largest native tribe in Ecuador, some 42 years ago. Al died on the mission field 14 years ago. Sharon is respected highly as the mother of the Quichua people. It is an honor to join with her in this work, and we are looking forward to many fruitful years of life and ministry together. I really enjoyed the times we had in the Air Force and wish you the best in the days and years ahead.” /s/ Charlie Folkart (E-mail: email@example.com. Charlie was originally from Boston, MA, and has been living in Palm Harbor, FL).
My name is Terry Green,” began the E-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org): “My nickname at the Academy was ‘Tag,’ and I was a member of the Class of 1960, but resigned in the spring of l958. My roommate was Marty Richert.” There have been contacts with others who did not graduate with our Class (DNGs), including Ron Giblin, Noel (Beetle) Bailey, Larry Chiappino, DR Williams, Jim Bradshaw, Jim Chamberlin, Dick Lindsay, Bert Card, Dick Reel, Dean Phelps, Don Paye and Dave Ullery. If you know of any other contacts, please send a message HERE (click).
We’ll close with this message from Class Treasurer Jock Schwank regarding our 50th Reunion September 29-October 3, 2010: “Encourage everyone to arrive early—we’ve much to do, so, arrive by Wednesday morning! You’ll be glad you did!"