No good deed ever goes unpunished…
One of the goals of my “expedition” earlier this summer was to reconnect with friends from Penn State – more specifically, fellow alumni of the PSU AFROTC Drill Team. I missed two of the nine on my list – one due to illness, and one because I couldn’t get in touch with him. But I visited with the other seven, and in the course of one dinner (it must have been the booze talking) I mentioned that I thought we should have an all-years reunion sometime soon.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had this idea, although it may well be the last. I remember thinking about it, oh, maybe 20 years ago or so, but at the time I had other commitments and didn’t follow up. Well, time passes, life situations change, and here I am thinking of it again.
All eight of my compatriots with whom I’m in touch think it’s a great idea. I even have a volunteer to help! He’s now maintaining the master list of people we find, and where we are with them (found, contacted, show interest, etc.). I also found not one, not two, but *three* Facebook groups related to AFROTC Detachment 720 (the Penn State Detachment). One is for general alumni interest, one is for “MWR” (which stands for “Morale, Welfare and Recognition” in USAF parlance, but I’m not sure how it applies to Det 720), and the third is – get this – “Penn State AFROTC Drill Team Alumni”! I’m not making this up. I thought I was going to have to set up a group, and then I found it’s already there! Moribund, yes, but it’s there! (So moribund, in fact, that after the existing admin – and only member – accepted my “Join” request and Bill Bordas’ request, he bailed. So I made myself the group admin. hee hee hee)
The next piece of good news: I was looking through the Det 720 Alumni group’s posts, and I found a picture from around 1988 with Drill Team / Honor Guard folks all present, accounted for, and tagged by name. Then I saw a comment where one of the tagged names, Eugene McFeely, was coming back to be the Professor of Aerospace Studies (the head honcho of the Detachment) beginning this year. So I put two and two together and actually came up with four this time, and realized that the Colonel McFeely that I met at PSU when I was there last month is the same Eugene McFeely who was tagged in the picture. So not only is the new PAS a PSU AFROTC alumnus, he’s a *Drill Team* alumnus, too! Woo-Hoo! And he asked to join the D/T alumni group! [I said yes, of course…]
So, while there’s still a lot of work to do to make this reunion a reality, things are coming together much more quickly than I had thought they would. And there are many more pieces out there than I thought there were, too! It’s kind of like putting together what you *thought* was a child’s jigsaw puzzle of maybe 10 pieces, only to find 500 more falling down around you.
Oh, and the Drill Team / Honor Guard will be 65 years old next year, too. According to one of my AFROTC yearbooks, it was formed in 1950. It’s not 65 continuous years; there were at least two breaks that I’m aware of, but it’s still the same group. They even still do the Staircase that predates my era, and they use the chromed combat helmets from the 70s, too. If you’re on Facebook, I shared their Staircase performance in Beaver Stadium with the Nittany Lion. You can find it on my page.
So stay tuned. I may have just found a new purpose.