Drill Team / Honor Guard Reunion – Day Two (Again)
I was going to put all of Saturday’s events in one post, but then I realized I had a lot I wanted to say about the reunion dinner, so I decided to do the dinner event separately.
When we left our intrepid group of reunioneers, they (well, some of them, anyway) had frozen their insides with Penn State Creamery ice cream, and had wandered back to their respective hovels – er, hotel rooms – to relax before dinner. We rejoin them in the early evening.
The doors to our little banquet room opened around 6:30 or so, and over the next hour everyone arrived, found seats, got drinks, renewed existing friendships and made new ones. Around 7:30, I asked Nelson to please do the POW/MIA ceremony for us. I had originally planned to do it myself, but while preparing for the reunion, I found that I couldn’t (and still can’t) even read it to myself without choking up. Knowing that I’d never be able to get through it, I had asked Nelson on Friday if he’d do it. (I also figured that, since he had made the Air Force a career, he might have seen the ceremony a couple of times. It began after I left the service, so this was the first time I had participated in one.) He very graciously agreed to do the ceremony, and I was *so* glad I had asked him, because even he got a little choked up by the time for the toast. I absolutely NEVER would have gotten through it.
Here’s a shot of everyone before dinner; the POW / MIA table is in the foreground.
In the course of searching for alumni, Grant Leljedal identified some who have passed away, including one (Harold Zook, ’62) who was killed in Vietnam. After Nelson finished the Missing Man ceremony, I read the list of those who we know have died, and we toasted our absent friends and comrades. Fred Bauer then asked the blessing (another favor from a longtime friend – Fred and I were college roommates, and he went on to become an ordained minister. He married Toni and me in 2007) and we dug in.
The dinner was delicious! We had a choice of grilled flank steak with sauteed peppers and onions and/or cheese ravioli; salad; bread; seasonal vegetables and sides; and double chocolate confusion cake and/or apple dumplings for dessert. The amount of food more nearly matched the people available to eat it, but I know *I* ate too much – again. And I didn’t even have room for both desserts! I had the privilege of sitting next to Cadet Jasko, one of our guides / escorts for the afternoon tour. Her compatriot, Cadet McEwen, had another commitment for the evening and couldn’t join us. I found Miss Jasko to be warm, friendly, and quite poised, especially given that her Professor of Aerospace Studies was there, as was a four-star general. She held her own quite well.
(Most of) my dinner companions: John Herdman, Darel Matthews, Kellie Matthews, Fred Bauer, Rose Jasko
After dinner, I started off the program with a short video of the Honor Guard at the 2013 Military Appreciation Game, followed by some recognition. I actually managed to get a small laugh from the group by telling them that I *did* in fact, recognize some of them. Then I noted the following people: Earliest alumnus (John Herdman, ’71); most recent alumnus (Darel Matthews, ’98); earliest alumna (Barb Rich, ’76); most recent alumna (Kellie Matthews, ’99); closest alum (Gary Moore, ’76, at 2.26 miles); farthest-away alum (Dave Peterson, ’73, at 2,246.83 miles); Alumni married to each other (Darel ’98 and Kellie ’99 Matthews); and the “Sinister Cabal,” on whom I relied heavily for ideas, suggestions, advice, and other help to put this all together. The Cabal members in attendance were John Herdman, Fred Bauer, Bob Kehler, and Grant Leljedal; those who couldn’t be there are Rich Brown, Bill Bordas, Ed Goebel, and Dave Triana. I’d like to once again thank Grant for all the work he did to make sense out of the lists of names I gave him, and to contact as many of them as he could.
Next up was another Honor Guard video (RPI 2014). I had hoped that I would get notification of a video from this year’s RPI meet, where the Honor Guard took 3 Firsts and a Second, but as of 4/4/15 none has been posted.
After the video ended, I introduced Col. McFeely, the current PAS (and 1989 Drill Team alumnus). The Colonel spoke to us for a few minutes, comparing his student days with what he sees now. I was surprised to learn that the Drill Team was as big as it was in the late ’80s – apparently they were awash in members! It sounded to me as though the Team was nearly as big as it had been when ROTC was mandatory, way back in the ’50s and early ’60s. I know his Team was way bigger than the one I was on from ’69 to ’73.
We followed Col. McFeely’s remarks with a third Honor Guard video, this one from Cornell in 2006. General Bob Kehler, USAF (Ret.), was our final speaker. Bob was the DT Commander in ’73 – ’74 and (IMO) is the most distinguished graduate, ever, from Detachment 720. And yet, to those of us who knew him as a fellow student, he’s still just … Bob. He talked to us for a few minutes about his career, but mostly focused on how the USAF has changed and improved since 1975.
Here’s Bob, talking to the troops.
The final video isn’t online – yet. It’s the 1970 Mother’s Day performance in the old Ice Pavilion. Its fi isn’t very hi – I think it was first recorded on something like Super 8 film. Years ago I snagged a copy that had been transferred to VHS, and I had my copy transferred to DVD. However, the DVD version is (I think) protected in some way, because I can’t just pull it off the disc and open it like a regular .mpeg video. Nevertheless, everyone at the dinner enjoyed it.
Once the final video ended, the official program was over. For the rest of the evening, we again chatted with old and new friends until fatigue overtook us.
The final list of attendees is:
- Fred Bauer (’71)
- Nelson Beard (’73) and Margaret
- Barbara (Graves) Rich (’76)
- Steve Grazier (’89)
- John Herdman (’71) and Nancy
- Bob Kehler (’74) and Marj
- Grant Leljedal (’73) and Marie
- Darel Matthews (’98) and Kellie (’99)
- Gene McFeely (’88)
- Gary Moore (’76) and Melanie
- Rick Painter (’75)
- Dave Peterson (’73)
- Bill Sassaman (’74) and Michelle
- Dave Staib (’77) and Rita