Charleston Reunion 4/13-16/2015

It’s history now. The weather cooperated. There were 240 attendees. Here’s a rundown of the activities.

Monday was registration day at the Embassy Suites. Most everyone participated in the “FREE” 30th Anniversary evening dinner (soup/potato bar) along with the 30th Anniversary cake. Our treasury did not take a major hit but meal price negotiations were tough with Embassy Suites.


Tuesday the activities started with 172 taking the horse/buggy ride thru downtown Charleston

followed by a boat cruise all around the Charleston harbor with lunch on board.

Then back to the Embassy Suites for “Happy Hour”. The day was split with seven golfers participating in the afternoon golf tournament.

Wednesday 138 traveled to the Middleton Plantation for tours of the gardens, house and stable yards. Lunch there was a Southern Style buffet with corn pudding, southern fried chicken, hoppin-jon, collard greens, okra gumbo and other fixings.

Then in the evening 140 went back downtown to the Circular Congregational Church for a local concert called the “Sounds of Charleston”. The highlight there was the six minute piano duet of “Rhapsody in Blue”; ending with singing “Amazing Grace” whose author attended that very church. Getting back on the bus was a walk thru the only rain shower we had for the entire reunion.

Thursday was a busy day. 52 went off to see the H.L. Hunley ( a Confederate submarine ) while 77 went to Patriots’ Point to see the USS Yorktown, the USS Clamagore and the USS Laffey with lunch at the CPO mess on board the Yorktown. 218 finished the day at the Banquet.

Two significant items were discussed at the business meeting.

1. A By-Law change was approved to lower the Lifetime Membership from 85 to 80. However, members at the age of 80 or higher would have to communicate their birthday to our Treasurer, Bob Strout.

2. After the Reunion it was confirmed that the CH-3C called the Black Mariah was still at the Air Force Museum in Dayton but behind the scenes being refurbished before again being displayed. Members could still see it if they requested it at the museum office.

It’s difficult to have a successful reunion without the help of a dedicated team and a multitude of volunteers working various areas during the reunion. I feel very remiss at not thanking everyone at the banquet so I’ll do it here.

First the team members were Bob Strout, Pete Marchewka, KV Hall, Bill Waters, Bob Brubaker, Larry Burke, Jon Kennedy and Don VanMeter. Thank you all

You cannot start off the opening day of a reunion without a great crew manning the registration desk. But even prior to that is assembling the “give-away” packets. That was done the evening before with the help of Kathy / Dick Mulder, Mary- my granddaughter and Mary Ann, my wife in Mulder’s stateroom. Then at the registration desk welcoming members with great smiles and enthusiasm were Kathy Mulder, Pat Waters, Mary and Mary Ann. Thank you all.

The 18 month calendars that were part of the registration “goody bag” were developed with inputs by both Bob Strout and KV Hall. They worked all the art. The work was accomplished over a 5 month period. Thank you Bob and KV.

In addition here’s a special thanks to Bob Strout, our Treasurer, who worked behind the scenes ever since the San Diego Reunion guiding me with funding requirements, maintaining the roster and many more aspects associated with this reunion’s planning.

This Hospitality Room was the finest I have ever been to. I’m sure everyone would agree. That was due to the crew who set it up, kept it well stocked and served everyone who entered. Special thanks go to Sharon and Pete Marchewka as well as Ceilia and Jon Kennedy. Sharon was the real boss and director using Pete as the laborer. Pete’s twin brother and wife also helped much of the time. Don’t forget that little lady and her husband, Jean and Bill Howard, who always likes to help at every reunion. Jean always hides a special bottle of scotch under the table. Look for it in Great Falls. Thank you all. Future Chairmen will be looking for you.

Once again many thanks must go to our historian, KV Hall. In an adjacent meeting room KV displayed hours and hours of slides from previous reunions much to the delight of everyone who watched. Shout outs of names were given as people showed on the screen. There were a few teary eyes in the crowd seeing old friends who have past. Thank you KV. We’re all looking forward to Great Falls, Montana in 2016. Have fun planning it.

Thank you Larry Burke for putting out all the E-mails showing members signing up for the reunion as the months proceeded.

Thank you also Bob Brubaker for providing helicopter news updates for introduction into the web sites as well as reading the Missing Man and memorial names at the banquet.

I cannot leave out both Jon Kennedy as well as KV Hall who continued to update both the .com and .org USAFHPA web sites this past year. What’s wrong with maintaining both web sites? One for Senior members and the other for the Younger members. Thank you both.

Let’s not forget George Kekuna and his trio who performed in the other adjacent meeting room singing all those “oldies” with a few “Hawaiian Chants” Thank you George and your un-named group.

Then there are others who support the organization. Ben Carroll is one. Ben took over 454 pictures during the days of the reunion. His special pictures will be seen in the Memory Book. (All of his pictures will be in the Historian’s file.) These books are printed after each reunion and one is always sent to our Historian for record keeping. Dick Van Allen also supplied pictures that he took. Thank you both, Ben and Dick. You may be asked to be “an official photographer” by future chairmen. Keep your cameras well oiled.

At the banquet I failed to recognize our Business Meeting speaker, Major General Jay Flournoy (a new 2 star) who incidentally is a current paid up member. I’m sure we will see “General Jay” (that’s how I referred to him in conversations with him) in the future. Thank you “General Jay”. You cannot believe what he had to do to join us. It wasn’t easy but Generals can always do incredible things.

Here’s yet another member who agreed to help with the trip to Patriot’s Point. Things went smoothly because George Livingston was there. Thank you George.

I also neglected to introduce Bill Waters to give the results of the golf tournament. There were 7 golfers and each won a prize. Bill never told me what the prizes were. Bill, you have done this effort for every reunion that I can remember. Thank you for supporting the Association and for running the tournaments. You also gratefully perform the difficult task of “Communicator” when any member takes his last flight West.

A huge thank you to everyone who attended Charleston. It wouldn’t have been a reunion without you all. Maybe someday we’ll go back to visit places we missed.

If there is anyone I have left out please accept my apologies. I’ll try to do better if I have another chance.

The Embassy Suites personnel also did a great job in the success of this reunion. Rebecca was my primary contact and she did everything I tasked her to do from insuring a good flow of people at the Monday night dinner to setting up maps to get to the Business Meeting and banquet locations to many more incidental things. Wendy, who you never met was my initial contact and engineered the early phases of our contract with Embassy Suites.

This has been my 3rd chairmanship. I’ve been honored to serve everyone in this Association whom I have so much respect for. You all are truly HEROS.

Bob Putlock, Jupiter-Florida 11 June 2015

I, for one, am looking forward to Great Falls, Montana especially retracing some of the travels of “Lewis & Clark”.