The Golden Eagles Continuing History 2013

This historical summary is compiled by RADM J.A. Campbell, USN (Ret),
Assisted by Web Master CAPT J.R. Davis, USN (Ret).

This Continuing Historical summary covers the period from the Golden Eagles Reunion 25-29 April 2012 in Orlando, FL, to the Golden Eagles Reunion 22-25 May 2013 held at the Hilton-Doubletree Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, AZ.

Golden Eagle Flight Activities

West Flight: Coordinated by Flight Leader RADM Bob Hickey, the Flight held two mini-Reunion Luncheons at the San Diego Yacht Club, thanks to the “host” RADM Riley Mixson. Numerous West Flight Members attended funeral/interment ceremonies at the Miramar National Cemetery for Golden Eagles who made their Last Take Offs during the year.

Northeast Flight: Again, coordinated by Northeast Flight Leader VADM Tony Less, Golden Eagles served as honorary pallbearers at Arlington National Cemetery for several Golden Eagles who made their Last Take Off during the year. Also, RADM Don Boecker presented the Tommy Tomlinson Award to the Navy Test Pilot of the Year for 2012, of an engraved watch, to LT Chad M. Berman.

Southeast Flight: Flight Reunion Coordinator, Col. Gary Vangysel submitted a comprehensive wrap-up summary for the 2012 Reunion, with Lessons Learned and recommendations for future Reunion coordinators.

The Golden Eagles 2013 Reunion

The 2013 Golden Eagles Reunion was held at the Hilton-Doubletree Paradise Valley Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. One hundred and forty four Golden Eagles attended, accompanied by 118 spouses and guests for a total of 262 attendees. All of the outside activities such as the Desert Jeep Tour, the Stearman Bi-Plane rides, the Hot-Air Balloon Experience and Golf Tournament received high marks from those who participated. The high point for most attendees was the Memorial Service with the young Pastor’s homily, the Eulogies that were so well delivered, and the video tribute to those who had made their Last Take Off.

Welcome Aboard Reception

The Welcome Aboard Reception was held Thursday evening on the patio deck of the Doubletree Resort swimming pool with approximately 250 Golden Eagles and guests attending. The heavy hors d’oeuvres served as dinner and cocktails along with all other beverages were hosted for everyone.

Golden Eagle Golf

The Ocotillo Golf Resort was selected and contracted for the GE Tournament over a year in advance. A $1,000.00 deposit was required at that time. Although approximately a 30 minute drive from the hotel, transportation was not a problem. We ended up with 40 players and that is about normal. Due to Arizona temperatures in May, an early shotgun tee-time was preferred. That also allowed for golf, lunch, awards and enough time to clean up and make it to the Memorial Service with time to spare. Ocotillo is managed by Troon Golf and the tournament was very professionally run. You could tell they had done it before. $1,000 was budgeted for prizes. A good time was had by (almost) all!

The Memorial Service

Fortunately the 1st Southern Baptist Church was located immediately across the four lane highway from the Resort. Hotel transportation was provided for those who chose not to walk across the busy street. There were only 10 Last Take Off Golden Eagles to eulogize. That, combined with the local (but not from 1st Baptist Church) pastor, soloist and pianist, made the Memorial Service one of the best ever. We were able to hold the service to just a bit over an hour and …. the pews had cushions for sitting comfort.
The pastor made the day. A real trumpet is important as well. We found a retired army musician who not only played TAPS, but also blew Church Call and Liberty Call.

General Membership Meeting

The annual membership meeting was called to order on Saturday morning, 25 May 2013. The Pilot, RADM Fred Lewis welcomed the Golden Eagles and provided opening remarks. The following Minutes from the Board of Governors Meeting captures the issues presented to the membership:

Pilot’s Report: Pilot Lewis opened the meeting at 1330 and made the following remarks: Welcome to Scottsdale. The West Flight, led by Burner Bob Hicky, has done an excellent job putting this reunion together. Congratulations and thanks to the whole team including all of the Golden Eagles and their ladies who have helped put it together.

Burner acknowledged Dick Cavicke with thanks for the work he had done before Burner took over as Flight Leader.

The Pilot continued with remarks about the death of six Emeritus Members and four Regular Members indicating that we had fewer deaths among Regular Members than we have had in years past but recognizing that we could always have a surge of losses.

Pilot closed his remarks with the recognition that, overall, it has been a great year.

Chief Pilot’s Report: Chief Pilot Speer chose not to speak at the opening.

Co-Pilot’s Report: Co-Pilot Boecker thanked the Pilot for an excellent year during which, in spite of significant travel to Japan, Australia and other places, the Pilot did a superb job of keeping all of the Golden Eagles informed through Quarterly Reports, NOTAM’s and emails.

Navigator’s Report: Navigator DeCastro presented the Minutes of the Board of Governors Meeting held in Orlando, Florida on 26 April 2012 and the Navigator’s Report listing the Golden Eagles personnel actions since the last Reunion.

There are now 200 Regular Members, 48 Emeritus Members and five Honorary Members for a total of 253 Golden Eagles.

During the last year:

• Fourteen Members were accepted into the Golden Eagles
• Ten Members (six Emeritus and four Regular) made their Final Take-off
• Nine Members transferred to Emeritus status
• Nine Golden Eagle Ladies passed away

At the Pilot’s Request a motion was made to accept the Minutes of the 2012 Board of Governors Meeting and the Navigator’s Report. The motion was made, seconded and passed.

Radio Officer’s Report: Radio Officer Owens indicated that we are in excellent financial condition partly due to the increase in dues to $50.00 and the increase in purchase price of Wings to $48.00. He indicated that he renewed our CD at $20,000.00 for just one year with an expectation that interest may increase by next year.

He presented the Financial Report covering the period from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013. That report is summarized below:

Cash and Receipts

• Cash on Hand $29,709.78 (includes CD of $15,368.72)
• Chronolog Sales $ 490.00
• Contractor Donations $ 3,500.00
• Member Donations $ 50.00
• Reunion 2012 Net $ 4,059.56
• Membership Dues/Fees $10,798.00
• Wings Sales $ 144.00
• Wings Inventory Value $ 3,474.90
• Reunion Flight Loan $ 500.00
• Interest CD $ 129.95
• Interest NFCU $ 43.23
Total $52,899.42


• Annual Tomlinson Award $ 300.00
• Chronolog Expenses $ 31.72
• Directory and Printing $ 1,888.77
• GE Web Site $ 163.36
• Postage & Delivery $ 186.29
• Reunion Advance 2012 & 2013 $ 4,000.00
Total $ 6,570.14

Total Assets $46,329.28

Radio Officer Owens noted that we still have to make a $2,500.00 donation to the Naval Aviation Museum foundation and the Pilot indicated we would comply.

At Pilot’s request, a motion was made, seconded and passed to accept the Radio Officer’s Report.

Engineer Officer/Historian Report: Engineer Shumaker advised that he did not have a handout for the Board Meeting because there were still changes being made in attendance at this reunion.

He indicated the history for 2012-2013 is in work. There are 624 entries in the Chronolog. It is organized by membership, Regular, Emeritus, Honorary and Deceased.

We are missing only five biographies from Regular Members and they are from recent additions.

The Engineer asked for $600.00 to purchase blank CDs and Pilot approved that as a normal operating expense. A motion was made, seconded and passed to allow the purchase.

Another motion, to give away the Chronolog CD was made, seconded, and did not pass. Board Members agreed we should continue to charge for the Chronolog.

Membership Selection Committee, Secretary Remarks: Jack Monger indicated that they had a very good Membership Selection Committee meeting and that, in fact, all the Membership Selection Committee meetings they had under his leadership were excellent. Jack indicated that he had heard rumors that people had been “black balled” keeping them out of the Golden Eagles. He had investigated this rumor and was sure that such was not the case. He indicated that this was his last year as Secretary of the Membership Selection Committee and that Jack Batzler was taking over. He then passed the baton to Bill Knutson to give the report.

Nominating Committee Report: Bill Knutson noted that there were no non-continuations this year. He reported that the Pilot had asked for and the committee had selected 12 Navy and four Marines. He read the names of those selected and then passed the list to the Pilot and the Navigator.

Bill thanked Jack Monger for his leadership as Secretary.

Bill reported that the start of the Membership Selection Committee meeting there was a discussion about whether or not to select Members who are on Active Duty. It was noted that the last time an Active Duty USN member was selected was 1970 (this is in error since both Harry Blott and Don Boecker were on Active Duty when they came into the Golden Eagles in 1991). There was some consternation when the CINC advised that he was senior to the newly selected member and put some pressure on why he hadn’t been selected. After that there was an unwritten rule that members would be selected only after they retired. If nominated while on Active Duty or before they turned 60 their package would be held and they still would have five looks after they retired and were 60 or older. It was decided to keep it an unwritten rule after checking with past Pilots.

Site Selection Committee Report: Co-Pilot Boecker gave the following locations for future Golden Eagle Reunions:
• 2014 Virginia Beach, VA
• 2015 Pensacola, FL
• 2016 Orlando, FL
• 2017 San Diego, CA

He indicated that Joe Anderson is looking at the D.C. area and Patuxent River, MD for 2018

Old Business:

Realignment of Northeast and Southeast Flights:

Pilot opened the discussion and indicated that Article IV, Section 12 of the Golden Eagle Bylaws requires that the Board of Governors determine the boundaries of each Flight by Resolution.

Bob Crippen advised that he and Joe Anderson had worked the issue of realignment through their respective members. Southeast members had 16 yes and two no votes for realignment. The no votes were based on the thought that few if any people would travel from the Tidewater area to meetings in Jacksonville or further south and few if any of the current Southeast Flight would travel to the Tidewater for meetings.

Joe had some trouble getting responses from the Tidewater Members. He had 13 yes, 14 deferrals and two neutral.

Gary VanGysel presented a point paper that showed the reasons for the realignment initiative. The key reason is the small size of the Southeast Flight relative to the other flights.

After thorough discussion it was determined that the following resolution would be submitted to the Members of the Board of Governors for consideration.

“It is resolved that the Northern boundary for Southeast Flight and Southern boundary for Northeast Flight in Virginia be moved to the York River to be effective on 1 April 2015. All Golden Eagles Members who reside in Virginia, south of that boundary will be members of Southeast Flight effective that date.”

Limit of five looks by the Membership Selection Committee:

At the 2012 Board of Governors Meeting there was agreement that five looks by the Membership Selection Committee were adequate. Pilot tasked the Secretary to provide wording to change the bylaws to strengthen this position. The new wording is (change in bold):

Section 11.a. …A nominee not selected in five Selection Committee Meetings shall be moved to a non-continuation file. If a nominee is not selected during the five Selection Committee Meetings the nominee is no longer eligible for selection. Additional nominations for an individual who has failed selection during the first five Selection Committee Meetings will not be accepted.

The motion to change the bylaws to reflect this language was made, seconded and passed.

New Business:

Notification of member acceptance provided to their sponsor.

A request had been made to advise the member’s sponsor as soon as the nominee was selected for membership. The Board agreed that confidentiality is important and that it is important also to protect an individual’s privacy and prevent speculation surrounding selections prior to the actual admittance to the Golden Eagles. The Board agreed, without a motion and vote, that a satisfactory alternative is to give the sponsor the opportunity to advise the new member when they are to be admitted.

The Engineer and Membership Selection Committee have the information that will be provided to the Pilot who will give the new Member’s Sponsor the opportunity to advise the new Member of his selection. The Pilot will also call and write the new Member and the Navigator will forward the package with a letter of congratulations, a set of Wings, a Certificate of Membership and a Membership Directory.

Tommy Tomlinson Award:

Co-Pilot Boecker announced that Lieutenant Chad M. Berman, USN was selected as Test Pilot of the Year and received the “Tommy Tomlinson Award” for 2012.


Radio Officer Owens indicated there have been delayed responses by new Members in providing their Membership Check and their biographies and contact information.

To help alleviate the problem the Pilot will encourage the sponsor and the new Member to get the check and information in to the Engineer in a timely manner.

2013 Golden Eagles Reunion Reception and Banquet:

The Golden Eagle Reunion Reception and Banquet was held in the Ballroom of the Doubletree Paradise Valley Resort. Two hundred and sixty two Golden Eagles and their guests attended the Banquet, with the pre-arranged seating chart highly modified by the USMC contingent to consolidate their numbers. Pilot RADM Fred Lewis led the attendees in a rousing group singing of the National Anthem as the colors were presented by a local JNROTC Unit.


Although not held in a Naval Aviation concentration area, the Resort in Scottsdale provided an outstanding venue for the 2013 Reunion. The Ready Room was spacious and easily accessible, although the extensive grounds of the resort created some difficulty for some of our less mobile members, travelling the distance from their rooms to the restaurant and Ready Room locations. The success of the Reunion was due largely to the detailed planning of Flight Leader, RADM Bob Hickey, and the foresight in arranging the venue by his predecessor as West Flight Leader, CAPT Dick Cavicke. The Reunion would not have been possible, though, without the assistance of the Arizona Golden Eagle Contingent of VADM Dutch Schoultz, RADM Lou Chatham, CAPT “Eagle” McClung, and CAPT Larry Ernst.