The Golden Eagles Continuing History 2014

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 of 22-25 May 2013 held at the Hilton Doubletree Paradise Valley, Scottsdale Arizona, to the Golden Eagles Reunion of 30 April-3 May at the Sheraton Oceanfront Hotel, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Golden Eagles Flight Activities

West Flight: Hosted by Flight Leader RADM Rabbit Campbell, the Flight held two mini-Reunion Luncheons during the year. The first was held in October at the NAS North Island Officers Club Sky Room, overlooking the base and runway directly adjacent, attended by 65 Golden Eagles and spouses/guests. Several of the more tenured members present recalled early flights and shared their great memories of operations from North Island. The second mini-Reunion was held in February at the Tom Ham’s Lighthouse restaurant on San Diego Bay, directly across from the helicopter hangars at NAS North Island, attended by 87 Golden Eagles and their spouses/guests. During the year West Flight members attended Memorial Services for five members who made their Last Take Off.

Central Flight: The Flight initiated planning for the 2015 Reunion in Pensacola, FL and they are considering a mini-Reunion in Nashville in early Fall to assess how this city may play for the larger Reunion five years from now.

Southeast Flight: The Flight held a mini-Reunion in Hilton Head on 25-27 October 2013, arranged by VADM Spider Lockard. Sixteen members plus spouses attended the dinner, reception and a boat tour.

The Golden Eagles 2014 Reunion

The 2014 Golden Eagles Reunion was held at the Sheraton Oceanfront in Virginia Beach, VA. Hosted by Northeast Flight Reunion Coordinator VADM Ed Clexton. There were 148 Eagles and 131 spouses and widows registered for a total of 279 attending. The golf tournament had 56 participating and 115 attendees signed up for the tour of NAS Oceana and the Military Aviation Museum. The Ready Room was set in a large space on the ground floor with easy access and was continually well attended.

Welcome Aboard Reception

The Welcome Aboard Reception was held in the Ocean Ballroom of the Sheraton Oceanfront Hotel, with 3 bar stations and two buffet tables with heavy hors d’oeuvres. There were ample tables set up to allow everyone to sit and enjoy their light meal, while still being able to mix with the over 250 in attendance.

The Memorial Service


The Memorial Service was held on Friday afternoon, 2 May at the First Presbyterian Church, only two blocks and an easy walk from the hotel. It was a beautiful setting with prominent stained glass windows, and easily accommodated all in attendance. Again, Jerry Zacharias did a masterful job of the media presentation for all of the 13 Golden Eagles who made their Last Take Off during the year.

General Membership Meeting

The annual membership meeting was called to order at 0800 on Saturday, 3 May by Pilot RADM Fred Lewis. The Pilot welcomed all the Golden Eagles and provided opening remarks, thanking VADM Ed Clexton and his team for arranging a wonderful setting for the Reunion. He thanked the members of the Flight Deck for their support during the year, noting that communication from the Flight Leaders was the best ever.

Chief Pilot Paul Speer was unable to attend, but forwarded his best wishes to all as he battles kidney failure requiring dialysis.

Co-Pilot RADM Don Boecker thanked the Pilot for an excellent year, pointing out that enven with multiple trips to Australia, Japan and Europe, the Pilot stayed in touch with the membership and never once had to turn duties over to the Co-Piolt.

Navigator LtCol Howard DeCastro presented the Minutes of the Membership meeting from the 2013 Reunion, soliciting a review by the members, and gave the Navigator’s Report listing the Golden Eagles personnel actions since the last Reunion.
There are currently 200 Regular Members, 47 Emeritus Members and five Honorary Members for a total of 252 Golden Eagles.
During the last year:
• 14 Members were accepted into the Golden Eagles
• 13 Members (10 Emeritus and 3 Regular) made their Last Take Off
• 9 Members transferred to Emeritus status
• 1 Member Resigned
• 3 Golden Eagle Ladies passed away
The Navigator, receiving no comments on the 2013 Members Meeting Minutes, made the motion that they be approved. The motion seconded and was approved by unanimous vote.

Radio Officer CAPT Rupe Owens presented the Financial Report covering the Fiscal Year from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014, summarized as:
Cash and Receipts:
• Cash on hand $26,895.66
• NFCU CD $20,159.76
• Total Donations $8,100.00
• Reunion 2013 Net $3,221.62
• Total Sales $420.00
• Membership Dues $10,820.00
• Wings Value $2,831.40
• Reunion Flight Loan $2,000.00
• Total Interest $216.41__
 Total $74,754.85

Total Disbursements:
• Reunion Advances $10,000.00
• Naval Aviation Museum $2,500.00
• All other $7,062.23_
 Total $19,562.23

Total Assets $55,192.62

The Engineer, RADM Bob Shumaker reported that 124 members signed up for the 2014 Reunion. He cited that the following members are in mandatory status to attend the 2015 Reunion in Pensacola, FL:
• Paul German
• Jim Lair
• Tom Hayward
• Bob Rasmussen
He noted that only two members, both newly selected, lacked biographies listed on the Golden Eagles website.

Membership Selection Committee Secretary RADM Jack Batzler reported the selection process went well and was very competitive. He highlighted four issues: members should use electronic nomination forms, Seconding endorsements need to be strong and specific, bullet format is preferred, and carefully, well-written nominations play a large part in the selection process.

LtGen Harry Blot provided the slate of officers, board of governors and flight leaders:
Flight Deck:
Chief Pilot CAPT J.M. Zacharias
Pilot RADM Don Boecker
Co-Pilot LtCol Howard DeCastro
Navigator VADM John Mazach
Radio Officer RADM Ron Jesberg
Engineer/Historian RADM Bob Shumaker
MSC Secretary RADM Jack Batzler
Web Master CAPT J.R. Davis & RADM J.R. Wilson

Board of Governors:
RADM Lew Chatham ADM Leighton Smith
CAPT Jim Joyner VADM John Lockard
CAPT Gil Rud RADM W. Pickavance
MGen John Cx Col Bill Bauer

Flight Leaders:
Northeast Col J.L. Adkinson
Southeast RADM J. Michael Johnson
Central RADM Jerry Breast
West RADM Jay Campbell

Site Selection Committee Chairman RADM Jay Campbell gave the following locations for future Golden Eagle Reunions:
• 2015 Pensacola, FL (Grand Plaza Hotel, 3-5 May)
• 2016 Orlando, FL (Buena Vista Palace, 21-24 April)
• 2017 San Diego, CA (Westgate Hotel, 26-30 April)
• 2018 Pax River, DC, Annapolis are all under consideration

Old Business:

Realignment of Northeast and Southeast Flights: As presented by Col Gary VanGysel:

From the approved minutes of the 2013 Board of Governor’s Meeting, the following resolution to the ByLaws: “It is resolved that the Northeastern boundary for Southeast Flight and Southern boundary for Northeast Flight in Virginia be moved to the York River to be effective 1 April 2015. All Golden Eagle members who reside in Virginia, South of that boundary will become members of Southeast Flight effective that date.”
• This resolution to be published in the 2014-2015 Directory, as adopted by the Board of Governors on 25 May 2013.
• By 1 October 2014 the Northeast Flight Leader will provide a list of names of those Golden Eagles that will move to Southeast Flight to both the Pilot and Southeast Flight Leader.
• The Northeast Flight Leader will inform those moving members one the list has been approved by the Board of Governors.

New Business:

RADM Don Boecker announced that Major Jason T. Jewell, USMC was seldcted as Test Pilot of the Year and received the “Tommy Tomlinson Award” watch for 2013.

By motion, the Pilot concluded the Meeting.

2014 Golden Eagles Reunion Reception and Banquet

The Golden Eagle Reunion Reception and Banquet was held in the Ocean Ballroom of the Sheraton Oceanfront Hotel, commencing at 1800 for the Reception, with seating for the Banquet beginning at 1900 on Saturday evening, 3 May. In addition to introducing and welcoming the new incoming Golden Eagles and their spouses, Pilot RADM Fred Lewis thanked all in attendance and passed the “Stick” of leadership to the incoming Pilot, RADM Don Boecker.


The ocean front location of the hotel in Virginia Beach was an ideal location, allowing direct access to the boardwalk and within walking distance of various restaurants, shops and the church where the Memorial Service was conducted. The highlight of the weekend was the tour of NAS Oceana which allowed members to meet directly with over 100 active duty Naval Aviators, hosted by ADM Bill “Shortney” Gortney, and was followed by a visit to the Military Aviation Museum near Pungo. All hands agreed the Reunion Committee led by VADM Ed Clexton put together a memorable and highly successful Reunion.