The Golden Eagles Continuing History 2015
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 30 April 2014 held at the Sheraton Oceanfront Hotel, Virginia Beach, VA, to the Golden Eagles Reunion of 9-12 May 2015 held at the Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel, Pensacola, FL.
Golden Eagles Flight Activities:
Northeast Flight: A Mini-Reunion Luncheon was held on 13 November 2014 with a presentation by guest speaker, RADM Klunder, Commander, Center for Naval Research. A second Min-Reunion that was cancelled in March, due to heavy snow, was rescheduled for 8 April 2015 at Mount Vernon Country Club, with guest speaker LtGen Davis, Deputy CMC, Air. In addition, Northeast Flight members participated as Honorary Pall Bearers at 7 Memorial Funeral ceremonies for Golden Eagle who had made their Last Take Off.
West Flight: Flight Leader RADM Jay Campbell conducted two Mini-Reunion Luncheons during the year, thanks to RADM Riley Mixon, who acted as Host, at the San Diego Yacht Club on San Diego Bay. The first was held on 23 October 2014 with 71 Golden Eagles and their wives in attendance, and the second was held on12 February 2015 with 83 Golden Eagles and wives attending. GE, Bob Belter, took many photos at both events.
Southeast Flight: The week of 17 November 2014, 16 Golden Eagles Southeast aviators and their spouses held a mini-reunion at Patriots Point outside Charleston SC. Jim Flatley and his wonderful wife Nancy were terrific hosts and facilitated a great get together that started at their beautiful home with a feast fit for the Thanksgiving season.
The next day we met aboard the USS Yorktown to get a firsthand update on all the terrific things Jim and the Yorktown Foundation are doing to honor Veterans and educate the youth in the greater Charleston and wider South Carolina area. As one would expect, following a great dinner at the Fish House Restaurant, we continued our evening by telling terrific sea stories late into the night in our well-appointed ready room at the Quality Inn Patriot Point. I am happy to report there were no incidents worthy of national or local news attention despite imbibing rather liberally in a variety of libations. A great time was had by all.
Jim set us up in the conference room on board Yorktown and we were able to get a head-start on planning our 2016 reunion in Orlando by assigning flight leads to a number of key planning committees. We look forward to continuing our Mini-reunion tradition next year with the addition of our new Tidewater members who joined the GE Southeast roster effective April Fool's Day.
MISCELLANEOUS: During the early February 2015 presentation of The Tommy Tomlinson, Test Pilot of the Year Award at NAS Patuxent River, I met the wife of The Test Pilot School Instructor of the Year Award winner, who works at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. She works for Mr. Robert Patrick, Director, Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. She mentioned my name to Mr. Patrick and he sent me the following information: "The Veterans History Project www.loc.gov/vets is a congressionally mandated effort to collect and preserve the wartime memories of America's veterans. This is done through the recording of oral histories and collection of original materials such as photographs, letters, journals, diaries and personal military documents. It focuses on the human experience of war through the first-hand accounts of those who lived it. We are the largest oral project in America with over 96,000 individual collections that make accessible to researchers, educators and the general public here at the Library of Congress." You can go online to view all of the material that is collected. Mr. Patrick hopes to get some oral histories from members of The Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles 2015 Reunion
The Golden Eagles Pensacola Reunion, held 9 through 12 May, 2015, was planned for 149 Golden Eagles in attendance. However, about 5 disappointed members, stalwart souls, were stranded in Dallas, TX, caused by tornados and severe weather which cancelled all flights. For the rest of us, the Pensacola Reunion, held at the Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel, was a huge success. Central Flight Leader, Jerry Breast's leadership and his Pensacola team of John Paganelli, Reunion Coordinator, Bill Ramsey, Jerry Unruh, Bill Gureck, Skip Furlong, Bob Rasmussen, Ken Wallace, Deej Kiely, Ernie Cunningham, Jim Ryan, Dave Vest, Gary Elsten and Doc Mitchell all worked hard. A great job by all to provide another memorable reunion in the Cradle of Naval Aviation.
Welcome Aboard Reception:
The Welcome Aboard Reception on Sunday night, at the hotel, was attended by 278 people. The food was delicious and there were ample bars open for refreshments.
Golden Eagle Golf, Skeet Shoot and Tours:
Golf at NAS Pensacola A. C. Read Golf Course was a lot of fun, with perfect weather which helped to yield lots of birdies by the 49 players. The winning team at 10 under par was: Parcells, Bill Knutson, McClung and Ernst. About 10 people signed up for the skeet/trap shoot and really had a bang-up time with lots of clay pigeons destroyed. The tours to Fairhope, AL, Historic Pensacola, and the National Flight Academy were very popular, and busses were filled to capacity.
The Memorial Service
The Memorial Service:
The memorial service was really special and was held in the First United Methodist Church of Pensacola, only a few blocks from the hotel. Skip Furlong and Bill Gureck organized a beautiful service with a great singer, wonderful organ and horn music, and trumpets with echoing taps. The minister, Rev. Bob Sweet, a retired naval aviator, gave a great Opening Prayer and the highlight were the seven eulogies given by Golden Eagles who personally knew The Golden Eagles who have made Their Last Take-Offs since the 2014 reunion. Tribute was also made to 14 wives of Golden Eagles who have passed away.
The Ready Room on the 15th floor of the hotel had a fantastic view of the Pensacola Bay and was well utilized by everyone for refreshments both before and after the scheduled activities. One could even watch the Blue Angels practice from the Ready Room. Monday night was a free night to visit with Pensacola friends, dine out, or rest from the tornados.
General Membership Meeting
The annual membership meeting was called to order at 0825 Tuesday morning by Pilot, RADM Don Boecker. The meeting was thorough but speedy, because the tours started at 0930.
Pilot’s Opening Remarks: Pilot Boecker opened the meeting at 0825 and asked the Members to stand and join him in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Pilot thanked Jerry Breast and his team for the great work they did in putting together the Reunion and the Memorial Service. He also thanked the Flight Deck, Membership Selection Committee and the Nominating Committee for their hard work.
Pilot also mentioned that several of the Board of Governors members were not in attendance at the membership meeting due to medical problems or family member medical problems. Pilot made an announcement concerning the need for a replacement for JR Davis.
Chief Pilot’s Remarks: Chief Pilot Jerry Zacharias discussed the Golden Eagles trademark, including a brief history of the process used for registering the trademark and a description of what the trademark looks like. Our trademark will need to be renewed between 31 May 2020 and 31 May, 2021.
Co-Pilot’s Remarks: Co-Pilot DeCastro thanked the Pilot for his leadership and excellent job of communicating with the members by keeping them informed through quarterly reports, Special Notices and NOTAMS.
He also presented a recommendation agreed upon by the BOG regarding the distribution of Golden Eagle funds to include:
• Continuation of the donation to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola
• Donating $7500 for a 14”x24” plaque at the Naval Aviation Memorial Park in Virginia Beach, VA
• Continuation of our gift of the Tommy Tomlinson Award to the Test Pilot of the Year
• Donating $2000 to the Navy/Marine Corps Relief Society this year and make an annual donation of up to $2000 as funds permit to be decided by the BOG
• Continue the cost of annual dues at $50
• Continue to charge new members for their wings
• Encourage all of our members to give generously to the aviation museum of their choice but forgo donations to any additional museums by the Golden Eagles
The above recommendations were voted on and approved by the members.
Navigator’s Report: Navigator Mazach delivered the Navigator’s Report indicating there are:
• 200 Regular Members
• 48 Emeritus Members
• 5 Honorary Members
• 253 Total Members
Since the last report of 2 May 2014 there were:
• Eight Members accepted into the Golden Eagles (four Navy and four USMC)
• Seven Members who made their Final Take-off (six Emeritus and one Regular)
• Seven Members who transferred to Emeritus
• Fourteen Golden Eagle ladies who passed away
The Navigator also reported the minutes of the 2014 Membership meeting had been approved by the BOG and at the Pilot’s request, motion was made to accept the 2014 Membership Meeting Minutes which was seconded and passed.
Radio Officer’s Report: Co Pilot DeCastro gave the Radio Officer Jesberg’s report. He reported that we had Total Assets of $65,633.35 as of 31 March 2015.
Engineer Officer/Historian Report: Engineer Shumaker reported that there were 145 regular members signed up to attend the reunion in Pensacola. No members were in violation of the requirement to attend at least one of four consecutive reunions. Three individuals must attend the 2016 reunion to satisfy this requirement:
CAPT Ernest Beauchamp
CAPT Tom Hudner
CAPT Maurice Fitzgerald
The Engineer also stated that all regular members have submitted their biographies and they have been posted on the website and included in the Chronolog except for:
GEN Amos - new member
COL Richard - new member
RADM Moffit - new member
Finally, The Engineer summarized various Flight activities by region and noted that CAPT Bill McCamy assumed the role of the Southeast Flight lead.
Transfers to Emeritus status include:
Final Takeoffs since last reunion include:
CAPT Roger Sheets Regular Member
CDR Harold Buell Emeritus
CAPT Richard Shulte Emeritus
COL Murray Staples Emeritus
MGEN Hal Vincent Emeritus
CAPT John Chalback Emeritus
Membership Selection Committee Secretary Report and Remarks: MSC Secretary Batzler reminded everyone of the importance of succinct write-ups on new nominees. He also outlined how the process works for informing members of new augments (new members). The Quarterly reports list new members as well as Emeritus transfers, NOTAMs and Special notices..
MSC Chairman Bill Gureck said that this the Selection Committee selected nine USN and three USMC members. In previous years the number had been 12 USN and four USMC but lower attrition allowed for selection of fewer members.
Site Selection Report: Co Pilot DeCastro provided the following locations, dates and information:
• 2016, Orlando, FL, 21-24 April at the Buena Vista Palace
• 2017, San Diego, CA, 26-29 April at the Downtown Westgate Hotel
• 2018, Northeast TBD
Nominating Committee Report: Fred Lewis indicated that four new nominees for the Board of Governors were nominated as well as new Flight Leads for the West Flight and Central Flights.
Board of Governors:
• Joe Anderson – replacing John Cox
• Joe Barth – replacing Jim Joyner
• John R Davis – replacing Gil Rud
• Larry Ernst – replacing Lew Chatham
• Central Flight Leader - Bob Rasmussen
• West Flight Leader - Gil Rud
A motion was made, seconded and approved to accept the new nominees.
Pilot Boecker announced that LCDR Patrick Bookey, USN had been selected as Test Pilot of the Year and was presented with the Golden Eagles Watch as the “Tommy Tomlinson Award” winner.
Jerry Brest gave an overview of the remaining Pensacola Reunion schedule and noted the need to start the Banquet promptly at 1900 so that we could be finished by 2100. He also announced that the take- home favors at the banquet would be GE coasters. Finally, he thanked all the members of the Central Flight for their assistance in planning the event and noted special thanks to the Pensacola “mafia”.
Southeast Flight Lead Bill McCamy gave a brief outline of the 2016 reunion in Orlando on 21-24 April 2016 at the Buena Vista Palace and announced a short Southeast flight member meeting immediately following the Membership Meeting.
The last business was to join as individual flights and enjoy the bonding that goes with the photo session.
The meeting was adjourned by the Pilot at 0920.
2015 Golden Eagles Reunion Reception and Banquet
The banquet on Tuesday night was held at the National Naval Aviation Museum. Being surrounded by all of Naval aviation history was a perfect venue for this event. The Pensacola Children’s Chorus presented a 25-minute program of wonderful music. Following dinner, the Pilot welcomed six new members and five wives. The entire reunion was wonderfully planned by the Central Flight Golden Eagles with no major contractor support.