The Golden Eagles Continuing History 2016

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 9-12 May, 2015 held at the Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel, Pensacola, FL, to the Golden Eagles Reunion of 21-25 April, 2016 held at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel and Spa, Orlando, FL.

Golden Eagles Flight Activities

West Flight: Flight Leader CAPT Gil Rud hosted two Mini-Reunion Luncheons on 11 October of 2015 with 62 attending, and 11 February of 2016, both held at Coronado Yacht Club where he and his wife, Carol are members.

On Nov 7th, Golden Eagle Dean "Diz" Laird, an ace who shot down enemy aircraft in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, was inducted into the Coronado Avenue of Heroes. Congratulations, Diz.

On Nov 11th, a Memorial Celebration of Life for Golden Eagle Emeritus BGen Frederick R. "Fritz" Payne was held at the Palm Springs Aviation Museum. Fritz was the oldest living Naval Aviator and the oldest American Ace when he made his Last Take-Off at 104 years old on 8/6/2015. There was an impressive flyover of war birds including a Wildcat, which Fritz flew at Guadacanal. The ceremony concluded with a missing man flyover of Huey Cobra Gunships. Of note, Golden Eagle Bill Bauer was also a speaker. His father, "Indian Joe" Bauer, a Medal of Honor recipient, was a squadron mate of Fritz at Guadacanal.

On Nov 14th, a Memorial Service for Sybil Stockdale was held at Spreckles Park in Coronado. The widow of Golden Eagle and Medal of Honor recipient, VADM Jim Stockdale; Sybil was a hero in her own right. For her courageous and determined actions, Mrs. Stockdale was awarded the U.S. Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award. Also, Golden Eagle ADM Tom Hayward gave a very moving Navy tribute to Mrs. Stockdale.

On Nov 19th, Golden Eagle RADM Tom Cassidy was inducted into the San Diego Air & Space Museum Hall of Fame. This is a prestigious hall of fame and is composed of Air & Space pioneers, engineers, inventors, and innovators along with adventurers, scientists, and industry leaders.

On Dec 9th, a Memorial Service and Celebration of Life was held for CAPT Ronald "Mugs" McKeown. I am passing along a great summary of this special day from CAPT Jack "Fingers" Ensch, Mug's Radar Intercept Officer and best friend.

Southeast Flight: Flight Leader, CAPT Bill McCamy reports that a Mini-Reunion was conducted between 19 Oct and 21 Oct at the Buena Vista Palace (BVP) in Orlando, FL. The hotel recently was sold to Hilton and will be operated as part of the Hilton Hotels and Resorts. Hilton HHonors program will now be recognized at the BVP.

- 27 Golden Eagles, their spouses and significant others attended.

- Nice Hotel! Great Staff, very professional and helpful! Clean common areas. Very nice lobby. Renovation operation essentially not visible except for warning signs/tape here and there.

- Great location! Right in the middle of the Disney complex with Disney Springs (former Downtown Disney) right across the street. Lots of shopping and good quality restaurants.

VADM Ed Clexton hosted a Mini-Reunion Brunch at the Cavalier Yacht and Country Club in VA Beach, VA, on Sunday Jan 24, 2016 from noon to 2:00 PM for all Golden Eagles and wives in the Hampton Roads area.
Northeast Flight: Flight Leader, Col Larry Adkinson reported that a Mini-Reunion Luncheon was held at the Mount Vernon Country Club in Alexandria, VA, all decorated for Christmas, on Dec 9th with 24 Golden Eagles and 8 wives present. RADM Michael Manazir, USN, Director, Air Warfare (OPNAV N98), gave an excellent talk on the development, programming and budgeting of all U.S. Naval Aviation warfighting. Thanks to Col Hap Simpson, a club member, for setting up this luncheon.
Central Flight: Flight Leader CAPT Bob Rasmussen planned a mid-January gathering with some of his Central Flight members for a Mini-Reunion.

CDR Bob Johnson reported that CAPT Jim Lovell received the 2015 Howard Hughes Memorial Award on Feb 10, 2016, presented by the Aero Club of Southern California, as the Commander of the Apollo Mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon but was brought back safely to Earth by the efforts of the crew and mission control.
CAPT Rick Hauck reported that CAPT Robert "Hoot" Gibson won the Unlimited Gold in Reno's National Championship Air Races in a P-51 Mustang. The article can be found at Congratulations Hoot!
The Golden Eagles 2016 Reunion

The Golden Eagles Orlando Reunion:
21-24 April, 2016 had 138 Eagles attending and total attendance was 266 (due to weather and other factors, 31 originally registered had to cancel). Flight Leader Bill McCamy coordinated an extremely well run weekend event at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel and Spa, directly across from the Downtown Disney complex, bringing together a dispersed team of assistants, including Gary and Bev VanGysel, Howie Thorsen and Gerry Hoewing (Ready Room SDOs), Bob Crippen (Welcome Reception and Space Center Tour), Possum Terrell (Clay Shooting event), Paul Fratarangelo (Shopping Tours events), Warren Christie (Golden Eagle Golf), Stan Arthur (Memorial Service), and John Lockard (Reception/Banquet).

Welcome Aboard Reception

The Welcome Aboard Reception was held Thursday evening at the Hotel’s top floor, with tables arranged for seating on 3 sides of the hotel and numerous food stations to accommodate the 251 members and their spouses in attendance. The hosted bars were easily accessed and each attendee had 3 drink tickets included in the price of the Reception.

Golden Eagle Golf, Shooting Clays and Tours:

course in Buena Vista. The Shooting Clays event drew only 6 Golden Eagle sharpshooter, but each participant had a great time. Bob Crippen hosted the Kennedy Space Center tour which was attended by 81 members and guests. A shopping tour arranged by Paul Fratarangelo had 12 participants, well armed with credit cards.

The Memorial Service

The Memorial Service was once again a highlight of the Reunion, expertly coordinated by ADM Stan Arthur and masterfully presented by video producer CAPT Jerry Zacharias. The Holy Family Catholic Church was a perfect setting, with adequate parking for those driving and easily accessed for those using the pre-arranged bus transportation.

Ready Room

The Ready Room was easily accessed in the 25th floor Presidential Suite, and very efficiently run by Howie Thorsen and Gerry Hoewing. There were always ample snacks and refreshments available and it truly served as the “heart and soul” of the Reunion, providing the ideal location to socialize and embellish already exaggerated sea-stories.

General Membership Meeting

The annual membership meeting was called to order at 0900 Saturday, 23 April in the Captain Conference Room by Pilot, RADM Don Boecker.


Pilot’s Opening Remarks:
Don Boecker opened the meeting at 0900 and asked the Members to stand and join him in the Pledge of Allegiance. Pilot thanked Southeast Flight Leader Bill McCamy and his team for coordinating a superb reunion this year. He also thanked the Flight Deck and the Board of Governors for their support during the year as well as the flight leaders for their outstanding communications during the year.
Pilot Boecker also emphasized the value of The Golden Eagle Directory and the wealth of information contained therein.

Chief Pilot’s Remarks: Chief Pilot Zacharias commented on the new Chronolog disk available to all members. He wanted all to know what a tremendous amount of info is available on this disk about the heroes of Naval Aviation.

Co-Pilot’s Remarks: Co-Pilot DeCastro thanked the Pilot for his leadership during the past very busy and eventful year. He noted that the NOTAMS, Special Notices and Quarterly Reports were timely and very informative.

Navigator’s Report: Navigator John Mazach brought to the attention of the members that the Minutes from the last meeting in Pensacola were distributed to all Golden Eagles prior to this meeting and asked if there were any questions regarding content. There were none and the Pilot asked for a motion to accept the minutes from the 2015 Membership meeting as written. Motion was made, seconded and approved.
The Navigator’s Report was highlighted to the membership indicating there are:
• 200 Regular Members
• 47 Emeritus Members
• 3 Honorary Members
• 250 Total Members

Since the last report there were:
• 16 Members accepted into the Golden Eagles
• 19 Members who made their Final Take-off
• 11 Members who transferred to Emeritus
• 6 Golden Eagle ladies who passed away

Radio Officer’s Report: Radio Officer Owens presented his report to the members as represented below.

Beginning Funds (All Accounts 1 April 2015) $59,497.14
Less CD (Beginning) (20,159.76)
Beginning Cash $39,337.38
Chronolog Sales $ 495.00
Reunion Operations
Donations Received $14,550.00
Reunion 2015 Net 5,204.86
Reunion Loans Repayment 6,000.00 25,754.86
Membership Dues/Fees 11,462.00
Wing Sales 96.00
Interest CD 184.16
Interest NFCU 58.90 243.06
Total Receipts $38,050.92

NAM,ANA Memor, Navy/Mar Relief $12,500.00
Annual Tomlinson Award 299.24
CD Reinvested Interest 184.16
Directory 550.29
GE Web Site 286.80
Postage & Delivery 421.64
Printing & Reproduction 966.60
Reunion Advances 4,000.00
Reunion Pass Thru 13,500.00
Supplies & Materials 225.82
Wings Purchase (200) 5,000.00
Total Disbursements $37,934.55
Net Change in Operating Funds 116.37

Ending Operating Funds (31 March 2016) $39,453.75
NFCU Svgs/Ckg 39,453.75
Less Not Cleared Activity
Ready Cash on Hand 39,453.75
NFCU CD 20,506.67
Total Funds 59,960.42
Wings Inventory/Value/On Hand 26 1,115.40
Wings Inventory/Value/On Hand 200 5,000.00 6,115.40
Total Assets $66,075.82

The Radio Officer’s report was approved as written by the membership.

Engineer Officer/Historian Report: Engineer/Historian Shoemaker reported that this reunion was the 60th Golden Eagle Reunion on record. He also reported that current reunion registration numbers were as follows: 140 Eagles registered (note: the 2015 reunion had 145 Eagles registered but bad weather prevented 12 of them from attending; they were however credited with attendance).
The requirement of attending at least one of the last four reunions has been met by all members at this 2016 reunion. Following is a list of twelve members who will be in violation if they do not attend the 2017 reunion (ranks and first names omitted): Busey, Butcher, Cassidy, Cernan, JB Davis, Hubbard, RC Johnson, Myers, Sexton, Sheldon, Stephenson, and Weir.There are 197 biographies posted on the website; 3 are currently outstanding. Engineer noted that you can alter, edit or supplement your bio at any time you wish.

Finally, the engineer summarized various Flight activities by region.

Membership Selection Committee Secretary Report and Remarks: MSC Secretary Batzler reported that his committee looked at 31 Navy nominees and 15 Marine Corps nominees for selection to the Golden Eagles and they selected 9 Navy and 3 USMC from those nominees. Jack reiterated to the members the importance of nominations being electronic if at all possible and preferably in Word. He also announced that we have 23 total perspective members waiting to become new Golden Eagles.

Site Selection Report: Co-Pilot DeCastro provided the following locations, dates and discussion
• 2017 (27-30 April) Westgate Hotel, San Diego, CA
• 2018 (26-28 April) Lansdowne Resort, Leesburg, VA
• 2019 Central Flight Location TBD

Co-Pilot led additional discussion aided by Gil Rud from West Flight and Larry Atkinson North East Flight regarding future Golden Eagle reunions. 2017 West Flight led reunion will take place at the Westgate Hotel in downtown San Diego. This central location will afford all attendees access to numerous attractions and points of interest while in San Diego. Golf will take place at Admiral Baker north course.
For 2018, North East Flight has agreed upon the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg VA as the site for our reunion. This site is upscale from previous site selections but, through a lot of hard work by North East Flt members, our friends from AFRI and an agreement by the Golden Eagle Board of Governors to reduce some of the costs at the reunion, the venue was supported by the membership and plans are underway to make the 2018 reunion very special.

Nominating Committee Report: Fred Lewis reported that the 2016 Golden Eagle Nominating Committee submits the following candidates for service as indicated below
Slate for Officers is:
• Pilot Howard DeCastro
• Co-pilot John Mazach
• Navigator Jay Campbell
• Radio Officer Gary Van Gysel
• Engineer Officer/Historian Bob Shumaker
• MSC Secretary Jack Baztler
• Web Masters J R Davis/Bob Hickerson
• NE Flight Leader Larry Atkinson
• SE Flight Leader Bill McCamy
• Central Flight Leader Bob Rasmussen
• West Flight Leader Gil Rud

Fred said that four Members of the Board of Governors would continue to serve. These are:
• Joe Anderson
• Joe Barth
• J R Davis
• Larry Ernst
Four new members will be added to replace:
• Bill Bauer
• Bill Pickavance
• John Lockard
• Snuffy Smith
All of whom have served their two years of duty.

The new members are:
• Jerry Breast
• Bob Crippen
• Fred McCorkle
• Wick Parcells
A motion was made, seconded and approved to accept the above slates

Old Business: Short discussion regarding the spread of members throughout the four flights and how the recent redistribution has helped even up the membership in most of the flights.

Flight leaders made the following inputs:

Northeast Flight: supported funerals for VADM Jerry Miller, Mrs. Gail Seely, RADM Gus Eggert, LTGEN Bill Fitch, and Mrs. Margaret Fitch. Mini reunion at Mount Vernon Country Club in Dec. for 22 GE’s. Planning for 2018 reunion; location candidates are: Greenbrier, Lansdowne, National Harbor, and Annapolis. Unanimous agreement on Lansdowne.

Central Flight: In August Bob Rasmussen took over as flight leader from Jerry Breast. Flight hosted 2015 reunion in Pensacola.

Southeast Flight: Bill McCamy took over as flight leader from Carlos Johnson. Mini reunion in Orlando in October for 27 GE’s. Virginia Beach group had 12 for luncheon in October and had a brunch in Jan. Carlos Johnson was honored in Jacksonville for his work with the Boy Scouts. Bill then introduced his reunion team for the 2016 reunion.

West Flight: Gil Rud took over as flight leader from Jay Campbell. Mini reunion in Oct. at Coronado Yacht Club for 62. Another mini reunion in Feb at the Coronado Yacht Club for 88. Diz Laird inducted into the Coronado Avenue of Heroes. Tom Cassidy inducted into the San Diego Air and Space Museum Hall of Fame. Planning for 2017 reunion in San Diego at Westgate Hotel is ongoing.

New Business: Pilot Don Boecker announced that LCDR Matthew S Dominick, USN, an LSO at Pax River had been selected as Test Pilot of the Year and was presented with The Golden Eagles Watch as the “Tommy Tomlinson Award” winner.

It was reported to the membership that the subject of donations from industry to the Golden Eagles for use in executing our annual reunions was discussed at some length at the Board of Governors meeting two days ago and since the subject had previously been voted on (to continue accepting these donations) no further action was required.

The subject of logo on Golden Eagle apparel was also discussed and Pilot indicated that the proper logo for all apparel is The Golden Eagles. Those who have shirts, etc. with Golden Eagles can remain wearing same if they desire.

The subject of age requirement for selection to be a Golden Eagle was also discussed at the Board of Governors meeting and there was no change to the bylaws as a result of that discussion.

The assignment of “Wingman” (active members) to Emeritus Golden Eagles was discussed and the idea which came from Rabbit Campbell was unanimously endorsed by all as a means to keep vital lines of communications open. Wingmen should be assigned and managed by Flight Leaders

Jim Joyner thanked the members for authorizing a special plaque for the Hampton Roads ANA memorial at Virginia Beach

Chief Pilot explained a coming change to the Golden Eagle bylaws wherein the organization, in order to be tax exempt in the state of PA, must insert a dissolution clause into our document which action the BoG approved..

Adjournment: There being no more new business, the Pilot asked for a motion to adjourn. A motion was made, seconded and passed and the meeting was adjourned at 1004.

2016 Golden Eagles Reunion Reception and Banquet

The pre-Banquet Reception was hosted for cocktails with drink tickets issued as part of the price of the Banquet from 1800-1900 in the entrance hallway of the Buena Vista Palace Exhibit Hall. Pilot, RADM Don Boecker welcomed 15 new Golden Eagles and their wives, and wrapped up the evening’s ceremony by passing the “Stick” of leadership to the new Pilot, LtCol Howard DeCastro, whose acceptance remarks brought down the house (“Wildest Dreams”).


This was the second consecutive Southeast Flight-hosted Reunion in the Walt Disney World Complex, greatly enhance from lessons learned from the previous event. Despite the Hotel and Spa being under renovation at the time of the Reunion, the facilities and location all met the high standards expected by the Golden Eagles and their ladies.