The Golden Eagles — Quarterly Report, 2nd Quarter FY2021
Cruising into the fall season with throttles set at Max-Range, many of our regional events continue to be in jeopardy due to the persistence of the COVID-19 Delta variant. I have just learned that restrictions imposed in Central Flight have caused a postponement of their planned Mini-Reunion in San Antonio. It is encouraging, however, that the Tailhook Association was able to hold an in-person Symposium and Reunion in Sparks-Reno, NV, including the traditional Bug Roach Mixer on Friday evening, and both the Saturday Awards Luncheon and Banquet. This gives great promise that our Annual Reunion scheduled for 6–9 April 2022 at the Lansdowne Resort near Leesburg, VA will, in fact, come to pass as is being planned.
Flight Leaders will report, below, on gatherings that did meet regional restrictions during the summer and those planned for the fall quarter.
Here in San Diego, Golden Eagle Emeritus RADM Don Shelton was honored as a special guest, riding in a convertible with the Commander, American Legion Post 416 in the Fourth of July Parade held in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. Also, at a gala held aboard the USS Midway Museum on 2 September, Golden Eagle RADM Riley Mixson was honored with recognition as one of three great Americans who received the Midway American Patriot Award, recognized for dedication, honor and achievement in service to America. Riley, a former Commanding Officer of USS Midway, led the successful 12-year campaign, against all odds, to save the carrier from the scrapyard and bring it to San Diego where it has become the world’s most-visited naval ship museum.
Golden Eagle Emeritus Col Walter Ledbetter and his wife Nancy have relocated, but still reside in Southeast Flight. Their phone numbers and email remain the same.
Col Walter R. and Nancy Ledbetter, USMC (Ret)
Webmaster: CAPT J.R. Davis has updated the Golden Eagles website (www.epnaao.com) with a new link for our Golden Eagle apparel vendor, John Jordan. If your current polo shirt is worn out — or seems to have shrunk during the COVID lockdowns — or if you just need that early Christmas gift to yourself, reach out to John to get your official merchandise on order.
Of interest to many of our members, Honorary Golden Eagle Barrett Tillman has yet another great project in the works. He recently reported: “Incidentally: following the Thanh Hoa Bridge saga with Steve Coonts (2019) I'm focusing on Operation Pocket Money and the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. No contract yet — we're working up the proposal — but my agent is enthused especially with the volume and variety of Vietnamese sources. No doubt I will be contacting some Eagles who might want to contribute.” Keep your heads on a swivel, you may be in Barrett’s sights for an input!
FROM THE FLIGHT DECK
Radio Officer Report:
• Five new members satisfied their financial obligations for entry: $500.00
• Charitable contributions were made to NMCRS/NAMF/CGMA, respectively: $2,500/$2,500/$1,500
• Printing expenses for the Directory were satisfied: $1,290.85
• Net change in Operating Funds were: minus $10,184.74
Engineer Officer Report:
Project Update continues to encourage Golden Eagles to review their biographies and add newer pictures, add more post-service activities and update personal items. If you have the time and are so inclined, please check out the "Chronolog Template" and redo your bio accordingly. Once complete, be sure to send the bio update and pictures in separate emails. It makes it easier to replace the existing material.
The Continuing History for 2021 is being written and I am soliciting anecdotes and pictures for all Flights. I have the basic information but will gladly add some "color" to the history of the Golden Eagles of 2021.
The summer months saw several changes in membership as noted below, with all new Quarterly information appearing in bold type.
RADM Harry T. and Nancy Rittenour, USN (Ret)
LtGen Rex C. and Rebecca McMillian, USMC (Ret)
RDML William G. and Diane Sizemore, USN (Ret)
LtCol Michael R. and Kathy Mullen, USMC (Ret)
Col Larry D. and Debra Outlaw, USMC (Ret)
Last Take Offs:
Col Archie “Hap” Simpson, USMC (Ret), Emeritus, 30 April 2021, Northeast Flight
LtCol Carl Dubac, USMC (Ret), Emeritus, 10 April 2021, Northeast Flight
LT James Pearce, USN (WWII), Emeritus, 9 February 2011, West Flight, (Belated)
CAPT James R. Foster, USN (Ret), Emeritus, 22 June 2021, West Flight
CAPT Dale O. Snodgrass, USN (Ret), 24 July 2021, Southeast Flight
RADM Gordon H. Smith, USN (Ret), Emeritus, 19 February 2021, West Flight (Belated)
CAPT Edward F. Bronson, USN (Ret), 24 August 2021, Northeast Flight
Rita Zacharias, widow of Golden Eagle Emeritus CAPT Jerry Zacharias, USN, 24 March 2021
Jennie Lou Arthur, wife of Golden Eagle ADM Stan Arthur, USN, 18 April 2021
Shaunee Pitman, widow of Golden Eagle Emeritus LtGen Chuck Pitman, USMC, 11 June 2021
Kathy Chanik, wife of Golden Eagle VADM Marty Chanik, USN, 18 August 2021
Col William H. and Betty Huffcut Jr., USMC (Ret), 01 August 2021, Southeast Flight
LtGen Jefferson “Beak” and Janell Howell Jr., USMC (Ret) 01 September 2021, Central Flight
Col Robert and Judy Hickerson, USMC (Ret), 7 September 2021, Central Flight
CAPT Robert “Brick” Nelson is currently undergoing an experimental chemotherapy trial program at the UCSD San Diego Medical Center for confirmed Carcinoma of Unknown Primary (CUP), taking this obstacle on in stride with his usual amazing ‘no holds barred’ strike/fighter pilot aggressive attitude. Please keep Brick in your thoughts as he continues to gain the offensive against this bogey.
Our previous Pilot, LtCol Howard “Lopp” DeCastro has his hands full in a current dogfight with Central Nervous System Lymphoma. He has a good diagnosis and is very upbeat, now on a program of Chemotherapy that requires 4 days in the hospital, followed by 10 days at home, then repeated over the next couple of months. Lopp has his usual hilarious dry sense of humor and is happy to take “tactical advice” on his cell phone at (281) 639-7160.
Col Bob Hickerson, previous Executive Assistant to the Pilot and a good friend to many of us, took a tumble several weeks back and broke his hip. He recovered well from the operation but had an adverse reaction to the anesthesia and is currently in rehab. You can pass a message to him through his wife Judy at: email@example.com or text to: (830) 992-1098.
In an email response to Golden Eagle CDR Curt Dosé from Evelyn Yakeley regarding RADM Jay “Spook” Yakeley’s current condition, she states:
“Jay is doing well as can be expected. The facility immediately implemented pretty impressive stringent protocols early in the COVID pandemic. I assure you I have remained diligent and involved in keeping him safe. I have found the staff to be truly top notch and caring and those factors have given me enormous peace of mind.
Since the Jan 2020 lockdown I have been able to visit only four times and as you can imagine they were both deeply painful and equally precious to me. Jay is happy yet minimally communicative; however, the COVID quarantine robbed me ... well, let's just say despite all the pictures in his room I am no longer familiar. Jay's beautiful blue eyes just twinkle but no name comes out and that's enough. His Navy pictures in his room still bring a smile, especially his beloved Tomcat. (I even got him a Tomcat blanket)
Please keep both Spook and Evelyn in your thoughts and prayers.
FLIGHT LEADER UPDATES:
West Flight: Chuck Schroeder sends:
Following this past quarter of isolation and an easing of restrictions upon receiving our ‘jabs’, West Flight is back on a social schedule with our first Mini-Reunion luncheon in a year. The rendezvous for a formal luncheon will be at the Coronado Yacht Club in Coronado, CA early this October with 50 Golden Eagles, wives and guests planning to attend. With a weather eye on the social forecast, we’ll plan for one more gathering in February prior to meeting in Virginia this spring.
While activity and updates for West Flight have been centered primarily in the southern California area, the opportunity to report on individual gatherings within our wide area, from Alaska and Hawaii to Wyoming and New Mexico, will keep us all in closer contact. Received news from Kurt and Terrie Schroeder and Bill and Susan Newman both now settled in in St. George Utah, with a report of good fly fishing in Salida, Colorado, from Fred and Patty Baldwin.
Final note: West Flight’s Golden Eagle Annual Reunion is on schedule for our 2025 Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, gathering in the great North-West.
Central Flight: Mike Coats sends:
I reluctantly cancelled our Central Flight Mini-Reunion in San Antonio, scheduled for September 27/28. The cancellations were piling up due to the spread of the COVID Delta variant and the lack of ICU beds in our Texas hospitals was becoming critical.
Southeast Flight: Ernie Christensen sends:
The Southeast Flight Mini-Reunion scheduled for 29 September to 1 October at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville-Waterfront was the sole event for the quarter. We had 25 Golden Eagles and spouses attending, with the Welcome Aboard Reception kicking things off on Wednesday 29 September. Golf, lunch after golf, then cocktails and the Banquet were the highlights for Thursday, 30 September.
Mike Stortz worked hard to bring together those healthy and ready for this modified Golden Eagle get-together. Hats off to him and his efforts to sustain our union.
Northeast Flight: Dave Seder sends:
The world has reopened — even D.C.
2022 Reunion planning is ongoing with good progress — on or ahead of major decision milestones. Thanks Matt Moffit and your planning team. Further meetings with the Church (Memorial Service) and Lansdowne Resort were conducted in July. We regretfully deferred our Mini-Reunion planned for mid to late October as our proposed venue was not quite ready for us.
On 31 August we participated in a Northeast Flight lunch — our first get together in two years. Forty-four of us enjoyed some much-delayed face-to-face camaraderie and even hoisted a sarsaparilla or two.
September 8: NE Flight welcomed new Golden Eagle and NE Flight member, RDML William G. Sizemore II, USN (Ret).
September 21: Golden Eagles, many from NE Flight, joined VADM Marty Chanik at the Army Navy Country Club to Celebrate the Life of Kathy Chanik. The Celebration of Life was really special, including a lot of poignant stories and anecdotes from 44 years of marriage. It was very well attended with at least 10 Golden Eagles present. The Memorial was emceed by Golden Eagle RADM Mike “Nasty” Manazir and culminated with a video of Kathy playing four harp selections including Led Zeppelin.
During the past quarter NE Flight participated as Honorary Pall Bearers at funeral services for CAPT Ted Bronson on 11 September at the Washington Navy Yard and RADM Gordon Smith on 13 September at Arlington National Cemetery.
Future Services for Honorary Pall Bearers:
VADM Edward C. Waller: 04 Oct 2021, 1030, USNA Chapel
LtCol Carl N. Dubac: 20 Oct 2021, 1500, Graveside Service ANC
RADM Edward L. “Whitey” Feightner: 21 Oct 2021, 1300, Graveside Service ANC
Col Archie D. “Hap” Simpson: 22 Oct 2021, 1300, Old Post Chapel, Fort Myer
RADM Thomas F. Brown III: 25 Feb 2022, 1100, ANC
CAPT Robert J. Naughton: ANC Schedule Pending
For those planning to visit ANC in the near future, the current guidelines include: "Consistent with the new CDC guidance, ANC will still require persons who are not fully vaccinated to practice the safety procedures recommended by the CDC — such as wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distancing — while visiting the cemetery or attending a service.” There is no limit to the number of funeral attendees at graveside services. The limit has been changed to 98 mourners inside the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Old Post and Memorial Chapels, and remains two family members inside the ANC administration building.
CHOCKED AND CHAINED:
Summer saw some serious ups and downs as the Delta variant of COVID-19 affected a large segment of the population. I share with you a comment I received from Mike Coats:
“On a personal note, I recently lost two good friends to the Delta variant … I … encourage all Golden Eagles to continue to play it safe and get their vaccinations, including the booster shot when it's available, but this pandemic is still hitting hard and close to home.”
That said, with just six months to go until our scheduled Annual Reunion at the Lansdowne Resort there is a break in the overcast. I’m looking forward to seeing all mission capable Golden Eagles launch and join the “gaggle” in the rendezvous circle as the sky continues to clear and we slip the surly bonds of this pandemic.
Jay A. Campbell