FREEDOM THROUGH VIGILANCE ASSOCIATION
P.O. Box 691616
San Antonio, Texas 78269-1616
1. September 26, 2015 FTVA ANNUAL GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING. After Vice President Andy Smith determined we had a quorum, President Ron Haygood called the meeting to order at 1230 hours in the Bernard A. Larger Auditorium (BALA), building 2007 (Larson Hall), HQ 25th Air Force, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.
2. Attendee who traveled the farthest: John Toillion came all the way from Hawaii to attend the festivities.
3. Attendee with the earliest employment connection was Bob Finch who started his service in 1952.
4. Reading of the Minutes: Minutes of the SEP 2014 FTVA General Membership Meeting were read and approved.
5. Treasurer's report: Was read and filed for audit.
6. VIGILANT PARTNERS Update: Mark Hess provided an excellent update on the Vigilant Partners program and its continued success. Corporate donations are down, but individual donations are up.
7. HISTORY Update: Barnie Gavin presented a great update, and clarified the timeframe of the report coincides with the annual General Membership meeting.
8. WEBSITE AND MEMBERSHIP Update: Bob Baert provided a great recap of the website activities and a rundown on membership status.
9. HALL OF HONOR Update: A.J. Harrison thanked everyone for their help and contributions during the Hall of Honor nomination and selection process for the year, especially Lt Pelletier for serving as the 25th Air Force POC for the Hall of Honor. The 180th member was inducted to the Hall of Honor today.
10. SOCIAL ACTIVITIES Update: Ken Williams provided a recap of the Spring Social earlier this year which was attended by 90 people, the largest to date. The banquet this evening will have approximately 220 attending; cocktail hour starts at 1730; hope to see you there.
11. SPORTS Update. Ron Haygood updated on behalf of Dennis Buxton who could not be here. The golf outing was another tremendous success, enjoyed by all.
12. PICNIC Update: Jacque Lerma briefed that the picnic this year was another great event; and thankfully the weather cooperated.
13. NEWSLETTER Update: Dennis Rassmussen provided an update on Newsletter highlights and activities over the past year. He repeated his thanks to the many people who have opted to switch to receiving the Newsletter electronically because it saves us time, money, and effort (not to mention paper). Ted Colquhoun manages the Fallen Eagles program; in order to ensure that data is presented in the Newsletter, need some help please. Joe "Pepito" Figueroa served as the Fallen Eagles Editor for the Newsletter. Ken Maynard continues to help out as the 25th Air Force liaison to ensure NAF events are captured and shared. Great work by Bob Baert on the website. Thanks to all the chapters for their updates, we include them as best we can. Ron Haygood followed up with an appeal to forego the hard copy and view the Newsletter on line if able; as printing and mailing the Newsletter continues to be one of our biggest expenses.
14. CHAPTER REPORTS:
- HERITAGE CHAPTER, JJ Graham: 2015 was another prosperous year for our small but robust group in San Angelo! It was sad to see Col Joos retire, but we were lucky to get Col Michael Downs in to replace her. We look forward to continuing our involvement on base and to keep the momentum going into 2016. As always, we sincerely thank the FTVA for their continued support! Here is a recap of the year's events to date:
ALOHA CHAPTER, John "Tilly" Toillion: We are a small chapter, we call ourselves the Gang of Six; and we meet quarterly. We are saddened by the recent loss of Ken "Hopi" Hopkins in August; we plan to nominate him for the Hall of Honor. We continue to have challenges connecting with the Active Duty crowd, as many of you do. Will continue to work that through Command Chief Roger Towberman and the 692 ISR Group leadership. As we age, reinforced by Hopi's recent death, we find that it is more important than ever to remain in touch. Come on out to see us, the welcome mat is always out.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHAPTER, George "Ike" Eichelberger: We now have a new President, along with 42 current members. We find that keeping track of the snowbirds is a challenge, as we see people come and go at our meetings. Like the Heritage Chapter, we are also getting in on the Vietnam Commemorative activities. Our outreach efforts remain strong as we collaborate with the Air Force Academy Cadets to mentor as many of the new Intelligence Officers as we can.
ALAMO CHAPTER, Barnie Gavin: Ron Haygood opened remarks by sharing how incredible Barnie has been in standing up the Heritage Chapter, the Rocky Mountain Chapter, and now the Alamo Chapter. Barnie began his remarks by letting us know what a challenge it is to find a suitable meeting location. San Antonio is such a large city that it is difficult to find a place that meets the needs of all attendees. We meet once per month on the third Thursday, and have decided that once per quarter we will turn that into a social event with spouses encouraged to attend; the social event is normally a nice dinner someplace in town. The Spring Social in April and the Banquet in September serve as the social meetings as we urge spouses to attend both events. We did reach out to ensure we could legally call ourselves the Alamo Chapter and use the Alamo graphic as our symbol; and we are good to go.
- Brandenburg Project: On 27 Oct 2014, building 448, which houses the Command Section of the 17th Training Group, was dedicated as Brandenburg Hall in honor of Sgt Dale Brandenburg, an airborne radio maintenance technician who was killed when EC-47/Baron 52 was shot down over Laos in Feb 1973. Until this time he was the only one of the 17 USAFSS EC-47 crewmembers killed in SEA who had never been memorialized. We were honored to have in attendance two of Sgt Brandenburg's nieces, Mrs Beth Jewell and Mrs Clara Woodburn. Both Ed Bendinelli and Tommy Guy did an excellent job talking about Sgt Brandenburg and the sacrifices of all the silent warriors; Ed got rave reviews on his speech in the local press.
- EC-47 History Exhibit: the EC-47 exhibit continues to be a "must see" for visitors coming to Goodfellow! We continue to hear very positive feedback from the numerous DVs that visit the base. Since its installation, we have had a number of DVs visit the exhibit. Between Doc Garrett (base historian), Tom Nurre, Ed Bendinelli, and Larry Ross, visitors continue to learn all about the history of the EC-47 program in Southeast Asia. We're happy to announce that the EC-47 exhibit was named the AETC historic display of the year!
- Award Ceremony: On 30 April our chapter participated in a ceremony awarding Paul and Nita Clever the Commander's Public Service award for their efforts in finding and recovering human remains and artifacts from an Air Force EC-47 lost over Laos in 1969 (this was an initiative of Col Kimberlee Joos). This was the same aircraft, CAP-72, on which Paul's father, TSgt Louis Clever, and nine other crewmembers were killed. Their efforts in 2012 resulted in the identification and repatriation of 7 of the 10 crewmembers lost on that mission. We were able to spend some quality time with Paul and Nita, and listen to some of their stories. They are an exceptional couple who plan on returning to Laos to continue the search for missing aircraft and crewmembers.
- Change of Command at Goodfellow: On 11 July, Tom Nurre and I attended the retirement dinner for Col Kimberlee Joos (a sad day for us!) and presented her with a scaled down model of the EC-47 exhibit on display in the Norma Brown Bldg. We also gave her a plaque to accompany the display piece. Apparently our gift was the hit of the evening – everyone wanted to see it and touch it. We'll miss Col Joos and her engaging personality and support for our chapter as she begins a new chapter in her life. Col Joos did promise to "remain in touch." Col Michael Downs assumed command of the 17th Training Wing on 14 July; he's a former Commander of the 94th and has picked up right where Col Joos left off; he's already letting us know he is interested in getting involved in future projects. I think he'll be a good fit for Goodfellow!
- Cressman and Leftwich Projects: Our on-going mission to recognize our fallen intel heroes with connections to Goodfellow continues, but at a slower pace than we'd like. Our next target, the Cressman Dining Facilty, is closed again for a complete make-over and should re-open by Feb 2016; we'll work with the base to do something in conjunction with the grand re-opening; after that, it's on to Leftwich Hall. We have shadow boxes designed for those buildings already dedicated that will "personalize" each building. We will continue to work these.
- Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Committee: In May, the Heritage Chapter became a partner with EC-47.com and Angelo State University in the Vietnam War Commemorative Partner Program (VWCPP), in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. On 8 July we participated in a ceremony at ASU awarding Vietnam vets a commemorative pin to honor their service. The recipients in San Angelo received their pins immediately After the pins were awarded for the first time at a ceremony at the Capital Building. Tom Nurre MC'd the event and I was lucky enough to pin on some vets!
We also participated in a 14 Aug VWCPP event. This was another extremely successful event with over 60 Vietnam Veterans and their families attending. Col Downs spoke for a while and visited with as many vets as he could. Briefings went well and the ASU part – pinning ceremony and reception – went off without a hitch. Many of our members were there and local legend Larry Mills was there as well! This event also signaled the end of the "Vietnam: Through the Lens" display at the Angelo State University's West Texas Collection. This display opened on 17 November 2014. Tom Nurre and 6994th Vietnam Veteran Joe Martin – who now run the EC-47 website – helped the folks at ASU put the display together. At the opening ceremonies in November, Ed Bendinelli was one of four panel members who shared their Vietnam experiences. Ed, Tom, and Joe each had memorabilia on display as part of the "Vietnam: Through the Lens" display.
Next event was a pinning ceremony with the Goodfellow Eagles Group on 30 Aug. Ed and I recognized/ pinned 15 officers and one enlisted member (our very own Larry Ross!). This was very well attended by the O-6s and their families – they had to bring in extra tables and chairs. Ed was invited to speak to the Rotary Club on 8 Sep to help spread the word on the VWCPP committee efforts.
- Heath Hall: It looks pretty good now that Heath Hall is going to be used to train international students sometime in 2016. I'm working with Doc Garrett (Wing Historian) and John Pope (retired 202 Chief and Goodfellow POC for the project) to make sure any & all artifacts housed inside the building are accounted for. Main goal here is to preserve Heath Hall & the legacy of the late CMSgt Jim Heath. The status of all the artifacts right now is not clear; the base would like to leave at least some of them in place. Doc is monitoring the situation. More to follow…
- International Students: Students attending the international officers course are invited to one of our chapter dinner /meetings; normally host 2-3 classes per year; there have been many interesting exchanges on domestic and military topics; some productive "international mentoring." Class attendees represented Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Estonia, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Egypt, Nigeria, The Republic of China, and Thailand. There has been a recent change in course leadership so we anticipate going back to the way things were a couple of years ago (dinner-meetings); our next meeting w/these folks will be in November.
- Chapter Admin Issues: Our chapter takes pride in our inputs to the Newsletter…our noble scribe, Larry Ross, takes great pains to ensure "all the news that's fit to print" (in both words and pictures!) is forwarded to the Earl Of Ink for publication. We've decided to stick with the "Christmas Hangover" theme and continue to hold our Christmas party in January. This seems to work better for everyone.
- Questions…Comments…Concerns…? The Heritage Chapter thanks each of you for your continued support!
15. ELECTION OF OFFICERS: Ron Haygood was re-elected as President, and Andy Smith was re-elected as Vice President, both for two-year terms.
16. OPEN FORUM:
- RON HAYGOOD: The FTVA is a team sport here in San Antonio; we have Col Bob Cope managing our money; Rass and his team working hard on the Newsletter, Bob Baert bends over backwards on the website and membership. We are here to support and serve the 25th Air Force and the various chapters. We meet the third Friday of each month at the Security Service Federal Credit Union boardroom, everyone is invited. I also want to thank Mark Hess for his unceasing efforts with the Vigilant Partner Program; we could not do what we do without that vital source of funding, and Mark has continued to work wonders patterned after Jim McLendon's previous efforts. Our Command Chief, Roger "Tobie" Towberman, has worked hard to reinvigorate the Larson Awards program, dedicating a SMSgt full time to the task. The Chief also has declared the FTVA to be the beneficiary of any stipend presented to him for his various speaking engagements. I got a call out of the blue recently from a squadron representative where the Chief was guest speaker at their recent banquet, and he sent a check to the FTVA in the Chief's name and we sincerely thank him for that.
- ANDY SMITH: We now have nametags, as you can see displayed by many of us here today. I will work with the chapter leadership to get bulk orders in and submitted; we just can't work with individual orders. Sincere thank you to Jen Anthony from Engrave-Tech Industries for their outstanding support.
- SHEILA WILLIAMS: When Ken was the Director of Staff at 25th Air Force we started a Spouse's Group for the NAF. I want to reach out to get a feel for how receptive FTVA members and spouses would be to starting an FTVA Spouses Group. We love to meet with everyone and remain in touch. Barnie Gavin offered to spread the word on this initiative through the Alamo Chapter.
17. There being no further business, a motion was made, seconded, and approved to adjourn at 1339.
Loren R. "Phred" Sevening