China Post 1 2019 Reunion
Colorado Springs 19 September 2019
By Gary Howe
Poop Sheet Deputy Editor
Another successful reunion was held in Colorado Springs during 19-22 September with 92 attendees and guests. There was a well-equipped hospitality suite, where there was always a conversation to join.
There were several activities from which to choose prior to the activities on Saturday. An Ultimate Craft Beer Tour took place over several hours on Friday. Colorado Springs is the home of a booming craft beer culture, and this mini-road trip travelled to the most unique establishments that gave a real taste of Olympic City USA! The Dragon Riders rode on Thursday and Friday. Thanks to Tony Archer for leading the rides. The Friday ride had a stop in the old mining town of Cripple Creek. Also on Friday, Hank Hoffman organized a tour of the Air Force Academy. If that weren’t enough, the Pikes Peak Air show took place on Saturday and Sunday.
The General Membership meeting took place on Saturday with our guest speaker, Retired Navy Captain John “Mike” McGrath, a Colorado native. Mike graduated from the Naval Academy with the class of 1962 after which he served 24 years as a Naval Aviator. He flew 179 combat missions in Vietnam before being shot down on June 30, 1967, after which he served almost six years as a prisoner of war. Mike completed his first tour on the USS Ranger, CVA-61 and completed 157 missions. Mike’s second tour was aboard the USS Constellation, CVA-64 where he was flying an A-4C with VA-146 on 30 June 1967 when he was shot down. Mike returned on 4 March 1973. We appreciate Mike for taking time from his schedule to attend our reunion.
Our banquet guest speaker was our own Hank Hoffman. Hank graduated in 1963 from the Air Force Academy. He went to Vietnam immediately after flight school where he flew in four combat tours in B-52 and A-37 aircraft. Hank talked a bit about the civil unrest in the U.S. that eventually led to the nation’s withdrawal from Vietnam. He opened his presentation by projecting a photograph of 17 cadets taken in his Vandenberg Hall dorm room in 1962. Five in the group became colonels (including Hoffman), six retired as lieutenant colonels, and another — Lance Sijan — would posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for valor. Hank concluded by saying “I don’t think we ever got closure on the war. Whenever someone thanks me for my service, and they still do, I always try to talk to them for a few minutes to explain I much prefer hearing ‘Welcome Home,’ which was something we didn’t have back then.” Many thanks, Hank, for speaking at our 2019 Banquet.
Our new Bullshipper is Jimmy Barfield. The Bullshipper Award recognizes and honors members of the Post, and the list of Bullshippers includes members whose contributions to the Post have been well documented.
I look forward to seeing everyone next year at our 2020 reunion in Fort Walton Beach!