Reunion at Colorado Springs, CO
1 - 5 October 2008
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The 2008 FAC Association Reunion in Colorado Springs was attended by approximately 450 FACs. The FAC Hootch was the center of social activities. The FAC Hootch was pretty much open daily every afternoon, until around 10 p.m. (or later) every evening. This year, to help FACs connect by call sign and TASS, name cards were posted on each table. There were all TASSs, plus Covey, Nail, Rustic, Jake, Jade, Raven, Misty, and many others. In addition to the Hootch, the Dedication at Memorial Park, and the FAC banquet, there were side trips to Pikes Peak, the Garden of the Gods, a tour of the Air Force Academy grounds, a great tailgate party and an exciting football game.
Some of the first-timers to a FAC Assn. Reunion expected a big division within the association by the various call signs but they quickly found that the FACA is one big fraternity, without much regard to call sign or FAC specialty or aircraft type. We are all brothers.
Thursday was golf and a number of optional activities available, including Peterson AFB Air Museum visit, and a visit to the adjacent restoration facility, plus a great lunch buffet at the PAFB Club (all ranks, like most bases nowadays). The tour was so popular, we wound up returning two hours behind schedule. After another visit to the Hootch, we joined a large group for the Flying W Ranch cowboy steak dinner and show. About ˝ of the entire reunion participated in that one. Long day, but a great evening.
Friday was the main day for official activities, and an absolutely perfect day. The main event was the morning dedication of the new FAC Memorial. The memorial itself is a work of art – red granite, with the names of the 247 FAC KIA, plus another nearly 50 observers, interpreters, etc who were KIA on the FAC missions. Howie Pierson (Nail 01, FACA Chaplain) was the M/C, and did a great job, injecting humor into an otherwise somber occasion. The dedication itself was officiated by Col. Bud Day, Misty FAC, POW and Medal of Honor recipient. Bud is a true American hero.
At the service, a special seating area right up front was reserved for the honored families of our KIA brothers. Most other seating was open. A large contingent of uniformed Hmong soldiers and their wives, in native Hmong garb joined us. These soldiers stood at attention in formation throughout the entire ceremony. The total attendance included nearly all USAFA Grads from the two reunions (’63 and ’68) and many members of various other classes.
Families of KIA
Hmong soldiers and their wives
Halfway through the ceremony, a two-ship of Birddogs did a smoke-trail fly-by, followed by a smoke-trail fly-by of a formation of two O-2A’s. Brought back memories - AIR POWER! Following a 21-gun salute, a four-ship of F-16’s executed a perfect missing-man flyover. It was a totally impressive and very moving dedication.
After a short lunch break was the FACA Membership Meeting. President Denny Crouch presented the State of the Association . The most significant item was the IRS’ acceptance of our association as a 501C-19 (veterans’) group, for tax purposes, retroactive to 2001. What this means to members is that any donations/expenses made to the FAC Association and/or the FAC Museum back to 2001 are recognized by the IRS as fully deductible under the tax code. You may have claimed them on your taxes anyway, but now you don’t need to sweat these deductions if you are audited. After the Treasurer presented the 2008-2009 budgets, and adoption of some minor C&BL changes recommended by the BOD, we heard presentations on future reunion sites by both Ft. Worth and Arizona. The membership voted on sites as described above. Following that was the election of officers for the next two years. Several had four-year terms, and were excluded. Most other officers were re-elected. Due to a contract project, Darrell Whitcomb stepped down as Historian, and was replaced by Rich Atchison (of Bat 21 fame). Tom McGrain was elected to a vacant Director position.
That evening was the FAC Banquet. To describe a FAC Banquet defies words. It was unforgettable. After a songfest performance by the FACeroos, we retired to the Hootch for one last nightcap as a group.
Saturday revolved around the big tailgate party at Falcon Stadium and the big AF-Navy game. The pre-game show was very impressive. They had planned a drop of the Academy Sport Parachute Team, but winds were too strong for the jump, so it turned into a C-17 flyover. This was followed by a flyby of the B2 bomber, then an O1E and an O2A (the announcer acknowledged the FAC Association Reunion several times) and a two-ship flyby of F-22A Raptors. At the North end of the field, they stood practically on their tails and climbed out of sight.
Just for old times’ sake, the Falcons lost to Navy, 27-33. No other events were scheduled for Saturday, leaving all to get together in small groups for our last evening together.
Wish you all had been there – you’d have loved it! At the FACA Membership Business meeting, the decision was made that the 2010 reunion will be in Ft. Worth, home of the FAC Museum. The 2012 reunion will be in Tucson, home of the Pima Air Museum. Specific dates TBA. You all should really try to make it – not to be missed!
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