by The Staff
Although the 14th Reunion of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association was another complete success, it almost started out with a disaster. Sunday morning, the first actual day of the 14th Reunion, President Jerry Johnson received a call from Dee Harper, Chairman Emeritus; of the Association. Dee felt like hell and his heart was jumping out of his chest. Dee Said he felt so bad and that he might not make the start of the reunion.
Jerry calmly told Dee to "stop talking to me, call 9-1-1, and get your ass to the hospital!" Jerry then talked with Dee's daughter who then called the paramedics who rushed Dee to the hospital. Luckily, it was not a heart attack Typically, Dee had overextended his body working on the reunion and was suffering from exhaustion. The hospital inserted a pacemaker and brought Dee's heart back to a normal rhythm. Dee went home at the end of the week, missing the entire 14th Reunion. He was sorely missed.
Despite the shock surrounding Dee Harper's condition, the 14th Reunion opened at 2 pm Sunday at the Monte Carlo Hotel. When registralaort closed on Wednesday, a total of 594 members and guests were on the rolls. The $55 registration fee brought every member a Sabre Pilots coffee mug, American flag lapel pin, a "Mach Busters Laa,emt" audio tape, two brunches, a cocktail party, bus service to Red Flag, and seven drink tickets. It was quite a bargain in anyone's book.
A number of organizations either dovetailed or piggybacked their reunions with us, including the River Rats at the Riviera Hotel, the 4th FTW, 44th FBS, 42nd/7I st FIS, several pilot classes, the 21 st FBW, and the "Recce Sabres", who flew the RF-86 on highly classified missions. Each group had their own table at the banquet. A new feature for the women this year was supposed to be a fashion show at the ladies luncheon. But none of the stores wanted to participate. Instead, Ardith Freebaim gave a very entertaining talk about her expenses in China.
John Lowery accompanied a group of relatives of Korean War POW/MlAs in the Hospitality Suite every day. This group of fine people talked with any and all regarding their (still) missing loved ones.
There were two major events that took place outside the confines of the Monte Carlo - a trip to the Red Flag facilities at Nellis, and the golf tournament. Over 260 people signed up for the 160 space Red Flag low. Many went away disappointed but understanding. We're looking at possibly running two separate tours at the next reunion, to accommodate twice as many members. The golf tournament saw 55 of our members, and 23 River Rats, hit the links at Nellis.
Two important meetings were held during the reunion. Board Chairman Dan Druen called a meeting of the Board of Directors on Monday. Following a report on the association finances, President Jerry Johnson informed the Board That the Association had 1914 active members, of which 188 were delinquent in their dues. The Board approved a new $100.00 Life Membership fee for all members over the age of 75. Glenn Carus talked about the Smithsonian Museurn opening scheduled for December 2003. Our Association has over 500 members already penciled in on the 'tablet' which will be at the entrance. Those interested in getting their names on the 'tablet' can apply using the form enclosed in this issue of Sabrejet Classics.
The Membership Meeting was called to order by President Johnson on Wednesday morning. President Johnson then introduced the new slate of Officers and new Board of Directors. The new Board includes Dan Druen - Chairman, and Directors Bruce Hinton, Pat Hughes, Bob Matasick, Bob Slater, Loyd Ulrich, and Lon Walter. The new slate of Association officers includes President Jerry Johnson for a second term, Bob Smith as Vice President, and Rich Geiger as Treasurer. Larry Davis, Editor of the SabreJet Classics magazine, Bill Weiger will continue as Webmaster, Diane Weiland as Secretary, and PolIv Winesett as Data Processor. An updated list of e-mail addresses is on page 4 of this issue of Sabrejet Classics.
Rich Geiger, Treasurer, reported the Association had a balance of $239,000.00 at the beginning of the 14th Reunion. Mike Freebaim reported that $55,000.00 worth of Flight Line Sales merchandise was available, but jackets would only be available in blue, Shirts still come in red, white, or blue. Glenn Carus gave his report on the Smithsonian, and Ead Severe gave a press sentation on the Aviation Cadet Museum, along with a plea for donations to finish the project. The banquet was held on Wednesday evening and had an especially patriotic theme due to the fact that our brothers in-arms were facing combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Following the Nellis Color Guard's presentation of the colors, President Jerry Johnson offered a toast to all our departed comrades, to the ladies, to President George W. Bush, and in all our troops.
A sumptuous meal was again provided by Carolyn Welch, Catering Manager at the Monte Carlo, which was topped off by a dessert that was almost too pretty to eat - but everyone did! Our speaker was Major General Stephen G. Woods, Commander of the Air Force Weapons Center at Nellis, who gave an informative talk on new aircraft and system being used in the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as things coming in the future of military avaition. President Johnson presented him with a model of the F-86 Sabre, which With that, the banquet broke up into small individual parties. But not before the announcement that everyone had waited for - the 15th Reunion of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association will be held in 2005 in Las Vegas. I have already cleared my calendar for the entire month of April for that year. See you there!
No portion of this article may be used or reprinted without permission from the President of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association or the editor of Sabre Jet Classics magazine.
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