The Commanders Column --
Reunion is History
Greetings to 53-Fox classmates:
Another great reunion in the history books, this time in Colorado
Springs! A tip of the ol? sombrero to Don Condra and Sharon, Bud Libengood
and Annaliese, and our guardian
angel, Jake Watson flying perpetual CAP. A special salute to Jim Mayton and the
Hondo squadron--your networking is terrific and greatly admired and envied.
“H” stands for Hondo and hard work in the same breath.
At each of our practice reunions, I have had fun seeing
friends from 1952-53, and making new friends each time. The Air Force
really hit the jackpot in August 1952 when it discovered that 53 Fox guys
were full of pep and vinegar. The
reunion facilities hit the mark, and Bud’s hard work really paid off. The
smiles on everyone’s face proved that we had fun basking in memories and in
each other’s company. Two other military reunions were sharing the
Ramada at the same time, and the hotel staff paid attention to making us all
The weather cooperated, although some of us chickened out and
stayed at the hotel on the day of the Academy football game, when we woke up to
a typical Colorado snow storm in early September. By game time the snow
had melted, also typical, but sitting in
the hotel with my glass of prune juice, heck, I was cool with that.
Our memorial service was one of the high points--thank you,
George “Hork” Dimon and all the
squadron commanders-- as we honored the men who are no longer with us. It
is not surprising that our squadron in the sky is growing in number, which makes
gatherings even more dear to us. I continue to marvel at the Doolittle
Raider reunions, and even more amazing is that Jimmy Doolittle didn’t take his
final check ride until age 98. Let’s make a goal to keep our 53 Fox
group as active as those WWII warriors!
The sing-along after the banquet on Friday was special, when
multi-talented Vernon “Bud” Hesterman and Gene Fox put their Barbershop
Quartet skills into leadership mode. I can see why the musical theater
prospers when Bud hits the footlights.
In our free time, many went into the surrounding area to
shop, to sightsee and to keep the economy flowing by getting gifts for
grandkids, other family, and friends. I heard tales of credit card melt
down from such places as the Broadmoor, Cripple Creek, Central City
Joe and Katherine Ann Holt were observed doing Tai Chi in the
lobby of the hotel, and taking pictures of all the Fox and Foxie people.
There is a rumor that because of the increasing size of our love handles,
all the cameras had to use a wider angle lens.
What happened two days after our reunion ended was tragic.
For me, it revitalized what 53 Fox stood for all these years, and how we are as
ready now as we were then, to stand up for our country. I went through a mix of
emotions, all the way from wondering whether having fun in such a serious
situation was proper, to deciding that now is truly the time when we should
gather and remember why we took to the air. My arthritis
didn’t hurt quite as bad, my bald head didn’t look as bare, and my
heart said, "stop
worrying, and start supporting our 50th anniversary in the birthplace of
aviation in 2003!
So I close with this request, even if you had contacted
classmates and they haven’t shown up, do it once more. Perhaps
circumstances have changed, maybe 9-11 has given them a thought to see everyone
while the seeing is available, whatever; call them, write
them, cajole them. You are cordially "ordered" to bring in one
more Fox than you did in the past. Each one bring one, and voila, we can
salute Orville and Wilbur by filling up the ol’ bicycle shop!
My prayer for all in 2002, that you have a
peaceful, healthy and prosperous year. And let us all together ask that
God blesses America!
Humbly, John Geron
4904 Cleveland Ct.
Temple Hills, MD 20748-5411