Pilot Training Class 53-F Reunion Association
The silhouette of the world famous T-6 Texan with 53-F above has become the Emblem of our pilot training class. Who knows its’ origin???
Don Condra and I are sending along best wishes and hope that you who attended the 1998 reunion, enjoyed the goings-on at San Antonio as much as we did. Also sending along some “what-ifs” for the future in other parts of the newsletter, and are waiting to see what you think of them. Be sure to sound off, either way, or with some of your ideas. The idea of having each primary base acting as an individual unit, under a base C.O., and then working in formation with all the other bases, really provided a good springboard for those “what-ifs”, as well as having been successful in contacts and bringing folks to San Antonio.
The 1998 reunion was the culmination of lots of effort by lots of people. It was an event that brought many members of 53-F together for the first time in 45 years. Since we first came together in 1952, nearly 1/3 of our classmates are known to have made their “last flight”. Many others were unable to make the reunion for various reasons. Well, you will have another opportunity...Colorado Springs, CO is the site and 2001 is the year. Don’t miss this opportunity. Start your planning now so you’ll be able to see your old friends again.
Maybe I’m just paranoid, but seems to me that Mother Nature has been
beating on us pretty heavily in both of our practice reunions; are any of you
readers long range weather forecasters that we can enlist for 2001’s
wing-ding? I know it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, but let’s try to
delay her antics until we’re all on the way home from Colorado Springs.
Jake Watson did a great job in cranking the 53 Fox reunion engine, and deserves our prayers. RIP, Jake! Jake, Don and Bill Eagle did all the work at San Antonio, and I say thank you to them. And thank you to all that came. It was a fun time! Warm regards, John Geron
WATSON MAKES LAST FLIGHT
For those who may not have gotten the word…..Jake Watson, our reunion "instigator" and leader for the first ever 53-F class reunion passed away on April 20, 1998 of Lukemia in the Jackson Hospital, Montgomery, Alabama. He was buried at the National Cemetery, Bushnell, Florida with full military honors on April 23rd.
entered the US Army in 1946 and
served 2 years in the Ordnance Branch in Okinawa and the Philippines before
returning to the U.S. He enrolled at the University of Houston as a business
major. After college, he entered business in south Georgia as a well contractor.
In 1952, Jake entered the Air Force as a Second Lieutenant and started
flying training with 53-F at Greenville, Mississippi. There, he was a friendly,
outgoing individual who was a mentor to his classmates…especially the Aviation
Cadets in the class. He was looked up to and admired by those of us who were
junior and lesser experienced. After graduation from pilot training at Webb AFB,
Texas, he became an instructor pilot at Williams AFB, Arizona in the T-6, T-28,
and T-33. From Williams, he went to Bainbridge AB, Georgia as a military check
pilot. While there, he married his beloved Clara. They enjoyed many years of
marriage…she survives Jake and lives in Montgomery, Alabama.
a series of staff jobs, Jake was assigned to Nakon Phanom RTAFB, Thailand flying
the U-10. He flew over 500 combat hours on what he termed "a thrilling
tour". He returned to Maxwell AFB for his final AF tour as Chief of Aircrew
Proficiency Training and Director of Operations for the Air University.
Jake became President of the Maxwell-Gunter Federal Credit Union in 1970
and, under his leadership, grew it's $10 million assets to over $60 million
before resigning. He founded the National Association of Credit Union Presidents
in 1974, serving as Executive Director until 1982. It has now grown from 22 to
over 300 members throughout the United States.
his health started failing, Jake founded and managed an advisory business for
commercial accounts….banks, savings and loan associations and credit unions.
He fully retired in 1986 and enjoyed several years of retirement life in
Florida, Alabama, and North Carolina.
was a member of the Air Commando Association. At one of the reunions in the
early 1990's, he and fellow 53-Fox classmate, Don Condra, commenced the
activities that lead to the first ever reunion of Pilot Training Class 53-F. He
was deeply involved in 53-F activities right up to his death. Indeed, he took
his computer to the hospital with him so he could stay "connected" and
participate in development of the 1998 reunion.
have all lost a friend, comrade, and a faithful classmate. "He never dies
who is remembered"…..Jake will live a long, long time!