Reunion 1992 Information
REUNION #5 – May 15-17, 1992 – Dayton, Ohio
The 1992 Reunion is now history. From the correspondence we have received, it was quite a success. There were many things that made it that way. Primary among these were the volunteers who worked on the reunion; the guest speakers; the memorial dedication; and the flexibility of our members who ensured the success of the operation despite occasional “managerial” shortcomings.
First, our thanks to Colonel Charles Merriott and Lieutenant Colonel Walt Reese. Without their help, your association staff would have been overwhelmed. Col. Merriott took over the reception committee duties and did a superb job. Walt ran the hospitality room in between going home to nurse a sick horse and a distraught wife.
This reunion was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of U.S. military helicopter flying and the opening of a new Air-Sea Rescue exhibit. On 18 May 1942, Igor Sikorsky and Chief Pilot Les Morris delivered the first XR-4 to Wright-Patterson Field.
The USAFHPA dedicated a plaque and tree in remembrance to all USAF helicopter pilots. The memorial dedication occurred on a beautiful warm day at the Air Force Museum. As I passed through the crowd, I heard a few voices murmuring about the ceremony being “no big deal”. But once the formal ceremony had been completed and the plaque unveiled, the crowd was noticeably prouder. Special thanks to Red Lemke for designing the plaque. And thanks also to Carter Harmon and Col. Bill Zins for being the official unveilers. The line to take pictures next to the memorial after the ceremony was long, long, long. For those of you passing through Dayton, be sure to stop in at the Museum to visit it. Share the pride.
After the memorial dedication, many of the folks toured the Air Force Museum and the IMAX Theater. As some of us turned the corner to visit the Air-Sea Rescue display, there stood the “Black Mariah”, the only known all black CH-3 in USAF. We gasped in disbelief because we had flown her in the 20th Helicopter Squadron in Southeast Asia in the late 1960’s. This was indeed a true Reunion!
Most groups have one guest speaker. We were fortunate to have two. Mr. Sergie Sikorsky was scheduled to be our speaker, but had to cancel. However, he put us in contact with Mr. Carter Harmon, the pilot who flew the first ever combat missions in helicopters for the U.S. forces. His talk was most interesting as he told of his rescue flights in Burma in 1942.
Saturday evening we had another great speaker, Mr. John Miller. He is one of America’s foremost autogyro pilots and an early helicopter pilot. At 86 years old, he flew in to Dayton single pilot IFR (real weather) in his private plane. Accompanying him was his friend Ms. Nancy Teer. Ms. Teer was licensed as a pilot in 1928, still actively flies and is curator at the International Women’s Air and Space Museum, Centerville, Ohio. We joined in celebrating her 83rd birthday. Words fail to describe Mr. Miller’s talk on the early days of flying. Of how he learned to fly in a WWI Jenny given to him as a 16-year-old boy by a barnstormer at the end of his season. It was great to say the least. After the talk, John stayed up till after 3 A.M. talking flying with whomever else could manage to stay awake. I believe he shut the lights off! Ed note: since the reunion, I have come across three articles in three different magazines published this year by Mr. Miller. He is also a prolific and detailed writer.
Last but not least, thanks to the many people who jumped in to help out when help was needed. There were not many members who lived in Dayton, so as a result, the reunion committee was always short handed. Thanks to Ron Cunningham for helping with the driving and the taxi service: to Skip Cowell for the help in the coffee bar: to Bob Allen for a great job on the memorial pins and name tags: to John Slattery for his assistance with visual and audio props and his assistance in arranging to have Mr. Miller as a speaker. To all of you who remain unmentioned, thanks, your efforts made this reunion truly a family affair in the very best tradition.
Reunion Board of Directors:
Clyde (Red) Lemke
John (Jack) Firse
Frank (Father Francis) Harvey
Wording on Memorial Plaque:
Note: Information taken from USAFHPA newsletters and other sources. Kyron Hall, Historian.
| Home Page | | Reunions Page |