2018 Reunion Wrap-up

548th and 67th Alumni    We had a very successful 5th bi-annual reunion in Dayton, Ohio, we had 104 members and guests attending the banquet on Friday night at the Hope Hotel and Conference Center.  We started out the reunion with a meet and greet Thursday night in the hospitality room, which was well stocked with refreshments. Saturday morning the USAF Museum provided us with a guided imagery intelligence focused tour, which included the KH-9 and KH-8 satellites. Rob Young, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC)/ Historian, gave an outstanding tour of intelligence gathering platforms specifically tailored to this audience.  This museum tour was followed by the dedication of the 548th and 67th memorial bench.  BG (ret) Jim Grant, gave opening remarks, Col (ret) Byron Lee Schatzley (past commander of 548thRTG, gave a talk on the 548th unit logo and the formation of the 548 RTG.  Denver Cook (our association president) then formally turned the bench over to Col (ret) Jim Blackman, representing Lt Gen (ret) Jack Hudson, museum director, who accepted the memorial on behalf of the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF)..  Following the formal ceremony, those that could, walked out to the bench in a new section of the museum’s memorial garden, it is the first bench in this section.  At the bench Col (ret) Larry Benson gave a brief talk on the rough road he and Mike Kiser had to travel in getting the bench approved.     At the Friday afternoon business meeting, Col (ret) Wolfgang Samuel talked about his life in wartime Germany, subsequent immigration to the United States, and career in the Air Force. Ltc (ret) Ken Kelly gave a talk on the deactivation of the 67 RTS in 1970-1971 and the integration of the people and mission into the 548 RTG.  Jeff Seehase briefed on current unclassified imagery satellites.  Following the briefings, the members present held an election for officers, it was unanimously decided to keep the present officers, Denver Cook, President, Maureen DeNunzio, Vice-President, Bill Forsyth, Secretary/Treasurer, and Jim Spencer, Historian.      Bill Forsyth provided a brief financial statement, initial indications were that we would break even on the reunion cost.  In 2018 we collected $520 in dues, compared to $680 in 2017, dues are strictly voluntary, but very much appreciated.  After all the bills were in we actually came out $248 in the black thanks to a generous donation from Larry Benson for the memorial bench.  As of the end of the reunion we have $4,747.79 in the association bank account, this includes $575 in funds from the former 67 RTS Association provided by Pete Durnell (past treasurer of the 67th RTS)..     Next we voted if those present should decide the site of our next reunion in 2020, the group voted to make the decision at this reunion.  Two locations were nominated, New Orleans and Cocoa Beach Florida, several members provided input on the pros and cons of the two locations, with Cape Kennedy, cruises afterward, support from Patrick AFB, and close by Disney World and other attractions being pros for Cocoa Beach, and the World War Two Museum and activities in New Orleans being it’s high points there.  A vote the was taken, with New Orleans wining.  This led to further discussion about the dates, it was decided Spring or Fall would be best season for driving conditions for travel.  Then the possible increased cost of New Orleans hotels was then raised as an issue and it was decided to leave open the possibility of Cocoa Beach.  Ken Kelly suggested Embassy Suites in New Orleans, just a few blocks from the World War II Museum and other New Orleans attractions as the venue there.  Do we have anyone out there who is familiar with reunion friendly hotels in Cocoa Beach or other New Orleans hotels that we can compare prices on?   If you have any suggestion, please send the information in an email to me @ [email protected].  Also, if you are in either of these areas and would be willing to help set up the reunion, email me, we need boots on the ground.     Friday night was the banquet at the hotel, with a buffet dinner featuring prime rib and chicken, a wide selection of deserts, and white and red wine at each table.  Our guest speaker Wolfgang Samuel presented a talk on peace time reconnaissance.  At the conclusion of the banquet, Ken Kelly, Cecil Brown and Doc Blanchard led the group in singing God Bless America.    A special thanks goes out to our three principle organizers, Larry Benson, Cecil Brown, and Mike Kiser (See photo), Denver Cook, our association president, who MC’ed many of the activities, Wolfgang Samuel, who spoke at the business meeting and banquet, Mark Mizner, who gave out free 548th and 67th ball caps to those present (soon to be on sale on the website store), and historian Robert Young, our extremely knowledgeable guide at the Air Force Museum .  Additionally, a big mahalo to the staff of the Hope Hotel and Conference Center, who kept us supplied with ice in the hospitality room and served us at the banquet.  We also thank the staff of the Carillon Historical Park, with its many interesting exhibits.  And a final thanks to Thai Express, run by Larry Benson’s Daughter-in-Law Tiki, who provided a free Thai meal to the members, the Greene County Convention and Visitor Bureau, which provided name tags, bags and signs, John and Jenny Hegan, who volunteered to man the reception table at the start and helped out throughout the reunion, and especially our van drivers, Col (ret) Larry Odell and Maj (ret) John Bernat.