Greetings, fellow DUSTOFFers and friends. It is that time of the year when we move into final planning for your annual reunion. Our Executive Council just finalized plans to make our twenty-second reunion one of the best ever. We are returning this year, by popular demand, to the Holiday Inn Riverwalk on the 16th to the 18th of February 2001. This year we have invited special guests from “Operation Ivory Soap, ”who flew airplane spare parts in R-4B helicopters from ship to shore in the Philippines in WWII. These pioneers additionally flew 62 wounded soldiers from the jungles, while under ground fire from the Japanese. Make your plans, mark your calendars, call your friends, book your rooms, and most importantly, send in your registration with check. You’ll find your registration form on the back of this newsletter and on our homepage at www.dustoff.org. Please REGISTER EARLY, especially our San Antonio members who have a reputation for showing up late and unregistered. This would greatly assist in our planning and reduce the workload on our “highly paid” volunteer staff.
Your Executive Council approved a motion to establish a DUSTOFF Hall of Fame in the AMEDD Museum with donated memorial funds for J. B. Hill and Mayo Ellingson. We have developed a business plan with procedures for nomination to membership, which will be presented at this year’s business meeting. Thanks to all those who helped to get this project underway. (See Hall of Fame information on pages 15 and 16.)
We are also trying a new DUSTOFF marketing initiative developed by your secretary, Scott Burgess. Scott put together a very professional handout enclosed in the new member’s welcome packet and found on our Web site. It captures DUSTOFF Association objectives and history, explains the DUSTOFF name, and includes a membership application. The intent is to provide information about our association to new graduates from flight school, the Flight Medic Course, the MEDEVAC Qualification Course (2CF7), and units in the field. Cultivating and nurturing new membership is the key to maintaining the DUSTOFF legacy. In this same vein, I would encourage our more seasoned members to seek out our junior members (they’re the ones with flat bellies and no gray hair) and mentor/share war stories with them at this year’s reunion. Many weren’t born yet when you were back in the Nam and they might just have some pretty neat stories about what is happening in the new millennium DUSTOFF.
Speaking of sharing stories. We really need your support in submitting articles for publication to the DUSTOFFer Newsletter. I know many of you are busy, but I also know our soldiers are out there every day doing great things for our country. I’m equally sure that many seasoned members have stories to tell from the past that they may not have wanted to or taken the time to talk about before. We are looking for stories, personal interest pieces, updates on what DUSTOFF is doing around the world today, and digital pictures of interest. Thanks in advance for your help.
The other night, when I woke up at 0100 and couldn’t go back to sleep, I started thinking about this year’s reunion and what great members we have—not just all the recognized and unsung heroes, but more about the great human beings in our group of friends. When I just think of a few of my personal DUSTOFF mentors and role models, the list becomes endless. With the names of Snyder, Knisley, Romines, Novier, Bradshaw, Miles, Toennis, Rhodes, Scofield, Truscott, Meis, Coley, Gower, Conkright, Thompson, Proctor, Foust, Novosel, Thresher, Maschek, Pruet, Lutke, Hancock, Mayes, Smith, Meyers, Stanfield, Mankoff, Sue Moore, and Suzie Gower on a list, that goes on and on. Great people, great Americans, and every one a hero of mine. I am a very lucky guy, and this is one great organization.
Congratulations to the winners of our DUSTOFF Crewmember and Rescue of the Year. We had some truly awesome nominations, all of which epitomize the legacy of our great organization.
I look forward to seeing old friends at our 2001 Reunion at the Holiday Inn on the Riverwalk. Remember to make your reservations now and REGISTER EARLY. See you on the high ground.