POPASMOKE REUNION 25-28 AUGUST 2016
AFTER ACTION REPORT
The reunion on 24-28 August 2016, by all accounts, was successful. The verbal and subsequent email comments made by many of the 60 attendees indicated their pleasure with the squadron activities, especially the Friday dinner at the Jacksonville River Club and the Saturday afternoon and evening event at my sister-in-law Anne's house. There were many highlights including the enjoyment of excellent food at both occasions, the beautiful panoramic view of the city on the 35th floor at the dinner, seeing Anne's beautiful house and enjoying her hospitality, and the camaraderie we enjoyed with each other during the reunion. Additionally, all were extremely pleased that LtGen Bill Maloney (VMO-6 CO, 23 Jul 1966 - 26 Mar 1967) flew down and he was able to be with us on Saturday.
In summary of the two main squadron events, following are comments from Larry Wright and Pam, Mike Pearson's wife:
"We certainly did enjoy the extravagant reunion. Considering the heat and humidity, I thinkwe were better off at the 'Tower' with its spectacular views, than we would have been on the river cruise. The dinner at your sister-in-law's home was above and beyond anyone's expectations, and that she carried off with such ease. There was certainly no lack of food. She had enough to feed us twice."
"Your sister-in-law and your niece and her husband were such gracious hosts. The house was amazing, and we saw two Cruise Ships go by the house. There was enough food for a small country. And the Mariachi Band was really great and unexpected. It all came together so well. My favorite part was meeting Gen. Bill Maloney. Mike has been talking about him as long as I can remember. When Mike introduced me to him, I said, "I have been hearing about you for 48 years! Now I want to meet the Legend! He looked shocked, but he gave me a hug. He teared up when Mike told him that he had tried to pattern himself as a Pastor after his example. Gen. Maloney said something that I have always felt was true. He said, "When you have good people, you let them do their jobs!" We were so glad he managed to get there, I told him I expected him to be there, he's a Marine, and they always get the job done!"
As the result of donations made by attendees and some who didn't attend, we were able to fulfill all financial obligations. A special thanks to BGen John Arick, Joe Turner, Don Denman, Tom Ward, Jeff Pickett, Richard Ethier, Robert Sandoval, Michael Hart, and Craig Colby for their exceptional, generous financial support. Also, an appreciation of gratitude to Dave and Marge Schoenherr for bringing wine and pies made from Michigan fruit, Richard Ethier and Cindy Jones for bringing extra snacks, and Chip and Diana Jones for their surprise beverages.
Way-ahead. At the Friday dinner, a short business meeting was held that resulted in the following:
- A memorial floral arrangement will be yearly placed at the VMO-6 Memorial, Marine Corps National Museum, Semper Fidelis Memorial Park on Memorial Day. An informal remembrance ceremony will be held when the floral arrangement is positioned in front of the memorial. An email notifying squadron members for their participation will be sent in April each year. Funds from our reunion slush fund will be used to pay for the fresh flowers. As required, donations from squadron members will be requested to maintain a good balance in the fund.
Before the end of the year, a survey will be sent to solicit suggestions for future squadron reunions. The purpose is to determine how often, potential locations, and the extent of our participation in Pop-a-Smoke's biannual reunions.
Some squadron members requested information on purchasing an engraved brick to be placed by the squadron memorial. Currently, 110 commemorative bricks are positioned around or in front of the memorial in the main walkway. If interested in ordering a brick, on the first page of our website: http://vmo6memorial.homestead.com/, click on the "Brick Order Form," download and complete the requested information, and mail with check to the address as indicated. The cost is $210 for each brick. When the application is received, additional information will be provided.
Within the next week, photos from the reunion will be posted by Dave Bushlow on the memorial website. Pictures taken by Pete Greene, as well as others, will be used.
It was my pleasure to lead the coordination for the JAX reunion. Thanks to all who attended and especially those who provided support. If you were unable to attend or didn't want to, we missed you and hope you will consider attending future gatherings. Some of us are feeling our age, and there will not be too many more years before we say it is impossible to attend. Hopefully, it won't happen to you. My prayer is that you will be healthy, happy, and safe.