GREETINGS FELLOW BLUE STARS,

 

I know, I know!!!!! This Newsletter is getting later and later every year.  While I have no real excuse except to say that I’m running out of hours in a day, some of the information I’ve been trying to pry out of the powers that-be, particularly for info on the TOC has not been forthcoming in an expeditious manner.  My apologies but I hope that anyone waiting for information on our upcoming reunion will take this info, kick it into gear and make your plans to attend.

 

We’re in for another great gathering of Blue Stars in Scottsdale, Arizona this year.  While we need no real excuse for consuming copious quantities of “adult “ beverages, the expected “warm” temperatures will no doubt be a factor in keeping our memories alive of another warm place we’ve all been to and the tradition of “Blue Star Specials” and “33”.  We had one heck of a turn-out for last year’s gathering in DC last year.  Our TOC was up and running virtually 24 hours a day.  We experienced the largest turn-out of Blue Stars at a reunion ever!  A big thank you to everyone who attended and made this such a successful gathering and to those who couldn’t make it but sent a TOC contribution in

 

So now that I hopefully have your attention, what’s the deal on the this year’s reunion you may ask?  Well here’s the skinny.  The site of this year’s gathering is the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa located in Scottsdale, Arizona.  The gathering in an actual resort is a first for our reunion activities.  The headquarters hotel is a self-contained resort with all the amenities: pool, spa, restaurants, golf courses, etc.  The rooms are first class and you can’t beat the VHPA rate of $115 a night.  What a deal for staying in a world class resort.  You can’t ask for a better deal than that!  If you plan to attend, make your reservations now.  At last check, rooms were still available at the VHPA rates.  You can only make your reservations by calling Pass Key at 800-266-9432.  Make sure you tell them you want the VHPA rate.

 

As in the past, we have used the annual reunion of the VHPA to facilitate the Blue Star reunion.  This has provided us with several advantages.  The least of which being that with such a large number of reunion attendees, we benefit from some great negotiated hotel prices as you can see.  The VHPA also provides us with our reunion facility and amenities at no cost to us.  But I think the greatest benefit is the electric atmosphere it generates.  We have the opportunity to gather with warriors who shared the same experiences as we did, and believe me, it does generate an atmosphere that you must experience to appreciate.  As many of us know, the VHPA stands for the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association.  Membership in the VHPA is limited to those who served in RVN as a helicopter pilot. Over the years, I have seen the participation of more and more crew members in the various reunion activities.  The Blue Stars have historically enjoyed one of the largest unit gatherings of the VHPA reunion, pilots and crew members.  So many units expressed wonderment at the numbers who attend our reunion that they are imitating us in their efforts. I guess the greatest source of flattery is imitation.  Without your support and attendance, we wouldn’t be were we are today.  This gathering is for everyone, VHPA aside.  As far as we’re concerned, there is no distinction between a pilot and a crew member.  We are all Blue Stars and that’s what it’s about, the Blue Stars - PERIOD!

The Main Event – The Blue Star Reunion

 

The Blue Star reunion this year takes place on the July 6th beginning at 1300.  Once again, the VHPA has provided us with a large meeting facility to accommodate the anticipated masses.  Here’s the skinny:

 

            WHEN: Friday, July 6th from 1300 to 1700

            WHERE: JW Marriott Desert Resort & Spa.  Location will be posted in the VHPA

            registration area.

 

As always, it doesn’t cost a cent to attend our reunion.  Our reunion is independent of the VHPA activities.  As I’ve said, they provide us with the reunion facilities at no cost.  We will also have a slide projector & screen available along with a TV/VCR combo. If you have slides, movies, VHS tapes you’d like to share, please bring them. 

 

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT    SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

 

Over the past few years, many of us have either visited Vietnam or indicated that they would like to visit Vietnam.  One of the drawbacks of the various “canned” tours being offered for veterans is that they seem to focus their tours on places like Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Hanoi, etc.  Places that are no doubt interesting but I’d rather re-visit areas where the 48th was deployed and I’m familiar with.  You know, Nha Trang, Dalat. Ninh Hoa. Cam Rahn Bay area, Tuy Hoa, Marble Mountain, Con Thien, etc.  During last year’s gathering, a lot of interest was expressed, particularly in visiting some sites/areas that are off the beaten path such as some Lam Son 719 crash sites.  Seizing on the interest generated, I contacted a number of organizations that organized veteran’s tours of Vietnam.  I received a very positive response from Vietnam Battlefield Tours.  They indicated that they can organize a customized Vietnam tour of our choosing.  All they need to know is where we want to go, when we want to go, and how long we want to stay (I told them this stay will be substantially less that a year).  I was told that some of the off the beaten path sites would require specific permission to visit and they indicated that they have been successful in securing permission for similar type requests in the past.  I initially indicated that we’d probably like to set an itinerary up that included the sites above for 14 to 20 days.  Some preliminary cost figures didn’t seem bad (around$3,100) and included RT airfare from LAX, all hotels accommodations in a 1st class hotel, some meals and in-country transportation.  In order to really nail down a figure, I need to firm up an itinerary, anticipated dates of travel and length of desired stay and get an idea of how many would like to go.  The tour would be open to all and include family members.  Here’s where you come in.  In order to handle on the cost involved, I need your input.  I’ve enclosed a brief survey to see what interest there is, where you’d like to visit and when would be the best time for the majority.  I know we can’t accommodate everyone’s specific desires but we’ll do the best we can to make it fit for the majority.  Please take a few minutes and fill-in the blanks and return it to me ASAP.  A representative of Vietnam Battlefield Tours has offered to give us a quick presentation at our mini reunion in Scottsdale.  Those who are planning to attend will have the opportunity to ask any questions they want.  For additional information on Vietnam Battlefield Tours, please visit their website at www.vietnambattlefieldtours.com

 

The 2nd Main Event – The TOC and Sign-In

 

Once again we are planning to have a TOC up and running for the duration of the reunion.  One of the hold-ups I experienced in getting this Newsletter together was getting information on the TOC’s.  Basically, a hospitality type TOC set-up will run 3x the rack rate, or about $345 + tax per night.  Last year’s cost was $600 + tax per night.  The year before, it was $868 + tax per night!!!  Stoney has taken up the task of making the arrangements for the TOC this year since he is planning to arrive earlier than I am.  The VHPA reunion event runs from July 4th through July 7tt (the 7th is banquet night).  Accordingly, our TOC will be open for the same period, with the exception 1300 to 1700 on July 6th – during our mini reunion.  While the TOC operating costs have decreased this year, we still need to solicit your donations to continue to make it happen.  The general consensus has been that it was beneficial to all to have a central gathering place during the reunion activities for us to gather.  We fund the TOC and our reunion activities through the Blue Star Aviation Association and last year, with the generous contributions received and the proceeds from our raffle, we left DC with a TOC fund balance of approximately $1,561. This is the first year we actually came out in the black.  The last 2 years left us in the red.  In the past, your contribution for the TOC generally included beer, wine, etc.  Last year, we basically depended on voluntary beverage contributions for the TOC.  It appeared to work out quite well.  Since we did have so many generous contributions last year, the Association was able purchase approximately $800 + of food and beverages for the TOC.  Again, this year we are going to rely on the generosity of those attending to bring a case or two of beer, some wine, soft drinks, etc. to donate to the TOC.  Additionally, we’ll put a “donation” jar for drinks for say $1 a beer, to help ensure we don’t lose our shirts and to build a war chest for future reunion activities. .We figured that we would request a $40 (per Blue Star) contribution to cover the TOC costs and any beverages you can help with.  Remember, any funds raised above our expenses will remain in our Association Treasury and will be used in future reunion activities.  If you cannot attend this year’s festivities but wish make a contribution or if you are attending and would like to send your contribution now, you can send your contribution to:

            Bobby Schulze

            PO Box 142

            Baileytown, AL 35019-0142

 

Please be sure to indicate on your check that it is for the “TOC contribution”.

 

There will be a Blue Star sign-in sheet posted in the VHPA registration area.  Please take the time to sign-in so we have an idea who’s here, so you can see who is there.  Even if you only plan to come for the Blue Star reunion, please let us know you’re here.

 

The location of the TOC will be posted in the VHPA registration area.

 

Other Reunion Events

 

The VHPA has planned numerous reunion events.  These events can be viewed on the VHPA website at www.vhpa.org and click on Reunion Information.  In order to attend any of these events, you must register with the VHPA, pay the registration fee and pay for the event ticket.  If you are not a VHPA member, you must be sponsored by a VHPA member to do this.  We have many Blue Star’s who are willing to sponsor you if you need a sponsor.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you wish to attend any other event and need a sponsor.

 

The Banquet

 

Another significant major event of our reunion is the banquet.  This year the banquet will be held on July 7th.  The banquet is the largest event of the VHPA reunion. You can typically expect over 2,000 attendees.  The food is usually pretty good for banquet food and the entertainment is terrific. The VHPA has recognized that many folks would like to attend the banquet but didn’t feel that it should be necessary to register and pay the registration fee to do so.  Once again this year you can purchase a ticket for the banquet without having to register or pay the registration fee.  This year a banquet ticket for a non-registered guest is $95.  You may be able to purchase a banquet ticket at the reunion but I strongly suggest that you purchase one now.  Again, please contact me for further information.

 

Banquet Seating

 

The banquet seating last year was a fiasco!  The VHPA once again found it necessary to preview new seating software and they experienced the same result as when they’ve tried other software programs in the past – it promptly crashed hours before the banquet and seating was a free-for-all.  Hopefully they learned their lesson once again and will come up with a dependable solution.  I understand that this year they are going to look at registrations by units and attempt to set aside a sufficient number of tables to accommodate any units that want to sit together.  A good idea but we’ll see if it works.  In any event, it will be necessary for you to visit the banquet seating table in the VHPA registration area to make a seat selection as soon as you get to the Marriott.  Please let the folks at the banquet seating selection table know that you want to sit with the 48th (if you want to that is J).

 

Website

 

Our website is up and running and continues to grow.  Many thanks to Logan Weiler for all of the hard work he’s put in to getting it up and the constant updates and to everyone who has contributed a story, data or pictures for posting.  Visit us at www.48ahc.org.  Your Association dues pay for our website.

 

Our website also has a link to subscribe to our Reflector List.  You have several options for receiving email when you join the list.  I know the volume of email can be overwhelming, but you can control the volume by receiving email as Daily Digest (1 email daily or 1 for every 25 individual emails posted).

 

Raffle

 

Once again we will have a raffle this year to help raise funds for the Association.  The raffle will be held during the mini reunion.  Unfortunately, Cooper Flight Jackets is no more.  They were purchased by another company.  If anyone would like to donate an item or items for the raffle, please bring them with you to the mini reunion.  Again, the proceeds of the raffle go to support our reunion activities and our Association so please support us by buying raffle tickets.

 

Blue Stars Once Again Being Deployed to the Mid East

 

The current Blue Stars, 3-158 AVN, are once again being deployed to the Middle East.  This will be their 3rd deployment to the Middle East in the last 5 years.  Their current website is www.3-158avn.12avnbde.army.mil.

 

Blue Star Aviation Association

 

Our Association continues to grow and remain strong and solvent.  The efforts of many make this possible.  We will conduct our annual elections during our Association business meeting that will be held during our reunion.  Up for grabs will be the post of Junior Member-at-Large and Vice President.  I’m pleased to announce that Logan Weiler was elected as Vice President last year and will be the incoming President .  If anyone is interested in running for office, please let me know ASAP.  I understand that John-Al is running for Vice President this year!!!  Good luck John-Al.

 

Many thanks to Stoney Stitzle, the outgoing Association President, for all of his hard work and support through the years.

If you aren’t a member of the Blue Star Aviation Association, please take the time to consider joining.  You’re supporting a worthy cause – the Blue Stars!  Please visit our website for an application.  It’s only $25 a year to support such a great group of guys! …..And, if you’re already a member, it’s time to send your annual dues in.  Please remit them to Bobby Schulze (PO Box 142, Baileytown, AL 35019-0142) ASAP.  Please mark your check “Annual Dues”).

 

A quick Treasurer’s summary is as follows:

 

General Fund:                $1,837.00

TOC Fund:                    $1,561.00

Fire Mission Fund:         $2,858.88

 

In Closing

 

Please take the time to complete the questionnaire for the proposed Vietnam trip we are trying to put together.  If you’ve ever thought about returning to Vietnam for whatever reason, what better time to return than with a group of friends to visit the same place’s we once knew fairly well and shared similar experiences in.  Those who have visited Vietnam recently have brought back good reports on the facilities, friendly people.  Many of us have reasons for either want to return or aren’t interested in a return under any circumstances.  A trip back may be a personal thing or just out of curiosity.  But whatever the reason, please give it a lot of consideration.  The more we have in our group, the better deal we can negotiate.  For those attending the reunion, you can get answers to many of the question you may have from the Vietnam Battlefield Tours representative.

 

What more can I say except for thanks to everyone for their continued support of our Association and reunion activities.  Every year we continue to add new names to our data base and hope to see those new faces at our reunion.  As we continue to grow, we continue to have one of the largest participations, by unit, in the reunion activities than any other RVN unit.  It’ll be warm in Scottsdale but the beer will be cold!!!  So join us – have a beer with some old friends again!

 

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

 

 

Carl Cortez

Joker 90

 

Email: ccortez@scsengineers.com  Cell: (909) 499-4691  Home: (909) 338-5935 (PST Time Zone)

 

 

Vietnam Questionnaire on Reverse Side – Please take a couple of minutes to complete and return.  Thanks!

 

 

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