Greetings,

It’s time!!!! Make your plans NOW to attend our reunion in Orlando.  This year is shaping up to what could be our biggest gathering yet.  Last year’s gathering in Vegas was huge.  A lot of new faces and promises from many more to attend this year’s festivities.  This year we’ll be gathering at the Rosen Centre in Orlando from July 2nd through July 6th.  There’s a lot of things in the Blue Star pipeline so let me get right to the point:

Blue Star Reunion

The ’03 big event will be held at the Rosen Centre in Orlando from July 2nd thru July 6th.  Our mini reunion is scheduled for July 3rd from 1300 to 1700.  The number of Blue Stars attending continues to rise and the VHPA has taken notice.  Due to the large participation we’ve had in the past, the VHPA has assigned us enough space to accommodate 200+ this year.  We are the only unit given such a large mini reunion room(s).  Our mini reunion is scheduled to be in Room 9 & 10 at the Rosen Centre.  This year we’ve planned a follow-up to our mini reunion.  Through the efforts of Tom Equels, we’ve reserved a large portion of the Orlando Ale House for the evening of the 3rd to continue with the festivities.  We’re planning to gather there beginning at 1800 until 2400, or there abouts.  It’ll be a cash bar type deal and you’ll be able to eat dinner and whatever.  I understand that there may be an opportunity to resurrect the “Blue Star Special” and practice some carrier landings J.  We will provide bus service from the hotel to/from the Ale House.  The bus will be making round-trips between 1800 and 2400.  No need to temp fate.

Reunion Activities

For many the highlight of the reunion will be the gathering of the 48th.  For the first time, we’ve planned a few events exclusively for the 48th.  In addition to the gathering at the Ale House immediately following our mini, Vance Blalock is planning a golf outing for those interested in playing.  There aren’t many details available.  If you’re interested in playing, please contact Vance via email at vblalock@yahoo.com.  One of the reunion highlights is the final banquet.  Due to snafu’s in seating the 48th together at previous reunions, the VHPA has promised us preferential seating this year.  If you plan to attend the banquet and want to sit together as a group, you must let the VHPA know.  If you haven’t registered yet, attach a note to your registration form that you want to sit with the 48th.  If you’ve registered, call the VHPA at 800-555-VHPA and let them know that you wish to be seated with the 48th at the banquet.  This should avoid waiting in line for table assignments during the reunion.

TOC

There will be a Blue Star TOC open at the Rosen Centre from July 2nd thru July 6th.  We were able to reserve what they call a 3-bay area for our use.  I was informed that the TOC wouldn’t be large enough to accommodate the number anticipated for the mini, so the actual mini reunion will be held in Rooms 9 & 10 on July 3rd.  The TOC’s were made available by the VHPA through the Rosen Centre.  A 3-bay TOC has a price tag of $1,200 for the period.  We currently have $1,114.95 in our Association fund..  With the anticipated expense of filing for our state and federal tax-exempt status, we will need to request contributions to cover the cost of the TOC, TOC beverages, and the bus to/from the Ale House.  In the past, most have donated $20 -$25 toward the TOC.  This covered the cost of the TOC and usually all the beer (and some other hard “stuff”) you could drink.  It usually worked out but last year we had to dip into our reserves a little.  I won’t say it’s because the beer was flowing freely, but most of us drank more than our contribution J.  Vegas was hot and folks were unusually (or should I say thirsty as usual) thirsty.  I realize that the cost of the reunion is already high so we’re doing what we can to hold down the cost for the TOC.  The TOC rental seems to be rather high this year but it’s all that is available. This year I’d like to ask for a voluntary contribution of $30 to fund the TOC.  Again, it’s voluntary!  If you can’t contribute, it’s OK.  If you can contribute more, even better.  It’s a pretty good deal considering that some drink several “shares” of beer J.  If you’d like to contribute towards the cost of the TOC before the reunion, I’ve added a block on the Association Membership form.  Just check the box and indicate the amount of your contribution.  As our Association progresses and becomes financially sound, contributions for the TOC will be reduced and hopefully eliminated at some point.  Until then, if we wanna play, we have to pay.

For those who like to bring memorabilia to share, there will be a slide projector/screen and a VCR available. 

Blue Star Aviation Association

It’s official, we’ve become incorporated in the State of California as the Blue Star Aviation Association.  We are incorporated as a Veterans Organization under 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  During the reunion in Vegas last year, the members present voted to incorporate our “Association” and make it official.  The membership established an annual dues structure of $25.00 for General and Associate members.  A draft of the Constitution & Bylaws are available for all to review on our website, www.raydon.com/48ahc.  The initial election of officers was held and it shaped up like this:

·        President – Carl Cortez; Vice-President – Dave Fry; Secretary/Treasurer – Bobby Schulze; Senior Member-at-Large – Stoney Stitzle; Mid Term Member-at-Large – Will Stafford; Junior Member-at-Large – Tom Edmonds.

The Articles of Incorporation will be posted on the website ASAP.  I am currently following up our incorporation by filing the appropriate forms/fees with the IRS and the California Franchise Tax Board to be recognized as a tax-exempt Organization.  More as it develops.  Speaking of dues, you’re all probably wondering what we’re going to do with the dues.  In a nutshell, the first year’s years dues will probably go mostly to the costs associated with incorporation and the filing of the tax exempt applications ($500 for the IRS application, $800 for the California Franchise Tax Board application).  Our dues will mainly be used to facilitate our annual reunion (with this year being the exception since we’re just starting out).  Items like our TOC ($1,200 this year), beverages for the TOC, etc.  In the future, I hope the fund will be able to assist someone to attend one of our reunions who may be unable to attend otherwise.  The “books” will always be open to anyone that asks.  No hidden agenda or any other fancy stuff.  There aren’t many transactions so it’ll be easy to follow.  The dues fund will be used for general purposes related to our reunion activities. 

I’d like to encourage everyone to review our Constitution & Bylaws to see what we’re all about and encourage everyone to join.  There are three types of membership: General – open to anyone who served with “Blue Star” or a supporting unit, Associate – open to any family member, etc. of one who qualifies (d) for membership as a General member, and Honorary – can be bestowed upon one by vote of the membership.  I’ve enclosed a short membership application with mailing instructions for your convenience.  Please complete and mail to Bobby Schulze with your dues ASAP.

In the years prior to the formation of an incorporated Association, we maintained a Blue Star memorial fund that was made up from contributions received from many members in response to certain circumstances.  Basically, these circumstances were related to a member’s passing, flowers, presentation of plaques, flag cases to surviving family members.  This fund is still in existence and will remain independent from the dues fund for now.  The money in this fund will continue to be used only for memorial type purposes.  We currently have $1,068.03 in our memorial fund.

A short business meeting will be held during our mini reunion on the 3rd (at approximately 1500).  In addition to any business items that may need to be addressed, annual elections will be held.  The office of Vice President and Junior Member-at-Large will up for grabs.  Another agenda item for July 3rd will be whether or not we want an Association insignia/ patch.  Some designs have been submitted for consideration and will be available for review during the reunion.  If you like the idea of an Association “insignia/patch” and have an idea, get it down in some sort of discernable format and bring it with you or send it to me.  One common thread of the “insignia/patch” will be the incorporation of the RVN era Blue Star insignia with whatever else you have.  Give it some thought.

General Reunion Information

Once again, we are gathering under the wing of the VHPA.  The mini reunions are a unique part of the VHPA Reunion.  There is no cost associated with attending a mini reunion (or to visit the TOC).  You don’t even have to register with the VHPA.  It is open to all – members, non-members, pilots, crewmembers, whatever.  However, to attend any other VHPA event to which tickets are sold, a couple of things have to happen if you’re not a VHPA member.  1 – you will have to be “sponsored” by a VHPA member.  2 – You will have to register and pay the reunion registration fee, and 3 – you will have to buy a ticket to the event.  Historically, the main attraction for all has been the final banquet (on July 5th this year).  If you wish to attend a ticketed event, you can register with the VHPA at the Rosen Centre.  If you are not a VHPA member and need a sponsor, you’ll be able to find someone in the TOC that will be more than happy to sponsor you.  You can see the entire reunion schedule of events on the VHPA website at www.vhpa.org.  If you wish to register before you get to Orlando, let me know and I’ll hook you up with a sponsor.  If you are eligible for VHPA membership (a pilot) you cannot be sponsored, you will have to join the VHPA to get a ticket for an event.

The Blue Stars In Action In Iraq

Yep, you heard right – the current day Blue Stars are an active participant in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The Blue Stars are currently designated as A/3-158 Avn Regiment, 12th Avn BDE and are based in Germany.  They are currently supporting units in and around Baghdad an Kuwait. They are currently operating from a former Iraqi Air Force Base in Balad, approximately 40 miles north of Baghdad.  Along with carrying the Blue Star name into battle once again, they maintain a three platoon structure: 1st – Snoopy, 2nd – the Wild Deuces, and 3rd – the Jokers.  With the exception of an update of the Joker face, the three platoon patches are virtually the same as they were in RVN.  The unit patch includes the “Blue Star” along with references to our Vietnam era service other actions that the Blue Stars have participated in such as Beirut, Somalia, Albania, Kosovo, and Desert Storm to name a few .  The only downside is that the Jokers are now a lift platoon.  No more gunships!  Not too many other RVN aviation units can claim this kind of continuous service!  While the unit designation may have changed several times over the years, Blue Star was born in 1965 and the tradition continues to this day.  We maintain a continuing dialog with the current day Blue Stars.  We receive a Newsletter from Iraq courtesy of the current CO of the Blue Stars, Capt. Jon Kerr.  We’ve received 5 editions to date and they are available through our reflector list.  If you’d like the current edition, please let me know and I’ll forward it to you via email.  It’s in Microsoft Power Point format.

In Memoriam.......The Crew of Blue Star 811

A sad chapter in the history of Blue Star was closed this year.  On December 2, 1967 a UH 1-D, 66-00811, and a crew consisting of WO Wallace Leeper, WO Floyd Strange, SP Richard Crosby, and SP Manuel Moreida were returning to Ninh Hoa from Tuy Hoa in marginal weather conditions.  They never arrived and were listed as missing in action.  In 1993, the aircraft and remains were recovered.  The remains were subsequently identified and repatriated to the US.  This year the remains were interred in Arlington National Cemetery.  The memorial service was attended by a large contingent of Blue Stars and a formation of huey’s paid tribute to our fallen comrades.  Welcome home and may they rest in eternal peace.

On a General Note …….

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped our reunion grow to it’s present day porportions.  Too many names to mention but all that have attended have contributed in some way, shape, or form.  Particularly guys like Rick Lester, who seems to come up with a treasure trove of auction items year after year and Dave Fry who’s support has been invaluable over the past years.  It’s actually Dave and his wife Becky who started the 48th mini reunion ball rolling many years ago.  I think the biggest kick I get out of this is seeing the new faces every year.  In Vegas, some from my RVN era like Darrel Lewis “Lewie”, Jerry “Chimp” Sterker, Vern “Mad Dog” Hamill, Todd “Bear” Petersen, an early 48th CO, Gen. Harry Roper, and many others.  I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of new faces this year.  When you see these guys, it’s hard to believe it was 33 or so years ago that we were thrust together for a short period of time.  So many enduring and intense memories are held for being together for such a short period of time.  There are some who we will never see again.  We will toast their memory, share a thought and share a laugh.  Don’t put off attending another reunion.  Time is indeed short and may not be on our side.  It’s easy to make excuses why you can’t come but not it is not as hard as you think once you decide to make a commitment.  Since our reunions are geographically varied, I expect to see all of those within driving distance of Orlando at the reunion, no excuses!  We have a heck of a lot of members from the southeastern portion of the US.  If they all came ….. well….. the VHPA would be hard pressed to provide us with an area big enough, but that’s a good thing.  Take some time and share a beer with old friends.  You owe it to yourself!

On a Personal Note….

I’d like to thank all who have helped with our organizing and reunion efforts over the past years.  It’s a lot to do from a distance but it seems to come together in the end.  I feel extremely honored to have been chosen as the first President of the Blue Star Aviation Association.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time to the Association as I would have liked this year.  It’s bad enough that I have a rather intense travel schedule, but throw in the fact that we’ve been considering relocating back East or to the Pacific Northwest, makes for days with too few hours in them.  We’ve focused on relocating here in Southern California and are now in the middle of moving, whew!  It’s been quite a challenge.  Matthew has made us realize just how small our condo was and we had to get out into the wide-open spaces.  We’ve bought a house in Lake Gregory in the San Bernardino mountains with a lot of room for Matthew to get into trouble…..I mean roam.  As my tenure as your Association President passes, I look forward to helping organize our future gatherings and maintaining an active role in the Blue Star Aviation Association.  I hope to see y’all in Orlando.  It may be hot & humid but the beer will be exceptionally cold (as will Father Ewing J).  If anyone has any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Please take note that I have new contact numbers below.

REMINDER……..

Please be a part of the Blue Star Aviation Association.  Fill-out, clip and mail the form on the reverse side of this page.  Your contribution to help support this year’s TOC will also be greatly appreciated.  Mail the form to Bobby Schulze at the address on the form.

Thanks for your anticipated support!

 

Have a safe journey,

Carl Cortez

Joker 90 

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 5040

Crestline, CA 92325-5040

Home: (909) 338-5935

Cell: (909) 499-4691

Email: ccortez@bas.com

------------------------------------------------Clip &Mail-in------------------------------------------

 

Mail To:        Bobby Schulze

                        117 Yutaka Trail

                        Shelton, CT  06484

NAME:______________________________ DATES WITH THE 48th:_______________

ADDRESS: ___________________________________________________________________

EMAIL:________________________________________ Phone:________________________

   Annual Dues - $25.00                                       TOC Contribution $___________

     Blue Star Memorial Fund Contribution/Other $____________

Your support is greatly appreciated!

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