Every Air Force reunion I have attended has been wonderful. It is always an emotional high. Bellevue, Nebraska - 2005 was no different.

The reunion was held from September 7th through September 10th with some troops arriving earlier and some staying later. I arrived early on September 7 and left early on September 11th.

For a young airman from Bandon, Oregon the temperature was almost more than I could bear. It seemed that one could go to his room, take a shower, put on clean dry clothes, leave his room and fifteen minutes later feel like he should go take a shower again.

It was good to see the regulars who show up for all the reunions and especially nice to see Big John Deaver considering his health problems over the past year. In times past Big John often said that each reunion might be his last. This time he said he was good for ten more years. That is excellent news to the rest of us.

The 97th Intelligence Squadron personnel were wonderful. I met some really great young people, some young people who were old enough to retire from the Air Force. After meeting with these folks and listening to them, many of us older troops will be able to sleep more soundly knowing full well that there are good sentries on duty. It was an honor to us old-timers that several of them showed up at the motel and for the dinner on Saturday evening.

For me the highlight of the trip was the excursion to the base for a briefing and tour of an RC-135 aircraft. It was the first time since 1964 this airman had been that close to a reconnaissance aircraft. In fact, I never dreamed that I would ever again stand close to one of those birds, much less get to go aboard. What a blessing!

John Keim and his crew are to be commended for all they did in making sure this was a successful reunion. They did an excellent job.

John “Bubba” Armintrout has taken up the reigns of the Prop Wash Gang quite well. He is a worthy man to hold the position. Thanks go out to him for his great work with the group.

I had the opportunity to get to know some of the older troops a little better than in times past. Skip DeRousse was kind enough to take me 70 miles into Iowa to see an air show with several P-51 Mustangs, a Japanese Zero, and a B-17 bomber. I got some good photos. Not only that but I learned a lot about our organization from him than I had formerly known.

I had a chance to spend a little time with Gene Willard coming back from the picnic. I found out that Gene is not nearly the asshole that some think him to be because of his liberal rants on the PWG Forum. Gene is a Hell of a trooper and a worthy member of the PWG. I was glad to have been able to spend the little time with him.

As usual, everyone was wonderful. We do not get any culls at these reunions. I have no idea where the assholes went but they do not show up at the reunions. Nothing but really great troops show up - and their wonderful and faithful wives.

Bellevue 2005 was just one more of a long run of great reunions.

Airlee Owens
September 19, 2005