February Retiree's Corner
By Robert (Bob) W. Barkalow, Jr., MSgt (Retired)
/ Published January 29, 2016
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C., -- We really had a good crowd, about 55 folks showed up for our annual celebration of the many folks who passed away during the year 2015. This included 18 known retirees and active members, as well as 19 former members or folks who had some affiliation with Congaree/McEntire.
We had two folks show up from McEntire to speak. Lt. Col. Jim Roth, the 169th Force Support Squadron commander, who entertained us with stories about his family, himself, as well as upcoming events and exercises at McEntire. For those that regularly come to the Luncheons, we are as well informed as many that work out at McEntire, which is a great feature and service to provide us retirees, we feel we are in the loop. The other attendee from McEntire was Maj. David Bell, the 169th Maintenance Operations Flight commander. It was good to see him again, he seems to have a high interest in us and he is a local guy that grew up in Lower Richland. One day he'll come back and be the prime attendee. At times we discuss things like the cost of drugs and changes in TRICARE for Life, etc. Actually most of it is just general grousing about the changes, but overall we have a good time. Most of the people that come, come to see their old work buddies because they had a lot of interaction with them in the past. We also check out our fellow retirees to see how they are doing so that we can keep them in our thoughts and prayers.
McEntire History: Last month I discussed the monument, which is on display in front of the wing headquarters building, and gave out some facts and figures about the number of retirees and how many names are on the monument. The more I think about it, the more concern I have about all this. I stated we have over 1,300 retirees and presently we have 277 names on the monument. The last 10 years the base has been averaging 40 retirees a year. Thinking ahead, I don't know if we can ever catch up with the number of retirees and the number of names on all the monuments? To use a bad pun, this may become 'monumental'. I will further discuss this with the NCOAGA folks and others to raise this issue and look for a viable solution.
Last month we started to recognize the Korean War Conflict folks who were called up for a 21-month active duty period. This is the second round of names with their rank at the time of the call-up. They are as follows: 1st Lts. Robert A. Johnson Sr., Homer L. Keisler, James B. Knox, Charles L. McDade Jr., John T. McElveen, Grady L. Patterson Jr., Paul H. Patterson, Dow C. Pruitt, David E. Rippetoe Jr., Walter P. Simpson, James C. Weston, Donald E. White and Jimmie C. Wright. 2nd Lts. Burney L. Hinson, William J. Huggins, Harold B. Leonard, Raymond D. McKelvey Jr. and John E. Riddle.
Noted February Deployments: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) to Qatar, about 200 folks for about 90 days. This was a rough deployment for the pilots, circumnavigating their way to Afghanistan.
Our next scheduled Luncheon is February 2nd, at the Fort Jackson NCO Club beginning at 12:00. We usually have the Excalibur Room, which has been refurbished and is bright and pleasant to be in. The food is good most of the time. The NCO Club provides a nice setting for us for $10.00 per person. This and all the other amenities, plus informed speakers from the base, and good luncheon companionship...it just doesn't get any better than that!