By Robert (Bob) W. Barkalow Jr., Master Sgt. (Retired)
/ Published February 24, 2015
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- We had one of our larger gatherings in a long time this month. We had almost 70 people to show. One of them was a first-timer, Robert (Bob) Dozier. We had a good raffle and a good speaker/liaison from McEntire, Lt. Col. Mike Dunkin, who we found out was an Aiken native and USC graduate in accounting no less. Hence, he is now the Comptroller at the base. He was formerly the Air Traffic Control Officer.
When I say larger crowd, one time we had over 100 people, and another time or two around 90 or so (hint hint?). I want to encourage you to come. A person approached me and asked me why we couldn't get more of our lady retirees there? I thought for a moment, which is unusual, I really didn't have an answer. I offer and either you accept or decline by either coming to the Luncheon or not coming, no matter who you are, what color you are, what rank you were. I try to treat every Retiree the same, the Vince Lombardi way, the same! However, I may select a special 'Lady Retirees Oriented Luncheon' soon to see if we can beat the bushes and get them to attend. We are getting more and more lady retirees, but also we have the same problem with new male retirees as well. It is hard to get them to come to our Luncheons for various reasons, they may still be working, or they may not have a lot of interest at this point in their lives, or they may not know about us? Nostalgia-wise, the older we are the more nostalgic we get about our past, particularly with family, friends and acquaintances, hence reunions and get-togethers. By the time you get this, I will be attending my 56th High School Reunion. My point is we didn't have any for years, now we are doing this annually.
McEntire History: The third and final round of our 2011 Retirees that we would like recognize. They are as follows: Chief Master Sgts. Timothy Treaster, Zane Wall, Billy Solomon, Emily Jones, and Patrick Wait. Senior Master Sgts. Richard Callihan, David Joos, Patricia Bledsoe, Mae Jones, and Charles Russel. Master Sgts. Danny Smith, Beatrice Whetstone, Donald Gary Jr., Jordan Alexander, and Harry Hill II. This appears to be the epitome of the Top Three! There was a deployment to Qatar in March 2003, supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, which deployed about 400 folks for a time period of a little over two months. There were 411 combat sorties flown, delivering over 250,000 pounds of ordnance during this deployment.
McEntire Retirees by the numbers: By my count through the tenured years at Congaree/McEntire, from 1946-2014, we have 1246 retirees. However, as mentioned before, we are not able to come up with all the retired folk through the years of 1987-1993, I call this period the Missing Link Years. I have found a total of 137 retirees during that period, only because people volunteered their retirement year. Because of this, I am estimating we have close to 1300 retirees since its inception. I will try another campaign to find more 'missing links' later.
The Monument: Currently there are 259 names on our monument: 135 names are on the obelisk and 124 on the granite blocks or pillars. The Noncommissioned Officers Academy Graduates Association guys are planning to buy two more pillars and engrave more names on them. Right now there is only room for 11 more names on the last pillar bought. By buying two more pillars, that should handle the remainder of the folks who passed away in 2014 and this year thus far, plus the folks we found who were retired, but names were never included on the monument for one reason or another. These are a lot of numbers to throw at you, but I/we live by the 'numbers'.
On March 3rd, we will have our monthly Luncheon at our regular place, the Fort Jackson NCO Club. They have been doing a really nice job decorating for us, and the food has been good. So please come if you can, and come a bit early, that is when you really get to meet and greet. I routinely hate to end the gab session and start our proceedings, because I know why you come, to see your old buddies and be nostalgic as mentioned above. We begin at 12:00, or just a bit later, because it is hard to get everyone calmed down from seeing and talking to their old buddies.
By: Robert (Bob) W. Barkalow, Jr., MSgt (retired)