By Bob Barkalow, Master Sgt. (Retired)
/ Published July 30, 2013
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- Well now, we had 86 folks show up for the July luncheon. I loved it when the NCO Club smugly set up for 64 folks. I told them 75 and you beat the mark. I'm proud of you. We had many first timers, although by now they escape my memory, I apologize for that because I didn't write their names down, shame on me. I believe one was Dan Corley, and there were four members from the Weapons section, which Art Cavanaugh spearheaded getting them to come. Two were from Lancaster, one from Greenwood, and another from Columbia. I would like to have their names and email addresses if at all possible so we can keep in touch with them.
Col. David Meyer, the 169th Operations Group Commander, gave us a timely update about McEntire. And the 169th Public Affairs folks gave us some pointers on how to use and look up the new electronic SCANG News for our own purposes. They were quite helpful. Several days after the luncheon, in an email form, I asked for some input about various topics concerning most of us retirees. I received back some 22 responses. It's always good to check with everyone periodically for some feedback, and the reason I did this is a couple people asked me for more or all luncheons.
My take on most of the responses was that everybody seems okay with everything, even me, as your Retirees Coordinator. Some wanted more luncheons and others are getting a bit concerned about the food quality. I will endeavor to encourage the NCO Club to be aware of this, and if this doesn't work by the end of this year, I may entertain re-locating somewhere else. Admittedly it isn't easy to find someplace to accommodate us retirees because we can never anticipate how many will show, which makes it hard on the vendor to determine how much food to cook. That is very understandable. I will work through all this. But I need your future input on how things are going at the NCO Club.
McEntire History: The second group of 2005 Retirees we would like to honor are the following: Chief Master Sgts. Richard Gilbert Jr., Donald McManus, and Leonard Belk. Senior Master Sgts. Malcolm Rast Jr. and Paul Banner Jr. Master Sgts. Darral Housand, Joe Mingo, Michael Harris, David L. Williams, John Spearin Jr. and Valerie Hostos. Tech. Sgts. Daniel Gilbert, Noel Browman, William Johnson, and Charles McSwain. I recognize some names mostly the 240th guys, but don't see these folks at our functions, hint, hint. We now have, at the time of this writing, 278 folks on our 'Address Book'. This is a goodly number, however, we have around 1200 retirees, admittedly some have passed on, and in some cases the spouses like to keep up with things, which is good. My concern is we have many people who are 'lost' out there, or in some cases, they may not care to be part of the system anymore. I am asking you to help me beat the bushes to help find our lost retirees. The 169th Public Affairs Office experiences the same problem to a degree.
There were six pilots who volunteered to help out during the Vietnam War, I was going to ask if you know who, but I will just answer it for recollection purposes. They were: Robert W. Merck, Robert B. Dorn Jr., Charles Miekle, John M. Johnson, Truman W. King, and Frank C. Khare.
As part of the Fort Jackson Retirees Council I, and several others, made a bid about Gate 5, the Leesburg Gate, keeping it open, which many of us use, or used to. Unfortunately, this went to no avail, the main reason is the people who oversee Fort Jackson and other Army facilities have a requirement of an average of 350 vehicles coming through every gate, every hour, in order to keep them open. Now being an old number cruncher that is a lot of vehicles, it extrapolates to 8400 vehicles for a 24 hour gate operation, or however long a gate is open, it is prorated. Therefore it has been determined that Gate 5 should have been closed down years ago. I still don't like this, I moved back to this area to be closer to the fort and McEntire for personal reasons as well as the availability of the golf course. So I will still advocate for re-opening of this gate. Now I am hearing Sequestration may last through the 2014 fiscal year. Excuse my grumbling, but this is upsetting to me, and others I am sure.
On a positive note, our next Breakfast is scheduled August 6th at the Fort Jackson NCO Club beginning at 0830. At this time, I am seriously entertaining adding another luncheon to our 2014 schedule based on the feedback I received, so standby for a final decision. I wish everyone a healthy and happy month, and hope to see many of you at our August breakfast. Bring your spouse, an old Air Guard buddy, or even an old veteran.
Take care everyone.