Standing, l. to r.: Skip Leonard; Rich Redditt, Committee Chairman; John Holm; Mike Waldron; Bob Pearl; Dave Cowles
Seated, l. to r.: Mary Buonaguidi, Meeting Planner; Chuck Schroeder; Jim Ozbirn
Our 28th Last Annual Crusader Ball and reunion is now in the history books and for all who attended, it was certainly one to remember. For four wonderful days in San Diego we renewed old friendships, reconnected with people who shaped our young lives and laughed till it hurt. Many people saw old squadron-mates for the first time in over 40 years. It felt great to be together again and our pride in being F-8 pilots showed.
On Thursday night there were numerous squadron reunion dinners as attendees began to arrive. Later that evening the hospitality suite was hopping as we all enjoyed the top floor Penthouse suite and the stunning views of San Diego at night.
On Friday we took 250 people in chartered buses to MCAS Miramar to our own private flightline chalet to watch the Miramar Air Show performances including our own Blue Angels. We returned to the hotel for a happy hour and reception around the pool for over 320 people.
On Saturday we spread out to enjoy the many activities San Diego has to offer including touring the Midway and playing golf at ADM Baker, and on Saturday night we had 350 Crusader pilots and their guests for the banquet dinner. As we highlighted the accomplishments of the Crusader and the incredible pilots who were present, we also honored the Martin-Baker Company – one of our generous sponsors – by asking all Crusader drivers who had ejected from the Crusader to come forward for a photo. In all, 33 pilots came up for a photo which is being sent to Martin-Baker. The photo is on the website at www.f8crusader.org and we ask that you go have a look at it to help identify a few of the lucky drivers who are standing there because of Martin Baker.
Throughout the weekend, we relaxed in the Penthouse suite and enjoyed the perfect October weather, the beautiful San Diego views and great conversation with lots of old friends. Your reunion committee is grateful to all of you for your strong support of the weekend's activities, the ready room, the raffle and the Crusader items we made available for sale. This strong support makes everything possible. It was a great time and we certainly hope to see you again at the next LACB event in 2017.
Here are a few key debrief items from the weekend:
Photos of the reunion are now up on the website. You can link to them at the top of this page. If you didn’t make this reunion, you can see many of your old buddies there and resolve now to attend the next one.
If you need more Crusader and LACB-28 items we've got them. We have ball caps (red or Navy blue) and the beautiful etched dinner wine glasses and F-8 Crusader challenge coins for sale. Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mike Waldron at email@example.com and we make arrangements to get them to you.
If you were a raffle winner and did not get your prize - a very nice bottle of Fighter Pilot Red, let me know and we will figure out a way to get that to you. The winning numbers were announced at the banquet, but six bottles were not claimed. If you still have your winning raffle ticket that will be a big help as I sort through the hundreds of winners I am sure to hear from. If you’re not sure if you won, but still have your raffle ticket, just ask.
It was a special weekend to remember. San Diego couldn't have put on a more beautiful show for us. The hotel was great and is certainly a contender for the next reunion in 2017. Your reunion committee is proud of the effort and the results. It’s very satisfying to put on one of these events and to see so many of your friends have such a good time. If you would like to work on the next reunion, consider this an invitation to join us or even be the guy who runs it all. Jump in here and help.
All the best regards to everyone,