By Charlie Adcock, F311374
FMCA National President
Hello, My Fellow FMCA Family.
As I write this, we have just completed FMCA’s 89th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase, “Passport to Perry,” in Georgia. Gloria and I have so much fun at these international gatherings that we can hardly wait to point our coach toward Redmond, Oregon, in August for our next (90th) Family Reunion. Sure hope we get to see all of you out there. Put it on your calendar now — August 13-16, 2014!
We left home on March 9 and headed for Perry, where we met up with national senior vice president Jon Walker. After setting up at a campground in Perry, we got into the truck and drove to Albany, Georgia, to enjoy a good time with the Monaco International chapter.
We moved to our parking spots at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter on Tuesday, March 11, and were joined by the rest of the Executive Board and the Family Reunion crew chiefs. We received an invitation to attend the Newmar International chapter pre-rally that Thursday, and we had a good time with them, enjoying the food, fellowship, and games.
The Advance Crew for the Perry Family Reunion arrived on March 12, and then more than 800 volunteers came in on the 13th and 14th. These folks are absolutely amazing, with their unselfish, can-do spirit and positive attitudes. You have heard this before, but it bears repeating — without the volunteers, it would be impossible to put on a successful Family Reunion. They all did a great job, but I want to single out the parking crew for special recognition, as they suffered through some pretty adverse weather conditions to get everyone into their sites.
A full report on the Perry Reunion starts on page 56 of this issue, but I would like to hit a few of the highlights here. We had a total of 3,002 coaches registered. That included 2,554 family coaches and 448 commercial coaches. I had the privilege and pleasure to meet and greet the majority of you. If I missed you this time, I hope to catch you at the next rally. Feel free to stop me for a chat.
This was a fun-filled event, with many games for attendees to play, including two with big payoffs. First prize of $1,000 in the special Match-a-Number game was won by Billy Whitten, F408800, and John and Gail Horning, F280578 won a Seattle Seafair Rally RV Vacation valued at more than $3,000 in the Passport Game. We had a ladies’ tea; informative seminars; vendors offering everything associated with RVing; several charity events; and a BUNCH of brand-new coaches on display to wander through, drool over, and even buy!
One charity event was Purses for a Purpose. Purses were filled with various “goodies,” and a silent auction was held. The auction raised $2,142, which went to the Independence Fund, a 100 percent all-volunteer nonprofit organization that assists wounded veterans. Another charitable effort was collecting peanut butter and jelly for needy kids. Attendees donated 1,145 jars, which added up to 29,529 ounces of peanut butter and jelly.
One of the other highlights was the top-notch entertainment. On Tuesday, Jeanne Robertson had us in stitches with her comedy. I laughed so hard I could barely breathe. What a funny lady!
On Wednesday, The Texas Tenors treated us to a fantastic variety of country, gospel, classical, and Broadway music. These guys are great crowd-pleasers. They were favorites on “America’s Got Talent” (finished fourth in 2009). You will have to get a report from my wife, Gloria, on her unexpected stage debut with this group — I think it is now on Facebook!
And then on Thursday, Sarah Getto wrapped up the Family Reunion with her very special music. She was born blind, but this did not stop her from becoming an accomplished musician. She even prerecorded herself for all of her background accompaniment. Such a sweetheart.
Again, please make plans to join us in Redmond, Oregon, in August. If you absolutely can’t attend this particular Family Reunion, then check out the Association Calendar on page 82 or online at FMCA.com and find a future Reunion or area rally to attend.
The Association Calendar this month also is jam-packed with chapter rallies you are invited to attend. Yes, it is finally rally time in the northern parts of the United States and in Canada. And my favorite month of the year is finally here. I love the month of May. The temperature has warmed up, the grass has turned green, flowers are blooming, everything smells fresh, and RVs are out and moving around North America.
Another reason I particularly like May is that we take time to honor all of our veterans, police officers, firefighters, and first responders. This year, Memorial Day in the United States falls on May 26. On that day, we remember and thank all Americans who have served the citizens of our great country and were willing to lay down their lives for their fellow countrymen. And we recognize and honor those currently serving as well. Many have given the ultimate sacrifice. Our Canadian members have similar observances later in the year. To all of these men and women, I say a heartfelt thank-you.
You probably have figured out by now that the only way I can write this column is to share things that have happened to me. Some people have the gift of imagination and can write about anything; well, I can’t. Since this article mentions veterans, I thought I might bore you with the story of my military experience.
I joined the Air Force in January 1963 with visions of flying off into the “wild blue yonder.” Well, when I finished boot camp, a paintbrush was put in my hand, and I was told that I was a “protective coating specialist,” otherwise known as a house painter. The only blue I saw was blue paint. So much for the “wild blue yonder”!
My first station was Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in Panama City, Florida. Then in January 1965, I transferred to Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska, still specializing in house painting. When it came time to re-enlist in 1967, I decided it was time for an upgrade and asked to cross-train into the aircraft loadmaster field. The aircraft loadmaster is responsible for the weight and balance of the aircraft to assure it is within limits for takeoff and landing. He or she also must ensure that the cargo is secure and that the aircraft floor limitations are not exceeded. We had many more responsibilities, but you get the idea. The best part of this was that I was now part of the flight crew — “wild blue yonder,” here I come!
The first aircraft I flew on was a C-47 (DC-3), a twin-engine cargo plane built in the mid-1930s. We carried USO shows to radar sites all over Alaska. Pretty neat cargo!
On leaving Elmendorf in June 1968, I transferred to Seward AFB, located in Smyrna, Tennessee, not far from Nashville. There I found myself on a real cargo airplane, the C-130 Hercules. We did a lot of air-dropping of supplies and paratroopers. I spent one year at Seward AFB, and then, you guessed it, I was on my merry way to the tropics of Southeast Asia. I was assigned to the 9th Special Operation Squadron at Bien Hoa Air Base in Vietnam and, wouldn’t you know, the aircraft I was assigned to was the C-47 (DC-3).
Our squadron had a twofold mission. First, we assisted the Army with their psychological warfare program, air-dropping propaganda leaflets and broadcasting to the enemy very loud recordings made by captured comrades. Our second mission was dropping 3-million-candle-watt flares from 3,000 feet for target illumination so our fighter-bombers could accurately deliver their bombs.
For actions in Vietnam, I received several citations and awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters. Like many of my fellow Vietnam brothers, I am on disability as a result of Agent Orange exposure. This month in particular, I want to honor the memory of those close brothers, many of whom have succumbed to the effects of this chemical agent.
When I returned to the United States in August 1970, I was assigned to the C141A Cargo Starlifter, the Air Force’s premier cargo aircraft at that time, and our mission covered the world. What a plane, and what a life — the best job I ever had. I’ve jokingly said that I joined the Air Force, and they issued me an $8 million air taxi with two college graduates up front to fly me from party to party.
After being stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, I was reassigned to Little Rock AFB in Arkansas in January 1977. I met Gloria during that tour, and we were married in October 1978. I also flew on the C-130 Hercules again. In June 1980, I was reassigned to Military Airlift Command Headquarters at Scott AFB, Illinois, not far from St. Louis, Missouri. In June 1982, I returned to Little Rock AFB to finish out my career. I retired in May 1984, having served 21 years, 3 months, and 21 days (but who was counting).
This month, FMCA executive director Jerry Yeatts shares some other stories of members or loved ones who have served to protect us and guard our freedoms. And an article about the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, which has more than 300 historically significant aircraft, starts on page 52. So, please read on.
In closing, I want you to know that we continue to work as hard as we know how to in order to make our great organization even better and to improve our member benefits. Feel free to contact me at any time with suggestions and comments.
And, remember, “It’s all about having fun!”