Photos from the "1st Annual 57th Anniversary Reunion of
Korean War Veterans of the 36th FBS."
What a Day!
My co-hosts and honored guests Jan and Fick Henderson and Jan's daughter Denise arrived at about 10:00 A.M. as planned to put everything together for the luncheon. God Bless those ladies for all of their help! Then, the other honored guests began arriving and the reminiscing and the smiles began...
(Hover the mouse over the picture to see caption. Click on the thumbnail image to enlarge picture.)
(Reunion Day Photos Courtesy of Mike Warriner)
© 2010 Mike Warriner. All Rights Reserved.
At around 11:00 A.M., Jan and Denise announced that lunch was served! Before getting to "the spread" however, I asked the guests to help me officially "kick off" the reunion by joining in the singing of the National Anthem.
Faux Pas # 1. I failed to properly brief my co-host Fick Henderson on my plans.
I had very briefly talked with Fick about playing my favorite version of the National Anthem as sung by Faith Hill at Superbowl 34, Jan. 2000. I told Fick that I was going to say "Hit it Fick," and he was supposed to act surprised and balk at leading us in the National Anthem. Then..., Mike Warriner would "cue up" the Faith Hill track. Instead of acting surprised when I said "Hit it Fick," he "hit it," and had everyone singing right along lockstep and in tune.
Faux pas # 2. I stopped Fick in the first verse.
Later, I realized that I should have let him go; he was doing a fine job! But, for about a year leading up to the reunion, I had planned and had my heart (and hard head I suppose) set on playing my favorite rendition of the National Anthem from Faith Hill. So after the start-stop "gaffe" I told Mike Warriner to "hit it," and he cued up the Faith Hill track which, compared to Fick's pace, seemed to take a couple of hours to get through! A little awkward!!! Afterward, I explained to the guests what was supposed to happen, and everyone had a good laugh over it. Thank God that we had not yet eaten because we would all have fallen asleep before the Faith Hill version was through! Faith Hill... What a beautiful lady. I've never understood why she married that McGraw fella when she could've had me... :)
After we played the National Anthem I gave a little speech welcoming the guests to the "1st Annual 57th Anniversary Reunion of the Korean War Veteran Flying Fiends of the 36th Fighter-Bomber Squadron." I added that, "The 'run-up' to this event was so exciting for me, that I am already looking forward to our next get together at the 2nd Annual 57th Anniversary Reunion of the Korean War Veteran Flying Fiends of the 36th Fighter-Bomber Squadron" in the year 2067!"
Then, I thanked everyone for going to the great trouble and expense to join me in Peoria, AZ. in celebration of the service and sacrifice of all our Veterans past and present, and in particular the Korean War Veterans of the USAF 36th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. I reminded the veterans in attendance: "Because of your service and sacrifice 57 years ago, you kept the Nation of South Korea free then, and it remains free to this day and has one of the most thriving economies in the world."
I then announced that we would be making some presentations. I told the guests that the flag they had just paid tribute to was not an "ordinary" U.S. Flag. Early on in the reunion planning last year, I made a request through AZ. Sen. Jon Kyl's office to have a number of U.S. Flags flown over the U.S. Capitol Building in Wash. D.C., In honor of the Korean War Veterans of the USAF 36th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, on 27 July, 2010, the 57th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. Accompanying each flag was a certificate certifying the same.
After presenting a flag and certificate to each "Flying Fiend," I asked my co-host Fick Henderson to assist me at the flag pole.
At this time I was carrying a red nylon bag on which was stenciled, "Osan Air Base." In this bag, were 10 U.S. Flags, each of which was flown over the skies of South Korea in the cockpit of a 36th Fighter Squadron "Fabulous Flying Fiends" F-16 Fighter that is currently stationed at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.
One day recently and out of the blue, I got an email from Lt. Col. Ralph J. Waite IV, Commanding Officer 36th Fighter Squadron. Col. Waite said someone had pointed him to my FlyingFiendsinKoreanWar website URL and he wanted to thank me for preserving the Air Force history and heritage of their (Fabulous Flying Fiends) predecessors. I replied to the Col.'s email thanking him for his kind words and told him of the upcoming 36th FBS Reunion. I also told him of the U.S. Flags which were flown over the Nation's Capitol and hinted that HE would be the perfect person to present those flags if he could somehow get a "hop" to Luke AFB and be here for the reunion. That almost came to pass, but it ended up that the Squadron had other obligations during this time period. However, the Col. very quickly offered up that he could supply me with a U.S. Flag flown over the skies of South Korea in a 36th Fighter Squadron F-16 and a certificate bearing the same for each of the reunion attendees, and that he did. Many thanks to Col. Waite "Fiend 1," and the Fabulous Flying Fiends at Osan Air Base who are still defending the skies of South Korea to this very day.
The following photos show Fick and I lowering the "Capitol-flown" U.S. Flag and raising the "South Korean-flown" U.S. Flag.
After Fick and I lowered the "Capitol" U.S. colors down and hoisted the "South Korean" U.S. colors back up, I explained the unusual gesture to the guests. I stated, "Ladies and Gentleman: It might seem unusual that I just took one U.S. Flag down only to hoist another in it's place." I then explained that the Flag which was now flying overhead was "no ordinary U.S. Flag...," and you readers here already know the "rest of the story." After my explanation, I then presented each of the "Flying Fiends" with a U.S. Flag and accompanying certificate sent to me by Lt. Col. Waite, Commander 36th Fighter Squadron, Osan Air Base, R.O.K. It was a poignant moment indeed.
After the presentation of the "South Korean flown" U.S. Flags, Fick Henderson came up and spoke a few words to our guests about what a really great guy I am and I for one, whole-heartedly agreed! (BS Alert! BS Alert! :) In all seriousness and sincerity, I can't thank Fick and his wife Jan enough for the very generous help they gave me in putting this thing together. Without their support, this event would not have taken place. The following picture from the big 36th FBS Reunion Day is one of my favorites.
There was one more item on the agenda to take care of before I "released" the guests to "the spread." Some time ago while working on my website, I was examining my Uncle Raoul's "Queen Flight" Patch from his Flight Jacket. I noticed that it was an image of the Queen of Spades giving the "finger." Beneath that image were the words "Yea Sammy Smallus."
So I took to the internet to find out about "Sammy Smallus" which turned out to be a variation of "Sammy Small" which, as it turns out, is a Fighter Pilot "drinking song." In fact, according to Fighter Pilots active and retired, "Sammy Small" is the most well-known, verse for verse, word for word, Fighter Pilot drinking song ever. I found a website who has a beautifully sung, Barber Shop Quartet Style rendition of beautifully sung rendition of "Sammy Small" Well, even a crusty, salty, old sailor like me "blushed" at the words to "Sammy Small" but..., I decided that these 36th FBS Flying Fiends were going to entertain the ladies at the reunion with a very condensed and censored version of "Sammy Small;" 2nd and 3rd verses re-written by yours truly. I left the first verse intact because it coincided very well with some customized souvenir golf balls I had made up, which were embossed with the 36th Fighter Squadron Patch logo.
As the reunion attendees arrived, I handed out A golf ball to each Flying Fiend in attendance and told them to place the ball in their pocket and that it would be used later for "entertainment purposes." So after the Flag presentations I had all of the Flying Fiends join me at the Flag Pole for a completely impromptu, unrehearsed singing of "Sammy Small." While the performance lacked any semblance of tonal quality or timing (it wasn't meant to), the ladies and everyone involved got a good laugh out of it and that was my goal all along. Below is a copy of the "revised lyrics to Sammy Small" and a couple of photos of the "unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime," live performance of "Sammy Small" performed by 'Tigers' of the 36th Fighter-Bomber Squadron!
At this point I declared the "Formal Opening Ceremonies" of the "1st Annual 57th Anniversary Reunion of the Korean War Veteran Flying Fiends of the 36th Fighter-Bomber Squadron" to be concluded, and invited all of the guests to eat, drink, and tell lots and lots of embellished stories!
And now..., click here for more pics from the 36th FBS Reunion
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