MID JUNE - THE 16th - at WVRC
We gathered at the usual time and I have to admit that I was surprised that even with those who had left for the Chicago Convention, we had a good turnout. Senor RUDY had prepared a short slide show featuring the artists at Peet’s Coffee, one of his regular 'watering holes.' There were three artists featured, and the show was nicely done.
PP TOM LENEHEN led the Pledge. LENNY FRIEDMAN and PP JIM DOWNIE combined to lead us in You’re a Grand Old Flag. The scheduled Invocator was on his way to Chicago, so Senor RUDY stepped forward with his own which we have heard before but which bears repeating.
DONN CONNER reported that all the Visiting Rotarians had fled the scene once they learned about the forthcoming Barista playlet. This seems a shame, since it really was a pretty good show but VR’s are skittish, as we already know. LENNY FRIEDMAN had a Special Guest, Frank Ponder, whose earlier claim to fame was that he was an early investor in Bel Air Camera. He now runs an REIT, Ponder-Levy Investments. Lenny asked for, and received a warm welcome to Mr. Conger. I think it is fair to remind one and all that if we had a few more members like LENNY doing recruiting, we would be swimming in new members.
As a general policy, and one of the perks I reserve to myself, you may recall that I don’t usually list who is at the Head Table. In this case, since they were mostly my own captives, I must deviate from the 'norm.' I was introduced first and you may be familiar with the phrase, when describing the audience reaction, that the applause was perfunctory. This sure as hell didn’t describe what happened besides myself, I don’t think ANYONE clapped! However, into each life some rain must fall, and since the remaining Head Table residents were greeted a bit more forthcomingly, that salved my injured feelings somewhat.
At this point, Senor RUDY announced that new member PEGGY BLOOMFIELD would not be giving her Craft Talk today since both son Bill and daughter Joanne could not be present. There ensued some Table Talk a rarity in these days of 'full programs' and I was then called upon to introduce our military guests. Major Matt Parker escorted Midshipman Alan J. Johnson, who was the recipient of a Ship’s Clock from WVRC in recognition of his achievements while at UCLA. Major Parker thanked us for our continuing support of the Naval ROTC unit, and then described some of Midshipman Johnson’s naval history. Originally in the Marine Corps, he was selected for Naval ROTC training, and has now decided he wants to serve on submarines. His dad was also a submariner. He has trained aboard these boats (the only craft of its size not referred to as a ship, by the way) during his summer cruises, and agrees with me that the best job in the Navy is conning your craft while underway. When he graduates in a year, he will attend the Naval Nuclear Power School, and then move into direct submarine experience. This summer he will be with the Australian Navy at the submarine base in Perth this is the base for all our and their submarines in the Indian and Pacific Oceans
I next introduced Lt. Col Tony Leppellere, who brought Cadet Karlakatrina L. Ruiz to the meeting. Cadet Ruiz was another outstanding example of the quality of leaders being turned out by these ROTC Programs. Cadet Ruiz began her career as a four-year scholarship winner, which means she received books and tuition each year, plus a monthly stipend, starting at $250 and going to $400 now that she is a senior. She was named the outstanding freshman cadet, became the advisor to the student commanding officer. She was named as one of the top ten cadets in summer camp, and then selected to be part of the cadre training other summer cadets. Of the 3,000 cadets who graduate from field training, only 200 are selected as cadre. She is now the Wing Commander of the entire Air Force ROTC unit. We presented her with a sword, suitably engraved. When she graduates, she will attend the Training Academy for Military Intelligence, which is where she expects to spend her career. I displayed the sword we awarded her, and read the inscription noting WVRC as the donor.
DAN PRICE followed with a Father’s Day joke. He next offered an Irish joke which in turn was followed by PP TOM LENEHEN’S joke. This brought on Lt. Col Lepppellere, who may have the toughest name but he surely had the best joke! SHANE WAARBROEK asked what the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Program) does. Lt. Col. Lepellellere explained it was a Leadership Training Program, and the graduates all receive commissions in the Air Force and then proceed to active duty. The various Air Force programs over the U.S. provide about 2,000 officers per year the Air Force Academy adds about 900 more. RAY ZICKFELD asked if there ever had been a study comparing Academy graduates with ROTC graduates.
Currently, General Officers in the Air Force are almost equally divided between ROTC and Academy graduates. PP MIKE NEWMAN asked what the financial advantages of joining the ROTC program were, and he was reminded that all fees and books, etc, are paid for, plus a monthly stipend. The Air Force will send some candidates to private colleges, but they aim to move over 50% of the applicants to state schools, due to the major difference in costs. SALLY BRANT was curious about a regular commission vs. a reserve commission. There used to be a difference, but recently Congress has evened the playing field. CATHY REZOS asked what the attrition rate was. About 20% drop out during the first year half for academic reasons and half because they don’t like what they are studying. The freshman year is designed that way to clear out those who might not stick around anyway. She also asked what the requirements are to apply. It is very competitive, with an SAT of about 1250 and the upper 25% of your high school class. PP HOMER NEWMAN asked what the vision requirements were to apply, noting that in WWII you couldn’t wear glasses, period. That has materially changed, with contacts permitted, and many people who would have been rejected are now participating in the program.
CATHY REZOS came forward to offer the Toast. She asked the two officers to give toasts, and Lt Col Leppellere suggested a toast to President George W. Bush. (This brought the somewhat predictable anonymous suggestion, “Drink it down, Rudy”) Major Parker toasted the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Hegy (sp?) CATHY concluded by toasting all our ROTC visitors for what they are giving us today and their dedication to tomorrow.