We have finished our Reunion for 2022!
It was Great!
Tuesday, September 6th was the first day with people arriving from morning till night. When we arrived we were greeted with many, many police cars parked around our motel. No, it was not a crime scene! The Indiana police departments were holding their annual meeting and conference at the Marriot while we were there. The facility was more than large enough to handle both groups at the same time.
After checking in and putting our things into our rooms, it was time to go to the Hospitality Suite and register for the Reunion. This was the "HQ" for our entire reunion. It not only provided a chance to get a boxed lunch, sweet treats and refreshments but also the chance to view all the memorabilia collected from all the sites over the many years. Many conversations started at this table with members remembering and telling of their years in Iceland but also learning of what the following years brought them both in military and civilian life.
It also provided a chance to view some of the various Quilts of Valor which were awarded to various members in the past years and items in the Silent Auction fundraiser.
Tuesday evening Ruthann Couch led a session where we learned of the plans for the next few days but also had a chance to review the activities of the group following our last, pre-Covid, reunion in 2019 and matters to be brought up at the formal business meeting scheduled for Thursday after the Banquet. This allowed the members to be better prepared to answer the questions about the future of our group, the need for people to fill the various jobs needed to have an effective group and the status of our finances.
Joe Pyrdek provided background information about the problems which resulted in the old web site being abandoned and a new web site created. He also pointed out that over the years we have lost contact with many of our members and the need to organize a plan to update our membership files (both Annual and Life and unpaid members). He presented a plan to transfer ownership of our web site from his personal account to our group.
On a little sadder note, we also recognized the deaths of some of our members discovered over the past few months.
Yes it was a busy, busy first day!
Click on the pictures to see a larger version. More pictures will be added as they become available.
Wednesday started early with breakfast in the Hospitality Room and then boarding the bus for a short ride to Indiana War Memorial. This classical Greek style architecture features three floors of memorials and artifacts from all the wars where Indiana soldiers and sailors lost their life. Their names are shown on Memorial Plaques for WW I, WW II, Korea and Vietnam and other conflicts to honor those who made the Supreme Sacrifice.
Our tour started with a short video presentation in the six hundred seat Pershing auditorium showing the construction of this magnificent memorial. Then we went up to see the breath taking Shrine Room. Here is the Altar of Consecration and the Star of Destiny, Surrounded by 24 pillars of Blood Red Indiana Marble all of us were deeply moved by the striking beauty and solemn nature of this room built using materials from all over the world to symbolize the world wide nature of the First World War. You could not help but realize the many sacrifices made by the men and women honored in this shrine.
The two lower floors had exhibits from all the conflicts from the Revolutionary War to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and later conflicts. There was a special exhibit honoring those who lost their lives when the USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine shortly after delivering the Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima to Tinian Island. The story of the loss of all but 317 lives of the 1196 aboard was a series of miscommunications where the Navy did not even realize that the Indianapolis was sunk until several days had passed. There are far too many exhibits to list them all so here is a link to the Indiana War Museum, where you can find much more information.
After the Indiana War Museum, it was time to get on the bus for a short ride to where we were having our three years delayed lunch at the Columbia Club, Our visit to this club, which was a five Star hotel with elaborate stained glass windows and sparkling chandeliers, was originally set up for the 2020 and subsequent 2021 reunions, both of which were blocked by the covid pandemic. After our lunch in the elegant ballroom, we had a chance to visit the Soldiers and Sailors Monument across the street in Monument Circle.
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is a 284' 6" neoclassical dedicated 120 years ago in 1902. Construction of the monument started in 1888 and was completed in 1901. The monument is the first monument constructed in the United States that was dedicated to the common soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812. The Mexican-American War and the Spanish American War. It is a obelisk made of Indiana quarried limestone on a raised foundation and surrounded by pools and fountains and topped by a 30 foot tall bronze sculpture of "Victory". We even had the excitement of a number of fire trucks and emergency vehicles, sirens screaming, come to the area but they left shortly after without any further activity being seen.
After our tour of the monument and surrounding area, we gathered back at the Columbia Club for the ride back to "HQ" for a pizza party and a video presentation by Larry Robin of our past reunions which started in 2003.
Thursday started off with a quick coffee & rolls breakfast in our Hospitality Room HQ before boarding a bus to visit the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A short time and a few miles away we come to that famous oval cornered rectangle. Seeing the tunnel which runs under the grandstand and racetrack to allow entry to the inner area caused a few of us to wonder if thar big bus we were on would fit through the tunnel. Yes, it did with room to spare AND WE WERE at “THE BRICKYARD!”
The Speedway is NOT actually in Indianapolis. It has its own town called Speedway, Indiana. The Speedway is located about 6 miles from downtown Indianapolis.
While we were unloading, we were treated to a number of Chevy Corvette owners racing their vehicles around the track. Then we entered the Museum and Visitor’s Center. Ruthann met with the Speedway’s tour people and we got into the three busses needed to drive our group to the various areas of the Speedway. In the Tower we saw where the reporters ser up to cover the race, the viewing areas which gave a spectacular view of the entire race track facility including the 257,325 seating of the Grandstand, the “Gasoline Alley” pit Area, the medical facility and the golf course. Yes, I did say Golf Course. There are four holes, of this eighteen hole golf course, which are located inside the Speedway’s infield while the remaining 14 holes border the back stretch of the track.
You had a bird’s eye view of the Finish Line and the 3 foot strip of the original bricks laid down in 1909 when the track was first built. In a little known fact, the very first race held at the track took place before the track was even completed and it did not have a single car in the race. It was instead a helium filled balloon race which drew 40,000 spectators. The winner was aloft for more than 24 hours and landed 362 miles away!
We were also treated to see the Winners Circle. This is a unique area where the winning race car is lifted from the track level to a second floor presentation area by a specially installed elevator.
After the tour of the track, we spent several hours in the museum looking at a number of different race cars from the early 1900’s on. The variety of differently styled race cars was truly amazing. You could even drive a three lap practice on the track. Of course, you could only use the simulators available for your “race” but the experience was exciting.
After the museum, we were treated to a Bus Lunch. No that is not a typo error. We had Subway box lunches wile on the bus before we started our journey to our next event of the reunion. We toured downtown Indianapolis and saw many of the sights while our driver negotiated the many roads and turns we took.
After our “Bus Lunch” we were off for a driving tour of Indianapolis. A big attraction was circling the Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts NFL team. Soon we arrived at the Eiteljorge Museum. It was founded by Harrison Eiteljorge, an Indianapolis businessman who loved the art of both the Western U.S. and the many native tribes across the North American continent and he wished to preserve and promote the many different forms of art and history that the museum now contains. The Eiteljorge’s collection has been ranked among the best in the world. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the different pictures on display and the various materials used by the native tribes in the creation of their arts and things used in daily living.
Then it was back to our hotel to get ready for the Reunion Banquet.
The Banquet opened with the Presentation of the Colors by 1st Lt Jason Chick. He is our Chairman's grandson who is a 1st Lt in the Mississippi National Guard. Following the delicious dinner, retired Brigadier General J. Stewart Goodwin is serving as Executive Director, Indiana War Memorials Commission, and gave us a report on Indianapolis's outstanding recognition of the very high dedication the city and state has to recognize the efforts and dedication of the many Hoosiers who served our country in the many conflicts from the War of Independence to the current conflicts now taking place. Such efforts include not only the many outstanding monuments but also the various services available to the veterans of Indiana. General Goodwin described the efforts to consolidate Veterans Services in a central location so all veterans can have easy access to the services they need. Following General Goodwin's presentation Plaques of Appreciation were presented to Chairman Chick, Vice-Chair Larry Robin, Historian Gerald Tonnell, Webmaster Joe Pyrdek, Asst. Web-Master Geoff Legg, Hospitality chair Peter Holland and Registration Chair Donald Brunner. Chairman Chick presented Secretary/Treasurer Ruthann Couch with a Staples gift card.
Next was the presentation by Joe Pyrdek of a U.S. Flag which had flown above the U.S. Capital Building and a certificate from U.S. Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania recognizing Chick's more than 20 years of service in the formation and leadership of the Iceland Radar Sites Reunion Group. Chairman Chick's grandson Jason then presented Chick with a specially crafted "challenge coin" set of four coins in recognition of Chick's service to the country and his dedication and valiant efforts in the reunion Group's many gatherings and projects.
An Appreciation Award was presented to the Hotel Manager in appreciation of the hotel's assistance in holding our reunion. Following the Banquet, we retired back to our Hospitality Suite HQ to conduct the Business Meeting of our group.
After the Banquet, we met in the Hospitality Room HQ to conduct our business meeting and the election of officers. This meeting marked the end of Chick's term as Chairman of the Reunion Group and his elevation to the Position of Chair Emeritus. Ruthann Couch was elected to be our new Reunion Group Chairperson. A full report of the business meetin is listed below.. It was determined by the members to try to hold another reunion in the nexto eighteen to twenty-four months. If you have any suggestions as to where we may hold this future reunion, please use the "Contact Us" page to let us know of your suggestion(s) and what attractions and activities the location can provide.
Report of the Business Meeting and Election of officers for our group.
Meeting held at the Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis, IN on September 9, 2022
Here is the slate of officers that were nominated by the Nominating Committee (Joe Pyrdek and Howard Benham) and voted on (elected) at the September 8, 2022 Business Meeting. Howard Benham moved to accept the slate of officers and Donald Brunner seconded the motion. The attendees voted to elect the nominees.
Chair Ruthann Couch
Vice Chair Vacant (but I will be looking for someone to fill the position)
Secretary/Treasurer Paul Goldschmidt
Membership Chair Vacant (but I will be looking for someone to fill the position)
Historian/Newsletter Editor Gerald Tonnell
Webmaster Joe Pyrdek
Assistant Webmaster Geoff Legg
Memorabilia Chair Peter Holland
Chair Emeritus William Chick
Vice Chair Emeritus Larry Robin
A motion was made by Joe Pyrdek and seconded by Howard Benham to have the Executive Board take ownership of the USRSI.org website. The motion was approved.
A motion was made by Joe Pyrdek and seconded by Howard Benham to renew the domain name and the website registration. The motion was approved.
A motion was made by Joe Pyrdek and seconded by Howard Benham to make it known to the membership that members can make tax deductible Qualified Charitable Distributions from their IRA’s to the Iceland Radar Sites Reunion. The motion was approved.
The group discussed the desire to have future reunions and there was a lot of enthusiasm to have a reunion in the next 12 to 18 months. The month of a reunion was a concern because May and June is busy with graduations and weddings and some members will not be able to attend a reunion. September was the month that most members thought was best because it was after summer and children are back in school and the weather is still mild for traveling. Several possible locations included Rapid City, SD, Montgomery, AL and Kansas City, MO. Ruthann Couch suggested Montgomery, AL because it is approximately half way between William Chick and Larry Robin and would probably allow them to attend the next reunion.
Webmaster Joe Pyrdek discussed the website and the need to improve communication to the members. He also talked about the search feature and fulfilling member requests to find other Iceland Radar Site veterans. The discussion was whether or not we should limit the number of requests per member. The decision was made to not change current procedures and revisit the issue if the number of requests become unmanageable.
Here is a list of reunion attendees:
Robert Andrews and Julie Fleury H-3 ’65-‘66
Anthony and Linda Arnold H-3 ’82-‘83
Rich Banta H-3 ‘84
Howard and Marty Benham 932nd and HQ AFI ’72-’75, ’79-’82 and ’86-‘88
Randall Bills H-1 ’76-‘77
Donald and Diana Brunner H-3 ‘72
William and Connie Chick H-2 ’59-‘60
Jason Chick, grandson
Sharon Chick, daughter
Ruthann and Gene Couch H-1
James Getz H-1 ‘63
Byron “Gil” and Esther Gilbertson H-1 ‚69 and H-3 ’78-‘79
Robert Haines H-4 ’57-‘58
Robert Haines, son
Ken Wasmer, step-son
Paul and Bonnie Goldschmidt H-1 ’78-’79 and ’82-‘85
Brad Hinton H-3 ’85-‘86
Peter and Marie Holland H-3 ’66-‘67
Billy Hurst and Margaret Robertson H-1 ’65
Richard and Bunny LeDoux H-1 ’68-‘69
Geoff and Janet Legg H-1
Richard and Sue Mulz H-3 ’84-‘85
Joseph and Rita Pyrdek H-3 ’67-‘68
Larry and Marguerite Robin H-1 ’64-‘65
Cindy Campbell, daughter
Mark Robin, son
Frank and Donna Rollins H-1 ’76-‘77
Clarence Dean Stoltz H-1 & H-3 ’55-‘56
Margaret Green, daughter
Gerald and Norma Tonnell H-2 ‘59
Roger and Kathleen Wertanen H-1 ’58-‘59
Harry and Melissa Wilson H-4 ’57 and H-1 ’61
David Wingrove H-1 ’63-‘64