As Sam Sees It

This is probably not the best week for my air force reunion if the criterion is what I am missing in high school sports. This will be the first time in quite a few years that I will miss the state baseball and softball tournament. Every effort will be made to continue good coverage of the state tournaments, whether from Nashville by telephone and e-mail or by having someone else do the job. Either is a possibility.

Winslow teams are not likely to be favorites in either of these competitions, but are likely to be strong enough to be serious contenders. It should prove interesting to see how our young athletes do in what has been another very fine year for Winslow High School athletics. The track teams will also be competing and should have some individual champions. Like the baseball and softball teams, they will not be favorites but could be dangerous contenders.

My air force reunion is really a reunion of a relatively small Russian language class that attended Syracuse University from the fall of 1954 until the summer of 1955. Some of us went to a special school at the National Security Agency in Washington, D.C. after our graduation, while others attended a different school at Kessler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. From those schools we went to such diverse duty stations as West Germany, Tripoli, Turkey, Japan, Alaska, Greenland, Scotland and Korea. There were three of us together at Darmstadt, West Germany where I was stationed.

The class at Syracuse was small with only 24 students at its beginning. One had academic difficulties and was transferred to a class behind us for remedial work. One was removed from the group with only weeks remaining when he failed his security clearance check. That former class member is also one of four who have passed away. Two members of the group have never been located and two or three have never attended a reunion.

For most of us, the YRAB (young Russian American boys) reunion is a major event in our year. We have met in many locales and enjoyed all of them. The first reunion was in Syracuse. The first I attended was the second for the group and was in Las Vegas. We have also met in San Francisco, Washington, Orlando, Branson (Mo.), New Orleans, San Antonio, Pigeon Forge (Tenn.), Charleston (S.C.) and Phoenix.

The wives have all become good friends and enjoy the reunions as much as the men do. We come from all over the United States. There are three of us from Arizona. There are YRABs from Texas (4), Florida (2), Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina (2), Tennessee and South Carolina. It is possible I have missed a state or two.

The same old "war stories" will be told again. We will visit our ailing member who lives near Nashville in Smyrna, Tennessee. We will all have a good time, which is one of the reasons this has become such an important event on our calendars.

It is sad to know that such people as my old roommate Pete Dowling and the wise and wonderful Johnny Cox will never be there again. It is also good to see, though, that most of us have changed and the changes are definitely for the better. Some of the best people I know and the best friends I have come from that small group that was together at Syracuse University over a half century ago.

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