There were about twenty of the original F-4E guys from Eglin that attended. They used to meet every two years, but as they’ve aged they now meet annually. After arriving on Tuesday, that night they attended an Aggie Baseball game against Abilene Christian—the good guys won 10-4. An Athletic Dept. Photographer came up in the stands and took pictures of the group, and Colonel Leming was interviewed by the Texas A&M play-by-play radio announcer, Dave South. Notable attendees were Retired General Mike Carns and Keith Ferris, the aviation artist. Colonel Paul Leming from College Station and Texas Aggie Class of ’52 made all of the arrangements. On Wednesday, they were hosted and treated to a nice lunch by the Texas A&M Foundation, which is the fund raising arm of Texas A&M and my former employer. At the foundation, they were briefed by Retired Colonel Smith of the USMC, who is the director of Veteran Services at Texas A&M. I thought it to be very informative regarding the special challenges of these non-conventional college students and how A&M is helping them to meet these unique challenges. They also were briefed on the mission and services the Texas A&M Foundation provides for its donors and the University. They also emphasized over and over how honored the Foundation was to host them.
Also on Wednesday, they visited the Texas A&M Association of Former Students and were briefed by students on some of the Aggie Traditions such as Aggie Muster with emphasis on the muster held at Corregidor in 1942 shortly before the surrender of the Island and the return Muster held at the same spot On April 21, 1946. The also heard about the tradition of Silver Taps which honors students who die while attending A&M, and the fun stuff such as midnight yell practice and football games. They were able to view the Aggie Ring collection and hear about some of the stories relating to the Aggie Ring. They then moved on to the Corps Center which is a Texas A&M Corps of Cadets museum. There they were briefed by Cadets on Corps leadership training and viewed memorabilia pertaining to the Corps of Cadets. For dinner Wednesday Night, they drove about 15 miles to Snook, Texas, and the Sodalack Country Restaurant for their specialty, Chicken Fried Bacon. To be honest, the Chicken Fried Bacon is a side and not an entrée.
On Thursday they visited the Texas A&M Letterman’s Club followed by a VIP Tour of Kyle Field, the newly renovated Texas A&M Football Stadium and Hall of Champions. They then had lunch in the Bright Football Complex R. C. Slocum Nutrition Center. After lunch the group toured the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum located on the A&M Campus. I did not accompany them to the Bush Library as I had been there on many occasions. By this time, I was afraid that Colonel Leming had over Aggisized the group, but they politely told me they enjoyed their time in Aggieland. That evening, they had dinner at C&J’s Barbecue. Their speaker for the evening was All American Guard, Dennis Goering one of Bear Bryant’s Junction Boys. His brother, Allen Goering, also an Aggie Football player was an F-4 pilot at Ubon and was killed in a car wreck, I think, but don’t quote me on that. Dennis, himself, was a B-47 pilot but got out of the Air Force when his pilot training obligation was done. Keith Ferris who attended A&M in the forties had painted Dennis’ B-47 in flight and Dennis brought a replica of the painting to the event. After dinner there was a moving closing ceremony.
My overall impressions were that A&M pulled out the stops to honor these guys. I was well received and enjoyed very much visiting with this fine group. My feeling was that these guys set a good example for those of us who followed in “The World’s Finest”.