memorabilia on the walls. People just come and go, but you do not come
through the door without enduring a couple insults. Neither do you
leave without a couple more being tossed your way. I’ve been around
pilots all my life and career; I didn’t personally know any of these guys,
but I was right at home.
Marle introduced me to the collective gathering: “This is our
“Don’t expect no ovation,” John said.
I assured him that I didn’t and then added, “I have a short program
and a long program. If it’s not going well, I go with the short program.”
“Oh, great,” John said. “It’ll be our luck that it’s not going well and
you’ll still give us the long program.” You gotta love a gathering like this!
In the room was “Chili,” who was on the first U.S. Navy ship to sail
into Tokyo Bay right after the Japanese surrender. “We didn’t know
what to expect, but then we saw people on shore waving white flags,”
Then there was Larry, a bridge beam expert. If something goes
wrong with a bridge beam in California, Larry’s the guy they call.
I noticed Marle was drinking his coffee from a cup that had
“64B” imprinted on it. I asked him, “Is that your cup? That’s an Air
Lauran in his RV- 8 on the ramp at E45.