Mike Epp, at left, is the new Director of the War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM) at nearby Santa Teresa International Jet-Port. When long-time FASF member Robert “Bob” Dockendorfretired last year we all wondered who would fill his large shoes as Director of the museum. The mystery is now over: It is Mike Epp. Mikewas the guest presenter at last week’s monthly meeting of Daedalian Flight 24 in El Paso, Texas.
Still showing a less than average turnout as the result of the long shut-down from the pandemic, Mike still had a good sized Daedalian group assembled to witness his show, as the following photos reveal (click on any photo to see in full resolution):
L to R: Larry Spradlin and Mike Epppose for our photographer as the Daedalians and guests arrive.
L to R above: Charlieand Mayre Sue Overstreet, Col. Bob Pitt (back to camera), Larry Spradlin, Julie Pitt. guest Mary Barnes, and Colonel Melissa Fisher.
L to R: Mike Epp in discussion with an old friend, Flight Treasurer, Virg Hemphill
L to R: Colonels Mario Campos, previous Flight Captain, and Melissa Fisher.
L to R: Jerry Dixon, Col. Mario Campos, Larry Spradlin, Virg Hemphill (his back) Mike Epp, Ulla Rice and Pete Brandon. Flight Captain, Col. Alan Fisher is at podium getting ready to call the meeting to order.
L to R:Col. Fisher, Roger Springstead, Col. Fisher, Mary Barnes, Charlie Overstreet, Julie Pitt with Col. Pittgiving his Flight Adjutant’s report.
Colonel Alan Fisherasks Charlie Overstreet, a long-time Docent at the WEAM, to introduce Mike Epp.
Charlie Overstreetintroducing the meeting’s speaker, Mike Epp.
Charlie describing Mike’s background.
Presenter Mike Eppstarts his show.
Mikeproceeds to describe the WEAM and its plans for the future, with F-51 Fighter of WWII fame on screen.
L to R: Mike, Alan Fisher, Charlie Overstreet, Melissa Fisher, Mayre Sue Overstreet, Col. Bob and Julie Pitt, and Roger Springstead.
L to R: Mike explains the antique car collection, also a feature of his WEAM as Fishers listen.
L to R: Mike Epp, Julie Pitt (back to camera) Melissa and Alan Fisher, Col. Bob Pitt,Charlie and Mayre Sue Overstreet. On screen is one of the WEAM displays, a Cessna T-37 jet trainer.
Mike describes some of the museum’s most unique aircraft, such as the Russian MIG fighter depicted on the screen.
Mike tells the audience of his career in aviation, and how it began at an early age. After High School he joined the Army and served as an Avionics Technician in Germany. After four years service in the Army, he used the GI Bill to earn his degree to become licensed as an Aircraft and Powerplant (A&P) specialist, a skill he used in his much loved General Aviation and in its Corporate Aviation world. In 1989 he took a position with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as an A&P mechanic and as an Avionics Technician, where he was stationed in South America. After five years in that capacity, he left the Agency to join the Border Patrol as an Officer in San Diego, CA. After three years with the Border Patrol, he switched back to the DEA again, but his time as an Agent in his much beloved El Paso, Texas. In 2014 he retired from the Agency and became a volunteer Docent at the WEAM, and ultimately, after seven years, its Director.
L to R: Flight Captain, Col. Fisherlistens to questions asked of the Director by Charlie Overstreet as his wife, Mayre Sue listens.
The Daedalians and guests listen intently as Mike brings his presentation to a close.
A very pleased Mike Eppgratefully accepts Colonel Fisher’sDaedalian gift as token of appreciation for his time and effort.
After the successful and informative presentation,Mikeand Col. Fisher pose for our Photographer.
The speaker scheduled for this last Spring meeting fell ill and couldn’t make the luncheon, so the El Paso General “Nick” Nichols’ Flight 24simply turned its focus back on its own members, and towards making sure its most recent past Flight Captain, Roger Nichols (General Nichols’ son), had a proper send-off.
Roger will soon leave to be near his children and grandchildren in Oklahoma. Because the Flight had some extra time, because of the absence of the scheduled speaker, it turned its attention towards gaining a more detailed insight into each of the member’s individual careers, both in the service, and in their later civilian lives. Here, below, are the photos of today’s event – and of each member sharing some of their unique personal history.
Today’s luncheon was also one to which the member’s wives and/or guests were invited. Because Flight Captain, Colonel Mario Campos, was out of state, Vice Captain, Ric Lambartpresided. He shared a group of photos which were taken over the weekend during the regular annual “Dining Out” celebration held at New Mexico State University (NMSU) by the local Air Force ROTC Detachment 505. Many years ago, flight Provost Marshall, Alan Fisher, had actually commanded that same AFROTC unit.
Both Mario and Ric had been invited to attend AFROTC event. Colonel Campos, once an AFROTC cadet himself, was the featured speaker. He shared what the cadets might expect during their own upcoming USAF assignments based on his own experiences.
(All of the below photos may be seen full-size and in High Resolution, by clicking on them)
L to R: Mayre Sue Overstreetand Julie Pitt.
L to R: Col. Norm Riceand Roger Nichols.
L to R: Mary Barnes arrives with Flight Chaplain, Roger Springstead.
L to R: Bob Pitt, Virg Hemphill, Pete Brandon, Mary Barnesand Roger Springstead.Col. Norm Rice‘s is seated in the foreground.
L to R: Mayre Sue Overstreet, Mary Barnes,and Julie Pitt
L to R: Mayre Sue Overstreet, Melissa Fisher and Mary Barnes, speaking withJulie Pitt (back of head to camera)
L to R: Flight Adjutant, Colonel Bob Pitt, engrossed in conversation with past Flilght Captain, Roger Nichols
L to R: Alan Fisher speaking with Virg Hemphill.Ulla Rice is in the foreground
L to R: Roger Springsteadand Ric Lambartgive a thumbs up to photographer, Jerry Dixon
L to R: Virg Hemphill, Mary Barnes, Pete Brandon, Alan and Melissa Fisher, Norm and Ulla Rice, with Charlie and Mayre Sue Overstreet just off camera to the right.
L to R: Jerry Dixon describes his USMC pilot experience as Virg Hemphill and Roger Springstead look on.
L to R: Virg Hemphilllistens as Roger Springstead shares his Naval Aviator career, while his friend, Mary Barneslistens
L to R: Mary Barnes listens as Pete Brandondescribes his extensive USAF and Northrup-Grumman careers
L to R: Virg Hemphill talks about his USAF Fighter Pilot and Airline experiences as Roger Springstead and Mary Barneslisten
Alan Fisher shares his own USAF experiences along with his current active engagements as a pilot with the Civil Air Patrol
L to R: Melissa Fishertalks about her own USAF career as both a RN and her later teaching years
L to R: Colonel Norm Rice relates his own Fighter Pilot experiences in the Air Force – and how he and his wife, Ulla,met, when he was stationed in Great Britain
Larry Spradlintells of his own USAF aviator experiences
L to R: Charlie Overstreetdescribes some humorous experiences as both an Air Force Pilot and also during his later 2nd career, piloting for the DEA, as his wife Mayre Sue enjoys the memories. Julie Pitt is at the right.
L to R: Julie Pittlistens and her husband, Colonel Bob Pitt, tells of his experiences over Viet Nam, flying both the F-101 and F-4 fighters, whileRoger Nicholstake it all in
Ric Lambart describes some of the photos taken at this past weekend’s AFROTC “Dining-Out” event at NMSU
L to R: Ric Lambart, Roger Nichols, and Bob Pittpose, after Roger was presented with a special going-away gift from the Flight
At yesterday’s regular monthly meeting at the El Paso Club in downtown El Paso, Texas, Daedalian Flight 24 (more affectionately known as the General “Nick” Nichol’s Flight – named after Roger’sWWII Ace Dad), listened intently as their immediate past Flight Captain, Roger Nichols, shared a power point – video briefing about the historic American Linebacker II heavy-bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese.
The time was December 1972, when the NixonAdministration’s Henry Kissinger, representing the U.S. interests at the Paris Peace Accords, had just failed to reach a peace agreement with the North Vietamese’s Le Duc Tho in Paris, France. Kissinger had just over-optimistically announced to the press that “Peace is at hand.”
With the Accords in shambles, the U.S. mounted a massive bombing campaign over the North Vietamese capital of Hanoi. It was code-named “Linebacker II.” Fellow Daedalian Fllight and long-standing FASF member, Charlie Overstreet, had been one of the pilots who took part in that huge aerial assault on North Vietnam, The majority of Flight 24’s aviators flew during that distant Southeast Asian war.
For those of you who might be interested, here is the short (12:13) segment I of the longer documentary of that “Linebacker II” campaign, which was produced by the son of General Glenn R. Sullivan, who commanded the 17th Air Division out of U-Tapao Air Base in Thailand at the time. Here is a linkto a number of other films made of that same campaign.
The presentation by Rogerwas both educational, and also nostalgic for those in the Flight who had fought in the skies above Southeast Asia, and who had lost some of their closest friends and fellow aviators in that now historic conflict. The meeting had an element of sadness, also, because Roger will soon be moving to Oklahoma to be closer to his children and grand-children. Fortunately, Roger’s many interests in El Paso (where he was born), including the Daedalians, will bring him back on regular visits.
(Click on any photo below to see it in full high-resolution()
Former USAF aviators (L to R): Pete Brandon, Alan Fisher, Mario Campos, Roger Nichols and Bob Pitt
Mrs. Ulla Rice, wife of Colonel Norm Rice, and Col. Bob Pitt
Roger Nichols(seated) prepares for his presentation with help of Flight Captain, Col. Mario Campos
Colonel Bob Pitt, Vietnam fighter Pilot, who was wounded over ‘Nam, briefs Daedalians on upcoming events.
Flight Captain Mario Campos presides over business part of meeting as Roger Nichols looks on.
Pete Brandon(L) and Alan Fisher listen to Colonel Campos.
L to R: Roger Nichols, Mario Campos and AFROTC Cadet Captain, Ammber Valverde (Daedalian Pilot-Training Scholarship Recipient), listen to Alan Fisher (whose finger is seen at lower left) . . .
L to R seated: Mario Campos, Ammber Valverde, and Roger Springstead, listen to Roger describe the Vietnam War’s operation Linebacker II.
Roger Nicholsholds latest edition of the War Eagles Air Museum Quarterly Magazine, which includes a story by FASF Aviation Scouts and Daedalians Charlie Overstreet, and Virg Hemphill. The article by Charlie is entitled “Memories of a B-47 Pilot,” while Virg’s story is simply titled “Virgil Hemphill – Fighter Pilot.” Roger, himself, also has an article in this same edition. It’s called “Christmas Greetings,” which is about the “Linebacker II” campaign.
Major Natalie Franc, a native of Glenhrothes, Scotland, is the current commanding officer of the El Paso, TX Civil Air Patrol (CAP) “Composite” Squadron. As distinguished from a regular squadron, a Composite Squadron includes a CAP Cadet Corps, along with its Senior Members.
Natalie began her career with the CAP when living in Hawaii after having been in the Royal Air Force (RAF), in which she enlisted when 18 years old, after having first served, since she was 13, in the Air Training Corps of Great Britain. In the RAF she was assigned to Intelligence, where she used her skills as a linguist with a fluency in the Russian Language.
When on active duty with the RAF she met and married her husband, Michael, who was also in the Intelligence branch of the U. S. Army. When he was transferred back to the U.S. in 2002, she moved there with him. Before finally settling in El Paso, Texas, Natalie had lived in Maryland, Hawaii, Arizona, and Germany. As a civilian, in addition to her work with the CAP, she has worked in various capacities in Emergency Services and has been a volunteer with Army Family Programs and has also been an Armed Forces Caseworker. Natalie now runs her own business in El Paso.
The Major showed a custom prepared Power Point slide show to the Daedalian Flight members, who are also members of the FASF. The following photographs of this event are all in high-resolution, and can be seen full-size by simply clicking on them as they appear below.
L to R: Major Natalie Franc, Colonels Mario Campos and Bob Pitt.
L to R: FASF Aviation News Scout, Virgil Hemphill, Colonels Norman Rice (back to camera) and Alan Fisher. Colonel Fisher is also an active volunteer pilot for the Las Cruces, NM Squadron of the CAP.
L to R: Mark Pfluger, Active Duty Army Rotary Wing Pilot from Ft. Bliss’ Biggs Army Airfield, and his mentor, Flight Captain, Roger Nichols.
L to R: Maj. Franc, Col. Camposand his wife, Judy, Julie and Col. Bob Pitt, Retired USAF Colonels, Melissa and Alan Fisher, Virg Hemphill and Roger Springstead (USNR Ret.) Anselmo Rocha, Assistant to Col. Norman and Mrs. Ulla Rice, Jerry Dixon (USMC), Dave Ginn, Charlie Overstreet, Jim Brandon, Col. Pete Brandon’s visiting brother, and just out of camera range to Pete’s left is his guest, Skip Orrell.
Major Franc adjusts computer projector . . . as she explains that the CAP has the largest single-engined fleet of Cessna Aircraft in the world. The powered aircraft total is about 560, and she reported that the CAP also owns 47 glider-sailplanes, which are used to train Cadet members, along with several Hot Air Balloons, which select Cadets are also taught to operate and fly.
The Major explains the National CAP organization’s composition . . . which inlcudes the Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
In this set of slides, Major Franc gives some examples of the CAP role in Search and Rescue Operatrions (“SAR” Ops).
L to R: Melissa and Alan Fisherand Virg Hemphill listen to Maj. Francexplaining her El Paso TX CAP operation . . .
Here the CAP Commander explains the role of the CAP in disaster Relief Operations, noting her own squadron’s heavy involvement in Hurricane Harvey, which struck East Texas, in particular, the Houston area.
In this slide the Major explains that the CAP mission also includes other roles in addition to Search and Rescue and Disater Relief . . . pointing out that her squadron plays an important role in Border and National Air Space Security.
Here Nataliedescribes the numerouis mission qualifications in which CAP members work throughout the Squadrons.
And here she shows the Daedalians and their guests how the CAP stays in constant radio contact with its mission personnel and aircraft during operations . . .
Major Franc sums up her presentation and takes questions from the audience . . .
L to R: Major Francand Flight Captain Roger Nicholsstudy one of the slides shown during the presentation.
L to R: Col. Bob Pitt, Major Natalie Franc, Flight Captain Roger Nichols, and Colonel Campos, who invited the Major to make the presentation . . .
L to R: Flght Captain Nicholsand newly inducted Daedalian, Dave Ginn, and Colonel Bob Pitt.