Contributed by LARSON, LCDR John Retired email@example.com
"It's a great NAVY DAY". Those were the remarks of RADM Sam Kupresin's opening remarks at his retirement ceremony on 7 Sept 02. How true it was, the sky was blue, the Navy band was playing and there was a sea of white uniforms. It was good to be in attendance with others Lions to honor a great man.
The Friday night gathering was a success. It was a large turnout, we are thinking we had over 90 members there. I will not be listing the names, we had a muster sheet. But we think not everyone signed it. I will try to put a list together and post it on the VPNavy website under this newsletter. It is always good as we get a little older to bring your friends and shipmates together to tell old stories and renew our bond that we had as Lions of VP-90. We had 25 plank holders come. Sam and Patty showed up early so that we could "Roast" Sam and bestow on him a few gifts. It was said that Sam would have to extend his house, so that he could fit all the gifts he would receive and put on his " I love me wall". He showed up in a safari hat and a lei. When he left he also was wearing a hula skirt. That was what he was wearing when he went and greeted the other admirals at the second party. When he made his entrance, they said "Sams Here".
Chief Joe of the Subic Bay Bar hosted a wonderful party. The food was good. We had 1000 lumpia, 220 monkey on a stick, plus other food, 7 cases of San Miguel beer, 1 keg of Admirals beer and 20 pitchers of Mojoe. We presented Chief Joe a VP-90 baseball cap to add to his other collection of Navy caps.
Ron Leis was at his finest. He put on a skit poising as Mrs. Wadkins one of his elementary teachers. Ron was in a dress and wig. He look like, well I will leave that to your imagination.
The place was roaring! Also performing skits were the Skinny Brown and Paul Alberts.
On Saturday morning, was Capt Gene Sullivan's change of command. He took over NavAirLant 172. My hats off to Capt Sullivan. You did one heck of job planning for your own change of command and then planning Sam's retirement, being the MC for Sam's ceremony. Sully was in San Diego going through a school and didn't arrive in Chicago until Friday afternoon. Bravo Zulu on a wonderful weekend Sully! It was good seeing the Sullivan clan at the ceremony. RADM Sam was the guest speaker. That was Sams last official function prior to his retirement later that day.
The next event was the all hands briefing by RADM McLaughlin for the reservists. He is the Chief of Naval Reserve Force. Some of us were there in the back of the theater. He spoke mostly about the business side of the reserves, travel orders, pay, etc. He didn't talk much about the operational side of the reserves. We were interested in the VP squadrons. He didn't talk about that, but the impression I got during the weekend and this is just hearsay, is that the VP reserves will someday disappear. It is costly to run these squadrons, the planes have low time on them and the active duty wants them. So the planes would go to the active duty side and the personnel would augment the squadrons, like what we had in Glenview with the augment units. Also there is a possibility of shutting down some of the reserve centers in the middle of the country, that would bring an end to most of the "Prairie Navy" . I think we have lost an advocate for this when Sam retired.
Then the last event to attend was Sam Kupresin's retirement ceremony at Ross Field at Great Lakes Training Center. VP-90 was well represented. Out of approximately 400 attending (guesstimate), we think we had about 125 there. Capt Gene Sullivan was the master of ceremony. The honorary sideboys that were from VP-90 were: AWCM Dennis Barfuss, AECS Butch Michaelson, ADCS Robert "Skinny" Brown, ABHCS Gene Koelker, and AOC Don Grobl. The Honor Bos'n was AMCS Roger Hunt and Bell Ringer as AK1 Bonnie Gross Curfman. On the stage as Gift presenters were: Capt Charlie Deveaux, CDR Paul Alberts, CDR Ron Hilson CDR Pete Perez, AFCM Ron Leis, AWCM Dennis Barfuss, AMCS Mike Pasternak, AMCS Rodney Lewis, ADCS Skinny Brown and AO1 Bruce Rubenstein.
Mike Pasternak was in VP-46 with Sam and presented the Admiral a framed print of a current VP-46 P-3C, It was flying over deception pass near NAS Whidbey Is. Holding the print were Paul Alberts and Rodney Lewis. Ron Hilson spoke and was on the crew that the VP-90 print is based on. Charlie Deveaux and Bruce Rubenstein were holding this framed print. All three were on Crew 3 on that flight. Bruce Rubenstein was the person responsible for the print. Then Skinny Brown spoke and Ron Leis and Denny Barfuss presented Sam with a framed copy of the "Old Navy" print. It is a print of 4 sailors on a wooden ship sitting around telling sea stories.
Sam was made an honorary Chief by the CPO's of VP-90. He was officially made an honorary Chief by the Command Master Chief of the Navy. This is a very high honor to receive, not many officers receive that honor. Pete Perez showed a book "Aerial View of Chicago" for guests to sign at the reception. It would give the Kupresins a book with the guests names in it. Sam also received a shadowbox from the AirLant staff.
There were some moving moments during the ceremony. Sam called up his father to the platform. He was an Army Korean War Vet. He was involved in a horrific battle were many of his buddies were killed. Sam presented his father a medal that was from the President of Korea for his service during the war. When he returned to his seat he got a standing ovation, very moving. The other occurred when Sam was thanking his wife Patty. He thanked her for mowing the grass when she was pregnant and Sam was off doing his job with the Navy.
RADM McLaughlin was the guest speaker. There were 10 other Admirals in attendance. Nine of them were in the Admirals class of 99 with Sam. They all showed up.
Then after the ceremony it was off to the Port of Call for the reception.There were more roasts of Sam. Skipper Marty Black took the mic and was auditioning for the Jay Leno show. Then Marty did his impersonation of Sam's famous rug dance. That was when Sam was CO and we were operating out of Kadena, Okinawa, Japan. A driver had driven one of the base's brand new trucks off an embankment and caused alot of damage. Sam had to go and explain to the CO of NAF Kadena. Of course being a smoozer, Sam was able to survive the incident. More gifts were presented to Sam . He received a Samurai Sword from the Officers of VP-90. Paul Alberts gave Sam a beautiful model of a Jeepney. The squadron gave Patty a beautiful waterford crystal vase for her support of Sam. The chiefs gave both Patty and Sam's mother little sailor dolls. The Admirals gave Sam some cheap wine in a brown paper bag. It was a good joke, Sam loves fine wines.
Sam relayed to some of us during the weekend, that he wanted to make sure that everyone knew, he really appreciated those who came to his retirement. It meant a great deal to him. As he mentioned at our Friday night party, that the members of VP-90 were the greatest! Fair Winds and Following Seas Sam. Enjoy that well deserved retirement. Sam was a commissioned officer for 28 and 1/2 years. I had to take you off the email list Sam to keep secrets from you, but welcome back. I have you back on the list.
We didn't hold a business meeting during the weekend, but we want to remind you the next gathering will be around March of 2004 in New Orleans. There will be more news later. Again the Memphis Reunion t-shirts are done and if you didn't get yours at the Reunion. Butch Michaelson will be mailing them out to you. Thanks Butch for doings this. Thanks to Don Grobl for doing the buttons again for this gathering. Thanks Ron Leis for planning the Friday night party also Skinny Brown and Gene Koelker. Sorry if I have forgotten anyone else.
John Larson firstname.lastname@example.org
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