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Spring Chapter Meeting - April 2009

Knoxville, Tennessee
17 - 19 April 2009

The Quality Inn, North, Knoxville, Tennessee was the location of our Spring Chapter meeting and Art McRae did an outstanding job as host and Emcee for the weekend. The only glitch in the whole weekend (and it wasn't really a glitch except for Bobby) is we had to vacate the Hospitality Room by midnight. That meant Bobby would have to retire to his room for the evening. And, Chapter Members, guests and friends, we really set a precedent this weekend. Bobby not only paid for his own room but also drove his own car all the way from Signal Mountain, Tennessee to Knoxville. Will wonders never cease?

Members started arriving at the Quality Inn-North early on Friday, 17 April and continued arriving until the wee, wee hours of the morning. There was a major complaint coming from the late arrivals. By the time they arrived the Hospitality room was probably closed because it was past midnight. However, when the last member signed the roster we had 40 members and five guests signatures. When you factor in the friends, spouses and others, that number doubled.

Friday night started with a bang and ended when the hired help started pushing us out the door around 2300 hours. One thing was sure, Bobby probably got one of the earliest nights sleep in a long, long, long time. I don't think he liked the idea of hitting the sack that early but he probably survived a hang-over on Saturday morning. In fact, most of us probably survived the normal Saturday morning hangover.

The food went fast. I reached for a piece of cake and found that none was to be had. I wanted a sandwich but the makings disappeared before my very eyes. The only things that were still in abundance were the chips and dips and, of course, the beer and other exotic beverages.

Saturday morning arrived like all previous Saturday mornings. The Quality Inn-North had the complimentary breakfast of waffles, SOS, cereal, coffee, juices and assorted muffins and pastries. All in all, it wasn't that bad. The ladies wasted no time eating breakfast and they were out the door heading towards the malls over by Dolly World. The men wasted even less time with their breakfasts wanting to get back to the Hospitality room and take up where they were so rudely interrupted the night before.

Around noonish (that's any time between 1100 hours and 1330 hours) Wayne put out the fodder for lunch. There was a wide assortment of meats from Patak's Meat Market, various breads from the German bakery in Blue Ridge, Georgia and all the trimmings for making a rather large, delicious sandwich. This food didn't disappear as fast as the food on Friday night and some of it was still on the table at 1800 hours.

Our meeting commenced precisely at 1400 hours. Our President, Jim Hash, smashed the gavel down on the podium and called the meeting to order. Bobby Burke and Wayne Naihe were presented with Certificates of Appreciation for their unfaltering support with Operation Banks Walk Across America.

Operation Banks was planned, coordinated and conducted by SFA Chapter XLIX (49) to honor Aaron Banks “the Father of Special Forces” and first commander of the 10SFGA on his 90th birthday by walking coast-to-coast along Interstate 40. Several members of Chapter XXXIII participated in that walk. The names I have are: Fred Baier, Bobby Burke, Wayne Naihe and Matt Matteson. I understand several other members of our chapter participated in that operation but I do not have the names. I also understand the SFA Scholarship fund, in behalf of Colonel Banks, raised something like $30,000.

The new slate of officers were presented to the members for vote and Sid Morgan was elected our President. Art McRae was voted in as our Vice-President and Wayne Naihe was chosen as the Secretary/Treasurer. Jim Hash, our outgoing President offered to help Wayne in his Treasurer duties. Jim commented something to the fact that he needed a new truck. The new officers will be sworn in at our next meeting.

And speaking of meeting. Our next one will be hosted by either Wayne Naihe or Bennie McDonald. If Wayne hosts the meeting it will be in Kennesaw. If Bennie hosts it, it will be in Gainsville. The time frame will either be June or July.

After the meeting our guest speaker, Colonel (Ret) Rich Stouder briefed us on his years with the Afghanistan and Iraqi Planning section in the Department of Defense. His briefing opened a lot of eyes as to what actually went on in the preparation of the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraqi and the reasons, he believes, we are in the mess we are today. It was probably one of the best briefings we've ever had at our meetings.

There was no planned Chapter dinner or Auction so everyone went their separate ways for dinner. There were many eating establishments within a mile or so of the motel so no one did without unless they wanted it that way. Art, Brigitte, their son, Craigg and his wife, Nancy, their daughter, Ellen, Marion and myself retired to the Red Lobster for a surprise birthday dinner for Brigitte. Don't worry, Brigitte, I won't divulge which birthday it was. I'll let Art do that. Happy Birthday, Brigitte, whatever year it is!

Matt LeSage, son of member Bennie LeSage, gave us a briefing about his experiences as a Cadet in West Point. He looked impressive in his white uniform. Unbeknownst to Matt, the Chapter threw him a surprise birthday party after his briefing. Happy twentieth, Matt.

Sunday morning popped up cloudy, cool and rainy. The members, for the most part, met in the breakfast room and munched on the goodies of the day. As another meeting passed under our belts, we said our good-byes, paid the bill and headed home.

I have snapped a few photos of this meeting and you can view them at your leisure. You can also view the photos that were not used in the previous link. Hope you enjoyed your stay at the Quality Inn-North and hope to see you either in Kennesaw or Gainesville for our Summer Meeting. Check the Chapter web site for the actual place and date of our Summer meeting.

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The Larry Alan Thorne Special Forces
Memorial Chapter XXXIII Winter Meeting
was created 25 April 2009