This was our third winter meeting in the High Mountain Country---Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Sid Morgan, our very able President, along with his better half and cohort, Beth, must have used some very powerful means of persuasion for the Park Vista Hotel personnel to allow our chapter back in their establishment for a third time. But then they say the “Third Time’s a Charm”. Whichever or whatever, method of persuasion was used, our Winter Chapter Meeting officially kicked off at 1200 hours on Friday, 20 January 2012.
Some of the troops, those early bird ShopAholics, arrived on Thursday, 19 January, just so they could be first in line at the malls on Friday. These Super Shopper Early Birds had discovered at last year’s gathering of the eagles, it was much better to do all the major shopping at the malls on Friday and leave social gatherers for Saturday. Friday was the day of few people and great sales.
By 1800 hours, Friday night, most of the members had arrived, parked their suitcases (and maybe their better halves) in their rooms, carried their BYOB to the Hospitality Room on the fifteenth floor and settled in for an enjoyable evening of war stories, munching of the goodies and more war stories. Forget the fact we’ve heard every possible version of the same war stories for the last thirty-two years. The men blame the obvious deviation of the stories from the original telling of 32 years ago on their advanced age and mental capacity (or maybe incapacity).
Only four men and four ladies were standing as the chimes struck 0200 hours. Just goes to show the last 32 years have had little or no affect on the drinking capabilities of these eight people. Not only that, they were up at the break of dawn waiting for the hotel restaurant to open so they could be first in line for the buffet. Naturally, the names have been withheld to protect the innocent.
...And it didn’t snow! Heavy rain on Saturday, yes, but no snow. In fact, the temperature for the weekend hovered around the mid-fifties during the day and mid-thirties at night. Perfect shopping weather for the ladies and perfect “ ”(intentionally left blank) weather for the men.
Saturday arrived windy and rainy. The restaurant filled up quickly and the troops, most of whom chose the buffet, feasted on omelets, eggs, sausages, biscuits and gravy and even some fruit and yogurt. The men departed for the lower floor meeting room for our business meeting at 1000 hours. The ladies gathered in the hotel lobby trying to decide exactly where to spend the day shopping. The rains that had fallen all night and into the early morning hours, disappeared in time for the ladies to venture out into their wild, wild shopping arenas.
The heavy bombardment of e-Mails, phone calls and life-threatening letters had their desired affect. There were 34 members present for duty at the Chapter business meeting on Saturday.
Sid Morgan called upon Ron McCan, SFA National President, Jeff Hotujec, SFA National Vice-President and SFA National Admin Director, Cliff Newman to brief the chapter on the mix-up concerning the amendments to the SFA Constitution. The layout given to the publishing company for “The Drop” had two amendments with a “YES” or “NO ” block for each amendment. The published version of “The Drop”, however had only one block of “YES” or “NO ” for both amendments. This error created some confusion for the membership to say the least. No one knew how to vote “YES” for one amendment and vote “NO ” for the other. It was decided by National to cancel the amendment vote until after the election for National Officers. The new officers would have to decide if they wanted to re-introduce the amendments to the SFA members for a vote or not.
The new slate of candidates for SFA National offices were discussed and Stan Shank gave his opinion as to the qualifications (and disqualifications) of these candidates. The Chapter will probably vote for the SFA National officers like we have in the past: those attending the meeting in April will be given a ballot with all the candidates listed and an envelope. Each member will vote his conscience, seal the ballot in the envelope provided and these envelopes will be placed in one envelope and sealed. The Secretary will send this envelope, with all the sealed ballots, to the Teller Committee at National.
All members not attending the meeting will receive a ballot AND a letter, which will stress the importance of voting “YES” or “NO” for their choice of candidates. The letter will also stress the fact that checking the “NO” block will carry as much weight as the “YES” block. If the candidate received more “NO” votes than “YES” votes, he would be barred from holding office. If the position remained vacant after the election, the President, with the approval of the Special Forces Association Board, would select an individual to fill that position. It is imperative the Chapter members vote “YES” or “NO” for each position for their vote to count. A position with neither block marked is a “BLANK” vote and will not be counted.
Stan Shank also briefed the chapter on the paver situation. National received our money for the first ten pavers, but they are waiting until they get a block of 100 pavers to order. It is cheaper to order a block of 100 than individual pavers. I believe Stan said National has 70-80 pavers now waiting to be ordered. The chapter approved the purchase of 10 pavers a year at the October meeting in Fayetteville, NC. Since this Winter Meeting is in the new year, the President directed the Secretary to send to National the next block of ten names, along with the check to pay for the pavers.
Something new was tried at this week-end gathering. Operation Photo was concieved by Bennie and Margie McDonald. They would take individual digital photographs of those members and their spouses who wanted them. Bennie has joined with a professional photographer to give each of the photos a professional make-over. The cost of the photo was set by the chapter at $15. Any monies remaining after expenses were deducted, would be returned to the chapter treasury. Quite a few members took advantage of Operation Photo.
1630 hours, Saturday evening we gathered on the ground floor. Two or three group photos were taken and, at 1700 hours, the Lass from Scotland, with her bag pipes playing the “Ballad of the Green Beret”, led us to the banquet hall. Bennie and Margie McDonald led those members who had signed up for “Operation Photo” down the hall to the photo area. The rest of us followed the charming Lass from Scotland into the banquet room. As you might expect, the Chapter could never afford to bring a bag-pipe playing Lass all the way from Scotland. I'm not sure we could actually find a bag-pipe playing lass in Scotland who played the Pipes as well as our own Beth Morgan, the better half of our President, Sid Morgan.
Our two Auctioneers, Stan the Man and Charlie Ponds took over the floor as soon as the tables were cleared. For the next hour or so, the Auctioneers wheeled and dealed and pulled $10's, $20’s, $30’s, $50’s, and even $800 from the audience. The items flew off the table and into the hands, and leaner wallets, of the audience. Rose Daves’ 3 CD’s of over 900 photos, set to music, of the last 20 years of chapter meetings, went for $30 each. The highlight of the auction was the bidding war for an M-1 rifle, donated by Irvin O. Boatwright. Betty Ponds, much to the delight of Charlie, surprised the membership when she tossed in a final bid of $800. The stain glassed SF Patch went for $150. In the end, when all the smoke cleared, the Chapter Scholarship fund was richer by over $2,200.
...And a hearty slap on the back to our members and spouses.
And as has happened for past hundreds of eons, Sunday burst upon the scene cloudless, bright and cool. We gathered one last time for our farewell breakfast. We said our good-byes, paid our bills and departed for the far reaches of our AO.
The Spring chapter meeting will be held in Madisonville, KY on 20-22 April 2012. Our Secretary, Judy Hines, will host this meeting. There are important items that must be taken care of at each meeting, but we can't do this if we don't have enough members to have a quorum. I don't know what the weather will be in April, but I'm pretty sure you won't be able to blame the snow and ice. I understand Kentucky is really nice in April so mark your calendars and plan on being there. Judy will publish the alert order and you can also get the information on the Chapter website Bulletin Board.
I've added a few photos taken at our meeting.
See you in Madisonville, KY the week-end of 20 April 2012.
Copyright © 1994 Chapter XXXIII SFA. All rights Reserved.
Chapter XXXIII, SFA, The Larry Alan Thorne Special Forces Memorial Chapter
Winter Meeting was created 12 February 2012