After much delay due to COVID-19 cautions the DUSTOFF Association was finally able to hold the 41st Annual Reunion. The venue was Columbus, GA and the Double Tree by Hilton was the reunion hotel. A total of just under 60 members and family members were in attendance.
On Friday, 28 August 2021 the annual golf tournament was held at the Fort Benning Golf course. BG (Retired) Dennis Doyle served as our Golf Czar for the nine members who played. Without going into the details some played well and some played. Pictured below are Dennis Doyle, David MacDonald and Tommy Mayes who served together in Eagle DUSTOFF and were among those “who played.”
Friday afternoon, several attendees journeyed to Lawson Army Airfield on Fort Benning to visit with Guardian DUSTOFF. Dan Gower, Dennis Doyle and John McMahan all spoke to them thanking them for continuing to live the legacy of Charles Kelly. At the conclusion of those brief talks several members of the Hall of Fame, and veterans of DUSTOFF presented each member of the unit with a DUSTOFF Association Coin in gratitude for their sacrificial service.
Friday evening was the Reunion Mixer Buffet that was held at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel. During that evening event, Dan Gower presented two very special knives provided by the Flight Medics Club to SSG Rachelle Gomez and SSG (Now WO1) Daniel Stroup. Rachelle is our DUSTOFF Medic of the Year and Daniel is the DUSTOFF Crew Chief of the Year.
On Saturday the spouses’ luncheon was held at the Wicked Hen Restaurant in Columbus and the Annual Professional Meeting was held at the hotel. COL Sam Fricks presented an update on the status of Army Aeromedical Evacuation. Following these events members who chose to do so were able to visit and tour the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning.
Later that evening, the Annual DUSTOFF Association Awards Banquet was held in Cavezza Hall at the National Infantry Museum. During the evening’s events, BG (R) Dennis Doyle was inducted into the DUSTOFF Hall of Fame. Tommy Mayes introduced Dennis and read the citation on his plaque that now hangs on the DUSTOFF Hall of Fame Wall at the Army Medical Department Museum.
One of the absolute best parts of any reunion is the opportunity to recognize and present the Rescue of the Year, Aviator of the Year, Crew Chief of the Year and Medic of the Year awards. These awards are made possible by the generosity of our corporate sponsors. Sikorsky Aircraft sponsors the DUSTOFF Rescue of the Year. The DUSTOFF Medic of the Year is sponsored by Air Methods. The Crew Chief of the Year award is sponsored by Breeze Eastern. The DUSTOFF Association sponsors the DUSTOFF Aviator of the Year award.
This year’s Aviator of the Year was unable to make the reunion as he and his unit were called up to provide Hurricane Ida rescue missions. The Association will make a road trip to Louisiana to present this award to him at a later date.
The DUSTOFF Medic of the Year is SSG Rachelle Gomez and her award was presented to her by Art Torwirt from Air Methods. She is a highly skilled and experienced Flight Paramedic who was nominated by C/3-10 GSAB – Mountain DUSTOFF. She is now a member of the National Guard.
The DUSTOFF Crew Chief of the Year is SSG Daniel Stroup from Bayou DUSTOFF (a National Guard unit from Louisiana). Daniel served in a wide variety of standardization positions enabling his unit to bring together multiple National Guard units for a deployment to Afghanistan. He is now in flight school as a WO1 aviator.
The final award made on this fantastic evening was the presentation of the DUSTOFF Rescue of the Year award. This unit (2nd of the 135th GSAB) serves in the Colorado National Guard and teamed up with the Colorado Hoist Rescue Team made up of civilian rescue technicians. They performed a high altitude hoist extraction of mountain climbers from the side of a mountain. Major Chris Moskoff was the pilot in command and his rendition of the mission was “riveting” according to one of our Vietnam Veterans. Congratulations to one and all.
Also presented during this part of the ceremony was a huge thank you and appreciation for the efforts that CW3 Clayton Horney put forth in developing and executing the hoist training program. It was his expertise and skill as an Instructor Pilot that enabled this unit to execute this very difficult mission. John McMahan presented CW3 Horney with a Pat Brady Hall of Fame coin in appreciation for his efforts