"Serving Our Marines Since 1989”

The Sit Rip

7 December 2017


LZ San Diego AAR 2017

The Alpha Recon Association held it's 2017 reunion in San Diego, California from November 8th -12th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel--Mission Valley.  Mission Valley is about a mile north of MCRD and close to a number of attractions.  We were last in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in 2006 for the Battalion reunion.


On Wednesday, November 8th, approximately 50 members and their wives / significant others checked into the hotel and gathered in the Hospitality Suite

to renew old friendships and enjoy snacks and a few drinks.  The PX was open and had Alpha Recon hats, tee shirts and polo shirts for sale at very reasonable prices.


On Thursday, November 9th, many of our group car pooled to MCRD to attend a graduation ceremony for 493 young men who had earned the right to be called "Marines".  The graduation ceremony started at 10:00 AM and was completed by 12:30 PM.  Alpha Recon members had seating in the general's reviewing stand. There were over 1,000 family members and friends of the newly "minted" Marines. Many of us had graduated from MCRD, 45-50 years ago and wondered where all those years have gone.  The Parade Reviewing Officer was retired General, John M. Paxton Jr (USMC).  General Paxton was the 33rd Assistant Commandant and had retired on September 30, 2016 after 42 years of service.  After the graduation ceremony, many of us visited MCRD's historic areas and the PX. That afternoon, many visited "Old Town" while others played golf or met with old friends at the hotel's restaurant or met in the Hospitality Suite.


On Friday, about 20 of us car pooled to the San Diego Navy Base to tour the USS John Finn, a newly commissioned Guided Missile Destroyer, named after a Navy Chief who earned the Medal of Honor on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor.  Chris Stathopoulos' grandson is a crew member on this ship and was able to get permission for our very interesting tour of one of the Navy's newest ships.  The tour lasted about 4 hours from start to finish, including the commuting time.  Others went to visit other points of interest including the USS Midway Museum (retired aircraft carrier) or took a cruise of the San Diego Harbor. 


We celebrated the 242nd Marine Corps Birthday on Friday evening in the Hotel's Banquet room.  The celebration started at 1830 with drinks.   Ray Raymond welcomed everyone at 1900.  Four "Young Marines" presented the colors and John Hlavac conducted the opening prayer.  George Neville covered the "Missing Man Table and Honors Ceremony".  Ray Raymond then conducted the Birthday Cake cutting ceremony and gave the first piece of cake to Sgt. Major Freddie Murray, our Guest of Honor; the second piece went to the oldest Maine, Chris Stathopoulos (1939) and the third piece to the youngest Marine, Chris Fagan, the son of Norman Fagan (1970).  After the buffet dinner, Tom Vennemeyer read the Commandant's 242nd Birthday Message as well as General John Lejeune's Birthday Message from 1921.  Our Guest of Honor, Sgt. Major Freddie Murray, delivered a powerful, short message.  Don Schwinn then called for a minute of silence and remember the following 5 Alpha Recon members we have lost since our last reunion in Washington, DC.  2016.                                                                                           


                           Name                                                                          DOD

                 Richard C. Hagerman                                                       May 22, 2017

                 John Hopkins                                                                   August 11, 2017

                 Jimmie D. Sessums                                                          May 23, 2017

                 Richard T. Termyna                                                          November 2, 2016

                 William S. Weir III                                                           August 13, 2017


The Birthday celebration was concluded with the playing of the "Marine Corps Hymn". On Saturday November 11th, the Alpha Recon Business Meeting started at 0900 in the Hospitality Room.   The necessary quorum was met with all officer’s present. John Hlavac conducted the opening prayer.  Tom Boland discussed current developments with the Veterans Administration (VA) and the need to seek outside help from Veterans' Groups if your issues were not being timely addressed by the VA.  The current officers were re-elected for another year.  The location and timing of the next reunion was discussed. A proposal to hold the next Alpha Recon Association with the Battalion in San Antonio in September 2018 was discussed and approved by the members.  Ray Raymond was tasked to contact the Battalion President and inform him of our decision. There being no further business to discuss, the motion to adjourn was approved.  John Hlavac said a short prayer and wished everyone a safe trip home.


The remainder of Saturday was spent either visiting the points of interest in the San Diego area of meeting with friends in the hotel.  A number of us went to downtown San Diego to see the Veterans' Day Parade and visit the USS Midway Museum and / or taking a Harbor Cruise (free to Veterans).


On Sunday, November 12th, most of our group departed the hotel and returned home.


Lastly, Don and Maureen Schwinn are to be thanked for all their work to insure the success of our 2017 San Diego Reunion.

Tom Vennemeyer / VP