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USAF Pilot Training Class of 68-H holds reunion

 

By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor 

  The United States Air Force Pilot Training Class of 68-H out of Webb Air Force Base in Big Springs, Texas, started with 67 student pilots in June of 1967 and at the end of the 53-week training, 49 had graduated. Many continued service, although four of the graduates were killed in airplanes, two of them in Southeast Asia in combat.

Members of the United States Air Force Pilot Training Class 68-H enjoyed fun and fellowship at their 44th reunion, held at the McDonough home of class member Doug Riffey and his wife Gina.
                                                           Photo by Nick Vassy

  Many of the graduates went on to successful careers not only in military service but as commercial airline pilots, like McDonough resident Doug Riffey, who hosted this year’s 44th class reunion.

  After graduation, Riffey served six years active duty in the Air Force, 24 years in the Air Force Reserves and then had a successful career as a pilot for Delta Airlines for 31 years, before retiring.

  “Many of these guys retired from active duty and then worked for the airlines,” said Riffey. “We all live in different parts of the country so it’s great to get together.”

  Ron Siegfried, who now lives in Bethlehem, PA, said he enjoys keeping in touch and seeing old friends at the reunions. He said there are some pilots’ wives who come to the reunions, even through their husbands have passed away.

  “Initially, we got together every five years, but now it’s every two years. We were a close class and over the years have developed a special bond,” he said.

  Siegfried spent two years in Vietnam, flying fighter jets. Afterward, he enjoyed a career with Continental Airline for 21 years.

  Rick Fehrenbach also went to Vietnam and flew C-123 Pro-viders for a year at Bien Hoa Air Base. He came back stateside and flew military airlift command for twelve years. He went on to fly for Lockheed as a test pilot.

  Fehrenbach, from Big Canoe, GA, said he enjoys the tradition of the reunions and said it’s a great time to renew acquaintances.

  “We tell our war stories, and they get more dramatic every time we tell them,” he laughed.

  Although many of the graduates, stayed in the aviation field, a few changed careers. Among the graduates, there are several other professions, including a Baptist minister and a history professor.

  Riffey said that the class of 1968 has been holding reunions for nearly 20 years and now get together every two years, each time, in a different part of the country. Last year’s reunion was held in Portland, Oregon.

  The reunion garden party, held at the Riffey’s, was capped off with a proclamation presented by McDonough Mayor Billy Cope-land.

  Copeland welcomed the pilots and their families and expressed his gratitude for their service to the United States.

  Riffey said he spent the past six months planning this year’s reunion, and now that it’s over, will be looking forward to the next one.

 

 

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