When I returned home from my final middle east tour in the military it was Fall 2003. Each year our squadron put on a great Christmas Dinner. When the squadron first kicked off and we only had about 40 members, our enlisted Chief Karen put together a pasta dinner at a local pub of sorts. For a group of people that barely knew each other and needed to reward themselves for some long days it was the perfect event.
Fast forward to Christmas 2003. The squadron has returned home as a collective of 150 plus members that lived way to close for adults for way to long. Space was a good thing, but we all owed our significant others a big Thank You. From 1995 when the squadron orders were posted until Christmas 2003 a lot had happened. The commander was given two years to be wartime ready, and passed the test in just over one. Our commander J.D., had made it happen. Unlike active duty, you don’t move every two years in the reserves. In December of 1998 we part of Desert Fox, and the same people with one or two exceptions were there for Enduring Freedom and quickly thereafter Iraqi Freedom. We were a big family that just spent way to much time together and needed a break.
For eight years our families and the squadron were growing solidly in one place and the return from Iraqi Freedom signaled an end to an era. 15 of us would be eligible for Lt. Colonel and 15 more the following year. Each squadron can have 8 Lt Colonels max, and 3 is the target.. You could see the squadron break up coming sometime in 2004. I retired in March and by December it was barely recognizable at least in the pilot ranks.
To finish out the year a Christmas blowout to end all blowouts was needed. There would be nearly 200 people there. The problem was our commander. Jim is a great guy, and a little formal for a flying squadron. We knew there wouldn’t be carrier landings, body shots or marshmallow fights at this gig. I wish I could take credit for any of it but I can’t and honestly don’t recall who put it together. Sorry guys. Needless to say this was no easy task.
By now you are probably wondering why I am writing about a Christmas party nearly two years ago in a squadron I retired from and no longer recognize. Well let me tell you. Last night I opened a Cuvaison Pinot Noir from 2001. The wine brought back all of the memories of our very formal squadron dinner in the Cuvaison Caves. The evening was a full 5 course meal with paired wines of which this Pinot Noir was one. I feel a little guilty drinking it so soon after we bought it.
The end of the evening was highlighted with the master wine maker opening a barrel of port, inserting a tube and asking everyone to bring their port glass. Since everyone was already 5-6 glasses to the wind a few people skipped the etiquette and grabbed any port glass. There sat my wife without a glass. True to the form of any good Irish girl married to a French-Cajun she simply grabbed her Cabernet Bowl. A glass about 15 times larger than a port glass. Being an amateur oenophile, she knew the port might not be as good in this glass, but after six glasses of wine, who really cares right?
As she approached the front of the line the wine maker noted her glass by hollering out “I like her attitude!”. The sound of scrambling feet and clinging glasses followed as everyone flew back to the table running over the commander and his wife, we now had a flying squadron party.
Thank you Cuvaison for the party, thank you to the crew of the 70th that planned the party and thank you to the people that shared the evening with us, finally thank you Jim for letting go at the right time.
If you get a chance to visit the Cuvaison wine caves I recommend it. This year they went solar and you can even watch their solar production on their website. https://www.cuvaison.com/energy_page.asp