President’s Message – Feb 2019
Dear Tomcat Flyers, Fixers, and Fans,
Greetings and Happy New Year! I hope you had a pleasant and restful holiday season.
As I reflect back upon 2018, I’m thankful for a great San Diego reunion (more on that later), and it occurs to me that it is important to reflect on where we’ve been as an Association. Starting with Art Martin’s vision to form an F-14 Tomcat Association that would be similar to the Intruder Association, back around 2002, a small group of us formed an exploratory committee, drafted by-laws, and did the legal work to be a non-profit (Art Martin did most of that work). Finally, the first Board of Directors met and adopted the Association By-Laws at a meeting held 17 December 2003.
- President – Mike “Rabies” Rabens, Capt USN (Ret.)
- Vice President – Mark “Beaver” Swaney, Capt USN (Ret.)
- Treasurer – Rob “Udog” Underwood, Capt USNR (Ret.)
- Secretary – Art Martin, Grumman Employee and Tomcat Devotee
Art was the driving force for starting the association, and for 11 years was the driving force to reach out to people, to conduct bi-annual reunions, and to grow the group. Art was born June 20, 1945 in New York. He joined the Navy in 1963 and served honorably until 1967, then joined the Grumman Corporation, later Northrop Grumman. On July 7, 2014, at 9:20 p.m., the world lost a great man when Art passed away from complications of a surgery. His lovely wife Donna still lives in Camarillo California. We all miss Art – may he rest in peace.
Three of us original members are still on the board. I announced at this year’s reunion that I will be stepping down as your President as soon as the next President is elected. We intend to hold elections early in 2019 as our by-laws require.
From the Association by-laws -- Article VIII (Elections)
Elections shall be held for those elective positions within the Association no later than April 30th of each year. The slate of candidates will be posted on the Association web site in accordance with Article VI, section 5 above. The membership-at-large is invited to vote on the slate of candidates at any time after the slate is posted, but not later than April 30th of each year.
Section 1. Those newly elected or appointed to positions within the Association shall take office on June 1st in the year in which elected.
It is vitally important for the long-term viability of the organization that people with a passion for the Tomcat step up and run our association. I’ve been honored to be the President for 15 years, but it is time for new leadership, with new ideas, to take their turn in leading this fine group of Tomcat flyers, fixers, and fans. Please consider throwing your name in the hat for one of our elected positions. In accordance with our by-laws, we will not replace all of the elected members of the board at one time, but will stagger the change-out. Mark Swaney has just recently retired from his second career at National Test Pilot School, and announced his plans to retire from the board next year. Bottom line, two of the four elected positions are coming open over the next two years – President and Vice-President.
We need YOU to step up.
In addition to the four elected members, there is a Maintainer Representative, an East Coast Representative, and a West Coast Representative and then other special positions as the board deems necessary. Even if you don’t want to run for one of the elected offices, we could surely use your help on the board. Please consider volunteering!
The current Board of Directors is:
- Captain Mike "Rabies" Rabens (USN Ret.) - President
- Captain Mark "Beaver" Swaney (USN Ret.) - Vice President
- Don Bowsher - Secretary
- Captain Rob "Udog" Underwood (USNR) - Treasurer
- Captain Jim "Crunch" Hineline (USN) - Fleet Representative
- Dave "Hey Joe" Parsons - East Coast Representative
- Commander Bryan "Spot" Kust (USN Ret.) - West Coast Representative
- AMS2 Mike O'Brien - Maintainer Representative, West
- Vacant - Maintainer Representative, East – actively looking for someone with a Maintenance background on the east coast to fill this spot
- AMS2 Kory Mehrer - Maintainer Representative, Central
- Historian - William Barto, Grumman
As we do every year, we had Board members present at ‘Hook 2018 to recruit new members, and to educate folks about the Association. My hat’s off to Mark Swaney, Don Bowsher, and Mike O’Brien for going above and beyond to man our booth – often missing ‘Hook events in the process.
This year, trying something different, we joined forces with the F-8 Crusader association for the San Diego Reunion. We joined forces on some events, and de-conflicted others, resulting in a mix of joint F-14/F-8 events and some just-Tomcat events. All in all, it was a big success. Here is a brief summary:
Wednesday – The joint Ready Room was open for business and welcome reception
Thursday – Tour of the USS Midway, led by Mark Swaney, and the a joint Gunfighter Happy Hour Reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres for all
Friday – MCAS Miramar Air Show – in the VIP Chalet with our Crusader group, followed by the F-14 Association Banquet dinner with Grumman Chief Test Pilot Kurt Schroeder as guest speaker
Saturday -- Group Breakfast followed by the Symposium
- Fighting against the Tomcat – the Adversary Pilot perspective led by Capt Jim “Guido” DiMatteo, USN (Ret.) with the following panelists:
- Capt Slammer Richardson USN (Ret.)
- Capt Chevy Shivell USN (Ret.)
- CDR Monk McMahon USN (Ret.)
This panel, made up of Topgun and Adversary pilots, was funny, poignant, and truly excellent. The discussion brought back great memories for the aircrew, and maybe not so great memories of flap lock-outs for our maintainers. Well done Guido DiMatteo!
- Testing the Tomcat – Developmental and Operational Test stories led by Capt Dave Madsen, USN (Ret.) and the following panelists:
- Capt Bill Mnich, USN (Ret.)
- Capt Mark Swaney, USN (Ret.)
- CDR John Dailey, USN (Ret.)
This panel was also excellent, with a mix of developmental and operational test crew talking about testing the Tomcat. Nicely done Rock Madsen!
Finally, we held our General Business Meeting for the year and then a group went to the San Diego Air & Space museum.
Lastly, I want to mention again the Monument being planned by a group of very motivated individuals led by RADM Fred “Bad Fred” Lewis and Bruce “Dog” Doyle who are planning to erect a monument to our beloved Tomcat at the Naval Aviation Plaza in Virginia Beach. What they have in mind will be a beautiful and striking tribute to the F-14 and to the guys who flew it and to the great maintainers who kept it flying. If sufficient funds are raised, additional monuments will be erected in San Diego and potentially other locations.
This is a worthy effort that the F-14 Association Board of Directors fully supports. Please see all the details at http://tomcatmonument.org/
Summary - There you have it. Please send us ideas, feedback, and articles for publication on the Association web page: http://www.f-14association.com/. And please consider volunteering for either an elected or director position on the Board – we need you to keep the Association moving forward and growing. Many thanks.
Mike “Rabies” Rabens
President, F-14 Tomcat Association