Welcome - President Dan Coons
After welcoming everyone and introducing himself, President Dan reminded everyone of the 2021-22 Rotary International theme - Serve to Change Lives.  He then recited the Rotary Vision Statement:
Together we see a world where people unite and 
take action to create lasting change - 
across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves.
Invocation and Pledge
PDG Don LaBarge had arranged for a prayer offered aboard the USS Forrestal following the 1967 disaster on the ship to be played for the invocation.  CLICK HERE for the documentary video.  The prayer is at 36:35 into the video.  Logan Harper led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Introduction of Guests
  • Jeane Crouse introduced her cousin, Marc Hunt.  Marc resides in both Mesa and in Georgia, and has turned in his application to be a member of Mesa West.
  • Jim McGown introduced his guest, Dennis Hawley.
  • Warren Williamson introduced his guest, Keith Hong.
Ace of Clubs Raffle - Chuck Flint
Chuck asked Ed Koeneman to draw the winning raffle ticket.  The ticket drawn belonged to Ron Thompson, making him the automatic winner of the small pot, but when he attempted to draw the Ace of Clubs, he missed by a lot - the card he drew was the Jack of Diamonds, which was immediately destroyed.  The odds of winning keep getting better and the large pot keeps getting larger...
Auction Items
  • Jim Schmidt had some sweets from New Orleans to auction.  Dan Coons' bid of $35 made him the lucky winner.
  • Guest, Marc Hunt had some "Best that Georgia Offers" in the way of jams, jellies and preserves to auction.  Greg Okonowski made the top bid of  $30.00, which allowed him to take those goodies home to his family.
Happy Bucks - Greg Okonowski
  • Ed Koeneman and Jack Rosenberg were both happy with the sales made at the art fair they had participated in the prior weekend.
  • Jeane Crouse was happy to have met Ted Williams' stepdaughter, Britney, who was off of oxygen long enough to come in before the meeting to be introduced.
  • Dick Myren made his usual $2 "Ace of Clubs" donation for himself and Rod Daniels.
  • Ron Thompson was happy to have won the raffle.
  • Polly Cady was happy to have been chair of another successful Rotary Leadership Institute event on Saturday, November 6.  Lola McClane finished her third session, so is now a graduate.  Logan Harper attended Session I, and Colleen Coons attended Session II.  Pam Cohen and  Jeanie Morgan both served as facilitators.
  • Allan Cady was happy to be able to deliver the nine promised books written by Judge Tommy Webb - "Running Away and Finding Home."  He was also happy to have had the privilege to introduce Judge Webb at the Chandler Horizon Rotary Club where he recently presented their program.
  • Dan Coons reminded members of the district's planned Rotary Foundation Celebration luncheon to be held Sunday, November 21.  He suggested that if members plan to attend they carpool to the west valley for the event.
  • Colleen Coons announced a service opportunity that can be done from the comfort of home - tutoring 3rd grade students in reading through Vello.  During COVID isolation Sharon Boucher and a few other members had participated, but at that time it was being done via Zoom and the technology was hit and miss about being dependable.  It should be a much for satisfying experience now.
  • Dave Brauchler introduced Sean Green, a young man whose profession is video marketing.  Sean knows he wants to be a Rotarian, and is very close to narrowing down his choice of clubs to the Ace of Clubs - Mesa West Rotary.
Program - Don LaBarge - USS Forrestal
Since it was Veterans' Day, Don began by asking other veterans in the room to stand to be recognized for their service.
Don graduated from high school in 1966.  He had attended Catholic grade school and high school.  In those days, young men were subject to the draft.  They only had a two-year commitment to military service if drafted, and a four-year commitment if enlisted.  The choices of how one would serve were more attractive if enlisted.  All the boys on his street enlisted.  Don's father was in World War II.  His grandfather was in World War I & II.  Don decided to join the Navy.  He did so while just a junior, but did not have to enter the service until he had graduated.  
Don's boot camp was in Chicago.  When he enlisted, Don had said he wanted to be a nuclear power tech.  When he took the test in boot camp to qualify for that path, he failed - ending his nuclear career.  After boot camp, he was assigned to the USS Forrestal - a warship.  He had really lost status when he failed the nuclear test.  His first assignment on the ship was below deck peeling potatoes for the small city of 5,000 on board the ship.  He eventually was elevated to the log room where they were charged with verifying the accuracy of everything that needed to be accounted for.  Years later, his commanding officer came with his grandson to Phoenix for a visit with Don.
They spent some time on board the ship in the Atlantic in the Guantanamo Bay area where the crew was trained in many areas including weapons and firefighting.  After the training, the ship headed for Viet Nam.  Their planned stop in Cape Town was declined by authorities there forcing a change of plans with a stop at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Don said this was the best stop he ever made and has always wanted to go back.  The ship then became part of the Pacific Fleet and headed for Viet Nam.  They arrived in Viet Nam with 92 aircraft on board.  On July 29 at 10:52 AM, the plane behind John McCain's plane hit his causing a missile to fire beginning a series of unstoppable actions and reactions.
CLICK HERE to see the You Tube Video shared by Don for this meeting.  It was a good watch at the meeting, but taking time to watch it quietly in the privacy of your own home will allow a thoughtful appreciation of what our heroes faced on that dreadful day.
John McCain ejected and was saved by the fire crew.  One of the firemen who saved him died shortly afterword.  John McCain survived a lot - the crash on the USS Forrestal, being a prisoner of war, and skin cancer.  The fire on the deck of the ship lasted four hours.  The ship was 22 stories high.  It took four days to get fuel out.  Steel was fuel for fire.
Only 1,000 of the 5,000 on board were available to fight the fire.  The rest were on lock down. 70 men died in their berths.
USS Forrestal was in repair for two years before it limped back to Norfolk with only one motor working on the starboard side at a speed of 15 knots.  Don was then ordered to report to the River Rats where he spent twelve months in Viet Nam.  He said that between the Forrestal, River Rats, and his time on the Phoenix Police Department, he has spent much of his life in danger.
The USS Forrestal was eventually sold for one cent.  The crew tried to buy it.  Don is a proud plank owner.  He has a small piece of the damaged plank, which he says has a value of $200.