It was a weekend to "remember". We all met at the Addis Ababa Cafe (could it have been any more appropriate?) I suspect in the normal course of events we would have all passed each other on the street and never realized we had a common link to the past - 36 years does change us a bit. But as names were spoken and handshakes exchanged, we all settled in for a weekend to explore old memories - via conversations, slides, and even artifacts. The mapping mission shirts, pins and patches all were eagerly exchanged and the meal all helped us settle in for a mapping mission reunion. The joy on the faces of people once so close as they recalled field parties and events was well worth the trip and John Godwin and his wife Donna deserve all the accolades they received and more for "making it happen".
I suspect over the years, we have all wished we could see old friends again, but in time our lives in Addis receded into the misty past as we moved from the military into civilian lives, careers and raising families. After a while, family and friends grew tired of hearing about our time at the Mapping Mission and we tucked away our seals, and photos, and carvings and like the fable Sleeping Beauty, it stayed hidden, until John began to hack at the vines to find names and began the work of locating people after so many years.
Hearing John speak at the banquet of his old friends and their passing, his strong feeling he wanted to see people just one more time and his eloquent story of faith - I feel God was working through him in a very real way for us all to reconnect to this time and place. I think I speak for many who attended, that felt when they heard his voice on the phone for the first time, they felt compelled to make the decision to attend -- no matter how far or how busy their lives were.
As we sat in the cafe and were greeted by the Ethiopian owner and heard his uncle speak of his life in Ethiopia, the evening seemed to take on a life of its own. Toasts were made to departed friends, to those reunited, and as we ate the injera (I still don't like that food!) and Ethiopian beer was tossed back by the crews, for a moment we were all young again - a time when adventure was so real and life's possibilities were endless.
To those we met for the first time - to those who knew us well -- thank you for being there - thank you for being part of our "adventure" and God speed till we meet again.
George and Karen Tomich
Donna and John Godwin at the podium. (The flag was appropriated by Rick Scalf)
Men of Mapping Mission
Front Row Left to Right: Jack Kalmbach, Cedric J. Hinson, Richard Jeanne, Ernie Svec, Dave Thomson, (behind Dave) Ivan Dulskij, Jerry Mahakian, Jim Wheeler.
Second Row Left to Right: Floyd Sims, John Vranish, Bill Schoonmaker, Bob Micca, Don Felty, Kassa Berhane, Steve Woolery, George Tomich, Rick Scalf, Homer Ferrante, Bill Rebich.
Third Row L to R: Ronald Johannes, Earl Prechtel, Mike Touhy, John Cardwell, (in front of John C. Homer Brem) Ed Janka, Ron Kosinski, John Godwin, Dennis George, Richard Ivona, Cecil Alderson
Everybody of Mapping Mission
Front L-R: Valarie Rodawalt, Cedric Hinson, Richard Jeanne, Ernie Svec, Karen Tomich, George Tomich, Jerry Mahakian,
Second Row L-R: Jack Kalmbach, Floyd Sims, Ron Johannes, Nancy Johannes, Bill Schoonmaker, Bob Micca, Dave Thomson, Ivan Dulskij, Jim Wheeler, Roxanne (Wilder) Cardwell, Emki Alemayehu (Kassa’s wife) Kassa, Kassa Berhane, Richard Ivona, Bill Rebich.
Back Row L-R just behind Nancy: J. John Vranish, Earl Prechtel, Mike Touhy (not seen) Don Felty, Steve Woolery, Ed Janka, John Godwin, Dennis George, John Cardwell, Ron Kosinski, Rick Scalf, Homer (Butch) Ferrante, Cecil Alderson, Homer Brem
Representing the Flight Line
From left Homer "Butch" Ferrante, Jim Wheeler, Ernie Svec, Rick Scalf, David Thomson, Homer Brem, Ron Johannes, Dennis George.