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Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center embraces heritage with retiree luncheon

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Story by TSgt Rudolph Deiss on 07/10/2019
ALPENA, Mich. On June 12, 2019, Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Mich., held its first historical luncheon hosting retirees from the Alpena base.

A group met at Alpena CRTC, consisting of four retirees and some present members of the base. They informally discussed various subjects, including their past jobs, cross-training, and even some flight emergencies.

This luncheon is the brainchild of Col. John Miner, commander of Alpena CRTC, who felt the need to get retirees together. "There is a lot of history here (at Alpena CRTC)," Miner said, "And we want to understand that history. When we contacted retirees in the area, they were anxious to talk to us."

"Great place to work, best job in Alpena," says Bill Myer of his time at Alpena CRTC. "I had a lot of satisfaction working there. I got to know a lot of people, and I got to make a lot of friends from all over the country." Myer started working at Alpena CRTC in 1964, and he retired as chief of maintenance in 2001. He worked on the base as a civilian for another 10 years.

"You won't find a better place to work outstanding," says Allen Ratz, who spent 28 years as fire chief at Alpena CRTC. His memories were especially vivid regarding a KC-135 tanker crash on Sept. 26, 1976, at nearby Hubbard Lake. He helped out at the crash site, taking care of survivors and clearing a landing zone for the rescue helicopters. "It was a long day," said Ratz, "We saved five people's lives. That is what the fire department is about, taking care of people." Ratz retired in 2003 as chief of safety from Alpena CRTC, but he continues his love of firefighting as a civilian volunteer firefighter.

"It was a good career," said Tom Kaminski of his time at Alpena CRTC. Kaminski was present at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis back in 1962, and he says it was a flurry of intense activity for a few days at the base as Alpena CRTC was an alternate landing site for bomber units on the east coast. Kaminski has been retired from Alpena CRTC for 34 years.

Col. Miner has plans for hosting more of these retiree luncheons.

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