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June 2018 Newsletter

Vol 6, Issue 4


MCAA Exhibits

MCAA Exhibits

It was a great May with the Marine Corps Aviation Association’s (MCAA) Annual Symposium in San Diego.  This event is mostly active duty along with aerospace contractors – and incredible exhibits.  Handling exhibits with all the show setup, logistics, freight, and décor requires years of experience, and this show with flight simulators, model aircraft, and even missiles is something to behold!

AFR handles events of all kinds but there’s one thread common to all: the U.S. military.  We also hosted the USS Hancock reunion in Kansas City, the highlight of which was a visit to the National WWI Museum & Memorial – on Memorial Day weekend!  What an awesome museum, and this month’s Must-See Museum!  The USS Ticonderoga met in New Orleans with a tour of the WWII Museum, and longtime client 401st Bomb Group met in Columbus, OH with a visit to the USAF Museum in Dayton to see the refurbished Memphis Belle.  We also planned two U.S. Navy Reserve Returning Warrior Workshops – one in Miami and the other in Anchorage, AK.  We salute our returning reservists and their family members who keep the home fires burning.

Our Featured Veteran this month is not a veteran of military service – perhaps tougher than that, Barry Zlatoper is the spouse of Admiral Ronald “Zap” Zlatoper… Zap and Barry attended two reunions recently planned by AFR: the A-6 Intruder Assn. and the Golden Eagles (Early & Pioneer Naval Aviators Assn.).  Barry noticed my nametag and asked if I grew up in Norfolk and if I was related to Armpy Dey (my dad). Confirming I was his son, she said in amazement “I was your babysitter!”  Small world.  Being wife to a four-star certainly has its challenges and responsibilities, but Barry proved up to the task and more – even finding time to produce her own cookbook “29 Kitchens, One Cook.”

National WWI Museum

National WWI Museum

The Top Destination this month is Washington DC, our nation’s capital and perennial top reunion destination.  Over the past 30 years AFR has planned so many significant events there, from the Marine Corps’ Centennial Celebration to the 60th anniversary of the Korean War celebrations and the 70th anniversary reunion for the Iwo Jima Association of America.  Some years we have over a dozen groups in DC.

The Must-See Museum this month is the National WWI Museum & Memorial, America’s only museum dedicated to the Great War.  On November 11, 1926 in his Liberty Memorial dedication speech President Calvin Coolidge said “It has not been raised to commemorate war and victory, but rather the results of war and victory which are embodied in peace and liberty.”


From Ship to Shore: Life as Navy Wife of a Four-Star

Vet Photo 1Less than a month after their wedding in 1970, Barry Zlatoper’s husband and Navy pilot Ronald J. “Zap” Zlatoper was sent on a 10-month deployment to the Black September crisis in the Mideast.  From that time on she began a life of service as a Navy wife, moving 29 times in 38 years and visiting more than 25 countries. As he climbed the ladder to four-star admiral and Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, her role ascended as well.

“Wherever Zap was a commanding officer, I was pretty much in charge of relaying the latest news and information about service members’ welfare and situations to their wives and children,” she said.  “My phone became a kind of hotline home.”

Her obligations as Vice President and President of the Navy Wives Club required not only overseeing a communications network for spouses, but also setting up programs, providing support and coordinating resources for Navy families.  She became a beacon for how to best deal with stresses inherent to military service, as well as personally shouldering the extraordinary responsibility as the wife of a four-star and mother of two constantly on the move.  The importance of her position was really brought home in 1991 when “Admiral Zap” was Battle Group Commander of the USS Ranger during the Persian Gulf War.

“I had a gathering of wives at my home, trying to figure out what was going on, when I received a call from Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell to let me know they had a good plan and that everything was going to be okay,” Barry said.  “It was a pivotal moment of my responsibility to pass on vital and accurate information, along with reassurance to make families feel safe and secure as possible.  My group of squadron wives would then share it down the chain of command so to speak.  There were a lot of unknowns and I’d keep everyone up to date as the war and situations progressed, as well as dispelling rumors.”

Molly Dey with ADM Zlatoper and Barry Zlatoper

Ted and Molly Dey with ADM Zlatoper and Barry Zlatoper

In addition to being the head liaison during his commands, she was an integral part of programs and resources beneficial to Navy families, acting as a spokesperson for familial needs in public schools, helping spearhead relief programs and co-authoring a guide booklet on how to cope with separation and personal crisis during wartime.  She also played host when he was in port, entertaining four nights a week with dinner parties and celebrations for military brass, domestic and foreign dignitaries, presidents and politicians.

Barry is most proud of her work from 1995-1997 in Hawaii, when her husband was leading the Pacific Fleet, and she saw that all service branches other than the Navy had structured programs to assist military families.  “If books, teachers, a commissary, housing or playground were needed there was a town hall style forum the other services had in place to address problems,” she said. “I was in a position that gave me some real influence.  With the help of Zap, the Wives Clubs and input from families, we launched the Ohana Conference Pilot Program and provided resources for many beneficial projects, such as getting base libraries computerized and connected to the public system.  The Ohana program really made a dramatic difference in the lives of military families in Hawaii, and as it spread, to lives throughout the mainland and overseas.  We brought the Navy up to scale.”

She is also very proud of their two children.  “My most treasured accomplishment is that our children turned out to be both very normal and amazing, even through all the moves and with my many distractions and Zap’s absence.  Keeping the family in balance with the rest of my life was my biggest challenge, and I am most proud of our children.”

Vet Photo 3

Barry christening the USS Yano

In addition to her role as a mother, Admiral Zap said her partnership in service was invaluable: “Barry was a big member of every Navy team on which I served, whether it was staff, office, squadron, air wing, battle group or fleet.  In addition to providing guidance, counseling and leadership to spouses and significant others on how to cope with separations, deployments and combat, she oversaw substantive projects that measurably improved the quality of life for sailors, spouses and their children.  The programs she initiated in the Pacific Fleet two decades ago are thriving today throughout the region.  If you ever needed to create the perfect partner all you really need is a copy of her DNA.”

After his retirement in 1997, Barry, who describes herself as a “pursuer of many pursuits,” resumed many of the other activities she’s enjoyed throughout her life.  An avid athlete, she runs marathons, does triathlons, bikes, swims, plays tennis and golf.  Several years ago she enrolled in a culinary school and in 2015 published “29 Kitchens, One Cook” www.29kitchensonecook.com.   “I of course entertained for years, and when I drove by the   school outside Honolulu I decided to enroll,” Barry said.  “I served some of the courses I learned during the holidays and our children Michael and Ashley asked for a recipe list for Christmas.  At the behest of family and friends I decided to put together a detailed book with photos.  We’ve sold nearly all of the 1,000 copies ordered.”  

Calling Hawaii home for the last 17 years, the Zlatopers travel extensively and remain active in military affairs and events.  Admiral Zap is a member of The Early & Pioneer Naval Aviators Association, a.k.a. Golden Eagles, an elite organization of Navy, Marine and Coast Guard aviators, Medal of Honor recipients, astronauts, fighter aces and others who have contributed significantly to U.S. naval aviation.  In April the couple attended a reunion for the group in Leesburg, Virginia, managed by Armed Forces Reunions, Inc.  Although having toured the globe, Barry was reminded at the gathering of just how small the world can be when she was introduced to AFR Founder Ted Dey.  “I learned Ted was also a Norfolk, Virginia native and when I read his name tag asked if he knew Armpy Dey,” she said. “When he told me Armpy was his father I was stunned and declared hysterically: I was your babysitter, and both of our jaws just hit the floor.”

Scott McCaskey is a contributing writer for BMR.com, Account Director at Goldman & Associates Public Relations and a former staff writer for the Virginian-Pilot newspaper.


Destination Photo 1Monuments, museums, and memorials make Washington DC the most popular reunion destination year after year.  AFR has planned so many significant events in our nation’s capital over the past 30 years: Marine Corps’ Aviation Centennial celebration in 2012; in 2013 the Korean War Veterans Assn. and Korean Ex-POW Assn. reunions celebrating the 60th anniversary of Korean War’s end; and in 2015 the 70th anniversary reunion for the Iwo Jima Association of America (IJAA) to name a few.  There were many memorable memorial services we’ve been a part of too: The Chosin Few and Marauder Assn. at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Third and First Marine Divisions and IJAA services at the Marine Corps War Memorial; the USMC Combat Helicopter & Tiltrotor Assn. at the Vietnam Memorial; the 97th Bomb Group Assn. at the WWII Memorial; countless groups at the Air Force and Navy Memorials; with the 2nd Indianhead Division at their own memorial fronting the White House.Destination Photo 2

Any Marine Corps reunion will want to meet in the summer months as the 8th & I Parade occurs on Friday evenings between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and no USMC reunion would miss visiting the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico.  Just as no Air Force group would skip visiting the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles.  Every army association will no doubt schedule reunions in DC for 2020 and beyond with the scheduled opening of the National Museum of the Army at Fort Belvoir.  The museum will celebrate over 240 years of Army history and honor our nation’s Soldiers – past, present, and future – regular Army, Army Reserves, and the Army National Guard.  And for you sailors the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis makes for a very easy day-trip.

There is just too much to do in DC during one visit – and that’s why groups return every few years to the nation’s capital.  AFR books mostly in Crystal City hotels near Reagan National Airport and a quick drive into DC – and no company books more business there than AFR.  So if your group want a memorable reunion in our nation’s capital, and a great hotel deal, please give us a call!

MUST-SEE MUSEUM: National WWI Museum and Memorial

IMG_6370The National WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s only museum dedicated to sharing the stories of the Great War through the eyes of those who lived it.  The museum has been called a national treasure and is ranked the number one attraction in Kansas City and the fifth best museum in the United States.  On November 11, 1926 in his Liberty Memorial dedication speech President Calvin Coolidge said “It has not been raised to commemorate war and victory, but rather the results of war and victory which are embodied in peace and liberty.”  In 2004, the Museum was designated by Congress as the nation’s official World War I Museum, and construction started on a new 80,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art museum and the Edward Jones Research Center underneath the Liberty Memorial.

The Museum, along with the Research Center, is home to one of the largest Great War collections in the world – more than 75,000 items strong.  Exhibitions take a comprehensive look at the entire war, from the first shots fired in 1914 to the last attempts at peace in 1919.  The Main Gallery is located beneath the Liberty Memorial Courtyard, and holds the permanent exhibition, “The World War, 1914-1919.” Through original objects and documents, video, recreated trenches and interactive tables, the Main Gallery shares a comprehensive history of the First World War with visitors.  During the centennial of the Great War (1914-19), the Museum will host a series of special exhibitions, programs, and events to commemorate the first global war in history.