FEBRUARY 1963 TO JULY 1963
Retired M/Sgt George Skonce and Retired M/Sgt Dean Sorell, together with other retired enlisted personnel met at Ent Air Force Base NCO Club in Colorado Springs, Colorado to form Retired Enlisted Association on February 18, 1963.
The meeting was called when Mr. Skonce placed a notice in the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph Newspaper on February 12, 1963, reading as follows: "A meeting of retired enlisted men from all branches of the Armed Forces will be held at 8 p.m., Monday, February 18, at the Ent AFB NCO Club. The purpose of the meeting will be discuss the formation of a Retired Enlisted Personnel Association. All enlisted personnel and those who will retire in the near future are urged to attend the meeting. Further information may be had by calling 635-6221 in the evening."
Mr. Skonce assisted by Mr. Sorell called the meeting to order at 8:00PM. They explained the purpose of the proposed organization. Retirees attending this first special meeting were very enthusiastic and 42 of the more than 50 in attendance joined as charter members. The name of the organization "Retired Enlisted Association (REA)" was adopted on a motion made by Mr. Aaron Hann.
In fact, not one but two organizations were formed that night, REA and Chapter 1. They both coexisted as a single entity during the next five years without specifications as to what business was rightfully REA and what was Chapter 1.
This was the official start of TREA, but the real story is what brought about this first meeting. Unofficially, it started long before that in the minds of two Air Force Master Sergeants, George Skonce and Dean Sorell, both with very similar concerns about the protection of the retired enlisted mans/woman's rights and benefits promised by the United States of America. And so as destiny would have it, these two gentlemen from entirely different backgrounds were to meet and pool their thinking. For they both had vision of a small club where the military retiree could meet with other retirees, and where their collective voice would make a positive impact on the earned benefits of enlisted military retiree.
Soon after George Skonce retirement in 1957, the Recomputation of Military Pay was removed as a historical benefit and replaced with the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). This "benefit" resulted in a July 1, 1958 pay increase of just $9.00/month! George's reaction to this was "This ain't right, we retired enlisted don't have a thing going for us!" George started thinking about what he could do, and his first stop was The Retired Officer Association (TROA). He went to the Colorado Springs Chapter of TROA and asked "How about the problem with the retired enlisted people?" The answer he got was not to his liking. The TROA folks were very sympathetic to George and his question but all they told him was that, "The Retired Enlisted Military problem was in very small print at the end of the Appropriations Bill and nobody thought to read it!"
Dean was also frustrated with the situation, he recalls "I was driving home after retiring when I began to wonder if there was an organization for the retired enlisted personnel like there was for the retired officers. I had read a letter to the Air Force Times editor in December 1962 asking that same question. The answer from the editor was negative." The two men met by chance at the Ent NCO Club and found they both had the same frustration. By this time both were determined to do something about this situation, because nobody else was starting an organization for the protection of the enlisted military benefits. Because George had been retired for over 5 years, he knew a great number of retired military people, the two decided that George would write an article for the local newspaper and try to drum up some interest in this new group. This is how the above article came to be written.
Mr. A. Q. Sapp completed the forms for a Charter for REA in the State of Colorado. A Charter from the State of Colorado was granted on February 27, 1963. Charter Members are:
Jacob D. Alkire Warren Hetrick Kenneth E. Riley George Barnes Emerson G. Hill Albert Royle Bernard L. Barrie Paul Hinkle Arthur Q. Sapp Frank J. Bendish Emil Hokanson James E. Scott Ernest L. Beran R. J. Holder Eugene Simmons Thomas J. Brown Donald Hotavis George Skonce Ernest Chaput Joe Ito J.Keith Smith Joe Chavez Leslie J. Konshak Herman B.Sneiderman Adna E. Collins Norval H. Lillemoen Dean M. Sorell William Dye C. D. McCoy Max Southworth Steve Faluba Richard C. Merrill Townsend Stancil Harry F. Glass Julius S.Orsak Raymond Stormberg Leo R. Gray Robert H. Peters Clarence F. Strahan Aaron C. Hann John D. Potter Harold B. Weilein
The purpose of the organization was to further the interests of all retired enlisted personnel on local, state, and national levels and to protect the mutual rights, benefits, and common interests of those same retirees. The Founders felt that only an organization composed of enlisted retirees would be able to adequately represent the special needs of enlisted retirees who had devoted 20 or more years of their life to the Armed Services. By banding together, the impact of enlisted retirees would be more strongly felt in the halls of Congress. In addition, the social programs of the REA would enhance the organization and provide stability in the promotion of membership.
Eligibility for Membership. Retired enlisted personnel from any of the Armed Forces of the United States.
Officers elected were:
President- George Skonce
1st VP- C. D. McCoy
2nd VP- Bernard L. Barrie
3rd VP- Thomas J. Brown
Treasurer- Dean Sorell
Chaplain- R. J. Holder
Sgt-At-Arms- R. H. Peters
Mr. Aaron Hann made a motion and it carried, to name the organization Retired Enlisted Association (REA). Other business that first meeting was to establish three committees. These were Membership, Publicity, and Steering. By-Laws were copied from the Warrant Officers Association with minor changes made by A. Q. Sapp and George Skonce. $25.00 dollars was donated to fund minor expenses.
A second meeting was held on March 4, 1963, at the Ent AFB NCO Club. Business conducted at this meeting included review of the by-laws, and the setup of a Welfare Committee to visit sick and hospitalized members. Each member present donated $9.95 to cover flowers. The next meeting was set for March 18.
The third meeting was on March 18, 1963 at the Ent NCO Club. Mr. Sapp presented the charter and read a revised draft of the proposed Constitution and By- laws. After some discussion, both were adopted as read. Other motions adopted were; a. Allow Anyone joining by April 1, 1963 to be a charter member b. Separate the position of Secretary-Treasurer into three positions 1. Executive Secretary 2. Corresponding Secretary 3. Treasurer c. Allow the temporary officers to serve till June. Chairman Skonce appointed a Nominating Committee d. Dues were collected in the amount of $164 e. Next meeting was set for April 1, at the USAF Academy NCO Club
It was at the April 1, meeting that the membership voted to have membership dues be $1.00/month. It was also adopted to have active duty enlisted be eligible for membership upon applying for retirement. A jobs committee was appointed with the duty of reporting all known job openings at each membership meeting. It was at this meeting that the membership was first requested to write their Congressman concerning a pending military pay bill. The next meeting was set for April 15 at the Fort Carson NCO Club.
The April 15 meeting dealt with tying up loose ends. At the next meeting on May 6 the membership was treated to a talk by Major Castaldo, President of the local chapter of the Retired Officers Association (ROA) about new member recruiting methods and about ROA's attempts to influence legislation in Capitol Hill.
The next meeting was May 20 at Air Force Academy NCO Club. The guest speaker was Mr. George Wright, the Veterans Service Officer for Colorado Springs. He spoke on veteran affairs and answered member's questions. The first REA picnic was planned for June 16, 1963 and would cost attending members $1.00 and a covered dish to share.
At the June 3 meeting, Mr. Ted Black, Colorado Deputy Secretary of State, formally presented the State Charter (Certificate of Incorporation) to REA, which were accepted Messrs. George Skonce, Dean Sorell and Bernard Barrie. Also a formal membership application was discussed and the membership committee will present one at the next meeting. The June 17 meeting saw the first REA Membership Application and election of officers.
Some of the problems for the first few months were no set meeting place and funds were very limited. By collecting $1.00 per member at the meeting, they never knew how much they would collect at any one meeting. Attendance fluctuated from more than 150 to sometimes much less.