Friday, December 23, 2005

The Lost Picture

In 1992, before Paul and I were married, I lost the negative to his Top Gun class photo. It was in my old Explorer in an envelope, and I tore that car apart trying to find it but it had vanished. I knew he was upset, and although he never mentioned it again, I never forgot.

In 2000, I found an email address for the Naval Air Station in Fallon, Nevada where Top Gun moved in the 1990’s from Fightertown (Miramar Naval Air Station), and sent an email asking for help in finding a copy of his class picture. When I got a response, it was a phone number for the duty office at Fallon. I called and the officer I spoke with was unable to help me. I kept the email but pretty much gave up. I had tried to research getting the picture through the archives in Washington, DC, but they needed a photo number. Another dead end.

When I switched my office and computer, I forwarded all my saved emails to my new PC in 2003. A few months ago, I was looking for an old email in that folder and came across the picture request once again. By this time, I had a lot more knowledge of the Internet and found the Fallon web site and the phone directory for the base. I found the phone number for a photo assistant on base and called him. I explained what I was trying to find and he said he couldn’t help me, but he transferred me to Cathie, the Top Gun secretary!

I told Cathie my story and asked if she could possibly get me a copy of the negative so I could get a print made. She asked me if I needed it before Christmas and I said I did. I wanted to surprise Paul. She said she would try and get back to me in a few days but things were hectic for her right now because they were in the middle of evaluations. We chatted for a few minutes and I was so thankful that she gave me her time. I had hope after all these years.

A week or so went by and we talked again. She was having trouble finding the picture. She said she had searched for any class picture from June 1980 and couldn’t find Paul. She asked me if I was sure he was there and I went downstairs to double check the date on his Top Gun plaque and read it to her: Top Gun Class 06-80. Well, it turns out that 06-80 didn’t mean June 1980 to Top Gun. It was the class number!

To Be Continued….


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