It’s 9 a.m. Monday morning at Artie’s Restaurant and the Old Fogies are arriving.
They’re not as numerous as some mornings but they’re as opinionated as always.
And why shouldn’t they be? Some of these guys are in their 80’s, they’ve fought in wars from World War II through Vietnam and they’ve got the wounds and scars to show for it.
“We solve all the world’s problems,” said Donald Grove, retired Command Master Chief of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. “Political, social, religious, whatever.”
They also keep track of, and report on each other — who’s at home, who’s on vacation or who’s in the hospital.
There are 15 Old Fogies these days – one from the Army, one from the Air Force, one from the Marine Corps and 12 from the Navy.
They started getting together about 13 years ago. Their club was originally called the Old Farts, but they started giving money away and helping organizations and they thought it would be better to change their name to the Old Fogies.
Secretary and treasurer Grove said some of the organizations they donate to through their good works fund, include the Oak Harbor Lions Club, the National Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, Fla., muscular dystrophy, the PBY Memorial Foundation, Toys for Tots, the Sea-Tac Airport USO, multiple sclerosis, the Whidbey Patrol Squadron Memorial and the Whidbey A-3 Skywarrior Memorial Association.
Do they have any stories about the old days, they are asked.
“Tell him about the White Lady, Dutch,” an Old Fogie says to the Marine, ‘Dutch’ Strehle.
“Yeah Dutch, I’ve heard that story too,” says another.
“I never saw her but my Marines were convinced she was out there,” Dutch said.
So he tells the story about when he was stationed at Naval Air Station Cubi Point in Subic Bay, in the Philippines. Marines, sailors and others reported seeing the White Lady. She was a Filipina who was supposed to be a ghost looking for her dead husband. She was dressed in clothes that glowed, really glowed. She didn’t talk to them, just ghosted over to where they were and glowed. And then disappeared.
Dutch tells how he had to go out and walk the base perimeter with his young Marine guards because they were too rattled to walk patrol alone.
The story is on the Internet too.
The Old Fogies share a lot of their experiences at their Monday morning meetings.
There’s Lt. Cmdr. Jim Lotzgezell, who served in World War II and was nearly shot down by two Australian pilots. There is retired 1st Sgt. Dutch Strehle, who saw a lot of fighting in Vietnam and was wounded for his trouble, and many who had extensive experience in the A-3 Skywarrior, the first jet stationed on Whidbey Island that returned just a few weeks ago.
They share their efforts on behalf of the Navy and Oak Harbor and each other.
Because isn’t that what you want Old Fogies to do?
Solve the world’s political, social and religious problems at breakfast on Monday mornings?