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     High School reunionAn event that for many causes uneasiness, even trepidation, because of expanding waistlines and receding hairlines.

Dave has not attended a high school class reunion in 30 years.

Life kept getting in the way: Work, his daughter’s summer activities, his wife’s schedule, and the sheer challenge of a 1,500 mile trip.

But now, for THE 50th, he decided it was time.

This summer, all across South Dakota, schools large and small are hosting a party that many graduates avoid. But for Dave, this reunion climbed back into the Top 10 things to do this summer. Now retired, he has more time and more flexibility. And, at this stage in life, reaching out to those in his past just seemed right.

As it happens, Dave was one of 74 graduates back in 1965. An all-around athlete and co-captain of his basketball team, he went off to college with dreams of becoming a coach. At South Dakota State University, he signed up for the ROTC program, and was introduced to a whole new field of learning that would change the course of his life. Flying wasn’t something a farm kid from south of Chamberlain knew much about, but it quickly sparked a curiosity that propelled him through various training programs and ultimately landed him in the cockpit of one of the best known aircrafts of the Vietnam War – the Huey.  Scary business, flying that chopper over the jungles of Vietnam, carrying troops and never knowing when ground fire would rip into your craft and you and your troops.

Dave came back from Vietnam thankful that he served his country, and even more thankful that he had come back alive. He parlayed his flying experience into a career, finishing up as the corporate pilot for Michelin Tire, Greenville, S.C.

Seeing former classmates like Dave Chilman is one good reason why all of us should attend our high school class reunion.

Here’s another. When Dave and I sat down and looked at our yearbook this week, we saw that 17 of our classmates could not attend, except in spirit. It seemed like a high number to us – 17 of 74 had already gone on ahead.

Uncomfortable about going to your class reunion?  It’ll be fine. Give it a try.

Next year’s reunion is promised to no one.

July 8, 2015