History of The Spring Flings

Smoky Mountain Chapter of the

US Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association




The First meeting or Spring Fling, of the Smoky Mountain Chapter was hosted by Dave and Peg Fiehtner of Maryville, Tennessee. The Fling was held in Alcoa/Knoxville, Tennessee on 16 and 17 April 1999. Lodging was at the Hampton Inn (Knoxville Airport) at a cost of $62 per night and 34 folks attended. There was a sit-down dinner at the Green Meadow Country Club in Alcoa.


Jake and Ann Karoly of Ringgold, Georgia hosted the second Spring Fling at the Hampton Inn in Chattanooga, Tennessee on 14 and 15 April 2000. The room rate was $50 per night. The cost for dining and expenses was $20. The meal was taken at the Jade Palace, which lured the group with the availability of a Mongolian BBQ as well as the standard buffet of Chinese cuisine.

2001: (Spring and Winter)

The third Spring Fling was co-hosted by Dusty and Peggy Rhodes and Jack and Norma Grafing in Fletcher, North Carolina on 20 and 21 April 2001. Room rates were $50 per night at the Fairfield Inn in Fletcher. Meal and expenses cost was $25 and Basil's Bistro Dining was the restaurant in which the Chapter dined,

A special gathering of the Chapter was held in Oak Ridge, Tennessee 30 November through 1 December 2001. Ed Purcell hosted an organizational meeting in preparation for the NCVA reunion in Chattanooga in September. The gathering was at the Hampton Inn, the cost per room was $55 per night. The dining and expenses charge was $18 per person and the group dined at the Super China Buffet, which also offered a Mongolian BBQ.


The fourth Spring Fling was held 3 and 4 May 2002 in Chattanooga. Jake and Ann Karoly hosted the gathering at the Country Suites, The room rate was $79 per night. Expenses and dining charge was $20 per person and the meal was a catered BBQ by Sticky Fingers BBQ of Chattanooga. This was the final gathering by the Chapter in preparation for the NCVA reunion in September. Meetings were held at the Suites as well as with Marriott Hotel and Convention Center management in preparation for the 2002 National NCVA reunion.


The fifth Spring Fling was held in Lexington, Kentucky on 16 and 17 May 2003 and was hosted by Kelly and Betty Bowling at the Hilton Garden Inn. The room rate was $62 per night. The meal and expenses charge was $18 per person. The group dined at the #1 China Buffet in Lexington with Mongolian BBQ and sushi being the specialty of the restaurant. Dave and Jake gave a final report on the very successful 2002 National NCVA reunion in Chattanooga. A couple of highlights of the Fling were Jack Lutes (retired Commander and former Commanding Officer of San Vito) interviewing a prospective OCS candidate, Cynthia Madden, for Cryptologic duty with Naval Security Group and the Officer Recruiter for the Lexington area, CTRCM Joe Allen, visiting the hospitality room and dining with the group at the #1 China Buffet.


On the fourteenth and fifteenth of May 2004, the Spring Fling returned to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for the sixth Spring Fling. Jake and Ann Karoly and Dave and Peg Fiehtner co-hosted the event at the Country Inn and Suites. The room rates were $72 per night and the registration fee was $20 per person which included a sit-down dinner at the Apple Farm Restaurant. The annual board meeting resulted in Kelly Bowling being elected president and Jack Lutes vice-president. Jake and Ann Karoly decided to finally hang up their spurs after doing such great work for the chapter. There were 52 shipmates, wives and friends in attendance. A moment of silence recognized the passing of Betty Bowling, a true friend and supporter of the Chapter and Association.


The Smoky Mountain Chapter moved deeper into the Great Smoky Mountains for the seventh annual Spring Fling. Dave and Lenore Snell did a superb job hosting the gathering in Dillsboro, North Carolina on 22 and 23 April 2005. The theme for this gathering was "Spook Group". The Best Western River Escape Inn, with Holiday Inn Express for overflow, provided excellent support and showed true Smoky Mountain hospitality with all facilities provided to the Chapter. Room rates were $89 for river view and $79 for Great Smoky Mountain Railroad "railroad view".

Registration fee for the Fling was $18 per person and included dinner at the Jarrett House. The owner of the Jarrett House is also the mayor of Dillsboro and she graciously welcomed us to her fair city prior to the meal. Dave Fiehtner and Kelly Bowling conducted the Two-Bell Ceremony in memory of loved ones and shipmates who have gone on to the Supreme Commander.

History was made when the tandem of Edna and Don (TeeJay) Gaylord won the Smoky Mountain Chapter Achievement Award hands down! Kenny Morlock and Jim Lindley were completely out of their league when the Gaylords hit the floor! The businesses in the cities of Dillsboro and Sylva provided free dining gift certificates and discount certificates to our group. The most difficult part of taking advantage of these certificates was trying to explain "Spook Group" and Cryptologic. It almost looks like the Chapter will have to look for a larger venue for our future meetings - attendance this year was 65 people and 13 states were represented in this group of attendees. These states included Pennsylvania, Illinois and Florida. Everyone was treated to raffles for great prizes, items from the main ship's store in Pensacola and some great nectar in fruit jars from Kentucky, Alabama and North Carolina. The Northern Alabama Winery was ably represented by several bottles of the finest fruit of the vine. Our next gathering will be a little further from the Smokys than usual since Jim Lindley, with able assistance of wife Ann and his cousin Charley, will host the 2006 Spring Fling in Northern Alabama.


The Chapter moved from the Smoky Mountains westward to the flatlands for the eighth Spring Fling, which was held in Huntsville, Alabama on Friday and Saturday, April 21st and 22nd 2006. Several members arrived a day early to get the lay of the land. (Good excuse, right)? Jim and Ann Lindley hosted the event at the Holiday Inn Research Park. Room rates were $79 and $89. The $89 dollar rate included breakfast for two. The registration fee was $25 which included access to a hospitality room and a very good sit-down meal provided by the host hotel. Sixty two were present for the dining. Unfortunately, some of the members had to leave after only one night of shaking, howdying, and listening to many truths told by all who told of past events during their Navy tours. Host Jim Lindley arranged a tour of the US Space and Rocket Center for the group and I believe that this was one of the most interesting tours that the Chapter has had the opportunity to attend. I highly recommend this tour for our kids and grandkids - it is a very informative tour. A visitor from far away Arizona, Robert Harris accompanied by lovely wife Jeannie, received several pieces of mail and certificates from past and present Republican presidents and probably was assimilated into the party.  Again, like last year in North Carolina, Hank Kershner was awarded some items because of his thoughtful and truthful sea stories. Don East of Lineville, Alabama won awards for his categories of truth serum and adult beverages. Jim and Ann did a super job as host and hostess.


From the Flatlands of Alabama to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northeast Georgia - that was the direction of the move that the Smoky Mountain Chapter (SMC) did on the 4th and 5th of May 2007 for the ninth Fling. The 2007 Spring Fling returned to the mountains of Northeast Georgia. Guy and Mona Keenum superbly hosted the event in the quaint Alpine village Helen, Georgia. The host hotel was the Comfort Inn and the room rate was $75. The registration fee of $20 covered the hospitality room at the hotel and a very fine buffet-style meal at the West Family Restaurant. Food choices ranged from Southern fried chicken to crab legs. There were fifty attendees from ten states represented at this Fling - Michigan was the most distant state represented, but folks also from Eastern South Carolina, Florida and Illinois enjoyed the camaraderie, truth-sharing and visiting with old friends for a weekend. The major attraction of this Fling was panning for gold in Dahlonega, Georgia (the first US gold rush occurred in Dahlonega) and a miner's hat and light was offered for the person panning the largest amount of the shiny stuff. Edna Gaylord from Allerton, Illinois won the prizes. There was one down side to this contest - a member of the Chapter's board of directors was disqualified for unethical panning procedures. He was detected by satellite imagery and someone squealing on him as he triple-dipped.

A two-bell ceremony in memory of Ole Jake Karoly, who passed earlier this year, was conducted by Dave Fiehtner and Kelly Bowling. Jake and wife Anne were co-founders of the chapter and co-hosts of the Chattanooga NCVA reunion. This award previously was called the  SMC Achievement Award, Prevaricator Award - we called it a lot of things. Basically, it was for telling the truth while telling sea stories and other prevarications. Don and Edna Gaylord won again this year after previously winning in 2005 in North Carolina at the 7th Fling. Unfortunately, I don't have space to elaborate on reasons for this fine couple winning the first annual Ole Jake Award! Best of Spirits award, Gold Medal, went to Hank Kershner with his North Carolina entry, while Kelly Bowling took Silver and tied for Bronze with Dusty Rhodes of North Carolina - as author of this history, let me say that it is difficult to win two awards - but Perry Country, Kentucky's anonymous distiller and distillery did good! Ole Hank seems to have some kind of lock on his brown-poke (aka unmarked wrapper) deliveries, too. Coincidentally, the Kentucky Derby was run this weekend and there were two pools for the race. David Welty, a guest from Pensacola, won both pools. Guests are treated well at our Flings. Ned Johnston and Vicki Caldwell of Birmingham shared the winnings of the place horse; winner of third place (show horse) has not been determined because the horse is still running. And, the door prize was a half-gallon container of Black Jack and was won by Big Clyde Wilson, his second year of winning! Have to call him Big Clyde because his son Little Clyde, second generation SecGru, was in attendance. Incidentally, the mother of Little Clyde, Nancy Wilson was a CT in her younger days. Yes, folks when you attend these Spring Flings, you have fun and do receive a warm reception and sincere hospitality from everyone involved.


Spring Fling number 10, Derby City USA - back to Horse Country - Dave and Sue Gerstle-Fiehtner did a great job of hosting the 2008 Spring Fling at the Holiday Inn Airport South in Louisville, Kentucky 25 and 26 April 2009; 57 was the final total of attendees. Our group rate for the rooms was $80 per night and the registration fee of $26 included a Saturday night banquet dinner. Dave's and Sue's tours included a tour of the Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto with a visit to My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown en route to Maker's Mark. Lunch was taken at the National Historical Landmark Talbott's Tavern in Bardstown. Jim Lindley, our webbie and secretary was introduced to restaurant charges for Kentucky Ale cured in bourbon barrels at Talbott's (Old Japanese saying: "itai, yo!").

After partaking of the banquet-style meal on-site at the Holiday Inn, the Two-Bell ceremony to honor departed shipmates and loved ones was conducted by Jim Lindley, Dave Fiehtner and Kelly Bowling. Then we all adjourned to the hospitality room for entertainment, Smoky Mountain Chapter style! Previous visitors never know what to expect and the newcomers, 11 members of the new Ohio Valley Chapter (OVC) and the 2008 NCVA reunion host (St. Louis) Frank Huffman were not disappointed. In addition to the aforementioned folks, 8 residents of The Villages in Florida, couples from Pensacola, Southern Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and last but not least, West By Golly Virginia! Attendees from thirteen states were present for the Fling.

A newcomer from The Villages, Don Polk, won the Ol' Jake Award for his truisms, veracity, semantic obfuscation, modesty and shying away from telling sea stories since those stories are lacking in substance. One wag reported hearing someone say "I sure feel sorry for his wife". That is worth an award in itself! Floyd Jones won the Maker's Mark prize - luck of the draw again.

The, now famous, Spirits award was a tough contest won by a product of Wayne County, Kentucky that brought the Gold Medal to yours truly-an official taster from the OVC lost his breath when he sniffed and tasted the product but did recover enough to say that it was just as he remembered good tasting nectar. Dusty Rhodes won the Silver with his Georgia Peach entry and Hank Kershner (in absentia) won the Bronze with his North Carolina Grape.

Jim Lindley brought some fine tasting brew from his 10-gallon crock in Muscle Shoals, Alabama that he called home-made beer - unfortunately, he provided no Imodium AD with the beverage.

Everyone enjoyed the Fling - we have fun and that is the way it is supposed to be when shipmates and their mates gather for fun, games and intellect dispensing.


         The Smoky Mountain Chapter (SMC) of the NCVA returned to the Great Smokies this year and held its eleventh annual Spring Fling on Friday and Saturday, I & 2 May, in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Don "Dusty" Rhodes and Loraine Host did an outstanding job of hosting the event. The Chapter gathered at the Hampton Inn, Hendersonville and had an excellent buffet style dinner at the Chariot restaurant on Saturday night. Eleven states were represented at the Fling with sixteen North Carolinians attending these two days of fun and excitement. The other states represented were Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and New Jersey.

        The excitement was caused because a tour of the Elijah Mountain Gem Mine and mining for gems would be included in the visit to the mine; excitement also because someone might find a gem with which they would become famous and rich. Nancy Wilson did fmd the most valuable gem, a large sapphire; Karin Westcoat found the most gems. The common gems found were rubies, sapphires, emeralds and garnets. Someone men- tioned finding a lot of "ites," but did not further identify them.

Other awards included the Ole Jake Award to Bill Westcoat, the Kentucky Derby, Floyd Jones won the Gold and Carlton Cox won the Blue Award. Floyd won on a horse, 'Mine That Bird', that was such a dark horse he had to wear a miner's light on the bridle in order to find the starting gate! The winners of 'my horse is still running awards' were Dave Snell, Jim Lindley, the Fiehtners and Ed Purcell.

Last but not least was the Kentucky Pride award won in an honest drawing by Jim Lindley. The Vice President of the Ohio Valley Chapter, NCVA, Ron Haines and Ella Koons traveled the furthest, driving all the way from Melvindale, Michigan.

We are changing the name of the Spring Fling to the Fall Frolic next year because the NCVA reunion will be held in the Spring beginning 2010. Early planning for the first Fall Frolic indicates that it will be in September 20 l0 in Sevierville, Tennessee and will be hosted by the Singing Lieutenant, Amelia Reguera Sweeney. Amelia served as enlisted and commissioned in the Naval Security Group prior to her retirement. The first Fall Frolic should be lots of fun and we hope to see you there.

Click here for the Fall Frolic of 2010

Click here for the Fall Frolic of 2011

Click here for the Fall Frolic of 2012

Click here for the Fall Frolic of 2013

Click here for the Fall Frolic of 2014

Click here for the Fall Frolic of 2015

Click here for the Fall Frrolic of 2016