ASAE LEXINGTON GATHERING 2015

10th REUNION USASA-EUR FRANKFURT, SEPTEMBER 20-24, LEXINGTON KY

 The 10th Reunion of the United States Army Security Agency-Europe convened at the Hilton Suites Hotel in Lexington KY on Sunday, September 20.  A group of 27 ASAer's, spouses and guests registered for the Reunion.  The Hospitality suite was open and friendships were renewed and old times remembered.  There were no scheduled events on Sunday but many chose to have dinner at nearby restaurants to continue conversations and remembrances.  A return to the Hospitality suite allowed members to peruse the many offerings for the raffle and to make their choices for the Wednesday night drawing.

  


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

 Our tour bus left the hotel for the Kentucky Horse Park, a premier attraction in Central Kentucky.   Encompassing over 1,200 acres of rolling Kentucky countryside the Horse Park was the site of the 2010 World Equestrian Games, the first time the Games had been held outside of Europe.  Our first stop in the park was the International Museum of the Horse, at 60,000 square feet the largest and most comprehensive museum in the world dedicated to the impact of the horse on civilization.  Many impressive displays detailed the evolution of the horse and its contribution and uses over time.  We walked through rooms full of artifacts and trophies.  Surely there was not enough time to take it all in and a return trip may be in order for many of the group. 

 

We then went to the Hall of Champions where some of the more famous horses residing in the Park, all champions in their style of racing, were led out to the ring and their accomplishments recited.  Shown were Go for Gin, a Kentucky Derby winner, Da Hoss, a two time Breeder's Cup Turf Mile winner, Mr. Muscleman, a trotter and Western Dreamer, a pacer.

The Horse Park is home to numerous racing champions but only a few are shown at a time.  Although advancing in age, the horses we saw were still impressive in their beauty and conformation. 

 

Our morning concluded at the Breeds Barn where we saw an American Morgan Horse, a Paso Fino, a Mustang and an Arabian.  Riders were costumed and took the horses through their paces in the ring.  After the show was finished the horses stood at the ring fence for the spectators to admire and pet, surely a treat for many.  While many breeds are on display in their stalls at the Barn only a few are brought to the ring for the show.

After lunch we went to the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) plant in Georgetown KY, approximately 20 miles north of Lexington.  Kentucky won the competition with several other states for this facility and the first Camry rolled off the line in 1988.  It is on display in the Visitor's Center.  Toyota manufactures the Camry, Avalon and later this year the Lexus 350 at this plant.  Over 80% of every vehicle consists of parts manufactured by Toyota or one of its' 350 U. S. suppliers, over 100 located in Kentucky.  At the present time Toyota employs approximately 7,500 full time employees and approximately 3,000 contract employees.

 
The plant itself is 7.5 million square feet, the equivalent of 156 football fields.  The tour of the plant is by tram.  Visitors wear earphones and follow the manufacture of cars from the giant rolls of steel to the inspection line where the finished product is rolled off.  As the cars are assembled the many parts seem to miraculously come together and while initially seeming haphazard the process becomes logical.  We saw several examples of robotics, particularly in the welding.  During the tour the guides explained several principles of "The Toyota Way", primarily "kaizan" the process of continuous improvement involving all employees and "jidoka" the ability of any employee to stop the line if any defect is detected.  The guide explained every step of the way but the sheer size and complexity of the plant is almost overwhelming.

 

We returned to the Hilton for some time in the Hospitality room and to prepare for the Oktoberfest dinner at Marikka's Restaurant and Bier Stube.  We picked from Marikka's extensive beer list of 525 brands and some were able to find one of their favorites from Frankfurt days.  A hearty meal was had by all and a return to the Hospitality room for relaxation, conversation and a nightcap was in order.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Our busy day started with a short bus trip to Keeneland Race Course considered by most to be one of the most beautiful tracks in the United States if not the world and a National Historic Landmark.  Keeneland is a non-profit corporation and over the years has contributed over $1,800,000 to charities for health, education, arts as well as equine related programs.  Keeneland will be home to the 2015 Breeder's Cup races at the end of October.  Other than the Triple Crown races the Breeder's Cup races are the most prestigious in the sport.  The tour of the track included information concerning its' over 75 year history, a visit to the winner's circle and the high point, a visit to the Keeneland Sales Pavilion, home of the largest horse sales in the country.  The September yearling sale was in progress and we were amazed at the beauty of these young horses and the speed at which the sales were conducted.  Although these young horses are untested they sell for sums from a few thousand dollars up to the millions.  This year the top sales price was $2,100,000.
 




Lunch was at the Hilary J. Boone Faculty and Alumni Center at the University of Kentucky.  We were privileged to have our buffet in a private room at this beautiful facility.  Chris Corcoran, a member of Mayor Jim Gray's staff, welcomed our group on behalf of the Mayor and the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government.  Chris gave us a brief history of Lexington and presented John Greene with a plaque extending to the ASA-E the appreciation of the LFUCG for its service to our country and for choosing Lexington as its reunion site.  Jan Hoffman of Pegasus Travel spoke to the group about the plans for the 2016 Rhine River Cruise.

In keeping with the more famous products of Kentucky, we had seen the horses and now our attention turned to bourbon at the Town Branch Distillery and the Kentucky Bourbon Ale Brewery located in Lexington.  Both are divisions of Alltech, a worldwide corporation noted for its' animal nutrition products and represented in over 100 countries.  We were fortunate to sample several of the ales produced there, the most notable of which is Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.  After brewing, this ale is aged in used, charred bourbon barrels picking up a richness from both the bourbon which remains in the barrel (called the Devil's share) and the caramelization from the char in the barrels.  We then went to the Town Branch Distillery in a separate building on the property and sampled several of the bourbons, one rye and a coffee liqueur.  All were pronounced excellent by our group.

 

The high point for our group came with the sudden appearance of Dr. Pearce Lyons, founder of Alltech.  He started Alltech, now a two billion dollar enterprise, in 1980 armed with $10,000 capital and a doctorate in biotechnology.  Dr. Lyons is as Irish as a leprechaun and charmed our group with stories of his youth and the development of Alltech.  He had always been interested in distilling and brewing and started Kentucky Brewing and Town Branch after guiding Alltech to its current position and success.  Dr. Lyons holds service and veteran's groups in high regard and it was a treat for him to honor us with his presence.  He is a benefactor to many charities and was the driving force for bringing the World Equestrian Games to Central Kentucky and the Horse Park.

The final event for the day and by far the most moving and emotional one was the Memorial Service held at Camp Nelson National Cemetery.  Camp Nelson sits 400 feet above the Kentucky River and while typical of military cemeteries in their uniformity gives off a reverence as one looks over the rolling hills with the straight lines of gravestones.  Our group walked behind a color guard, a caisson bearing a casket draped with the American flag, a riderless horse and the burial detail.  The ceremony was conducted with military honors and gun salute.  John Greene gave a moving tribute to the deceased who had served with ASA-E.  The flag covering the casket was folded in the traditional tricorn and was presented to John for the group.  More than a few tears were shed.

 

We returned to the Hilton for hospitality and dinner on our own.

 

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

 This was a free day for relaxation, shopping and touring.  That evening was the final event of the Reunion, the banquet and raffle.  We were joined by Ernie and Georgia Stamper, Lexington friends of the Greenes and Palmers.  Ernie is a very accomplished photographer and took the group picture on the stairway at the Hilton and also many photos during the rest of the evening.  Many excellent prizes were donated for the raffle.    More than a few winners were targets of some barbed comments from the audience (losers).  When the last prize was awarded the group adjourned to the Hospitality room for a last nightcap and some final reminiscences.

 

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24

 

Goodbyes were said and thoughts turn to "till we meet again". 

There are not enough accolades to extend to Hosts John and Joie Greene and the Planning Committee and their spouses John and Heide Minken, Larry and Judy Paff, and Bob and Sher Stegman.

Special thanks to Austin Adams for our Collage

Our Photos







 

 




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