March 29, 2021

Fay Morgan (1922-2021)

 Editor's Note:  We are saddened to report the passing of Fay Morgan, the lovely wife of Colonel Alvin Morgan, USA (Ret), long-time members of our Black Hills Chapter family of the Military Officers Association of America.  Our condolences to Colonel Morgan and the entire Morgan family.  Below is Fay's obituary.


Fay H. Morgan, 98, went to be with the Lord whom she loved on Thursday, March 25, 2021 at her home in Rapid City, SD.

Fay was born October 27, 1922 at Sheboygan,  Wisconsin,  one of five children born to Joseph and Anna (Opgenorth) Nack.  She was raised her entire life and resided in Sheboygan until the time of her marriage to Alvin Morgan on May 14, 1949.  After that, she accompanied her husband to many military stations,    including  ten years overseas in England, France, and Korea.    During the time in England, her two children, Lawrence Alvin and Sara Fay, were born.

Fay joined in many  volunteer activities where the family lived at  military stations  and later in retirement  in Rapid City.    She was a Sunday School teacher and choir member for many years  and served the Lord faithfully  in the general thrust  of her life.      She was a faithful and effective member of the Auxiliary of Gideons International serving in many positions, including state vice-president.

She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  She loved her family deeply, which was a natural outgrowth of her love for the Lord.   She was loved by all who touched her, family and friends.  She was a great example to all.

Fay is survived by her husband, Alvin; a son, Lawrence; daughter, Sara (Steve) Likness of Richmond, VA; four grandchildren, Joanna (Tyler) Pendleton of Greensboro, NC, Sonja Foust of Durham, NC, Joel Likness of Durham, NC, Aaron Likeness of New York City, NY; five great granddaughters, Savannah Ruth Likness and Zoe Reece Likness born to Joel and Tabetha, and Neve Rosalee Pendleton, Ruby Fay Pendleton, and Elaine Frances Pendleton born to Tyler and Joanna.

Services will be held at a later date.   Burial will be at Black Hills National Cemetery.  Memorials may be addressed to the Gideons International or Parkview Evangelical Free Church. 

March 25, 2021

MOAA chapter salutes the people of VA Black Hills Health Care

When the COVID-19 pandemic  began to unleash its wrath on the U.S. population, the race was on to develop and distribute vaccines to battle this scourge as quickly and safely as possible.  Importantly, getting those vaccines into the arms of Americans was and remains a challenge. The year 2020 and early 2021 have been rife with stories about citizens having difficulty scheduling an appointment and then getting the vaccine administered. In some places, the situation was often described as chaotic.

South Dakota has fared much better.  In fact, as of March 12th, Center for Disease Control data published in the New York Times indicated the state was a leader in getting citizens vaccinated for COVID.  Just over one out of every four South Dakotans (26%) had received at least one dose.  Only Connecticut, New Mexico and Alaska had higher figures.

Of course, differences from state to state are caused by a wide range of circumstances, but aspect of the success realized by South Dakota has been due to the smooth rollout of vaccinations coordinated by the Veterans Administration.  Retired Air Force Colonel Jim Cowan of Rapid City can attest to the efficiency and smooth rollout of the vaccine through the VA Black Hills Health Care System.

It was really masterful planning and implementation of the drive-through COVID inoculation program.”  That was the description rendered by Cowan after getting his inoculation VA Black Hills Health Care.  He was so impressed by that experience that he shared the story with his colleagues in the Black Hills Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.  Chapter Board members and Past Presidents of the chapter concurred and quickly adopted Cowan's suggestion that Black Hills MOAA create and present to VA Black Hills Health Care a Certificate of Appreciation for the outstanding work performed by the good people at VA Black Hills. 

To date, more than 6,000 veterans have been vaccinated by VA Black Hills Health Care at their clinics at Fort Meade, Hot Springs, and Rapid City.

VA Black Hills spokesperson Terese Forbes has noted that "The drive-through vaccinations of our priority group – those 75 years of age and older – was particularly effective in the beginning."

It allowed us to avoid close proximity among the many people arriving for shots and VA staff.  It was efficient and fast. Those who had drivers could quickly get the shot and documentation without ever having to leave their cars."

The history of VA Black Hills Health Care began at Fort Meade, South Dakota back in 1946, when the Department of the Army transferred the fort to the Veterans Administration.  But the old fort had provided "doctoring" reaching back to its inception in 1878, when Fort Meade was created to protect settlements in the northern Black Hills. 

Some 1,100 employees of VA Black Hills Health Care System serve veterans not only across western South Dakota, but in wide portions of Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.  It provides primary and secondary medical and surgical care, residential rehabilitation treatment program services, extended nursing home care, and tertiary psychiatric inpatient services for veterans.  Care is delivered by VA Medical Centers at Fort Meade and Hot Springs.  Community-Based Operating Clinics – some operating on a contractual basis with private health providers – are also located in Gordon and Scottsbluff, Nebraska; Newcastle, Wyoming; as well as McLaughlin, Mission, Pierre, Pine Ridge, Rapid City, and Winner, South Dakota.

Vaccinations for COVID-19 are but one aspect of the important services that have been rendered by VA Black Hills over its 75 years of service to veterans living throughout this region.  As noted in the Certificate of Appreciation presented to VA Black Hills Health Care System by MOAA Black Hills Chapter "...on behalf of all the Veterans you serve, we convey our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for the expert, professional and compassionate care you provide us year after year ...."

December 30, 2020

MOAA Black Hills Chapter looks forward to 2021 !

Colonel Bob Mallow and wife Shirley
with our "Fiftieth Anniversary Affiliate
Award" received from national MOAA.

As we prepare for the new year, it's understandable that all of us are hoping for a better year in 2021.

That's especially true for the Black Hills Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.  Our chapter turned 50 years old in November 2020.  Deferring to the hazards of Covid-19, meetings were first postponed – then cancelled.  A planned December celebration, including a speaker from national MOAA headquarters had to be scrapped.  As it turned out, there was no celebration.  


With 2021 just around the corner, we know that the coronavirus remains a huge problem.  Nonetheless, with development and distribution of vaccines and precautionary measures, we’re optimistic about our future.

While a national MOAA representative wasn’t able to visit our chapter – and there was no big celebration – MOAA President, Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, USAF (Ret) was kind enough to to send us a note of congratulations and a “Fiftieth Anniversary Affiliate Award” commemorating our 50 years of service. (Click images to see a larger versions.)

Before coronavirus spiked, our Black Hills Chapter Board of Directors met in person.  We’ve since discovered “Zoom” as a possible way to meet, and we’re forging ahead with chapter business and plans for a celebration later in 2021.  More importantly, we’ll be getting back to work as a chapter and will “Never Stop Serving.”

Our charter from MOAA, originally known as The Retired Officers Association (TROA), was reportedly presented by General Cyril Sheehan at the Gill Sun Inn in Rapid City on March 15, 1971.  Mel Hoherz of Deadwood coordinated the meeting.  Colonel Hoherz would go on to become president of the South Dakota Retired Officers Association.

Among the many locations that have hosted our Black Hills Chapter meetings over the years:  Ellsworth AFB Officers Club, the Crossroads Picnic House at Cheyenne Crossing, L’Epicure Restaurant in Rapid City, Sacora Station in Piedmont, Dave Turgeon’s Club in Central City, Timber of Ages Recreation Hall in Piedmont, the Radisson Hotel and the American Legion Club Post #22 in Rapid City.  We suspect there were other locations, too.

Of course, it’s people who make the organization, and we’ve been blessed to have leaders like Gus Jacob, Jerry Teachout, Dick Trankle, Denny York, Jim Cowan, Mary Piper, and Bonnie Walker, among others.   Other names prominent in news stories we've seen about our chapter over the years include Charles Gardner, Bill Colson, John King, James Bergman, Don Martini, John Welch, Don Smith, and Frank Howell.

Fellowship within any organization is important, and we all miss the social aspect of our MOAA organization.  That will return as we more aggressively resume activities consistent with our mission.  The Military Officers Association of America is a leading voice in protecting the rights of service members and their families.  MOAA is comprised of active duty, retired, and former commissioned officers and warrant officers from all of the uniformed services – Our membership includes Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Space Force, Public Health Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

As we enter 2021, we look forward to again seeing our members down the road.  If you're not a member, no matter which service branch you're from, we hope you'll consider joining our Black Hills Chapter!  We hope you all had a good holiday season!