Photo/Story Gallery 2006

61st Celebrates 25th

61st Recruit Class - yesterday61st Recruit Class - todayOn March 18th, FHP’s 61st Recruit Class celebrated its 25th anniversary with a reunion at the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa’s Ybor City.

Pictured left, 61st Recruit Class Yesterday and right, 61st Recruit Class Today

They feasted on a banquet of Spanish roast pork, paella, black beans and rice, Cuban bread, flan and key lime pie. A toast was made to commemorate the gathering of this august group of classmates, several of whom had not been seen by some of their fellow classmates since their graduation in 1981.

The class president, Colonel Chris Knight, took advantage of the opportunity to formally present 25-year certificates and service pins to his classmates. There was a lot of toasting and roasting of fellow classmates and the 1981 Academy Staff members and the many FHP instructors and counselors that were involved in the training of the mighty 61st. Each classmate in attendance took the floor and reminisced about the “good old days” and some of the spoofs and pranks that were played on each other in between all the serious academic work and grueling physical fitness training at the Academy.

At the beginning of their meeting, the 61st set a rule that prohibited any of the Academy Staff members, FHP instructors and counselors from “telling us what we can and cannot do, conducting room inspections, making us do PT, and reminding us to make sure we sign the meal roster!”

A block of rooms was booked at the Ramada Inn in Plant City to keep everyone close together (not quite as close as the Academy dorms!) to allow classmates some extra social time and for catching up on their “war stories.” On the morning following the banquet, classmates had their “final retreat” while enjoying a huge breakfast at BuddyFreddy’s Country Style Buffet in Plant City.

A good time was had by all and it was a great way to promote an old, time-honored tradition of the Patrol. The only regret was waiting 25 years to have such a reunion. Plans are being made now for a 30-year reunion of the 61st! Stay tuned…

Trooper LLanio presenting Colonel Knight with his 25-year certificate.
Trooper Pedro LLanio (Colonel Knight’s roommate at the Academy) presents Colonel Knight with his 25-year certificate.

Captain Matt Walker describing his memory of fellow classmate Trooper Ron Hunley (white shirt with blue tie) getting his head gear turned sideways after getting
Captain Matt Walker gets a roar from the crowd as he describes his memory of fellow classmate Trooper Ron Hunley (white shirt with blue tie) getting his head gear turned sideways after getting “hammered” during a boxing match.

Richard Gonzmart, owner of the Columbia Restaurant, and Colonel Knight.
Richard Gonzmart, owner of the Columbia Restaurant, stops by to congratulate Colonel Knight and all of his classmates.

A feast fit for a King!
A feast fit for a King!