A Sea Story Re: Brother Al.
By Dick Boyce
"I was Officer-in-Charge at (former Naval Air Station) Ft Lauderdale Base from Sept 1988 until 19 July 1991. Al and I hit it off at our initial introduction and remained close throughout my tour.
My new base was noticeably the biggest eyesore in the vicinity of the airport. The buildings were in disrepair with peeling paint and suffering from no maintenance program and no money to correct the problem. I felt more like a slum lord than a naval officer. My tightfisted seniors offered advice, but no funds.
Allan McElhiney asked me to provide space for him to start his museum. He discussed his plans to recreate a WWII flight student's bunk room as well as collect plaques from all ships visiting Ft Lauderdale. His long range plan included having a mural painted on a wall with President GHW Bush's plane included. I agreed to all of it with one condition... Al had to tell me that President Bush was coming for the dedication of the mural. Tongue in cheek, Al told me of his plan to have the President on site.
Over the next few weeks I signed a lot of bogus letters to a lot of ships asking for plaques for a museum that didn't exist, to be seen by a president that wasn't going to visit. I also officially notified my seniors that President Bush was going to participate in our ceremony. Paint and maintenance crews were flown into from Dahlgren, Virginia to "beautify" the facility. I provided weekly updates to seniors about the potential VIP visit and developed a formal program for the ceremony. I also helped Al unwrap many of the plaques he received and helped him write Thank-you notes.
Just prior to the big event, I passed the word up my chain of command that Jeb Bush would be standing in for his father. The list of attendees dropped significantly.
What a happy ending! In the end my facilities looked new, Al had lots of souvenirs from the fleet and neither of us spent a penny.
Al was my kind of sailor. Our philosophies were similar. If it's good for the Navy, just do it.
One senior eventually discovered the scam. He complimented me for "my ability to interact with the Navy League and civilian community in promoting a positive image of the Navy". In private he said Al and I were modern day Frank and Jesse James."