The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 23, 2013

Class 13-13 student pilots attend a ‘Mafia Murder Mystery’ party

By Jeff Mullin, Senior Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — On a recent Saturday evening, members of Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 13-13 were confronted with a mystery — three of them, in fact.

Three people were murdered, and they were charged with determining the identity of the culprit or culprits.

Of course, they shouldn’t have been surprised that someone had been killed, since they were consorting with known members of the Mafia.

OK, nobody died, and these so-called Mafia members were local auto dealer Bruce Jackson and George Pankonin, Community College of the Air Force adviser at Vance Air Force Base.

They are the civilian sponsors for Class 13-13, part of an ongoing program that involves local businesses and individuals volunteering to take student pilots under their wing, so to speak.

Jackson and Pankonin recently threw a “Mafia Murder Mystery,” party in Jackson’s home for the members of Class 13-13, their spouses and girlfriends.

Class members dressed in their gangster best, many sporting fedoras, black shirts, white ties, vests and jackets.

2nd Lt. Payton Jeppesen wore a black jacket, gray vest, black shirt and red tie, topped by a snappy fedora, while his wife, Lana, wore pearls, a touch of fur and black gloves with her little black dress.

“That was a lot of fun,” Jeppesen said. “I was very grateful that the Jacksons had us in their home and were willing to help us out, and have us have a good time.

“We enjoy them a lot, they’re great sponsors and help us out a ton. We appreciate the support here in Enid.”

By the same token, Jackson said, he appreciates the young men and one woman who make up Class 13-13.

“They are they finest, most well-mannered, disciplined people I could ever have in my home,” said Jackson. “You feel like you are friends, immediately. But they are so polite. It’s ‘Mr. Jackson,’ no matter what I say. It’s a pleasure.”

The idea of the class sponsor program is to give students a chance to get away for a time from the rigors of pilot training, and also to make some personal contacts during their time in Enid.

“We make sure that they know someone in Enid, so if they ever need help in Enid, they can call somebody,” Jackson said.

“The other good thing is, when they’re here, they get some respite,” Pankonin said. “You’re under the microscope every second of the time you’re on the base. They have a chance to be able to get away from that for a while, let their hair down and enjoy themselves in the company of some of the locals.”

This is the fourth class Jackson has sponsored, but he calls Class 13-13, “one of the most-disciplined groups I’ve ever had.”

Class sponsors are asked to plan some kind of activity or get-together for their class once a quarter. Jackson and Pankonin hosted 13-13 for a pool party last fall, while the winter event was the Mafia party.