Windows on the World of Raymond Plank
Founder, Apache Corp

Vol. 2014 No.  1



President Obama’s outreach continues to splash across the world with a rhythmic pattern of a tsunami bent on destroying our country, washing debris beyond the shores to the peoples of the globe. 

Memorable Highlights of 2013:

1.     Benghazi:  Americans die despite advance warning of pending attacks on embassy and beyond.  Obama goes before the world with Hillary Clinton’s left arm held firmly in his right hand as he steered her to the microphones.  Shaken and distraught Hillary confesses “the buck stops here – it’s my fault.”  President releases Hillary’s left arm.  They depart the stage – small consolation for families with deceased who know of the lies against the backdrop of political betrayal.  I’m reminded of an early Apache attorney, Robert Henretta, whose motto was, “If someone goes to jail, make sure it’s your client,” whose tenure ended as John Kocur became General Counsel & Secretary in 1969.

2.     U.S. President tells the world President Mubarak of Egypt should resign.  Mubarak lay strapped down in a cage for the world to see.  Mubarak was the first national leader in Egypt to support his wife, Suzanne, and UNICEF’s initiative augmented by Apache’s commitment to Springboard Girls’ Schools (teaching 7,000 girls to read and write, the first in their families to do so). 

3.     Primary involvement and countermeasures against Syria’s citizen slaughter, as they fled murder at home, men, women, and children overstretched the capacity of neighboring states, and Syrians continue to be starved and killed.  No 2nd Nobel Peace Prize awarded U.S. President in 2013.

Here at home as 2014 begins, the White House seeks extension of unemployment benefits, while more withdraw from the workforce in favor of relief and embarrassed by food stamps, now flash what looks like a credit card to pay for their groceries.


During college and professional football events the people in T.V. have paid so much for broadcasting rights that “God Bless America” or the “Star Spangled Banner” more often than not give way to advertising.  While referees note, “a thirty-second time out,” I count five to six ads as spirituality and patriotism are sacrificed in many instances in favor of advertisements, which command a high price, and the game is slowed. 


Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE):


From half way around the world, I received a notification of Apache Corp. being one of twelve finalists nominated for the 2013 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) under Secretary of State, John Kerry (who previously ran for President), for being the most socially responsible corporation, due to Apache’s support of Egypt’s girls’ schools (Springboard). The twelve nominees included Mars Inc. (the candy company) for providing the Far East worker training to enable sustainable cocoa farming.  Springboard teaches reading and writing skills and provides a basis to climb the ladder via education to a fuller, more productive life.  Initiated by Rod Eichler, then Apache’s Egypt Country Manager, together with Americans in Egypt working for Apache, I was delighted with the initiative and “filled the tank with gas,” by finding a way U.S. citizens could participate and give personal time and money ($1.35million).  My then wife, Heather Burgess Plank, spent one month of her personal time for each of two years working with the girls’ schools, as did the then wife of Apache’s C.E.O. Steve Farris, giving of herself to “our little girls.”   Apaches were magnificent in their participation, including direct participation by Dalal Hanno, who started a school paid for by Apache’s Egyptian employees together with Rod Eichler, Glenn Joyce, and friends who staffed and taught at the schools.


Mail and Telephone Calls:  On January 21, 2014 my Ucross mail contained twenty-eight separate requests for causes and political contributions, all of which went into the wastebasket.  If they send stamps or money for postage, the stamps are saved and the money goes into my piggy bank which when converted to cash added up to $126.00 set aside for charitable education purposes.

Current Activities:  A number of friends have inquired as to what I’m up to these days (at beyond 91), I never have learned to be brief, but will seek to identify the basis for my involvement, believing “everything is related to everything else.”


I’d hoped to publish a Christmas Windows, but was engaged with an initiative worthy of comment.  For years the Ucross Foundation has sponsored a very well attended 4th of July Independence Day Celebration.  Families, particularly children too young to connect Independence Day, enjoyed games, watermelon eating contests, a band, hot dogs, soft drinks etc…  When a lightening-caused fire set grasses ablaze to the edge of Ucross lands, at a special meeting we decided to cancel the program and did not renew in 2013.  A Christmas Party in the Park at Ucross was decided upon.  The Powder River Energy Corp. collaborated, stringing lights which aggregated 23,000 on spruce trees up to the higher reaches of Cottonwoods.  Announcements and communications drew perhaps 400 to 500 to the Park, Chapel, and Raymond Plank Creative Center, with its special focus on land stewardship via affiliation with the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.


After yours truly had spoken, the evening continued with three school choirs providing music and song.  Joe Reed fired the cannon, 23,000 tree lights flashed on, and the snow covered ground and 20o temperatures found all of us outside to observe a fifteen minute fireworks show by State Senator Bruce Burns, who also contributed the fireworks.  Lower Christmas trees had been strung by Carol Melver and her assistant Marty Jelly.  Ucross Foundation President Sharon Dynak, and her staff had acquired favors for the kids, the most popular of which were miniature potted blue spruce trees, symbolic of the 20,000 + trees planted and cared for to date as part of our Land Stewardship program.


In the organization of this program, one Michelle Sullivan who took her turn heading the Ucross Foundation, and I work closely – the program in which the Yale School of Forestry has a major role.


We are particularly pleased for Yale and the Ucross High Plains Initiative as they won a “Google Earth Engine Research Award” for work on invasive species mapping and detection.  Yale is excited because this means that the work done at Ucross, pop. 25, can soon bring state of the art knowledge globally.  Three years ago, when we first worked with Yale, they had just submitted a plan for Bosnia, whose trees, lands, and jobs were positively affected by their work with Ucross Foundation. 


I’d like to turn to the artist and historian John Mollison who was commissioned by good friend, David Flynn, to draw one of the B-24 bombers I piloted in WWII.  John will soon return to Viet Nam with an American pilot shot down by a Vietnamese pilot in yet another undeclared war to introduce and interview the two pilots.  I’m hopeful Washington doesn’t mess up relations in which the private sector are, like our K-12 teachers in Fund for Teachers, reaching out creatively. 


My mail contains many affirming letters about my memoir “A Small Difference.”  Several helpers are working to develop more interest in the book among universities and young people.


At Ucross, we are establishing a separate 501(c)(3) (EIN 46-4491120 affirms the status; we will also require 501(c)(3) approval from the IRS), which Ucross Foundation Chairman, Jim Nelson, and Wyoming part time personnel will enable us to unscramble the egg, simplifying, and better enabling the funding of land stewardship as a separate foundation.  Sixteen Planks related by blood or marriage are committed to the initiative.  


Initial contributions (which will be held in escrow until final approval) can be made payable to:


Ucross-Land Stewardship Program

c/o Ucross Foundation

30 Big Red Lane

Clearmont, WY 82835