Pride & Tradition

USNA Class of 1963

photo courtesy:   USS WASP (LHD 1)


Line of Duty Classmate Deaths

  • Click Here for video on YouTube


    The Class in Vietnam

  • Classmates on The Wall:  Vietnam Memorial

  • April 28, 2017--USNA63 Classmates Who Served in Vietnam
    Click Here for the extensive list of our classmates who served in the Vietnam theater. and Click Here for the details provided by most of those veterans. It is interesting reading with the shortest entry saying just "Marine" and several that go into a lot of detail of their service.

    Send any additions or corrections to scoester@cfl.rr.com


  • Classmates Vietnam Articles
  • Click Here for three items about our classmate Ralph Kimberlin. You'll need Adobe Reader to view these. Provided by Dave Riley:

    The first attachment is from the July 2002 issue of the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine regarding his involvement in developing the C-47 Spooky/Puff the Magic Dragon concept that became well known during the Vietnam Conflict.

    The second item is the front cover of the June 2002 Experimenter showing Ralph flying a P-51 replica in celebration of Loehle Aircraft's 25th anniversary.

    The third is from the University of Tennessee alumni publication providing an abbreviated version of what's in the Smithsonian magazine. Some of you may not be aware that Professor Kimberlin headed up the Space Institute at UT until his recent retirement.

  • "Shootout in the Gulf", Wings of Gold Rescue feature about Vern Von Sydow's rescue of a VA-153 A-4E pilot.
  • Click Here for the first page
  • Click Here for the second page

    Vern sent this: We had 63ers: Bob Wildman, Jerry Smith and Ollie Donelan in our HS-6 Squadron with much more difficult and daring rescues than mine.
    Proud to have served with above group- they were a class act!


  • From Gazette.net June 6, 2012--Darnestown Vietnam veteran honored by DAR.
    by Peggy MceWAN, Staff Writer

    Although he spent six years in the "Hanoi Hilton," an infamous North Vietnam prison after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Paul Cronin of Darnestown does not consider himself a hero.

    Members of the Hungerford's Tavern Chapter, Potomac, thought otherwise and nominated him for the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor, an award given to a U.S. citizen showing extraordinary leadership, trustworthiness, service and patriotism.

    Cronin received the award at the DAR Maryland State Conference in Baltimore on March 24.

    "I was honored, but all these honors are in a way embarrassing," Cronin said. "Fifty-eight thousand guys are dead, many others are missing [limbs]. I'm grateful and am an obvious target [for awards] but I wonder, 'Why me?'"

    There are plenty of reasons why the group nominated Cronin, according to a letter from Kathryn George of the Hungerford's Tavern chapter.

    The 1963 U.S. Naval Academy graduate earned two Silver Stars, The Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, four Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts during his years in the Navy, George wrote.

    "Captain Cronin made a lasting contribution to American heritage through his service as Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, his courageous and valiant record as a U.S. POW, and for having conceived the idea and working to pass the War Crimes Act of 1996, which states that any war crimes committed to or by a U.S. Armed Services member or U.S. national are federal crimes as required by the Geneva Conventions," George wrote.


  • "Vietnam War: Operation Dewey Canyon", Historynet.com article about classmate Dan Hitzelberger .
  • Click Here for the online article

  • USS Intrepid's 70 Anniversary celebration

    This picture of Robert Black and Charlie Minter standing before the actual F-8 Crusader flown by Tony Nargi in Vietnam. The photo was taken incident to the 16 Aug. 2013 ceremony recognizing the 70th anniversary of the Intrepid's commissioning and a reunion of former crew members, including a number of plank owners. Since Charlie's Dad, our Commandant Admiral Minter, commanded the ship in the early '60s, Charlie was invited to participate in part of the ceremony (wreath laying) and Rob is a member of the Intrepid Association.


  • December 25, 2013--Christmas 2013 Jim Ring Visits The Wall
    Made it to the Wall to visit Jim Patterson and our other 12 classmates on the Wall. Left the flag by Jim's panel. Picture taken on Christmas morning. Wreaths are from the same company that does the wreaths for Arlington Cemetery. Not sure who sent the tree. I have the exact location on the Wall for each classmate. Great place to spend time with those who long ago could no longer celebrate Christmas. If you want the info on their location, contact me at jep.ring@gmail.

    Webmaster note: Wall locations of each of our fallen classmates can be found on this page at VietNam.html


  • March 31, 2014--Mike Cronin POW Bracelet Returned
    Jackie Cronin posted this photo of a letter and a Mike Cronin POW bracelet on Facebook. Amazing after all these years. I share it here.


  • February 1, 2016--Mike Cronin Honored on USNA at Large
    Click Here for the USNA at Large Facebook post honoring Mike Cronin's service as a Naval Aviator, a POW and being instrumental in persuading Congress to pass the War Crimes Act of 1996, to further protect American POWs in captivity. USNA at Large is an effort of Dick Nelson '64 to honor exemplary graduates of the Naval Academy


  • April 11, 2016--Sobering Statistics About Vietnam Vets
    Click Here for an article provided by Zimm Zimmerman telling of the death rate for Vietnam Veterans.I quote: "I don't know about you guys, but it kinda gives me the chills, Considering this is the kind of information I'm used to reading about WWII and Korean War vets. So the last 14 years we are dying too fast, only the few will survive by 2025. If true, 390 VN vets die a day. So in 2190 days...from today, lucky to be a Vietnam veteran alive... in only 6-10 years.. "

  • April 23, 2017--An Article from Scotty Wilson about the loss of twenty-four naval aviators.
    Click Here for an article written by Scotty Wilson telling the almost unknown story of P2V and P-3 patrol flying during the Vietnam War and of the loss of two of their aircraft and twenty-four crew members.

    Scotty writes: "My service in the Vietnam zone was only a 6 month deployment with the Tridents of Patrol Squadron 26 in Nov '67 to May '68. But it was a very active time, during which I collected two Air Medals for over 500 flight hours of combat support missions. This was written back in 1996 when my son, Gordon ('91), was on his first tour as a pilot with that very same squadron, VP 26 in NAS Brunswick, ME.They had a plaque in the hangar spaces with the names of the 24 airmen of the two crews that were KIA during that deployment. Whenever I visited, his squadron mates wanted to know more about what happened and what we did there. Eventually the squadron PIO asked me if I could write up something for their files and perhaps use sometime in a newsletter. That got me started. And once I got underway, the memories vividly reemerged, and I'm glad I put them to paper."

  • April 23, 2017--Ken Sanger's Rescue in Vietnam
    From Ken Sanger comes this tale of inter-service assistance and heroism during the Vietnam War and news of a recent reunion.
         On the night of 21 July 1969 I had to jettison an A4 Skyhawk into the jungle of Laos. I also jettisoned myself but, unlike the aircraft, I was rescued by an Air Force Jolly Green crew.
         It was the last launch, and my third hop, of the day from ORISKANY (CVA 34). My wingman was a nugget (an inexperienced pilot). At about 2300, we were working with a FAC who had placed flares on the ground near the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos (that country we weren't bombing). The nugget was supposed to be a mile behind and 1,000 feet above me but lost situational awareness and was much closer. I was just making my first run and was in ninety degrees of bank when I felt the plane shudder and immediately go into a violent series of rolls while on fire. I think he took off part of a wing. I ejected at an estimated 360 knots and my radio was torn away. I didn't know my wingman had hit me until I met him on the rescue helo. I thought a SAM or gunfire had got me.
         After settling down during the peaceful parachute descent, I soon realized that since I lost my radio during the violent ejection, I was going to have to get my act together to either get rescued or start walking to Thailand. (The Navy was short on funds, so we were provided with only one radio and no beeper.) Since my radio was history, no one knew right away if I were alive. There was another section of squadron aircraft overhead. Knowing that, I pulled out my pencil flare while in the chute; I had nothing else to do! The standard issue flares were red, just like standard issue tracers! I somehow had learned that Sears sold green flares that fit the military pen. I bought a bunch. I fired off a few, hoping they would be seen and recognized. They were. When the others got back to the ship they convinced the air wing commander that I was alive and to hold off sending a MIA report.
         The crew of an Air Force Jolly Green rescue helicopter made the rescue the next day. After plucking me and my wingman from the jungle floor, they flew us to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, where we were debriefed, patched up, and sent back to the ORISKANY and our squadron, VA 192 - The World Famous Golden Dragons. I have come to accept that my luck in surviving over 400 combat missions, 600 carrier landings, and a night in the Laotian jungle may be the reason I can't win the lottery!
         A friend (Roger Keithly, classes of '64 and '63) recently commented on my jungle camping experience. That got me to thinking I might be able to find and thank the crew who made it possible for me to write this today. I contacted the head of the Jolly Green Association and he put me in touch with someone who could help. In about six hours from my first email, I had the names of the crew members, five formerly secret reports of the Air Force efforts to get me out, and a photo of a happy, young, Yankee Air Pilot Pirate and the crew who risked their lives for me. I am in the middle.
    Ken Sanger and his USAF rescuers


         The next day, I received the name and contact information for Jerry Jones, the pilot of the helo. On 27 March, 2017, I met Jerry at his home in Carlsbad, CA. We spent two and a half hours talking mostly about each other and filling in details of the rescue from each of our perspectives. The memories of the day of the rescue were amazingly clear for each of us. He recalled being awakened at about 0200 and told that they had a rescue scheduled for first light in a heavy threat area and then being told to go back to sleep! He didn't!
         He let me know that there were a major road and a few small towns less than two miles away. A helo had been shot down in the area a few weeks before while on a rescue mission. The crew and pilot were rescued, making the pilot one who had been shot down twice in a very short time! That was why they were a bit nervous about picking me up, since I didn't have a radio and they couldn't be certain at first that I hadn't been captured and the bad guys had my flares.
         The courage of the rescue crews was remarkable. There were known anti-aircraft gun sites in that area that could unleash a high volume of fire. The Air Force guys were willing to effect a rescue under conditions that could easily mean sudden death. A hovering helo is an easy target and the guns could have been hidden from view. That is heroism!
         Here are two photos showing Jerry and me, then and now. The first was taken at Nakhon Phanom after the mission. In the second, we are holding a framed copy of the same image at his home.
    Ken Sanger (left) and Jerry Jones (right)

    USN-USAF reunion 48 years later


         Jerry mentioned that everyone was very disappointed that the Navy was so damned efficient. A party was planned that afternoon/evening for all involved -- Sandy's, Sawdust, Jolly's, and the rescued -- but the ORISKANY's COD arrived to haul us back to the boat, where we had a welcome back cake waiting!

  • April 24, 2017--Steve Jacoby's West Germany and Vietnam Experience
    Click Here for a history written by Steve Jacoby USNA63/U.S. Army relating his experiences as an artillery officer in West Germany and then in Vietnam.

  • April 24, 2017--Raymond Heins Vietnam Stories
    Ray Heins submitted two stories about his experiences in Vietnam. Click Here for "Air Raid in the Tonkin Gulf" and Click Here for "Sunk".

  • April 25, 2017--Dave Moore's Introduction to Vietnam
    "Through the Looking Glass", Dave Moore's introduction to Vietnam. Click Here .

  • April 26, 2017--More Raymond Heins Vietnam Stories
    Ray Heins submitted two more stories about his experiences in Vietnam. Click Here for "A Memorable Song" and Click Here for "The Volunteer".

  • April 30, 2017--John McCabe's "Christmas at Sea"
    Click Here for "Christmas at Sea"

    May 11, 2017 Bob Maier added: Just a short follow-on to John McCabe's "Christmas at Sea" story :

    I was on Ticonderoga at the same time as John, and clearly recall the events he describes. At the time, I was flying A4Cs as a member of Attack Squadron 144, and like John, also living in a stateroom maintained at 105 degrees. However..... Leaving the line and heading for Yokosuka, it was determined that the flight deck directly over the stateroom next to mine required repair. And yes, that meant replacing worn timbers in the wooden flight deck. (Writing that, I feel like I served on Old Ironsides.) The stateroom occupants were re-located, and a large hole opened to the skies.

    Now Yokosuka in December gets cold and rainy, and the tarp covering the hole provided no protection. Of course the ship had no blankets - we sailed for the South China Sea, right? My roommate and I emptied our lockers to pile everything we owned on the bed for warmth, to little avail. When we awoke in the morning, our boots and shoes were sloshing back and forth in an inch of icy water.

    It felt good to get back to a 105 degree Christmas with Bob Hope and his ladies, and I even got a kiss from Anita Bryant!

  • May 4, 2017--Fred Kaiser's UDT/SEAL Training, The Real Story
    Click Here Fred's article about the realities of UDT/SEAL training

  • April 26, 2017--Stories About and By Grant Telfer
    Here's a heroic but horrifying story about Grant Telfer's "Last Fight" Click Here. and Click Here for Grant's New Year's Eve ship's log poem..

  • May 11, 2017--Air Force B-57s in Vietnam, from Bill Palafox
    First..I did not serve in Vietnam. Below is a piece of related history of the times. My connection...Commissioned USAF. At the time, I was assigned to a USA-based B-57 aircraft outfit whose core mission was to simulate attacks against North America (aka "Friendly Enemy.").

    During the build-up, some B-57 crews ferried many Vietnam-configured B-57's from the USA (Martin Company/Baltimore) to Clark Air Base in the Philipines..Nav Aids...DR, Tacan, ADF and 4 eyeballs). Our range was 1500 to 2000 nm depending on winds..so, alot of island-hopping. These aircraft were then flown to Ben Hoa and Da Nang by others. After spending a few days at Clark, the ferry crews grabbed a Flying Tigers flight back to the states to pick-up another aircraft to ferry.

    The B-57's distinguished themselves in Vietnam, esp. close air support. Notable books written about those B-57s are "DOOM Pussy" and "Vietnam, Over the Treetops." The B-57 crews,regardless of mission, were and still are a close gang
    ("DOOM"...aka "Danang Officers' Open Mess")

  • May 14, 2017--Vietnam and Me by Jim Ring
    For Jim Ring's Vietnam story Click Here.
  • May 16, 2017--Vietnam and a Nuclear Incident by Michael Krause
    For Mike's Vietnam story Click Here.
  • May 16, 2017--The Seabees in Vietnam by Jud Pearson
    Click Here for Jud Pearson's account of serving with the CEC/Seabees.
  • July 5, 2017--Shot Down Over North Vietnam by Jon Harris
    Click Here for Jon Harris's story of being the first pilot rescued from North Vietnam,


    Class Valor
    Classmates' valor - to honor our recipients of combat decorations, available citations for Silver Star and higher precedence decorations are displayed.


    Class of 1963 Chapel Pew
    Displays the plaque which our class has placed on pew 63 in the USNA chapel

    USS Fitzgerald
    A link to the official web site of the USS FITZGERALD, which includes an excellent biography on Lt. William Fitzgerald '63; We've added a few photos from commissioning provided by John Guzik, a former crewmember.  Also there are some photos taken by classmates at the commissioning ceremony. The painting of the FITZGERALD by our classmate Dick Whalen was given to the USNA Museum in October 1998 [during our 35th Reunion] by the Fitzgerald family.  
  • February 27, 2015 Click here for a description of the USS Fitzgerald and background of the naming of the ship. Quite interesting for our class. From Jim Koehn
  • August 1, 2013 Two Group Photos at USS Fitzgerald Commissioning (Adobe Reader required)
  • Celebration of Bill Fitzgerald's 50th Anniversary of USNA graduation (Adobe Reader required)
  • USS Fitzgerald September 2007 Newsletter (Adobe Reader required)
  • USS Fitzgerald Family Readiness Group( FRG)
    This provided by Jim Ring on August 21, 2008
    Because it is homeported in Japan, our Class has had little contact with the ship, other than copies of Ship's newsletters that are emailed to us. As a means of maintaining a link to perhaps the only ship ever named after our Classmate, a tremendous honor, I propose that classmates offer some financial support to USS Fitzgerald Family Readiness Group( FRG).

    Its purpose is to promote and create a friendly and social relationship among its members, to raise funds for group oriented activities and to serve the family members and the crew of the USS Fitzgerald. Membership consists of any USS Fitzgerald family member who wish to become a part of this organization. The Family Readiness Group plans and organizes various activities for children such as bowling parties, movie night, holiday parties etc. They hold fundraising events for these activities. The group would be ever so grateful for any donations from members of the USNA Class of 1963. They do monthly social activities for children and spouses. They try to get out in town because Japan can be very scary for some of our members. The group also organizes the children's holiday parties and had a wonderful turn out last year for both. Fundraisers are held in the form of bake sales and they are currently putting together a cook book to sell.

    I think donations of $25 to $100 would help them a lot. I intend on sending $100.
    Jim Ring

    The address to send donations is:
    USS Fitzgerald Family Readiness Group
    PSC 473 Box 1941
    FPO-AP 96349-1941
    Click for some photos from a recent Family Day Cruise


    USS Midway Museum
    The Class of 1963 supported the dedication by VA-23 of a restored A-4 bearing the name of classmate Stan Smiley

       
      A Seaman's Eye
      by Dick Whalen 

      In addition to the painting of the FITZGERALD, Dick Whalen has produced several other paintings of US Navy ships in action. 

      Click here for the collection.

      Snaphots of his work, along with a biography of the artist, are a unique feature of USNA63.org.

      Here's Dick's Ad/Brochure. Click Here

      October 2008: A Great Opportunity for Classmates

      Obtain high quality near original archival replica "giclee" of the USS Fitzgerald. These are printed on canvas and Dick is offering a maximum edition size of 100, signed and numbered by Dick for $600 plus shipping, for approximately 24x36 size. Can produce larger canvases on request by separate quotation.... probably up to a maximum of around 42" x 52". They are of a much higher fidelity and quality than a lithograph and are state of the art for high quality replica paintings. Giclees are superior to traditional lithography in several ways. The colors are brighter, last longer, and are so high-resolution that they are virtually continuous tone, rather than tiny dots. The range, or "gamut" of color for giclees is far beyond that of lithography, and details are crisper.

      What an opportunity to honor our classmate Bill Fitzgerald and to own an heirloom print of our Class's only ship.

      Contact Dick Whalen at seamanseye@cox.net or
      757-496-0274

    The Herndon Monument Climb
    A history of the "tain't no more plebes" ceremony which features '63s John Truesdell

    Here's an article from the May 19, 2014 Capital Gazette which also features John.Click Here



    Class Genealogy
    Generational connections (Family Military Traditions:  to include '63 descendants and ancestors who attended USNA, USMA, USAFA, USCGA)


    Bibliography
    Two full rooms of books.  Publications by '63 authors, publications by other USNA grads, items about USNA, other recommended titles.    Includes references in print and other media.



    Sea Stories
    True lies but no videotape.  Sea Stories submitted by classmates.



    Cubi Cat
    Tales of the legendary NAS Cubi Point Officers' Club. A must for aviators!


    Pride & Tradition:  Class Reunion Thoughts
      Keeping Remembrance Alive  - (30th Reunion)   by Tom Taylor
      Reflections - (35th Reunion)   by Steve Duncan
      Class President Spencer Johnson's talking points for the Superintendent:(50th Reunion)-- a fine compilation of our class accomplishments, milestones and unique occurrences during our four years. -    by Spencer Johnson

    Dedication of Ted Willandt's Class Ring to the Alumni Association
      Spencer Johnson's report of the dedication ceremony
      Attendees and Photos from the dedication

    Pride & Tradition:  Memories
      7 July 1959 - (The Beginning) and other Plebe Summer Memories 
      Terry's Team -Mike Cronin relates his experiences riding in the MS150 bike ride on Terry's Team 
      Army-Navy Photos '59-'62 -A few old Army-Navy Game photos 
      Dirck Praeger's Car-St.Christopher -This is a great story about a great car. 
      18th Co. Christmas Party -A Tale of Misspent Youth. 
      Reflections of a Blackshoe -By VADM Harold Koenig, USN (Ret)
      Dirck Praeger's Hitchhiking Tale -Tales of hitchhiking home for summer leaves 
      Dirck Praeger's "Over-the-Wall" Tale -This tale will hit home for lots from '63 
      Dirck Praeger's "War Against the Language Prof" Tale  
      Dirck Praeger's "Adventures in Getting to Army-Navy '62"  
      Dirck Praeger's "Boots and Whiskey"  
      Dirck Praeger's "Camping on the Shenandoah"  
      Mal Wright's "Mal Wright and Larry Marsh Exchange Adm. Rickover's Picture for 38th Time"  
      Bill Pawlyk's Nuke Memories  
      Sam Garde's Old Midshipman Photos from Brooklyn Newspapers  
      Army-Navy Past: Joe Bellino (from Baltimore Sun)  
      Army-Navy Past: QBs recall historic '63 matchup 1963 from Navy Times  
      Coin that JFK would have tossed in 1963 Army-Navy game will finally be used 50 years later from Capital Gazette 12/10/13. Click Here for image of the coin on its plaque  
      Coin that JFK did toss in 1962 Army-Navy game--from 1962 Navy Football Captain, classmate Steve Hoy  
      Click Here for a video from Vietnam of Randy Orlowski and Bill Beck surfing with explanation from Randy.
          Jim Ring added this footnote:
    In early 66, I was Sea and Anchor detail Officer of the Deck on PAUL REVERE as we entered Danang Harbor. She was over 600 ft long and was not easy to maneuver, but we really had to watch out for the water skiers who were cruising around the harbor behind the welfare and rec speedboats. It was close to China Beach. What was really strange was you could hear artillery booming off in the distance. Often wondered if any of those skiers are on the Vietnam Wall from injuries suffered while water skiing. Very strange indeed!

      Click Here for Dave Moore's memory of a memorable evening on Diego Garcia  
     February 28, 2014-- Click Here for a photo of a poster recently found in the basement of Johnson's on the Avenue with many '63 signatures  
            Click Here for blown up sections of the poster to see your name  

     July2, 2014-- Click Here for Tom Kelley's remembrance of rendering honors to JFK on the USS Kitty Hawk  
     July 2, 2014-- Click Here for Tom Kelley's experience of witnessing a nuclear explosion from the USS Kitty Hawk.  
     July 5, 2014-- Click Here for A January-February 1996 Shipmate featured article about Ensign Jim Oakes meeting Admiral Nimitz.  

     July 21, 2014-- Click Here for Steve Coester's memories of helping launch Apollo 11 to the moon and preventing a launch scrub on July 16, 1969  
     July 21, 2014-- Click Here for Steve Coester's story about a Space Shuttle near miss.  
     July 28, 2014-- Click Here for Steve Coester's personal perspective on the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster  

     September 2, 2014-- A Vietnam story from Peter Quinton  
    My first tour of duty after USNA was on board the U.S.S.Black (DD-666). We had 4, single, 5"/38 mounts along with 3, 3"/50 dual-mount, guns. During my tour I served as the gunnery officer firing many missions of gunfire support for Marines and Army personnel during one of my deployments to Viet Nam. I was the director officer in the Mk-37 director and got to pull the trigger during those fire missions as well as spotting and correcting the fall of shot to get on target. On one fire mission, our spotting O-1 Bird Dog (Army aviation) called for a check fire to observe the damage on our targets. As he passed over the beach, he took automatic weapons fire from a grove of trees. Always ready for counter battery fire, it was my job as director officer to immediately respond. I sited the director on the grove of trees, estimated the range (around 1500 yards) and put four, 55 lb projectiles right on target!...."Charlie" was not having a good day! Our spotting aircraft gave a whoop and a holler for our knocking out the machine gun nest. My one war story.....the rest of my career was not too exciting, peace time Navy!

    Here's an addition from Art Clark.

    My first tour was on the USS John R Pierce (DD-763). Oddly that was the very same ship that we toured as a high schooler that put me over the edge for attending the Naval Academy some years later. Second tour was aboard USS Nicholas (DD-449). Both had 5"/38 and 3"/50 mounts. Whilst aboard the Nick home ported in Hawaii, aviators bombed the wrong island, one ship lost control of a practice torpedo that landed on Waikiki beach, another ship fired a practice Weapon Alpha that promptly landed in their own laundry and last, but not least, the ship berthed in front of us laid a perfect hedgehog pattern of live ammo in the B25 parking lot. How did that happen you may wonder? Well, the ammo was olive drab signifying live ammo. The gunners mates, however, knew they had ordered inert blue rounds, so the painted them blue. Next their chief noted the color and also noted that the tail fins weren't notched, so he corrected that problem. Next came the Board of Inspection and Survey inspectors who noted the inert rounds, so they hit the rapid fire button on the starboard launcher. The last I saw was the weapons officer being escorted ashore in what looked a straight jacket. Sick but funny.
     May 14, 2015-- Click Here for Dick Jones' tale of hitchhiking to see his girlfriend during Second Class Summer Plebe Detail  
     May 18, 2015-- Click Here for Dick Jones' tale of liberty at Cubi Point and Olongapo City with a stinking finish.
     May 18, 2015-- Click Here for Dick Jones' story of NAAs Meridian, Civil Rights and the KKK
     May 21, 2015-- Click Here for another Dick Jones' story about a Marine aviator who got lost over Vietnam and almost landed among the enemy.
     November 5, 2015-- Steve Coester just read a great book about U of Washington's quest for the 1936 Olympic eight man crew championship in Hitler's Nazi Germany which prominently mentioned Navy crew. That reminded him of our own Class of 1963 crew exploits. Click Here for an article about our crew (also on our Reunions page).
    Mike Blackledge adds: In Nov 1984, my siblings gathered at Hubbard Hall to dedicate a crew shell in honor of my father, Class of 1920. Surprisingly, at our 45th Reunion, we found that shell hanging from the rafters of Hubbard Hall, to represent the last of the wooden shells!
     January 22, 2016--Here's a story from Pete Savage about his time as Supply Office on the USS Tullibee SSN597 and a hilarious screw up on a simple requisition. Click Here for an entertaining story.
     August 1, 2016--Phillip Marsden provided this account of our classmate Ben Cole's wife, Sue, meeting the person she donated bone marrow to. Click Here for the newspaper story.
     January 11, 2017--Bill Pawlyk's involvement in the torpedoing of an American aircraft carrier Click Here for Bill's story.
     February 28, 2017--


    Michael Blackledge got some interesting information about Navy prep schools and some bonus information about Class of 1963 firsts. Mike said, "James Cheevers, the Senior Curator of the US Naval Academy Museum, has done some research on the history of prep schools providing candidates for the Academy. He notes something that I never realized: one more first for our class, namely that our class was the first NOT to take the entrance exams for the Academy! Over 100 years of tradition and process changed!

    I received this research as part of my on-going efforts to find which Prep School my father attended during Fall 1915 - Spring 1916; Jennifer of Special Collections has provided his results to me for the exam of April 1916 - which he passed. Thus I am here.

    Steve Coester reports that if he remembers correctly he took a multi day civil service exam for the Coast Guard Academy that left him so drained he couldn't find his car in downtown St. Louis after it was finally finished. Must have done okay since he was offered an appointment.

    "Click Here for this interesting information from James W. Cheevers, Senior Curator, U.S. Naval Academy Museum


     April 28, 2017--


    Steve Coester has extracted the many stories by our classmates that are located in several places on this site, and has compiled them into one book that can be seen on archive.org at https://archive.org/details/USNA63Stories_201704. This page reads like a book and you can also download the original as PDF or in several other formats including Kindle for your Kindle library. You can also read the book in pdf format right here by Clicking Here
     

    Midshipman Memories 
      Pat Waugh Tells an Amazing Story   by Pat Waugh
      Memories of Marching and Formations    by Dave Moore, Mike Shelley, and Mike Moore
      AWOL in Morroco    by John Morgan
      Bricking    by John Morgan
      Painting the Smokestack    by Zimm Zimmerman
      My Best Christmas    by Spencer Johnson
      Mess Hall Antics    by Dirck Praeger
      Tales from the Natatorium    by Steve Coester
      My Unlikely Journey to a Varsity letter    by Steve Coester
      Click for the Drag Handbook Mario Fiori sent in this Drag Handbook from about 1952. Steve Coester's wife has one from 1962 but it is temporarily lost.
     August 14, 2014-- Click Here for Jon Harris's account of raising the first 50 star U.S. flag in NYC  
     August 31, 2014-- Click Here for a nice poem about plebe year from T.C. Lyster USNA '64  
     September 3, 2014-- Click Here for Dave Moore's recounting of Navy football 1959-1962  
     September 15, 2014-- Click Here for a 1967 midshipman dating etiquette video from back in our day. From Dave Moore. How times have changed!  
     May 9, 2015-- Click for the Drag Handbook from 1962, the one we used. Finally Yvonne Coester found her long lost copy!
     May 9, 2015-- Click for our graduation announcement
     October 4, 2015-- Click Here for Pete Savage's recounting of our pranks at the very first Navy-Air Force football game in 1960. We won the game 35-3.
            Click Here for Pete Savage and Dick Nelson telling of the crazed falcon prank.
     December 3, 2015-- Click Here for a discussion of the Navy Songbook we were issued plebe year.This started with Mike Blackledge wanting to find a copy.


     March 1, 2016--
    Click Here for a compilation of funny stories and misadventures which occurred during our Physical Education (PE) classes. If you have a good one send it to Mike Blackledge at mike@blackledge.com and he'll include it.


     April 9, 2016--
    Click Here for Dirck Praeger's account of his pre-entrance physical and academic testing for the military academies. Webmaster's note: After reading Dirck's account, I could have just changed his name to mine. I'm sure it fits many of you.



    Pride & Tradition:

    Lest We Forget
      USS Scorpion Sinking Analysis - Provided by Jim Ring April 2010
      USS Scorpion Sinking Analysis - Provided by Bob LaGassa 10/20/2013
      Lasswell, USMC, Cryptographer - Classmate Jim Lasswell's father who identified Midway Island as Japanese invasion target
      Account of Pentagon Attack - Betty Maxfield (Wife of Kent)
      Address to the Troops (5 June 1944) - Gen. George Patton, USA
      Eulogy for a Fighter Pilot -  Pat Conroy
      What So Proudly We Hail - Capt. John McCain, '58
      Farewell to the Corps - Gen. Charles Krulak, '64
      Speech to Senior NCO Academy Graduation - General John P. Jumper
      The Boat School Boys - By Captain Richard A. Stratton, U.S. Navy (Retired)
      Home is the Sailor-John Paul Jones - From www.smithsonianmagazine.com
      Search for the Bonhomme Richard

    In 2010 our Class provided $4500 to aid in the search for the Bonhomme Richard. Click on the title link for an article; Searching for the Bonhomme Richard: A Tale of Two Navies. The article was authored by Melissa Ryan, the architect of the Naval Academy's BHR on-line course and the project manager for the ongoing search for the BHR. I think you will find it a very interesting read.

    Another item is Melissa Ryan's ongoing blog, which can be found at: http://searchforbhr.blogspot.com/.

    A Smithsonian Channel special on the search for the Bonhomme Richard: "Mighty Ships: USNS Grasp", was aired on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 8:00 pm EST on the Smithsonian Channel. The USNS GRASP was the search vessel designated for the 2011 search for the BHR, which was led by Melissa Ryan and included 2/c Joe Walters. His participation was funded by '63 generosity.

    While the 2012 search did not include midshipman participation, funding from the Class of 1963 helped ensure midshipman participation in 2010 and 2011, and re-energized the commitment of both the US and French navies to find John Paul Jones' elusive flagship. So in many ways, today's ongoing search is the result of our philanthropy.


      Fathers Day 1943 During WWII
    Bob Abate sent in this post based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here

      "In answer to 'Annapolis Teaching Young Sea Dogs Old Tricks"
    Jim DeFrancia wrote this article in the April 1963 issue of Shipmate in rebuttal to an article by David Boroff in Harper's Click Here

      22 November 1963: Where Were You

    Our Class had a unique relationship with President John F. Kennedy. He became president when we became upper class. He was a Navy Man, war hero, skipper of PT-109. He loved football and the Army-Navy game. We lost our 'rubbers' when we marched in his Inaugural Parade, and we lost our innocence on 22 November 1963. Our experiences that day were unique, and for the first time since throwing our hats in Halsey Field House, we were all unified via a single event.

    What is your story? Where were you when you first heard that the President had been assassinated? Click Here

    To add to the list contact Mike Blackledge at Mike@Blackledge.com.


      D-Day June 6, 1944
    Bob Abate sent in this post on June 5, 2014 based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here

      December 7, 1941
    Bob Abate sent in this post on December 6, 2014 based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here

      March 28, 2015-Ring of Valor
    This 1965 Navy documentary, narrated by actor Robert Taylor, gives an inside look at life at the United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, MD. Webmaster note: I actually think this film was from about 1960 as I remember it being shown at a Christmas Academy dinner in St. Louis while we were Mids. In one scene Dick Danhof and I are shown playing tennis as plebes.

      April 1, 2015-- April Fool's Day 1945 Okinawa During WWII
    Bob Abate sent in this post based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here

      April 8, 2015-- WWII 100 year old Vet gets high school diploma thanks to '63 classmate Bob Abate

      April 24, 2015--A newspaper article about our classmate Bob Abate "World War II interviewer: 'Every day is Memorial Day" Click Here

      June 6, 2015--From Steve Coester--I often think about the classmates we have lost and realized that while I am all too familiar with our thirteen killed in Vietnam, our total of twenty-eight killed in the line of duty, and our two POWs, I had no idea of the Vietnam losses for the Academy as a whole. I had some discussions with Mike Cronin and he enlisted Mike McGrath '62 who is the POW historian. From them I discovered that USNA lost one hundred and forty KIA in Vietnam. Also from the Academy there was a total of thirty-nine captured and held as prisoner of war.

    Here is Mike Cronin's note from Mike McGrath:

    POWs- USNA 39, USAFA 33, USMA 9

    A total of 591 POWs returned alive of a total of over 700 believed to have been POWs. Many of the MIAs were POWs who died in captivity before getting into contact with other POWs so that their names would be known by others as POWs and relayed to US authorities upon release or exchange of POWs. Some of these died of combat wounds shortly after capture and before reaching any POW camp, others were most likely shot while evading capture, and others died as a result of torture before other POWs knew of their presence. No one knows how many are in each of those categories. The Vietnamese aren't talking, but it is likely that quite few of those listed as MIAs actually died in captivity but were never known by the rest of us to have been captured.

    My personal belief is that there were never any MIAs alive and held by the Vietnamese after the war. The Vietnamese knew that we had spent great efforts to compile and memorize lists of names because they caught us doing so many times. To their great frustration, they could never stop that or the communication that enabled it. They got everything they wanted in the Paris Accords of 1973- All US forces out of Vietnam and North Vietnamese forces permitted to remain in South Vietnam. The only way they could have blown the deal was to have been caught holding back prisoners. I just don't believe they were dumb enough to take that risk. The MIAs were actually KIAs. When the circumstances of a loss were not clear COs were most likely to list a loss as MIA. I was listed as "missing presumed captured."

    KIA- USNA 140, USAFA 150, USMA 267

    Among the USNA KIAs the class date range was from '43 to '69

    The class with the most KIAs was '66 with 16. 2nd was '63 with 13, 3rd was '62 with 12.

    Let us alway remember not only our losses in the class of 1963 but all of those from USNA.

      June 22, 2015--Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Description of Battles on the Facade Click Here
  •   October 9, 2015--Dick Jones' memories of his meetings with legendary fighter pilot BGEN Robin Olds, USAF (Ret) Click Here for Dick's accounts.
      October 23, 2015-- Click Here for Rick Trani's sister, Ginny Peabody's "The Professor and the Warrior" about their grandfather who was a professor at USNA and her brother Rick. Click Here for several photos accompanying the article.
      November 6, 2015-- Tom O'Brien suggested posting this article from The Submarine Rewiew. Tom says,"No '63 Classmate is mentioned in CAPT, USN (Ret.) Bud Alexander's excellent article that appeared in The Submarine Review, but it may be an appropriate article to post on the Class Web Site as a reminder of the many years of dedicated performance in the Silent Service by several of our Classmates.."Click Here for CAPT, USN (Ret.) Bud Alexander's excellent article.
      November 22, 2015-- Navy's Ken Niumatalolo is the most underrated coach in college football. Click Here for John Feinstein article.
      June 26, 2016-- There are two monuments at the Academy that you might not be aware of.The first is located across Dorsey Creek facing the cemetery. It is dedicated "In Grateful Remembrance: Naval Academy Graduates Lost in Operations During the Vietnam Conflict" It includes the names of the thirteen members of our class lost in Vietnam

    The other monument is located by the Columbarium, dedicated by the class of 1937. It "Remembers Our Shipmates Whose Resting Places Are Known Only To God". During our service we lost twenty-eight classmates in the line of duty from the Class of 1963. Fifteen, including nine from Vietnam, three from the loss of the USS Scorpion and three in aircraft accidents at sea, are listed on this memorial.



      September 1, 2016-- In 1964 Admiral Minter sent a letter to prospective midshipmen explaining what to expect if they entered the Naval Academy. Thirty five years later James Webb wrote this reply to Admiral Minter. Click here to read both letters. Outstanding!
      September 13, 2016-- A new 9-11 In Memoriam video and webpage from the USNA Alumni Association dedicated to those who were Killed in Action or were Operational Losses since 9-11 Click here view the web page!
  •   April 13, 2017--Coach Wayne Hardin Dead at 91
    Former Navy coach Wayne Hardin, who led the Midshipmen to two top-five finishes in the AP poll, has died. He was 91.

    Hardin suffered a massive stroke on April 11. Temple, where he also coached, said Hardin had attended alumni day festivities the previous weekend.

    Hardin went 38-22-2 with the Midshipmen and led to the 1961 Orange Bowl and 1964 Cotton Bowl. He coached Heisman Trophy winners Joe Bellino (1960) and Roger Staubach (1963). His 1960 Navy team ended the season ranked fourth by the Associated Press, and his 1963 team finished second in the AP poll.

    Hardin also went 80-52-3 in 13 seasons (1970-1982) at Temple and is the winningest coach in school history. He led the 1979 team to the Garden State Bowl, where the Owls defeated California for their first bowl win. The 1979 team set a record for victories with 10 and finished the season ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25 poll.

    He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

    From Navy Times

    For additional links see Baltimore Sun and Philadelphia Inquirer

      May 27, 2017--Class of 1963 Line of Duty Deaths
    Click Here for poster memorablising our classmates killed in action or in the line of duty.

    Ethics
      Military Leadership in a Changing Society - James H. Webb, '68
      Remarks at JSCOPE 2000 - Gen Charles Krulak, '64
      If It's Not Fun, Then Why Do We Do It?  -  Col. Wayne Shaw, USMC

    Media Literacy
    Men of Annapolis - The Television Series  -  Capt. Sherman 'Bud' Alexander, '56
    Graduation Speech to Class of 1993  -  Sen. John McCain, '58
    NATO and the Future Use of Military Force  -  Stephen M. Duncan, '63



    Vanity License Plates
    Photographs of our classmates USNA/Navy inspired license plates



    Old Midshipman Photos
    Photographs taken by our classmates in the good old days. Arranged by company.



    Army-Navy Football '59-'62 Photos
    Photographs from OUR Army-Navy games.



    Navy Defeats Notre Dame after Forty-Three Years
    Photograph and "Miracle on Turf" by John Feinstein



    Thirtieth VietNam Wall Remembrance Ceremony June 10, 1995
    History and photos at the ceremony.



    Nick Nerangis '63--Hogette
    A Wall Street Journal tribute to our Hogette.


    George Tracy '63 Named to Lacrosse Hall of Fame
    Click for the article copied from navysports.cstv.com


    Distinguished Graduate-Roger Tetrault
    Click the above title for the complete Distinguished Graduate Nomination packet.

    We are pleased to announce that four U.S. Naval Academy alumni were chosen by the Naval Academy Alumni Association as the 2013 recipients of the Distinguished Graduate Award. Congratulations to:

    Mr. Roger E. Tetrault, Class of 1963, served as a naval aviator upon graduating from the Naval Academy. He established the USNA Ethics Leadership Chair; was vice president and general manager of the naval nuclear fuel division of Babcock & Wilcox when the company became sole naval reactor supplier, saving the Navy hundreds of millions of dollars; and served with NASA on the Advisory Council Committee, International Space Station Task Force, Columbia Accident Investigation Board and National Research Council Committee and was awarded their Distinguished Public Service Medal.

    The Honorable John S. Redd, Class of 1966, served in the surface warfare community following graduation from the Academy. He retired as a vice admiral, having commanded eight organizations at sea, including founding the first new fleet in half a century, U. S. Fifth Fleet in the Middle East; served as Deputy Administrator and Chief Operating Officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq; and was selected by President George W. Bush to serve as the first Senate-confirmed director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

    Ambassador Richard L. Armitage, Class of 1967, selected service as a surface warfare officer when he graduated from the Academy. He organized and led the evacuation of 30,000 South Vietnamese naval personnel and assets at the close of the Vietnam War; served as ambassador to the newly independent states following the dissolution of the Soviet Union; and was the 13th Deputy Secretary of State.

    Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, USN (Ret.), Class of 1970, selected service in the nuclear power submarine community upon graduating from the Naval Academy. He served as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet; served as Commander, U.S. Pacific Command; and was awarded the Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale award for Inspirational Leadership.

    Each year, we honor distinguished graduates because of their demonstrated and unselfish commitment to a lifetime of service, their personal character, and the significant contributions they have made to the Navy and Marine Corps or as leaders in industry or government. The 2013 Distinguished Graduate Award Ceremony will be held on Friday, 22 March 2013.

    Congratulations to the 2013 Distinguished Graduates!

    Byron Marchant '78
    President, U. S. Naval Academy Alumni Association




    1963 USNA Graduation Speech by President Lyndon Johnson June 5, 1963
    Click the above title for Graduation speech.




    1963 USNA Boxing Championships
    Mike Blackledge "liberated" this photo from Chuck Spadafora's Facebook page on January 25, 2016. The Class of 1963 can take pride in our champs.



    Coach Wayne Hardin's 90th Birthday
    Ron Klemick provided this account of the celebration
    Click Here for the story and photos.



    May 23, 2016--Coach Bilderback Named to IMLCA's Lacrosse Inaugural Hall of Fame Class
    Tom Reemelin provided this notification
    Click Here for the announcement.



    June 7, 2016--CBS Sports Article about Navy Lacrosse
    Dick Nelson '64 posted this on Facebook: Most folks (especially on the East Coast) and all alumni know that Navy has historically had one of the nation's powerhouse lacrosse programs. However, I have never seen a detailed history of Navy lacrosse like the attached article by CBS Sports. Highly recommended! You might see some names that you know!
    Click Here for the article.




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