|Pride & Tradition
USNA Class of 1963
photo courtesy: USS WASP (LHD 1)
Line of Duty Classmate Deaths
The Class in Vietnam
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 WallMade 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 ReturnedJackie Cronin posted this photo of a letter and a Mike Cronin POW bracelet on Facebook. Amazing after all these years. I share it here.
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
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.
The address to send donations is:
USS Fitzgerald Family Readiness Group
PSC 473 Box 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 email@example.com or
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
Generational connections (Family Military Traditions: to include '63 descendants and ancestors who attended USNA, USMA, USAFA, USCGA)
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.
True lies but no videotape. Sea Stories submitted by classmates.
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.
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.
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)
Flag Raising on Iwo Jima - From www.goodolddogs.com
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.
Bob Abate sent in this post based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here
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
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.
Bob Abate sent in this post on June 5, 2014 based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here
Bob Abate sent in this post on December 6, 2014 based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here
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.
Bob Abate sent in this post based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here
Here is Mike Cronin's note from Mike McGrath:
POWs- USNA 39, USAFA 33, USMA 9Let us alway remember not only our losses in the class of 1963 but all of those from USNA.
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.
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
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
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
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This page modified:
November 17, 2011