USNA Class of 1963
photos courtesy: USS WASP (LHD 1)
John McCabe of the Second company passed away yesterday. His death was the 276th for our class. That leaves us with exactly 600 alive of the 876 who started with us July 7, 1959. The only good news is 68 percent of us are still living compared to about 53% for all Americans in our age group. Death is inevitable and our time approaches so enjoy the time remaining. Here is a graph showing the rate of our deaths since 1963.
Craig Thrasher's Memorial Service, originally scheduled for May 29th, will be held Saturday, July 24th at 11:00am in East Aurora, NY.
Craig Thrasher’s Backyard
1021 Mill Road
East Aurora, NY 14052
If you plan to attend, please contact Peggy Thrasher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The luncheon is rescheduled for 11:30am Friday, May 21st at the Army Navy Country Club.
The luncheon is scheduled for 11:30am Tuesday, May 18th at the Army Navy Country Club. The cost will be $30.00 which includes tax, coffee and water. Drinks (wine, beer, sodas) are extra
Two Caveats: Wear a mask in entering the club and only 12 are allowed. That means we have to get a head count up front - first come first serve. I will publish an attendee as we get close to 12 attendees. Priority will be the DTG on your email. "I think I can make it" and "Maybe" will not count.
Respomd to Bob Forster email@example.com
Joe Clancy's funeral will be held September 21, 2021 at the Naval Academy Columbarium. Reception details in work. Joe passed away June 8, 2019.
Visitation will be Friday, April 16th at 9:30am at St. Mary of Sorrows Historic Catholic Church, 5612 Ox Road, Fairfax Station, VA 22039-9702 followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30am.
Tom's final resting place will be Quantico National Cemetery.
Dear Classmates, Family and Friends of the Class of 1963,
Spring has arrived in Annapolis. The fruit trees are in bloom. The temperatures are approaching 70 everyday and the sun is shining brightly. The dark ages are over.
The Brigade. Things have eased up. Liberty was granted last weekend for the first time in over a month. While meals are picked up from King Hall they are still consumed in midshipman rooms in Bancroft. Food ordered from town can again be delivered. The restriction to rooms (ROM- restricted movement) except for two hours exercise a day is semi- lifted. Vaccinations have been administered. Classes have returned to a hybrid of virtual and in person instruction. Visitors are again allowed on the yard. Life is assuming a new normal.
Sports. Football Spring practice has been underway for over a week now. Xavier Arline, a plebe, is the top choice for quarterback with three others hard on his heels, two other plebes and a youngster. Tickets for next Fall's games are on sale now at tel: i-800-US4Navy. There are six home games scheduled. Our usual tailgate in spot 12A will be up and running for all home games, assuming the COVID 19 restrictions are behind us.
The football team has adopted as its slogan this year "Burn the Boats". This is a reference to the Spanish Conquistador Cortes order issued in 1519 during an attack on the Aztecs to prevent his soldiers from retreating to Cuba as had happened several times before. By burning the boats, there was no retreat possible. Everyone's focus had to be solely on achieving victory. The 2021 team will be equally focused on a winning season come September.
Basketball The Navy team captured the Patriot League championship. The Navy team was the number one seed going into the Patriot League tournament, only to lose its first game against Loyola Maryland, a team it had beaten three times during the season. The loss, 76-68, was largely due to the loss of two starters who were exposed to the COVID virus, including team captain and All-Patriot League pick, Cam Davis and forward Richard Njoku. Several other varsity team players may also have been effected. This knocked the Naval Academy out of an NCAA berth this year. All said, this is one of the finest basketball teams to take the court in recent years. There's a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to.
Baseball. The baseball team is off to another great start after 15 wins last season. Last weekend, navy played a three game series against Bucknell. They won two out of the three, scoring ten runs in the eighth inning of one game to win 15-10.
Track and Field Both mens', and women's teams are hot off the mark winning meets including the Nstar meet against Army.
Soccer and other varsity sports are also in play even though this may not be their regular season. This past weekend there were twenty varsity sports in the yard. All are doing well despite the interruptions in their season play.
Trust But Verify While on graduation leave at home in Charleston, S.C. in June 1963, I set out to participate in the military wedding of a high school classmate at Camp Lejeune, N.C. I carefully put all the buttons in my Service Dress White blouse, affixed my shiny new ensign shoulder marks, checked that I had my sword and belt, packed white shoes and socks, packed my new officer's cap in a plastic wrap, and put everything in my car for the drive to Camp Lejeune. About six hours later I arrived. I checked in with the mother of the bride to let her know that I was there. She smiled and told me that my mother had called. My white trousers would be up on the next Greyhound bus. Now I use the check list and venerate Mother's Day.
I hope everyone had a beautiful Passover/ Easter celebration. Please remember that the pandemic is still with us. Mask up and stay safe.
Sue and Laura Easton have made arrangements to have Bob's Celebration of Life Service to be made available by Zoom as outlined below. The date of his service is this Saturday at 1300. A video of the service will be made available for anyone who might be interested. Information regarding the video will be made available at a future time.
Time: Mar 27, 2021 01:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
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Meeting ID: 876 9331 9820
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Greetings to Joel's friends, classmates, and colleagues, with the COVID vaccine rollout slowly progressing, we have moved the April 15 memorial date to:
August 12th, 2021
Naval Academy Columbarium
The memorial will be for both Joel and Beth as their remains are placed together at the Naval Academy,
Specific details for arrival, parking and security will be sent out closer to the date as they are changing regularly as we emerge from the COVID restrictions.
Many thanks for all your support over the past few months,
Ellen and Emily
Courtney Rosenthal generously took over maintenance of our class website after the death of her mentor Bill Kennedy. Here is her response after receiving our class thank you for her service:
"I want to thank you for the beautiful plaque.
From time to time, I think about my dear friend Bill Kennedy -- a true trailblazer on the Internet. (Did you know his Internet domain was the 92nd ever registered?)
One thing that saddens me is that he contributed so much to the net, but it was in pre-Google days, and not much has been captured -- other than his terrible -- and extremely offensive -- jokes that have been archived as USENET messages. That portfolio is inadequate to his legacy.
That's why I'm so proud to be able to support you and keep the usna63.org website running. Although it's quite dated by current design standards, it captures an important piece of history.
There is a type of web application called a Content Management System (CMS). If you've heard about Wordpress or Blogger or Medium or the like, those are CMSes. I think Bill may have invented the CMS without realizing it. The Electronic Lucky Bag, which keeps its content in a database and auxiliary files, and dynamically generates web pages on demand, is pretty much the definition of a CMS.
So I feel that this website is of interest to both naval historians and internet historians.
Spence, thank you so much for the note. Thank you all for the plaque, and the opportunity to serve both you and Bill's memory."
Dear Classmates, Family, and Friends of the Class of 1963,
The sun is out today and temperatures are in the '50s after several weeks of snow, ice and mixed precipitation along with dark, gray and cloudy days.This may not be the end of the Dark Ages here in Annapolis, but it may be the beginning of the end.
The Naval Academy. The yard has been on lockdown since last Sunday following the announcement of a major outbreak of the COVID virus on campus. The number of cases doubled over the last weekend. Midshipmen are confined to their rooms except for two hours of exercise allowed a day in the company of one roommate. All varsity and intramural sports are in a state of limbo except for varsity basketball which has clinched the Patriot League championship title for the first time in 21 years. Because the basketball team has been isolated from the Brigade for the past week, they will participate as the number one seed in the Patriot League Tournament starting Saturday. Classes have all returned to virtual learning. All meals are eaten in rooms in Bancroft Hall.
Ninety-eight Midshipmen recovering from the COVID 19 virus have been moved to a hotel on West Street where they are restricted to their two man rooms and checked twice a day. This move was necessary to isolate these Midshipmen and yet leave sufficient room in the first wing of Bancroft for new cases to be quarantined, tested frequently, and initially treated. Those now quartered in the hotel are also in virtual learning classes as are the the 200 or so midshipmen living with family, sponsors, or friends within a thirty-five mile radius of the yard.
The yard is close to all visitors, including parents, reserve and retired personnel.
It is not known how many total COVID cases have developed so far. That information is considered classified.
The Brigade has not as yet been inoculated with the COVID 19 vaccine since the Naval Academy is in Phase Two of the Navy vaccine roll out plan.
Football. Navy is looking forward to a normal football season in the fall with six home games scheduled. Spring practice is scheduled to begin on 29 March, barring the virus interfering with that plan. Coach Niamatololo has remarked that this is one of the toughest schedules Navy has yet faced. Eight of the teams on the schedule qualified for bowl games last year. All things said, Coach Niamatololo expects a winning 2021 season. The schedule is:
Sept 4 Marshall at home
Sept 11 Air Force at home (20th anniversary of 9/11)
Sept 25 Univerity of Houston at Houston
Oct 2 University of Central Florida (UCF) at home
Oct 9 Sourthern Methodist University at home
Oct 14 (Thursday) Memphis at Memphis
Oct 23 Cincinnati at home
Oct 29 (Friday) Tulsa at Tulsa
Nov 6 Notre Dame at Notre Dame
Nov 20 East Carolina at home
Nov 27 Temple in Philadelphia
Dec 4 AAC Championship Game
Dec 11 Army in the Meadowlands, East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Tickets are on sale now for season ticket holders.
Other Sports Women's basketball has had its season disrupted ending 5-7 overall and 5-3 in league play. The Navy wrestling team beat Army for the first time in five years and for the first time in eight years at West Point. Several wrestlers defended titles in AIWA events. Men's lacrosse is off to a good start with at least two wins before the shut down.
Barbara Strasser, the widow of our classmate RADM Joe Strasser, has been named by the outgoing Secretary of the Navy, Kenneth J. Braithwaite, as the sponsor for the yet to be built USS Chesapeake (FFG 64). The ship is second in the new frigate class authorized for construction this year. Even though the keel has yet to be laid, it is not too early to raise a glass of campaigne to Barbara in anticipation of the christening event. Congratulations, Barbara!
Midshipman Standage The case of First Class Midshipman Chase Standage contesting the decision of the Superintendant and the Secretary of the Navy for dismissal in federal court was heard on 19 February. The Navy sought Standage's expulsion for inappropriate and, in some cases, racist speech posted online, constituting conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman. US District Court Judge Ellen Hollander denied a preliminary injunction for Midshipman Standage which would have barred the Navy from separating him while his lawsuit is still being heard. She also said she thought the arguments that Midn. Standage's first and fifth amendment rights had been abused held little merit. The case was immediately appealed to the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Soon thereafter, it was announced that a settlement had been reached between the Navy and Midn. Standage. The defense claimed a victory but no details of the settlement have been released other than that each side is responsible for its own court costs. More when known.
The Columbarium is increasingly popular as the final resting place for many of our classmates and wives. We now have more than thirty class mates in the Columbarium. You cannot make a reservation for a niche. They are assigned at the time of need. If you are thinking of being inurned in the columbarium, or, if a flag officer, being buried in the cemetery proper, you can place a copy of your DD214 on file so that is in the binder and spread sheet at the Memorial Affairs Office, ready when needed. Your DD214 unlocks access and military honors rendered. Just send your DD214 to Mr. Anthony C. Whalen, CFSP, Memorial Affairs Coordinator, 101 Cooper Road, Annapolis, Maryland, 21402-5027; tel 410-293-5027; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. and ask to be put on file.
A Dark Ages Story. It was February of our Youngster year. It was a dark, drizzly, cold overcast day. It was also a Four N day for me. The uniform was reefers, carry raingear. In the rush to get from my room to in ranks, I could not find my gray gloves. Thay were not in my reefer pocket. In my haste, I grabbed a pair of black socks from my locker and put them on my hands in place of gloves I was the section leader for a group headed to DAGO, in our case French. Half way down Stribling Walk, who should appear from behing a monument but LCDR "Black Jack" Scoville, accompanied by not one, but two mates, thair notebooks at the ready. He ordered me to stop the section, and after I saluted him with my black sock hand, ordered me to "open ranks". He then proceded to fry every second classmate for dirty cap cover or shoes unshined. He then ordered me to close ranks. I saluted him again with my sock covered hand. He had a crooked smile on his face when he ordered me to "proceed on duty assigned". I guess he gave me credit for initiative or imagination. I immediately bought two more pair of gray gloves in the MID store. I later found my others in my bridge coat pockets.
If you have some stories you would like to share, please send them to me for use in future Irish Pennants editions.
Please get your COVID vaccine shots if you haven't already. Stay safe and stay warm.
Dear Classmates, Family and Friends of the Class of 1963,
It is crisp and cold here in Annapolis. We await the first real snow here in two years. Beginning at first light tomorrow we are forecast to receive 6 or more inches of snow, some freezing rain and ice. This is all part of a major storm that is expected to raise sixty foot seas in the Atlantic. All that said, we are snug by the fire here at home by the bay.
The Brigade began returning in groups on 9 January. On return they were all tested for COVID 19 and entered a period of isolation, then tested again. Classes, both virtual and in person, began on 19 January and will continue apace until the end of the semester. No Spring break this year is planned.
St Johns College dorms are not available this semester for midshipmen residence. Since the first wing of Bancroft Hall is still reserved for COVID isolation use, About 190 midshipmen are living with sponsors and families within a thirty-five mile radius of the Yard. They drive in every day, becoming day students. Who said dreams don't come true?
In Sports, the men's basketball team was off to a fast start, winning eight games, including one against Army, only to be beaten by Army (87-78) in overtime in the second game of their two day double header. The second game counted as a Patriot League conference game. Army and Navy will play two more basketball games this season. The women's basketball team has a more checkered record so far. Attendance at games is very limited, but, hopefully, that will improve in time.
Two members of the football team have been named to the Hula Bowl in Hawaii. Peter Nestowitz, a guard, and corner back Cameron Kinley both played in the Tropical Bowl in Florida in mid-January. Both are considered NFL prospects.
Commandant of Midshipmen The present Commandant of Midshipmen, Capt. Thomas R. Buchanan, USN, will be relieved this summer by Col. James 'J.P.' McDonough III, USMC. Col McDonough is presently the executive assistant to the Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations at U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters. An artilleryman, Col McDonough has commanded at every level, most recently the 10th Marine Regiment. No follow on assignment for Capt. Buchanan has as yet been announced.
Midshipman's Lawsuit Reopened. The outgoing Secretary of the Navy, Kenneth Braithwaite, as a last act before leaving office, concurred with the Superintendent's recommendation that Midn. Chase Standidge be dismissed from the Naval Academy for posting forty tweets on-line that were deemed racist, violence prone, and unbecoming to an officer and a gentleman. All Navy procedures now complete, U.S. District Court Judge, Ellen Hollander has reinstated the lawsuit filed against Secretary Braithwaite and VADM Sean Buck. She has also ordered that Midn. Standridge cannot be summarily dismissed until the lawsuit is resolved. The court will hold a hearing in Standidge's case on February 12. If dismissed, Standridge will not receive a diploma, will not be commissioned, and will have to pay a reported $175,000 in tuition reimbursement.
Ogle Hall. Ogle Hall the 280 year old house on the corner of King George Street and College Avenue, the home to colonial governor's and the Headquarters of the Naval Academy Alumni Association for the past 53 years, was put on the market on Thursday. The asking price is $4 million dollars. There are already a number of parties reported as interested in acquiring the historic property. The Alumni Association expects to move into its new headquarters building across King George Street from the Terwilliger baseball stadium in the late summer or fall of 2022. The Alumni association would rent Ogle Hall from its new owners until that time. I don't know if the cottage and 49 House are part of this package or will go on the market separately.
COVID19 The virus is alive and well. Please get your vaccine shots as soon as you can from the first available source. Please check with your closest Veteran's Administration and military medical facility as well as state and local providers to get your shots ASAP. The VA id supposed to be administering the vaccines as soon as they have them. Military medical facilities are administering shots after their uniformed priorities are met. Don't wait, this virus is going to be with us for awhile. We are the most vulnerable. Roll up your sleeve at the first opportunity.
Inauguration 1961. The Inauguration ceremonies last week reminded me of the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy in whose parade we marched. It is still the coldest day of my life. We stood in the snow filled streets for hours before marching off and onto Pennsylvania Avenue. You will remember that in those days, if there was a flake of snow anywhere to be seen, the uniform was "with overshoes". When marching with overshoes, my eyes were always on the heels of the fellow in front of me. If I touched his heel his overshoe would peel off like a banana peel. Everything went well until we got in front of the reviewing stand in front of the White House. There we were ordered to render "eyes left". At that point, the street began to fill with overshoes. We have one classmate (Mickey Mays ? ) who claims to have started the parade wearing two overshoes and ended it wearing three. What memories we share!
That's all the news. Stay warm and stay safe.
Spencer Johnson '63
Dear Classmates, Family and friends of the Class of 1963,
It is cold and crisp here in Annapolis. Days are short and dark.The nor'easter storm that passed through a few days ago brought snow and freezing rain to the east coast, but fortunately passed north of Baltimore for the most part. We dodged the first real snow of the season
The Yard is silent. Deserted. There was no Messiah performance this year. COVID has taken its' toll in many areas and lingers on.
The Brigade is on leave after a disappointing 15-0 loss to Army on a cold foggy day at West Point. Last Saturday, Army defeated Air Force in Michie Stadium at West Point to capture the Commander-in-Chief's trophy after defeating both of the other Service Academies.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Coach Ken Niamatalolo has announced that he is not leaving Navy for another school. Next year should be a lot better on the gridiron for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a return to what should be a post COVID normal season.
Sadly, tragically, a first class midshipman died a few days after going on leave. Midn. 1/c John Johnson from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was at a resort hotel in Utah with friends. He was practicing holding his breath underwater in the hotel pool. When he did not resurface after few minutes, his companions got him out of the water, but were unable to revive him. He was a mathematics major with a 3.9 GPA. This tragic death casts a pall over the holidays for the entire Naval Academy family.
Only in Charleston--A Christmas Story. I went to the Naval Academy from Charleston, South Carolina where my parents retired when my father left the Navy. Beginning my Plebe year, when I went home for Christmas leave, I found my services as an escort for the long standing debutante season in great demand. Charleston society may have heard of our dancing lessons and tea fights. Actually, they probably wanted my Naval Academy dress uniform to balance out others from West Point and the Citadel and all the tuxedos. The debutante season (the "Seezon") began a week before Christmas and ran through New Year's Eve. With the exception of Christmas eve and Christmas day, there were as many as four parties a day beginning with a tea dance, a dinner, the ball and the breakfast after the ball.
Mothers of the young ladies making their debute in Charleston society formed the Question Mark Club and planned all the events over the course of a year. An old post Civil War (referred to locally as THE WAWUH} tradition, designed to husband scarce resources, was for each mother to buy her daughter two or three dresses and gowns. Two or three times during the season, the mothers met and traded dresses and gowns. I had a list of young ladies that I was to escort to various of the parties or for the day. I might call on Miss Suzie Q, whom I had never met before, but when the door opened, I realized that the dress and I had already been out at least one or more times before. Some of those dresses may still be in circulation.
I was happily married seven years after graduation. My wife is from New Jersey.
We are entering the Dark Ages. Or from another perspective, with the vaccine in evidence, we are emerging from what seems a long dark age. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We still have a way to go, so stay safe and be careful.
Like us, you may be having a "Honeymoon Holiday", as Dave Puckett phrased it, celebrated with your spouse at home and distanced family on the telephone or by ZOOM.
Please take a moment to remember those no longer with us, those at sea or on distant shore for whom home and the holidays are far away. They are not forgotten. They have a place at the our table and in our hearts.
Our greetings to you and yours are especially warm this holiday season. From our house to yours, a very Merry Christmas, a happy extended Chanukah season, and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Andrea and Spencer Johnson
Mike "Blackie" Blackledge's legacy publication "Blackledge Stories - and other BS" is now available to the public on Amazon.com. Begun as a tribute to his late wife Helen Margaret Faust Blackledge and his deceased son Douglas Faust Blackledge (USAFA '92), it grew over six years of writing and compiling into a tome of some 640 pages to include chapters by our classmates Steve Coester, Ken Sanger, Bill Pawlyk, John Kelly, and D.B.A. Moore, and positive blurbs by Steve Duncan and Jack Saux. John Kelly and his wife CiCi gave technical support. USNA Museum Historian Jim Cheevers provided his history on the Preparatory Schools and the Entrance Examinations, and credits our class with being the first for which the latter was not a requirement. The USNA 1922 Entrance Exam captured in the Appendix is a challenge. Classmate collections such as "PE for '63" and "Where Were You? (22 November 1963)" are captured as well. You can open this book anywhere and find a captivating story.
Mike's website: Click HERE
The funeral service for our classmate Cole Lindell was held on Saturday, 14 November. A video of the complete service is posted on the web site of the George Funeral Home and Cremation Center, Aiken, SC. Click HERE to see it
The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) has provided information about proposed eligibility changes to Arlington National Cemetery. MOAA has encouraged stakeholders to submit comments on the proposed changes, which may affect some members of the Class of 1963. The public comment period opened Sept. 15 and will close Nov. 16. For details about the proposals, visit CLICK HERE.
Dear Classmates, Family, and friends of the Class of 1963,
The weather in Annapolis is crisp and cool---perfect Fall weather after a very wet August and September. Perfect football weather even if games can only be seen on your TV screen.
Air Force Navy plays Air Force tomorrow (1800 EST CBSSN) in the first game of the contest for the Commander-in-Chief's trophy this year. The game will be played in Colorado Springs at the Air Force Academy. This will be the first game of the season for Air Force. Only Air Force Academy cadets will be in attendance at the game.
Earlier, the Mountain West Conference, of which the Air Force Academy is a member, announced that their season would be played in the Spring. That decision has now been revoked and Air Force conference games will be played this Fall. When it appeared that Air Force would only play Navy and Army this Fall, forty Air Force football players (underclassmen) took a semester leave of absence from the Air Force Academy in order to extend their athletic elegibility for another year. The impact is that the Air Force defense will be missing a number of key returning players. The offense will too, but not to the same extent., Additionally, `the Air Force two year veteran quarterback may or may not play. He is listed as a "cadet not in good standing". As such has been allowed to practice with the team, but is not listed on the team roster. Whether he will "suit up" and take the field will remain a mystery until tomorrow.
The Navy team is well prepared and confident after their record setting second half two weeks against Tulane scoring 27 unanswered points to win the game 27-24. If Navy wins tomorrow, Coach Niumatalolo will have achieved 100 victories in his thirteen years as Navy head coach. His Air Force counterpart has scored 98 victories in his fourteen years at Air Force. Navy is favored by seven points. Tune in tomorrow at 1800 EST on CBSSN for what will be an exciting, hard fought, game.
Temple On 10 October, Temple University will play Navy here in Annapolis. This is the game that was scheduled to be played on 26 September, but postponed by Temple due the the COVID virus. It ha been announced that there will be no fan attendance at the game.
Class of 1963 Memorial Service at the Vietnam Memorial "The Wall"
In 1995, 25 years ago, we found out that the National Park Service allowed services at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., as long as they didn't interfere with public access to the Memorial. The Class of 1963 Foundation decided that we should have a memorial service at the Wall. We organized a committee that soon became a group effort with many Classmates volunteering to help. We decided to hold the Memorial service on June 10; thirty years to the day that we lost our first Classmate in Vietnam, Carl Doughtie.
Only a few of our Classmates were still on active duty at the time. One, Larry Marsh, who was Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Personal Readiness and Community Support, agreed to be the Master of Ceremonies. He provided some Navy personnel to sing and play taps. We asked those who had a close personal relationship with each of the Class KIA/MIA to speak about him. Finally, we called Carl's parents living in North Carolina to come to the event. They came wih Carl's brother and nephew. Carl's parents expressed how pleased and touched they were with the service, because they had not heard from the Class and thought that we had forgotten about him. Family members of Bill Fitzgerald, Don MacLaughlin, Chuck Marik, and Ken Buell joined us as well.
The video made of the ceremony has not been available for viewing until now. The first eight minutes show Classmates and spouses gathering. Several of those captured on the video have since passed away. All of us look differently today. Classmates gave a eulogy for each of the thirteen who had their names inscribed on the Wall. Mike Cronin spoke eloquently about their loss. Eleven of the thirteen KIA/MIA were aviators. At the end of the ceremony, after pictures of those lost and a wreath had been laid at the Wall, and a bugler had sounded taps, eerily a small flock of Canada geese flew over the Wall in what could easily be interpreted to be a Missing Man Formation. The flight of the geese was captured on the video. View it for yourself and see what you think. Thanks to Steve Coester and Mike Shelley, the Memorial Service video is now on our website for your viewing.
Since many of us are mostly homebound during the pandemic, we have time to remember our Classmates who gave their all for their country and whose lives were cut short by the war.
The Naval Academy Museum is in the process of collecting stories of midshipman life in our time. Any and all remembrances and stories, especially of high jinks, while we were members of the Brigade are solicited. Please send them to Holly Powers (Holly.Powers@usna.com) with a copy to Mike Shelley (email@example.com) and Steve Coester Steve.Coester@1963.usna.com)to share with the Class.
That's all the news from Crabtown.
Stay safe and Beat Air Force!!
Jack Colyer and his wife Kathleen invite you and any interested members of the USNA Alumni to join us for one or all of the upcoming virtual NYCNL events. The invitation and details from the New York Council Navy League Shipbuilding Three-Part Series which begins September 29 night at 6:00 p.m. prior to the start of the Presidential Debate are at: CLICK HERE for the link to the event. Your interest is welcome.
John Rocco has written a wonderful book called "How We Got to the Moon". It is receiving rave reviews. The book is a "children's" book but children of all ages will learn a lot from it. I strongly recommend it for yourselves, children and grandchildren.
On Oct. 7 the author John, a design engineer, Harvey LeBlanc, from back then and I are having a webcast to discuss the book and share a few tales. Harvey and I both contributed to the content of the book.
If you are interested in what one of your classmates did after being medicaled out of the service early in our carrers, join us.
Dear Classmates, Family and Friends of the Class of 1963,
The weather is finally turning Fall like here in Annapolis with temperatures in the sixties. It is sweater weather--football weather, even if the games are only to be seen on TV.
New Addition At the suggestion of our classmate Jim Metcalf, and with the unanimous approval of our class officers, I am delighted to announce the addition, sadly posthumously, of Captain Wendell "Ray" Alcorn, US Navy, as an honorary classmate. Many of you knew Ray from our time in service together and from his frequent attendance at many class gatherings over the years in company with his sister-in-law Lou Shelley and her husband, our classmate, Mike Shelley. Ray graduated from Penn State University and received his wings in June 1963. He then flew A-4s in Vietnam, was shot down in 1965 while on a low level mission over hostile territory. He spent the next 2609 days (seven years) as a prisoner-of-war in eleven of Hanoi's fourteen prison camps. On release and repatriation, Ray continued his Navy career. His last assignment was as Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. There he is credited with th e expansion of Fallon and its becoming the home of advanced tactical training for naval air squadrons and air crews. Ray was awarded two Silver Stars, the Navy Air Medal, and two Bronze Stars all with Combat 'Vs" plus two Purple Hearts. On retirement, Ray served as the Nevada Director of Veteran's Affairs. Ray is one we can all be proud of as an honorary classmate. Ray passed away in March and will be buried at Arlington cemetery. Welcome aboard to Ray's widow, Karen, and their family.
Life in the Yard Moral in the yard has been reported as low. The Brigade is still reforming with some youngsters yet to return. The fourth battalion (375 midshipmen) is living in dorms at St. John's College. For the Plebe class and the summer detail there has only been yard liberty since the beginning of June. Classes are mostly virtual. Movement is limited. Meals are box lunches and of reported poor quality. Meals are eaten in rooms or at tables of no more than four in the mess hall or tents. Mental health is now an increasing concern. Feelings of isolation are wearing on all . The chaplains are extremely busy. A midshipman request to see a chaplain takes about five days to accomplish. (Schools with similar services report a six day waiting period.)
Seven hundred midshipmen a week are being tested for the COVID19 virus. Less than two pecent test positive. Those that do go into quarantine and those who have been traced as having been in contact go into isolation.The football team is tested twice a week. One varsity first team football player, one back up player, and one coaching staff member are reported as having tested positive. The football team has a psychologist on staff.
The yard remains closed to general visiting, including parents. One midshipmen was heard to remark "the football team can play Brigham Young University, but I can't hug my Mom".
With all this in mind, town liberty was granted for the first time last weekend. All midshipmen had to wear" tropical white long" summer uniforms, were forbidden to buy or consume any alcoholic beverages, could not congregate in groups larger than ten, and could not travel farther than twenty miles from the chapel dome. One regiment had liberty on Saturday and the other on Sunday. No one knows when leave may next be granted, or if granted, whether midshipmen will be allowed to return. Time will tell.
Football Navy plays Tulane on Saturday in New Orleans. Game time is 1200 (noon) Eastern Daylight Time. The game will be televised on ABC television. Following Navy's 55-3 loss to BYU last weekend and Tulane's win over Southern Alabama, Tulane is favored by 6 1/2 points. Coach Niumatalolo took complete blame for the BYU loss, saying that he had erred on the side of safety in not allowing contact scrimmages before the game. That has all changed. Practice has been full-bore and head-on since. Saturday's game should see a different Navy team take the field.
Temple University was scheduled for 26 September here in Annapolis. Temple has since asked to be rescheduled to 10 October because they, too, had been limited to non-contact practices by Philidelphia COVID virus prohibitions and would not be ready to play on the 26th.
On 3 October Navy plays Air Force in Colorado Springs at 6 PM Eastern Daylight Time. This will be the first contest for the Commander-in Chief's Trophy this year. Coach Niumatalolo voiced some concern about playing for the trophy this year since Air Force will play only a two game season--Navy and Army. Their conference, the Mountain West Conference, has opted to play their games in the Spring semester. Army has cobbled together a 12 game schedule and Navy an 11 game slate, if all games are played. To Niumatalolo that didn't look like an even playing field for the trophy. It would further demean the value of the trophy, the winning of which he characterized as the premier goal of any Navy season. Coach Niumatalolo blamed "the Pentagon" for deciding that the trophy would be contested, but later apologized for blaming the Pentagon. The three Superintendents are said to have decided to play for the trophy.
That's all folks! Please stay safe. This all may all get worse before it gets better.
As members of the New York Council Navy League of the United States' Advisory Council, Jack Colyer and I extend an invitation to all "63 Classmates" to join us on Friday, September 11, at 6:00 p.m. (E.T./ New York) for this virtual event to hear stories of the sea evacuation of over 500,000 souls in lower Manhattan after the attack and fall of the Twin Towers.
There is no charge for the event; you need only Register. Click HERE for the link to the event.
God Bless America.
With my best regards,
Dear Classmates, Friends and Members of the Class of 1963 Family,
I hope this LABOR DAY Weekend finds you and yours safe and sound and enjoying the last days of summer. The weather here in annapolis is beautiful, even though we had a terrible day of fast moving thunder storms on Thursday, incuding a tornado that touched down just south of the Bay Bridge on the bay itself--a sea spout. That was a real rarity for Annapolis. While some damage resulted, including power outages, it could have been a lot worse.
This week 375 midshipmen vacated Bancroft Hall and took up residence in eight dorms at St. Johns College. This action compensates for the 130rooms in Bancroft Hall that are set aside for those testing positive for the COVID19 virus and are quarantined or in isolation.The midshipmen at St.Johns are all from the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th companies (the fourth battalion). They are expected to remain at St. Johns through December unless their stay is extended. St Johns did not reconvene this semester, since all instruction is virtual in nature as it is currently for the midshipmen.
The same rules apply to those at St. Johns as to those in Bancroft Hall. Food is delivered in bags or boxes from the King Hall galley. No visitors are permitted. No town liberty is granted. Fourth Battalion Executive Department officers are also housed in the St Johns dorms.
We can say that haircuts have returned to the St. Johns campus in our life times. A real milestone at least until January.
Navy opens it's 2020 season against Brigham Young University (BYU) on Monday 7 September at 8 PM (2000) here in Annapolis. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. Please check your local listings for channel and time if not in the Eastern Standard Time (EST) zone. The midshipmen will be playing to an empty stadium. The Governor of Maryland denied a request from the NAAA to allow 1500 midshipmen to attend. There will be no tailgating. While some counties in Maryland increased their opening yesterday from phase B to phase C, Anne Arundel County elected not to do so, since the number of those testing positive are still on the rise in the county.
The next Navy home game currently scheduled is against Temple University on 26 September. On Thursday Temple announced that the university was cancelling all "in person" instruction due to an outbreak of 130 cases of the COVID19 virus amongst the returned student body. All Temple classes are now virtual. Thatcasts some doubt on the execution of the Temple football season as scheduled.
In anticipation of very limited attendance at home games in the future at best, and no tailgating in the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium grounds, I have told the NAAA to roll over our class funds reserving our tailgate spot from the 2020 to the 2021 season, when I think things will have returned to normal.
Please remember to get your flu shots when available, and stay safe.
I just attended the service for Tom and Fran Reemelin at the Naval Academy. They are now side by side in a niche in the columbarium.
I wanted to let the classmates know that as of today, Mike is still waiting to be in the cue to get his burial date at Arlington. It seems the wait for notice is about 5 months, and then I will get a date, which should be about 1 year from his death. In the meantime, I am putting together a video to honor his life, and will send it out once I am finished. I will keep everyone in the loop as to his Arlington burial.
Dear Classmates, Family and Friends ofr the Class of 1963,
Greetings from Annapolis where summer is drawing to a close. It is almost Labor Day. Where does the time go? There is a lot happening here--and not happening too. Much has been cancelled due to the virus. The latest is the cancellation of the sail and power boat shows to be held the first and second weekends in October here in Annapolis. That will have a real negative economic impact on the city's hotels, restaurants and other commercial activities.
Naval Academy The Plebe Class (2024) has completed a modified plebe summer in good form and is now integrated with the returning Brigade. There were no Plebe parades due to the Corona virus, no Plebe parents weekend, although Plebes were allowed three hours on the Sunday afternoon of what would have been parent's weekend to call home, Zoom, or otherwise touch base with family and friends. The yard is still closed to general visiting. Midshipmen are not granted town liberty and must remain in the yard at present. The Second Class parent's weekend which was to have been held the second weekend in September has been postponed indefinitely.
The Brigade is reforming with first and second class midshipmen back in the yard. As the case with the new Plebe Class, all returning midshipmen are tested for the virus, go into a fourteen day isolation period and are then re-tested for the virus. It is unofficially estimated that as many as eighty cases of the virus have been reported so far.
Youngsters are coming back slowly. indeed the Youngster class may remain home until mid-September or even later. The new question for the ages may be, "Who had the last real Youngster year?"
To ensure social distancing in Bancroft Hall, there are no more than two to a room and as many as 500 midshipmen may be berthed in Annapolis rather than in Mother Bancroft. The Naval Academy is reported to be in negotiations with St. Johns College to use their otherwise unoccupied dorm rooms, since St Johns students are not returning to campus this semester. The mess hall (King Hall) has tents erected adjacent to it to expand seating space, meals are served in shifts and some meals are box lunches that are picked up or delivered to rooms.
Classes for all resumed last Wednesday. It is estimated that up to seventy percent of classes will be conducted virtually and about thirty percent in a classroom space where there will be no more than ten midshipmen in a recitation section or classroom. Youngsters still at home are attending class virtually, just as they did in the Spring when they did not return after Spring leave in March.
You will be proud to know that the 63 Center for Academic Excellence has not missed a beat, shifting to virtual tuition assistance in all subjects: calculus, chemistry, physics, cyber science, writing skills, and others. Over ninety per cent of Plebes have used the 63CAE last term and eighty-five percent of youngsters in the term last ended. You can see the complete report on 63CAE usage submitted by the Director, Bruce Bukowski on our 63 web site. Well Done to the 63CAE faculty crew for their agility in taking the COVID 19 situation in stride and BZ to the Class of 1963 for all your continued support to this important endeavor.
` In sports the Patriot League has cancelled all varsity sports competition. Naval Academy varsity teams almost all vie in the Patriot League so there is no Fall competition scheduled. There is talk of trying to reschedule these matches and competitions in the Winter and Spring beginning in January, but there is nothing definitive yet.
Football is a different story. The Notre Dame game scheduled to be played in Dublin on 29 August was moved to Annapolis on Labor Day weekend, until Notre Dame backed out, ending the longest continuous inter-sectional football rivalry in collegiate football history. With a space to fill and television contracts in place, the NAAA quickly scheduled Brigham Young University to play here in Annapolis on 7 September. But the stands will be empty and no tailgate activity allowed. The NAAA is trying to get an authorization from local officials to allow the Brigade to attend the game, but there is no answer on that yet. The American Athletic Conference, of which Navy is a part, has not as yet cancelled their football season as have others, so there is hope that a number of games will happen as scheduled. For the remaining four home games it is estimated that no more than thirty percent of the usual crowd will be allowed to attend. For Navy, that is about the size of the number of season ticket holders. It is estimated that there will be no general ticket sales if the games take place and tailgating will not be allowed in the stadium grounds. Season ticket holders are being given several options:1 retain your tickets in hopes that the home games will be played 2. take a refund for your tickets, 3 donate your tickets to the NAAA and receive a brass plate on a seat in the midshipmen section with your name on it. You will find Chet Gladchuck's letter to season ticket holders on our '63 website with all pertinent information. I have heard from several classmates who have donated their season tickets to help off-set what will be a major setback in football generated revenues that this season will bring to the detriment of all other Navy athletic endeavors which football revenue supports.
The football team has been in the yard since early July. They underwent a fourteen day quarantine period spent in weight training and conditioning as well as "skull" drills (aka chalk drills). Every precaution is being taken to keep the players healthy, including very limited contact (i.e., no scrimmages with first string offense and defense players against each other). Blocking and tackling against dummies. Walk through and run through drills are the order of he day. Showers are taken back in Bancroft, not communal facilities. Only the necessary players needed to conduct a game will dress out. The coaching staff has put what promises to be a great team together despite all the COVID restrictions.
Army and Air Force have indicated their desire to contest the Commander-in-Chief's trophy this year. But it remains to be seen what kind of season each will have in addition to meeting the other two service academies.
It is expected that whatever Navy football games are played will appear on television, either ESPN of CBS.
That's all the current news from Annapolis. Stay tuned for further developments as conditions change and new restrictions are imposed or lifted.
Please stay well. I know of only one classmate who has succumbed to the virus so far, and that is one too many.
Beat Army and Air Force!
Click HERE for this message To Friends of Navy Football.
Because of the Corona virus there has been lots of confusion. Here is the latest from Tom and Fran's children.
We wanted to reach out to you as there seems to be some misinformation going around about our parent's committal ceremony and reception. We have been limited to about 50 people to attend the committal ceremony at the Naval Academy and at this point we have that many people RSVP'd to attend. The reception to follow will be at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel for a luncheon. That luncheon will have seating indoors or out for guests to choose where they are most comfortable. The bond created through our dad's class of 1963 at the Naval Academy were so important to our parents, thus the choice to be interred at the Columbarium at the Naval Academy. We would like as many classmates who would like to attend the Luncheon to please join us. Due to Covid Restrictions and to create the safest environment we need firm RSVP's (by Friday, August 21, 2020 at noon). This will allow the hotel to effectively plan for proper social distancing.
Our hopes are that the reception is a place where people will be able to gather, share stories, and remember our parents. We hope that many of you will be able to attend. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.
Tyler Bruner (daughter) (404) 805-1704
Mark Reemelin ( son)"
Here is a repeat of the committal details:
Friday, August 28th at 10:30 am Service of Committal United States Naval Academy Columbarium Annapolis, Maryland
We have planned the following events to honor our parents Tom Reemelin & Fran Reemelin. We hope you will be able to join us. ❤️ Friday, August 7th at 11:00 am Celebration of Life First United Methodists Church of Palmetto 330 11th Ave. W. Palmetto, FL 34221
Friday, August 28th at 10:30 am Service of Committal United States Naval Academy Columbarium Annapolis, Maryland Reception to follow
Current health safety meadsures will be followed and we ask that all guests wear masks. Please feel free to reach out to me for more details.
It is with a heavy heart that I want to inform you that Craig Thrasher passed away today, while under hospice care at home with family . He was a boat mate, sometime a coach, a classmate, and great friend. If it wasn't for Craig, there wouldn't be a "Navy Masters Rowing Program". In addition, Mike Pero, Dick Omohundro, and Craig, but especially Craig, were responsible for establishing the Navy Crew Fund. The fund was established to provide equipment and other items for the Navy crew, that wasn't forth coming from the NAAA funds. The three of them were instrumental in raising a lot of money, but without the initiative of the '63 plebes, under Craig's leadership and hard work, it's not likely the fund would exist today. Only three of Navy's oarsmen in history, Craig, Dick Omohundro, and Jim Fontana ever received a full page pictures in "Sport's Illustrated (SI)". In 1961, SI ran an article on crew, and all three of them had full page pictures. I have attached a copy of Craig's picture. He will be missed.
A small service is planned for the family at the end of the month, and a Celebration of Craig's Life is planned for the future at a time TBD.
As we mourn Mike's death now would be a good time to re-read his comments at the memorial service at the 55th Reunion. Click HERE for his comments
Class, Chapter and Shared Interest Group Leaders,
Today I was made aware of statements posted to a public forum attributed to an alumni volunteer of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association Board of Trustees representing the Jacksonville, FL, chapter. These attributed statements do not represent the mission and values of the Alumni Association, the Naval Academy or the U.S. Navy.
As volunteer leaders in our communities, we must be inspirations and examples for all citizens. As Chairman of our Alumni Association, I have accepted the resignation of this alumnus effective today, and asked the Jacksonville, FL, chapter to take appropriate action to appoint a new Chapter Trustee.
The Naval Academy Alumni Association represents more than 65,000 individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. We support the Naval Academy mission. As alumni, we seek to uphold the Naval Academy core leadership values of honor, courage and commitment. As an alumni organization, we seek to be an inspiration for all young people who want to become future Navy and Marine Corps officers. We will continue to honor that inspirational role. We are all in this together. We must face the challenges of today and all future challenges of tomorrow...together.
ADM Samuel J. Locklear '77 III, USN (Ret.)
Chairman, U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association Board of Trustees
Dear Classmates, Members of the Family of the Class of 1963, and friends,
Navy Football. On Tuesday, Chet Gladchuck, the Director of Athletics at the Naval Academy, announced that the Navy-Notre Dame game, scheduled to be played in Dublin, Ireland, on 29 August is now to be played here in Annapolis, Maryland. The 84th meeting of the two schools will take place in Navy-Marine Corps Stadium during Labor Day weekend. This is the first time the longest continuous inter-sectional football rivalry in collegiate fooball history will be played on the Navy home turf. Whether the game will be played on Saturday or Sunday is as yet undecided. Whether the stadium will be open to fans, a reduced number of seats available due to COVID19 concerns, or no onlookers at all is still to be decided. Whether or not there will be any tailgating permitted is also to be decided. What is being resolved is TV coverage of the game through the ESPN and ABC networks. Chet Gladchuck said that COVID19 guidance from the state of Maryland and local authorities would govern decisions to be made. What the remainder of the fall football season will look like has yet to be determined. I have no doubt that the Army game will be played as scheduled in mid-December.
Midshipman First Class David Forney,2020. This midshipman, who was found collapsed at his desk and pronounced dead on arrival at Anne Arundel Medical Center in late February, has been declared the victim of a heart attack. A first string football player--an offensive guard--David weighed in a 305 pounds during the season and had recently lost 17 pounds in preparation for NFL tryouts in March. The medical examiners stated that he suffered from several heart ailments that probably contributed to his fatal heart attack. He was commemorated at graduation ceremonies by his Army game helmet occupying one of the chairs in the front row of the graduating class.
Plebe Summer. The Class of 2024 will be inducted in groups of about 220 into the Naval Academy and the Navy over a five day period 29 June to 3 July. On arrival they will be tested for COVID 19 and isolated for a period of 14 days. A great deal of Plebe Summer instruction will be conducted via virtual means during this period and throughout the summer. With social distancing rules, upper class detailers will not be "in the face" of the new Plebes as we remember so well. Whether or not there will be a Parent's Weekend for the Class of 2024 is yet to be decided.The Brigade is scheduled to "reform" on 17 August and similar COVID19 testing and restriction of movement (ROM) is expected to be encountered on arrival. The Class of 2020 when it returned to West Point for graduation had 16 cadets test positive for the virus.
USS Fitzgerald. The DDG named for our class mate, Bill Fitzgerald, that suffered a collision off of Singapore and the loss of seven lives, is again at sea having completed repairs and upgrading in Pascagoula, Mississippi. To all who contributed to the Navy Relief fund set up for Fitzgerald shipmates and their families, again, many thanks for the more than $30,000 raised in short order to render assistance .
Summer has arrived here in Annapolis, but so far the temperature has topped 90 degrees on only one or two days and the humidity is mild by Annapolis standards so far. Stay safe.
Spencer Johnson '63
Dear Classmates Family and friends of the Class of 1963,
It is still chilly here in Annapolis, even though it is graduation week. Here is what I know.
Graduation Four groups of approximately 210 midshipmen have returned to the Naval Academy for a two day period of administrative processing before commissioning on Friday, to clear their gear from Bancroft Hall, and to perform a taped "private"commissioning ceremony in Techumsah Court with chairs spaced at six foot intervals to maintain social distancing The fifth and last group is in process now and will perform their "private" commissioning ceremony on Thursday. No parents or other well wishers have been allowed to attend any of these "private"ceremonies. At the first commissioning ceremony Midn1/c David Forney, a first team football player who was found unresponsive at his desk and later pronounced dead, was remembered by his football helmet from the 2019 Army game placed on a chair in the front row. All new ensigns and second lieutenants will have the same date of rank, 22 May 2020.
On Friday, 22 May, the planned graduation day, a pre-recorded virtual graduation ceremony will be live streamed. The keynote address will be given by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. Other speakers include: Acting Secretary of the Navy James E McPherson; the Chief of Naval Operations., ADM Mike M. Gilday; the Commandant of the Marine Corps ,Gen David H. Berger; the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Robert P. Burke; the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, VADM Sean Buck; and the President of the Class of 2020, Midn 1/c Mike Smith. The virtual ceremonies begin at 1430 EST with a half hour tribute to the class of 2020. At 1500 EST the traditional graduation ceremonies will be streamed. Included will be videos of the five "private" group commissioning ceremonies performed earlier. You can view the graduation ceremonies at: www.watchstadium.com/live/us-naval-academy-graduation.
Plebe Summer. The Class of 2024 will be inducted over a five day period from 29 June to 2 July, a week later than originally planned. All candidates are to conduct a 14 day period of isolation prior to reporting and will undergo a shorter period of isolation on reporting to ensure freedom from the COVID19 virus. There will be no I-Day as we know it. Parents and other well wishers will not be allowed to attend any induction ceremonies. Social distancing will be in force for the Plebes as well as the Plebe detail. Lectures will be delivered virtualy in their rooms. The Blue Jacket's Manual and the USNA REG Book will be primary sources of instruction along with Reef Points. Whether or not there will be a Parent's Weekend as planned 7-9 August is still undecided. The question of which class had the last "real" Plebe year may soon be decided.
That's all the news from Annapolis. Stay tuned and stay safe.
Spencer Johnson '63
Dear Classmates, Family and Friends of the Class of 1963,
Below are further developments at the Naval Academy since my earlier Irish Pennants e-mail to you:
Graduation Updates :
Naval Academy Graduation: The Superintendent announced yesterday that the graduating Class of 2020 will be invited to return to the Naval Academy in five groups of about 250 midshipmen beginning 11 May. Each group returning in the ten day period from 11 May will spend two days or so at the Academy. The first day will be devoted to administrative matters prior to commissioning and packing up their gear. The second day is devoted to "private commissioning" in uniform. Each group will be filmed graduating and being commissioned. On 22 May, the originally planned graduation day, USNA will live stream the films of the groups being commissioned. The decision to have the first class return to Annapolis allows the midshipmen to take the oath of office in uniform. Many may not have taken a uniform home with them for Spring break. There will be a 1/2 day break between one group's departure and the next group's arrival to allow separation and sanitizing procedures between groups. This is still a work in progress.
West Point. The plan for the Military Academy's graduation, as published, includes bringing the Class of 2020 back to West Point two to three weeks before a mid-June graduation ceremony. On arrival they will go into a 14 day isolation period at one of the camps on the reservation and be tested for the COVID19 virus. Once tested negative, they will be allowed to return to their barracks to pack out and get ready for graduation. The President will be their speaker.
Coast Guard: The Coast Guard Academy will graduate the 285 cadets of the Class of 2020 by virtual means.
Chapel Dome Copper Memorabilia. I spoke yesterday with a representative of Herff-Jones, the company that is making the memorabilia from the salvaged copper of the chapel dome. He said that in mid-September they will add earrings to their current offerings and perhaps a cross pendant or charm as well. I will let you know when I hear more. The link is: https://usnachapeldome.com/pages/shop.
Today in Annapolis is a wear rain gear day. I still have mine and can fit into it. Be well and stay safe.
Spencer Johnson '63
Dear Classmates, Family and Friends of the Class of 1963,
I hope this finds you all well and doing whatever is necessary to keep yourself and your families safe during this ongoing pandemic. I am not aware of any of our classmates who have tested positive for the virus. Please let me or your company rep know of anyone who has, and let us know what we can do for you. We need to support each other as best we can, even if it is only a phone call, during this pandemic crisis.
Here in Annapolis it has been a cold and rainy Spring so far. Here in Maryland the number of coronavirus cases continues to mount. The Naval Academy website, www.usna.edu, is a good and timely update of information with regard to what's going on at the Academy. At the top of the web page there is a tab entitled "coronavirus update". Click on that tab and you will have the latest information. To date ten people at the Naval Academy (four faculty and six midshipmen) have tested positive for the virus. All but one midshipman has fully recovered.
The Brigade went on Spring Break on 6 March ,not aware that they would not be returning. There are about 40-50 midshipmen in Bancroft Hall today. Some are serving disciplinary restrictions, others had no where else to go during the break. There are other midshipmen staying with sponsors in the greater Annapolis area. That said, the Brigade is spread in all 50 states. The Commandant communicates daily with the Brigade via Instagram,and internal communications appear to be working well.. Midshipmen are in a duty status, report daily, and started on-line classes on 24 March. Some midshipmen and families petitioned for pass/fail grades this semester, but the faculty and Dean of academics are almost unanimous in their ability to provide letter grades. Exam week starts this week and goes into next week. The 63Center for Academic Excellence is also available to the Brigade on-line. An average of 750 midshipmen per week seeking assistance has been the norm for the last month with a surge to 850 during mid-term testing. Well done, Classmates!!
The most pressing issue is graduation. The Superintendent has announced that the Class of 2020 will experience a "virtual graduation ceremony" on May 22, the details of which are still being worked out. The Superintendent and administration are trying to make graduation as meaningful as possible under the circumstances. The Air Force Academy graduated their first classmen on 18 April without the presence of families or friends. Vice President Pence attended their ceremony in Colorado Springs complete with a Thunderbird flyover and cap toss. West Point is bringing their first class back for a graduation ceremony in early June. President Trump has long been announced as their speaker. Circumstances in Annapolis do not favor, even prohibit, a large graduation ceremony here. Hotels and restaurants are closed and are likely to remain so well into May. The course of the COVID19 virus here is uncharted and likely to remain so. At some point, the Class of 2020 will return in small groups to clear Bancroft Hall of their gear.
All summer training for midshipmen has been cancelled, with the exception of the four week Leatherneck training at Quantico, Virginia which is a prerequisite for those opting for a commission in the Marine Corps. Summer school on-line will be conducted. Use of the YPs is also being looked into for some training. The Brigade is scheduled to return to the yard on 17 August. That is still the plan.
The induction of the Class of 2024 is also high on the list of problems to be sorted out. Currently the Navy and Marine Corps are bringing in recruits to Great Lakes and Parris island, isolating them for 14 days and then beginning training. There are options for a three, six and eight weeks Plebe summer under consideration.
Athleticallly, plans are going forward for a football season as planned. The kick-off on 29 August in Dublin against Notre Dame is still on as of this writing. Coach Ken Niamatalolo plans to bring the football team back on 1 July to begin conditioning and practice. Spring practice consisted of "virtual" sessions. Anything can happen, however. There are season options being talked about that include an eight game conference season, starting the season in October or November and playing into 2021, or playing the entire season (12 games) in the Spring semester next year. NCAA and Conference decisions will all weigh heavily here. Decisions are expected by early June. All varsity sports in the current semester have been cancelled to the disappointment of many. The baseball team was off to a great 14-1 start when the season ended. The rifle team was as well. The Gym team was ranked as 5th in the country and their coach selected as the Collegiate Coach of the year. A new wrestling coach has been hired and applicants to be the new women's basketball coach are being interviewed.
In the yard, the new cyber building, Hopper Hall, will be turned over to the Academy in June, with classes beginning there in the Fall. The copper dome of the chapel has been replaced with bright shiny new copper. That will turn brown in a year and return to the beautiful green color that we all associate with the chapel in about thirty years. The old copper has been salvaged, however. The Alumni Association has contracted with Herff-Jones, the maker of class rings and class jewelry, to make commemorative jewelry, coins, picture frames and other memorabilia. You can view and purchase these items at https://usnachapeldome.com/pages/shop.
That's all the gouge for the moment. I will keep you informed of further developments. In the meantime, stay safe.
Spencer Johnson '63
Dear Classmates, Family and Friends of the Class of 1963,
The Superintendent of the US Naval Academy, VADM Sean Buck, yesterday announced that all Commissioning Week (15-21 May) events have been cancelled due to the Covid19 virus. The academic term which midshipmen are completing on-line from their remote locations, ends 28 April. Exams follow. The goal is still to graduate and commission the class of 2020 in some form, perhaps virtual fashion. Details are to follow. Commissioning Week events such as the Herndon climb for the class of 2023 and the Ring Dance for the class of 2021 are postponed to a yet to be determined date. Parents and friends will not be coming to Annapolis for graduation ceremonies next month. Restaurants are closed and two hotels have closed their doors until the pandemic once again allows movement and public gatherings. Except for a handful of midshipmen still in the yard , the Brigade remains dispersed, but in a duty status, reporting in daily. Two midshipmen and one civilian employee have tested positive for the virus to date.
By contrast, the Air Force Academy brought the class of 2020 back from Spring leave to complete their last term at the Academy in Colorado Springs. The cadets were dispersed one to a room and took their meals while maintaining required separation distances. The personal separation requirements were strictly enforced. There have been two suicides in the Air Force class of 2020 which are still under investigation. As a consequence, the Air Force has decided to graduate the class of 2020 early in an appropriate ceremony on 18 April. Parents and friends reportedly will not be in attendance due to coronavirus restrictions.
It is still hoped that the opening game of the 2020 football season will take place on 29 August against Notre Dame in Dublin. The 51,000 seat stadium is sold out. When 6,000 tickets were recently released to the public in Dublin, they sold out in one hour. Navy and Notre Dame have sold 35,000 tourist packages which include attendance at the game. Navy Athletic Director Chuck Gladchuck believes it is foolish to even attempt to predict the future. He is taking it "one day at a time".
The weather here in Annapolis is cold but bright today. The trees have bloomed and are in new leaf. Spring and its flowers have arrived. Hope is in the air.
From our house to yours, every wish for a happy Passover and Easter season. Stay safe. This too shall pass.
This might not be the first of its kind but the Second Company just had its first Zoom meeting : myself, Bob Lagassa, Jim Penrod, Derek Simmons, Jim Shull, Jerry Kreinik, Bob Little, Mick Mays, Shelby Alcott, Ray Theep, John McCabe, Paul Tobin and Ben Harris. I recommend it to everyone. Much better than e-mail or conference calls. We shared a lot of reminiscences as well as news about how we are all dealing with the pandemic. Everyone's well and it was great to see them in person.
Dear Classmates, Spouses and members of the Class of 1963 Family,
Coronavirus 19 With the advent of the coronavirus all has fallen silent here in Annapolis and in the Yard. The Brigade of Midshipmen is currently on Spring leave and have had that leave extended to the weekend of 28 March. The Visitor's Center has been shut down and tourists are no longer accessing the Yard. Chapel services are suspended until further notice, including weddings and memorial services. All Spring sports have been cancelled and the Patriot League has cancelled all Spring sporting contests. The Superintendent and the faculty, as a first priority, are busy devising a way for all first classmen to finish all their academic requirements for graduation and commissioning in May.
Tonight at 2000 all bars, restaurants, and other places of public gathering in the Annapolis area are shutting down until the danger of exposure to the virus has passed.
I will keep you advised as conditions develop.
Midshipman Death As previously reported, Midn. 3/c Duke Carrillo collapsed while running the mile and a half segment of the semi-annual physical readiness test. His death is attributed in the local paper to a heart condition called "dilated cardiomyopathy" which is described as a weakened heart muscle and an enlarged heart chamber. This results in a weakened heart pumping function and congestive heart failure. A physical exam can pick up signs of congestive heart failure, but an echocardiagram-- an ultrasound of the heart-- is needed to diagnose the condition, according to the published account.
No cause of death has yet been disclosed in the case of Midn Forney. the first class football player who was found dead at his desk.
In the days ahead, please keep your self and your loved ones as safe as you can. We are the most vulnerable segment of the population to the coronavirus, given our age and any preexisting conditions we may have, including a weakened immune system.
With every good wish to you and yours,
Dear Classmates , Friends and all Members of the Class of 1963 Family,
It is clear, crisp and cold here in Annapolis, but it has been over a year since we have seen any snow. Miracles happen.
There is a pall over the Naval Academy with the deaths of two midshipmen within a matter of weeks. One, a member of the class of 2022 collapsed during the 1.5 mile run that is part of the twice yearly physical fitness test and the other, due to graduate in the Spring,` was found slumped over his desk in Bancroft Hall.
We said farewell in February to Roger E. Tetrault, one of our two Distinguished Graduates and a retired naval reserve Captain, at a celebration of his life in in Punta Gorda Florida.
On Friday 6 March Norman J Shackelton, Captain, US Navy (Ret), will be laid to rest here in Annapolis at the columbarium. There will be a memorial service in St Andrews Chapel at 1000, followed by inurnment and military honors at the columbarium. A reception will follow at the Naval Academy Club.
On Monday 27 April Joseph B. Clancy, Captain, USMC, will join many of our classmates in the columbarium with military honors and a commital service at 1000 at the columbarium followed by a reception at the Naval Academy Club. Joe died in Nijmagen, Holland.
Spring is coming, and with it sunnier weather.
With every good wish,
There will be a Funeral Service on 10am Monday, 27 April at the Columbarium with a reception at the Officers and Faculty Club to follow.
There will be a Funeral Service in St. Andrew's Chapel on Friday, 06 March 2020 at 1000 for CAPT Norman John Shackelton, USN (Ret), Class of 1963 (DOB: 30 October 1939, DOD: 16 February 2020) followed by a service of committal at the Columbarium. Family plans a reception at the Naval Academy Club.
Next DC Class '63 Luncheon at ANCC is Tuesday March 10th, 2020 at 11:30am
Peter Savage was going through boxes and found a USNA dixie cup hat with the laundry number 7922. He would like to get it back to the original owner.
If you are laundry number 7922 contact Pete at firstname.lastname@example.org
Adventures of Charlie Chipmunk.
It is 24 chapters and 36,000 words + chronicling a life of a young chipmunk who loses his parents at a very early age. He must learn to survive with food and shelter and make good friends and better choices in his new life alone. There are many adventures and readers will learn about farm gardens, milking cows, with many diverse animals that become part of Charlie's community. This book is applicable to life of a young child as well as chipmunk. Considering all the kids from broken homes or orphaned, this is a primer for their life.
If you go to my website at http://www.booksbyrubel.com and use mike63 as a discount code you get 20% off the price. You can also pick it up from me personally if in the area. There is a tab for that.
Your children or grandchildren will enjoy this book for a long time and it will be passed down for many future families. Thanks...and I any questions call me at 949-278-9341
Books By Rubel
2412 No 30th St, Ste 101
Tacoma, WA 98407
Dear Classmates, Spouses ,and Friends of the Class of 1963,
The tree has been trimmed, exams are over, and the Messiah has been sung. The Brigade of Midshipmen is on leave.
The air is crisp and cold here in Annapolis, but there is a warm glow from the 31-7 blowout victory over Army on the 14th in Philadelphia. The Commander-in-Chief's trophy is back in the rotunda of Bancroft Hall. The Army winning streak is ended and a new Navy one begun. The Liberty Bowl looms against Kansas on New Year's eve (2:45 EST on CBS). Another win will see a remarkable 11-2 football season. Something we can all shout about.
The best Christmas present I ever received was sixty years ago (1959) when we were Plebes. The then governor of South Carolina, Fritz Hollings, sent an Air national Guard flying box car to Andrews Air Force Base to bring all of us from South Carolina home for Christmas. We were released to go on leave after noon meal inspection the Saturday before Christmas. It started to snow in Annapolis the day before and there were eight or more inches of snow accumulated and falling when we were finally dismissed and on leave. Nothing in Annapolis was moving, but with the help of a brave taxi driver somehow we got to Andrews Air Force Base only to find that nothing was flying. All the runways were buried in snow. The Air Force put us up overnight in the Visiting Officer's Quarters (VOQ). The next morning at 0600 while it was still dark, there was a knock on the door from a young Air Force airman who had come to take us down to the flight line. He took one look at me in my bridge coat with eight shiny brass buttons and a gold chin strap on my cover, and said,"Can I take your bag, SIR?" It was the most memorable Christmas present I have ever received. It was also the light at the end of the tunnel for Plebe year.
From our fireside here in Annapolis to yours, Andrea and I wish you the very happiest of holidays and only health and good fortune in the New Year.
Dear Classmates, Spouses ,and Friends of the Class of 1963,
The Army Game is one week away. Excitement is high. Even though this year's outstanding Navy team (9-2) is ranked in some polls as 23rd in the nation, we all know that any Army-Navy contest will go right down to the last whistle with the final outcome always "in doubt". To complicate things, next week is also exam week, when the entire Brigade "pays the rent". This puts a bit of a damper on Army Week antics. Football practices are delayed until 1730 and are closed to the press and public. The focus is on exams as well as on ending the string of Army victories over the past three years. I am confident that come what may, this Navy team will do it. "Bill will feed on Army mule" next Saturday.
The Class of 63 Center for Academic Excellence (63CAE). On Friday, I signed, with the advice of our class officers and class foundation leadership, a revised, updated agreement with the Naval Academy Foundation regarding our support for the 63CAE. The updated gift agreement provides for funding, in addition to our annual $500,000 infusion to the 63CAE, sufficient to cover half of any gap between federal funding available, our infusion and other funds available to support 63CAE operations at the current level. Our classmate, Ron Terwilliger has generously agreed to cover the other half of any funding gap, in addition to his most generous estate bequest of $27.5 million dollars which will support the needs of the 63CAE in perpetuity. "Gap" needs will be determined annually and funding will be requested in a formal document from the Naval Academy Superintendent and the Dean of Academics through the Naval Academy Foundation. I am confident that the class will have any extra funding needed due to earnings on our invested 63CAE support fund, your continued contributions and estate bequests to this most worthy cause that ensures the current record breaking graduation rate, and gift partnering with other classes (1973, 1984, 2002 and others yet to come). To fully recognize the tremendous generosity of Ron Terwilliger, a new name board at the entrance of the 63 CAE will read "Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence----Endowed by J. Ronald Terwilliger '63 and Classmates". As stipulated in the revised agreement, this name will remain on the door of the 63CAE in perpetuity. Our class legacy and memorial to our fallen classmates will continue for as long as there is a need for a Center for Academic Excellence and there is a Naval Academy. With most grateful thanks to Ron Terwilliger and all who have so generously contributed to this great endeavor I say, Well Done Classmates!!
Beat Army !!
Mike Blackledge provided this interesting info:
The throwback uniforms Navy will wear on Saturday will honor its two Heisman winners. It occurs to me as we approach the 120th Army-Navy game that the Class of 1963 has another claim to uniqueness - check me out on this:
The Class of 1963 along with '64 are the only classes to have the opportunity to watch both of Navy's Heisman Trophy winners on the field of play. As plebes, Joe Bellino secured carry-on for us on 28 November 1959 with a resounding 43-12 victory over Army. Many forget that in 1960 Bellino played both ways, and intercepted the Army pass near the end of the game to help secure that win 17-12. Some historic footage shows that interception and a nice run-back. [Army had some guy named Pete Dawkins - who was their last Heisman winner, in 1958] Our plebe year was also the first year as head coach for Wayne Hardin.
Our First Class year was Roger Staubach's youngster year; he got his first opportunity to play in the 3rd game of that Fall 1962 on the road against powerful Minnesota (Carl Eller led their defense) on Oct 6, 1962. Navy never scored and Roger was 0-2 in passes, but Coach Hardin saw enough to put him in the next week against Cornell. We marched to that game. Much better result. Navy ended that year 5-5, but in the winning five was Roger's first Army-Navy game: 34-14.
Steve Leisge has two tickets for sale. See the game from the comfort of club seats! Two for sale at discount: $125 each (retail $175). Sec C39, row 11, seats 5,6.
For a first look at this fantastic new USNA facility endowed by classmate Ron Terwilliger Click Here.
Linn Bowman, wife of our classmate TEB Bowman, Capt., USNR, ret., passed away Dec.1, 2019 in a retirement home following a lengthy illness. In addition to TEB she is survived by their two grown sons. A memorial service will be held at the Big Canoe Chapel on December 18th at 11am. An inurnment service will be conducted in the spring.
Condolences may be sent to TEB at 11506 Big Canoe, Jasper, GA 30243
Al Sherman as 2 Club Level tickets available to the Army/Navy game ion Saturday, December 14th, in Philadelphia. Cost is $175 per ticket.
If you are interested, please contact Al (email@example.com) or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Remember Navy plays at Houston at 7 pm EST Saturday. Game is on ESPN2.
Mike has published "Adventures of Charlie Chipmunk.
"The adventures of Charlie the Chipmunk begin with a violent storm that thrusts the young chipmunk from his home in the mountains into a raging stream, only to end his harrowing trip in the valley below. Never having to fend for himself, he must learn new ways to eat, hide from predators, and find a home of his own. He learns many lessons along the way with the help of his friends and from exciting adventures where he must use his wits and courage to survive. The underlying theme is for the young chipmunk to find a mate of his own and begin a family. The reader will understand the need to make good friends that assist each other in all facets of life."Click Here to read more or purchase.
Dear Classmates, Family and Friends of the Class of 1963,
It is crisp and cold here in Annapolis. but we haven't snow yet.
Saturday is our last scheduled home football game of the season against Southern Methodist University (SMU). After bad day in South Bend, this will be another hard fought game. SMU is coming in with a 9-1 (5-1 conference ) record and Navy now has a 7-2 (5-1 conference ) record. This will be a game that will not be decided until the final whistle.
The class will have a catered tailgate (site 12A) on Saturday. Food service starts at 1300 Items include:
Open Pit Sliced Top Round of Beef
Open Pit Sliced Smoked Turkey Breast
Slow Smoked Pulled Pork Barbecue
Home Style Potato Salad
Crisp Creamy Cole Slaw
Western Style Baked Beans
Fresh Vegetable Pasta Salad
Fresh Baked Kaiser Rolls
Assorted Cookies and Brownies
Soft Drinks and Water Bottles
The cost per person is $15.00. Beer and wine is whatever you bring. Please bring a check made out to the USNA Class of 1963 or cash to cover your share. Place your check/cash in the glass jars on the table along with a donation to help defray the cost of erecting and storing our tent for yet another season.
The 23rd Company will be having a mini-reunion at the game.
See you on Saturday. Dress warmly. Beat SMU!!
With best wishes for a very, happy and memorable Thanksgiving. We all certainly have a lot to be thankful for.
Classmate Robert Abate has been dedicated to preserving the memories of WWII Vets.Click Here
Dear Classmates, Friends and Members of the Class of 1963 Family,
Saturday is Homecoming. Navy plays Tulane in Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. With five wins and one loss for the season, if successful in beating Tulane, Navy will be eligible for a post season bowl game. It promises to be a well contested game, one you don't want to miss. If you do not have tickets, I have four tickets from Jim DeFrancia that he cannot use. I will have them with me at the tailgate if you need some. Following the game Mario and Susan Fiori are hosting the annual homecoming party as detailed in the last Irish Pennants. The party is catered so a contribution of $15.00 per head is requested. If you have not already done so, please RSVP to email@example.com if you are coming.
Ken Buell Our classmate LCDR Ken Buell was the bombardeir/navigator on an A-6 night mission over North Vietnam in 1973 when he was shot down along with his pilot, Verne Donnelly. Ken's remains were never recovered, although Verne Donnelly's were from the crash site. There is some reason to believe that Ken's remains may be co-mingled with Verne's. Verne's children have agreed to opening the gravesite at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, Calif. and examining the remains therein in conjunction with the internment of Verne's widow, Maxine, on December 2nd. There are uncompensated costs involved for the DNA testing and a new casket for Verne's remains. Finding any of Ken's remains will at long last bring closure to his family. Ken's son, newly retired Navy Commander Richard "Rick "Buell, has opened a Go Fund Me account to raise funds for the reamains testing and a casket to rebury Verne's Donnelly's remains. If you would like to contribute, please go to www.gofundme.com/mia-lcdr-ken-buell-you-are-not-forgotten.
See you at homecoming on Saturday.
Beat Tulane on the way to Army!!
CDR Ken Buell - A Chance to Help ID a Vietnam MIA.
My father, LCDR Kenneth R Buell, USN, has been MIA since his A-6A Intruder was shot down on September 17, 1972 during a solo night time attack mission near Hai Duong, Vietnam. The pilot seated next to him, CDR Verne Donnelly, was also lost and declared MIA until remains repatriated.
To contribute go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/mia-lcdr-ken-buell-you-are-not-forgotten
Bob Forster has two tickets (from Jim Ring).
Jim DeFrancia has four to donate.
Tom O'Brien sent me a brochure about how the Jacksonville Aviation Authority has redeveloped Cecil Field since the Navy shut it down in 1999. It's too long to publish here, but for you who flew there as Mids or Naval Aviators you can check out their website Click Here
Dear Classmates, Friends, and Family
Homecoming Party. The e-mail address for Mario Fiori to RSVP attendance should read firstname.lastname@example.org.
Army-Navy If you are not going to the game but are in or around Annapolis on game day, 14 December 2019 please consider joining classmates at the West-End Sports Bar and Grille to have lunch and watch Navy sink Army together. The WestEnd Sports Bar and Grille is at the junction of West Street and Solomons Island Road. Mark your calendar now.
Dear Classmates, Family andFriends of the Class of 1963