Shipmate Column
April-May 2019

Pres:  CAPT W. Spencer Johnson IV, USN (Ret.)
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
164 Sweetwater Lane, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
h: 828-506-2201  e:
Web site:

For any classmate you can go to the Classmates Page and enter his name to read his current biography if available.

        I am sorry to report that our classmate Richard Denny Tomlin passed away on 25 February. His widow, Cindy, can be contacted at 1108 Fleet Landing Boulevard, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233.

        Daryl Rabert reported on his post-55th reunion activities during a Florida visit.
     I have some more pictures from the post reunion get together at Ron Terwilliger's Key Largo home for a few days in early November. Forrest Siburt and I were invited to spend some time at Ron's home to recoup from the great 55th Reunion in San Diego. The San Diego committee did a wonderful job organizing the reunion.
     Forrest, Ron, and I played some golf, went to the Miami Dolphins game, and did some deep-sea fishing. We also did an excellent job of eating excellent food and drank some great wines. Each evening was capped off with a movie in Ron's theater. I really did not know my old roomie was a movie buff. He has some great movies to select from for one's evenings enjoyment. Forrest and I had a wonderful time visiting with Ron.
Rabert, Terwilliger, and Siburt

At Ron's plane. Note the USNA markings

        Fred Storz sent this photo taken in Wyoming during an outing with his USNA roommates in 2018.
Hikers in Grand Teton National Park

     Here is a photo of Pete Optekar, Fred Storz, and Hunt Parker (l-r) while we were hiking the Tetons this past fall. Many years ago, we were 16th Company Roommates in Bancroft Hall and it was great to get together again. We had a total of 10 people on the trip and spent two days hiking Grand Targhee on the Idaho side of the Tetons and four days hiking the Wyoming side. We had great log cabin accommodations on Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park and of course happy hour before dinner was part of the daily hiking routine. Perfect weather, spectacular scenery and wildlife followed us along the way. We saw bear, moose, elk, mountain formations, lakes, and many other forms of nature in this great land of ours. We hiked Mary's Saddle, Peak 9943 and the most spectacular of all, The Devils Staircase. The last evening, we stayed at "The Fife" a magnificent custom-built log home complements of Hunt Parker's family. If you have the opportunity, visit the Tetons.
     I was saddened to learn of Denny Tomlin's passing. The 16th Company had a great get together at the Charleston, SC, Bridge Run a year ago. Denny did a lot of work to organize everything and he was such a vibrant guy. In a way that was a blessing in disguise because we 16th Company classmates were able to spend time together.

        Paul Tobin sent this photo of 2nd Company classmates taken when Rich Nutt was visiting Pensacola on 22 February. Pictured are Paul, Al Key, Rich Nutt and Jay Madison.
2nd Company in Pensacola

        John Peterson sent a personal update and called our attention to a January 2019 article in the Washington Post about benefits for Agent Orange exposure. This is an excerpt from the article:
A federal appeals court in Washington sided Tuesday with thousands of Vietnam War veterans who were stationed offshore during the war and developed health problems linked to exposure to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled overwhelmingly for these sailors, finding they are eligible for the same disability benefits as those who put boots on the ground or patrolled Vietnam's inland rivers. The 9-to-2 decision reverses a decade-old ruling by the court and applies to an estimated 52,000 veterans nationwide. A court majority said Congress clearly intended to extend benefits to sailors who were stationed in the territorial seas and are known as "blue water" Navy veterans.
You can see the full article by clicking HERE.

This is the text of John's note:

     There are probably a number of classmates who were given an unqualified 'no' when they queried the VA on Agent Orange links to their early prostate cancer as they did to me. It looks like the VA may have to revisit this.
     For a personal update, Jean and I are still enjoying life in Pebble Beach where we have been living for the last 30 years. For eight years we kept a sailboat in Turkey near Bodrum and poked around the Eastern Aegean during the spring and fall. We were joined at different times by Sandy Stoddard, Jim Oakes, and Bill Umphrey. Five years ago, we accepted an opportunity to upscale that a bit by hosting groups of travelers on high end cruise ships. This has turned out to be as much fun as owning a boat but with a lot more perks and less hassle. Early last year Bill and Jennifer Earner joined us for a run from Miami to Rio where we reluctantly left them for another assignment while they went on to Cape Town. It was great fun since this was the first time since graduation that Bill and I met up. Life is good....

        Lanny Cox submitted this picture of 15th Company classmates and ladies at their company dinner in San Diego during the 55th Reunion. Pictured are (standing) Patsy Cox, Will Umphrey, Patty Wilson, Ron Terwilliger, Dave Munger, Bonnie Rabert, Lanny Cox, and Scott Wilson. Seated are Daryl Rabert, Anne Umphrey, and Muffy Munger.
15th Company at the 55th reunion

        Thanks to Bob Polich for these vintage photos from our Academy days.
Eli Dabich and Chuck Donovan uncertain about Christmas leave

Bob Polich, Bill Pawlyk, and Eli Dabich at restriction muster

        The pictures connect to the infamous 18th Company Christmas party in 1962 that resulted in numerous Class "A" awards and months of restriction for the participants. A fine account of the party and its aftermath is posted on To see it, click HERE .

        We'll end this month with a picture Tom O'Brien supplied as I was finishing this column. It shows Ollie Donelan, Tom, Tom Reemelin, and Denny Vaughan at Ollie and Sandy's home in St. Petersburg, FL, on 25 February. The locals were helping Denny get ready for Tampa's J-24 Midwinter Nationals in early March by providing nourishment and morale-boosting support.
Donelan, O'Brien, Reemelin, and Vaughan

        That's all for now, folks. Keep sending those emails and photos to be shared with our classmates.

Navigate to:   
Shipmate Index
Shipmate Index


Site Map

Site Map

USNA Class of 1963 Home Page