Shipmate Column
August 2017

Pres:  CAPT W. Spencer Johnson IV, USN (Ret.)
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
164 Sweetwater Lane, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
h: 828-862-4245  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 have a lot of news for you this month. If you're reading this on our web site, you get it all at once. If you're reading Shipmate, you get only half and should go to to see the news that did not fit into the magazine.

        I just learned of the death of our classmate Samuel J. "Joe" LoPresti, who passed away on 13 October 2016. His widow, Sarah, can be contacted at 7416 Spring Village Dr., Apt 203, Springfield, VA 22150-4929.

        I am sorry to report the death of Chuck Di Bari's wife, Ethel, who passed away on 23 April. Chuck can be contacted at 39421 Seascape Road, Fremont, CA 94538.
        It has been 50 years since USS LIBERTY (AGTR-5) was attacked in international waters by the Israel Defense Forces on 8 June 1967. We remember our classmate Stephen S. Toth, who was among the 34 men killed that day.
Steve Toth

USS LIBERTY after the attack

        Our Webmaster, Steve Coester, has compiled a list of more than 300 of our classmates who served in the Vietnam theater. As he did this, he received many summaries of their Vietnam service. You can see the list and summaries by clicking HERE. I urge you to spend some time with these impressive compilations. They make clear the extent and variety of the Class of 1963's participation in military activities in-country and offshore. If your name is missing, contact Steve by email --
        These latest additions to the Pride and Tradition section of our web site join the growing number of classmates' personal narratives already there. Steve has compiled 44 of these accounts into a growing digital book that is already 344 pages long. It is an up close and personal glimpse of the Vietnam War and life at and after the Naval Academy. It is posted with the list and summaries mentioned above, and you can see it by clicking HERE. We have just learned that the digital book will soon be added to the "Tell Us Your Story" section of the USNA Alumni Association's web site.
        Another '63 connection to the Vietnam War came to my attention this month. Chuck O'Leary's wife, Kathy, a Navy Nurse in Da Nang during the Tet offensive in 1968, was honored at the start of this year's Boston Marathon. The picture below shows Chuck, Kathy, and their middle daughter, Brenna.
The O'Learys at the Boston Marathon

        Miller Detrick sent a note and a pair of envy-inducing then-and-now photos.
     Fern and Ian Sargent stopped by in Tampa on their way back to Delaware from the Keys. We downed a few, and after a ride in our '63 Austin-Healey, which I have had since graduation, we decided to re-enact an event .
     The first of these two photos shows Connie Mann (a Gettysburg cheerleader, before we were married) and me, with Sarge in the back, just after graduation, heading to George Singer's wedding in Richmond. Notice the lack of space--and no seat belts, of course.
     The second picture shows we can still survive the tight quarters, but no room for the luggage!
1963...In the new Austin-Healey

The same car, the same happy people

        Miller also sent two then-and-now photos for the Weddings section of our web site. That is a fun element of the site, presenting a wedding photo together with a recent picture of each couple. You can enjoy looking through the pictures by clicking HERE. The next step is to send photos of your own to Webmaster Steve Coester .
        Here's a happy account from Sandy Stoddard of a reunion of three USNA roommates.
     My wife, Bunny, and I have been very happily married for 52 years, but my "marriage" to my two USNA "wives" goes back 58 years! Meeting as members of the same plebe summer crew, Ron Jarvis, Jim Tolbert, and I roomed together through our years at USNA and have remained best of friends for almost six decades, (Jim graduated with '64, having enjoyed thermodynamics so much that he opted to repeat it.) Jim and I both stayed in the Navy for full and very enjoyable careers driving ships, while Ron, following his service commitment, worked very successfully for Exxon for 30 years. Ron, Jim, and their wives, Emiley and Janet, joined Bunny and me at our home this spring in Northern California's Sonoma County Wine Country for a mini-reunion. We played golf, hiked, and wined and dined together for the better part of a week, sharing great memories and laughs from many years past. Friendships like these have truly enriched our lives.
Tolberts, Jarvises, and Stoddards in the wine country

        Erwin "Fred" Storz sent this report about a signature event in Charleston, SC.
     On Saturday, April 1, Denny Tomlin and I represented the 16th Company in the Cooper River Bridge Run. This was the 40th anniversary of the Bridge Run and 42,000 people signed up. It's called a run; however, senior citizens are spared and they can walk. It's a wonderful event put on by the City of Charleston. Denny and I walked with Rusty Hamilton, a native Charlestonian whom I met while my ship, USS LUCE, was in the shipyard for an overhaul in 1964. I stayed in contact with Rusty and I have done about 10 Bridge Runs while Rusty did his first Bridge Run 37 years ago and just completed his 40th run.
Cindy and Denny Tomlin

Denny Tomlin, Rusty Hamilton, and Fred Storz

     It was a beautiful day and as we approached the crest of the bridge we were hanging out together and folks came up and asked how old we were. Can't imagine anyone asking that. We couldn't disclose that confidential information but we did tell everyone that it was Rusty's 81st birthday today which resulted in chorus after chorus of runners/walkers singing happy birthday as they passed us. I vote that we make Rusty an honorary member of the 16th company. Pete Optekar and I along with Rusty did the Bridge Run a few years back. We should consider a 16th Company reunion the weekend of April 7, 2018, when the next Bridge Run is scheduled. Charleston is a great city for a reunion with lots to do, much history, and an opportunity to participate in the Bridge Run. We could have a great time together.

        Tom Robertson filed this account of an assembly of several submariners and their ladies.
     The usual suspects gathered again on the Isle of Palms in South Carolina the first week in May for Submariner Ho (3rd or 4th? rendition), plus Kentucky Derby capers. Answering the call were George and Pat Emery, Bill and Dottie Hughes, Lew and Sue Lewis, Zimm and Linda Zimmerman, and Tom and Julie Robertson. All hands could be mustered occasionally, particularly at Happy Hour time which often convened prematurely. We have the same gorgeous beach house each year with same assigned suites, ICOR and all, but no room inspections or rack time constraints. The weather was perfect, and "old tales retold" to reenergize our sometimes shaky memories. Lifetimes of cumulative culinary skills made for grand dining easily comparable to our jaunts into the local Charleston cuisine. There was some golf, beach walks, porch blather, shopping, Derby betting and, to be sure, some rather boisterous discussions of the dynamic national scene. No resultant recommendations made to our beleaguered elected officials----yet!
Submariner couples Robertson, Lewis, Hughes, Emery, Zimmerman

Kentucky Derby millinery worn by Linda Zimmerman, Pat Emery, Julie Robertson, Dottie Hughes, and Sue Lewis

     A highlight was a visit arranged by George to the offices of the Medal of Honor Museum Foundation which is into the major fundraising drive to complete the new Museum complex landside of the YORKTOWN at Patriots Point on Charleston Harbor where it is currently housed. George had met the Foundation Chairman and Medal of Honor Society President last year in New England. It was a wonderful experience to be shown the plans for this magnificent complex, the centerpiece of which is an architecturally stunning museum building in keeping with design of the MOH itself. One would be hard-pressed to find an American who would not be immensely proud of this endeavor and what it represents. George, Bill and Lew made offers to look for broadened exposure of the plan to the submarine and naval communities, and offers were graciously accepted. The museum's impressive web site is .
     So we'll be back to our assigned stations same time, next year, Lord willing. We may be a step or two slower, but there was no apparent slow-down in the chatter. Operating at 75 percent at age 75 (or so) seems to do just fine!

        John Newsom sent a note commenting on the recent induction of Vern Von Sydow into the Bucks County, PA, Sports Hall of Fame; he also included this photo and note:
     I recently had the opportunity to discuss geopolitics and the new world order with John Lehman, Secretary of Navy during the Reagan administration. During his time in office he advocated for a "600 ship Navy" and achieved 584 ships. Discussion was lively and we all agreed - Beat Army!
John Newsom and former SECNAV John Lehman

Jim Metcalfe at Iron Bottom Sound

        A few weeks ago, Jim Metcalfe sent a photo taken during his 2012 visit to the southwest Pacific. The picture shows him preparing to drop a wreath into the water of Iron Bottom Sound near where USS QUINCY (CA 39) sank. Savo Island appears over his left shoulder and the northern tip of Guadalcanal is over his right shoulder. The picture was taken in August 2012, the 70th anniversary of the landing of the Marines on Guadalcanal and the sinking of QUINCY in the night battle of Savo Island. Jim's father, LCDR Edward C. Metcalfe '22, QUINCY's navigator, died in that action.
        Jim said that he is headed back to Iron Bottom Sound this summer.
     I signed up for another tour to Guadalcanal this August. My Godson, a grandson of then CAPT Gilbert C. Hoover '16, CO, USS HELENA (CL 50), is going with me. Hoover received a Navy Cross for his actions in the Battle of the Coral Sea and his second and third Navy Crosses for his actions in a series of battles off Guadalcanal in 1942. "Captain" Gib as I knew him (He was a retired Rear Admiral.) was a real Nelsonian figure whose career was done in by the loss of the Sullivan brothers when JUNEAU went down. HELENA was shepherding beat up ships back to Espiritu Santo when a Jap sub torpedoed JUNEAU. For a good description of the Guadalcanal actions and the apparent political influence that led to all five Sullivans being together contrary to Navy policy, I recommend "Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal" by James Hornfischer.

        I received this note from B-J Jones, who identified herself as "the proud wife of a '79er and prouder mother of a '09er."
     My husband, Bill Jones '79, started his military career in Pensacola slated for flight training; however, he was stashed at NARF for a bit before he could get started. While at NARF, his first boss, CDR Jack Hood '63, showed him the ropes. Jack and his wife, Ginger, took us under their wings and explained how the Navy "really" works. It was because of their guidance and friendship throughout the years that enabled us to better "enjoy" the Navy experience. Bill and I met up with them for brunch after the 2016 Army/Navy game. Thirty-three years later we are still in touch and want to thank the greatest mentors ever! Thanks for allowing us to do that. What a great example of "Links in the Chain."
Joneses '79 and Hoods '63.

        I reported previously that the Hoods' oldest son had retired from the Navy as a Captain this January. Jack has just added this postscript:
     Following retirement I used my GI Bill to go back to college and became certified to teach high school physics. I taught full-time for 13 years, retiring for a second time as the science department chairman. My youngest son, Tom, became a high school social studies teacher in Anchorage, AK. After 15 years he continues in that job, now as the social studies department chairman. Having had two careers, having two sons, and having one follow me in each of my careers is more than anyone could ask for.

        This spring has been a busy social time in Western North Carolina. On 28 May, Lou and I drove to the small town of Saluda for a delightful lunch at The Purple Onion with Virginia and Brev Moore. Long-time Annapolis residents, the Moores own a family home in Saluda and spend part of each year there.
Moores and Shelleys

        Sue and Ben Cole hosted a potluck lunch at their beautiful home at the foot of the mountains just across the state line near Pickens, SC, on 11 May. The attendees appear in the first photo below (L-R) Mike and Lou Shelley, Cindy and Bob Maier, Sue and Ben Cole, and Lois Grabowski. The lovely ladies in the second image are Cindy, Lou, Sue, and Lois.

        Lou and I enjoyed having Gail and Doug Tozour as our houseguests for three days in mid-May. They were traveling from their home in Hilton Head, SC, to a business conference in Asheville, NC. The day of their arrival, Lou prepared a fine dinner and we were joined by nearby Brevard residents Judy and Bill Hollenack. Our wives listened patiently as we three Fourth Companymates revisited many tales of old. In the following days, we enjoyed showing Gail and Doug the local area, waterfalls, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the spectacular new Sierra Nevada brewery. We also had some quality times with wine in rocking chairs as we watched the sun go away.
Doug Tozour, Lou Shelley, Bill and Judy Hollenack, Gail Tozour

4th Companymates Bill, Doug, and Mike

        That's all folks! See you here next month.

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