Shipmate Column
January-February 2008

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.

        Navy 38, Army 3. How sweet it is. A large number of our classmates and their ladies were in Baltimore for the game. Steve Leisge coordinated the planning and events of the weekend. I hope to have a full report for you next month.

        I am sorry to report that our classmate Joel Jaudon, CDR, USN (Ret.), died of cancer on 2 November at his home in Arlington, VA. His widow, Mary Shriver-Jaudon, can be contacted at 1307 S 20th St., Arlington, VA 22202-1501.

        Phillip Marsden sent photos and this account about the observances in honor of his USNA roommate, Malcolm Schantz, who passed away on 12 October.
     Classmates and their ladies turned out over three beautiful fall days in Virginia's Northern Neck for Malcolm's funeral services. Paying their respects to his widow Sarah, son John, and brother Curt '68 were Barbara and Tom Hall, Betty and Jerry Mulholland, Bill Howard, Catherine and Alan Merkel, Jim Killian, Carol and Charlie Minter, John Aucella, Spencer Johnson, Judi and David Puckett, George Fister, Mal Wright, and Phillip Marsden. It was a bittersweet affair as we marked the passing of one of our own and shared countless "Malcolm" tales inspired by Mal's indomitable wit. He will be missed but his memory lives on in all of us.
Classmates honor Malcolm Schantz

Sarah Schantz with '63 classmates

The Schantz family

Johnson, Mulholland, Puckett, and Fister

Shown with Sarah Schantz in the first photograph are, left to right, Philip, Mal Wright, David, Spencer, George, Jim, Alan, Charlie, and Jerry. With Sarah in the second photo are Messrs. Aucella, Killian (front), Minter, Merkel, Wright, and Marsden. In the photo of the Schantz family are John, Sarah, Curt, Lucia Gates (Sarah's sister), Martha Schantz, and Phillip.

        Perhaps sensing an inevitable turning of the tide, many of our classmates and their ladies converged on the Notre Dame campus the first weekend of November to support Navy's football team. The first report to reach me came from Annapolitan Peter Quinton.
     Charlie Stubbs, Bob Forster, and I drove out to South Bend, IN, to witness one of the most exciting football games ever! We got there on Thursday of game week. We took a tour of a very beautiful campus and got to see all of the famous sights on campus: the golden dome, touchdown Jesus, and the stadium. We attended the Notre Dame pep rally on Friday night; a great sight to see. We were truly amazed by the graciousness of the Notre Dame fans, football players, and coaches toward all of the Navy fans both before and after the game; not a bad word was uttered.
Bob Forster, Charlie Stubbs, and Peter Quinton at Notre Dame

"Touchdown Jesus"

Our stadium seats were right on the goal line, where we witnessed the end of the third overtime culminating in a great victory by our football team. It was only fitting that a group of '63ers got to see this victory over Notre Dame. We three wore our '63 fedoras that caught the eye of most fans because of the significance of that year in the history of Navy-Notre Dame football. Our seats were near a large contingent from the 17th Company, as well as my 18th Company mate Eli Dabich and his wife Eileen.

Peter Quinton, Charlie Stubbs, Sherry and Don Freese, MIDN 1/C, Bob Forster

Sherry and Don

        Also reporting on the Notre Dame experience was Dave Riley, one of the many men from the 17th Company who converged on South Bend for a mini-reunion weekend together.
     Years ago, someone wrote a book titled "Can You Top This?" That is the only way to describe the weekend in South Bend for the Navy-Notre Dame game.

The 17th company continued its long standing tradition of gathering when Navy plays Notre Dame every other year in South Bend, but with a much larger participation than in the past - 13 souls with 5th company's Tom Selden joining us in all our festivities. We met in Michigan City, IN, on Friday and had dinner at a sports bar across the street from the motel -- a wise choice by our company's social scheduler, Mike McDermott.

My mind started to cloud over after about the third round of drinks but I vaguely remember everyone raising their glasses to those in 17 who have gone before us, a few stories that became more unbelievable as the evening wore on, and Tom Selden being made either an honorary member of the 17th or the company mascot. (I probably made this up.)

17th Company cheering section

Jerry Jordan, Travis Beard, and Mike McDermott

Jim Ragano, Phil Gubbins, and Ron Schowalter

Jim Richards, Ralph Kimberlin, and Jack McDonald

Tom Selden and Mike Obsitnik

Travis Beard, Mike McDermott, Bruce Webb, and Dave Riley

Though high in the stands for the game (we could almost check the Goodyear Blimp for oil leaks), we were ideally located to observe the nail-biting triple overtime victory - and how sweet it was.

As has always been the case, the Notre Dame coach and team honored our Navy team at the end of the game and all in the South Bend area accorded Navy alumni with the utmost cordiality and respect. We ended our mini-reunion Saturday night at the same sports bar where we started our grand weekend. Needless to say, we are already talking about our next get together in 2009, but it will be hard to top this year's.

        Thanks to Peter, Dave, and Don Freese for sending their photos from the big weekend in South Bend. I'm sure that the Class of 1963 will have an even larger representation at next year's Navy-Notre Dame contest.

        We were contacted in November by Phil Corcoran '87 with a request concerning the daughter of one of our deceased classmates.
     I recently met Meg Galloway Pearce, the daughter of Charles "Chuck" Galloway, a classmate of yours who died in 1966 as the father of two young children. Our children are in the same classes and on the same sports teams at elementary school. Recently, I was talking with her about my 20th reunion and she told me that her father had graduated from USNA, played varsity baseball, became a naval aviator and died during carrier operations in the Mediterranean. She said she never knew him. As someone who has known several classmates who died serving our country and a father of three young children myself, I felt for her and for her father. I know she would greatly appreciate any sea stories, remembrances, or anecdotes of her father or the '63 experience at USNA from his classmates. In other words, I think she would like to get a sense of who her father was through the people who knew him best, his classmates. I thought reaching out to you would be the best way to start. She can be contacted at 6413 Little Leigh Court, Cabin John, MD 20818; e-mail; phone 301-775-9314 (mobile).

        Mike Cronin sent this happy news about his family:
     My son Kevin was married on October 6 to Kathy Venezia. Kevin now lives in Carlsbad, CA, and is a project manager for Clark Construction. One of his projects is the new BEQ at the 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego. June and Chuck Stone and Cynthia and Ken McGuire joined us at the wedding celebration. Chuck and June tell us they are planning a new and even better house for their mountaintop aerie near Escondido.
Bride Kathy and groom Kevin

Jackie and Mike Cronin with daughters Colleen (L) and Jenni (R)

McGuires, Cronins, and Stones

As usual, the San Diego weather was perfect and the setting at Rancho Valencia near Rancho Santa Fe was perfect as well. Even us old guys got into the act and danced at the reception.

        Frank Hilton alerted me to a 17 October article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporting that our classmate Ron Terwilliger will be the owner of a WNBA expansion team which will begin play in Atlanta this year. Here are some excerpts from that report.
Ron Terwilliger

     The team owner will be Atlanta real estate executive Ron Terwilliger, who described himself as "a sports nut." The team, which does not yet have a name, is to begin play when the 2008 WNBA season opens in May.

"I look at it as a community investment that would be delightful if it turned out to be profitable," Terwilliger, 66, said in an interview in his Buckhead office. "I don't expect to lose money, but I'm not in it for making money. I've got two daughters, and I just think it's a great thing to do for the community and for women."

Since 1986, Terwilliger has been the Atlanta-based chairman and CEO of Trammell Crow Residential, the nation's largest developer of apartments and condominiums. A former chairman of the Urban Land Institute, a land-use think tank, he recently donated $10 million to affordable housing initiatives.

Terwilliger is no stranger to sports --- or sports ownership. He played baseball and basketball at the U.S. Naval Academy in the 1960s. A plaque in his office says he was the leading scorer and an academic All-American on Navy's basketball team in 1962 and 1963, and the second baseman on the baseball team. Terwilliger owned an indoor soccer team, the Atlanta Attack, in 1989-90. That team moved to Kansas City, MO. Last year, he made an unsuccessful pitch to buy the Braves, who were subsequently sold by Time Warner to Liberty Media.

        Frank also passed this interesting information about the academic accomplishments of Navy's football players.
     Richard Lapchick of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida found the following in a study:

If there were a national championship for graduation rates and Academic Progress Rates among bowl teams, Navy and Boston College would have played for the National Championship. Both teams graduated at least 93 percent of all football student-athletes and at least 89 percent of African-American football student-athletes. Navy and Boston College also had the top APR scores at 982 and 976 respectively.

        Daryl Rabert sent this note about a visit to one of his companymates.
     In September my wife, Bonnie, and I visited Seattle and the San Juan Islands. The Great Northwest is surely a beautiful part of our country. The San Juan Islands offer many sights to see, including the Orca whales.

During our visit, we went to see one of my 15th Company Classmates, Dave Anderson, and his wife Patty. It was great to see Dave and relive some of the memories of the days living in Mother Bancroft. Dave and Patty are enjoying retirement and their grandchildren. They were wonderful hosts and we hope to see them at the 45th Reunion. Here is a picture from our time together, showing Dave seated in front of me, Patty, and Bonnie.

Andersons and Raberts

        This brief note comes from Tom O'Brien:
     Here are some photos taken in October at the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico and outside our townhouse in Alexandria, VA, during Zoe and Bob LaGassa's "Grand Tour" of the U.S. We had a great visit. My Virginia plate is "USNA 63." Bob's New Hampshire plate is "USNA - 63". Evidently, NH just started authorizing a "dash" in license plates, because --per Bob -- Jack McDonald has had the NH "USNA 63" plate "locked up" for years. Note Bob and Zoe's racy red 2007 Corvette. It flat out gets up and GOES! I have the whiplash to prove it.
Tom O'Brien and Bob LaGassa in Quantico

Comparing '63 license plates

        Here's a truly "fun" news item I received from Vern Von Sydow:
     I was given the "honor" of writing this report - by default. Recently, Karen and Steve Hoy, Grace and Pete Optekar, and Cathy and Erwin Storz joined Gail and me on a riverboat cruise into Germany. Starting at Budapest, Hungary, we journeyed the famous Danube, Mein, and Rhine rivers, winding up in Amsterdam.
Four Germans under four Strudel Hats

Amazingly, we are all "Germans" who were all guards on the Navy football team (have no idea why that happened) and had never been to Germany. We decided to take the tour to find our "roots." Since our roots are German we bought "Strudel hats" to wear so that we would fit in with the local population. This photo shows how well we blended in. To say a good time was had by all is an understatement - it was fantastic! Next year we are heading to Russia where we will not wear the Strudel hats because we will want to gather intelligence and intend to be more incognito.

        In November, Ollie Donelan submitted this account of his vacation trip to the southwest Pacific.
     Sandy and I just returned from a 25 day trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. Traveling with us were Sue Abell and one of her friends from Northern Virginia.

We flew into Melbourne, then to Alice Springs in the Outback, took a bus trip to Ayers Rock in the middle of nowhere, then on to Cairns (the Great Barrier Reef), and Sydney. The Australians are super friendly, and Sydney is a must see with its Opera House, Bridge, Harbor, and Bondi Beach.

Sue Abell with Ollie and Sandy Donelan near Ayers Rock

Aboard an outback conveyance

From there we flew to Christchurch, NZ, took a bus over to Queenstown and went to Milford Sound. We were blessed with exceptionally good weather everywhere, and the scenery on the south island of NZ was breathtaking -- it is the southern hemisphere's answer to the Swiss Alps. We then flew to Auckland, continued to Fiji for a couple of days, then came home. Unfortunately, we were on a red eye when Navy was beating Notre Dame!

        Phillip Marsden passed this news about a USNA '63 daughter.
     Jennifer Kaup Hannon, daughter of Donna Kaup and our late classmate Karl, was featured in an LA Times article on 27 October. A Navy ROTC graduate from the University of Colorado-Boulder, Jennifer is now a LCDR in HSC-85, a Navy Reserve helicopter squadron. Her squadron flew a number of fire suppression missions during the recent fires in San Diego County. On one of her missions she was co-pilot on a helo that carried the LA Times reporter who wrote the article. Jennifer works for a private company as a flight instructor at a flight simulator on the North Island Naval Air Base, just a few blocks from where she lives.

        Our Vice President, Jim Ring, has been following the activities of FITZGERALD (DDG 62), the Arleigh Burke-class ship whose name honors our valiant classmate Bill Fitzgerald. The ship is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, and has been involved in a wide variety of missions in the Pacific and Indian Ocean areas. The ship's web site is

        I received an e-mail from Jim Metcalfe recently with news of his still-growing family tree. He and Lisa were in England for the birth of their granddaughter, Maya Metcalfe Jayawardena, on 23 September. Jim spent the next two weeks playing soccer and swimming with her older siblings Matthew and Adam and was glad to return to his work as Assistant U.S. Attorney in Norfolk to get some rest. Jim passed along a note he received from Craig Thrasher in November; here is part of it:
     I have been a firefighter for 39 years and have loved every minute. I started a fire investigation team in 1970 to work with ATF on a series of local fires and have stayed with it. Outside of the fire department, it is about half of my consulting business, too -- complex, large loss or life loss events. It keeps the mind going and is great fun. BTW, Marty Tillapaugh, '63, retired last year as Chief of the Binghampton, NY, Fire Department. We had lunch early this year.

I have been rowing with Peggy since Henley, and Dick Omohundro and I rowed the Head of the Charles this year.

        Finally, here is a reminiscence from J.J. Calande about a memorable flight demo he performed. Reading it brings to mind the question, "Can you top this?" If you can, send me your story.
P3C Orion

     As a VP pilot, I was assigned as a RAG instructor from 1968-70. I was chosen as one of the seven pilots to go to Lockheed to get their training and delivery of the P3C when it was ready for the Navy. We then returned to train the other instructors to get ready for fleet RAG training. These are the most exciting six minutes of my twenty-year career.

The C.O. called me in and asked me to get something ready to introduce the Navy's newest aircraft (P3C Orion) to the public at the proper time. I inquired as to what he wanted and he said it was up to me and my imagination because there was a fund raiser by a local Navy League or somebody, with the Blue Angels as the main event. I was on the same agenda but was to follow in my new P3C My only limitations were NATOPS and the six minutes I was assigned by the Patuxent River tower and the FAA personnel. So I ended up doing the following little air show to introduce the new P3 to the 250,000 spectators who had just seen the Blues perform. I began 25 miles out to sea where I could build up to max speed at low altitude and appear over the treetops at 405 kts down the center of the runway as a beginning. I also had my total of 53 photoflash cartridges loaded in the fuselage so that when I hit the jettison switch they would all fire off at once with a loud bang and a flash that looked like a lightning bolt attached to my tail. To begin, I pulled the nose up nearly vertical to decrease speed and do a port wingover up to 3,000 feet! After the 180 degree turn, I did a short field landing of 800 feet at slow speed. Then I used reverse props to back up to my short field takeoff position. At light weight and max power, I took off in a short distance, trying to impress my audience with my new aircraft's abilities. After I landed at the end of my six minutes, I asked my wife what she thought. She really liked my show but when I asked her what she thought impressed the big audience the most, she sighed and said it was my backing up to take off, because they had never seen an aircraft go in reverse.

        Whew! That's a lot of news from our classmates. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Now it's up to the rest of you! Write to me. Now.

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   January/February 2008 
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