Shipmate Column
January-February 2023

Pres:  CAPT W. Spencer Johnson IV, USN (Ret.)
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
27 Cambridge DR, Brevard, NC 28712
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.

        Thanks to those who sent news and photos for our news exchange we have a nice variety of information for you this month. We begin, though, with sad news about two members of the Class of 1963 family.

        Trenwith Rockwell Ward passed away on 11 November 2022. Tren was predeceased by his wife, Priscilla, in 2021. I do not have contact information for his next of kin.

        I am sorry to report that Jon Warn's wife, Judith, died on 7 October 2022. Jon may be contacted at 10 Hadley Court, Noank, CT 06340.

        Please note this updated information about hotel rooms at our 60th Reunion next year. It was in class president Spencer Johnson's "Irish Pennants" email sent to all members of the class on 28 November.
     The 100 rooms we have reserved as a block at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel for our sixtieth reunion here in Annapolis ( 19-22 October 2023) were quickly subscribed by classmates, leaving many without a room reservation or with a very expensive one. Through the great work of Bill Earner , our Reunion Chairman, we now have additional rooms available at nearby hotel facilities.
        The detailed information Spencer provided about reserving these additional rooms is also posted in the 60th Reunion section of our web site. You can see it by clicking HERE.

        "Can this quirky Naval poetry tradition make a comeback?" asked a headline in the 27 September Washington Post above an article providing an overview of the tradition of composing a rhymed log entry for the first watch of a ship's new year. The text began with this mention of a '63 classmate: "It was during the Vietnam War, on the South China Sea in the waning days of 1968. Aboard the transport ship USS Weiss, Lt. Grant Telfer , the operations officer, was eyeing the rotation schedule for the watch shift from midnight to 4 a.m., known as the midwatch, for New Year's Day." Grant arranged to stand the midwatch and wrote the log in verse. It won the All Hands magazine's deck log competition that year. The full text is on our web site, linked from the top of the Pride and Tradition section as page 141 in the compilation titled, "A collection of stories and memories.." To see it, click HERE.
USS Weiss (APD/LPR-135)

        The last stanza of Grant's log expressed a universal sentiment: "While shipmates sleep the watch we keep/And ask with silent prayer/That fighting cease, this new year bring peace/And freedom everywhere."
        To see the full Washington Post article, click HERE.
        Did you write a New Year's log in verse? Do you still have a copy you can share with us?

        John Boley sent this illustrated account of the 8th Company's reunion this autumn.
     Members of the Eight Company, AKA the Terrible Tenth Survivors, met in New Orleans from October 17th to the 21st and a good time was had by all. Our company reunions, this being the 18th, are organized by one of us in each of the four years between class reunions in a variety of locations around the country. This year our hotel was located on Canal Street in the French Quarter which made most of our group activities within easy walking distance. We ate traditional New Orleans fare at several restaurants. Our brunch at Brennan's was the hands-down culinary highlight of our stay. Believe it or not, a morning bus tour with an outstanding guide was a highlight along with time at the not to be missed World War II museum. We wrapped up with surprisingly good fare on a jazz dinner cruise. Unseasonably cool weather kept us inside the boat but allowed for lots of conversation on our closing night.  So, the summary would be lots of catching up with everyone, plenty of good food to eat, immersion in the unique French Quarter culture, and shopping plus optional trips to Preservation Hall and Mardi Gras World. Those attending were Dave and Mary Bingemann, John and Margarette Boley, Earl and Celes Buck, Bill and Jennifer Earner, Bernie and Cathy Patterson, Matt and Betti Small, Mike Spear and Lynda Ferguson . Here are photos from our time together.
Mike Spear , Earl Buck, Lynda Ferguson, Celes Buck, John Boley, Jennifer Earner, Betti Small, Matt Small, Bill Earner

Mike Spear, Lynda Ferguson, Bill and Jennifer Earner

John Boley, Matt Small, Earl Buck, Mike Spear, Bill Earner, Bernie Patterson

Clockwise around the table: Earl Buck, Dave Bingemann, John Boley and Bill Earner (both obscured), Bernie Patterson, Cathy Patterson, Jennifer Earner, Mary Bingemann, and Celes Buck

        I received photos from two classmates who attended Navy football away games this November. David Puckett sent this photo from the first contest.
David Puckett and the Navy cheerleaders

     My son, grandson, and two of my sons-in-law took me to the Navy - Cincinnati game on 5 November. They suggested this picture as we were going into the Navy tailgate. Unfortunately, we lost but we had a great time together.

At the Navy-Central Florida game

        Steve Coester, the faithful keeper of our USNA 1963 web site, sent this note and photo.
     On 19 November several '63 classmates attended the Navy - University of Central Florida game at UCF. Shown in the first row of this photo are Jim Richards, Steve Coester, Travis Beard, and Ken Metviner . In the second row are Bruce Webb's son Chuck, his grandson Jonathan, Bruce, and Ralph Kimberlin . It was also a good chance to catch up with our classmates. Ken is Bruce's next-door neighbor in Celebration, FL, during the winter months.
     It was great that Navy beat the 20th ranked team 17-14. We all thought we were probably the oldest Navy alumni in the stadium until a spry guy walked by wearing a '59 USNA shirt.

        The Georgetown University Press recently published American Defense Reform: Lessons from Failure and Success in Navy History by our classmate Dave Oliver and Anand Toprani. In the book the authors apply U.S. Navy and Department of Defense modern history as a guide for leading successful change in the Pentagon, providing recommendations for reforming national defense to meet future demands.

        When Jim Lasswell traveled from southern California to Maryland in October, he took time to visit with two of our classmates in Virginia. He sent these pictures from the encounters.
     Cindy and I just took a trip to the East Coast to visit the National Cryptologic Museum at NSA in Ft. Meade, MD. Along the way we stopped by to visit Denny and Noriko Conley in Springfield, VA, as well as Wes Jordan and Jill Nelson in Richmond, VA.
Denny, Noriko, and Jim

Jill Nelson, Cindy and Jim Lasswell, Wes Jordan

     The reason for our trip was the opening of the new museum.It features an exhibit on my father's work on the Battle of Midway and the shooting down of Admiral Yamamoto. In the WW-II exhibit are three notable features: the diplomatic Code Purple, Enigma, and the JN-25 work my father accomplished in Station Hypo in Hawaii. The newly renovated museum is very interesting, and features exhibits from early Egypt through today. I recommend a visit by anyone who gets near Columbia, MD.
Jim at the National Cryptologic Museum

        Jim Metcalfe shared these two reminiscences from our Academy and post-graduation days. I invite you to follow his example by sending a story from your own experience at USNA. We would enjoy seeing it.
     Pete Carrothers ' stories in a recent Shipmate reminded me of two great adventures: cruise box races in First Company our plebe year and a bachelor party on December 22, 1963, at the Halfway House on Ritchie Highway just beyond the legal limit for Mids to drink.

     Pete talked about bringing the cruise box races to a halt, but I think it was preceded by a more physical mutiny. In the Spring of 1960, probably after Francis Gary Powers was shot down, some Firsties and 2nd Class turkeys were still disrupting our lives with cruise box races. Being a little guy, I didn't have any serious problem in changing uniforms inside the empty cruise boxes but my roommate Teb Bowman, 6'3" and over 200 lbs. had a very rough time. He would emerge in choker whites after changing from SDB with his whites torn and blood covered from the nails in the cruise boxes that were never really hammered flat and stuck into us as we squirmed inside the boxes while changing. Finally, a bunch of us said "enough is enough!" We picked out one of the most persistent tormentors, a Firstie who will remain anonymous, for a shower party. After taps about 10 or 15 of us plebes burst into the Firstie's room. We made a beeline for his rack, flipped him over, wrapped in his gray blanket and took him into his shower where we turned the water on hot and heavy and whacked him with our shower clacks. Others went for his locker and dumped everything out into a pile. We all then headed back to our rooms. During the whole melee we never touched anything on our tormentor's roommate's property. Whether he remained or simply left, I don't remember but I heard that when he was asked the names of the plebes, he said he "didn't get a good look at them." Years later I ran into the roomie and asked if that was what he said. He just grinned and said nothing. I thanked him. Pete probably did make peace with the Firsties, and I believe that was the end of cruise box races and shower party raids in First Company in 1960.

     During flight training, leave was precious. Weddings were on your own time, so Lisa and I arranged to have our wedding on December 23, 1963. The Training Command was shut down anyway and my papers were signed off. Ron Baxter and I drove from Pensacola straight to Virginia Beach where Ron had a girlfriend. I then drove on through the night until my generator died. The temperature dropped below 12F. Not fun. A light on in a farmhouse attracted my attention and the owner let me call a Richmond VW dealership in the early morning. By noon or so I was back on the road to Annapolis and just in time for the rehearsal at St. Anne's and dinner at the Alumni House. Since several of the 12 groomsmen were Midshipmen we had to find someplace outside the area in which it was not only against USNA regs for Mids to drink alcoholic beverages but also against state law to even serve them alcoholic beverages. We drove in an ever-increasing blizzard to the Halfway House. That evening is a blur, but I did later find out the reason for my concussion that night: two of my classmates were carrying me to the car and let go of their precious cargo. My head hit the curb a mighty blow. It is safe to say I didn't feel a thing and the wedding in St. Anne's went off without a visible problem. No one even noticed I was wearing an Air Force blue tie provided by my USAF Best Man, George Huber !

        Mike Blackledge has submitted three photos and related news for you to see.
     As a widower I married the widow of our classmate George Nolan , automatically obtaining an additional family. George and Bonnie's eldest daughter, Marcey, lives in Lewisburg, PA. Their son Alan plays soccer for Union College (Schenectady, NY). Marcey sent us a photo of herself and our classmate Jim Eckert in September. This is what she said about it:. 
     I was at a Lycoming College vs. Lancaster Bible College men's soccer game with my husband, who happened to be wearing the only Navy t-shirt he owns Some guy came up to us and said, "Did you come to the wrong game too?" After a sheepish "No, I'm not in the Navy," I told the nice man that my dad went to the Academy. Then the gentleman pointed to his hat with an embroidered class crest and said, "63." That's when I knew the world is good and I still have a connection to folks I thought I lost a long time ago.
     After getting Marcy's news I followed up with Jim Eckert and received this reply: "Yes, one never knows where we will run into a USNA 63 connection. I and my wife were at the game to see our grandson, a freshman on the Lancaster Bible College soccer team, and it was a beautiful September evening in Pennsylvania. We live near Troy, PA, north of Williamsport, where the game was played."
A chance encounter

        We close this month's report with two more photos that Mike shared with us. The first was made before a Navy-Air Force game watch party in Albuquerque on 1 October. Left to right are Olen (O.D.) Thompson '63, Mike Blackledge, and Michael Eyolfson (USAFA '76).

        The other photo was taken on Navy Day 1948. It shows Mike's father, Captain A.D. Blackledge, then Commanding Officer of the Naval Ordnance Plant in Indianapolis, with Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, who had been President Franklin D. Roosevelt's personal chief of staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during World War II.

        Whew! That's a lot of news. Help keep the momentum going by sending me an email about what you've been up to lately.

Happy Holidays to all of you. May the new year 2023 be your best year ever!

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