Shipmate Column
July/August 2002

Pres:  Stephen M. Duncan
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
25 Sweetwater Lane, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
h: 828-862-4245  e:
Web site:

Remember that you can click on any underlined Classmate's name to view his Current Biography.

        In the May issue of Shipmate I printed a request from Bob Polich for recollections about Dan Moran, who had been killed in Vietnam in 1967. Bob has remained in touch with Dan's mother and was hoping to obtain some information to share with her. Bob's request brought a swift response from Mike Cronin, from which I have excerpted this text:
    I joined VA-23 aboard MIDWAY during the last week in May of 1965. MIDWAY had been on Yankee station since April and was flying missions over North Vietnam every day. Dan was already in the squadron when I got there. It was great to see a friendly face when I checked in. I had not known Dan well at the Academy, but he was his usual cheerful self and went out of his way to be a friend and help me get settled in. I flew my first mission a few days later. It was supposed to have been a milk run, but while we were airborne, Paul Ilg '61 was shot down way up north on the Laotian border and my section went up to act as rescap. Paul was rescued a few days later. We stayed until late in the day and had to refuel twice and return to the ship for a night landing after 3.5 hours.

Through all the time I was in the squadron, Dan was a good friend -- always cheerful in spite of often grim circumstances. He was there before me, and after me, and was probably a better officer than I was. He used to refer to me as "Seagull." He often said to me, "Cronin, you are just like a seagull, all you do is eat, sleep, crap, and fly." The truth was he had a more demanding job than I had. He worked in maintenance and had about 40 enlisted men under him. I had joined the squadron at sea and really hadn't been given a whole lot to do at first. Perhaps they didn't expect me to live long.

After I was shot down in January of 1967, I recall brooding over how close I had been to completing my tour and going home. At the time I was captured, we were scheduled to leave for home within three weeks. I would have been the end of my second cruise and I would have been finished with Vietnam. I had accumulated 175 missions total and of those about 125 over the North. I'm sure Dan had flown about as many as I had. I pictured everyone else in the squadron returning home and getting on with their lives. I must admit I spent some time indulging in self-pity. The bad news about Dan snapped me out of it. I learned of his loss a few months later from others who were captured later and had known of his shoot down. That made me realize how lucky I was to be alive. In just under two years in VA-23, Dan and I had more than our share of near death experiences. It is only by luck that I am still around. I will always remember Dan fondly, especially his unfailing good cheer and slightly askew smile. He was a great guy.

        About himself, Mike offered this update:
    My news is that I've been retired from American Airlines for a year. At AA you are out when you're sixty. I've been working for our union as a consultant and was just recently asked to step up as Executive Director of our coalition, The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations.

        From the Heart of Texas comes this brief status report from Lanny Cox:
    We're still in the Fort Worth area with two teenagers, three cats, and a dog. My wife Patsy is working as the Administrative Assistant to the Fort Worth City Manager, daughter Emily is now a busy high school junior, and son Landon III is finishing up 8th grade. Both kids play in the band (high school marching bands are almost as big a deal as high school football here in Texas) and both are on their school tennis team. Emily is still pursuing her dream of attending USNA. She has been accepted for the Naval Academy Summer Seminar program this June. As for me, I am still serving as one of four Financial Planning Principals at the Home Office of First Command Financial Planning, Inc. (formerly United Services Planning Association). Our firm specializes in financial planning for the military family and sponsors the annual Marine Corps Marathon.

        Over the years, Jim Ring has been uncommonly faithful to the memory of our deceased classmates. I won't recount here the many things he has done on behalf of the Class of 1963 but will share with you this account of his recent visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.
    Well, today is the 19th of May and as usual, I try to visit The Wall. Today was the 35th anniversary of my roommate Jim "Kelly" Patterson being shot down over the North. Usually when I go I bring an American Flag to place at panel 20 E. This year I had some more things to place at the Wall. Steve Coester was nice enough to send me a composite photo containing the names and Lucky Bag pictures of all 13 of our classmates whose names are on The Wall.

I got up early and was there at 0630. That is the best time, because there is no one else there. I went to panel 20E and said the usual "Lord's Prayer" while touching Jim's name on the Wall. I laid the flag and the picture at the base of the panel along with the following note: " Dear Jim: 35 years ago today you were shot down over the North. For two days, we talked to you on the ground and never heard from you since. Your brother, Luck, has never given up the search for you and has traveled to the North and to Kazakhstan to find about you. I don't think that he will ever give up.

I have placed here a picture of you and the other 12 men from the Naval Academy Class of 1963 who were killed in Vietnam. Four panels over on 24E, I left a cap from the USS FITZGERALD. Our classmate, Bill, was killed while an adviser to the South Vietnamese and a ship was named after him. I think it was some comfort to his widow and their three children. As long as I am alive, I won't forget you or the sacrifice you and the other 12 have given. We miss you. Your roommate, Jim"

Then I went down to 24E and said the same prayer with Bill Fitzgerald. I had a cap from the commissioning of the FITZGERALD and I placed it in front of the panel along with this note. "This cap commemorates the USS FITZGERALD - DDG -62. She was named after our classmate, Bill Fitzgerald. Bill was one of 13 U.S. Naval Academy Class of '63 classmates, who were killed in Vietnam. They are gone but not forgotten!" Then I traveled to each of the panels that hold the names of our Classmates and said hello to each one. Looking at those pictures of each one really made me miss each one more. It seems like only yesterday, when we were walking around Bancroft Hall with them. Some might think all of this is a little too schmaltzy, but at 62, I don't really care.

        For your use when you visit The Wall yourself, here are the locations of our classmates' names: Ken Buell - Panel 1W - line 73; Carl Doughtie- Panel 2E - line 4; Bill Fitzgerald - Panel 24E - line 86; Donald MacLaughlin - Panel 4E - line 51; Chuck Marik - Panel 8E - line 93; Daniel Moran - Panel 14E - line 36; Doc Palenscar - Panel 17E - line 59; James Patterson - Panel 20E - line 48; Jerry Pinneker - Panel 6E - line 26; Stan Smiley - Panel 20W - line 27; Skip Templin - Panel 4E - line 83; Rick Trani - Panel 42W - line 24; John Worcester - Panel 2E line 126. You can view the composite photo on our web site by going directly to /jpg/63OnWall.jpg.

       Here's more evidence that our children are taking over the world from us: Carla and Jeff Miles' daughter Erica Miles Smith '87, was promoted to the rank of Commander on 31 May. Now a Public Affairs Officer for CINCPAC, Erica is the first of our USNA alumni children to attain the rank of O-5. Congratulations to her and her parents!

       This May, the Class of 1963 continued its participation in the annual Northern Virginia bicycle tour to benefit Multiple Sclerosis research. Known as "Terry's Team" in honor of classmate Terry Abell, our group of experienced (i.e., older) riders always perseveres from start to finish, regardless of challenging terrain and weather conditions. This year's event is described in two reports -- the first from Bob Harper, the second from Brev Moore.
    Our participation in this year's MS ride in Northern Virginia took us from Manassas to Fredericksburg and back. This photo shows Peter Browne and me just before the ride began.
Bob Harper and Peter Browne before the MS bike tour

We had planned to meet Brev Moore at the starting point but were unable to find him in the large crowd of riders assembling in the rain. The rain was not only wet but chilly, and we were very glad to be wearing the rain jackets for their warmth. About 1100 it stopped raining but the temperature dropped and stayed in the 50s. Our only defense was push the pedals faster to stave off the chills. We moved quickly but missed one of the required turns and had to do some dead reckoning cross-country navigation, eventually getting back on the official route. All the "kids" riding were very solicitous of us old guys and the helpers at the rest stops provided smiles and applause that warmed us up.

At a rest stop where we enjoyed (all too briefly) the benefits of a space heater, we found that in spite of challenging weather and terrain we had covered 50 miles in four hours. I gave Peter a hard time for pushing an old man like me too hard! Actually, it took about that pace to ward off the chill, so we accepted the helpers' offer of ibuprofen, figuring that by the time we got to the finish, the chemicals and the tired muscles would both kick in. Peter's energy level kept us pumping as we neared Fredericksburg and we entered the downtown area, finishing just before 1400.

       For another perspective, here is Brev's account of the event:

    When I arrived in Manassas it was still pouring rain. I looked for Bob and Pete but since it was well after the planned departure time and was pouring, I figured they had left or bypassed this wonderful opportunity. After an hour or so I finally set out on my bike -- and it stopped raining! So, I was on the way with only the wind and cool weather to counteract what really turned out to be a pretty nice day.

I don't ride a bike much and I find that for one thing biking isn't easier on the knees than running, as some proclaim, and for another, either my butt is too small and/or tender or they don't know how to make the seats so they are comfortable (I am on my third seat!). Anyway, the rest of our three-man team was faster than me. I remember arriving in Fredericksburg around 1500. I was pretty tired, I'll have to admit, but I put up my tent, stayed the night, and headed out for the trip home on Sunday morning about 0815. It was a beautiful day, although somewhat chilly and windy still. I can vouch that I had a case of buttimus hurtimus maximus!

All in all, I was sorry to have been steaming independently, missing the camaraderie of classmates, but I am glad that the USNA '63 team was still represented in honor of Terry Abell. I kept thinking that although I may be uncomfortable or hurting a little, it is nothing compared to what Terry and other MS victims put up with every day. I would like to encourage a much larger number of our classmates to participate next year in Terry's behalf. It does not have to be the 54- mile trip to Fredericksburg or the 100 mile round trip. There is a 30-mile option and it can't rain every year! I am sure our participation gives Terry a morale boost, and I can't think of a more deserving guy. If you don't want to make the ride or can't, send a donation to the MS Society in the name of our class. Quality 63!

       Dick Wyttenbach-Santos reported a warship sighting of special interest:
    On Saturday 27 April, I was sailing my 26- ft Santana sailboat in Apra Harbor, Guam, and encountered a guided missile destroyer entering the harbor. I fell off the wind to pass just astern of the ship and saw from the name on her stern that she was the FITZGERALD -- the Class of 1963's ship, named for classmate Bill Fitzgerald. I got a lump in my throat when I saw his name there. She was headed west, proceeding independently, and spent a few days in Guam enroute. Her paint job was perfect. Just after I cut under her stern, the Navy harbor security police boat came over to check me out to make sure I was not up to any terrorist activity. Apra Harbor is one mile by four miles, huge, and every Saturday there are only one or two sailboats in the harbor -- not at all like San Diego! I am now running for election to the island-wide public school policy board, a non-partisan position that will not interfere with my job at the university. It will be interesting to see if anyone with a name as long as mine can get elected.

       Apropos of Guam, CDR Steven Colon '81 joins our group of contributors this month. We thank him for his e- mail conveying a photo made this spring.
    I was in Guam recently when the COMSEVENTHFLT flagship, USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC 19), pulled in for a port visit. During the visit we had a big top reception for invited government, civilian, and other guests. While there, I met Irene and Dick Cherry and took this picture of them. By the way, I have had a lot of interaction with the class of 1963 over the years. CDR Phil Marsden was my math prof first class year, and steered me to selecting Surface Warfare at service selection. On my first ship, USS FOX (CG 33), my CO was RADM Paul Tobin.
Dick and Irene Cherry

        Steve Coester seemed to be the perpetual motion man this spring. In April, he and his wife Yvonne made an extended visit to Australia to attend a wedding and see much of the country. While there, they visited several national parks near Sydney and Melbourne, hiked extensively, took a balloon ride, and drank a lot of good wine. Here a photo of the happy couple enjoying McKensie Falls.
The Coesters in Australia

In early June, Steve took his grandson Stephen for a camping expedition ranging from the rivers of Florida to the Great Smoky Mountains. His SUV was well loaded with camping gear, provisions, a full bicycle rack, and two kayaks on top. As they headed toward the Smokies, they spent a night at the Shelley home. We enjoyed dining at a local restaurant with Steve's companymate Bob Polich and his wife Liz. Still living near Chicago for most of the year, Liz and Bob came over from their second home in nearby Hendersonville, NC.

        Alex Daunis submitted two photos which I'm sure you'll enjoy seeing. The first shows him and his daughter Sarah on the beach at Vieques this February. The other presents Alex the actor, in costume for his role as a Chicago policeman in a PBS re-enactment of the 1886 Haymarket riots. He said that he was later chosen to be the bomb thrower but only his hands and shadow were shown.
On the beach at Vieques

Alex Daunis in costume

        Well, the N-triple-A says that the new coaching staff will bring us an exciting season of Navy football this autumn. We've heard that before but I think that this time it may actually be true. Come and see for yourself! If nothing else, you'll enjoy seeing classmates and their ladies at the 1963 tailgate parties in the stadium parking lot before and after every home game. For ticket info, phone 1-800-US4-NAVY.

Finally, be sure to visit not only our web site at but also the Alumni Association's excellent web site at . There's a lot of good info there for your pleasure and benefit.

  QUALITY - '63

This page is 
   June 2002 
posted on:
 13 June 2002
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