Shipmate Column
July-August 2011

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.

        A major milestone in the Another Link in the Chain (ALITC) program occurred on 26 April. At the Bonds of Gold ceremony in Memorial Hall that evening, eleven class rings and miniatures were presented by the Class of 1963 to the Class of 2013 to be used as seed gold for their Naval Academy rings. Following remarks by our ALITC Coordinator, Ron Klemick, the rings were presented to representatives of 2013 by family members and classmates, each of whom made pertinent remarks. Click here to see the full text of these remarks and a copy of the ceremony's program on our web site. Printed below are two of the texts appearing there.
        This presentation was made by Bill Earner:
     This Class of 1963 ring is donated by a classmate who wishes to remain anonymous. As an anonymous donation, this ring represents all members of the Class of 1963, much as the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery represents all those who have given their lives in the service of their country.
     This ring therefore represents all 1,206 who entered the Naval Academy in June 1959, and the 876 who graduated four years later; the nineteen flag officers and five civilian equivalents; the thirteen members of the Class of 1963 who lost their lives in combat in Vietnam; and the fifteen others who died in the line of duty.
     This ring represents our three classmates who were awarded the Navy Cross and the one awarded an Army Distinguished Service Cross - each the Nation's second highest award for gallantry - as well as our fifteen classmates awarded the Silver Star. It represents our classmate who is the namesake for a Navy ship, USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62). And it represents all the other members of the Class of 1963, who, besides the military, have led diverse and distinguished careers in business, government, medicine, law, religion, and the arts.
     As you wear your class rings melded with the gold of ours, we hope they will always remind you that we are your heritage and you are our legacy. We wish you fair winds and following seas in the great voyage of life that lies before you - a voyage you will surely make with the distinction that is the hallmark of a proud wearer of a United States Naval Academy ring.

        These are the closing words by Spencer Johnson:
     A number of years ago I, along with six or seven other classmates, attended the funeral of a classmate at Arlington National Cemetery. We gathered in the back of the chapel at Ft. Myer. We were asked by an usher "Are you family?" One classmate answered, "No, we are closer than that." We were seated right behind the immediate family.
     The bonds that you have formed and are in the process of forming with your classmates will only strengthen over the course of your lives. You will grow closer with every passing year, bound by your experiences here, your shared service to our country, and your experiences in life. In the blink of an eye, you will be standing here, blending rings from your class with those of the class of 2063.
     When I received my ring, I took great pride in the fact that it reflected my achievement, surviving three years here at the Academy and soon to be a first classman, a "ring knocker". Over the years I have learned that the ring I wear is only partly about me. It is more about my classmates and their critical assistance that allowed me to graduate from this institution, their many achievements and sacrifices in service to our country, and their individual and collective commitment, integrity and sense of honor that characterizes us all.
     My ring represents our Class endeavors to help educate the children of our deceased classmates, and our support for the Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence, which you and many others have used to sharpen your academic skills and prowess. We do these things as a living memorial to our classmates. Our support for the Center for Academic Excellence represents our investment in the Brigade of Midshipmen, and the officer corps, by assisting you to reach your goals and to go beyond. It is our Class legacy, one that we hope that in future years you the Class of 2013 will consider joining us in furthering.
     The Class of 1869 was the first to have a class ring. They commissioned a jeweler to make them the same ring so that they "could remember each other forever". These bands of gold are indeed bonds of gold, linking all that have come before us, and all those who will come after us. We are forged by the same time proven process. We, like you, are committed. We, like you, are tested. We wear this ring with pride for all that have come before us, for our classmates, and for you. Fair winds and following seas, 2013.
Presenters and guests

The ceremony in progress

Ron Klemick

The donated rings

Norm Shackelton and Colin Rockefeller

Spencer Johnson and Andrew Owens

Jim Ring and DeWayne Hooper

Julie Testa and Hannah Yun

Ollie Doherty and Will Parker

Jim Lloyd and Ted Baumgardner

Jim Metcalfe and Peter Nguyen

John Wilkinson and Dan Murphy

Dan Koczur and Jocelyn Knudsen

Jeff Miles and Michelle Ferguson

Bill Earner and Justin Haan

        Start looking for your dancing shoes! Though the date has not been confirmed, we anticipate that the Ring Dance for the Class of 2013 will take place on Friday, 17 May 2012. Members of the Class of 1963 and their ladies are invited to attend. Judging by accounts from earlier classes, this is a most memorable occasion for the Link in the Chain senior class and the junior class as well. The uniform will be tuxedo with white jacket or mess dress white jacket. Small medals will be appropriate with either rig. Mark the date now and plan to come with your best girl to rechristen your ring and enjoy a most memorable evening with the Class of 2013. (Caution: some earlier classes have reported that wives who did not previously have a miniature left Annapolis with one.)

        Returning in April from San Diego to their home in Georgia, Fran and Tom Reemelin visited Carol and Ray Ross at their home in Montrose, CO. Thanks to Ray for sending this snapshot.
Ray Ross and Tom Reemelin

        I enjoyed talking with Nick Nerangis at the reunion in San Diego. He promised to send me an account of his activities to share with you. I think you'll enjoy this:
     Wasn't that a terrific reunion? It was great to see all those guys who used to be young and all the foxy chicks that they hang around with. As I told you there, I have been selected and am now included in a new book entitled "If I Were Your Daddy, This Is What You'd Learn " by Julia Espey with a foreword by Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul co-author). The book chronicles the experiences of about 30 dads in raising their children, focusing on the methods they used and the values they imparted. I'm in some prestigious company in the book although I have not yet met any of them. There are several recognized experts in their respective fields including one who is a Nobel Prize co-winner.
     How I got in to that group I'll never quite grasp. I had met the author on a plane trip from Washington, DC, to Minneapolis two years ago. We started talking and the topic turned to raising children. I told her some of the recollections I had and the goals I hoped to achieve in raising my children. At the end of the flight she asked me if she could call to interview me as she was writing a book. I thought that might never occur but in fact it did about a month later. She apparently played the recorded interview to others involved in the publishing of the book and I made the cut to be included. The book has been out now since about November and is doing handsomely in sales.
     On another note, my career at McDonald's continues. Kathy and I have now been owner operators for 41 years. We are passing our many business ventures on to our children as time goes by. Our family now operates 14 McDonald's and an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, where you can have a meal and your favorite libation while watching a first run or classic movie. For good measure, we also have developed a commercial real estate venture and a limited service type Country Inn and Suites hotel.
     Life has been going along well. We have lived in Winchester, VA, since 1978. Kathy and I are very involved in the communities in which we operate businesses -- as are our children, who now all live within 30 miles of us and are all in our family enterprises. The things we are involved in make each day a new experience. Kathy and I are looking forward to the 50th and all the other reunions we will have in continuing the tradition of "Quality '63. "

        The recent mentions in this column of Class of 1963 children who have attained O-6 rank brought this response from Al Breen, who lodges a claim to be the first among us to become a four-striper after our USNA graduation:
     About the "class record" thing. Try these -- I attended our 10th class reunion at USNA. At that time I believe I was the first of the class to "make Captain." Albeit, I was working for Air Jamaica at the time. Also, I may be the last guy still on active duty as I fly surveillance missions on orders for the U. S. Coast Guard as part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Captain Al Breen, still in national service

     I am among over 30,000 people involved with the USCG Auxiliary providing a force multiplier for the active duty Coast Guard. Mostly, the individual flotillas throughout the country consist of boaters providing instruction and safety inspections to the recreational boating world.
     In recent years a few aviation "flotillas" have sprung up with a different mission. These flotillas (the CG Auxiliary has not yet seen fit to call them squadrons) utilize CG approved, privately owned aircraft to fly specific patrols on CG orders. The pilots and observers serve as lookouts and reporters while the regular CG is tasked with interdiction, enforcement, and rescue. Aviation patrols include surveillance for the Department of Homeland Security, as well as river and inlet ice accumulation, oil spill reporting, and occasional search and rescue for boats in trouble, and even downed aircraft.
     My unit flies five patrols a day, weather permitting, along the Hudson River and Lake Champlain to the Canadian border and along both coasts of Long Island out to Block Island off the eastern tip. A typical patrol lasts from 3 to 4 hours. While some of our pilots fly as many as ten patrols a month, I am only able to fly about three as I am still working full time as a SCADA engineer.
     Interestingly, our most senior pilot has flown in the U S Navy during WW II, Korea, and Vietnam.
     As an auxiliarist, I feel gratified to be still contributing in a small way to this country's military effort.

        In some quasi-athletic news, Navy has extended its losing streak in lawn sports against St. Johns College. Peter Quinton supplied this item from the event.
     This photo shows the 63'ers attending the annual croquet match (or should I say mis-match?) between USNA and St. Johns. Navy lost 3-1, which was not surprising, but we sure won the party! Everyone dressed up and we had a lot of champagne along with some great food! Left to right in the photo are Jim Lloyd, Marla and Jeff Miles, Katherine Lloyd, Norm and Judy Shackelton, Peter Quinton, Jennifer Earner, Jan Quinton, Eli Dabich, and Bill Earner. Also attending but not pictured were Eileen Dabich and Spencer Johnson.
At the annual croquet match in Annapolis

        It was good to hear from Paul Roundy recently. He sent this interesting information about a newsreel film in which he and other members of the 1963 Plebe Detail appear. The occasion was a Presidential visit to USNA.
     Back in late January, my youngest son (a YNC and Flag Writer for an Admiral here in CONUS) and I were talking about the Kennedy inauguration and somehow the conversation got around to a JFK quote that my son often uses in the speeches that he writes for the Admiral. In brief, President Kennedy said that he could think of no better service to one's country than that of serving in the United States Navy. My son also mentioned to me that the President made those remarks in a speech at the Naval Academy on 1 August 1963.
     Upon hearing that last little tidbit about the time and place, all kinds of bells and whistles went off in my mind. I told my son that I was there in the audience for the President's visit and heard that speech. I shared additional details with him: (1) as a new Ensign after graduation in June, I had been assigned to the Plebe Detail and remained at the Naval Academy for the summer of '63; and (2) that a film had been made of JFK's visit and that I was in it, caught laughing (as a member of the audience) at one of the President's jokes.
     This discussion led me to start looking for a copy of the film and, sure enough, a quick Google search led to a copy of the film that is available on the JFK Library website. Click Here to see the film.
     At about 1:46 into the clip you will see our classmate, Ted DelGaizo (who had been the Business Manager of our Lucky Bag) making a presentation of our 1963 yearbook to the President. As I understand it, Ted had been on leave in Massachusetts and was called back to Annapolis to make the presentation. Ted later told me that during the encounter, the President (ever ready with an appropriate quip) asked Ted if the class made any money on the project.
     At about 4:19, you can see yours truly laughing at the President's joke about the lesson regarding plebes being able to stand "at ease" coming "later in the course." Classmates may recognize other members of the Plebe Detail that I just do not recall.
     The President's quotation which my son mentioned comes across loud and clear in the speech, and as I was searching Google, the quote came up several times. Clearly, it is a lot more famous and popular than I realized. And one final observation: the speech is a wonderful reminder of the ability which President Kennedy had to deliver remarks in a smooth, effective, and captivating manner . . . no teleprompters in use here!
     To me, this has been a wonderful trip down Memory Lane. I have often thought about this event over the years, remembering it with fond memories but always being disappointed, thinking that I would never be able to see the film again (Note: shortly after the President's visit, I somehow saw the film so I knew that it existed and that I had been captured on film laughing). It is hard to believe that after almost 47 years I finally got to see it once more. I am hoping that others enjoy it as well.

        We'll wrap up this month's report with some background information about the planning for our 50th Reunion, provided by Class President Spencer Johnson.
     Reunion Chairman Bill Earner and his committee are hard at work planning for our 50th reunion in Annapolis. Following the great Mid-Term Reunion planned and executed by Chuck Stone and his dynamic West Coast reunion committee, there were a number of suggestions that our 50th reunion take place in the spring as opposed to the fall homecoming reunion date announced earlier.
     The reunion committee and I conferred with the Alumni Association, the Naval Academy and the NAAA as to the feasibility of a 2013 Spring reunion. After all the pros and cons of a Spring versus Fall event were taken into account, we decided to proceed with a Fall reunion in October 2013.
     An overriding consideration was the availability of facilities at the Academy for our events, particularly Alumni Hall for the class dinner (the only facility in town that will hold a group our size), the Chapel for a memorial service, and a reliably scheduled sporting event for our tailgate party. The Class of 1961 had their 50th reunion this April and were unsuccessful in gaining access to the facilities they desired because of competing scheduled events in the yard that had priority. There was no sporting event for '61's reunion and no tailgate event. Interaction with their Link Class, 2011, only one week from the onset of semester exams and three weeks from Graduation week, was limited to 30 midshipmen who attended their class dinner.
     Bill and Jennifer Earner and I observed the setup in Alumni Hall for a seated dinner for the class of '61, as Jan and Pete Quinton had done for the class of 1960. We talked to many attendees afterward. All reports and observations were very positive, including the space and ready ability to roam freely despite having a seated dinner. For these and other reasons, the decision was to proceed with the Fall schedule when we can be fairly well assured of getting the facilities that we all want for our 50th Reunion. The committee has reserved almost 400 rooms, and consideration is being given to starting the reunion a day early, on Wednesday, to provide even more time to those who want to roam and schmooze at a leisurely pace. So save the dates now-24-27 October 2013-for our 50th reunion in Annapolis!

        Keep in touch with me, folks! We need your participation to keep this news exchange full and lively.

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