Shipmate Column
June 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.

        We begin this month with important 60th Reunion information about the '63 class tailgate and the Navy-USAFA football game. It came from our reunion chair Bill Earner and was published in Spencer Johnson's Irish Pennants email to the entire class on 2 March. I'm repeating it here as a reminder that if you plan to attend the reunion football game and tailgate you must act soon.

     We have just been informed by the Naval Academy Athletic Association (NAAA) that we must have all tickets for the reunion game with Air Force purchased by May 1st. I recognize that this is a short timeline, but since the game is undoubtedly going to be a sellout, the NAAA wants to know just how many tickets are sold as soon as possible to give everyone who wants a ticket a fair shot at getting one.
     You may order your tickets from the NAAA at the Navy Sports web site, (go to Tickets Tab>Ticket Promo Codes then enter PROMO CODE 1963 ). We will use PROMO code 1963. It is very important that you use the PROMO code when ordering so that NAAA recognizes the class order and your tickets are in the Class of 1963 seating section. That way we can ask for more tickets if our initial block request is filling up ahead of the May 1st deadline. If you want to sit as a company group, it is recommended that one person order all the tickets for the group/company and the others pay that person. Still, remember to use the PROMO code 1963.
     The tickets for the Air Force game are eighty dollars each ($80.00).
     If you are planning to attend the Tailgate party ahead of the game, you must have a football game ticket to enter the Tailgate area. If you are not interested in watching the game from a stadium seat in the Class section, you may order a Standing Room Only (SRO) ticket. SRO tickets cost fifty dollars apiece $50.00. You will not be permitted into the stadium seating area with an SRO ticket but may easily watch from the end zone wall area. It is the current plan to hold the Tailgate under the large tent adjacent to the Class of '53 Pavilion.
     I recognize this is a major change from our past reunions in Annapolis, but at this point in our journey, I think we can make it happen and have a wonderful reunion.

        I am sorry to report the death of Arnold "Sonny" Glassner's wife, Laurie, on 4 March. Sonny may be contacted at 5106 Saint Albans Way, Baltimore, MD 21212.

        Peter Quinton sent an interesting account of his duty aboard the hospital ship USS REPOSE during the Vietnam war.

     I was attached to the USS REPOSE (AH-16) as the Navigator and Personnel officer during the ship's reactivation in 1965 and took it over for all of 1966 to Vietnam. REPOSE was the first hospital ship to be stationed off the coast of VN providing medical support primarily to USMC in the I Corps area but did handle wounded Army and Coast Guard personnel. We rotated between the DMZ in the North and South to Chu Lai. I had in my possession a ship's plaque, commissioning pennant, commissioning program, and cruise book that sat in my cruise box for 56 years! When visiting the naval dispensary in Annapolis, I saw a model of the REPOSE and had an ah-ha moment about what to do with these artifacts . I contacted the C.O. of the clinic, and she was thrilled to have the items. These pictures show me presenting them to her as well as how they are currently displayed.

     If you look closely at the display, on the right-hand side is the cruise book. Look at the top center and you will see a younger version of me with my trusty sextant and my right-hand quartermaster (QM1 Greer) taking the time of the star sight. Professionally, it proved to be a very valuable experience for me as I learned how to hone my skills in celestial navigation; we did not have GPS or any electronics to use for navigation. I used those skills in a number of follow-on ship tours.
     As the Viet Cong threatened to sink the ship, we never stopped being underway even when we were in Da Nang harbor. (Yes, it was wide enough to steam around in the harbor.) We had to go back to Subic Bay periodically to refuel; did not have the capability to refuel underway from a tanker. On one of those trips to Subic we ran into a Typhoon but skirted around it but not before we hit 30-ft waves and wind gusts up to 80kts! It was a very interesting tour of duty for a surface warfare officer, and I gained a great appreciation for the Navy's medical community.

        Responding to the photo of Jim Koehn's cruise box in our March-April Shipmate report, Jon Harris sent this picture of his still-in-service box in the corner of their guest room. It was decorated years ago by his wife's younger sister, who then stained it. It's now used as an off-season clothes box.

        Jim Koehn has been going through "some old stuff" at his home and came across these documents from our USNA era. They'll stimulate some memories, I'm sure.


Merrill Dorman provided this information about a memorial to our classmates and others lost in the sinking of USS SCORPION (SSN 589) in 1968.
     Fifty-five years ago, on May 22nd we lost three USNA '63 shipmates in the tragic sinking of the SCORPION as she was returning from a Cold War deployment: John Burke, George Farrin, and Charles Lamberth along with 96 others. Every year their family members and many submariners gather on that date for a memorial service here in the Norfolk area. Several families (including the Lamberths) have established endowed scholarships through the Dolphin Scholarship Foundation (DSF) in their memory. One retired University of Virginia Professor has established two scholarships in the name of his brother, TM3(SS) Steven Miksad. Last fall an anonymous donor started a new scholarship named for the submarine itself with matching pledges as a challenge until fully funded. The class of 1965 has already contributed.

     I am proud that I served for 22 years as Secretary and Treasurer on the Board of Directors of DSF and remain a member emeritus. DSF awards over $400,000 annually in competitively based scholarships to dependents of qualified submariners. I donate through my IRA RMD in order to get the maximum federal and state income tax benefits.
     If any classmate wishes to remember our shipmates and contribute to this challenge, please go to and see the details on the home page.

        March brought the publication of Steve Duncan's latest book, Dangerous New Threats to America's Security: Failed Political Leadership and the Race to Deter or Win the "Big One." Steve said that he wrote it solely for the purpose of education. There is no markup from the publishing cost of the book and no profit is being made. It is available through Amazon and your local bookseller. Steve has written four previous books focusing on national security issues.

        We'll finish this month with three photos from some of our past Shipmate columns. The first was published in February 2005. Pictured are classmates who attended a Beat Army party at June and Chuck Stone's mountaintop home in Escondido, CA. These included Lee Cargill, John Dolby, Bob Easton ('64), Jim Fontana , Jerry Harken , Charlie Helsper, JJ Hogan , Steve Hoy, Don Jacobs, Jim Lasswell, Phil Marsden, John Middleton , Dave Moore, Win Orgera, Jay Roberts , Mike Rubel, John Ryan , Chuck Stone, Grant Telfer, Jim Thornton, Vern VonSydow, Rich Wilson, Mike Bonsignore, Bill Hughes , and Chuck Spadafora.
Beat Army party in December 2004

Shown in this picture from Homecoming 2004 are Charlie Minter and his father VADM Charles Minter (our honorary '63 classmate).
Two Charlie Minters - '63 and '37/'63

        This picture of Chet White was taken at our Homecoming tailgate in 2005. Would anyone deny that Chet's '63 class crest tattoo is the ultimate expression of the spirit of our great Naval Academy class?
Chet White's magnificent tattoo

        That's all for now, folks. Please keep sending me your news and photos to be shared in this news exchange.

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