Shipmate Column
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Pres:  CAPT W. Spencer Johnson IV, USN (Ret.)
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
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For any classmate you can go to the Classmates Page and enter his name to read his current biography if available.

        This month we have news of adventures on the water and on foot, honors to deserving men, and accounts of social activities on both coasts of the USA. Thanks to all our contributors.

        Bill Earner has just completed what many consider the journey of a lifetime. Here is his account of the experience.

     From April 21 through May 26, I was a pilgrim, or a peregrino in Spanish, as I walked the ancient path of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. Beginning in St. Jean Pied de Port, France, the Camino wends its way 775 km. as officially counted , to the Cathedral of St. James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela in the northwestern corner of Spain. I walked through the Pyrenees, along Spain's northern mesita and plains, the Galician Mountains, and alongside countless mountain streams and brooks. It was a real adventure, a demanding physical experience, a time of reflection and of meeting many English-speakers walking the same path. I walked daily through large cities like Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, and Astorga and through small places like Zubiri, Belorado, Carrion de las Condes, and Triacastela. My life was simple. I watched no TV, saw no English language newspaper, washed my own clothes, ate a common breakfast and the daily menu de Peregrino for most dinners. (Well, a few times a steak was called for). The food was always good, the cafe con leche and vino tinto wonderful. I enjoyed great and varied conversation with a variety of people young and middle aged (there were but a handful at my age). I met people of all continents, many religions, and many interests. I lost a company-mate, Jack Donegan, while walking just a few days after finding the church of San Telmo, patron saint of Sailors and Navigators. It some ways it was magical; in every way it was special and will be a highlight of my life.
A peregrino completes the pilgrimage

        Both Dick Augur and Dave Bingemann told me about Bill's illustrated and informative blog from his time on the Camino, available by clicking Here Perhaps you'll want to follow in his footsteps.

        We extend our sympathy to Tom Miller for the loss of his wife, Ros, who passed away on 14 June in Honolulu. Tom can be contacted at 99-251 Iini Way, Aiea, HI 96701.

        Mal Wright sent this illustrated news from the Pacific Northwest:
     Dave Oliver visited the Pacific Northwest on June 24th to promote his new book: Against the Tide, Rickover's Leadership Principles and the Rise of the Nuclear Navy. He spoke at the monthly meeting of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Naval Submarine League and again, on the 25th, at a "Blue and Gold Social" hosted by the Puget Sound Chapter of the Naval Academy Alumni Association. Both events were well attended and his words were well received. The photo shows the Class Of 1963 attendees at the Submarine League luncheon.
Bill Hahn, Mal Wright, Dave Oliver, Don Lachata

        In May, United Press International named Harlan Ullman its first Arnaud de Borchgrave distinguished columnist.
        In a note to readers of his first subsequent column, Harlan said this:
     UPI has granted me the great honor and distinction of being named UPI's first Arnaud de Borchgrave distinguished columnist. As those who know me know, it will be impossible to duplicate Arnaud's intellect, wisdom, insights, sense of humor and more than occasional irreverence. However, this appointment recognizes Arnaud's monumental contribution to journalism and reporting truth and fact as he saw both. I am profoundly humbled and hugely appreciative.
        Harlan is also Chairman of the Killowen Group that advises leaders of government and business and Senior Advisor at Washington D.C.'s Atlantic Council and Business Executives for National Security.
        John Castro has an extra copy of the 1963 Lucky Bag. If you would like to have it, contact him at

        Our two Vietnam POW classmates have been in the public eye recently.
        Denver Key has been inducted into the Wilkes County, NC, Hall of Fame. Visit the Hall's web site by clicking HERE to see the full entry about him, including a fine video in which he appears.
        Maryland Public Television held a month-long Salute to Vietnam Veterans in June on the air and at locations across the state. Mike Cronin was featured in this display that was mounted in the Frederick, MD, library and perhaps elsewhere in the state. Visit the MPT web site HERE to learn about the extensive activities and for links to films and Vietnam-related resources.

        The text below the photos reads, "Torture is not an effective method of getting the truth. Torture is an effective method of getting compliance. If you're tortured enough, and the guy says, 'Okay, tell me that you are a murderer.' you'll tell him you're a murderer. Or if he asks an open-ended question, what you can do is make up something. That's what happens when people are tortured. That's what I did. I either told lies or I made stuff up."

Al Breen sent this photo from his home in Bergen County, NJ.
Al Breen welcomes New Jersey official

     This picture was made at the monthly meeting of our Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla of which I serve as commander. (My wife of 52 years always liked men in uniform.) With me is County Freeholder Maura De Nicola, a representative for Veterans' affairs in New Jersey. Her son is a 2009 Naval Academy graduate, an F/A-18E pilot recently deployed aboard CARL VINSON flying missions against ISIS. She related to us on several levels: as a Legislator dealing with Veterans Affairs, as a mom of a Naval Aviator in harm's way, and as a Naval Academy grad's mom.
        Al is a retired United Airlines Captain. His Current Biography notes that he still takes to the sky, now in his own Seneca II light twin aircraft, flying recreationally as well as for the U. S. Coast Guard, under orders, on surveillance and logistic missions in the Northeast corridor.
        This season's first wedding news -- including a '63 - '13 connection -- was provided by Watt Miles.
     On June 6, Anne and I attended the wedding of the lovely Ashby Elizabeth Lee and LT(jg) Michael J. Washington, Class of 2013, at Christ Church in Saluda, VA. In addition to the Another Link in the Chain connection, the bride's grandmother is a long-time next door neighbor (We recall when the bride was born, for goodness sakes.). Also, our daughter Sarah taught both bride and groom at Maury High School here in Norfolk. Last summer we hosted the couple for dinner at Anne's brother's house in Pensacola. It was a very pleasant and relaxed evening. During the meal I asked Michael when he had his first solo, "Tomorrow" he answered, more casually than I would have expected. Clearly he wasn't sweating it. Michael is still in flight school, graduating shortly and going into helicopters.
     It was a beautiful wedding at a 300 year-old church (most notable to Marines because LtGen Lewis B. (Chesty) Puller is buried in the churchyard there). The reception was also a really first class event, among and perhaps the best I have ever attended, at the bride's grandfather's place at Heron Cove on the Piankatank River. Highlights included a sword arch performed by classmates from 2013 and the groom's brother, Matthew Washington Class of 2017. I had a brief conversation with the groom's father, Cdr. Craig Washington, USN (Ret), Class of 1989. He works at the Alumni Association now, and had some very nice words to say about how the Class of 1963 ran its ALITC program.
Watt Miles with LTJG and Mrs. Washington '13

        Tom O'Brien has been a good publicist for his 18th Companymate, prominent racing sailor Denny Vaughan. Here's Tom's latest news report:
Denny Vaughan

     "BZ" to Denny Vaughan and the crew of his boat, BRAVO ZULU, for completing the Van Isle 360 Race successfully on June 19th, placing 5th overall out of the 15 racing sailing yachts in its division. The two-week race included nine legs making a counterclockwise circumnavigation of Vancouver Island, BC. I bet Denny and his crew are glad to be back in port for a few days of rest before heading home to the Seattle area.
     Denny has told me that BRAVO ZULU, a Beneteau 40.7, was ranked #9 in the Puget Sound area over the last two years -- out of 570 racing yachts! I understand that the "next big one" on the horizon is the Victoria-to-Maui race.
Returning to port

BZ's crew enjoys great sailing with Mt. Ranier in the distance

        In May, Bob Maier signed on as a crewman for a friend who was repositioning his boat north from Florida. When putting into St. Simons Island, GA, he noticed what he termed "this old lady" in the harbor. The marina confirmed she was a YP, but had no other information. What stories could she tell?

        Here's some naval history you probably are unaware of: In 1917 the U.S. Navy built a full-size wooden battleship in Union Square, New York City. Intended as a recruitment and training center, the ship was commissioned as a normal seagoing ship and manned by trainee sailors from the Newport Training Station. It was in use for three years. For more information and some fascinating photographs, click HERE .

        To wrap up our nautical theme, here's a refreshing photo from FITZGERALD's web site -- Swim Call!

        Induction day for the USNA Class of 2019 was Wednesday, 1 July. What a future those young men and women will have! Consider for a moment the perennial question we ask each other: Would you go back 56 years and begin again?

        Don't forget to write to me. Let's keep our news exchange full and lively.

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