Shipmate Column
May-June 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.

        The Class of 1963 Mid Term Reunion in San Diego has come and gone, and it was wonderful! Considered "Mid Term" because it was between our 45th and 50th Reunions, the event drew 343 people, including 189 classmates and widows. All 24 of our USNA companies were represented, with the 23rd having the most attendees (35) and the 21st close behind (34).

Assembling the souvenirs and handouts

The all-star registration team

Checking in for the reunion weekend

        The weekend began on Thursday, 31 March, with check-ins at our hospitality suite in the Manchester Grand Hyatt on the downtown San Diego waterfront. It was clear from the outset that the reunion was meticulously planned and organized. As the weekend progressed, we found that the leisurely pace of events and their precise execution assured a relaxing and unhurried experience. What fine work the reunion committee did for all of us!
Lord Hornblower passes the Hyatt towers

Part of the topside crowd

        The first reunion event, late on Thursday afternoon, was a San Diego Harbor cruise in beautiful weather aboard the Lord Hornblower. Margaritas, wine, and excellent food complemented the active socializing from stem to stern. Steve Duncan helped kick off the festivities with his skillful use of the boatswain's pipe.
Boatswain's Mate Striker Steve Duncan

Linda Zimmerman, Joan Baldwin, and Pat Emery

Jim Fontana and Don Jacobs

        After the cruise, we came ashore for dinners with USNA Companies and other groups. Friday morning began with a 0900 assembly aboard a small fleet of chartered buses at our hotel. To everyone's credit, all hands were present or accounted for and no one missed the movement to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. As we entered MCRD, we enjoyed seeing many platoons of recruits involved in various training activities. Seated in VIP sections, we observed the smartly executed graduation parade for a Recruit Company. Our classmate VADM George Emery and a retired Marine MGEN were the reviewing officers.
Bus muster

Grant Telfer and Jim Metcalfe

Arriving at the parade ground

The parade begins

George Emery and MGEN R.L. Bailey, USMC, C.O. of MCRD

        A short bus ride following the parade took us to the Admiral Kidd conference center for lunch and a business meeting. The food (the costs of which were underwritten by the 23rd Company) was excellent and the meeting was both informative and entertaining. Vern Von Sydow, our first class president, opened the proceedings as Master of Ceremonies. He began by noting that he and several other classmate members of the football team were from the Philadelphia area. He gave some humorous and potentially useful instructions on Philadelphia culture and dialects. (e.g., "How ya doin'?" "How YOU doin'?" )
Spencer Johnson

        After an invocation by classmate Pastor Wayne Clark, class president Spencer Johnson presided. Ron Klemick reported on events in the Another Link in the Chain program involving USNA '63 and '13, focusing on the Bonds of Gold ceremony set for 26 April. (A video greeting from members of the Class of 2013 had been shown as the class meeting began.) Bill Earner, chair of our 50th Reunion committee, gave an illustrated report on the plans for that event. The balance of the meeting was devoted to the Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence at the Academy. Our featured speaker was USNA Academic Dean Andrew Phillips, who presented a detailed and engrossing account of both the need for the CAE and its remarkable achievements in bolstering Midshipmen's academic performance and improving their retention in the Brigade. Class of 1963 Foundation president David Puckett spoke about our 50th Reunion class gift to the Academy, which will be a major financial gift to the CAE. He noted the excellent fundraising progress for this purpose and encouraged those who have not yet given or pledged to do so now - and to be generous.
        Representing the Mid Term Reunion Committee, which he chaired, June and Chuck Stone were recognized for the committee's outstanding results in planning and conducting the reunion. The proceedings were closed with a benediction by classmate Dave Konold.
Andrea Johnson, June and Chuck Stone, Spencer Johnson

Dave Konold and Vern Von Sydow

        Friday evening saw more company dinners and other informal gatherings. Saturday was "free play" time with no class events during the day, so many folks enjoyed excursions to local attractions such as the MIDWAY museum and the fabulous San Diego Zoo. Others enjoyed golfing with classmates; here are four of them.
Golfers Lee Cargill, Jim Penrod, Mickey Mays, and Jim Ring

        The final event of the reunion weekend was a grand soiree on Saturday aboard the historic steam ferry BERKELEY at the San Diego Maritime Museum. There was plenty of excellent food and drink to complement the unique setting and energetic socializing.
The Berkeley

        A highlight of the evening was a slideshow of several hundred photos from our Midshipman years. The pictures had been submitted by many of our classmates, then were assembled by Steve Coester into a professional-caliber presentation that played continuously on a large screen throughout the evening. (Attendees received a DVD copy of this presentation, and Steve is accepting additional digital images from classmates to be included in an enhanced version for our 50th reunion.)
Aboard the Berkeley

Midshipman photos were displayed on the passenger deck

Pattie and Dave Meyers, Terri and John Ryan

Phillip and Martha Marsden, Fran and Tom Reemelin

John and Sylvia Detweiler

Mike Harman

Tom Meyer and Fred Kaiser

Tom and Barbara Hall

Don Jacobs and Chuck Stone

Tony DeSantis

Lori Kate, Gary, and Casey Smith with silent auction items

Mario and Susan Fiori

        The soiree brought the conclusion of the silent auction to benefit the Center for Academic Excellence. Conceived and masterfully managed by Mike Krause and Mike Rubel, the auction included 51 offerings of weekend escapes and other experiences, works of art, collectibles, and other articles. Donors of the offerings included 31 classmates and four businesses. Total proceeds from the auction were $19,455 - a very fine addition to our 50th Reunion Legacy Gift. The two Mikes asked me to pass their appreciation to all our classmates who participated through their generous and thoughtful donations as well as those who successfully bid in support of the Legacy Gift.
        Sunday was departure day, with everyone taking away good memories of the long weekend. Many people expressed their appreciation to reunion committee members, saying that this was the best class reunion ever! Who could disagree?
        Some of our classmates were stranded in San Diego for a few extra days when Southwest Airlines cancelled scores of flights to investigate a maintenance issue. Reportedly, most of these couples made the best of the situation and enjoyed the enforced extension of their good times in San Diego.
        Here are the names of the reunion committee members, whose creativity, imagination, and hard work over many months effected such a memorable experience for everyone: Lee and Sue Cargill, Jim Thornton, Rich Wilson, Phillip Marsden, Bob and Sue Easton, Jim Fontana, JJ Hogan, John Ryan, Bill Hughes, Mike Rubel, Vern Von Sydow, Dave Meyers, Marirose and Karl Kozak, Don and Charlotte Jacobs, Mickey Mays, Grant Telfer, Donna Kaup, John Middleton, Chuck and June Stone .

Midshipmen 2/c in New Orleans, Summer 1961

        Among the photos in the reunion slide show was this image taken in Pat O'Brien's restaurant in New Orleans, showing a happy group drinking Hurricanes during 2nd Class Summer. Submitted by Bill Hughes, it shows Dave Meyers, Paul Revere, Gary Smith, and Bill in the rear and Fred Storz, Hoot Gibson, Zim Zimmerman, and Ben Cole in the front.
        If you have several - or many - photos from the reunion that you'd like to share, I suggest you post them on a photo sharing site such as,, or Once that's done, send the link to your photos to Steve Coester at and he'll post the info on our web site.

        I regret to report that we lost two classmates in the days immediately preceding the reunion.

        CAPT Jon P. Scott, USN (Ret.), died on 26 March from complications following surgery. His family may be contacted at 80 Alehson Street, Rye, NH 03870-2004.

        Robert "Bob" Eastman, of Coffeyville, KS, died on 29 March after suffering a sudden heart attack. Bob's family may be contacted at 131 West 8th, Coffeyville, KS 67337.
        Full obituaries for both men can be seen in the Last Call section of

        I recently learned of the death of Bill Marshall's wife, Nancy, on 21 March. Bill had predeceased her this January.

        A committal service for our classmate Jeff Niss will be held at the Naval Academy columbarium at 1100 on 10 June 2011. For additional information, contact Jeff's brother, Steve Niss '66, by e-mail at or see Hot News for Committal Service details.

        In a previous Shipmate issue I reported that Jack Hood's son John was promoted to Captain, USN, on 1 July 2010, perhaps becoming the first '63 child to attain that rank. Larry Linn then notified me that his daughter, Cheryl Linn Carter, had been promoted to Colonel, USAF, three months earlier. Now a third father, Lu Schumacher, has weighed in on this topic.
     I'm sorry to burst any bubbles about who had the first '63 offspring to make Captain/Colonel. COL Ludwig J. Schumacher, Jr. was promoted to his current rank in the Vermont Air National Guard in February 2009. He also served in a National Guard engineer unit, received Army helicopter pilot wings at Ft. Rucker, and flew F-16s. In his spare time he earned a law degree and a Masters in Homeland Security from the Naval Postgraduate School. He and his wife, Christina, have two wonderful children. We're very proud. The torch has been passed.
     We live just north of Colorado Springs, in sight of the Air Force Academy. Essentially, we have an apartment downstairs. If anyone is in our area, they're welcome to stay with us.

        Pete Deutermann's latest novel, Pacific Glory, has just been published by St. Martin's Press. It follows three USNA roommates through some of the key actions of World War II in the Pacific, including Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Midway, and Leyte Gulf. It has received many excellent reviews; having read it myself, I fully agree and suggest you see for yourself.

        That's all for now, folks. Thanks to everyone who sent news and photos for your enjoyment.

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