Shipmate Column
May-June 2013

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.

        There is much news to share with you, but, regretfully, I begin this report by telling you that we have lost three more of our classmates.

        Jim Kuneman passed away on 20 February. He had been predeceased by his wife, Suzanne, in 1982. The eldest of his three daughters, Lisa Kuneman, can be contacted at 7 Stewart Place, Brattleboro, VT 05301.

        Shaun Michael Daugherty died in Paoli, IN, on 23 February . His widow, Evelyn, can be contacted at P.O. Box 461, Paoli, IN 47454-0461.

        Carl Hansen passed away on 14 March in Chattanooga, TN. His daughter, Karen Shaffer, can be contacted at 109 Belvedere Road, Norfolk, VA 23505-4803.

        An obituary for each of these men is posted in the Last Call section of our web site and can be seen by clicking Here.

        Phil Rooney reports on the Distinguished Graduate Award ceremony on 22 March.
     Roger Tetrault and three other alumni received their DGA medals in a beautiful ceremony at Alumni Hall last Friday afternoon. Quite a few of our classmates were there; I'm guessing 30-40. It was a wonderful tribute to Roger! As part of the presentation, each honoree was allotted five minutes for an acceptance speech. Roger's remarks were awesome!
Distinguished Graduates (L-R) Thomas Fargo '70, Richard Armitrage '67, Scott Redd '66, and Roger Tetrault '63

        I asked Roger for a copy of his speech, which he graciously provided. Here it is, and I'm sure you will agree with Phil Rooney's assessment.
     I am a very lucky person! This is the telegram that told me that I would be admitted into the Naval Academy. This telegram happens to be dated May 28, 1959. It's not dated in January, or February, or March or even April. It's dated in late May, only five short weeks before our Induction. So, it is very possible that I was the last person selected by the Academy for entry in 1959. I am a very lucky person. Obviously this single event changed my entire life.
     I've been told by the Academy to specifically address my remarks to the Brigade, so let me start with a few things you Midshipmen shouldn't do after graduation. First, don't ever crash a plane off the bow of an Aircraft Carrier. Second, if you do; don't do it in January. This is particularly true if you are midway between Hawaii and Alaska. I can assure you that the water is very cold. I am a very lucky person.
     I was lucky to walk away from that accident at the age of 25, and to have been given many extra years since then. Now, in my later years, I know that I am lucky to be alive, and eligible to receive this honor, which is only given to living alumni. With a pacemaker, a metal hip and more than a touch of emphysema, I am very cognizant of the fact that over 150 of my very deserving classmates are no longer eligible for this award. And it is a particular honor, and also a bit lucky, for me to be able to receive this award in the year 2013, since it is exactly fifty years after my own graduation. Of the 55 Distinguished Graduates that have previously been selected, only one other has been awarded on the 50th Anniversary of his graduation.
     As part of the Link in the Chain Program, my class, the class of 1963, has been paired for the last four years with this year's great graduating class of 2013. During this period, we have attended many events with the class of '13, with more to come, including graduation in just a few short months. You Midshipmen wearing a class of '13 ring have melted within your ring, the gold from 11 of my classmates' rings plus a miniature.
     My class might have started another new tradition this year. A number of my classmates have been donating their swords to members of the class of '13.There have been a number of small ceremonies around the country where these swords have been turned over to this new generation of warriors for our Nation. If there is a member of the class of '13 that would like my sword, I would be proud to pass it on.
     The class of '63 is a proud class with members having won three Navy Crosses and an Army Distinguished Service Medal. There are 28 classmates who are named in Memorial Hall as having died in the Line of Duty; 13 of those died in combat in Vietnam. We also had two long-term prisoners of war, and there is, of course, much more that could be said. However, I can tell you that it is nice for us to know that, whether it's in a ring or a sword, a piece of us in my generation will live on in this great blue chain, knowing that we have done our duty as best we could, just as we know the class of '13 will do theirs.
     The title of this award "Distinguished Graduate" is, in my mind, a bit of a misnomer, since virtually all Academy graduates go on to have distinguished careers of their own.
     In the earlier film clip, it showed a quick photo of me and my High School and Junior High friend Ted Willandt in our Letter sweaters. Ted's parents drove both of us from Huntington, New York, to Annapolis, for our induction. Prior to that drive, I had never been south or west of New Jersey. Ted and I roomed together all four years at the Academy. He was a third team All-American Lacrosse player and he helped Navy win three National Championships. He went on to make the Navy his career. During that Career he Commanded three different Navy ships. Unfortunately, Ted passed away a few years ago and he can't personally be here tonight. But, his widow, Lorraine, who I have also known since High School, is here tonight. And Ted is certainly here in more than spirit, because there is a seat out there in this auditorium with his name on it, and one of you midshipmen is probably sitting in Ted's Seat right now.
     The point of this story is that this isn't a Great Academy because it produces a few High Achievers that are lucky like me, and get to win this award. It is great, because it year-after-year, produces a thousand great individuals that go on to have their own distinguished careers, just as Ted did.
     I've thought a lot about the five minutes that I've been allotted to somehow recap over 70 years of living, with both its successes and failures, and with its lifetime of both happiness and sorrow. Quite frankly, I'm just not smart enough to distill an entire life into five minutes. But, if I have had any success in my professional life, it is probably due to two things: First, I took big professional risks by taking on the most difficult tasks, and Second, I had the perseverance to see those tasks through to success.
     Please never underestimate the need for perseverance, because you will surely get knocked down many times during your life and it is really important to always remember that the only person that can keep you down is you.
     I really believe that the key to life is to be able to end it believing that you were able to achieve something of value, while having laughed loudly, smiled broadly, and loved deeply. My wish for all of you is that you will accomplish all of that during your life.
     And, be lucky like me!

        Here's an important 50th Reunion note: Anyone needing a wheelchair space at the football game should contact Bob Forster at or Bill Earner at . Space for wheelchairs at the stadium is limited, so sign up soon if you or your spouse needs to be accommodated.

        The passing of swords from members of the Class of 1963 to members of the Class of 2013 continues at a steady pace. Gary Hosey reports on the gift of his sword on 8 March.
     I had the good fortune of being able to pass my 50 year-old Navy Officer's Sword to MIDN Beau Haworth, Class of 2013. The ceremony occurred at Deep Creek Restaurant in Arnold, MD. Beau's parents, grandparents, and girlfriend, as well as Marion and myself, were in attendance. It was a great evening for me, and Beau seemed to genuinely appreciate the gesture. I told him my fantasy is that he will one day pass this sword on to another member of the Class of '63: 2063, thus spanning 100 years. Beau likes the idea.
Gary Hosey passes his sword to Midshipman Haworth '13

Gary Hosey and the Haworth family

     As is obvious in these photos, Midshipman Haworth and I represent the "long and the short of it." He's 6'-7" and his football weight is 297 lbs. It would take three of me to exceed that! He's a fine young man, and is heading to Surface Warfare upon graduation. I got to know him because his grandfather, Bill Haworth, taught with my wife Marion for many years in the Social Studies department at Bowie High School.

Transferring Pete Soverel's sword

        Ten days earlier, at a reception for the Third Battalion firsties at Alumni House on 26 February, Spencer Johnson stood in for Pete Soverel in transferring Pete's sword to Midshipman Dennis Hooks '13. The sword originally belonged to Pete's grandfather, Granville Benjamin Hoey '08, who served in destroyers in WW I and the 1920's. He commanded TARBELL (DD-142), which was part of the escort for President Woodrow Wilson's trip to the Versailles Conference. He was head of the bull department at USNA before retiring in 1938. Recalled to active duty in 1939 to recommission Naval Station Key West, he became Chief of Staff for the Seventh Naval District and chief of operations for what later became the Caribbean Sea Frontier during WW II. He died in April 1943.
        Pete served in various billets in destroyers and commanded HIGBEE (DD-806) and HEPBURN (FF-1055). His staff assignments included special assistant to Secretary of Defense Brown and White House staff as special assistant to President Reagan for Iran-Contra. Among Pete's decorations are the Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star with "V", Navy Commendation Medal with "V", Presidential Unit Citation, and Navy Unit Citation.
        At the ceremony, Spencer read this message from Pete:
     I have the fondest memories of naval service. My most vivid memories center on our sailors. Like all of us who served in combat assignments, my combat tour in Vietnam was a life altering experience. I was the chief staff officer of River Assault Squadron Nine as part of an Army-Navy strike force in the Mekong Delta. River assault duty was not what most of us had signed up for in the Navy -- we wore Marine BDU's, a helmet and flak jacket; carried personal weapons (M-16's) with which we actually shot people at 10-15 yards; ate C-rations (later MRE's); hot-bunked with enlisted men; walked through stacks of military issue coffins to our boats, and crapped in a bucket on the stern - not quite the daily routine of service in the Blue Water Navy .
     Our boats were slow and the canals narrow which meant that engagements with the enemy were conducted at extremely close range (10-20 yards) against a brave, skillful and resourceful enemy. Under these difficult circumstances, U.S. Navy enlisted crew members accepted the hardships stoically, even cheerfully; did their jobs diligently; and fought with great determination and bravery in the face of intense enemy automatic weapons, anti-tank rockets, and recoilless rifle fire. Not a single man, in spite of heavy casualties (River Assault Squadron Nine awarded more Purple Hearts than the number of men assigned during my tour), failed to return from out of country rest & relaxation leave on time. Through their example, I came to appreciate that sailors and officers alike are all volunteers and, more importantly, sailors will do whatever we ask of them -- an essential lesson for a naval officer as well as one that all our citizens would do well to note, and one that anyone engaged in public service should make a cornerstone of their leadership.
     I appear to be the last in an unbroken line of family naval officers dating back to Captain Thomas Truxtun (Continental Navy and one of the first six Captains appointed when Congress authorized a U.S. Navy in 1794). He was the commissioning captain of the frigate CONSTELLATION).
     I am particularly pleased to present our sword to Midshipman Hicks. I am honored that Midshipmen Hicks, through this sword, will carry these connections from the very beginnings of our Navy into the future. I ask that Midshipman Hicks pass this sword to a member of the USNA class of 2063, either directly or through the USNA Alumni Association, when he no longer needs it. Go Navy!

        Several of our classmates who attended the event are shown in this photo. Left to right are Harry Salmon, Joe Strasser, Spencer Johnson, Doug Davidson, and David Puckett. Also present were Jim Ring, Phil Rooney, and Bruce Webb.
        The presentation of swords continued two weeks later, on 12 April, at a ceremony organized by Spencer Johnson at Alumni House. The swords presented to members of '13 that day were donated by Sam Garde, Roger Tetrault, Phil Rooney, Pat Johnson, and Bruce Alitt. Also, two Midshipmen each received a sword sent directly from Frank Bennett. Phil Rooney provided these photos from that event.
Spencer Johnson, Sam Garde, Phil Rooney, and Ron Klemick with sword recipients

Roger Tetrault and Midshipman Zachary Dennison

Phil Rooney and Midshipman Hannah Yun

        The tradition, continuity, and generosity represented by the handing-down of our swords are keenly felt by the recipients in the Class of 2013. Midshipman Garrett Sherwood is on the football team and earlier in the day had been to the White House with the team to receive the Commander-in-Chief's trophy from the President. He said that even though he had been to the White House and met the President that very day, receiving Bruce Alitt's sword was the greatest honor of his life
        The transfers from '63 to '13 will continue as graduation approaches, with swords to be given by Al Griggs, Daryl Rabert, Paul Jara, and Chuck Adams. Doug Davidson will donate his Mameluke to a Marine to be selected by the USNA Marine contingent as the recipient of the Class of 1963 Heritage sword

        Here's an interesting news item from Merrill Dorman about familial connections of USNA alumni from generation to generation.
Tim Trampenau '89, Carl Trampenau '17 appointee, Merrill Dorman '63

     I am a very proud grandfather. This picture shows number one son-in-law CAPT Tim Trampenau USN '89 on the left. He took command of the ANZIO (CG-68) on 28 February, just days after number one grandson Carl Merrill Trampenau (center) received his appointment to the Naval Academy to join the class of 2017 in June. Number two son-in-law LCDR Kevin Barnard USN '01 is on the AFRICOM J2 Staff in England. With three generations and four USNA classes represented in our family, life is very good. I am very proud of my two daughters for marrying two of our best graduates.

        Have you made (or increased) your contribution to the '63 Center for Academic Excellence? Ken Metviner reminds us that if you are subject to the Required Minimum Distribution on your IRA you can avoid paying the tax on it by donating it directly to the 63CAE. This opportunity applies to most of us, now that we are into our 70's. To learn more, send Ken an email, .

        Here's the latest news from Hilton Head, SC, submitted by Rich Weidman:
     The Hilton Head Island, SC, Low Country Chapter held a luncheon on March 2 with the guest speaker being our classmate and author Peter Deutermann. The night before the luncheon the Deutermanns were the guests of other '63ers in the area at a local watering hole. Those in attendance included Peter and Sue Deutermann, Denny and Cindy Tomlin, Doug and Gail Tozour, Rich and Doo Weidman, Rick and Linda Wakefield, and Daryl and Bonnie Rabert from nearby Sea Island, GA. As you can see in this photo, with the possible exception of a few extra pounds, we all look just like newly minted plebes !
Classmates and ladies in Hilton Head

        We'll end this month's report by noting two online tributes to service members who lost their lives in service to our country. Do take a few minutes to see both of them. The first is a video prepared by Steve Coester showing all of our 28 classmates who were killed in the line of duty. It's posted on and can be seen by clicking Here or by searching "USNA Class of 1963" on that site.
        I just learned of an extensive Middle East memorial wall in Illinois, recognizing those Americans who have lost their lives in military service in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in that region. To see a video about it, click HERE.

        There are only a few short months until the Class of 1963 musters for our 50th Reunion in Annapolis. Have you submitted your registration form and payment yet? The deadline is 31 July, but why not take care of it now? See you there!

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