Shipmate Column
November 2004

Pres:  Stephen M. Duncan
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
25 Sweetwater Lane, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
h: 828-862-4245  e:
Web site:

Remember that you can click on any underlined Classmate's name to view his Current Biography.

        Well, this September is reminiscent of last year's 40th Reunion weekend when Hurricane Isabel did her best to disrupt our plans. As I write this, Hurricane Ivan is bearing down on the Gulf Coast. Only two weeks ago, Hurricane Frances brought lots of excitement but, as far as I am aware, not much damage to our classmates' homes in the Sunshine State. The storm did cause some disruption farther north, thwarting CiCi and John Kelly's plans to attend Navy's home football opener. CiCi sent this e-mail to advise us of their change of plans.
     Sorry to say my husband John got called to a Navy ship (the CAPELLA) in Jacksonville on Tuesday because they had to move it out of the path of Hurricane Frances. He's the radio electronics officer. We had planned on coming to the Navy-Duke game to tailgate with '63. We look forward to seeing you at another game.

        It's a bit ironic that John Kelly - a former Marine - had to go to sea with his ship while all of us former Naval Officers stayed ashore.

With so many members of the Class of 1963 being not only experts in The Things That Matter but also articulate, well dressed, and charismatic, it's not surprising to see them popping up on television from time to time. I enjoyed seeing Tom Hall, still serving admirably as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, on the Fox News program Your World with Neil Cavuto in late August. Tom was interviewed about business support of the National Guard and Reserves. And only yesterday I caught a brief view of Chuck Calvano talking about hovercraft on the History Channel's Tactical to Practical program.

I'm sure that those of us who are former Boy Scouts and/or Scout leaders will enjoy this account from Arne Roe.
     Since I retired from Boeing 18 months ago, I've been busier than I ever was while working. There just isn't enough time in the day/week/month to do all the things I'm involved in. Boy Scouts, Church council and committees, re-modeling our summer place, two kids with tennis and horse competitions, travel (lots of traveling, from coast to coast and Hawaii), taking care of elderly parent and in-laws, guest lecturer at the University, helping friends with their computer problems, and more and more. It never ends.

The current time consumer is helping my 15-year old son, Sam, respond to all his supporters for his Eagle Scout Court of Honor held on the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN this July. Sam turned 16 in August, and has struggled with Cerebral Palsy since he was born. He completed all the requirements for Eagle without accommodation. He did it the hard way, just like everyone else. He really wanted to have his COH on the LINCOLN, so I made a few phone calls and asked the right people, including the Governor, several elected officials, and senior military officers. The rest is history.

The Court of Honor was attended by RADM Doug Crowder, Capt. Roby (his CoS), Capt. Ron Horton (XO and acting CO of the LINCOLN), Capt Jim Kohl (CO Whidbey Island NH), Capt. Larry Zaitzeff (my CO in 3 or 4 different squadrons over a 15 year period), the local Mayor, the Governor, our Washington State Senator and State Representative, and about a hundred other supporters of Sam. The ceremony made the front page of two local newspapers, the lead story in the local news section of two others and news coverage on six TV channels. ABC, CBS, and Fox covered the event.

The Governor met Sam several years ago and is a strong supporter. He's also an Eagle Scout, and gave Sam the Eagle Charge at the Court. Sam has lots of followers and many good friends in high places. This was the only Court of Honor ever held aboard LINCOLN, and we did it on a normal work day during work-ups for a 45-day cruise.

        Thanks to Dave Moore for forwarding this e-mail he received in late August from Jim Eckland, who has taken a job in Baghdad:
     Things are relatively quiet now, with an occasional mortar lobbed in about 300 yards away. We are almost too close to the former Saddam Presidential Palace and the new U.S. Embassy nearby. It's a good targeting area for the bad guys, but they have to fire a quick one and run with the armed choppers ready to zero in on them. I am vigilant and watch my back. Also check for car bombs every time I go out.

Our first big construction job is a rehab of a thermal power plant south of Baghdad, and nearer Kuwait. It will probably last more than a year, with another site waiting OMB funds. The State Department took over the money pot from DoD, so they will divert funds to their favorite projects, including Justice.

Time flies by with seven Mondays a week. We have a great bunch of Brits and U.S. engineers and construction folks here on power and water projects. I was lucky to get back on board with Fluor. I worked with them on an oil refinery project in Venezuela back in the early 80's.

        Jim Koehn sent this account of a surprise encounter with one of his Fourth Companymates in early September.
     Here's something from the "can you believe this" category. This afternoon Judy and I were hosting some friends from Spain who came in last night. They wanted to see some of the Las Vegas hotels and casinos so we took them downtown to visit the shops at the Venetian Hotel. Walking along the walkway, I saw a 60ish man wearing a USNA shirt. I stopped him and asked if he had attended or had family there. Much to my surprise he said that he had it on since he was expecting to see Jim Koehn from the USNA class of '63!

I was astounded but then looked more closely and ...... Dave Shute! Amazing! He was there to buy a present for his wife's 50th birthday. We talked for a few minutes and he promised to try to come to some of our local chapter events in the future now that he has retired from teaching school.

        Stimulated by Jim's report, both Mike Blackledge and I contacted our companymate Dave for more information. When we had last heard from him, he and his wife were living in the hinterlands of Costa Rica. Here is a synthesis of Dave's responses to our inquiries:
     Beth and I actually moved from Costa Rica to Las Vegas about three years ago. The time in Costa Rica was really great but we knew that some day we would have to return to the states and replenish the retirement money that we allocated for the adventure. During our four years in the jungle we managed to build a comfortable house, give 3,000 Teak trees a good start on a long (28 years) and happy life, and start a small business selling Beth's art work. We left the house and farm in the hands of our trusted caretaker rather than selling them. We're hoping that eventually when all-weather roads and electricity reach the area the price of land will increase considerably. This decision meant, however, that we would both have to work when we got back and this is one of the reasons that we ended up in Las Vegas. We knew that the tremendous growth in this area had created a desperate need for teachers and nurses so we would have no trouble finding jobs. Another reason is that in Costa Rica "RAIN" became very much of a four-letter word, with 300 inches per year mostly during a six-month period. The roads were really bad to start with and all that rain made them impossible. Las Vegas has, during a good year, only three inches of rain annually and that sounded good to us.

Beth is working as a nurse providing home infusion services for a pharmaceutical company based in Memphis, TN. Until last June, I was working for the Clark County School District as a Math teacher at Las Vegas' equivalent of an "inner-city" high school. However, after two and a half years of working harder than I have ever worked before, I decided to take a breather. The house that we bought needs a lot of renovation so we're taking that task on one room at a time. I'm also trying to get our yard in decent shape, which in itself is a full time job considering the heat and the water restrictions brought on by the drought in this part of the country. We have a spare bedroom and would be glad to provide lodging for any classmates visiting the area.

        I give a tip of the hat to Peter Morgan '64 for sending this news item for us to see.
     Your classmate, Chuck O'Leary, recently made a cruising trip from Newport, RI, to Quebec. On the return, in pretty nasty weather and low visibility, he recovered nine teenagers who had been overcome in the storm in their canoes and he organized the Canadian Coast Guard to expand the recovery effort, which led to the recovery of the other 10 youngsters who were also on the St Lawrence River. Pretty neat effort!

        If you read only the printed version of this column in Shipmate magazine, you missed the following news which appeared in the expanded version of the September report on On the subject of vehicle tags, Dave Moore reported that he has GO USNA in California. Tom Miller has just acquired USNA63 Hawaii license plates . Frank Holmes has Idaho's USNA 63 on one car and NAVY 63 on the other. George Nolan has USNA 63 for New Mexico.

Continuing that thread, I wrote, "Vanity plates are a very visible way to express pride in our connection to the Academy. As I've reported here before, many of our classmates display these on their vehicles - cars, trucks, and even a motorcycle. Rather than repeat the list here, I am offering an opportunity to you. If you send me a clear photo of yourself with your plate, I'll publish it with the online version of our Shipmate column and it will be permanently displayed in a new section of our web site."

Don Jacobs

        Responding to that invitation, Don Jacobs reported that he has had two USNA plates, one (JAKE 63) from Virginia where he lived until mid-1995 and the second (NAVY 6T3) from California where he lives now. He was involved in establishing the USNA plate in Virginia.

Tom O'Brien

        Another photo came from Tom O'Brien, who is especially happy to have the Virginia USNA 63 tag. He's also proud of his '91 Honda, noting that it has already logged 170,000 miles.

        That's it for this month. Let me hear from you soon, gents. BEAT ARMY !!

This page is 
   November 2004 
posted on:
 14 September 2004
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