Shipmate Column
November 2006

Pres:  CAPT W. Spencer Johnson IV, USN (Ret.)
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
25 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.

        As of this writing in mid-September, Navy has - somehow - managed to win the first two football games of the season. I hope that when you read this the team will have continued on a positive note, heading toward another outstanding season. Up and at 'em, Navy!

        Our Vice President, Jim Ring, provided this report from a '63 event in Washington, DC, this summer.
     Lynn and Paul Tobin graciously hosted a luncheon for the Class of 1963 at the Naval Historical Center and Museum on 21 August. Paul is currently serving as Director of the Naval Historical Center. Paul has had some real interesting tours of duty. As some know, he had been the Oceanographer of the Navy before he retired. The museum is in the Washington Navy Yard and has undergone significant renovations. Paul and his staff did a great job with the lunch and tour of the Historical Center. It included a fascinating collection of Navy memorabilia and documents including Adm. Farragut's sword. I was very interested in that, since my office looks out on Farragut Square with the Admiral's statue barking out, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" or is it "Damn, torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

I was impressed with the staff's enthusiasm for their jobs, which included converting Navy records to digital files. Also, they have a collection of ship bells and other items like huge ship anchors.

This was a great tour that generated a lot of interest - a total of 36 Classmates and wives attended. They included: Fern and Ian Sargent with daughter Carrie, Charlie Stubbs, Pat Curtis, Jim Metcalf, Jan and Phil Rooney, Steve Leisge, Fran and Tom Reemelin, Chuck Maclin, Pete Quinton, Tom Morgan, Steve Duncan, Carla and Jeff Miles, Kate and Jim Ring, Bebe Mutz (Chuck Galloway's widow), Will Settle, Lynn and Paul Tobin, Denny Conley, Carroll and John Aucella, Arlene and Forrest Siburt, Susan and Mario Fiori, Joel Gardner, Al Sherman, Andrea and Spencer Johnson , and Betty and Jerry Mulholland.

        The Class extends its sympathy to Satch Baumgart, whose wife, Gayle, died on 17 August. She had battled lung cancer with courage and fortitude for seven months. Memorial contributions can be made in her name to The Smile Train, PO Box 96231, Washington, DC 20090-6231; http://

        Tom Hall was inducted into the Minuteman Hall of Fame of the Reserve Officers Association of the United States in July. Tom has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs since October 2002. Immediately prior to retiring from the Navy as a Rear Admiral, he was Chief of Naval Reserve.

        Financial support from the Class of 1963 Foundation continues to make a difference to the families of our deceased classmates. For many years, Frank Hilton has served as the contact point between the Foundation and those families. He has relayed this note from one of the recipients of our scholarship grants.
     I am Daniel Pfeiffer, a nephew of the late Daniel H Moran, Jr. For the past three years you have helped me financially so that I can continue being a student at Villanova University. I thank you whole-heartedly for your assistance and thought you might like to know my plans for the future. I joined the Air Force ROTC program during my freshman year and now, as a senior, am the Vice Commander of my Detachment. I have obtained my rated navigator slot and am high on the waiting list for a pilot slot and will be reporting in to Randolph AFB, San Antonio, TX, this summer.

At the end of an email to my mother you said "We look forward to the opportunity to honor Dan's memory through his nephew." .I have to say that it has been my personal mission to deserve this honor. My Uncle Dan was a great man, friend, son, brother, husband, and pilot. I hope that I too can match these qualities so that your efforts are not felt in vain. Your help has gotten me to where I am now. Thank you very much for all of your help. Very Respectfully, C/Col Daniel R Pfeiffer

        I received two very interesting communications from Jim DeFrancia this August. Here's the first one:
     Ron Terwilliger organized his second annual "Tour de Terwilliger," biking from his place in Vail over Independence Pass to our house in Aspen. The troop stays overnight in Leadville, and arrives Aspen the second day. It all ends with a picnic on our patio, then the Vail contingent is taken back in a van. Ron's new knees had him looking good on the bike! Last year included Ron's brother, Bruce, (Class of '64), but he was not able to join this year. Ron did drag along Jerry Smith from '64, though.

The following weekend Doug Davidson and his lovely wife, Charlsie, came for a few days of biking, hiking, and cool Colorado evenings. Doug advises that they have just bought a home in Annapolis and plan to move from Chevy Chase soon.

Next to visit were Bob Eastman and his wife, Jeannie, who drove in from Coffeyville, KS, for a couple of days. They were en route to a cabin in Pitkin, CO (near Crested Butte) and stopped to acclimate to altitude and good wine. They were to be joined in Pitkin by Frank Butler, who was driving out from Arkansas a few days later.

Finally, we were honored to host dinner for Roger Tetrault, Phil and Jan Rooney, their daughter Sarah, Lorraine Willandt, and Steve Longo and his lady friend, Carol. They were all visiting in Snowmass and called at Jim Ring's suggestion. The gathering had a sad moment, though, as we all remembered our classmate Ted Willandt, who died just a few weeks ago, and Roger's wife had to cancel at the last minute to attend to family matters occasioned by her grandmother's death. Notwithstanding, we all had a delightful dinner and caught up on many years of news.

On the personal front, I remain active in my company's business, but at a somewhat slower pace. Most of my time has been focused on leading some new joint venture activities in Arizona and Mexico. Keeping busy but not so busy that we can't take a cruise to Alaska next month, as well as enjoy some fly fishing with Doug and Charlsie Davidson in Montana, as well.

I am hosting a dinner in Denver for the Superintendent, prior to the Navy-USAFA game in early October. Let's hope the football team makes it a happy occasion!

        A few days later, Jim sent this account of his visit to the Coast Guard Academy
     I was visiting friends in Mystic, CT, and Cynthia and I decided to drop in to see the Coast Guard Academy in New London. In the course of touring the grounds we visited the chapel and noted in the Visitor Guide reference to the cutter SAN JUAN, that had been first at the rescue of the loss of DORCHESTER in WWII. It also made reference to the heroes of that tragedy, the Navy chaplains who all received posthumous Medals of Honor. BUT, the Coasties had their facts wrong, as observed by this former Bull slash!! The Guide cited DORCHESTER's sinking as June 1943 and made reference to five chaplains. She went down in February and there were four chaplains.

I sent off a letter to the Commandant pointing out the error and advising that as an Annapolis graduate I hated to see our sister academy embarrassed by such historical inaccuracy in its public Guide offerings. A few weeks later, I received a very nice letter from RADM Van Sice, USCG, informing me that the history department had checked it out; that I was, indeed, correct; and advising that they were in the process of printing 50,000 new Guides.

It's always nice to help out the shallow water sailors.

        Tom Robertson had a VERY busy summer this year. He submitted a long report and several photos.
     Julie and I just came back from some class hi-jinx out West. Linda and Zimm Zimmerman kindly hosted summer camp again at their North Snake cabin. This year Dottie and Bill Hughes joined the ruckus. So it was four lovebirds stumbling around in the attic at night, dark as a drag house but not as lusty. Zimm had just returned from fish camp in CO with the 23rd Company gang but he bravely planned several days on the river for us. One day, we three floated the river but couldn't keep the undersize brookies like Bill and Zimm are gloating over in the picture.
Hughes and Zimmerman

Woodcutters three

Zimm put us to work at the county slash pile cutting up logs for the council fire. This picture shows the results of our good old Navy team effort. It was grand mountain hospitality as always from the Zimms.

Bill and Dottie were off on further travel with their family and we were off to visit Judy and Bill Opitz in Helena. Things are great with them and their prospering family. It didn't take us long to get out on the Missouri in Bill's boat. Here's a picture of Cap'n Bill looking very commanding on his bridge, and the Big Sky was big and stunning as ever

Bill Opitz on the Missouri River

After some family visits we dropped in on Reeney and Rick Adams '65 who were spending August in Bozeman. It was truly an all-Navy trip.

A story in our May Class column gave me some great laughs. Dirck Praeger reported on the 6th Company car, a '49 Chevy. Bill Hughes embellished this legend around the campfire. The venture brought back memories of our less successful caper with the 20th Company car, a '41 Buick purchased from a retired Captain outside Annapolis for $50 at the start of 1st class year. Somehow I got it registered in Washington state and insured. While the '49 Chevy was known for its long service life, our B41 was known for its sheer luxury and, sadly, limited life. It was a Roadmaster so spacious that two Mids plus dates could lounge in the backseat. A lovely widow in town graciously rented us a garage and the B41 served as perfect vehicle for in-area cruising. My cohorts were Jack Reed, Bruce Lenz, Ralph Stowell, and maybe Jerry Harken.

Our mistake was when greed overcame prudence and we decided to take the B41 to Philly for one of the games, Notre Dame or Army. The idea was to amortize our investment by charging our own classmates as passengers at $5 apiece. Neglecting a chronic oil consumption defect, we were off full speed ahead and it was a case of one bridge too far. I was the driver and our passengers wisely terrified when trails of sparks started shooting from the exhaust. Somewhere in Delaware the flooring began to burn and we abandoned ship in a field. The B41 was dead!! It was time for the kind of decisive action we were trained for. We did what we could to strip vehicle ID and traded it to some Samaritans for a ride to the Wilmington train station. B41 was promptly forgotten!

In our busy lives as Firsties the B41 had quickly receded from memory. Near the end of Dark Ages our Company officer, Major Love ('51) called me in for what I expected would be still another discussion of his disappointment with our non gung-ho attitude. He asked if I owned a car, to which I said no. "Does a '41 Buick ring a bell? was the next question. That did ring a bell. To his credit, he said he didn't want to know any more about the fiasco. As long as he never heard about the B41 again it was a forgotten matter. He presented me with the phone number of a gas station owner in Delaware who had possession but lacked the means to get a title. It turned out the car had been tracked to me by engine block number, and he sent me a title document to sign. Thus the end of the B41, a truly stylish way to travel.

Emery, Reed, Holden (UNC), and Robertson

Bob Tieslau visits Tom Robertson

Here is a picture from early summer when Pat and George Emery visited us at the beach. Shown are George, Jack Reed, fellow sub skipper Hollis Holden from UNC, and yours truly. It was a great reunion as always occurs whenever two or three shall meet. My last picture shows Bob Tieslau and me on our deck when Bob was in town to visit his Mom. Next September we're finally going to follow through on long-standing plans to return to Amador County,CA, and help harvest those award-winning grapes from the Tieslau vineyard. More '63 golden days!

        And so it goes. Thanks to those who contributed to this month's excellent News Exchange. Now it's your turn!

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