Shipmate Column
November-December 2023

Pres:  CAPT W. Spencer Johnson IV, USN (Ret.)
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
27 Cambridge DR, Brevard, NC 28712
h: 828-506-2201  e:
Web site:

For any classmate you can go to the Classmates Page and enter his name to read his current biography if available.

        It is sobering to begin this report with news of the deaths of five members of the Class of 1963. Please take a few minutes to read their obituaries and other information in the Last Call section of our web site.

        Gerald J. Stiles died on 11 June. We do not have contact information for his next of kin.

        Jerud W. Ryker died on 24 July. We do not have contact information for his next of kin.

        Raymond L. Pekary died on 21 August. Lee's widow, Pat, can be contacted at 433 Sylvan Avenue #22, Mountain View, CA 94041.

        Robert A. Maier passed away on 31 August. Bob's widow, Cindy, can be contacted at 100 Pier Point Drive, Connelly Springs, NC 28612.

        William B. Heard died on 10 September. Bill's widow, Peggy, can be contacted at 28713 Outram Street, Easton, MD 21601.

        We also mourn the loss of four Class of 1963 wives.

Dan Moran's widow, Charlotte, passed away in August. We do not have contact information for her next of kin. Dan was killed in action in Vietnam in 1967.

Richard Kuntz's wife, Janice, passed away on 27 July. Richard can be contacted at 332 River Bend Road, Great Falls, VA 22066.

Jim Metcalfe's wife, Lisa, passed away on 29 July. Jim can be contacted at 820 Adrian Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23452.

Ray Ross's wife, Carol, died on 29 July. Ray can be contacted at 2320 Stonebridge Drive, Montrose, CO 81401.

        A memorial service for Bob Maier was held on 6 September in Connelly Springs, NC. This photo shows the '63 representatives who were there. Left to right are Zimm Zimmermann, Bob's 23rd Companymate; Cindy Maier; Lois Grabowski, widow of companymate Bernie Grabowski; and Mike Shelley.
Remembering Bob Maier

        Please note this: The Hot News section of our web site presents information about one of our classmates who, through the impact of severe health conditions affecting both him and his wife, is nearly destitute. Click HERE for more information about their situation and to learn how you can help in a time of great need.

        I invite your attention to a new video about the many services provided by The Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence. More than five minutes long, it demonstrates how the CAE is "not a center for survival; it is a center for excellence." In an average year, 74 percent of the Brigade receives direct support from the CAE. More than 98 percent of Midshipmen use the CAE at least once during their years at USNA. The video can be seen by clicking HERE.

        The Delaware Chapter News in the September issue of Shipmate includes a photo of Jim Ring and a tribute to his service to Delaware alumni. Jim coordinated many luncheons, speaker appearances, and other functions over many years. Also, he created the specialty license plate for Delaware alumni. After many years in the Blue Hen State, Jim and Kate recently relocated to the Old Town section of Alexandria, VA.

        Fred Kaiser tells us about taking his son to a SEAL reunion and shares the text of "My First SEAL Team Reunion," his son's description of the experience.
     For years I have wanted to take our son, Fred, to the annual Navy SEAL Reunion in Coronado, CA, but never could. School would start and he would be back, teaching classes. This year, being retired, he was able to attend. Because he had been involved in martial arts, teaching PE, running many special programs for students, and having an interest in a variety of weapons, I hoped he would enjoy seeing some of the facilities, meeting some of my old friends, and learning more about our mission. What my son wrote about the reunion triggered my emotions and made me so happy that this was the year he joined us. We are very proud of our son Fred as we are of his brother Chris and sister Kathryn. Klara and I are very fortunate parents!"
        The full text about the reunion experience is in the Pride and Tradition section of our web site; click HERE to see it. It concludes with these paragraphs:
     Being a part of my dad's reunion for the first time brought me perspective about what he's done and put his fellow SEALs into better focus. I have the upmost respect for anyone who's ever made it through the program and served their time to ensure we are safe. I usually don't jump into politics or people's feelings on certain topics, but I'll say this; if you can't stand behind what these men are willing to do for our country, I will gladly support you to stand in front of them! Then you would get a dose of reality about what it takes to keep this country and our freedoms safe.
    I heard from several SEALs that there is one rule to upcoming SEALs, and other matters in life, "Don't give up!" It's amazing how three simple words can be so clear and to the point in your success in whatever you do. Although he and his team have all aged, move a little slower, they all have a discipline and a fire in them that sets them apart from other men. They don't give up -- they are, and always will be, SEALs.
Fred Kaiser in 1964

        You may also enjoy reading Fred's colorful account of his SEAL training in 1964, posted in the Pride and Tradition section of our web site. Click HERE to see it.
        Thanks to Dave Moore for sending this note.
     On 11 September, John and Jean Peterson were visiting Sandy and Bunny Stoddard in Santa Rosa, CA. I joined them for a lovely dinner and an evening of recollections.
Moore, Peterson, and Stoddard

        Continuing what has become a tradition, Phillip Marsden sent his annual report of USNA '63 attendance at a Coronado, CA, concert.
     A spirited group of classmates and wives gathered in Coronado's Spreckels Park for this year's concert in the park. The photo shows Lee and Sue Cargill, Ron and Dee Wills, Phillip and Martha Marsden, Jerry and Rowena Harken, Joe Morra and Teresa Bonafonte, and Donna Kaup. Music was provided by the "Dreamboats" who played music that took us all back to our high school days. They started off with "Rock around the Clock" and worked up from there! Our Class banner always attracts a number of visitors, this time including graduates from other schools and from the classes of 2010, 2013, and proud parents and grandparents from current midshipmen. Plan to join us next year if you can.
USNA '63 in Coronado

        Tom Robertson shared a clipping from the Fernandina Beach, FL, newspaper. "Secrets of Marriage Revealed" was written by columnist Cara Curtin, wife of our classmate Andy. Offering words of wisdom about making marriage work with a minimum of bloodshed, it's a lighthearted account of some situations they have encountered in the U.S. and Iran and lessons they have learned. The clipping is posted with Andy's current biography on our web site. CLICK Here to view it.

        Steve Coester sent an email to remind us of a Naval Academy documentary film from our era. Watching it again is an enjoyable return to the way things were.
     "Ring of Valor" about the Naval Academy is on YouTube. It is 30 minutes long, narrated by actor Robert Taylor, and is actually a pretty good time capsule of the times (cars, ships, dress, pride, etc.). You can see it by clicking HERE or by searching the title on YouTube. With our reunion approaching you will enjoy watching it again. The credits at the end say MCMLXV (1965) but it is obviously an update of the one from at least our plebe year. You may be in it, as I am for a couple of seconds playing tennis near the end.
        Steve is still an active tennis player in matches near his home in Rockledge, FL. This photo shows him in action during a league event in early 2023.
Steve Coester, still a force on the court

        Steve's mention of Ring of Valor brought to mind a recent conversation about commercial television series that were influential in our decisions to seek admission to the Naval Academy. Four were mentioned, and I bet you remember at least one of them. Episodes from all can be seen on YouTube.

The best known, "Victory at Sea," was comprised of 26 episodes broadcast weekly from October 1952 through April 1953, perhaps a bit too early to capture our attention although most of us as Plebes knew, or would soon learn, the opening theme music.

"Men of Annapolis" was broadcast in 1957 and 1958, presenting 39 episodes in all.

The "Navy Log" series appeared from 1955 through 1958.

Also broadcast during our pre-USNA years was "The Silent Service" in 1957-1958.

We had plenty of inspiration to embark on Sea Service careers!

        That's all for now. Our next Shipmate report will bring you news and lots of pictures from the 60th reunion.

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