Shipmate Column
September 2005

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.

        We have an entertaining and informative news exchange for you this month, most of which appears below. Because of limited space, though, you'll have to view the web version of the Class of 1963 Shipmate column at There you will find an interesting letter that George Fister sent to the Superintendent at West Point and a report from orthopaedic surgeon Dave DeHoll which brings up to date on his busy life. Also on the web site is Jim Ring's account of an event commemorating the battle of Midway, the greatest victory in the history of the United States Navy. Among our classmates at the event was Roger Mehle, whose father participated in the battle as XO of VF-6.

        The Class of 1963 web site continues to be a smashing success. Over the past year, the number of visits to the site has averaged more than 6,000 per month! Webmaster Steve Coester has received many favorable comments from visitors, many of whom have no direct connection to the Naval Academy.

        The latest communication from John Boley contains information that's important for us all. Please read it carefully.
     I retired in 1998 when I found that work was interfering with the things I really wanted to do. Since then Margarette and I have been able to travel and I have devoted a considerable amount of time to volunteer work and even squeezed in a few rounds of golf. But updating my biography is really not the purpose of contributing to the class column. I am writing this from the library at Loma Linda University and have completed my third, of 44, treatments in the hospital's proton radiation treatment center. I am an early adapter as the average age for diagnosis of prostate cancer is the late 60's. But if you live long enough, you will be diagnosed with this affliction. So some friendly words of advice from someone who has been there, get your PSA blood test done each year! If you don't know what that is you need to find out. If your doctor isn't thoroughly familiar with the test you should get a new one. The media has tried to inject some controversy into PSA's but getting that annual check was the key for early detection in my case. Finding a tumor through digital examination gives you a higher probability for the tumor not being confined to the prostate. If diagnosed, your urologist will recommend surgery and may touch on some other options. But I strongly recommend that you investigate proton radiation treatment which will be available at five medical centers next year. You can check out Fortune Magazine's June 15th article Zapping Cancer Cells (online at which will gives some of the basis on a treatment as effective as surgery but without the potential for some really onerous side effects. Enough lecturing already, if you have any questions you can contact me at

        Fred Storz tells us about his cycling adventure in Slovakia.
     Last summer I and four guys from my town who played basketball in an over 50 league in New Jersey went on a bicycling vacation to Slovakia. One of the guys in the group was Lou Slaby. Lou was the fullback for Pittsburgh when Navy played Pitt and pulled off the infamous sleeper play in the '62 Oyster Bowl. If you remember, Jimmy Stewart did a great job feigning injury and wound up streaking down the field to catch a TD pass from Roger Staubach. This play set the tone and we beat Pitt 32 to 9. This picture shows me trying to convince Lou that Jimmy Stewart was really injured and not acting. It doesn't look like Lou is buying it.
Cyclists in Slovakia

Lou was a very good player. The next year he was the starting Middle Linebacker for the New York Giants. He replaced Sam Huff after he was traded to the Washington Redskins.

The five of us flew into Vienna, Austria, and drove six hours to our home base in the High Tatra Mountains in Slovakia. The High Tatras are part of the Carpathian Mountain Range which runs from Poland through Slovakia into Romania and Bulgaria. We stayed at a guest house in a little village called Nova Lesna. We had breakfast and dinner at the Guest House (great home cooking) and had lunch on the road. A van took us to our starting point each day and followed us in the event someone wanted to ride instead of bicycling. A couple from Ukraine joined us. Nikoli and Nina drove from Ukraine and brought their own bikes which were quite high tech. I spoke with Nikoli and learned that he spent time in the Russian Army after college and was stationed at Cam Rahn Bay after the U.S. departed Vietnam. It was very interesting to speak with him and learn how the Russian Army recruited their personnel. Nikoli now works for Colgate Palmolive.

Phase two is planned for this summer. Lou will be joined by Pete Optekar, Vern Von Sydow, and me on a week's bicycle trip through Glacier National Park in Montana. We figured that if we outnumber Lou with the likes of Pete and Vern, he would have to believe that Jimmy was really hurt.

        Now for some good news from Bruce Alitt:
     Suzan and I still live in the Summerlin area of Las Vegas, about 12 miles from and about 1,000 feet above "The Strip." We love it here with the great weather, low taxes, and the greatest entertainment and restaurants in the world.

The past year has really been rough, but it has helped me to realize how much I have to be thankful for and how lucky I am. About a year ago Suzan was diagnosed with cancer. It was initially diagnosed as kidney cancer, stage IV, that had spread to her lung area. She had surgery for removal of her left kidney and also spleen. It was then discovered that the cancer had not spread and that she had two primary cancers. The kidney cancer was "cured" by surgery. She then had radiation enhanced by chemo that was completed about ten weeks ago. She recently had a PET scan and is cancer free!! Her doctors are amazed and we are so thankful. She goes for another test in two months, then in another six months, then every year. I have learned a lot about cancer: diagnosis, treatments and attitude. If I can ever help anyone, I would be very happy to share my knowledge and experience.

Now that she is feeling good and we can travel again, we went up to Northern California to visit my old roommate and his wife, Joyce and Ernie Freeman, in June. We spent a wonderful few days in Yosemite and then at their home. We were very happy when Bo Kearns drove over from San Jose to join us for dinner. Bo's wife, Patric, had a previous engagement.

Enclosed is a picture of the five of us after dinner. Ernie and Joyce are in the back. Bo is at Suzan's right.

Sixth Companymates

        Fred Kaiser is the latest to report having USNA63 license plates, but he has a special claim to fame.
     You issued a request for photos of "Vanity Plates." Well, here is one to top: I have Illinois plates "USNA 63" on both my Jeep and my motorcycle. The credit goes to my wife, who made a quick decision when filling out the application for the motorcycle plates when she found that there was no reason why both vehicles couldn't have the same number.
Twin license plates in Illinois

Klara and Fred Kaiser

I have also attached a recent photo of Klara and me celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. We still reside in Crystal Lake, IL, and are very active in our screen printing business, Think Ink, Inc. Our three children are married and have produced six wonderful grandchildren with one more on the way, as our daughter Kathryn is pregnant for the first time. Our son Fred and daughter Kathryn are both exceptional teachers in the local community. Fred is also a partner in Think Ink, so he puts in many hours at both occupations. Our son Chris (USNA '92) and his family reside in Windermere, FL. He is a Manager of Business Planning and Development at Team Disney in Disney World. Boy, do his four kids love going to Disney World almost any time they desire. Chris is a 2000 graduate of Northwestern's Kellogg business school. All three of our children were able to get their Masters degrees on their own resources, and obviously we are very proud of their accomplishments. We also had a nephew graduate from the Academy last year (USNA '04), and he is currently at Sub school.

We don't have a chance to see many classmates, but we do keep in touch with a few, and attend every 5th year reunion. If anyone visits Chicago, we are only 50 miles away, and have plenty of room for guests.

        I think you'll enjoy this letter that George Fister sent to the Superintendent of the Military Academy.
     On August 6, my uncle, Lieutenant General William K. Martin USAF Ret. (USMA '39) will turn 90.

In 1959, I was a plebe at the Naval Academy and he sent me a letter asking if I'd like to bet my bathrobe on the Army - Navy Game, as was the tradition in those days. Army was a two-touchdown favorite that year, but Navy managed to squeak out a 48 - 12 victory. Rather than send me a bathrobe from West Point, he sent me one from the Air Force Academy, all decked out with his two stars, his name badge and all the other stuff pilots sew on their flight suits. It was the first Air Force Academy bathrobe in Bancroft Hall, and it took the administration over a month to decide I could keep it and wear it.

Over the years, my uncle and I have bet on the Army-Navy games many times. Not every year, but only at his invitation and always when Army is a heavy favorite. I don't know how many times we have made the same, $5 bet, but I have never lost.

General Martin has had a very full life. He has everything a man could reasonably ask for including his wife of 65 years. I was at a loss as to an appropriate birthday present, when it occurs to me that an authentic West Point bathrobe might be a comfort in his declining years. Therefore, would it be possible for me to buy a cadet bathrobe? I don't want one of the tourist things, but a real, honest to goodness, heavy wool one that I hope you still issue to the cadets.

        George reported in June that he soon received a response signed by General Lennox, and will be giving his uncle a new Army Plebe bathrobe. Maybe we'll see a photo of LTGEN Martin wearing the gift.
        Nick Sim checked in with this note:
     I just reviewed the current Shipmate column on our web site and particularly enjoyed the pictures. Who are all those old guys?

I should mention that a new chapter of the Alumni Association has been established on Maryland's Eastern Shore. There are about 25 members and our first official meeting was this August. If any classmates are over this way or want information, I'll be happy to assist them.

Gloria and Fred Beckham have been working their way around the Caribbean Sea on their trawler "Slow Dancin" for the better part of the past year. Their most recent update came to me from Dominica, where they made several hiking and boating trips to enjoy the island's unique attractions. Here is a picture from their outings. Gloria is the "good lookin' babe" and Fred's the one who looks like Robinson Crusoe.

Beckhams in Dominica

        In a recent exchange of e-mails, Dave DeHoll brought me up to date on his busy life. Here's most of what he had to say:
     Unlike many classmates, I have not retired. But like many classmates who had full careers in the service, I have now embarked on a second career. I have been an orthopaedic surgeon in Anderson , SC, for the last 30 years. I had been involved in various medical staff leadership roles for a number of years, and about three years ago moved into a formal position as a physician administrator. I still practice orthpaedics about half time, but in the other half my role is as Vice-President for Medical Affairs for the AnMed Health System. Between two jobs and four married children with nine grandchildren ( I know that this is not remotely any record for grandchildren in our class !) it does keep us busy. None of my kids took the military route though one son attended the Citadel in Charleston. Both sons are physicians. We do try to spend as much time as we can at Kiawah Island on the coast of South Carolina, trying to learn salt water fly fishing. Are there any retired classmates in the Charleston area who are experts in the field?

        J.J. Calande invites you to visit two web sites to which he has personal connections: his son's youth football coaching resources site and his former wife's professional artwork site

        Jim Ring tells us about an event commemorating the greatest victory in the history of the United States Navy.
     On June 2, 2005, Mike Cronin, Bill Earner, Bruce Webb, Colette and Roger Mehle, and I attended the dinner commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the greatest U.S. Naval battle, the Battle of Midway. It was especially meaningful to Roger, whose father, Roger '37 participated in the Battle as Executive Officer of Fighting Squadron Six (VF-6), based on ENTERPRISE (CV-6) and was credited with over 13 kills during the War. In April 1942, LCDR Clarence W. McClusky, Jr., USNA '26, the former Commanding Officer of Fighting Six, became the Air Group Commander. During the Battle of Midway, while leading his air group's scout bombers on 4 June 1942, McClusky made the critical tactical decision that led to the destruction of the Japanese aircraft carriers Kaga and Akagi, thus making a vital contribution to the outcome of that pivotal battle.

The master of ceremonies for the evening was RADM Fred Lewis '62. He was Bruce's flight instructor in T-28's. Several Midway veterans were there, as well as Meredith Minter Hinkle, Charlie's younger sister. She is married to RADM Jim Hinkle. Meredith and I worked together at the Cost of Living Council back in the early 70's. I believe it was her first job after graduating from college and my second since graduating from business school. Here are two snapshots taken at the dinner. Left to right in the standing group are myself, Meredith Minter Hinkle, Bruce Webb, Colette Mehle, Roger Mehle, Bill Earner, and Mike Cronin. Seated in the second photo are Roger, Colette and Mike.

Midway commemoration dinner

Midway commemoration dinner

        Jim also reported about a daytime assembly a few days later.
     On June 10, we had a Class luncheon at Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA. Bob Forster did his usual good job of getting the word out and handling the administration of the luncheon, but had to cancel at the last moment because of a job commitment. Attendees included Al Sherman, Spencer Johnson, Steve Leisge, Bill Earner, Tom O'Brien, Norm Shackelton, Jimmy Carter, Bruce Webb, Roger Mehle, Dirck Praeger, Jim Ring, and Al Hellawell. We will have the luncheons quarterly at the Army Navy Country Club. Spouses/significant others are welcome. Let's have a good turnout for the next one in September!

        That's a wrap, folks! Do something unusual this month: send me an e-mail with news about what you've been up to lately. Your classmates are interested.

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   September 2005 
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 18 July 2005
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