Shipmate Column
September-October 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.

        As our 50th Reunion approaches, we think more and more about our enduring connections with our classmates. Sadly, many of them have already preceded us in crossing the bar into a safe harbor.

        We have just learned of the death of our classmate Wayne Alleyne Fogel on 26 April. He was predeceased by his wife, Dorothy. His son, Paul Fogel, can be contacted at 269 Summer Springs Ct., Jacksonville, FL 32225, or by email at .

        Joseph John Polli passed away on 8 July. Joe's widow, Betty, can be contacted at 12600 Oak Grove Drive, Huntley, IL 60142. His obituary appears in the Last Call section of our web site. To see it, CLICK HERE.

        Fiftieth Reunion chairman Bill Earner has provided this important information for everyone who will be attending Class of 1963 events. Please read it carefully, noting the firm limit on banquet attendance.
     Response for our reunion has been excellent. Over 400 of our classmates, plus several widows, have registered to attend. The Friday night banquet in Alumni Hall, the largest venue in Annapolis, will be at full capacity. Late registrants who cannot be accommodated at the banquet will be notified by the reunion committee. Regrettably, there is no flexibility in this regard, and we will have to turn away anyone who is not on the attendance list. At the stadium on Saturday we can accommodate all comers at the tailgate. Because our tailgate is inside the stadium perimeter, you must have a game ticket to enter.
        A list of reunion registrants as of 5 August is posted on our web site. To see it, click HERE . You may want to browse through it to see who's coming for our big weekend together. Any questions about registrations should be sent to Jennifer Earner
        Mike Pero sent this 50th Reunion note of interest to Navy oarsmen and coxswains:
     Attention all '63 oarsmen, lightweights, heavyweights and all in between... even coxswains! As part of our 50th reunion, a gathering of our rowing classmates at Hubbard Hall is in the works. As the reunion committee has done a bang up job of planning an event-filled weekend, our opportunity to get together is Wednesday evening, the 23rd of October. It's an opportunity to catch up with the guys with whom you generated a lot of sweat and blisters on the Severn and even won a few opponents' shirts. I have spoken with Coach Freidrich and the old N room is available for a catered cocktail party. A formal dinner is not available there. Please let me know if you are interested in participating. Having just relocated to Annapolis a few weeks ago, I am now local and happy to serve as coordinator. My email address is and phone number is 410-268-1868.
     Also during our reunion, Hubbard Hall will be open for coffee and bagels and a row, if you like, on Saturday morning before the football game for all alumni rowers. However, our class meeting is scheduled for 1000 that morning. Thus for '63 rowers, Wednesday evening will be our time at the boathouse. I hope you all will try to make it and adjust your travel plans as necessary. Let me hear from you so that I can make definitive arrangements.

        One more reunion note: Before you travel to Annapolis, spend some time catching up with your classmates by reading their Current Biographies on our web site. You can find them in the Classmates section of the site at If your biography is already there, send any updates to our Webmaster, Steve Coester, at . If your biography is not on the site, how about taking a few minutes to prepare it and send it to Steve? We'd love to see it!

        Members of the Class of 1963 have been very much aware of the 50th anniversary of our graduation this June. It was a very pleasant surprise to receive news of a unique observance of this milestone in which none of us participated even though one of us was honored.
     My name is ENS Ridge Alkonis (USNA 2012) and I am the PAO on USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62). This June we had a celebration commemorating the Academy graduation of our ship's namesake, Bill Fitzgerald, and we thought that you and your classmates might be interested in knowing about it.
Bill Fitzgerald

    Members of FITZGERALD's crew gathered together to commemorate the 50th anniversary of LT William Fitzgerald's graduation from USNA. Former graduates led by Commanding Officer CDR Jonathan Schmitz '96 presented a slide show highlighting much of LT Fitzgerald's life, including the reading of his Navy Cross citation and his Midshipman biography from the 1963 Lucky Bag. The event ended with the singing of "Blue and Gold" and a cake cutting ceremony. All in attendance left with a better appreciation for not only LT Fitzgerald but the class of '63 as a whole.
Cutting the 50th anniversary cake aboard FITZGERALD

     USNA alumni in this picture of the cake cutting are (left to right) Yana Kupke'12, Nick Green'11, Jonathan Schmitz'96, Rob McFall'05, Ridge Alkonis'12, and Alice Hong'12.
        Thanks to Ensign Alkonis, CDR Schmitz, and the other FITZGERALD crew members for honoring Bill's heroism and for remembering the Class of 1963.
        I retrieved several photos from my files that I know you will enjoy seeing.
Launching at Bath Iron Works, 29 January 1994

Commissioning Day, 14 October 1995, in Newport, RI

FITZGERALD painting by Dick Whalen '63

Kathy and Al Breen celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary

        Here's some good news, submitted by Dick Kell:
     On June 14th Cathy and Bernie Patterson, Sandy, and I attended Kathy and Al Breen's 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration in New Jersey. It was a wonderful surprise party, planned by their daughter, and held in the same VFW Hall where their wedding reception was held 50 years earlier. Here's a picture showing the Kells, Breens, and Pattersons. The poster size picture behind us was from the Breens' wedding. The Sword Bearers were Ensigns Ron Hand, Charles Helsper, Hugh Shall, Bernard Patterson, Dick Buelow, and Richard Kell. All are our classmates, members of the 8th Company ("Terrible Tenth").
Kells, Breens, and Pattersons

        Our classmate, prolific author Pete (P.T.) Deutermann, told me that his latest novel was published this July.
     I have a new book out -- No. 16 -- called The Ghosts of Bungo Suido. It's about a diesel boat during WWII that was assigned the hair-raising mission of getting through the heavily mined Straits of Bungo Suido and into Japan's Inland Sea to sink their new super carrier, Shinano. I'm working now on 2014's book, about the destroyers up on the radar picket line during the Okinawa campaign.
        I have enjoyed Pete's earlier books and am looking forward to reading his latest. The review in Publishers Weekly magazine calls it "marvelous military fiction; fast-paced, exciting, and utterly convincing."
        Finally, to fuel your wanderlust, here is a photo of Claire and Tom Meyer taken near Steamboat Springs, CO, in late July. It was taken shortly after they spent some days at Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park while visiting friends. That's quite a change of scene from their home in Dallas!

        I hope you've been having a good summer. Make it even better by contacting a classmate you've not been in touch with for a while. Think of someone and make the call or send the email! Believe me, you'll be glad you did.

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