Shipmate Column
September-October 2014

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.

        From our mentoring of the Class of 2013 we're all familiar with the Another Link in the Chain concept joining USNA classes 50 years apart. There is a second linkage that we are reminded of from time to time: our children and grandchildren who enter the Naval Academy. The latest Plebe is Carl Kolon '18. This news from his I-Day came from Jim Ring:
     On Tuesday, July 1, Bruce Webb and I met with the Kolon family as they celebrated their son Carl's induction into the Class of 2018. Carl is the grandson of our classmate Carl Kolon, who died of cancer in 1980. The Class Foundation helped Matt with his college tuition, and Matt donated his Dad's Class ring to the Naval Academy museum, where it is on permanent display. I got to know Carl when he was involved with the Class Foundation. In fact, he was the President just prior to my taking it over. It was ironic that a few years after his death, the Foundation could help his son Matt with his college tuition. Matt said he really needed the help.
     In this picture from left to right are Matt, Patty, Carl, and his sister Nellie. Please note that Carl has his bayonet belt on and he already knew the answer to "What's up?"
The Kolon family in Tecumseh Court

This second picture shows Bruce, the Kolons, and me. Bruce was in the 17th Company with Carl.
The Kolon men with Bruce Webb and Jim Ring

        You may recall that I shared news of Carl's appointment to USNA in our May-June column, including Matt's complimentary remarks about how the Class of 1963 Foundation had helped him many years ago. Bringing the Kolon story up to date, Matt placed an account of this year's I-Day on his web site; click HERE to see it.

        Another grandfather, Merrill Dorman, provided this news about his USNA grandson:

     On the front cover of the Wednesday, 14 May, Wall Street Journal was a photo from the "Sea Trials" evolution for the Class of '17. It showed my #1 grandson Carl Merrill Trampenau yelling out the cadence to his 29th company buddies doing their arm in arm sit-ups. The photo caption was all that was provided, and Carl did not know they were going to make the press. The class of 2017 attacked Herndon on Monday, 19 May, and about a week later Carl boarded a 44-ft yawl bound for Bermuda with the Ocean Sailing Team. Plebe year is over already.

        I am sorry to report the death of Shirley Walgamuth, widow of our classmate Glenn Martinsen and sister of our late classmate Terry Abell, on 23 July. Her daughter Tracy Williams contacted me with the news. A past recipient of assistance from the Class of 1963 Foundation, Tracy added this note to us: Thank you again for the incredible scholarship that enabled me to have a wonderful career and make my mom proud. I am forever grateful."

        As encouragement for those of us who live in or visit the Washington-Annapolis area, Jim Ring submitted this note about a recurring social opportunity.
     Larry Marsh took this picture at the Class lunch held at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA, on June 19. Left to right are Joel Gardner, Bob Forster, Mario Fiori, John Aucella, Forrest Siburt, Ed Hutchison, Larry Marsh, Dan Koczur, and Jim Ring.
Arlington, VA, lunch attendees

     We have lunches at the new club for the Washington area classmates, and it would be great if more of the locals or visitors would join us. We look forward to renewing our long time friendships (Whenever two for more shall meet) and show you the new Army Navy Country Club. There is plenty of parking. Our next lunch is scheduled for 1130 on September 9 at the Army-Navy County Club. Spouses are welcome.

        I'm sure you were aware of the publicity about the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon and the first manned landing on 20 July 1969. You may not know that our classmate Steve Coester was working as an engineer involved with fueling the Saturn V rocket with liquid hydrogen for the historic mission. At the invitation of the Florida Today newspaper, Steve recently wrote a personal remembrance about his involvement. When he shared it with a few friends, Mike Blackledge urged him to add it to our web site, "as one more example of the way our Class built this country." After some convincing, Steve posted it in the Pride and Tradition - Memories section of the site. You can see it by clicking HERE . Also there is an illustrated account of Steve's work in diagnosing and repairing a malfunctioning Space Shuttle fuel valve that could have caused a catastrophic in-flight explosion. Click HERE to see it. A third item relating to our space program, Steve's perspective on the Challenger disaster (which he witnessed), is also on our site. Click HERE .
        Some background: Steve was medically discharged from the Civil Engineer Corps because of a heart problem in 1964. From then until his retirement in 1997, he worked for several aerospace companies and participated in rocket launches at the Kennedy Space Center and Canaveral Air Force Station. Steve worked on the Apollo/Saturn V, Skylab, Atlas-Centaur, Titan-Centaur, and Space Shuttle programs. He helped to launch 115 missions from the launch control room before retiring in 1997. I invite you to read his interesting Current Biography on our web site. Click Here

        Miller Detrick filed this illustrated report soon after returning home to Tampa in July.
     My wife, Connie, and I flew out to San Diego to attend the wedding of Dave Thornhill's son, Allen, who is a Marine Major and had just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. We stayed with roommate, Lew Blackwell, and Lynn at their condo there. Thorny and I flew together in VA-15 on the Intrepid (CVA-11). Also enjoyed having dinner with Edith and Max Ricketts.
Dave and Jane Thornhill, Connie and Miller Detrick, and Lynn and Lew Blackwell

Posing with newlyweds Allen and Lauren

        In early July, Doug Zanzot filed this update about his busy life from his home in Charlottesville, VA.
     Diana and I enjoyed a cruise to the Hawaiian Islands in May, visiting Oahu, Hilo, Kona, and Hawaii. It was an early celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary; the actual date will be August 29. We're going to Portland, OR, for our son-in-law's 50th Birthday on July 14, returning after a few days so I can attend my Charlottesville Municipal Band practice. We have six summer performances every other week during the summer with rehearsals in intervening weeks. We commit every Tuesday but two to the band during the year. I'm in the percussion section (was in D&B and Concert Band at USNA).
     Our children are in Oregon, Nebraska, and Alabama so seeing them consumes travel dollars. When we moved to Charlottesville, the children were in Minnesota, Ohio, and Alabama. Three years ago our oldest, Sarah, moved to Oregon and two years ago our middle child, Emily, moved to Nebraska. Son James remains in Auburn, AL. When we moved to Virginia, the furthest child was a two-days' drive. " laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley".
     As a point of pride, I wish to note that three members of our Haddonfield (NJ) Memorial High School graduating class became members of the USNA Class of 1963: Don Reeves, Sherwood Zimmerman, and me.

        In September 1963, Ensign Jim Oakes, exercising great initiative, managed to visit Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz at his quarters in San Francisco. Jim's account of the encounter was published in the January-February 1996 issue of Shipmate. It now appears in the Pride and Tradition -- Memories section of our web site. It's a fine story. See it by clicking HERE .

        And that's all for this time around. I hope you enjoyed reading the wide variety of material in this column and on our web site. Please take a few minutes to send me some news about your activities recently and maybe in the distant past. Sea Stories are always welcome.

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