Shipmate Column
September-October 2017

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.

        Members of the Class of 1963 responded quickly to the 17 June collision at sea involving "our ship," USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62), named for our classmate Bill Fitzgerald who was killed in Vietnam while earning a Navy Cross for his gallant actions against the enemy.
        Inquiries about how to assist led to the establishment of an organized effort to use the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society as a conduit for funds to help meet needs of the families of the seven men lost in the incident, as well as surviving crew members. In a 23 June email, Class President Spencer Johnson provided background and specific instructions for designating monetary gifts for this purpose. You can see it in the Class News section of our web site by clicking HERE . The next day, our classmates Jim DeFrancia, Mike Bonsignore, and Ron Terwilliger offered a collective challenge gift of $6,300 in matching funds if our classmates' donations reached that amount. Their generous support was soon matched and surpassed. As of 14 July, the NMCRS had received 99 online donations and 51 mailed gifts from the Class of 1963 for a total of $26,526. If you have not already contributed, please consider making a gift soon.
        A few days after our efforts began, Spencer received an email from ADM Steve Abbot '66, Chair of the Executive Committee of NMCRS. Noting that he is "one of your Plebes," he continued,
     I am truly grateful for the generosity of '63. Your contributions for the crew and families of the USS FITZGERALD are hugely appreciated, and we will give you specific feedback on the good you have done. We are grateful to be partners with '63, who have done so much for USNA and for the children of your classmates, and, now, have gone the extra mile for the crew of FITZGERALD in their hour of need. I cannot think of a more appropriate tribute to Bill Fitzgerald. BZ to '63.
Best regards, Steve
        It should be noted that members of the Class of 1964 expressed their desire to support the FITZGERALD. Their contributions, and others from USNA alumni, are also being received by NMCRS.

        Since the collision, the Last Call page for Bill Fitzgerald on our web site has been updated with a note from his daughter, Lynda, and an article from a Montpelier, VT, newspaper about Betty Fitzgerald and how she has personally supported the ship, her commanding officers, and her crew for many years. I highly recommend that you read it by clicking HERE .

        Zimm Zimmerman forwarded this email he received from Mike Krause.
     Erwin Storz, Robbie Newton, and I were guests of a friend/Graduate of USAFA at an event with CNO ADM John Richardson (USNA'82) at the Cornell Club in New York City on 31 May. In an effort to get good seats at the presentation, Erwin and I went to the meeting venue a little early. However, we went to the wrong room on 5th floor instead of the 4th floor where the "commoners" were waiting for the CNO. So, we were the second and third guests in attendance in a VIP venue ahead of the Secret Service contingent and the CNO's entourage. We weren't asked to leave and the result was that we met the CNO and the attached photo was the result. Apparently, our age eliminated us as threats by the Secret Service. Though Robbie missed the photo, Erwin and I may have established a back-channel link between '63 and the CNO. Go '63. BZ!!
Mike Krause, CNO Richardson, Erwin Storz

        In the Small World category, here are a note and photo from Ray Kutch.
     I met another USNA graduate named Ray Kutch. We recently traveled to Pensacola, visited the Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola, and also visited with Ray Kutch USNA '79. Ray lives in the area and is a United A320 Captain. He is originally from the Pittsburgh area as am I. It is a very small world! Appearing in this photo of the occasion are me, my wife Judy, and Ray and Kim Kutch '79.
The two Ray Kutches and their wives

        John Detweiler sent this news of a 12th Company "Micro-Reunion" this June.
     On June 10, Bob Hudspeth, Jim and Sandy Stageman, and John and Sylvia Detweiler held a 12th Company Micro-Reunion at the Oregon Veterans Home in Lebanon, OR. Bob, who as a Seabee played too much in the Agent Orange saturated dirt in the DMZ, is now a resident of the home. Nebraska resident Jim was traveling through the Pacific Northwest after visiting his son in Salem, OR. Sylvia and I now live 20 miles west of Lebanon in Corvallis.
John and Sylvia Detweiler, Bob Hudspeth, Jim and Sandy Stageman

        Mike Moore brings us some history and news about Bill Stewart.
     My '63 classmate and close friend Bill Stewart moved to a Memory Care Community in Santa Barbara, CA, recently. I thought this would be a good time to pass along some information about him and his active duty service in the Navy. We attended high school together and were roommates in the 11th, then 15th, Companies until I left the Academy in the spring of 1962, having declared myself as a married man.
     After a short stint as an Engineering Officer on an LST out of San Diego, and having every request for transfer denied, a request was finally approved, and Bill went to Vietnam as a Naval Gunfire spotter with the Anglico (Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company) Team in Pleiku. He was proud of his gold Marine Corps-Navy Parachutist badge. Bill once told me he lost several Marines on his Anglico team and I came to understand that he saw a good deal of combat. He rarely if ever spoke of it.
     I was once in his apartment in Imperial Beach and saw a crossbow and a shotgun mounted on his wall with a bamboo machine gun sight. When he quizzed me, I was glad I knew what each item was. I took the bamboo sight down and began chipping off some mud, which I commented on. He corrected me, saying it was blood. I asked Bill where he got it, he said he took it away from a guy who didn't need it any more. He once told me in a letter, written in the 60's, that he had flown over Hanoi the night before (I seem to recall this was a "ride along" for him.) and noticed their lights were all on and he found it hard to believe that they were losing; if so, why would they keep their lights on at night? He became very close with, and an admirer of, Harold "Hal" Moore, of the 7th Cav, and the 1st Cav of Ia Drang fame. Bill told me that he helped resupply radios to Moore's beleaguered troops in the Battle of Ia Drang . He understated his contribution. Bill rode in the back seat of an observation aircraft and tossed radios out as they rode at low level over the elephant grass. I think they repeated that several times. For those who might want to contact him, Bill's mailing address is P.O. Box 691, Summerland, CA 93067. In an email, Bill's daughter, Susan, told me, "I am so impressed by his service and I am honored and proud that he is my father. I have been intrigued going through his personal military paperwork, photos, slides, letters, certificates, etc. There is so much more I wish that I knew about him. I know he made a large impact in regard to serving his country, his community, and of course his family."
        Few among us knew about Bill's noteworthy Vietnam service. Thanks to Mike for sharing this information.
        Susan's comment that there is much more that she wishes she knew about her Dad reminds me of similar sentiments I have heard expressed by children of other classmates in recent years. Please visit the Current Biographies section of our web site by clicking HERE to review, update, and add to what you have already included there. If you have not submitted anything about yourself, this is the time to do it. Submit your content (including photos if you wish) and changes to our Webmaster, Steve Coester, by email at .

        The documentation of important, or simply interesting, information about ourselves for our families and the permanent record of the Class of 1963 becomes more important as the years pass. To emphasize this topic, here is a repeat of some text that appeared in our August 2017 Shipmate column.
     Steve Coester has compiled a list of more than 300 of our classmates who served in the Vietnam theater. As he did this, he received many summaries of their Vietnam service. You can see the list and summaries by clicking HERE . I urge you to spend some time with these impressive compilations. They make clear the extent and variety of the Class of 1963's participation in military activities in-country and offshore. If your name is missing, contact Steve by email -- .
     These latest additions to the Pride and Tradition section of our web site join the growing number of classmates' personal narratives already there. Steve has compiled 44 of these accounts into a growing digital book that is already 344 pages long. It is an up close and personal glimpse of the Vietnam War and life at and after the Naval Academy. It is posted with the list and summaries mentioned above in the "Memories" section of our Traditions page. You can see it by clicking HERE .
     We have learned that the digital book will soon be added to the "Tell Us Your Story" section of the USNA Alumni Association's web site.

        As a Rotarian, I was especially interested to see a Facebook posting from the Rotary Club of Pensacola in late June. Shown in the photo below is the new club President, Paul Tobin, with outgoing President Sherry Hartnett. Congratulations, Paul. May you have a successful and enjoyable term of office leading Rotary service.
Paul Tobin, the new President of the Rotary Club of Pensacola

        I hope you're planning to attend our 55th reunion, in San Diego, 25-27 October 2018. Hotel reservations for the blocks of rooms we have secured won't be accepted more than a year in advance. The Reunion Committee will publish instructions for making reservations as we approach late October of this year.

        I have enjoyed several email and phone conversations with Alan McAnally, who is coordinating planning for the Memorial Service at the reunion. In the course of these contacts, we mentioned our sons' military service. He shared a photo of his son, CDR Chris McAnally, and then-LCDR Kyle Harken, son of our classmate Jerry Harken. The occasion was the change of command and retirement ceremony for Chris at VR-55 in 2013. Coincidentally, Kyle was a member of the squadron. Jerry told me that he was flying C-130's then and now is piloting G4 Gulfstreams out of Kaneohe.
'63 sons Kyle Harken and Chris McAnally

        Lou and I attended a retirement ceremony aboard MIDWAY in San Diego on 8 July. The honoree was our son, Aaron (USNA '97), a CH-53E pilot who concluded 11 years of Marine Corps active duty and nine years in the active reserves.
Aaron Shelley '97

Father and son

        That's all for now, folks!

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