Shipmate Column
September 2018

Pres:  CAPT W. Spencer Johnson IV, USN (Ret.)
Sec'y: Michael H. Shelley
164 Sweetwater Lane, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
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.

        We have some interesting news items this month, thanks to the folks who submitted them. We will begin, however, by noting the loss of two of our classmates.

        I have just learned of the death of our classmate Richard Randall Pace on 25 March 2018. His widow, May, can be contacted at 6443 Bixby Terrace Drive, Long Beach, CA 90815.

        Orville O. Hanson passed away on 21 June. Condolences may be sent to his widow, Sherry, at 34714 County Road 89, Browerville, MN 56438.

        I encourage you to view the obituaries for both men in the Last Call section of our web site by clicking HERE for Rich and HERE for Orville.

        I received this note from Don "Jake" Jacobs about Reed Farrington's Vietnam service.
     Reed, who passed away in December 2014, had a tough time in Vietnam. After his return, Mike Rubel and I visited him in the Big Sur, CA, area where he lived in a modest little house doing oil paintings. Reed was very humble and often said to me that he didn't deserve the Silver Star he received for action in Vietnam as a junior Army officer. I told him he could have received the Medal of Honor for what he did. The story that he told me about his award went like this:
     Reed was riding in in a Huey helicopter in the co-pilot seat even though he was not a pilot. The pilot next to him was hit by a 50-caliber bullet shot up from below them and died. Reed took the controls and somehow landed the chopper while receiving fire from the enemy on the ground. While still under fire, he got two passengers out of the rear of the helicopter and into a ditch nearby. He then found out that there was still another passenger in the aircraft, so again under fire he went back and got that soldier out and safely into the ditch with the others. They were subsequently all rescued by friendly troops. Again, I told Reed several times that he did indeed deserve at least the Silver Star for this action. He didn't agree. Regardless, I think our classmates should know about Reed's heroism.
        Reviewing the Last Call entry for Reed on our web site, I enjoyed this text provided by his ex-wife, Jeanne Blaha.
     Reed didn't want an obituary but we decided to do it anyway and still try to be true his request. I wrote it myself in about 30 seconds. It seemed to sum everything up since he didn't want to be remembered as the Vietnam vet but rather as a person who tried to bring light to his friends. The 1963 Lucky Bag said he was born in Kiwi Valley, GA. Well, the joke is that isn't true. He'd had an auto accident in his last year of Annapolis and was in the hospital when someone came to take his photo and get a brief bio. He made up everything on the spot including being born in Kiwi Valley, a place that doesn't even exist. A few years after we were married, he decided being born in Parker, AZ, had a much better ring to it than Detroit, MI. He and his company had spent time in the desert during the sixties plus he and I were married in Searchlight, NV, so Parker seemed more accurate. When Reed's brother, his nephew, and I were discussing this detail I quoted from "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" ... "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." The legend by this time was that he was born in Parker so that's what we printed.
Mike Rubel (right) visiting Reed Farrington in November 2014

        It's a pleasure to bring you news about a grandson of the Class of 1963 who has just completed a distinguished career as a Naval Academy Midshipman. Thanks to Jim Ring for this submission to be shared with you. Thanks also to Bruce Webb, who forwarded the photos below and others that can be seen in the Hot News section of
     I received a note from Matt Kolon, the son of our classmate Carl S. Kolon and the father of Carl C. Kolon who just graduated in the USNA Class of 2018. Our classmate Carl was one of the original Presidents of our Class Foundation despite fighting leukemia. He died in 1980, on my 40th birthday. His second wife, Jane, was also fighting cancer, but I suggested she donate Carl's Class Ring to the USNA Museum and that is where it is now -- a nice monument to both Carl's.
Carl S. Kolon '63

The Class of 1963 Foundation provided college support to Matt. He indicated that he was astounded when we contacted him out of the blue and offered help. Because of our devotion to our deceased classmate after so many years, he encouraged his son, Carl, to apply to the Academy. He really made the most of his time there. Here is Matt Kolon's note:

Carl and Matt Kolon

     This was a big week for Carl. He graduated with distinction today, 83rd in order of merit of his class of 1,192. He was one of 13 Trident Scholars in the class of 2018, and his honors project involved Swarming and Dynamical Systems. He was also given the Julian Clancy Frazier award for excellence in mathematics. He was commanding Officer of the USNA Silent Drill team (the Jolly Rogers.) Perhaps his proudest achievement was to lead the Kilo company plebes of the class of 2021. He's excited to begin his Naval career in our nuclear submarine fleet this year. Make way for a Naval Officer!
     Carl was one of six 2018 First Class considered to be selected as the 2nd set six-striper. When they selected someone else, he opted out of the striper positions, so he could focus on his Trident Scholar project and was selected as the top mathematician in his class.
Receiving the award for excellence in mathematics

        It was good to hear from Gwen Wyttenbach, who sent this note.
     Just thought I'd tell you I had lunch over the weekend of June 9th with a couple of your classmates and their wives in Havre de Grace, MD, and am sending a couple of pictures taken then. The occasion was a gathering of classmates from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Barbara and Joe Strasser were there, as were Andrea and Spencer Johnson. Also attending were Roy and Susan Wallace (USNA '62), Jim and Rosi Stark (USNA '65), and Shirley Hughes, widow of Mike Hughes (USAFA '63). Joining us were Navy JAG officer Theron Kovsak, a friend of the Strassers, and his daughter Erin.
Spencer Johnson, Theron Kovsak, Joe Strasser, Roy Wallace, Jim Stark

Barbara Strasser, Rosi Stark, Erin Kovsak, Andrea Johnson, Susan Wallace, Gwen Wyttenbach

        The Naval Academy's Induction Day in 1959 was a major milestone in our lives. We remember the events of that day with varying amounts of detail and clarity. Jim Metcalfe has shared an I-Day recollection, appearing below. I invite you to follow his lead by sharing your memories of 7 July 1959. You can be sure your classmates will enjoy reading them and will perhaps be moved to submit their own.
Tom Reemelin and Jim Metcalfe

     In May I went to a "teach the law professors how to teach trial advocacy" conference at Stetson College of Law in Gulfport, FL. About 45 minutes South is Palmetto, where Fran and Tom Reemelin live in a beautiful home. I stayed the first night with them and we went to a big fishing tournament at the nearby yacht club. Tom and Fran's grandson's boat won the under 19 years old category. Some very happy teenagers!
     Tom and I had a great talk about our I-Day adventures on 7 July 1959. Tom, Freddie Wielandt, and I, all Culver Military Academy classmates, were driven from my mother's home in Annapolis to The Yard by Tom's sister Mary Jane. She planted a big bright red kiss on me (I can't speak for Tom and Fred.) as she dropped us off near the tennis courts. I suspect my big lipstick smear did not favorably impress the Plebe Detail, but I figured that would be my last kiss for a long time. It was worth every minute of any harassment.
     We went through all the usual operations: haircuts, uniforms, stenciling EVERYTHING, and finally standing in front of Mother B for our swearing-in. As soon as I got back to my room the MOOW told me to report immediately to the Commandant's office. I figured whatever it was for it couldn't be good. I wondered if they had found a mistake in my admissions papers. Maybe I was about to have the shortest career of anyone in '63.
     At the door to the Commandant's office I was told to go into a great big room where a whole bunch of captains were standing next to an older gentleman who was a bit shorter than everyone but me. Captain Bringle, I believe, waved me over to join the throng of gods in whites with some serious WWII medals on their chests. I immediately recognized the center of their attention was my Uncle Tom Wattles. All these giants welcomed me and started telling me stories about "Black Tom" who had been Executive Officer of Bancroft Hall when these imposing figures were mere sea scum like we were at the moment. Uncle Tom had quite a reputation as a stickler for enforcing the dreaded regs. You might say he was lightening quick with a Form 2! In fact, there is a photo in an old Lucky Bag -- 1939, I think -- showing my Uncle Tom in blues with sword, white gloves, and a twinkle in his eye as his Mate takes down some poor Plebe's vital information, filling out a Form 2.
     Finally, I was released to return to my room. I think some company mates were surprised to see me. They too thought I was a goner.
     After catching up with Tom Reemelin in Florida, I called Fred Wielandt out in Indianapolis to see how he is doing. Fred ran afoul of calculus Plebe Year and washed out in the Summer of 1960. He went to Indiana University and then, probably inspired by a draft notice, joined the Navy and went to AOCS in Pensacola where he earned NFO wings. His first tour was in E1B Willy Fudds. Later he served in country in South Vietnam. In about 1972 or 1973 our paths crossed at Quonset Pt., R.I., where I was pulling active duty with a Reserve Air Wing. S2E squadrons had been recently assigned NFOs in preparation for transition to S3s. Hence Freddie was learning ASW in S2Es.
     Later Fred flew in S3s out of North Island and served in air wings and as an instructor in the RAG squadron. I saw him a number of times out there when I was flying Reserve VAW78 E2Bs out of Norfolk. Fred and Patty lived in a very nice Coronado Beach house with their son and daughter. Eventually all their neighbors were rich lawyers, doctors or corporate officers. Even most flag officers could not afford Coronado Beach real estate prices by the 1980s.
     Fred retired as a commander and worked as a government contractor. Later he and Patty sold the house and moved to Indianapolis to be near their daughter who is a pediatrician and most importantly their grandchildren. He sends his regards.

        We'll close with a request: If you have photos from Hundredth Night 1963, please send me a digital copy of one or two of them for our next Shipmate column. I already have one good image from that event and I'd like to share some others with our readers. Thanks!

        Have a good, relaxing summer, everyone!

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