|Pride & Tradition
USNA Class of 1963
photo courtesy: USS WASP (LHD 1)
Line of Duty Classmate Deaths
The Class in Vietnam
Click Here for the extensive list of our classmates who served in the Vietnam theater. and Click Here for the details provided by most of those veterans. It is interesting reading with the shortest entry saying just "Marine" and several that go into a lot of detail of their service.
Send any additions or corrections to email@example.com
Steve Coester has extracted the many Vietnam and Other stories by our classmates that are located in several places on this site, and has compiled them into one book that can be seen on archive.org at https://archive.org/details/USNA63Stories_201704. This page reads like a book and you can also download the original as PDF or in several other formats including Kindle for your Kindle library. You can also read the book in pdf format right here by Clicking Here
Click Here for three items about our classmate Ralph Kimberlin. You'll need Adobe Reader to view these. Provided by Dave Riley:
The first attachment is from the July 2002 issue of the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine regarding his involvement in developing the C-47 Spooky/Puff the Magic Dragon concept that became well known during the Vietnam Conflict.
The second item is the front cover of the June 2002 Experimenter showing Ralph flying a P-51 replica in celebration of Loehle Aircraft's 25th anniversary.
The third is from the University of Tennessee alumni publication providing an abbreviated version of what's in the Smithsonian magazine. Some of you may not be aware that Professor Kimberlin headed up the Space Institute at UT until his recent retirement.
"Shootout in the Gulf", Wings of Gold Rescue feature about Vern Von Sydow's rescue of a VA-153 A-4E pilot. Click Here for the first page
Vern sent this: We had 63ers: Bob Wildman, Jerry Smith and Ollie Donelan in our HS-6 Squadron with much more difficult and daring rescues than mine.
Proud to have served with above group- they were a class act!
From Gazette.net June 6, 2012--Darnestown Vietnam veteran honored by DAR.
by Peggy MceWAN, Staff Writer
Although he spent six years in the "Hanoi Hilton," an infamous North Vietnam prison after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Paul Cronin of Darnestown does not consider himself a hero.
Members of the Hungerford's Tavern Chapter, Potomac, thought otherwise and nominated him for the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor, an award given to a U.S. citizen showing extraordinary leadership, trustworthiness, service and patriotism.
Cronin received the award at the DAR Maryland State Conference in Baltimore on March 24.
"I was honored, but all these honors are in a way embarrassing," Cronin said. "Fifty-eight thousand guys are dead, many others are missing [limbs]. I'm grateful and am an obvious target [for awards] but I wonder, 'Why me?'"
There are plenty of reasons why the group nominated Cronin, according to a letter from Kathryn George of the Hungerford's Tavern chapter.
The 1963 U.S. Naval Academy graduate earned two Silver Stars, The Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, four Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts during his years in the Navy, George wrote.
"Captain Cronin made a lasting contribution to American heritage through his service as Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, his courageous and valiant record as a U.S. POW, and for having conceived the idea and working to pass the War Crimes Act of 1996, which states that any war crimes committed to or by a U.S. Armed Services member or U.S. national are federal crimes as required by the Geneva Conventions," George wrote.
"Vietnam War: Operation Dewey Canyon", Historynet.com article about classmate Dan Hitzelberger . Click Here for the online article
USS Intrepid's 70 Anniversary celebration
This picture of Robert Black and Charlie Minter standing before the actual F-8 Crusader flown by Tony Nargi in Vietnam. The photo was taken incident to the 16 Aug. 2013 ceremony recognizing the 70th anniversary of the Intrepid's commissioning and a reunion of former crew members, including a number of plank owners. Since Charlie's Dad, our Commandant Admiral Minter, commanded the ship in the early '60s, Charlie was invited to participate in part of the ceremony (wreath laying) and Rob is a member of the Intrepid Association.
December 25, 2013--Christmas 2013 Jim Ring Visits The WallMade it to the Wall to visit Jim Patterson and our other 12 classmates on the Wall. Left the flag by Jim's panel. Picture taken on Christmas morning. Wreaths are from the same company that does the wreaths for Arlington Cemetery. Not sure who sent the tree. I have the exact location on the Wall for each classmate. Great place to spend time with those who long ago could no longer celebrate Christmas. If you want the info on their location, contact me at jep.ring@gmail.
Webmaster note: Wall locations of each of our fallen classmates can be found on this page at VietNam.html
March 31, 2014--Mike Cronin POW Bracelet ReturnedJackie Cronin posted this photo of a letter and a Mike Cronin POW bracelet on Facebook. Amazing after all these years. I share it here.
February 1, 2016--Mike Cronin Honored on USNA at LargeClick Here for the USNA at Large Facebook post honoring Mike Cronin's service as a Naval Aviator, a POW and being instrumental in persuading Congress to pass the War Crimes Act of 1996, to further protect American POWs in captivity. USNA at Large is an effort of Dick Nelson '64 to honor exemplary graduates of the Naval Academy
April 11, 2016--Sobering Statistics About Vietnam VetsClick Here for an article provided by Zimm Zimmerman telling of the death rate for Vietnam Veterans.I quote: "I don't know about you guys, but it kinda gives me the chills, Considering this is the kind of information I'm used to reading about WWII and Korean War vets. So the last 14 years we are dying too fast, only the few will survive by 2025. If true, 390 VN vets die a day. So in 2190 days...from today, lucky to be a Vietnam veteran alive... in only 6-10 years.. "
April 23, 2017--An Article from Scotty Wilson about the loss of twenty-four naval aviators.Click Here for an article written by Scotty Wilson telling the almost unknown story of P2V and P-3 patrol flying during the Vietnam War and of the loss of two of their aircraft and twenty-four crew members.
Scotty writes: "My service in the Vietnam zone was only a 6 month deployment with the Tridents of Patrol Squadron 26 in Nov '67 to May '68. But it was a very active time, during which I collected two Air Medals for over 500 flight hours of combat support missions. This was written back in 1996 when my son, Gordon ('91), was on his first tour as a pilot with that very same squadron, VP 26 in NAS Brunswick, ME.They had a plaque in the hangar spaces with the names of the 24 airmen of the two crews that were KIA during that deployment. Whenever I visited, his squadron mates wanted to know more about what happened and what we did there. Eventually the squadron PIO asked me if I could write up something for their files and perhaps use sometime in a newsletter. That got me started. And once I got underway, the memories vividly reemerged, and I'm glad I put them to paper."
April 23, 2017--Ken Sanger's Rescue in VietnamFrom Ken Sanger comes this tale of inter-service assistance and heroism during the Vietnam War and news of a recent reunion.  On the night of 21 July 1969 I had to jettison an A4 Skyhawk into the jungle of Laos. I also jettisoned myself but, unlike the aircraft, I was rescued by an Air Force Jolly Green crew.
It was the last launch, and my third hop, of the day from ORISKANY (CVA 34). My wingman was a nugget (an inexperienced pilot). At about 2300, we were working with a FAC who had placed flares on the ground near the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos (that country we weren't bombing). The nugget was supposed to be a mile behind and 1,000 feet above me but lost situational awareness and was much closer. I was just making my first run and was in ninety degrees of bank when I felt the plane shudder and immediately go into a violent series of rolls while on fire. I think he took off part of a wing. I ejected at an estimated 360 knots and my radio was torn away. I didn't know my wingman had hit me until I met him on the rescue helo. I thought a SAM or gunfire had got me.
After settling down during the peaceful parachute descent, I soon realized that since I lost my radio during the violent ejection, I was going to have to get my act together to either get rescued or start walking to Thailand. (The Navy was short on funds, so we were provided with only one radio and no beeper.) Since my radio was history, no one knew right away if I were alive. There was another section of squadron aircraft overhead. Knowing that, I pulled out my pencil flare while in the chute; I had nothing else to do! The standard issue flares were red, just like standard issue tracers! I somehow had learned that Sears sold green flares that fit the military pen. I bought a bunch. I fired off a few, hoping they would be seen and recognized. They were. When the others got back to the ship they convinced the air wing commander that I was alive and to hold off sending a MIA report.
The crew of an Air Force Jolly Green rescue helicopter made the rescue the next day. After plucking me and my wingman from the jungle floor, they flew us to Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, where we were debriefed, patched up, and sent back to the ORISKANY and our squadron, VA 192 - The World Famous Golden Dragons. I have come to accept that my luck in surviving over 400 combat missions, 600 carrier landings, and a night in the Laotian jungle may be the reason I can't win the lottery!
A friend (Roger Keithly, classes of '64 and '63) recently commented on my jungle camping experience. That got me to thinking I might be able to find and thank the crew who made it possible for me to write this today. I contacted the head of the Jolly Green Association and he put me in touch with someone who could help. In about six hours from my first email, I had the names of the crew members, five formerly secret reports of the Air Force efforts to get me out, and a photo of a happy, young, Yankee Air Pilot Pirate and the crew who risked their lives for me. I am in the middle.
Ken Sanger and his USAF rescuers
The next day, I received the name and contact information for Jerry Jones, the pilot of the helo. On 27 March, 2017, I met Jerry at his home in Carlsbad, CA. We spent two and a half hours talking mostly about each other and filling in details of the rescue from each of our perspectives. The memories of the day of the rescue were amazingly clear for each of us. He recalled being awakened at about 0200 and told that they had a rescue scheduled for first light in a heavy threat area and then being told to go back to sleep! He didn't!
He let me know that there were a major road and a few small towns less than two miles away. A helo had been shot down in the area a few weeks before while on a rescue mission. The crew and pilot were rescued, making the pilot one who had been shot down twice in a very short time! That was why they were a bit nervous about picking me up, since I didn't have a radio and they couldn't be certain at first that I hadn't been captured and the bad guys had my flares.
The courage of the rescue crews was remarkable. There were known anti-aircraft gun sites in that area that could unleash a high volume of fire. The Air Force guys were willing to effect a rescue under conditions that could easily mean sudden death. A hovering helo is an easy target and the guns could have been hidden from view. That is heroism!
Here are two photos showing Jerry and me, then and now. The first was taken at Nakhon Phanom after the mission. In the second, we are holding a framed copy of the same image at his home.
Ken Sanger (left) and Jerry Jones (right)
USN-USAF reunion 48 years later
Jerry mentioned that everyone was very disappointed that the Navy was so damned efficient. A party was planned that afternoon/evening for all involved -- Sandy's, Sawdust, Jolly's, and the rescued -- but the ORISKANY's COD arrived to haul us back to the boat, where we had a welcome back cake waiting!
April 24, 2017--Steve Jacoby's West Germany and Vietnam ExperienceClick Here for a history written by Steve Jacoby USNA63/U.S. Army relating his experiences as an artillery officer in West Germany and then in Vietnam.
April 24, 2017--Raymond Heins Vietnam StoriesRay Heins submitted two stories about his experiences in Vietnam. Click Here for "Air Raid in the Tonkin Gulf" and Click Here for "Sunk".
April 25, 2017--Dave Moore's Introduction to Vietnam"Through the Looking Glass", Dave Moore's introduction to Vietnam. Click Here .
April 26, 2017--More Raymond Heins Vietnam StoriesRay Heins submitted two more stories about his experiences in Vietnam. Click Here for "A Memorable Song" and Click Here for "The Volunteer".
April 30, 2017--John McCabe's "Christmas at Sea"Click Here for "Christmas at Sea"
May 11, 2017 Bob Maier added: Just a short follow-on to John McCabe's "Christmas at Sea" story :
I was on Ticonderoga at the same time as John, and clearly recall the events he describes. At the time, I was flying A4Cs as a member of Attack Squadron 144, and like John, also living in a stateroom maintained at 105 degrees. However..... Leaving the line and heading for Yokosuka, it was determined that the flight deck directly over the stateroom next to mine required repair. And yes, that meant replacing worn timbers in the wooden flight deck. (Writing that, I feel like I served on Old Ironsides.) The stateroom occupants were re-located, and a large hole opened to the skies.
Now Yokosuka in December gets cold and rainy, and the tarp covering the hole provided no protection. Of course the ship had no blankets - we sailed for the South China Sea, right? My roommate and I emptied our lockers to pile everything we owned on the bed for warmth, to little avail. When we awoke in the morning, our boots and shoes were sloshing back and forth in an inch of icy water.
It felt good to get back to a 105 degree Christmas with Bob Hope and his ladies, and I even got a kiss from Anita Bryant!
May 4, 2017--Fred Kaiser's UDT/SEAL Training, The Real StoryClick Here Fred's article about the realities of UDT/SEAL training
April 26, 2017--Stories About and By Grant TelferHere's a heroic but horrifying story about Grant Telfer's "Last Fight" Click Here. and Click Here for Grant's New Year's Eve ship's log poem..
May 11, 2017--Air Force B-57s in Vietnam, from Bill PalafoxFirst..I did not serve in Vietnam. Below is a piece of related history of the times. My connection...Commissioned USAF. At the time, I was assigned to a USA-based B-57 aircraft outfit whose core mission was to simulate attacks against North America (aka "Friendly Enemy.").
During the build-up, some B-57 crews ferried many Vietnam-configured B-57's from the USA (Martin Company/Baltimore) to Clark Air Base in the Philipines..Nav Aids...DR, Tacan, ADF and 4 eyeballs). Our range was 1500 to 2000 nm depending on winds..so, alot of island-hopping. These aircraft were then flown to Ben Hoa and Da Nang by others. After spending a few days at Clark, the ferry crews grabbed a Flying Tigers flight back to the states to pick-up another aircraft to ferry.
The B-57's distinguished themselves in Vietnam, esp. close air support. Notable books written about those B-57s are "DOOM Pussy" and "Vietnam, Over the Treetops." The B-57 crews,regardless of mission, were and still are a close gang
("DOOM"...aka "Danang Officers' Open Mess")
May 14, 2017--Vietnam and Me by Jim RingFor Jim Ring's Vietnam story Click Here. May 16, 2017--Vietnam and a Nuclear Incident by Michael KrauseFor Mike's Vietnam story Click Here. May 16, 2017--The Seabees in Vietnam by Jud PearsonClick Here for Jud Pearson's account of serving with the CEC/Seabees. July 5, 2017--Shot Down Over North Vietnam by Jon HarrisClick Here for Jon Harris's story of being the first pilot rescued from North Vietnam,
Classmates' valor - to honor our recipients of combat decorations, available citations for Silver Star and higher precedence decorations are displayed.
Class History: 1963
The Class of 1963 was inducted on 7 July 1959, numbering 1,205 young men comprised of appointees from 48 States (no member from North Dakota), the Territory of Hawaii (not yet a state), the District of Columbia, the Canal Zone, and six foreign countries. We were the only class inducted under a 49-star U.S. flag, Alaska having been admitted to the Union in January of that year, while Hawaii was not added until August.
Our class was the first at Navy to take the SATs as part of the admissions process. Previously, each candidate had been given a special entrance examination prepared by the Naval Academy. We were also the first class since 1931 not to receive Plebe Summer flight training in the two-seat N-3N seaplane (the Yellow Peril), a fleet of which was still maintained across the Severn River. These antique bi-planes, which were almost 30 years old by 1959, had just been declared un-airworthy, to our great disappointment. We were the first class to participate all four years in the then-new majors program, and 106 of us received major-credits on our diplomas. We were the last class to wear detachable collars with our white dress shirts; the last to have our names stenciled across our white works uniforms; the last to wear cloth cap covers and cape-style rain gear; and the last class to go through all four years using the old Navy 4.0 numerical grading system, where 2.5 was the minimum passing grade. By the end of our Youngster Year, the growing variety of academic courses had eroded the universal curriculum and, as a result, we no longer marched to and from classes.
We beat Army in football all four years. This string of victories continued with a fifth consecutive win the November after we graduated. We were the first class never to lose in football to either Army or Air Force, although we played Air Force only once, beating them 35-3 in the first encounter between the two teams. Evidencing strong, early spirit, members of the class painted "63 sez Beat Army" on the freshly refinished laundry smokestack at the beginning of Youngster Year. (The large laundry building stood at the present site of Rickover Hall and the tall smokestack was a prominent feature in The Yard.) The feat was accomplished in a deft, night time climb and the encouraging words remained until we graduated.
The inaugural game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium was played in September 1959, against William & Mary (Navy won 29-2). The occasion was made memorable by the personal appearance of President Dwight Eisenhower, who flew in from the White House by Marine helicopter and officially dedicated the new stadium.
We were the last class to enjoy Exchange Weekend with West Point, where all 2/c Midshipmen, in successive small groups, spent several days at The Point, stepping into the life and academic schedule of a counterpart cadet while cadets did the same in our places at Navy. This was a unique experience in seeing how the other half lives and strengthened the close relationships that exist between Navy and Army.
At our commencement on 5 June 1963, Vice President Lyndon Johnson presented diplomas and commissions to a class whose ranks numbered 876. The great majority of the graduates accepted Navy commissions. The largest number, 324, went into the surface line; 209 chose naval aviation, and 138 entered the nuclear power program. The remaining 54 new Ensigns were spread among the Supply Corps, the Civil Engineering Corps, and Engineering Duty Officers. Only 66 entered the Marine Corps, reflecting the limits on commissions into that service. Almost as many -- 60 graduates -- were commissioned in the Air Force. (The USNA and USMA classes of 1963 were the last allowed to send significant numbers of graduates to the Air Force, a vestige of the days before the Air Force had its own academy.) In addition, 20 new officers chose Army commissions. Five graduates were found not physically qualified for commissioning. Foreign students from Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Peru returned to service in their own countries.
Subsequent to graduation, members of the Class served with distinction in all the services during the years of the Cold War, Vietnam, and the first Gulf War. Thirteen graduates were lost in Vietnam and two were held as POWs. Another 15 died in the line of duty over the years; among these were three men lost in the sinking of SCORPION and one who perished in the LIBERTY incident. Classmates serving in combat were awarded three Navy Crosses, one Army Distinguished Service Cross, and 15 Silver Stars. One Navy warship was named after a heroic classmate lost in Vietnam the USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62).
In 1974, the Class established a Foundation to provide educational assistance to the children of deceased classmates. Over the ensuing 30 years, that Foundation has provided nearly $900,000 in scholarship aid to more than 90 children, while also contributing substantial funds to other efforts memorializing the class, especially the Class of 1963 Center for Academic Excellence at the Academy.
Twenty 1963 graduates achieved flag rank, 19 in the U.S. Navy and one in the Peruvian Navy. Four of the U.S. flag officers attained the rank of Vice Admiral. Class members not serving a career in the military achieved notable success as physicians, actors, dentists, writers, artists, educators, jurists, clergymen, scientists, lawyers, and leading business executives. Class members also served widely in both elected and appointed governmental office at the national, state, and local levels.
It is an established fact that the Class of 1963 had the last true Plebe Year.
3/5/20--Last Real Plebe Year--Contribution from John Boley and by a number of members of the Class of 1963 Terrible Tenth Company. I don't know if we were unique for all times but we, and you can ask just about any member of '63, were the gold standard for "The Last Real Plebe Year."The Terrible Tenth "Experience"
The Tenth Company of the late 50's had a well-deserved reputation for killer "Plebe Orientation" and the Class of 1963 was the beneficiary of well-honed training methods. Not only were we educated but any classmates who wandered, like flies into a spider net, into the company area got a once in a lifetime dose of the Terrible Tenth experience.
The pressure was on every minute of every day with constant mental and physical testing that lasted until the first day of June Week. We shoved out, came around, rigged rifles, sweated quarters to the bulkhead, did carrier landings, "Grey Hound" races, went over "Niagara Falls" in a cruise box, turned on radiators at 4:30 in the morning, and in some cases were just plain physically abused. And that was just on Monday.
The hazing made all meals the last place we wanted to be as we did our best to regurgitate answers to both professional subjects and the classic trivia. Being shoved out and trying to keep food on the plates of the upper-class guaranteed come-arounds for intense and personalized orientation. Then there were the Sunday night comedy club routines we had to come up with and yes the opportunity for more come-arounds.
All of this had one actual measurable result and another more elusive. The pressure caused a very high drop- out rate to the point of our numbers being supplemented during second class year by some classmates from other companies. We lost some people with good potential who could not handle both the academics and Tenth Company hazing.
The more elusive is the success in both the Navy (three Admirals, many O-6s), the civilian world and the very close relationships that our shared experience built. We have gathered as a company annually for the past 15-20 years and shared the same old war stories with those who proudly call ourselves the Terrible Tenth Survivors.
Class of 1963 Chapel Pew
Displays the plaque which our class has placed on pew 63 in the USNA chapel
A link to the official web site of the USS FITZGERALD, which includes an excellent biography on Lt. William Fitzgerald '63; We've added a few photos from commissioning provided by John Guzik, a former crewmember. Also there are some photos taken by classmates at the commissioning ceremony. The painting of the FITZGERALD by our classmate Dick Whalen was given to the USNA Museum in October 1998 [during our 35th Reunion] by the Fitzgerald family.
October 23, 2017 U.S. 7th Fleet Honors 36 USS Fitzgerald Sailors For Bravery, Damage Control Efforts
Click here for the website
February 27, 2015 Click here for a description of the USS Fitzgerald and background of the naming of the ship. Quite interesting for our class. From Jim Koehn
August 1, 2013 Two Group Photos at USS Fitzgerald Commissioning (Adobe Reader required)
Celebration of Bill Fitzgerald's 50th Anniversary of USNA graduation (Adobe Reader required)
USS Fitzgerald September 2007 Newsletter(Adobe Reader required)
USS Fitzgerald Family Readiness Group( FRG)
This provided by Jim Ring on August 21, 2008
Because it is homeported in Japan, our Class has had little contact with the ship, other than copies of Ship's newsletters that are emailed to us. As a means of maintaining a link to perhaps the only ship ever named after our Classmate, a tremendous honor, I propose that classmates offer some financial support to USS Fitzgerald Family Readiness Group( FRG).
Its purpose is to promote and create a friendly and social relationship among its members, to raise funds for group oriented activities and to serve the family members and the crew of the USS Fitzgerald. Membership consists of any USS Fitzgerald family member who wish to become a part of this organization. The Family Readiness Group plans and organizes various activities for children such as bowling parties, movie night, holiday parties etc. They hold fundraising events for these activities. The group would be ever so grateful for any donations from members of the USNA Class of 1963. They do monthly social activities for children and spouses. They try to get out in town because Japan can be very scary for some of our members. The group also organizes the children's holiday parties and had a wonderful turn out last year for both. Fundraisers are held in the form of bake sales and they are currently putting together a cook book to sell.
I think donations of $25 to $100 would help them a lot. I intend on sending $100.
The address to send donations is:
USS Fitzgerald Family Readiness Group
PSC 473 Box 1941
Click for some photos from a recent Family Day Cruise
June 21, 2019--USS Fitzgerald Crew Unveils Commemorative Flag
PASCAGOULA, Mississippi - On June 17, the crew of the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) unveiled a commemorative flag honoring the Sailors who died in a collision in the Sea of Japan two years ago.
Designed by current crewmembers, the flag memorializes their seven fallen shipmates. The flag is blue with "DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP" emblazoned above the names of the seven Sailors. The motto is a common Navy phrase, but all Fitzgerald Sailors embodied that spirit on June 17, 2017 when they fought significant flooding and structural damage following the collision.
The Fitzgerald crew held a solemn remembrance ceremony and raised the flag immediately after morning colors.
"I am proud of this flag and proud of our shipmates who helped design it, as it is a product of respect and professionalism that symbolizes their great service and sacrifice," said Cmdr. Garrett Miller, Fitzgerald commanding officer, who unfurled the commemorative flag for the first time.
In addition, the National Ensign and Union Jack were raised on the ship for the first time since November 2017.
"Fitzgerald's crew designed this flag from scratch as a way to embody those shipmates we lost," said Cmdr. Scott Wilbur, Fitzgerald's executive officer. "It will be flown every year on 17 June to honor them and to never forget their sacrifice. The current crew continues to live out that motto while bringing the ship back to the Fleet."
On April 16, Fitzgerald took another step toward returning to the fleet. The ship launched and moored pierside at Huntington-Ingalls Industries - Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard.
Throughout this restoration period, the U.S. Navy has made it a priority to ensure Fitzgerald returns to a peak state of warfighting readiness to contribute to an agile and dynamic fleet.
USS Midway Museum
The Class of 1963 supported the dedication by VA-23 of a restored A-4 bearing the name of classmate Stan Smiley
A Seaman's Eye
by Dick Whalen
In addition to the painting of the FITZGERALD, Dick Whalen has produced several other paintings of US Navy ships in action.
Click here for the collection.
Snaphots of his work, along with a biography of the artist, are a unique feature of USNA63.org.
Dick died August 13, 2019. We have no information if prints are still available.
The Herndon Monument Climb
A history of the "tain't no more plebes" ceremony which features '63s John Truesdell
Here's an article from the May 19, 2014 Capital Gazette which also features John.Click Here
Generational connections (Family Military Traditions: to include '63 descendants and ancestors who attended USNA, USMA, USAFA, USCGA)
Two full rooms of books. Publications by '63 authors, publications by other USNA grads, items about USNA, other recommended titles. Includes references in print and other media.
True lies but no videotape. Sea Stories submitted by classmates.
Tales of the legendary NAS Cubi Point Officers' Club. A must for aviators!
Pride & Tradition: Class Reunion Thoughts
Keeping Remembrance Alive - (30th Reunion) by Tom Taylor
Reflections - (35th Reunion) by Steve Duncan
Class President Spencer Johnson's talking points for the Superintendent:(50th Reunion)-- a fine compilation of our class accomplishments, milestones and unique occurrences during our four years. - by Spencer Johnson
Click Here for Mike Shelley's Memorial Service Remarks at the 50th Reunion.
Click Here for Mike Cronin's address on our departed classmates at the 55th Reunion in San Diego
Click Here for the briefing notes prepared by Spencer Johnson for the Supe's speech at the 55th Reunion and Click Here for the Supe's notes on the Navy-Notre Dame rivalry
Dedication of Ted Willandt's Class Ring to the Alumni Association
Spencer Johnson's report of the dedication ceremony
Attendees and Photos from the dedication
Pride & Tradition: Memories
7 July 1959 - (The Beginning) and other Plebe Summer Memories
Terry's Team -Mike Cronin relates his experiences riding in the MS150 bike ride on Terry's Team
Army-Navy Photos '59-'62 -A few old Army-Navy Game photos
Dirck Praeger's Car-St.Christopher -This is a great story about a great car.
18th Co. Christmas Party -A Tale of Misspent Youth.
Reflections of a Blackshoe -By VADM Harold Koenig, USN (Ret)
Dirck Praeger's Hitchhiking Tale -Tales of hitchhiking home for summer leaves
Dirck Praeger's "Over-the-Wall" Tale -This tale will hit home for lots from '63
Dirck Praeger's "War Against the Language Prof" Tale
Dirck Praeger's "Adventures in Getting to Army-Navy '62"
Dirck Praeger's "Boots and Whiskey"
Dirck Praeger's "Camping on the Shenandoah"
Mal Wright's "Mal Wright and Larry Marsh Exchange Adm. Rickover's Picture for 38th Time"
Bill Pawlyk's Nuke Memories
Sam Garde's Old Midshipman Photos from Brooklyn Newspapers
Army-Navy Past: Joe Bellino (from Baltimore Sun)
Army-Navy Past: QBs recall historic '63 matchup 1963 from Navy Times
Coin that JFK would have tossed in 1963 Army-Navy game will finally be used 50 years later from Capital Gazette 12/10/13. Click Here for image of the coin on its plaque
Coin that JFK did toss in 1962 Army-Navy game--from 1962 Navy Football Captain, classmate Steve Hoy
Click Here for a video from Vietnam of Randy Orlowski and Bill Beck surfing with explanation from Randy.
Jim Ring added this footnote:In early 66, I was Sea and Anchor detail Officer of the Deck on PAUL REVERE as we entered Danang Harbor. She was over 600 ft long and was not easy to maneuver, but we really had to watch out for the water skiers who were cruising around the harbor behind the welfare and rec speedboats. It was close to China Beach. What was really strange was you could hear artillery booming off in the distance. Often wondered if any of those skiers are on the Vietnam Wall from injuries suffered while water skiing. Very strange indeed!
Click Here for Dave Moore's memory of a memorable evening on Diego Garcia
February 28, 2014-- Click Here for a photo of a poster recently found in the basement of Johnson's on the Avenue with many '63 signatures
Click Here for blown up sections of the poster to see your name
July2, 2014-- Click Here for Tom Kelley's remembrance of rendering honors to JFK on the USS Kitty Hawk
July 2, 2014-- Click Here for Tom Kelley's experience of witnessing a nuclear explosion from the USS Kitty Hawk.
July 5, 2014-- Click Here for A January-February 1996 Shipmate featured article about Ensign Jim Oakes meeting Admiral Nimitz.
July 21, 2014-- Click Here for Steve Coester's memories of helping launch Apollo 11 to the moon and preventing a launch scrub on July 16, 1969
July 21, 2014-- Click Here for Steve Coester's story about a Space Shuttle near miss.
July 28, 2014-- Click Here for Steve Coester's personal perspective on the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
September 2, 2014-- A Vietnam story from Peter Quinton
My first tour of duty after USNA was on board the U.S.S.Black (DD-666). We had 4, single, 5"/38 mounts along with 3, 3"/50 dual-mount, guns. During my tour I served as the gunnery officer firing many missions of gunfire support for Marines and Army personnel during one of my deployments to Viet Nam. I was the director officer in the Mk-37 director and got to pull the trigger during those fire missions as well as spotting and correcting the fall of shot to get on target. On one fire mission, our spotting O-1 Bird Dog (Army aviation) called for a check fire to observe the damage on our targets. As he passed over the beach, he took automatic weapons fire from a grove of trees. Always ready for counter battery fire, it was my job as director officer to immediately respond. I sited the director on the grove of trees, estimated the range (around 1500 yards) and put four, 55 lb projectiles right on target!...."Charlie" was not having a good day! Our spotting aircraft gave a whoop and a holler for our knocking out the machine gun nest. My one war story.....the rest of my career was not too exciting, peace time Navy!
Here's an addition from Art Clark.
My first tour was on the USS John R Pierce (DD-763). Oddly that was the very same ship that we toured as a high schooler that put me over the edge for attending the Naval Academy some years later. Second tour was aboard USS Nicholas (DD-449). Both had 5"/38 and 3"/50 mounts. Whilst aboard the Nick home ported in Hawaii, aviators bombed the wrong island, one ship lost control of a practice torpedo that landed on Waikiki beach, another ship fired a practice Weapon Alpha that promptly landed in their own laundry and last, but not least, the ship berthed in front of us laid a perfect hedgehog pattern of live ammo in the B25 parking lot. How did that happen you may wonder? Well, the ammo was olive drab signifying live ammo. The gunners mates, however, knew they had ordered inert blue rounds, so the painted them blue. Next their chief noted the color and also noted that the tail fins weren't notched, so he corrected that problem. Next came the Board of Inspection and Survey inspectors who noted the inert rounds, so they hit the rapid fire button on the starboard launcher. The last I saw was the weapons officer being escorted ashore in what looked a straight jacket. Sick but funny.
May 14, 2015-- Click Here for Dick Jones' tale of hitchhiking to see his girlfriend during Second Class Summer Plebe Detail
May 18, 2015-- Click Here for Dick Jones' tale of liberty at Cubi Point and Olongapo City with a stinking finish.
May 18, 2015-- Click Here for Dick Jones' story of NAAs Meridian, Civil Rights and the KKK
May 21, 2015-- Click Here for another Dick Jones' story about a Marine aviator who got lost over Vietnam and almost landed among the enemy.
November 5, 2015-- Steve Coester just read a great book about U of Washington's quest for the 1936 Olympic eight man crew championship in Hitler's Nazi Germany which prominently mentioned Navy crew. That reminded him of our own Class of 1963 crew exploits. Click Here for an article about our crew (also on our Reunions page).
Mike Blackledge adds: In Nov 1984, my siblings gathered at Hubbard Hall to dedicate a crew shell in honor of my father, Class of 1920. Surprisingly, at our 45th Reunion, we found that shell hanging from the rafters of Hubbard Hall, to represent the last of the wooden shells!
January 22, 2016--Here's a story from Pete Savage about his time as Supply Office on the USS Tullibee SSN597 and a hilarious screw up on a simple requisition. Click Here for an entertaining story.
August 1, 2016--Phillip Marsden provided this account of our classmate Ben Cole's wife, Sue, meeting the person she donated bone marrow to. Click Here for the newspaper story.
January 11, 2017--Bill Pawlyk's involvement in the torpedoing of an American aircraft carrier Click Here for Bill's story.
February 28, 2017--
Michael Blackledge got some interesting information about Navy prep schools and some bonus information about Class of 1963 firsts. Mike said, "James Cheevers, the Senior Curator of the US Naval Academy Museum, has done some research on the history of prep schools providing candidates for the Academy. He notes something that I never realized: one more first for our class, namely that our class was the first NOT to take the entrance exams for the Academy! Over 100 years of tradition and process changed!
I received this research as part of my on-going efforts to find which Prep School my father attended during Fall 1915 - Spring 1916; Jennifer of Special Collections has provided his results to me for the exam of April 1916 - which he passed. Thus I am here.
Steve Coester reports that if he remembers correctly he took a multi day civil service exam for the Coast Guard Academy that left him so drained he couldn't find his car in downtown St. Louis after it was finally finished. Must have done okay since he was offered an appointment.
"Click Here for this interesting information from James W. Cheevers, Senior Curator, U.S. Naval Academy Museum
August 6, 2018--
Michael Shelley has compiled an extensive list of headlines and significant Academy events from our four years on the Severn. Click Here for this interesting information
September 26, 2018--
An overall shot of our Ring Dance in 1962. The Ring is to the left of the reflecting pond
April 2, 2019--
June Stone wrote this about Chuck's Austin Healy and his love affair with this "Other Woman"
"Click Here and "Click Here
June 24, 2019, -- As we approach the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, Click Here for Steve Coester's memories of Working the LH2 leak that could have changed history.
September 27, 2019, -- Here's a YouTube video of the USS Kitty Hawk featuring classmate Lee Tillotson Click Here for the video
Pat Waugh Tells an Amazing Story by Pat Waugh
Memories of Marching and Formations by Dave Moore, Mike Shelley, and Mike Moore
AWOL in Morroco by John Morgan
Bricking by John Morgan
Painting the Smokestack by Zimm Zimmerman
My Best Christmas by Spencer Johnson
Mess Hall Antics by Dirck Praeger
Tales from the Natatorium by Steve Coester
My Unlikely Journey to a Varsity letter by Steve Coester
Click for the Drag Handbook Mario Fiori sent in this Drag Handbook from about 1952. Steve Coester's wife has one from 1962 but it is temporarily lost.
August 14, 2014-- Click Here for Jon Harris's account of raising the first 50 star U.S. flag in NYC
August 31, 2014-- Click Here for a nice poem about plebe year from T.C. Lyster USNA '64
September 3, 2014-- Click Here for Dave Moore's recounting of Navy football 1959-1962
September 15, 2014-- Click Here for a 1967 midshipman dating etiquette video from back in our day. From Dave Moore. How times have changed!
May 9, 2015-- Click for the Drag Handbook from 1962, the one we used. Finally Yvonne Coester found her long lost copy!
May 9, 2015-- Click for our graduation announcement
October 4, 2015-- Click Here for Pete Savage's recounting of our pranks at the very first Navy-Air Force football game in 1960. We won the game 35-3.
Click Here for Pete Savage and Dick Nelson telling of the crazed falcon prank.
December 3, 2015-- Click Here for a discussion of the Navy Songbook we were issued plebe year.This started with Mike Blackledge wanting to find a copy.
March 1, 2016-- Click Here for a compilation of funny stories and misadventures which occurred during our Physical Education (PE) classes. If you have a good one send it to Mike Blackledge at firstname.lastname@example.org and he'll include it.
April 9, 2016-- Click Here for Dirck Praeger's account of his pre-entrance physical and academic testing for the military academies. Webmaster's note: After reading Dirck's account, I could have just changed his name to mine. I'm sure it fits many of you.
November 3, 2017-- Click Here for Ross Anderson's hilarious account of his and Vic Dean's road trip from Tallahassee to the Academy in a Model A Ford.
November 27, 2019-- Click Here for Harry Hirsch account of how the 23rd (then 19th) Company painted the Academy smokestack.
Pride & Tradition:
Lest We Forget
USS Scorpion Sinking Analysis - Provided by Jim Ring April 2010
USS Scorpion Sinking Analysis - Provided by Bob LaGassa 10/20/2013
Lasswell, USMC, Cryptographer - Classmate Jim Lasswell's father who identified Midway Island as Japanese invasion target
Account of Pentagon Attack - Betty Maxfield (Wife of Kent)
Address to the Troops (5 June 1944) - Gen. George Patton, USA
Eulogy for a Fighter Pilot - Pat Conroy
What So Proudly We Hail - Capt. John McCain, '58
Farewell to the Corps - Gen. Charles Krulak, '64
Speech to Senior NCO Academy Graduation - General John P. Jumper
The Boat School Boys - By Captain Richard A. Stratton, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Home is the Sailor-John Paul Jones - From www.smithsonianmagazine.com
Search for the Bonhomme Richard
In 2010 our Class provided $4500 to aid in the search for the Bonhomme Richard. Click on the title link for an article; Searching for the Bonhomme Richard: A Tale of Two Navies. The article was authored by Melissa Ryan, the architect of the Naval Academy's BHR on-line course and the project manager for the ongoing search for the BHR. I think you will find it a very interesting read.
Another item is Melissa Ryan's ongoing blog, which can be found at: http://searchforbhr.blogspot.com/.
A Smithsonian Channel special on the search for the Bonhomme Richard: "Mighty Ships: USNS Grasp", was aired on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 8:00 pm EST on the Smithsonian Channel. The USNS GRASP was the search vessel designated for the 2011 search for the BHR, which was led by Melissa Ryan and included 2/c Joe Walters. His participation was funded by '63 generosity.
While the 2012 search did not include midshipman participation, funding from the Class of 1963 helped ensure midshipman participation in 2010 and 2011, and re-energized the commitment of both the US and French navies to find John Paul Jones' elusive flagship. So in many ways, today's ongoing search is the result of our philanthropy.
Bob Abate sent in this post based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here
Jim DeFrancia wrote this article in the April 1963 issue of Shipmate in rebuttal to an article by David Boroff in Harper's Click Here
Our Class had a unique relationship with President John F. Kennedy. He became president when we became upper class. He was a Navy Man, war hero, skipper of PT-109. He loved football and the Army-Navy game. We lost our 'rubbers' when we marched in his Inaugural Parade, and we lost our innocence on 22 November 1963. Our experiences that day were unique, and for the first time since throwing our hats in Halsey Field House, we were all unified via a single event.
What is your story? Where were you when you first heard that the President had been assassinated? Click Here
To add to the list contact Mike Blackledge at Mike@Blackledge.com.
Bob Abate sent in this post on June 5, 2014 based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here
Bob Abate sent in this post on December 6, 2014 based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here
This 1965 Navy documentary, narrated by actor Robert Taylor, gives an inside look at life at the United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, MD. Webmaster note: I actually think this film was from about 1960 as I remember it being shown at a Christmas Academy dinner in St. Louis while we were Mids. In one scene Dick Danhof and I are shown playing tennis as plebes.
Bob Abate sent in this post based on an interview he conducted with a WWII veteran. Click Here
Here is Mike Cronin's note from Mike McGrath:
POWs- USNA 39, USAFA 33, USMA 9Let us alway remember not only our losses in the class of 1963 but all of those from USNA.
A total of 591 POWs returned alive of a total of over 700 believed to have been POWs. Many of the MIAs were POWs who died in captivity before getting into contact with other POWs so that their names would be known by others as POWs and relayed to US authorities upon release or exchange of POWs. Some of these died of combat wounds shortly after capture and before reaching any POW camp, others were most likely shot while evading capture, and others died as a result of torture before other POWs knew of their presence. No one knows how many are in each of those categories. The Vietnamese aren't talking, but it is likely that quite few of those listed as MIAs actually died in captivity but were never known by the rest of us to have been captured.
My personal belief is that there were never any MIAs alive and held by the Vietnamese after the war. The Vietnamese knew that we had spent great efforts to compile and memorize lists of names because they caught us doing so many times. To their great frustration, they could never stop that or the communication that enabled it. They got everything they wanted in the Paris Accords of 1973- All US forces out of Vietnam and North Vietnamese forces permitted to remain in South Vietnam. The only way they could have blown the deal was to have been caught holding back prisoners. I just don't believe they were dumb enough to take that risk. The MIAs were actually KIAs. When the circumstances of a loss were not clear COs were most likely to list a loss as MIA. I was listed as "missing presumed captured."
KIA- USNA 140, USAFA 150, USMA 267
Among the USNA KIAs the class date range was from '43 to '69
The class with the most KIAs was '66 with 16. 2nd was '63 with 13, 3rd was '62 with 12.
October 9, 2015--Dick Jones' memories of his meetings with legendary fighter pilot BGEN Robin Olds, USAF (Ret) Click Here for Dick's accounts.
October 23, 2015-- Click Here for Rick Trani's sister, Ginny Peabody's "The Professor and the Warrior" about their grandfather who was a professor at USNA and her brother Rick. Click Here for several photos accompanying the article.
November 6, 2015-- Tom O'Brien suggested posting this article from The Submarine Rewiew. Tom says,"No '63 Classmate is mentioned in CAPT, USN (Ret.) Bud Alexander's excellent article that appeared in The Submarine Review, but it may be an appropriate article to post on the Class Web Site as a reminder of the many years of dedicated performance in the Silent Service by several of our Classmates.."Click Here for CAPT, USN (Ret.) Bud Alexander's excellent article.
November 22, 2015-- Navy's Ken Niumatalolo is the most underrated coach in college football. Click Here for John Feinstein article.
June 26, 2016-- There are two monuments at the Academy that you might not be aware of.The first is located across Dorsey Creek facing the cemetery. It is dedicated "In Grateful Remembrance: Naval Academy Graduates Lost in Operations During the Vietnam Conflict" It includes the names of the thirteen members of our class lost in Vietnam
The other monument is located by the Columbarium, dedicated by the class of 1937. It "Remembers Our Shipmates Whose Resting Places Are Known Only To God". During our service we lost twenty-eight classmates in the line of duty from the Class of 1963. Fifteen, including nine from Vietnam, three from the loss of the USS Scorpion and three in aircraft accidents at sea, are listed on this memorial.
September 1, 2016-- In 1964 Admiral Minter sent a letter to prospective midshipmen explaining what to expect if they entered the Naval Academy. Thirty five years later James Webb wrote this reply to Admiral Minter. Click here to read both letters. Outstanding!
September 13, 2016-- A new 9-11 In Memoriam video and webpage from the USNA Alumni Association dedicated to those who were Killed in Action or were Operational Losses since 9-11 Click here view the web page!
February 19, 2018-- From Tony Taylor: I recently gave a "slide" presentation about the closing days of WWII in the Pacific to about 90 veterans and wives in our community; we had a few WWII vets present, including a Marine who was in the Philippines on September 2, 1945, and another veteran who was stationed on a destroyer protecting the carriers off the coast of Japan during the Surrender Ceremony. A third veteran, who used to live around the corner, was part of the bomber crew on one of the B-29s that flew over Tokyo Bay at the conclusion of the Ceremony.
There are a lot of tidbits history in this presentation, and the response before the Veterans Club was very gratifying and I believe it would have made my dad proud. One woman was so moved that she came up to me with tears in her eyes and just wanted to keep shaking my hand. Many others said that it was a presentation that every high school student should see. I have already been asked by another group to give the presentation next month. Click here for the presentation.
September 3, 2018-- From U.S. Naval Academy Facebook: The Naval Academy was honored to host the private funeral services for Senator John McCain today at the Chapel and Cemetery. Photos of the events are available (and download-able) here: Click here for the photos.
Approximately 500 midshipmen attended the service in the Chapel, not including the Glee Club(who attended and performed during the service). Those midshipmen were joined by an additional 500 midshipmen to line the procession route from the Chapel to the Cemetery.
Not pictured are those of you who spent your day in the heat to pay one last tribute to the family outside of our gates. We appreciate your respectful and lasting tribute to the family as Senator McCain entered the Academy one last time. Thank you for continued support and understanding.
April 13, 2017--Coach Wayne Hardin Dead at 91
Former Navy coach Wayne Hardin, who led the Midshipmen to two top-five finishes in the AP poll, has died. He was 91.
Hardin suffered a massive stroke on April 11. Temple, where he also coached, said Hardin had attended alumni day festivities the previous weekend.
Hardin went 38-22-2 with the Midshipmen and led to the 1961 Orange Bowl and 1964 Cotton Bowl. He coached Heisman Trophy winners Joe Bellino (1960) and Roger Staubach (1963). His 1960 Navy team ended the season ranked fourth by the Associated Press, and his 1963 team finished second in the AP poll.
Hardin also went 80-52-3 in 13 seasons (1970-1982) at Temple and is the winningest coach in school history. He led the 1979 team to the Garden State Bowl, where the Owls defeated California for their first bowl win. The 1979 team set a record for victories with 10 and finished the season ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25 poll.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
From Navy Times
For additional links see Baltimore Sun and Philadelphia Inquirer
May 27, 2017--Class of 1963 Line of Duty Deaths
Click Here for poster memorablising our classmates killed in action or in the line of duty.
October 1, 2019--The Thresher: History’s deadliest nuclear submarine disaster gets Arlington National cemetery monument - The Washington Post
Click Here for the article.
Military Leadership in a Changing Society - James H. Webb, '68
Remarks at JSCOPE 2000 - Gen Charles Krulak, '64
If It's Not Fun, Then Why Do We Do It? - Col. Wayne Shaw, USMC
Men of Annapolis - The Television Series - Capt. Sherman 'Bud' Alexander, '56
Graduation Speech to Class of 1993 - Sen. John McCain, '58
NATO and the Future Use of Military Force - Stephen M. Duncan, '63
We are pleased to announce that four U.S. Naval Academy alumni were chosen by the Naval Academy Alumni Association as the 2013 recipients of the Distinguished Graduate Award. Congratulations to:
Mr. Roger E. Tetrault, Class of 1963, served as a naval aviator upon graduating from the Naval Academy. He established the USNA Ethics Leadership Chair; was vice president and general manager of the naval nuclear fuel division of Babcock & Wilcox when the company became sole naval reactor supplier, saving the Navy hundreds of millions of dollars; and served with NASA on the Advisory Council Committee, International Space Station Task Force, Columbia Accident Investigation Board and National Research Council Committee and was awarded their Distinguished Public Service Medal.
The Honorable John S. Redd, Class of 1966, served in the surface warfare community following graduation from the Academy. He retired as a vice admiral, having commanded eight organizations at sea, including founding the first new fleet in half a century, U. S. Fifth Fleet in the Middle East; served as Deputy Administrator and Chief Operating Officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq; and was selected by President George W. Bush to serve as the first Senate-confirmed director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).
Ambassador Richard L. Armitage, Class of 1967, selected service as a surface warfare officer when he graduated from the Academy. He organized and led the evacuation of 30,000 South Vietnamese naval personnel and assets at the close of the Vietnam War; served as ambassador to the newly independent states following the dissolution of the Soviet Union; and was the 13th Deputy Secretary of State.
Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, USN (Ret.), Class of 1970, selected service in the nuclear power submarine community upon graduating from the Naval Academy. He served as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet; served as Commander, U.S. Pacific Command; and was awarded the Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale award for Inspirational Leadership.
Each year, we honor distinguished graduates because of their demonstrated and unselfish commitment to a lifetime of service, their personal character, and the significant contributions they have made to the Navy and Marine Corps or as leaders in industry or government. The 2013 Distinguished Graduate Award Ceremony will be held on Friday, 22 March 2013.
Congratulations to the 2013 Distinguished Graduates!
Byron Marchant '78
President, U. S. Naval Academy Alumni Association
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January 11, 2017