March 6, 2010
MEMO FOR: Classmates, Spouses, Widows, Other Family and Friends of the Class of 1955
SUBJECT: Seventy Days and Counting until the 55th for ’55 – "FOCUS ON FIFTY-FIVE"
Since my Feb 8 report, great progress has been made on reunion planning, reservations and communications:
- Over 200 reservations already received, over 100 classmates committed - many companies already have 13-16 attending, with 23 of our 24 companies represented – only one company does not have at least two or more registrants at this point. lst Regt is slightly ahead of 2d Regt in attendees, 119 to 90. Significant is the fact that 11 widows, 9 widowers, 26 guests and one x55 w/spouse are also registered. Park Ridge Marriott reservations have now surpassed 100 rooms and increasing daily. Our ’55 block of 150 rooms at the reunion rate of $135 is good through April 20 – regular rate is $219, so please get your reservations in now, unless you are planning on staying with family or friends nearby. You are reminded your registration with Quent Bates for reunion activities does not include your hotel room. Those reservations must be made with the Park Ridge Marriott, 201-307-0800.
- Memorial Service Program is already printed in full color – great work by Rod Vitty. Our service will be officiated by Walt McCrillis and held in the Chapel of the Holy Trinity. It will include the roll call of our 35 classmates who have passed on since the 50th. Following the service, we will honor Father Oscar Raynal with our Distinguished Classmate Award, a fitting tribute to his years of service to the Jesuit Order and the native Indians of Mexico. Jim Ryan has done a masterful job of creating a "one of a kind" Award for this special occasion. Don Hilbert is coordinating details of Father Oscar’s travel.
- Enroute to the Chapel, we will pause at the ’55 Tennis Center Memorial Patio to once again pay special tribute to our classmates who gave their lives in the Vietnam Conflict. Three of those classmates were also Army Rangers and we will announce that pavers are now being laid in their honor at the Ranger Memorial at Fort Benning, Georgia.
- After the Eisenhower Hall luncheon, where we are privileged to share the ballroom with the Class of ’50, we will attend the Superintendent’s meeting with the reunion classes in the Eisenhower Auditorium – always a standout presentation. As all know by now, the Superintendent, LTG Buster Hagenbeck, ’71, has announced his retirement following graduation of the Class of 2010, so this should be a particularly memorable report by the Supe. Concurrently, BG Pat Finnegan,’71, Dean of the Academic Board has also announced his retirement. It is rather unusual for both the Supe and the Dean to retire in the same summer; however they both will have more than 39 years of service, perhaps a new milestone for the Academy and reaching that magic age of retirement.
- Following the Superintendent’s remarks, there should be an opportunity to present our 55th Reunion Class gift to the Coaches Housing Project inaugurated by Kelly Lichtenberg and named for the Class of 1955. We thank Bob Strati, Kelly, and many generous classmates, for providing us the leadership and wherewithal over the past five years to bring this gift to fruition. On our drive back to the Hotel after the Alumni Review and Luncheon the following day, we will see the completed housing area and the huge entrance stone with plaque erected on behalf of the Class.
- Later during our visit, the Class will present the recovered ring of a deceased classmate to the West Point Museum collection of Class Rings. As most all know, the ring of our first classmate to pass after graduation, John C. Daly, 2LT, USAF, was presented to the West Point Library collection by John’s family shortly after his death in an auto accident on August 13, 1956, the night before his graduation from Air Force flight training in Mississippi. Only recently, we learned that the Museum, now located on the old Ladycliff College campus in Highland Falls, has begun a separate ring collection and the Class of 1955 was not represented therein. Thanks to Dan Ludwig, our Historian, we came into possession of the ring of a classmate who passed away almost 30 years ago, and has no know heirs now living. Dan and Jack Campbell worked with the West Point Ring Recovery Project to obtain the ring from the finders/owners and it will be gifted to the West Point Museum on behalf of ’55.
- Our class business meeting will take place on Monday afternoon at the hotel, at which time we will provide a short financial and activities report on support of classmates and our Alma Mater over the past five years, followed by the election of officers for 2010-15 – taking us to the "BIG 60". You were advised of the slate of nominees by Nominating Cmte Chair Ed Trobaugh in my Jan 10, report. And now in accordance with our By-Laws, you should have a ballot in your hands by March 17, by e mail or postal mail (whichever you currently use for class communications), for absentee voting or personal voting if you will be attending the Reunion. Charlie Johnson, Class Secretary, has the ballot ready for mail and they should be completed and returned to the Class Vice President, Rich Cardillo, who will serve as teller for the election at the class meeting. If you cannot attend the reunion, you should complete the ballot and return by May 3. We hope all will attend the reunion and while you may wait and vote at the meeting, you are encouraged to return your ballot early to Rich and it will be delivered and counted at the Reunion. But if there is any chance you might not attend, mail or e mail it back by the May 3, return date, and Rich will insure that your ballot reaches the meeting on time. If I have confused you, Charlie Johnson’s message will elaborate further.
- You will note in the Reunion packet that some "new and innovative" keepsakes will be available to our attendees, especially for the ladies, a beautiful Faberge egg and neck chain with the Class Crest on one side and the Helmet of Pallas Athena, symbol of wisdom and learning, on the other. It is an original design crafted for ’55 based on the suggestion of Ted Gay (and delicate negotiations with the designer). These eggs are now much sought after by other classes and similar eggs were a hit in the DC area BX during the Christmas holidays. It is a true family keepsake, memorable to the 55th. We will also have distinctive ’55 challenge coins for our attendees as suggested and requested by Jim Darrah, L-2, as a first for ’55.
- Our opening night buffet is SAFARI night and instructions are to wear your hat provided. This is Rod’s big surprise or "secret weapon". I know not which since I have not seen it myself – yet based on our hats of previous years, I am guaranteed that ’55 will "stand out" at the Alumni Review. Further, "we will not run", for fear LTG Black'shear M. Bryan and our long deceased Classmate Walt Staudaher, will rise up and smite us – would be a shame to be confined to our hotel rooms as was the Class of 1957, renown in Academy lore as "Black ‘57" – restricted on their graduation hop night long-long ago.
- There is much, much more yet to come on the 55th, but the most important ingredient remains to be added and that is - YOU and YOURS to be there with us. We invite any and all, family, friends and guests for lasting memories of our Alma Mater and our class – for we do have much to remember and much of which to be proud. Let us share it together. In particular, reach out to those in your companies, including the widows and children of our classmates who have gone on before, so that they can come and meet their loved one’s classmates of yesteryear and take home new memories of friendship within the "brotherhood of war" – which only few will ever know.
- Regret that this has gone on much longer than intended, but if we sound excited about the coming reunion, we are and want you to share that excitement with us. We are very aware that many simply cannot attend due to time, distance or family health circumstances, so I also ask you to reach out to those and lend them your voice so that you can bring back word to them. I reached out to three of the 18 on our Prayer List this week on behalf of the class:
- Talked with Dave Patton in El Paso mid week as he was undergoing rehab from his severe heart attack. He was cheerful and sounded strong, but has a ways yet to go in his recovery. Paul Parks has been faithful in his regular visits to Dave for weeks – and Paul is our only other ’55 member in El Paso. Dave would enjoy a call from each of you to cheer him and reminisce about the many years we soldiered together. Paul always has Dave’s newest numbers, as Dave moves from treatment center to center.
- Martha Steinman reports that Charles Steinman who has been gravely ill in West Virginia has returned once again to the Lifecare Acute Care Facility in Pittsburgh, near where his daughter is a physician. Charles experienced kidney failure and is now on dialysis. Martha remains vigilant by his side as he faces continued treatments. Her brightest days are when Charles can squeeze her hand with a perception of consciousness.
- Checked in on Phil Bouchard’s Caring Bridge webpage tonight – a neat site with many messages from friends and family with some good pix of Phil, Carol and the family as Phil continues his bout with cancer. You might consider visiting the site and leaving Phil a message of comfort.
- Would ask each of you to "reach out and touch someone" and do keep us posted on yourselves as well. Remember we have adopted something we learned years ago at Fort Benning in Ranger School --
"No Classmate Left Behind"
You can check almost real-time reunion attendees and updates on the Class website. Tom Sims maintains a by-name list of all attendees and latest reunion bulletins, as well at the Reunion Countdown Clock.
QUARTERLY EXCOM TELECONFERENCE SCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY, MAR 11:
- We will review the status of Reunion Planning and Progress with the Committee and attend to other class business at hand. Look for a follow-on "Situation Report" within a couple of weeks as our countdown reaches "55 days until the 55th for ’55 – something consistent about that. Get your plans together to join us.
– have heard of many others who are planning yet to come. We do not want them to wait too long for reservations, since the hotel will only hold our rooms at the class rate thru April 20, and Rod must get a lock on our bus transportation contract and meals with AOG about the same time.
SEE YOU ON MAY 15 – 70 DAYS AND COUNTING !!!!!!!!!!!
Grip Hands - Faithfully,
Carl H. McNair, Jr.
President, Class of 1955