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Fellow Classmates and Friends:
Short Version: We made it and set a record. Fifty - Two (52) guys marched 533 miles. We had 33 make the 15 mile trek, while the saner ones marched two miles. Some had so much fun, that they promised to do it again at our 100th Anniversary MB!
Longer Version: (Read at your own peril!)
Our 50th Anniversary March back was the Mother of all March backs. I believe you can all be proud of the manner in which we represented the Class.
This March Back was over three years in the planning, and was born from the ideas of those of us who marched with the plebes in 2001. Was it worth it? For a definitive answer you'll have to ask each of the 52 guys who marched. We all have different impressions. Like the four blind men who were asked to describe an elephant - - one felt the trunk and said an elephant was like a fat snake; another felt a leg, and replied that an elephant was like a tree - - and so on. Therefore, this report is not "The definitive" After Action Report, but one of many.
Was it a success? In most ways "yes" - - in a few aspects "no". Did we field more marchers than the Class of 1957? (Yes). Did we have a record turnout? (Yes). Did we have a rep from each Cadet Company? (No). Did we have over 50 participants? (Yes). Did we have 58 participants? (No - -
Much to the relief of his wife and family, Wally Ward need not participate in the Marine Corps Marathon as he promised to do if 58 guys from the Class participated.) Did the Class, under the leadership of George Sibert conduct a fitting memorial service for our deceased class mates and spouses who are no longer with us? (Yes). Did we all march proudly in Class mass formation from the ski slope to the Supe's house?
(Hell Yes - - we probably never marched as well as we did during the final two miles - - Class banner in front, Class guidon leading the way carried by Karl Oelke and provided by Bill Buchly.) Will our participation record stand as a goal for others to shoot for? (Yes). Are we tired? Yes? Are we aching? (Yes.) Do we feel good? (HELL NO - - we feel GREAT! (Note: for the purists in the Class, we marched in class mass formation, eight across, sized by height, with the shortest guys in front. A few flankers gave me hell that they weren't in the front, but
they caved in,)
Although this was not classified as a mini reunion, our turnout was quite large. Many guys traveled from afar - - classmates came from California, Texas, Florida and points in between just to commemorate our march back. We had a good contingent of wives, drags and family members at the three social events, even though timing was pressed because of the march and other activities scheduled by the Academy. What the girls did while we were marching - - they are not saying, but they somehow managed to amuse themselves.
The weather could not have been better. Low humidity, moderate temperatures (Wally had promised us good weather.) Thirty- three (33) of us who opted for the 15 mile version started the trek back to the Academy around midnight. The other 19 joined us at dawn at the base of the ski slope.
Our 50th Anniversary Class (2008) looks sharp. We spoke with many of the plebes, upper classmen and women, (is there such a term as upper classwoman - - my spell check says no?) and the cadre. Most were surprised that a bunch of old geezers were in good enough shape to keep up with them (which we did) - - and that we would take the time and make the commitment to march with them. The Corps hasn't - - it's tough and perhaps better than ever. These kids for the most part know what they are getting into. But they are patriotic and want to give something back to their country. They have a great attitude.
I'm going to let others tell their " plebe hike war stories". This is my fifth After Action Report, and no doubt you are ready for some fresh viewpoints. But here are a few thoughts which quickly come to mind.
At our post march back dinner, Ron Hudson's son, who participated in his dad's 50th Anniversary MB, and just who returned from a tour in Afghanistan, introduced his dad, so that Ron could tell his story as to why he was splattered with mud and dirt. Short version - - he fell in the mud at a water station. (In contrast, I earlier challenged Don Palladino to determine if he really made the marchback, for at the 13 mile point, there wasn't a speck of dirt on him, and he looked fresh and sharp. Don assured me he participated, so I have to believe him.) Jim
Ryan led us in a rendition of "Benny Havens O", and Sam Myers led us in the "The Corps" that evening. It doesn't get any better than this!!!
We marched under a clear sky with a quarter moon. In other words, it was dark. I know that many guys did not believe me when I told them it was usually too dark to see the trail. They are now believers!
Two guys were making their first MB - - hell, they waited 50yrs and it was about time they got with the program. There was a lot of traffic on the 58 MB net beforehand about the need for flashlights. I kept reminding the guys that this was a tactical march, and they couldn't use a flashlight to illuminate the trail. Just to tease me, Hugh Morgan showed up with a "miner's light" strapped to his forehead! Later he assured me he would not wear it during the march back.
Ace Peck designed and sold to the crowd a 50th Anniversary scarf for $20. Whatever profit he makes will go to the Class Endowment, If interested, I suggest you contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org as he has a few remaining.
Next Year? If all the guys who told me that they couldn't march this year because of a "conflict", but will be there in 2005 actually show up next year - - we should have a record turnout! But don't hold your breath on this one! We all know why cow pastures are so green! I spoke with a rep from the Class of 59 - - they are already planning for their 50th MB next year. Will our record hold up?
Many thanks to those of you who made a per mile pledge in support of the marchers. You can send your tax deductible check to me at: 120 Regent Drive, Bel Air, MD, 21014. Please make it payable to: "Fidelity Investments CGF". (We marched 533 miles) It's not too late to join in, if you so desire. Thanx to all for your support.
Three inch MB souvenir buttons were provided to each 58 marcher. I have two remaining. They are available to the first two guys who are willing to donate $1,000 to the Endowment fund. This is the easy way to get a button - - the rest of us had to work our buns off to earn it!!!! You're getting a bargain.
The 50th Anniversary Office is closing down.
Lord Willing - - Hope to March With You Next Year
58 Really is GREAT