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Class Notes

USMA 1958

  July 2017


 Here we go again.  I am beginning with a list of subjects from recent emails, mostly on the Class Forum but also from a few other Class email lists.  I was off the Class Forum for a time while taking care of Judy, but I have rejoined or reupped along with becoming Scribe again.  Great time and place to use this as an opportunity to thank Pete Penczer (C-2) again for taking on the Scribe duties when I was unable to continue while supporting Judy.

 I am finding the Class Forum both interesting and a gold mine of class info.  Many of the posts on the Class Forum are political in nature and I am NOT using that information here.  If you want the politics, join the Class Forum.  Meanwhile, I am not hesitant to repeat the other information because at our advanced age, we are not likely to remember the stuff anyway.  And, many classmates are not on the Class Forum, therefore, it is first-time information for them.

 ·         “Hail to the Redskins” (about the Supreme Court ruling on “Slants” and Free Speech)

·         “Health Care” (on both Class DC net and Class Forum)

·         “Moderate Drinking Associated with Structural Brain Changes”

·         “Senate health care bill by ‘13 white men’”

·         “Unbelievable!” (this was about General Welfare, Article 1, Section 8 of US Constitution)

·         “Military Town, Ft Walton” (your scribe even began high school at Ft Walton HS back in 1950 when my dad went to Korea and my mother and I returned to states/Florida from Japan)

·         “Interesting reading – book recommendation” -- “The Day of ISLAM” -- sent by Ken Herberger (L-1)

·         “1st Call for Luncheon on 20 July 2017” – an email to DC group from Jack Gordon (A-1), our DC Social Guru) – if you are in DC area on 20 July, do come says your Scribe: contact Jack via email or phone

·         “Poe” (this was Edgar Allan Poe, but shortened by sender)

·         “Literary Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe” -- kicked off by Jim Seltzer (E-1)

·         “Who, what, when, where and how much”

·         “NATO Assessment”

·         “Good news about Navy Sailor refusing to stand for National Anthem and immediately regrets it”

·         “Telos, George Patton and the warrior caste”

·         “General Mattis Speech at West Point 2017 Graduation”

·         “West Point Father’s Day Tribute”

·         “Mensa Award” -- awardee was our classmate Hal Lyon (C-2)

·         “Can Trump get anything done?”

·         “Lobotomizing History” (among other examples, removing Confederate statues in Richmond VA)

·         “AFIB Treatment Info”

·         “Red Platoon, A True Story of American Valor” -- book recommended by Palmer McGrew (I-2)

·         “Monuments” (this is about removing Confederate statues)

·         “Opinion: How Desert Storm Destroyed the US Military”

·         “TOF’s FITNESS TIP #74” (Scribe asks, does anyone have them all?)

·         “Civil War Quiz” -- many of us have been receiving emails from Bill Serchak (K-1), however, you must now contact Bill to continue receiving his emails:

 Truthfully, there were more topics, but I failed to collect them all.  Sorry about that.  I think this list of subjects covers the last two or three weeks or so of email traffic.  Of course, some subjects generated more email traffic than did others.

 DC Class Luncheon.  Let me say a bit more about the DC Class Lunch on 20 July.  It will be another great gathering of DC area classmates.  We would love to have classmates from out-of-town join us.  Do come if you are able.  Be sure to contact Jack Gordon (A-1), if you can make it to lunch.  His email is or via his telephone 703-237-8263.  There is not too much traffic on this list, so I encourage all classmates who are likely to attend DC social functions to sign-up for the list.  You can contact Jack Gordon to info on DC list.

“Red Platoon” Here is what Dick Schonberger (B-2) had to say about the book “Red Platoon…” which was recommended by Palmer McGrew (I-2): “Thanks for the recommendation on the book. A truly gripping and detailed account of one day on COP Keating. The valor and sacrifice demonstrated and documented by that overwhelmed unit is nothing less than inspiring. Palmer introduced the book but don't recall if he recommended it on this net, therefore I am.  It truly reflects great honor and professionalism and makes you wonder how you might have done in similar circumstances.  The author, Clinton Romesha, received the CMH for his actions that day, 3 Oct 2009, with Tp B, 3-61st Cav, 4th BCT, 4th ID.  Check it out!”  A great book review by Dick, easily worthy of 2.8 or so from the English Department.

Tony Smith (I-1) was recently a guest columnist for Washington Merry-Go-Round, the longest running newspaper column (since 1932).  It was begun by Drew Pearson and then Jack Anderson.  It is now normally written by Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift.  Doug Cohn is USMA 1968.  Back to Tony Smith: Scribe cannot do justice to Tony’s article, therefore, if you are interested in reading it send me an email.  The summation of Tony’s career at the end of column was interesting: brief and to the point.  It does bear repeating.  Tony graduated from high school in Paris before joining our ranks at West Point.  He later completed grad school at Sciences Po, also in Paris.  Tony was awarded the Legion of Honor by President Jacques Chirac.  The article is a great read whether you are a Franco file or not.  Send Scribe an email if you are interested in reading it.  And, send some news about yourself while you are at it.  Tony gets another 2.8 or so from the English Department.

Palmer McGrew (I-2) said the following about Balfour and our class rings (in addition to recommending the book “Red Platoon…”): “As for our class rings, L G Balfour was the manufacturer selected by our ring committee and what I was told by the Balfour rep, and I presume you all were, too, was that Balfour would fix any problem with our rings for life. The problem, however, was: whose life? Presumably ours. But, as time went on, Balfour turned into something else and the current company claims to have no records from '58 or any promises to fix the rings.

 “I did have at least one event where Balfour took great care of my ring at no cost to me.  But the next time I sent it in... wait, I have to tell you about the stone I had.  I saw a ring from ‘57 that had what looked like a black stone and I asked what it was.  A garnet, was the answer, but garnets are red.  The owner showed me how it was red, but looked black except for red highlights you could sometimes see.  I fell in love with it and got exactly that in my ring.  Okay. I sent my ring to Balfour for some repair and when it came back it had what I call ‘pink plastic’ for a ‘stone.’  That started a long tussle with Balfour. 

 “I now have my ring back with a stone similar to my original one and I love it, but Balfour made me pay for it.  Almost $400.  I was seriously POed.  Enter Armed Forces Coop.  I submitted a claim and they are going to send me a check for the total amount of the repair.  I still think we're getting screwed by Balfour, but times do change and gold now costs about 20 times what it did in 1958 (but doesn't everything?).  Probably true for garnets, as well.  But a happy ending after all.”  Another 2.8.  Your Scribe should have been an English P.  And, probably would have gone back as a P in something, but VN got in the way.  Such is life.

Class WidowsDick Schonberger (B-2) our EC Chairman, the EC members plus some of the widows including Audrey Webb (I-2), Betsy Hall (H-2) and Paula Johnson (L-2) probably along with other widows as well, have been working to organize the Class Widows.  Here is where they stand (from an email from EC Chairman Dick): “We are in the process of reactivating the Widows Email List as a function of the Widow Outreach Team (WOT) who selected Margie (Scribe addition: Margie Downing is not a widow, but she volunteered because of her computer skills) to become the moderator.  Concurrently, CCQ's are asked to contact their company widows to make them aware of this initiative and determine if they want to be on the list (or not).  CCQs should forward that information to Margie as the new list moderator.  Margie or Jack’s email address is

“Reactivating and moderating the widows list was seen as a related responsibility under the newly organizing WOT that is also picking other widow-related activities for the class.  We are pleased by the way the ladies have stepped up, albeit, there is a learning curve and some turbulence, to be expected when implementing any new system. 

“For those not aware, the WOT now makes the initial condolence call to new widows, sends a follow-up condolence card and sends the "Grip Hands" Booklet, Betsy developed.  They are planning a follow-up call as well after some time has expired.  They responded to the recommendation about networking local widows, developed and conducted a survey, and are on track to have a Fall function for local widows.  We have talked to Garry Roosma (H-2) and a Widows luncheon is being planned for the 60th and for other follow-on class activities.  We think that's something Sue Kernan (C-1) seems to be interested in could assist.  What we don't need is a bunch of carping about lack of leadership or organization.  Rather, we might consider expressing our appreciation to those who have agreed to turn outward to assist newly bereaved class widows.”

Let your Scribe be among those who publicly say we appreciate the efforts of our widows working on organizing the Class widows.  Let’s face it, many of our widows will be around far longer than us classmates (grads and former cadets).  They will need a Scribe at that point and then continue to march.

“Grip Hands”.  Another Scribe addition is in order here: “Grips Hands” is a booklet created by Betsy Hall : it is very useful.  She did a great job creating the booklet.  Many other classes have asked for copies so they can make the booklet available to their widows.  Frank Waskowicz (C-2) has gotten “Grip Hands” copyrighted.  The other classes who want to use it, reproduce copies as needed for their widows.

 George Lawton (G-2).  George has some good ideas for organizing the class widows, which I forwarded to Betsy, Audrey and Paula.  In response to an email from me wherein I wrote that the Class email list has many widows on it, George as in Lawton replied: “Dick Buckalew’s (A-2) email list is NOT the widows list any more than is Stan Bacon’s (I-2) PC list. They are all different lists. I agree there are widows on the CLASS email list, but that’s for class business. We are talking about a WIDOWS list so they can conduct business amongst themselves to the degree they wish to.”  All Scribe can add to Lawton’s comments is AMEN.  Betsy, Audrey, Paula and now Margie Downing (H-2) (added for her computer skills).  I hasten to add that Jack Downing (H-2) is alive and well and Margie is not a widow although she is helping them.

 Grad March Back.  This event is scheduled for Monday 14 Aug.  I believe that six of us are signed up: Wally Ward (M-1) (the oldest marcher this year with Dick Williams ’45 and Roger Conover ‘48 having “retired” from marching), Ed Weckel (D-1), Will Collett (L-1), Dick Graves (M-1), Dale Hruby (M-2) and George Sibert (H-2).  I am pretty sure that Wally and Ed have made all the Grad March Backs.  Unfortunately, Will Collett missed the first one and Weckel gives him a hard time annually about having missed it.  An earlier addition of these Class Notes listed the 53 of us who made the one in 2004 -- the 50th anniversary of our doing this March Back from Camp Buckner at the end of Beast Barracks.  You are spared the listing again here because I am at our summer cottage in Ludington Michigan (at Epworth Heights) and cannot put my hands on the list.  If you are truly interested, you can go to the Class Notes on the Class Web page and/or the WPAOG web page and check out the earlier notes and, perhaps, even find the one with the 53 names.

 Mr Mayer and “Glory to God”.  Here is what Alex Johnston (I-1) had to say in an email to Scribe: “When I sang ‘Glory to God’ I didn’t get out God before he said ‘next.’”

 Bill Serchak (K-1) in a recent email wrote: “Following a visit to Ellis Island’s Immigration Museum many years ago, I submitted my grandfather’s name for an engraving on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor @ Ellis Island . It is a proud reminder of the fact that Andrzej Michal Jezierczak was the first ancestor in my direct line to leave his home in Czarna Gora, Poland (then part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire).  He arrived at Ellis Island on 2 January 1892 – Ellis Island opened for the first time on 1 January 1892.”

 Charlie Miller (G-1) responded to a Serchak email: “In 1960 when I was a bright Lt in the 69th Armor, 25th ID I had an opinion on virtually everything and felt the need to share it with everyone within the sound of my voice. That is until a wise Captain (Class of 49) advised me that when you have an opinion on everything, you have an opinion on nothing, and, when you have something really worth saying, no one will be listening.  Justice Hand wrote: ‘Wisdom sometimes never comes, so one shouldn't reject it because it comes late.’”

Bob Bunker (D-1).  We were all saddened by the death of Marion Bunker on 24 June.  Harriett Connell (F-1) has been doing some internet mining and hit a golden vein by finding Marion’s obit.  Too long for these notes, but you can read it by clicking on  We have lost four wives since my Judy died at the end of Oct 2016.  Many of you have reminded me of my remark some ago about our class, and, sadly our wives as well, “being in the zone for the final selection.”  We have lost 221 graduated classmates, 25 former cadets and now 91 wives.

I am reminded of Tony Smith’s (I-1) remark to me after the Memorial Service at the Hershey Mini some 20 years ago: 11-14 Sep 97 hosted by Stu Matt (M-1).  Tony said that he did not want to be the last one standing in the class because he did not want to read all the names.

On the subject of Mini Reunions, we might try off-season places as we did in the beginning: Palm Springs and Bar Harbor after their season, South Padre Island whenever it was, etc.  This made them less expensive.   Worth a try.  Does someone (grad or former cadet) want to step up with a suggestion for our 61st Reunion sometime in 2019 after our 60th at West Point next April?  Remember, we are going back to the principal of KISS with regard to Mini Reunions.  Simple registration fee and everything else is pay-as-you-go for meals and drinks.  The Mini organizer will arrange for a hotel, but reservations are up to YOU.  No refunds of any kind.  Profits (if any) will go to class fund, which will also make up any shortfalls for the organizer.

More from Palmer McGrew. “Remember the sudden popularity in the Corps of the Argus C-3 camera? I felt like I was the only one not buying one. And now I really regret it.  In I-2 there was a little ceremony that took place whenever there had been a chance to visit Europe or someplace interesting.  Cow trip for example.  The word would go out with the room and the time and we would gather to watch the slides taken by our buddies.  My suggestion is: find those slides you made as cadets, or find prints of our experience at West Point.  Prints have probably fared better over the decades than slides that have gone bad or at least fuzzy.  However, if your slides have endured, wonderful.  Sharing the pix on internet will be a challenge, but if you have some to share, let Dick Buckalew know that we need a temporary dispensation.  And you will have to find a way to create documents from them. I would love to see them.  We don't have much time left to share those 54-58 photos.  Find them and let us see them.  Good hunting, Palmer.”

 Phil Gibbs (I-2) responded: “I was one of those who bought the Argus and took it to Europe on the Great Migration of the Class of 1958 for the Grand European Tour.  George Lawton and I paired up and dropped off the plane in Scotland and worked out way through London, Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt all in about 2 weeks.  A number of stories.  If you took Russian you got to talk to Russian sailors in Copenhagen, before the Russian SP removed.  I have a nice picture of George at the bottom of a Russian ship gang plank.  Bernie Card also made the trip. and he put together some great Slide shows.  He used his room in the 44th Div and out of the window he projected the slides off the side of Washington Mess Hall.  He added his commentaries on the trip which were very entertaining, probably even for the OIC.  The trip was a Great Experience.  Europe was pretty well put back together.  I would be back in four years in a different capacity; with more $ / time/ and responsibilities.”

 Pete Trainor (G-1) added: “Good idea Palmer.  If anyone has any photos to share with the class, I’d be happy to post them on our class web site.  That way they’ll be there for our great-great grandkids to view.  If you do send them to me, please include some words about the pics and use .jpg format

  Wounded Warriors Mentors Program.  The four founders in 2004 at the old Walter Reed were John Herren (G-2), Pete Brintnall (M-2), Bob Tredway (M-2) (sadly Bob died 10 Mar 2006), and Lee Miller (A-1).  Scribe asked Lee for information recently.  Lee responded: “Three of us are still very active: leading and operating the Program with a Leadership Team of 12.  Pete Brintnall (stroke) is taking a leave of absence.  He was very active since 2004 at Ft Belvoir until the day of his stroke.  John Herren and I have been doing Walter Reed since 2004.  Bob Tredway was our database person until he passed.  Jack Gordon (A-1) joined our Leadership Team when he moved from San Francisco about five years ago.”

 Champion of Patriotism: Mystery of the Flags Revealed is the title of an article in The Heritage Horn.  The article is about Wally Ward (M-1).  The article goes on “as you enter Heritage Hunt on a patriotic holiday you can see hundreds of flags blowing in the breeze surrounding the gate area and throughout the development.”  Who puts them up and takes them down?  Wally Ward who lives with his wife Jo on Heritage Valley Way.  “Initially at Christmas, Wally would put red bows on mailboxes on his street.  About ten years ago he bought flag holders and flags, enough for his street.  This led to other people requesting flags on their street.”  Now he puts up over 1400 flags throughout the neighborhood.  The article continues about Wally: “He was one of three boys whose Dad was in the service.  His mother abandoned the boys when they were young.  He and his brothers were kept together but ended up in three different foster homes.  In high school he ran the half-mile and one meet was held at West Point.  He was fascinated with the school and was determined to go there.  He enlisted in the Army and took the tests to get into West Point.  He was one of 18 from all the military to get into West Point that year.  At West Point, he was the brigade boxing champion twice.  He graduated and stayed in the Army 21 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.”  I sent the article to Wally’s WPAOG file.

 The Heritage Horn article has more about the Grad March Back.  It goes on to say that “this will be the 18th year that Wally has participated in this march.  He also finished first in the Heritage Hunt cancer run/walk drive.”  Scribe believes that the Grad MB began at the end of Beast Barracks for the class of 2002 which would have been in 1998.  By my calculation this makes 2017 the 20th year for Wally and Ed Weckel and 19th for Will Collett.  I will have to check my math with Wally, Ed and Will. 

Sammy Sookmark (M-1).  Via recent exchange of email with Sammy’s son, Pitch, who is in the Royal Thai Embassy in Ottawa Canada, who reports on his father: “Hi George, My father is well.  He'd just had a birthday on 10Jun (that makes him 84 years young!).  I will check with him what he says.  We are planning for next year's Reunion as well!”  Good plug for info about 60th.  If Sammy can make it from Thailand, you can make it from anywhere USA.


60th Reunion.  Wed 25 – Sun 29 April 2018.  In an email received today, you are alerted to watch your mail and email for info on the 60th per Garry Roosma H-2, “forever” 5-year Reunion Chairman.  I have more, but need to launch this one.  What better way to end than with a reminder of our 60th Reunion.  I will be in Michigan until 18 July, then begin my trip home.  No need for address here because mail is being forwarded.  Email needs no forwarding. 


Reminder about our various email addresses follows:

 Class List (restricted senders) -- basically for class death notifications – used primarily by Jack Downing H-2 -- moderator is Dick Buckalew (A-2)

Class List (unrestricted senders) -- anyone on the list can use this one – subjects restricted to information about the Class of 1958 --moderator is Dick Buckalew

Class Forum -- anything goes subject wise for persons on this list -- moderator is Dick Buckalew

Class DC -- subjects of DC interest, normally social in nature – used by Jack Gordon (A-1) our social guru for such items as upcoming DC Lunch on 20 July -- moderator is probably Dick Buckalew

Class PC list -- subjects related to PC and health – moderator is Stan Bacon (I-2)

Class Widows list – do not know the address, but think the moderator is Margie Downing (H-2).  I thought her address was included somewhere, but here is Jack’s for good luck:

 If there are other lists, Scribe asks the moderator to send me an email about the list.  Especially the widows!  Thanks!  Dick and other moderators, please let me know where I have screwed up the info on class lists.  Dear readers, if anyone notes an error, please let me know  (Why do some email addresses turn blue and others do not?  Mine did, but Jack Downing’s did not, or not yet, perhaps after I send this.  Beats me.)

 There is more, but it will have to wait till the next addition.  I am out of energy and it is time to launch this edition.  I hope that everyone has 25-29 April 2018 on their calendars and is planning to be there!  As Garry says, this will be our last big one at West Point.  Remember, we are in the primary zone for the final selection!


George 58 Scribe