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Class Notes

USMA 1958

  June 2017



I will get this one started and try to send it in before I hit the road to Michigan on 30 May or shortly after I arrive on 31 May.  I recently returned to the Class Forum and have a great deal of traffic to mention.  I will skip the political emails, but the others provide information which is useful for these notes.

PROP BLASTS.  Not sure who started this subject, but many responded.  This one is from Bob D’Amore C1, who described a British Dining-In (akin to a prop blast): “The 8th Inf Div apparently did not do "prop blasts" for those of us in the airborne element.  Anyone been to a British "Dining-In"?  They brag that officers have actually died during that hallowed tradition.  Basically, the one I attended with the British Army on the Rhine had several elements: 1. Dress Blues or Reds as the case may be. Get drunk.  2. Humiliate various officers by making them drink until they wet their pants at the table.  3. Eat a sumptuous 5 course meal. Get drunker.  4. Brandy and cigars - get really intoxicated - those who seem to be holding back will be forced to catch up.  5. Junior officers who have grudges with senior officers may challenge them in friendly games of violence. The C.O. generally makes matchups if some are reticent. The "tunnel" game seems to be the highlight of the evening causing the longest hospital stays and heaviest collateral damage to the Officers Club.  6. Try and send the Colonel to the hospital (we did – he was knocked unconscious by an errant cue ball during billiards. The huge slate table fell onto a Major's foot breaking his ankle - two for the price of one).  7. Wreck the officers club (we did - closed for 3 weeks following the dinner).  8.  Duty call early next morning. Batman served a marvelous tea based concoction that almost immediately cured hangovers.  All the best, Bob D'Amore.”

Scribe served with Bob in the 8th Inf Div, but missed this Dining-In and did not attend a Prop Blast in a year of airborne duty as an aide to two division CGs.  I did, however, make five jumps in one day with then-MG Goodpaster, CG 8th Inf Div, when he went through jump school at Finthen Army Airfield.  As I recall, Garry Roosma H2 was the pilot in the U-2 Otter from which we jumped.  The Otter was a big step up from the L-20 Beaver in which your Scribe was qualified.

Hugh Fisher E2 replied about an RAF Dining-In he attended: “Bob D'Amore asked if anyone had attended a British Dining-In and went on to describe the events of the evening. Having attended an RAF Dining-In in the mid 70's, I can attest that his description was quite accurate.  The RAF did not do the "Tunnel Game"(that I recall) - Bob, how is that done?  The RAF guys did do a lot of drinking/darts (in Brit speak, "Arrows") and bar stool pyramids, to see how high they could pile them up, while climbing to the top - resulted in many falls with poor PLF's.  When they had tired of these games, a Flight Lieutenant suggested we adjourn to his quarters where his wife would prepare "eggybakes" for all.  This announcement was greeted with great enthusiasm and the crowd piled into cars to make the trip to said quarters.  Upon arrival, the Lieutenant entered the house and spoke briefly to his wife.  Whereupon she roughly shoved him out the front door, loudly declaring ‘go back to your Mess and take your drunken friends with you!’  Upon hearing this, one of the other Brits sorrowfully asked of no one in particular ‘Does that mean we get no eggybakes?’  Yes, we did not get any ‘eggybakes’ that night, and I have ever since wondered: what are ‘eggybakes’ really like?”

Hugh also described a couple of Prop Blasts he was involved in: “I became "That Blasted Fisher" in 1966 with Ist Bn 501st which was the last ‘no holds barred’ prop blast ever held.  I also was Jump Master for the first prop blast held under the strict rules set by the Army later that year or the next year.  The rules allowed only a specific amount of alcohol per blastee so we made the concoction as bilious as possible and very cold, so that it was difficult to chug down in one gulp as required by the ceremony.  We also were prop blasting the 1st Brigade CO, so were decidedly under the gun to get it right.  Of course, the PB was immediately followed by a Dining In, at which wine and other libations flowed liberally, so I'm sure we went over the intended limit of alcohol by the time the evening was over.”

 Hugh continued: “The 501st was the unit in the Airborne which initiated the first Prop Blast in Airborne history and we had the original "Prop Blast Mug" with a written description of the initial ceremony. It was indeed more solemn and simple than the train wreck that Prop Blasts evolved into, one of which caused the death of at least one young officer, who was taken back to his BOQ and left unattended.”

 Somewhere along the line, Dick Schonberger B2 asked how many “Master Blasters” we have in the class.  No clue about the number of master parachutists in the class, but Dick’s email served to keep this subject alive.  Alex Johnston I1 chimed in “We probably didn’t have very many because the duties of officers in airborne units don’t leave a lot of time for logging many jumps.  I was lucky to be in a job at APG where I jump tested a lot of equipment and had over a hundred jumps before I was assigned to Ft Bragg.  I got my Master Wings but only wound up with (only) 123 jumps. “

To which, Dick replied: “Thanks, Alex, you don't have to back down to anybody. Getting jump assignments always required a certain amount of luck, and then the opportunity to make the requisite numbers and types of jumps and stay healthy. After the first tour with the 101st where I got my Senior Wings, later, while at the Infantry School I was able to log Pathfinder School as Ray Tomlinson E1 was checking out. My next tour was with the 1st Bde, 101st in VN where we logged about 14 months of jump status and pay, but only one jump. That was a practice jump for the entire brigade in Dec 66, that we understood was for what was to become Operation Junction City.  We just knew if anyone jumped in VN it would be the 101st, "Westmoreland's Own".  As it turned out, one battalion of the 173rd took what was to be our jump in Feb 67.  The story we got is that our incoming Brigade Cdr, a WWII 506 PIR Currahee, was briefed on the operation and turned it down, comparing it to the hokey combat jumps the 187 was accused of making in Korea.  We didn't get a vote.

“Assigned to Ft Bragg with the VN-era basic training center as Deputy G3 and then G3, but wearing the 3rd Army patch and not on jump status. Had a job with the "Red Hats" in Viet Nam before getting a deferment where my boss agreed to assigning me to G-3 XVIIIth Abn Corps where I was supposed to be the ATC's rep in G3-Training, but instead wound up in G-3 Ops. When my year was up and departed back for VN, had about 53 jumps and about 4+ years on jump status. I was convinced my jumping days were over.

“After my 2d VN tour, wound up with DA orders assigning me directly to G-3 (DCSO&T) 3rd Army where I found out I had been requested to fill the Chief Ops billet in G3-Ops.  I was a known quantity at 3rd Army, having been G3 of the ATC and while in XVIII ABC, G-3 Ops. The biggest surprise was that there was a jump slot waiting for me.  As it turned out, I was on jump status throughout my 3rd Army assignment, that ended when we wound up converting what had been 3rd Army Hqs to FORSCOM Hqs.  While at 3rd Army, my jump slot was to serve as XVIII ABC liaison in the event of their deployment. Most of my jumps were with jump school highlighted when I made five jumps in one day, four with jump school (C-119's again!) and one with pathfinder school that evening.  After all that, I was proud and happy to finally earn Master Wings with 72 jumps including one malfunction.”

MASTER BLASTERS?  Dick did ask a great question – how many Master Blasters do we have in the class?  Your friendly Scribe would love to know and invites each (all) Master Parachutists in the class to send me an email to let me know you are one.

An aside here: your Scribe was in the 1st Inf Div in VN and was heavily involved in planning for Operation Junction City.  This is the operation when a battalion of the 173d made its combat jump.  It came about because, despite many helicopter units supporting the division, we came up one infantry battalion short for the number to be inserted during operation Junction City.  That is when the G3 Plans Officer, Jerrie Hutchinson ’56 (our 2d Regimental Commander as a cadet) said “let’s drop one in” or words to that effect.  The generals were so briefed and loved it, especially then-BG John Deane, commander of the 173d Airborne.  I do not recall that the 1st Div with 173d Airborne attached considered a brigade from the 101st for Operation Junction City.  Who knows?  Sadly, I while trying to call Jerrie to verify my memory, I learned that he died on 23 Mar 17 in Port St Lucie, FL.  His burial was on 26 May, at West Point I believe.  It can certainly be said of Jerrie, in the words from our Alma Mater, “Well done; Be thou at peace.”

An email, I think on the class forum, courtesy of Palmer McGrew I2: “I have just read Red Platoon written by the staff sergeant who orchestrated most of the defensive actions on Combat Outpost Keating, and was awarded a Medal of Honor.  He seems to have something against "ring knockers", preferring his platoon leader who told his sergeants ‘I like coffee and I like to drink beer. Just keep me out of trouble.’  I (Palmer) found it wonderfully written by Clinton Romesha, and, although no ghost writer or co-writer is named, if the sergeant really wrote it, it's even more amazing. He always makes the same grammatical error, ‘Me and Jones did such and such.’ It is so prevalent that I think it is left that way to give the illusion that the kid really wrote it because sometimes he gets it so wrong that you can't imagine him writing it that way. Anyway: Do not let that deter you from reading this book. The defense wins but just barely and the huge losses and damage are not the fault of the defenders, but of those who placed this fort in the worst place they could find.  Check it out.”  No doubt Palmer would get a great grade (2.7 or so) for this book report if he were still taking English at USMA.

 There was an interesting discussion on the class forum about President Trump’s release of classified information to the Russians, but I will skip the details here.  However, this might serve as an enticement for more classmates to get on the class forum email list  I have no clue why this did not turn the same darker blue as other email addresses and web sites have.  Perhaps it will when I send this email.  Beats me.  Anyway, you can be lazy, skip the forum and wait for your Scribe to use some of the information in our Class Notes without the politics.

 Today is 21 May and we held our annual Class Memorial Service at VN Memorial (the Wall) for our 13 classmates killed in Southeast Asia during our war.  And, this year we included two brothers of classmates in our Memorial Service.  I will name them here with dates of death (on the service bulletin their positions on the Wall were shown, but not truly relevant in our class notes): Richard T Lynch I1 10 Sep 64, Richard S Johnson F1 17 Jan 65, Gerald C Capelle K1 1 Apr 65, Charles S Moore L2 25 Apr 67, Merwin L Morrill G1 21 Aug 67, Lawrence M Malone M2 7 Jan 68, Floyd B Spencer Jr B2 31 Jan 68, Ralph R Wensinger H1 21 Oct 68, Robert E Olson D2 5 Feb 69, Lon A Spurlock II I1 28 Mar 69, George E Hussey H2 4 May 70, Robert Degen D2 8 Jan 71, David F Nidever L2 30 Mar 71.  And brothers Rodney H Smith ’53 3 Jun 67 (brother of Tony I1) and David A Bujalski ’64 15 Aug 67 (brother of Jack G2).  This was our Twenty-Eighth Annual Memorial Service, held annually since May 1989.  All far too young.

 A little history of this annual class event: Mark Sigurski C1 got the idea for this service from ’56 (who hold their annual service on Veterans Day in November) and discussed it with your Scribe.  The deal was that Mark would host a lunch at ANCC following the service if I would organize the service.  We have been doing this for 28 years.  Since Mark moved to Albuquerque, Andy Andreson G1 has provided the ANCC membership for our brunch following the service.  In recent years Jack Gordon A1, our DC social chairman, has organized and collected the checks (payable to Ronald K Andreson) for the brunch.  Jerry Prochaska B2 provided the Scripture lesson and “sermon” or remarks at the ceremony as he has for many years.

 In the beginning, I made a modest Xerox printed service bulletin, but our bona fide class printer Dan Brockwell G1 took over this task and greatly improved this function for me.  Now Frank Waskowicz C2 provides the printed service bulletin.  For the past two years, Frank has included cadet photos of the classmates in the bulletin.  This year we included two brothers of classmates KIA in VN with their photos as well.  Jack Bujalski G2 contacted me to suggest I say a prayer for his brother David Bujalski ‘64.  Great idea from Jack!  Even better, we included two brothers of classmates in the ceremony.  Scribe checked with the class via email and was reminded by Tony about his brother Rod, with whom I served in the 1st Inf Div in VN.  Bottom line: we remembered them all, 13 classmates and two brothers in the Memorial Service this year, complete with photos in the service bulletin thanks to Frank.  A moving affair and tribute to these fifteen.  Checking again, are there any other brothers or close family members who should be included in the future?

 A class widow contacted me to ask what we do about other deceased classmates who were not KIA in Vietnam?  Her USAF husband died in an aircraft accident while on active duty shortly after he returned from VN.  I told her that we include all deceased classmates at the memorial service during class reunions.  Here are our classmates who died on active duty, but not while serving in VN (listed by cadet company, which is how they appear in the service bulletin: Alfred R Mason B1 (1 Jun 67), Joseph A Evans D1 (23 Jun 79), Charles A Normington D1 (18 Nov 66), Jerry L Burton G1 (22 Jan 60), Sammy H Cardwell G1 (22 Feb 61), Stanley A Maxson Jr H1 (5 Jan 85), Hugh A Bauer A2 (10 Jan 71), Dan A Brookhart B2 (12 Nov 63), Joe M Davis B2 (4 Aug 63), Frederick J Schluter F2 (12 Jul 60), Wayne D Day G2 (11 Mar 66), William P Marshall H2 (24 Apr 60), George W P Walker H2 (31 Jan 59), and Edward G Hale Jr L2 (8 Jun 66).  Our total who died on active duty is 27: 13 in Southeast Asia and 14 others, including the first and second men in our class: George Walker and Dan Brookhart.  Again, all far too young.  The class reunion Roll Call includes all classmates, grads and former cadets, and wives.  And, of course, our Cadet Chaplain George M Bean (31 Jan 04) and his wife Betty Lee (29 Aug 09).  The names in the service bulletin are organized by cadet companies and reflect their status at death: active duty or retired, rank and service, date of death.

 I was asked by a number at brunch today how many classmates have died.  We have 217 grads, another 25 former cadets and 90 wives who have died.  All are included on the Roll Call.  Sadly, this number will increase between now and our next Roll Call at the 60th Reunion at West Point, 26-29 April 2018.  We are NOT having a Mini Reunion this year to focus maximum attendance at the 60th.  The numbers for grads and wives are correct (as of these notes), however, the number of former cadets is more problematical.  Your Scribe needs help from CCQs on all these stats.  And, YOU need to attend the 60th Reunion!  Details will be provided by Garry Roosma in due course.  Put the dates on your 2018 calendars NOW!  26-29 April 2018!

 We do expect continuing to hold Mini Reunions after the 60th based on the KISS principle.  This is how the first few minis were handled: the first Mini was our 31st Reunion in Palm Springs, CA (Dick Groves K1), 32d Reunion in Bar Harbor, ME (Mark Sigurski C1), 33d Reunion in South Padre Island, TX (Jack Tierney C1) and 36th Reunion in Winter Park, CO (Jack Crandall M2).  These each had an arrival (Thursday night) cocktail party and a dinner (Saturday night).  Pretty sure they were pay-as-go events.  Of course, our fourth Mini, our 34th Reunion, was in Thailand in 1992 (Pete Kullavanijaya B2).  This one was more involved and longer given the distance to travel, the Queen of Thailand’s 60th birthday celebration and the many events before and after the actual reunion: from visits to Hong Kong to Singapore to Indonesia to mainland China, etc.  I think a group went to Australia, but my memory is faulty.

 Meanwhile, having Mini Reunions after our 60th will depend upon volunteers to host the said reunions.  The idea for post-60th Mini Reunions is that the only two organized events will be an arrival cocktail party so attendees know who is there and a Saturday night (final night) dinner.  Both these events will be pay-as-you-go to make it easier for the reunion organizer.  Any other events will be informal and organized by participants: golf, tennis (anyone still playing?), company dinners, getting together with friends, etc.  The only collection up-front will be a nominal registration fee ($25 dollars or so) for incidental expenses incurred by the organizer -- with no refunds.  This will be definitely easier for the organizer.  No shows will be able to count their unreturned registration fees as a contribution to the class fund (checking account).  Contributions for no shows will be Tax Deductible because the class is a 501C3 or whatever organization.  Remember the guiding principle: KISS.  Keeping it simple should make it easier to find volunteers to host a mini.  Basically, the organizer will only have to arrange for a hotel (attendees will make their own reservations), the arrival night cocktail party with a pay-as-you-go bar and final night dinner, again pay-as-you-go for dinner and drinks.

 FIRST CLASS CLUB or FCC.  Kudos to Tony Smith I1 for being our class honcho for this effort for many years with myriad meetings with various Supes and USMA staff members.  As I recall, the idea for ’58 to refurbish and bring the FCC back into being originated with Dale Hruby M2 and Butch Ordway G1.  They were the initial guys to make it happen with the help of fund raisers and others.  Jack Bradshaw M2 our Class President made remarks at the turn-over ceremony during our 35th Reunion and again recently at the re-opening of the FCC for Class of 2017.  The fund raiser who stands out in my memory is the current one: Tom Claffey K2Dale, Butch, Tony and Tom, and all other classmates and donors who helped on the FCC – THANK YOU!  This is a superb gift to the Corps and the Cadets truly appreciate it.

 No doubt there are many other classmates whose praises I should be singing, but keep in mind that, along with Winnie the Pooh, I am a bear of little brain and cannot remember everything.  And, with regards to my singing praises to anyone, I am reminded that Mr Mayer said to me back in 1954 when I gave “Glory to God” my best shot trying to make the choir: “Mr Sibert, your grandfather couldn’t sing; your father couldn’t sing; and you can’t sing.  Next!”  However, with our Choirmaster Mr Mayer, I fared better than some because I heard him say to another classmate: “Mr, what chapel squad are you in?”  The reply was “Protestant, sir” to which Mr Mayer then said, “when you come to Chapel, don’t sing.”

 Widows are welcome at all class social activities and are encouraged to attend such functions as DC area luncheons or Class Reunions (West Point or Mini).  I know that Audrey Webb I2 and Angela Ganey H1 came to the ANCC lunch after the 21 May Memorial Service at the VN Memorial Wall.  Betsy Hall H2 is a frequent attender of DC class activities, but was AWOL on 21 May.  FYI. Audrey and Betsy are not technically on the EC (no widows at this point), but are usually present at EC meetings.  The next DC lunch I know about is on Thursday 20 July at Ramparts Restaurant in Alexandria.  I plan to return from Michigan in time to attend.  And, the one after that is Thursday 21 Sep.  This will be followed by our annual lunch in Nov with USNA 1958 before the Army-Navy game.  BEAT NAVY!  The DC gang will hear about all three lunches via email from Jack Gordon A1.  If you are not on the DC email list and would like to be, contact Dick Buckalew via email or telephone 703-237-8263.

 AGAIN, WIDOWS ARE WELCOME AND ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND.  In addition to class luncheons our 60th Class Reunion would be a great event for widows to attend.  It will be an opportunity to return to West Point.  The reunion dates are 26-29 April 2018 and we have priority at the Thayer Hotel.

 TEE SHIRTS.  And from a recent (27 May 2017) email from Karl Oelke: “I’ve had a couple of tee shirts for several years, ones I love and have, frankly, worn out: one with the Class of ’58 crest above the left breast, the other with “USMA” across the front.  Recently our local Kiwanis club had some tee shirts made and they turned out exceptionally well: high quality fabric and fine printing.  So, I talked to the printing company about making some for us.  They said they could do it.

 “Cost will depend on how many shirts we order. Including the set-up fee, costs will be between $8.75 and $9/shirt (for 24-35 shirts), and between $7.85 and $8.20 (for 36 to 71 shirts). Postage will add to the cost. I can get up to three shirts in a $7.20 flat rate mailer. One shirt will fit in a $6.65 flat rate mailer.  Consider this a survey of the Class to gauge interest. If enough people are interested, I’ll order some. Pete Trainor has posted pictures of my old tee shirts on the Class web site <>.

 “Go there and you can see what they will look like. To order a shirt (or two or more) email me <> identifying the shirt(s) you want to order.  Let’s set a deadline of 4 weeks to place your order and, if we have enough by 26 June I’ll notify everyone who has placed an order, ask for payment, and have the tee shirts made.  Karl Oelke.”  Your Scribe has already ordered a tee shirt.”

 Your Scribe departs for Epworth Heights in Ludington, Michigan tomorrow (30 May), therefore, it is time to wrap up this edition of our Class Notes and launch it.  You can send photos or write me at my normal address because the Post Office will forward my snail mail until I return to Alexandria on/about 19 July.  My planned return is in time for the 20 July DC Class Luncheon at Ramparts Restaurant in Alexandria.  For details on this or future class luncheons please contact Jack Gordon A1 at his home number 703-237-8263 or via his email <>.  Details on all the class luncheons will be forthcoming from Jack via email.

 OOPS.  Forgot to mention earlier the complete list of attendees at the 21 May Memorial Ceremony at the Wall and ANCC brunch: Tony Bauer, Pete and Janice Brintnall, Andy and Artie Andreson, Angela Ganey, Phil and Rosa Gibbs, Jack Gordon, John and Sally Herren, Joe and Peggy Luman (plus other guests), George and Mary Jane Lawton, Lee and Betty Miller, Munge and Judy MooreTony and Gay Nadal (from Williamsburg, VA), Jerry and Marjorie Prochaska, Dick Reidy, Dave Swanson (from Hawaii – the longest distance travelled), George Sibert, Dick Schonberger, Bonnie and Tony Smith, Audrey Webb, Frank Waskowicz, Alan and Florence Salisbury, Jim Corcoran (from Richmond).  And, at the ceremony only but not at bunch: Mimi Nun, Margie and Jack Downing, Ceda and Palmer McGrew.  Thirty-seven classmates and wives – the largest turnout for this event in years or ever!  Frank is sending a video to the class covering the ceremony at the Wall.

 And, I was fortunate to have a great lunch with Tom Sands K1 on 26 May.  He and Barbara were in Alexandria visiting their daughter and son-in-law.  Among other topics we talked about the WWII Museum in New Orleans.  Tom and Barbara visit it frequently and highly recommend it.  I have been a modest contributor to the museum’s fund-raising efforts and can recommend that you support it as well should you be looking for a worthy cause – along with the WPAOG which can always use your money even though the class is no longer raising money for the FCC.

 I am sending this today, Monday, Memorial Day so that I do not have to do anything tomorrow except finish loading my car and departing.  The next version of these Class Notes should arrive around 4 July.  My email will work in Michigan and my phone number there is 231-845-1546.  Please stay in touch and send news to share with the class.  Remember the class email lists, class web site and WPAOG web site.  I will try listing them here: (restricted senders list, the one Jack Downing uses for death notifications). (unrestricted senders list which we all can use for class information – this is the one I used for the May and June and future class notes). (class forum we can all use for virtually any email traffic, any subject to the classmates who are on it). (class web site maintained by Pete Trainor G1). (the web site maintained by WPAOG) – you must register for this one.


“That’s all folks”, George