Most of this one will be about the 40th Reunion. Great time for all. I must explain there are seven photos with this effort, however, I had only one reunion pic by the 25 June deadline for submitting photos. Joan Collins sent the first installment of photos from her 28 rolls, that's right, 28 rolls of film shot on the cruise and at the 40th. The photos arrived after I had departed on company travel and after I sent the ones on-hand to the Assembly. Bob Rhodes (F1 CCQ) has promised photos as well. Others? Actually, not having more photos from the 40th is goodness because it permits my using four from Founder's Days around the country and two weddings. One photo I want was the group taken shot at the fire engine during the false alarm at the Holidrome. The place to have been was our Benny Havens Room; they ignored the fire alarms.
First wedding. Fred & Catherine Easleys marriage was previously reported, but now there is photographic evidence. I will quote from Fred's letter: "The man in the picture is, indeed, happy because the woman he married is a lovely, compassionate, funny, geriatric nurse--the financial wizards in our class can prepare for the future their way, this is my way!"
Another achievement for our Fred was completion of the Santa Barbara County Veterans Memorial Walk and Terrace of Remembrance. Fred worked on a three-man (two West Pointers and one Annapolis), 10-year effort to raise $250,000, plan and execute the memorial. GEN Westmoreland '36 was present for the dedication. Congratulations on both counts.
Second wedding. Patricia, daughter of Ann & Linc Jones, married Paul Pickett. Both are captains, Patricia in the Army and Peter in USMC, talk about joint service. Some of you may not know that Congress has decreed that joint service is a prerequisite for promotion to GO. Wonder if joint married time counts? Patricia is at HQDA while Paul should be returning from 6-month deployment to Bosnia. In her spare time, Patricia trained for and ran the Dublin Marathon last Nov as a fundraiser for children afflicted with arthritis (she raised $5000).
A few more catch-up items before moving on the 40th Reunion. First is further information on our loss of Dan Yarr on 3 May. Paul Ruud attended the service for Dan and provided the following report via email: "Dan's memorial service was yesterday. It was a catholic mass with an honor guard from Travis AFB completing the service with the traditional salute (firing squad), taps, and flag folded for presentation to Roxie. A very moving day.
"Dan's choice was to be cremated which he had been prior to the service --there will be no burial site. I did have a wreath sent to the service from the Class--I will communicate with Dusty that I seek no reimbursement for that. There is a Dan Yarr Memorial Golf Scholarship being established at Kingsburg High School. Contributions may be sent in his memory to Golf Scholarship, Kingsburg High School, 1900 18th Ave, Kingsburg, CA 93631.
"Dan has a beautiful family and Roxie is doing as well as can be expected. If there is anyone out there who is knowledgeable on veterans benefits -- what widows are entitled to etc., she could use good advice. Incidentally, Burt Miller has volunteered to write Dan's obit for the Assembly. I am sending him all the information I gathered. Burt's address is 5821 N Camino Del Mar, Tucson, AZ 85718. (telephone - 520-577-3671) Look forward to seeing you at the 40th! Beat Navy! Paul." Our thanks to Paul for making arrangements for the wreath and representing the class.
Next is the Larry Malone Award. This award was first established by Maj Gen Reynolds, Larry had served as his aide. The award slipped off the scope at Georgetown ROTC and was resurrected by the intervention of John Herren and the Class Executive Committee. Here are excerpts from John's report: "the presentation was a great success. It was held at the annual Georgetown ROTC military ball. Larry's was one of some 15 awards handed out to distinguished ROTC cadets by various organizations, such as AUSA and the DAR. At Gen Reynolds request I was the spokesman for our group which included Joyce Del Re, Larry's widow. I gave a brief history of the award noting that Gen Reynolds had originally funded and presented it in the early 1970s and that the West Point Class of 1958 was resurrecting the award in Larry's name. I talked about Larry's assignment at Georgetown ROTC from 1964-67 indicating that he was a beloved teacher and dynamic leader who founded the Ranger Company there and was KIA during his second tour in RVN. I mentioned that Joyce had flown up for this special ceremony. Then, we three presented the award to Cadet Mark Liu, who had led his Ranger team to a fourth place finish out of 33 schools competing in the annual Brigade ROTC Ranger Competition at Ft A P Hill, Virginia.
"The response to the award was overwhelming with the entire group and guests rising to their feet and clapping. Joyce, I know, appreciated that and later wrote me her thanks. She said, I am very grateful to you, to General Reynolds and to Larry's classmates for all you have done to revive the Malone Award to honor Larry's memory. It means a great deal to me and I'm sure it would to Larry that so many of you cared enough to do this.' See you at the 40th, John Herren." We all add our thanks to John for his role in making the Malone Award a reality again at Georgetown Univ ROTC.
Pre-reunion cruise. The cruise to Bermuda had 93! Our thanks to Betty Puscheck for making all arrangements. One cruise story of note: Pat & Betty Donovan arrived at the pier just after the ship had departed. They were flown to Bermuda, arriving first. Meanwhile on the boat, consideration was given to an Article 32 investigation of Pat. The offense was Article 87, Missing Movement, to wit: "Any person subject to this code who through neglect or design misses the movement of a ship, aircraft, or unit with which he is required in the course of duty to move shall be punished as a court-martial may direct." Pat escaped on the "required" part because he volunteered for the movement to Bermuda in the first place--and arrived in combat first via air landing!
On to the 40th. First is a report from Paul Vanture, who worked with Karl Oelke on receiving, keeping track of registrations for the 40th. Attendee body count: 245 classmates, including grads, ex-cadets and Phil Gibbs, one of our contributions to '59, along with other reps for deceased classmates such as widow (1), sons (2) and sister (1). Close to half of 573 who were graduated on 4 June 1958 were present or represented. The number exceeds half when one adds the 71 members of the ghostly assemblage who were there in spirit and very alive in memories. Total attendees, including wives, other children and guests, numbered 479. The Scribe wants to thank all involved in getting so many to attend: CCQ, roommates who called other roommates, any of you who encouraged another classmate to attend. The personal contact is KEY!
The companies with most attendees were F1, G2 and L2 with 15 each; closely followed by C2 and I2 with 13; next A2, C1, and H2 with 12. I will use an email from George Lawton to Bob Higgins as representative "thank you" for the work done by so many to get others to attend:
"Bob--Just got off the phone talking to Paul Johnson (L2 CCQ). He had called to tell me that I had misplaced my accolades by commending him for a great job getting so many L2 files to the 40th. He said you deserve the credit because you did the work.
"L2 and G2 (Scribe adds: and F1) tied with 15 classmates each at the reunion. But L2 had the highest percentage of living classmates there 15/19 or 79%) versus 15/22 or 68% (added F1: 15/22 or 68%). Thanks for working on the L2 files. That's just what it takes to make things happen. PS: G-2 still had the most on the cruise, six!" A comment on stats: the denominator is number of living grads; the numerator is total of classmates (grads, ex and any who were in '58 and subsequently were graduated with '59 or '60) plus next-of-kin for deceased classmates. The mathematically gifted have figured out that it is possible to achieve more than 100% using this formula because the numerator can exceed the denominator.
Attending the memorial service at Chapel Point, Camp Buckner on Sunday night we had two sons of deceased classmates, Todd Morrill (G1) and Ken Clark III (M2), in addition to Sue Kernan (C1) and Linda Johnson Chinn (F1), Dick Johnson's sister. Having read the names for the Roll Call since our 20th, I changed the format to a roll call by cadet companies, A1 through M2. 77 classmates and 24 wives are too many for a single person to read. As each company was called, one or more persons in the company read the names of the deceased classmates and wives for that company. Increased participation and more personal contact with the deceased made this format a success. Bob Rhodes (F1 CCQ) had Linda read Dick's name, she later thanked us for the opportunity to actively participate. She really appreciated the anecdotal stories about Dick by F1 company-mates
Back to roll call. Another company had roommates read the names. Roommates, relatives, both are excellent ideas for CCQs to consider for future reunions, mini or five-year variety at West Point. During the cadet company roll call, H2 and L2 had the sad duty to be leading the group numerically with six classmates each who have joined the ghostly assemblage. L2 led in total number of names read because they also have three wives who have departed all too soon. L1 has the envious distinction of having lost neither classmates nor wives!
Our bugler for the service was to have been SSG Luck, son of Mike, but the USMA band had a concert and the band leader deemed SSG Luck essential for that performance. Mike and those of us who knew about the prior arrangements for his son to play Taps at our service were very disappointed.
Other aspects of attendance. We were 100% from Thailand with both Pete Kullavanijaya and Sammy Sookmark taking the honors for longest distance traveled to attend! Ed Jasaitis came from Lithuania, another long-distance traveler.
We were also 100% in our four-star officers (five for five) with Air Force file Mike Dugan joining Army files Butch Saint and Bill Tuttle in addition to our two aforementioned from the Royal Thai Army, Pete and Sammy. Sammy went on to serve as Defense Minister and Pete is still serving on his Kings Privy Council! Seems to me that if our maximum leaders can make it to reunions, most of the rest of us mere mortals have little excuse for not showing up.
Roommate challenge. Your Scribe was 100% in living roommates with Ray Coffey (my first wife from 3d New Cadet Company), Will Roosma (my "other wife" from plebe, yearling and cow years), Bill Parks (cow year), Clyde Brown (firstie year) and Jim Hall (firstie year) all at the 40th. Bob Stinson, my other plebe roommate, was there in spirit. Let your Scribe hear from others who had all roommates attend the 40th! Will returned a wooden cadet hanger to Lou Prime marked, "PRIME, LJ"--Will called it "closure."
First-time reunion attendees. Another opportunity for your Scribe to sin by omission. I really do not know all those for whom this was either a first-ever reunion or a first-at-USMA-five-year reunion. I can recognize two from my company, H2, John Soper (first-ever reunion) and Lou Prime (first at West Point after having attended his first reunion and our first mini at Palm Springs in 9/89, followed by Thailand 8/92 and Carmel 10/96). Two more for whom I am certain this was a first-ever reunion were Tex Lenart (I1) and Stan Snipes (ex-L2). Mike Luck (G1) is another prior mini-attendee from Charleston 10/95 and Carmel 10/96 who made his first five-year reunion at West Point. No doubt, there were more. Please let me hear from the principals or their CCQs.
Another first timer from whom I have heard already is Paul Vanture, who wrote: "To The Great Class of 1958 (and of that there is no doubt after this reunion): This was my first real reunion with all of you, and I feel badly at missing the ones before it. I cannot tell you how great it was to be with you after all these years. It will have to be a very big event to keep me away from future ones. To one and all I salute you. My special thanks to Garry, George, and Karl for all the work they did in organizing the reunion. I hope to see all of you in Portland in 2000. Paul Vanture, Portland, Oregon."
Good lead-in to other "thank you's" via email. From Dale & Dodie Hruby, "Dodie & I want to go on record with the whole class by sending our most heartfelt thanks to Garry & Jill Roosma, Karl & Sue Oelke, and George & Mary Jane Lawton. And to all the others in the background, for pulling off an absolutely space age reunion. Well done, guys and gals. Thank you for all the long hours of hard work and dedication, and the detailed planning."
And from Carole & Tony Smith, "(We) want to join Dodie & Dale Hruby's tribute to the superb organization and hard work of all the '58 volunteers who put together such a great 45th for us! Thanks for the good times and the memories."
And from Butch Saint, "I know all our classmates realize how much personal effort our classmates expended to make this reunion the success that it was.
And from Fred Mayer, "And their gracious and charming wives --Bless them all and thanks."
An email report from H2 CCQ Phil Pryor, "It's been a week since the reunion and the memories still linger. For me this one and the 35th were truly satisfying times with the class. Perhaps it has something to do with the passage of time. Who knows? I find the mutual warmth, respect and consideration far stronger today than before. We had 12 of us from H2 out of 18 (living) and it was certainly great to see everyone. We really missed those who could not attend, but we knew that everyone was there in heart and spirit." Phils report on H2 files who attended is not included here due to space limits.
Phil continued, "So that's it. We all had a great time. The next big one is the 45th. I do hope that all of us can be there then. It is so much more meaningful when we can all share in the fun and remembrances. You can also do a better job of protecting yourself when the stories start. All the best. Phil Pryor."
Another first-timer, Dick Smith (F2). I received an excellent snail mail report from Glenn Brown, F2 CCQ, complete with digitally reproduced photos which, unfortunately, could not be re-used for this column and reminder about Dick. Thanks, Glenn.
A few items in closing. First, contact Jim Ramsden. He & Rae were last-minute dropouts from the 40th due to a downward turn in Jim's health. Short version is that the successful treatment of his bone marrow cancer over the past eight years has now brought forth an terrible side effect: leukemia. Its disastrous impact on his immune system has made travelling virtually impossible. He is not on email, but can be reached via phone 904-797-5544 or snail mail 306 Raintree Trail, St Augustine, FL 32086-5551.
Jim wrote that he heard from Lee Trinkle (ex-I2 and an ordained minister in Ala). Lee wrote that Jims situation is "win-win": if Jim continues beating the cancer, as he has for eight years, that is a win; if, on the other hand, Jim loses the fight in earthly terms, he still wins in the life hereafter. Scribe wants to commend Jim for his positive attitude and courage in this battle and Lee for his excellent theology!
Another email highlights that the beat goes on: "We are happy to announce that our second grandson was born to daughter, Katherine, on May 30. Bradon Paul is healthy and fit as a fiddle as are his parents. Getting older does have some benefits. Paul & Virginia Vanture."
A report from CINC Obits, Jack Downing, via his email "thank you" to our most recently published obit writers. "On behalf of the class I would like to thank all of the obituary writers and specifically those who honored their classmates in the latest Assembly (May/Jun).
"Tony Nadal for the obituary on Curt Ballard. Tony asked that thanks be extended to Bruce Hamilton and Dick McPeek (another contribution to '59) for their help, and to Curt's children.
"Bob Rhodes for the obituary on Bob Bethmann. Bob thanked George Hall, who provided a first draft, and Otto Thamasett. Bob also reports that F1 is up-to-date on obits.
"Dan Charlton for the obituary on George Hussey. Dan wants to give great credit to George Lawton for breaking loose the military files on George Hussey."
Send names of first-time reunion attendees. Rise to the "roommate challenge." Keep the info coming on "June Ladies." Send photos from the pre-reunion cruise and 40th reunion. Garry Roosma is already at work planning 45th in the fall of 2003. Scary! Fortunately we do NOT have to wait until the 21st Century to get together. C1 is having a company reunion in KC in Oct 98. All of us have the opportunity to return to life in USCC cadet barracks in June 99, our next class mini reunion. Wives and guests will stay at the Hotel Thayer. Be there!
I will close with another email from Dale Hruby, dated 4 June 1998: "Classmates, Wives, Widows & FamiliesForty years ago today, as we scattered to the four winds and countless Cold War Battlefronts around the world, we all probably sensed that the Class of '58 was special. The interweaving of our lives and those of our families into the fabric of this Nation's history has been an awesome process to participate in and to watch. We entered the Academy before the Korean Armistice went into effect, and most of us left active service just as the Berlin Wall was coming down. We held the ground and defended the skies against an enemy pledged to "...bury us." Instead, Communism as a world force collapsed. In our 573 diverse stories, none the same, is written the story of America's Victory in the Cold War. So, it is little wonder that last week, from our perspective at the rear and slightly above the Class, those of us in M2 looked ahead at the stirring sight of our classmates marching, four abreast, across Diagonal Walk. Yes, I said, "marching," "proudly, with Eyes Up, Thanking Our God ..." Congratulations, my friends. Pop your chests up! Dale Hruby, M2, '58"
And an email response from Marion Fay: "Dale, there was nothing more special to me than to see the class of 1958 march "proudly", tall and straight down diagonal walk as they did 40 years ago. I felt the same way I did then--safe and proud--knowing our country and families would be protected always by these strong, courageous graduates! What warmed my heart the most, at the Alumni Review, was when the class turned around, faced the stands and sang Army Blue to the wives, families and friends of the class. THANK YOU CLASS OF 1958!"