The 4 October Memorial Ceremony at the US Army Ranger Memorial at Ft. Benning to honor our seven Ranger classmates who were killed in action in Vietnam (Clay Fannin, Frank Gercz, Dick Jordan, Roger Quinn, Bill Train, Buse Tully, and Rocky Versace); and Larry Shuck, our one who died in Ranger School, was a resounding success and a tribute to Bill Schwartz and Bill Luther who conceived and executed it.  Fred Franks was the principal speaker and movingly linked The Corps, our fallen classmates, their examples of “Duty, Honor, Country,” and the great sacrifices of their families for our country.  Paving stones for each honoree were unveiled, as were their names on a Friends of the Rangers memorial plaque.

1959:  Bill Schwartz at the Ranger Memorial Ceremony

            Forty-two of the family members traveled the distance to attend, along with 5 family friends.  Of that group, 21 were parents, widows, siblings and children of our fallen classmates.  Twenty-two classmates, many with wives and some with their children, were also present, as were numerous active duty Rangers and representatives of the various Ranger fraternal organizations.  Each of the family groups was assigned a classmate to accompany them over the two days, and there was much reminiscing about our honorees.  At the ceremony, Bill Schwartz read a brief narrative of the service and combat loss.  Then, after Fred spoke (someone later remarked), there were no dry eyes in the assemblage.  Those of us on the Internet read a moving thank you from Connie Tully.

1959:  Luther, Franks and Rosner at the Ranger Memorial Ceremony

            In the afternoon, Rocky Versace and Tex Turner were inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in a ceremony again held at the Ranger Memorial.  Bill Luther is sure that this is the first time so many members of a class turned out for an induction.  He notes that Art Bair was included in the 8 October dedication of the War Dog Memorial, also at Benning.  Art initiated the dog and handler program at Benning in the mid 1960s.

1959:  Tex Turner at his Ranger Hall of Fame induction

1959:  Art Bair at the War Dog Memorial dedication

The class enjoyed a fabulous 14-17 September mini-reunion in Houston with 20 classmates and wives plus a few other relatives in attendance.  Cool and dry weather (unusual for Houston at that time of year), great Texas food, and many fun activities made the weekend one not to be forgotten (except for the football score).  Thursday was sign in at the Woodlands Resort and Conference Center, home of the Shell Houston Open each April; and Friday started with golf for Bob DeMont and brother Tom, Sandy Beach and son Dwight III ’84, Bill Mullen, and Jack Neal.  That afternoon there was sailing on Lake Conroe with Mike & Betty Ann Ferris, and Howard & Eileen Stiles; and dinner at Sandy & Carol Beach’s house in the Woodlands that night was catered by Mama Ninfa’s famous (in Houston) Mexican food.

1959:  Moellering, Corby and Sundt at Houston Mini

On Saturday morning there was early golf with Dick Sundt, Sandy Beach, and John & Karla Moellering.  Some hardy souls toured NASA and others the Museum of Fine Arts and the popular Galleria shopping mall.  Then at 4:30 began a 1,000-person tailgate party at the U. of Houston with a great Texas barbecue meal.  The class sat together at the game and watched what they agreed was a great event despite the narrow 31-30 defeat on the field.

Honors were paid those who had traveled the farthest to be there: Bill & Norma Mullen from CA, Frank Campbell and Shirley Nease from VA, Bill & Carol Benagh from NJ, John & Elaine Guthrie from NV, Howard & Eileen Stiles from ME, John & Karla Moellering from MD, and Bob & Julie DeMont from MI.  Special thanks went to the ad hoc reunion committee of Sandy & Carol Beach, Mike and Betty Ann Ferris, and Dick & Nete Sundt.  

1959:  Bill & Lou Buell, Sandy Beach, Elaine Guthrie at Houston Mini

Bill Pollock sent a copy of the A2 newsletter announcing a company mini-reunion to be held in Colorado Springs during the last two weeks of June 2001.  The exact dates have not been chosen, but Vic & Sherry Fernandez will be the hosts and Bill & Ann Pollock, who have recently moved there from North Carolina, will give them enthusiastic assistance.

Mike Duggan, our agent with The American Legion, sends the picture of himself with President Chen Shiu-Bian of the Republic of China.  Mike and the National Commander of the Legion were on a Far East trip last summer that included South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.  The primary purpose of the trip was to participate in the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War and to convey greetings to the President and Prime Minister of the Republic of China.

 1959:  Mike Duggan and President Chen Shiu-Bian of the Republic of China

Mike is still working as a national security/foreign relations lobbyist with the Legion and plans to continue as long as his health holds up.  He and Judy live in Bethesda, MD, where Judy is working the hot real estate market in Montgomery County.  Their daughter Maryann works for the county and their son Michael is with the Supreme Court and will be receiving a Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University.

Winnie Shepps is still in Birmingham, AL, where he and his wife have lived for many years and where he is still doing pediatric counseling.  They hope to host a class after game party when Army plays the U of AL at Birmingham next near, so watch for particulars.  The Shepps children are 28 and 25, pretty young, I’d say.  Their son recently made a tandem parachute jump, one where you are hooked up with another to guard against your passing out (you pay for this and you say it’s fun).  Their daughter wants to do it now with her brother and they asked their father to join them.  He was in the 101st, he says, so he told them “been there, done that.”

Some short takes: A repeated thanks from the Class to Bob Riordan for his yeoman’s work in rounding up support for retiree health care in the passage of H.R 4205 (the House voted 382-31 and the Senate 90-3).  John Meyer’s address has changed to 257 W. Donna Dr., Merced, CA 95348.  Ray Beurket’s has changed to 6515 Gretna Green Way, Alexandria, VA 22312.