Mr. Dennis Coll
343 South Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60604
Early that evening, we all rendezvoused for cocktails at the Thayer followed by a very informal, low-key buffet dinner downstairs. You know, it's interesting about these types of functions. You can almost tell from the first few minutes whether they're going to be fun or not. There was an electricity in the air on this day and I think we all felt it. This was just good old fashioned fun!
The dinner was a superb idea, mainly because it gave everyone a chance to get acquainted on a very casual basis. Of the approximately 600 people (grads and spouses) who showed up, an overflow crowd I might add since only 238 graduates were expected, everyone seemed to be in a mood for fun and frolic. Your friendly scribe came equipped with 25 rolls (36 pictures each) of film and so the mad camera was at work. Quite a few of the really good pix will be in the Reunion Book. The evening ended very late with people still hanging around the dinner as well as the lobby and rooms in the Thayer.
Early the next morning, the Class breakfast and business meeting was convened by Bill Zadel, who filled in for an absent Mark Walsh. It was a shame. that not all of the spouses showed up at this meeting because it probably was one of the highlights of the entire weekend. There were 7 presenters, each having been assigned a different topic. Fortunately, each presenter also came wired with some remarkably good (and relatively clean) jokes. Bob Doughtr reported on our financial condition. We have two accounts, the Gift Account, which has been there since we graduated and which is controlled by the AOG. We have $2,173 in the account after having spent $5,081 for the Southeast Asia Memorial and $3,278 for the Cold War plaques in Cullum Hall. The second account is the Administrative Account, which we can use as we wish and the funds, if we put any in, would he invested by the AOG.
Hopefully, if there's any excess horn the reunion, the funds will go into this account. Someone asked how we can give money to Class accounts as opposed to the WP Fund. The answer is to send the money to AOG and earmark it for the Class of '65. Jim Golden then gave his two bits on the Class constitution, with an interesting observation. He reported that the burning question at 0200 the previous evening was whether we needed a constitution or not. After serious debate it was concluded that since everyone else has one, we probably ought to have one. He also observed that the constitution will tell us how to spend money in our second account, but since we don't have any money in the account....
John Knowles, who did a superb job along with his lovely wife Carol in organizing the reunion, briefed us on a gift to USMA at the 25th. He reported that there's no rhyme nor reason to these gifts although one class (ours?) has suggested a humble, little monolith in the middle of the Plain. John is going to prepare a book of all possible gifts and send it to us. Dave Kuhn briefed us on the status of the Bobby Arvin Award. We have had an overwhelming response: 175 classmates have contributed. The initial goal was $3,500 and we have raised $20,000 to date. The first recipient was a superb example of the kind of person Bobby was. In fact, Cadet Mark Snyder spent a lot of time at the presentation ceremony trying to find out more about Arvin from Bob's parents. Dave reported that the award took two years to get approved. He is also trying to get a permanent bronze plaque in the main entrance to the gym similar to the plaque in that location for USMA Olympians. Initial reports from the Supe indicate that it looks good. Stay tuned. Dave also indicated we need to think about money for orphans (we have one) and scholarships. Dave put in the final plug (which I have suggested on a number of occasions) and that is that we should each consider giving $65 every Jun to our Class fund.
We were also briefed by the Supe, who was our guest along with his lovely wife Dusty. I want to tell you folks, this guy knows his business and he knows his troops.
Joe Barkley talked about gilts to USMA Class sons and daughters. We have previously mentioned where all the sons are. Bill Zadel asked for some direction from the Class to which there was some very interesting discussions. After some debate, it was finally decided that we would not have gifts. The main reason, as Rick Wetherill pointed out, was that they usually end up sitting in your attic for 20 yrs.
Jim Golden then briefed everyone on the academics, and Pat Kenny briefed us on the age old question as to whether the Corps has. He basically concluded that the present cadets have much higher standards than we had and that they are unbelievably fit and ready for combat. He really believes that it was easier being a Cadet back then than it is now. In any case, if anyone doubted, he invited everyone to a Spirit Run at 0045 hours the following morning with his 3rd Regiment, USCC. (Ed.Note-reliable intelligence reports indicate that 14-15 of our classmates, and 2 or 3 spouses, actually showed up. The runners were the Kukeas, the Paleys and their daughter, J.P. Greene, John Anderson, Steve Sperry, Bob Harger, and the Hoffmans-God bless all of your souls and may the Force be with you in your next life. The scribe and camera were unfortunately detained in the sack checking eyelids for holes). There being no further business, the meeting was raucously adjourned. Many of us wandered out to the patio of the Thayer where another absolutely gorgeous day awaited us.
Later that afternoon, Dusty Scott invited all of us to Qtrs 100 where we toured this lovely old mansion with guided commentary by the volunteer tour guides. Someone told us that there was going to be a wedding at the Cadet Chapel and so we journeyed up the hill and sure enough, John Swenson was tying the knot in a very lovely ceremony. John, ever the kind hearted soul, invited everyone in attendance to the party he was throwing that night at Bear Mountain Inn for 600 of his nearest and dearest friends.
Later that evening, we all rendezvoused at the Bear Mountain Inn for our Class party. The. evening was cool and crisp with a full moon over the Hudson. As we all stood around having cocktails and waiting for the buffet line to open, we were pleasantly surprised to see another John Knowles innovation, a videotape version of all of our old cadet pictures being silently shown on the screen. It was really a lot of fun to try to figure out who everybody was. When the buffet line opened, all 100 ft of it, the amount, quality and diversity of food was amazing. As we sat and dined with our guests, the Mike Davisons, Chaplain Ford, the Joe Palones and several others, we were all eagerly watching the screen as the old-time pictures continued. After publishing the minutes, the long-awaited 45-min "trivia contest" was begun by my old roommate Jim Golden whose humor and unbelievably perfect sense of timing has obviously been perfected over the last few yean as a professor at USMA. I want to tell you folks, this crowd of 600+ laughed for one solid hour. Most of this part of the evening was taped by our amateur VCR expert (aka the scribe), the quality of which is somewhat dubious. So, if anyone is passing through Chicago that didn't make the reunion, for a beer or two, we'll replay it for you.
Following the trivia contest, the disk jockey cranked up the music and the dancing began. More than half the people were still there well past midnight. The music and dancing were so much fun that we even had some of the crazies get out there and dance. Although I may be show you all the pictures in this Assembly article, when the yearbook comes out, some of the 500 pictures or so that I took will clearly indicate what a great time we had.
During the course of these events, some interesting discussions were had. Dan Christman will be going to DC in early 86 to be the exec of John Moellering, who now has his 3rd star (and whom we saw the next day at the football game). Ron Floto is now in Tampa running a food chain which is a subsdary of Lucky Stores. Ron was not overly enthralled when I told him the rumor in Chicago was that Eagle Stores (a sub of Lucky) was on the block. Jim Holmes went from the FBI to the Missouri Lottery and is now affectionately called Mr Clean. Step Tyner was in from CA where he apparently is a script writer. We were taking bets as to whether Step was going to have a cardiac or a stroke the way he was dancing with his young wife out on the floor. Jon King was there with his lovely friend Janice.
The "lovely little girl of the reunion" award goes to Bryn MacVicar, who patiently read a book during Thurs festivities. Jean & Duncan are in CA where Jean is in real estate. Fred Grates reported that Jerry Hoffman, Jon King, Woody Eperson, Jim Paley, Borell, Gary Starling and Sonny Arkangel are all in the Houston area. We had a nice talk with Kala & Carol Kuku who updated us on Tamara Wuertenberger VanSpriell, who is now in Downingtown, PA and married to a Baptist minister. Chuck Wuertenberger's son Brad is now 18 and will probably go to MI State. I have sent a letter to Tamara with some pictures and hope to report more if she will write back. Bob Stowell, who with his lovely wife Jean showing some amazing moves on the dance floor, is still a lawyer in the booming metropolis of Ord, NE where he is a solo practitioner. Lou & Barbe Green are in Orlando and very graciously offered to help on the reunion book. Chris Spire is making beer in Syracuse while Wayne Scholl is the engr CinC in the Sacramento area in charge of getting Humphrey the Whale back to the ocean. My old roomie Ed Abesamis took the award for coming the longest distance, having come back with his wife and children from Manila. Ed reports that he will be going back to Saudi Arabia on another project soon. Dottie & John Algier are at Ft McNair where he's teaching at the War College. In addition to the Stowells out on the dance floor, the Harveys were doing a great job as were the Zadels.
The next morning we all assembled in front of Patton for the march over to Thayer Monument. Some wise guy mentioned that Dermody would probably be leading the march (as the oldest grad) in a year or two. It was then reported from someone else in the line that Steve Kempf was actually older than Dermody. Sensing a real hot news item, we actively debated this seeming non sequitur. After enormous research, am happy to report that Dermody is still the oldest member of our Class (by 8 months and 5 days) and probably will lead the parade at our 25th! After we broke ranks and assembled for the parade, we took the review with none other than Helen Hayes and other dignitaries on our third, absolutely fantastic day! While watching the Corps pass in review, I found out that Jim Stevenson is a lawyer in MI where he's lived for 13 yrs and specializes in real estate and loves it.
Chuck Shaw sent out 80 cases of red wine and 83 cases of white wine that were especially made for the reunion to include a special label with the Class of '6S crest on it. Unfortunately, the truck line that was shipping the wine went BK and it was tough for Chuck to track down the wine in time for the reunion, but it finally made it-and was it great, esp the red!
During the playing of honors, a C130 flew by, fairly low and some wise guy (Merges) observed that one of the flyboy classmates was obviously running a little late. Dick Williams reported that he's at Rock Island and J.P. Greene is in Marietta near Atlanta. We took some great pictures afterwards of the K-2 plebes, the M-2 troops, well as the C-1 folks. Nick Merriam was there with his lovely wife Darcy and reported that they had some pictures which they had sent to us. Joe DeFrancisco was able to garner some contributions for his son Eric ('89) who is swimming laps to help raise money for the Army swim team. The Merlin Olson lookalike contest was captured by Steve Ammon. Bobby Selkis ret in Aug and is now working in Princeton for Bell Labs on some secret projects.
After the Class picture we adjourned to Michie Stadium. Our seals were high in the upper deck and because there was not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was in the 60's, it was an absolutely georgeous time to watch a football game. Army got off to a commanding lead but fell asleep at the switch sometime during the 2nd qtr. As someone observed after the game, "they came from ahead to pull victory out of the jaws of defeat by winning." What would a football game be without a Rocco rocket? Some of us were wondering that same thing and so after a tremendous amount of urging (try 2 seconds) COL John McGurk (aka Rocco) led us in not only one rocket but what seemed like about 5! He even managed to get the Army cheerleaders up to give a cheer with him. Someone observed that they really did break the mold when Rocco left WP. (Ed. note-Colgate scored three times after the Rocco rocket to Army's zip).
Following the game, we all adjourned bock to the Thayer for a little R & R, to be followed by the alumni dance that evening at the Mess Hall. Many of us were showing signs of increasing age and so, the level of dancing during this particular evening was somewhat diminished. The evening was marked by some very interesting happenings. Who would have believed the sight of Bill McCreary leading us through the receiving line to be met by the Scotts and the Davisons (Big Mike probably forgot that he told Bill that he would not graduate until Bill purchased a class ring, so Bill went on and bought the $69 special and received his bars). I had a nice chat with Carolyn & Buddy Bucha-she told me that Smoky Echols never remarried. Jim Airy is in Seattle, WA. Dave & Priscilla Bode are in VA with their 4 children-Dave is with the Congressional Budget Office. Maimone was complaining of grid lock after the football game-took him two hrs to get to the hotel. Fortunately for all concerned, the parapatetic scribe gave his camera the night off so the only pictures we have of this dinner/dance are those that were sent in, some of which are pretty good. The evening ended relatively early considering the previous night and the earlier morning.
On Sun morning we all assembled at the Southeast Asia Memorial overlooking Lusk Reservoir on another fabulous sunny day to pay our respects to our fallen comrades. The service was admirably conducted by Buddy Bucha with help from the Glee Club (assisted by Jim Holmes, Jose Gonsalez, Jack Cooley, John Swenson, Duncan MacVicar, Doug Gibson, Joe Anderson, Bruce Galey, Steve Davis and led by Lou Csoka). Assisting Buddy in the service were Jack Cooley and the scribe reading the names, Wayne Scholl reading "In Flander's Fields," Fred Smith reading "Be Strong," Wes Taylor leading us in the West Point Prayer and Mike Hudson reading the "Requiem." It was an extremely touching ceremony and made us all remember what this life is all about.
Following the memorial service, most of us adjourned to the McComsey estate overlooking the Hudson in Scarborough, NY about 30 min so of WP, for a marvelous brunch hosted by some very good friends of our Class, Bob & Sue McComsey. Bob is the first non-grad to be asked to join the AOG Board of Trustees and Susan has just been appointed to chair a select committee that is developing a master plan to redecorate many of the common areas of the Academy. Their estate consists of two houses overlooking the Hudson, one in which they live and the other their "entertainment" house, which is a U-shape around the swimming pool with a spectacular view of the river. The normal early morning drinks were flowing very freely followed by a very scrumptious brunch served on the lawn under a blue and white tent . It was a fitting climax for an unbelievable weekend, one which I'm sure we will all remember for the rest of our lives.
There being no further business for this 20th Reunion, the Class adjourned to all parts of the world. It was truly a remarkable 4 days mixed with good friends, fantastic weather, a good football game, and above all, a chance to go back and reconsider what WP has meant in each of our lives.
A big thanks to John Knowles and all the other people who helped make the reunion such a fantastic success, such as Paul & Ann Barber, Bob & Diane Doughty, Jim Golden, Dan Christman, Don Rowe, Mac & Diane Gill, the Reeds, Sonny & Sherry Roy, John & Adrienne Wattendorf and the (just departed) Boerchels (Rich & Jean)-thank you all!
The Reunion Book should be mailed in the Apr-May time frame. It will contain over 100 reunion pix as well as some oldies but goodies. There may be some left over, so if you want an extra, send $35.00 to me-first come, first served please! A great big thanx to Rollie Stichweh and his advertising sales team of the McCrearys, Sonny Ray, Dave Kuhn, Bob Pennington., Box Axley, Chuck Burgardt, David Mastron, Mark Sheridan, C. M. Aron, Charles Shaw, Jerry Hoffman, D. Murphy Webb, Ron Layer, Bill Griffin, George Ruggles, Bill Reisner and all of the others that helped out. Thanks!
It is on a very sad note that I close this column having just heard of the death in the Gander air crash of our good friend Marv Jeffcoat. Marv was here in Chicago last May leading his troops down LaSalle St prior to departure for the Sinai. We have expressed our condolences and those of the Class to his family. Let's not forget to stop and smell the flowers. Life is too short and our friendships too precious not to reinforce them each and every time you have the opportunity.