All posts by Joe Rangitsch

A message from Doug Wheelock




“Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.”


Gillespie Magee – ‘High Flight’






It’s launch day, and there is a reassuring peace over the steppe in the cool of the morning.  Went for a run along the Syr Darya river and watched the sun rise over the barren landscape.  My next sunrise will be in Earth orbit, so I took a little extra time this morning to enjoy the breeze and the smell of the sage and the river.  I know that the sweet smell of the Earth is something that I am going to really miss.  When I returned from my 15-day Space Shuttle mission in November 2007, the most dramatic experience for me was the moment the hatch opened on the runway at Kennedy Space Center, in the middle of the wildlife sanctuary.  I had only been away from the planet for 15 days, and realized how much I take for granted…but not this morning.  I stood by the river for a while watching the desert awaken, and thought that tomorrow morning maybe I will try to find this place to see what it looks like from space.  The photo above is a rare glimpse of the Soyuz rocket from inside the flame trench.  Going to get a little toasty at this spot in just a few short hours when we light the fire! 


We had our final meeting with the ‘Government Commission’ last evening.  Mostly formality, but a chance to uphold tradition and officially sign over the rocket to the crew.  A panel of officials interacted with our instructors, evaluators, and the leadership of each sub-system on the vehicle to review the readiness of the crew and the spacecraft.  We sat behind glass in an adjoining room to maintain our health-stabilization protocol and listened intently as the past 2 years of our training were analyzed and discussed.  Each crewmember was asked to stand and speak.  This is the culmination of countless hours of work, time spent away from home, late nights, and the internalization of the art and science of space flight…boiled down into about 15 seconds of the best Russian you can muster up…I just said thanks, and let the Commission know how proud a moment in history this is, that just 20 years ago, this event would have been in the realm of the impossible.  It was a celebration of achievement it space, and a charge for us to continue to carry the torch of passion for exploration and discovery.  I’ll have to admit that I felt a little ‘weak in the knees’, since it was such a profound experience.  As during my back-up assignment last December, I wanted to say something really profound, but I just stuck with the ‘Three Be’s’ :  Be Bold – Be Brief – and Be Seated.


Following the Commission, we had a crew press conference, and then watched the old Russian movie “The White Sun of the Desert”, as is tradition for all Soyuz flight crews to watch together, the night before the launch.  “The White Sun of the Desert” is quite possibly the most popular and beloved Russian movie of all time.  There are many quotable ‘one-liners’ in the movie that have become part of everyday conversational Russian.  It is a lot of fun to watch with native Russians, it is part of their culture…and not a bad movie either.  The movie really has nothing to do with space, it just happened that about 20 years ago, during the prosperous years of the Russian Mir Space Station and frequent Soyuz launches, the Cosmonaut Hotel (which is still a bit Spartan) was able to acquire its first video cassette tape player/recorder.  For this place, it was truly a marvel of technological achievement at the time, and the Cosmonauts here were thrilled with the notion of maybe having ‘movie night’ while in quarantine.  As the story goes, everyone went on a search for a movie to watch…they searched high and low, inside the gates, and outside in the village (which was then called ‘Leninsk’).  In all of Leninsk, where you could have probably counted the total number of televisions on one hand…there was only one video cassette tape movie to be found.  It was “The White Sun of the Desert”…and a new tradition was born.


The feeling in the air here this morning is glorious!  We are ready and excited about the coming hours and the moment when we will light up the starry night.  We have had a great time these past couple of days laughing together and talking about time being like sand in an hourglass.  It is incredible to watch these final hours of preparation, and amazing to see before your eyes the triumph of ideas, vision, and the thirst for knowledge and understanding over worn out ideology and political / cultural differences.  A Russian Cosmonaut, and two U.S. Astronauts, launching together as a crew, on a Russian rocket to the International Space Station…I wonder how many people, 50 years ago, when NASA first came into existence, would have believed this would ever be possible.  Only the real dreamers, I am sure.


Only about 9 hours now until launch, and I am getting that very same feeling that I had just prior to suit-up for my mission on the Space Shuttle Discovery.  It’s not really fear, or even anxiety at this point, just a heightened sense of awareness.  Getting in the zone, and feeling comfortable so far.  Our ride is standing ready at the launch pad.  The rocket is fueled and all of the pad interface checks are complete.  All systems are ‘Go’.  Thought I would share some photos of the rocket making its way to the pad.  This is an incredible sight. 









Raising the rocket into position:





“One sweet ride”…standing proudly on the launch pad…in the spectacular sunrise…the same spot where ‘Sputnik’ once stood waiting and Yuri Gagarin’s heart raced at the advent of the space age.  Doesn’t Old Glory look beautiful in the rising sun?








Time to Fly!!!







Launch viewing information:


You may view the Soyuz TMA-19 launch on the Web at:

For more information, visit:



Dedicated to my Dad…the one man that never stopped believing in me.  Thanks, Dad.  I love you, and you will be in my every thought as we light up the night! 



“The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky displays His handiwork!”  Psalm 19:1



Grace and Peace…






Frank Parris

Dear Proud to Be '83,

 I am sad to report Frank Parris died Wednesday June 9th  in Huntsville, Alabama. 

 Frank was an IT manager at Jacobs Engineering in Huntsville. He also was the Chair of the Educational Activities Committee for the IEEE Huntsville Section.  In this role,  he volunteered his time to judge between 10 and 15 science fair contests every year, including the North Alabama Regional and the Alabama State science and engineering fairs.

 John Tibbetts spoke to someone at the house who indicated it was unexpected.

Here is Frank's USMA Eulogy Page .


 Service was on Sunday, 3pm:

 Willow Brook Baptist Church

7625 Bailey Cove Rd SE,

Huntsville, AL 35802


Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Laura and children during this difficult time.


Here is a nice article on Frank's work with NASA –


Also, here is an article on his volunteer work with IEEE –




He is survived by his wife, Laura Parris; three daughters, Abby, Sydney and Kelli Parris; parents, Ray and Shelby Parris Sr.; sister, and brother-in-law, Cheryl and David Banquer; and brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Susan Parris.

Burial was in Maple Hill Cemetery with Berryhill Funeral Home directing.

Donations may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.

Proud to Be ’83 made a donation in Frank’s honor.


Rudi Mizusawa

Dear Proud to Be ’83,


It is with much sadness that I confirm the AOG’s recent announcement of the passing of Rudi Mizusawa on 31 May 2010.  He was the third of six sons of George T. and Theodora Mizusawa, and was raised in an Air Force family that settled in Hampton, Virginia. He is survived by his loving parents and five brothers, Manno, Bert, Rene, George and Gino.  Rudi was the proud biological father of Kaitlin Gaskin.


I have learned Rudi had been working recently almost non-stop in support of his brother Bert's run for Congress.  Last week he began to complain of headaches and pains.  He planned to take the weekend off and on Sunday called an ambulance to check himself into the local hospital.  Once there, he discussed his situation with the doctor and was admitted for tests and, shortly thereafter, his health nosedived.  Although not confirmed, he was diagnosed with septic shock, or blood poisoning.  Within a few hours of admission, he was put on full life support with IVs, a respirator, and an extremely low white blood cell count.  His blood pressure had dropped to 60/30 but climbed back up to 102/76 late in the afternoon and his family was hopeful, but it was simply too much.

Here is Rudi's USMA Eulogy Page



This is from his brother Bert's web page –


“This is my most difficult message. Despite my best intentions to attend Memorial Day events yesterday, I spent an unexpected day in the hospital attending to my younger brother, Rudi, who died 24 hours ago. I am devastated. I thought I was tough, but watching your younger brother – a very vibrant person… a week ago – die and pulling him off life support was extremely difficult. Rudi was a legend at both Kecoughtan High School (in Hampton) and West Point, ran into hard times and was one of my key campaign workers, and did an absolutely superb job.”


As a cadet, Rudi was one of our most talented classmates – whether it was getting straight “A” grades in subjects like Nuclear Physics, setting the Academy record for the Indoor Obstacle Course, or winning the Brigade Open in both boxing and wrestling – for him West Point was more often than not “another week in which to excel.”  He was my Beast roommate and tent mate during the monsoon at Lake Frederick in the Summer of ’79.  He came to West Point following a year on the “Rat Line” at VMI.  We often joked that he paid to get hazed that previous year, however his experiences at VMI translated into him singlehandedly carrying our squad and platoon through Beast – he was an expert in everything – bed making, shoe shining, poop learning, SAMI.  He was never too busy to help one of his classmates in need…and we were a needy bunch of new cadets.



Private services were held at Riverside-Altmeyer Funeral Home, 7415 River Rd., Newport News. Online condolences may be made by visiting


From his brother Bert –

Rudi died from septic shock at 8:44pm on 31 May due to a hospital-borne bacteria.  His case was somewhat unusual because he entered the hospital with it.  He was working for my congressional campaign, and doing a lot of outdoor work (putting in 4×8 signs and door to door), fairly stressful overall.  He was doing a great job, and impressed a lot of people on the campaign trail.  I last saw him on 23 May.  He was out sick, and not wanting to go to the hospital, basically waited too long to get treatment.  He called 911 near midnight 30 May, and was admitted to the critical care unit at Hampton Sentara.  I learned of his situation about 10 am the following morning, and by the time I arrived he was unconscious / sedated and on life support. I was the last to see him alive when I left him at 7:15 pm.  About 8:35pm I received a call that his heart had stopped and we had pre-authorized one and only one attempt at restarting his heart. When I arrive at the hospital at 9:05 I learned that he had died.

Rudi will be cremated in accordance with his wishes.  The link below is for the funeral home guestbook.  (BTW, Altmeyer funeral homes are owned by Jim Altmeyer USMA '61).

 Thank you for your support.

 Bert Mizusawa



Here's a cup to brave Mizusawa, and all who like him die,

Their souls upon the battle smoke ascend the upper sky;

May the angels there attend him and show him where to go

And join his comrades gone before, with Benny Havens, oh!


Decoteau Family Loss

Dear Proud to Be ’83,

It is my solemn duty to inform you that we have lost another classmates’ son supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  PFC Marc Decoteau, 19, of Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.  Decoteau was the son of Mark and Nancy Decoteau ’83.  Mark is town manager in Waterville Valley, which has about 300 year-round residents. The loss also is being felt in Warren, where Nancy is town administrator.  Marc enlisted in the Army after his graduation in 2008 from Plymouth Regional High School.

 His remains were to return on Sunday, 31 January at Dover, Del., Air Force Base. 

 He was assigned in Afghanistan as part of a Psychological Operations unit based out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

 Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Mark, Nancy, Maddie and Andrew during this difficult time.

I will keep you updated as information becomes available.


There is a nice article on Marc in the Boston Globe:

Marc’s favorite Bible passage was Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.’’

April ’10 Golf Reunion

The Golfing Grads of USMA

22nd Annual Reunion & Golf Tournament

The Marriott Legends at Capitol Hill

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill

Prattville, Alabama

April 8 – 11, 2010

January, 2010


We have decided to return to the Marriott hotel and the Robert Trent Jones golf courses in Prattville, Alabama (located a few miles northwest of Montgomery).  The hotel and golf courses are first class and, over the past two years, the staffs have been outstanding in their support of the Golfing Grads.


The basic three-day package is for the evenings of April 8 – 11.  Additional night packages (accommodations and breakfasts) are available for periods either before or after the basic package dates. 


Last year we were fortunate to have Bob Anderson, USMA Class of 1960, to speak.  Bob was a two-time, first team All American as a running back and led Army in rushing during each of his three varsity seasons (1957-1959).  He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.  Bob has asked to return this year and speak about his legendary coach, Colonel Earl Blaik.       


We have enacted three changes for 2010 – (1) Scoring will be done by the staff at the golf courses with the help of some of us, (2) The Four Man Scramble will be played on the hardest course while the Individual competition will be played on the easiest, and (3) Our “goodie bag” will be limited to one or two items, thereby reducing the per person costs. 


The hotel will again allow us to use the Presidential Cottage as our hospitality suite.  Practice rounds will be available but you will have to contact the RTJ Pro, arrange your own times and foursomes, and guarantee payment. The individual competition on Saturday will again be conducted by flights (based on handicaps).   As usual, several of the participating classes will help share in running this event.  Our thanks to them.


We have made reservations for 160 golfers.  We hope to see you in April…



                                                                                    Tyler & Dan Willson








The Golfing Grads of USMA



22nd Annual Reunion & Golf Tournament



The Marriott Legends at Capitol Hill



The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill



Prattville, Alabama



April 8 – 11, 2010

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This three-day golf tournament will have team (USMA class) and individual competitions played on three quality courses – “The Judge”, which plays along the banks of the Alabama River, includes an island green, and has water on 12 holes, “The Legislator”, which combines 12 holes in and out of pines and 6 holes through a cypress swamp, and “The Senator”, a links style course which is host to the LPGA Navistar Classic.  Each is very fun and challenging in its own way!

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


     Here's what you need to do NLT March 16th to MAKE SURE YOU’RE INCLUDED:

(1)    Make your reservation by sending an                      

email (see attached format) to Rose Taunton at the   Marriott Legends Hotel. The email address is:


(2)    Complete the attached “reply sheet”,

     include a check for $85.00, and mail to Dan.          

     He will coordinate with the hotel and the courses on

     the names of prepaid attendees, arrival and departure

     dates, rooming lists, etc.


(3)    If your reservation and deposit are not

     made by March 16th, you will not be guaranteed

     accommodations with “The Golfing Grads of USMA”. After

     that date, reservations will be made on an individual,      

     space-available basis. 


If you must cancel after you have made a reservation, you will have until 72 hours prior to your original arrival date to cancel without penalty.  If you cancel after that time, you will forfeit your deposit. Each cancellation will be reviewed on an individual basis.


            Any questions, call:    Tyler Willson, USMA ’60, at (904) 997 – 6334 or

                                                Dan Willson, USMA ’63, at (828) 648 – 3206 




Sample Reservations Request Email



Send to:





              John Jones


          Date of Arrival:


              April 7


          Date of Departure:


              April 11


          Type of Package(s)Requested:


     1 Extra Night Packages (Double                        Occupancy) and

        1 Basic Package (Double Occupancy)


     Roommate (if Applicable):


          Sam Smith


     My Credit Card type:


          AMEX, Visa, MasterCard, etc.


     My Credit Card Number (to guarantee reservation):


          1122 3344 5566 7788










The Golfing Grads of USMA


22nd Annual Reunion & Golf Tournament


The Marriott Legends at Capitol Hill


The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill


Prattville, Alabama


April 8 – 11, 2009


Reply Sheet


Name: _______________________________USMA Class: _ _____________________


Golf Index/Handicap: _______/_______ 


Arrival Date:_______________________Departure Date:_________________________


Preference for Roommate:____________________________________________


Shirt Size (S, M, L, XL, or XXL): _____________________


1.  Select the package and golf options you prefer (place “X” by your choice): 


a.     Three Night Packages (April 8-11)


                  (1)______Single Occupancy (1 golfer/room) ($825.09/person),

           including all resort service fees and taxes. 

Includes accommodations for 3 nights, 3 rounds of golf w/ cart, 3 breakfasts, Thursday evening welcome reception, and Saturday evening awards banquet.



                  (2)______Double Occupancy (2 golfers/room) ($615.84/person),    

                                   including all resort service fees and taxes.

Includes accommodations for 3 nights, 3 rounds of golf w/ cart, 3 breakfasts, Thursday evening welcome reception, and Saturday evening awards banquet.



                  (3)______Double Occupancy (1 golfer & 1 non-golfer)($968.01/couple),      

           including all resort service fees and taxes. 

Includes accommodations for 3 nights, 3 breakfasts, Thursday evening welcome reception, and Saturday evening awards banquet.  Includes golf        for the golfer only.






b. Extra Night with Breakfast Packages (April 5, 6, 7, 12, or 13):


                 (1)______Single Occupancy (1 golfer/room) ($156.14/person),

          including all resort service fees and taxes). 

                       Includes accommodations for 1 night and breakfast the following morning.


                 (2)______Double Occupancy (2 persons/room) ($86.39/person),

          including all resort service fees and taxes).  

           Includes accommodations for 1 night and breakfast the following morning


     (3) _____Double Occupancy (1 golfer & 1 non-golfer)($172.78/couple),     

         including all resort service fees and taxes). 

                       Includes accommodations for 1 night and breakfast the following morning.


            c. Golf Options:


      (1) The 3 competition rounds are included in the basic Three-Day

Packages.  Note that the Additional Night Package does not include a       round of golf.


(2) Individuals wanting to schedule tee times for practice rounds on any of the competition courses must personally contact the clubhouse and guarantee payment.  The rates will be $54.24 (inclusive) for the Senator and the Legislator and $65.09 (inclusive) for the Judge.  For tee times on either of the 3 courses, contact Mike Beverly, Director of Golf, by phone (334-285-1114) or by email at  Be sure to identify yourself as a member of the “Golfing Grads of USMA”.


(3) Should you desire to play a second round on one of the other courses either before or after your scheduled competition round, there will be an additional charge. 


2.  NLT April 1st, return this form and a check for $85.00 to Dan Willson at 166 Mount Laurel Place, Canton, NC 28716.  This check will cover expenses for “goodie bag” items, golf prizes, hospitality room items, telephone calls, postage, shipping charges, and other administrative expenses.










The Golfing Grads of USMA


22nd Annual Reunion & Golf Tournament


The Marriott Legends at Capitol Hill


The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill


Prattville, Alabama


April 8 – 11, 2010



Schedule of  Events



Wednesday, April 7



4:00 PM-Midnight          Arrival and Check-In (Early Arrivals)                    Front Desk, Main Lobby           


4:00 PM-Midnight          Hospitality Room open (Early Arrivals)               Presidential Cottage     




Thursday, April 8 



6:00-8:00 AM                 Breakfast (Early Arrivals)                                    Hotel Meeting Room


8:00 AM                        Four Man Team Scramble                            The Judge 

                                    (Early Arrivals)                                                 (Shotgun)                                                                                                                     


1:00 PM                        Four Man Team Scramble                            The Judge 



4:00 PM-Midnight          Arrival and Check-In (3 night packages)               Front Desk, Main Lobby


6:30-7:30 PM                 Attitude Adjustment Hour                                   Golf Clubhouse                                                                                                                                             Dining Room 


7:30-9:00 PM                 Welcome Reception & Buffet Dinner                 Golf Clubhouse                                                                                                                                             Dining Room       


9 PM-Midnight               Hospitality Room open                                      Presidential Cottage











Friday, April 9



6:00-8:00 AM                 Breakfast                                                          Hotel Meeting Room                                                                                                                                               

8:00 AM                        Two Man Team Best Ball (9 holes)               The Legislator 

                                    & Scramble (9 holes)                                      (Shotgun)


1:00 PM                        Two Man Team Best Ball (9 holes)               The Legislator 

                                    & Scramble (9 holes)                                      (Shotgun)


Evening                        Class Dinners                                                    TBD by Class Reps


9 PM-Midnight               Hospitality Room open                                      Presidential Cottage



Saturday, April 10



6:00 – 8:00 AM               Breakfast                                                          Hotel Meeting Room                                                                                                                                                      

8:00 AM                        Individual Low Gross/Low Net                   The Senator

                                                              (1st & 2nd Flights)                                (Shotgun)


1:00 PM                        Individual Low Gross/Low Net                   The Senator

                                                              (3rd & 4th Flights)                     (Shotgun)


6:30 – 7:30 PM               Attitude Adjustment Hour                                   Hotel Meeting Room


7:30 – 9 PM                   Award Presentations & Buffet Dinner                Hotel Meeting Room


9 PM-Midnight               Hospitality Room open                                      Presidential Cottage


Sunday, April 11


6:00 – 8:00 AM               Breakfast                                                          Hotel Meeting Room                                                                                                                                         


7:00 AM – Noon             Check-out time                                                  Front Desk, Main                                                                                                                                                                                                               Lobby


                                    (To obtain a late check-out time, contact

                                    the front desk on Saturday night or

Sunday morning – of course, late

check-out times are not guaranteed

since new guests may be scheduled

to move into your room)







Army-Navy 2011 in D.C.

Dear Proud to Be ‘83,

For the passing of the 28th Anniversary of the graduation of the Class of 1983, I send you one single thought, one sole idea, written in red on every beachhead from here to Tokyo…Beat Navy in Washington DC on December 10th!

To support this effort, or at least to have a good time, the Class of ’83 Army-Navy Tailgate Committee has met a few times already and they are interested in getting preliminary numbers to continue their planning.  You will need to order tickets next month anyway.  The committee would like to know the following (you are not committing to anything just yet):

1.      Are you interested in a room in the class hotel in Old Town Alexandria?

2.      Are you interested in attending the Women of ’83 Reception on Thursday and Brunch on Friday (Ladies)?

3.      Are you interested in attending the Class Remembrance Dinner on Friday?

4.      Are you interested in attending the Class Tailgate before the game?

5.      Are you interested in attending the Class Victory party in the hospitality suite?

6.      Would you or your company be interested in sponsoring our class hospitality suite?


Here is a tentative list of events thus far:

·       October/November – Tom Fish is estimating the cost of brewing 10 cases of Class of 83 Ale, including printing special labels, and would appreciate donations to the cause.  Washington DC area classmates are welcome to join the mid-October brewing and/or the early November bottling activities.

·       8 Dec 11, Thursday – Women of ‘83 Night in the hotel hospitality suite

·       9 Dec 11, Friday – Women of ’83 Brunch, Class Remembrance Dinner, before/after dinner open house in the hotel hospitality suite

·       10 Dec 11, Saturday – Tailgate, Army Beats Navy in Football, victory party in the hotel hospitality suite.  We will be taking a collection for the Wounded Warrior Program.

Send your survey answers to Mike Olsen, at

Beat Navy!


Alabama Guard Deployed

Stories from The Birmingham News

Alabama Army Guard unit from Birmingham to oversee troop, supply moves across Afghanistan

By Tom Gordon — The Birmingham News

October 26, 2009, 12:30PM

Gen. Reynold Hoover.jpg


Alabama Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Reynold Hoover is commander of the Homewood­based 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command. (Bernard Troncale/Birmingham News) An Alabama Army Na­tional Guard unit is about to take on a huge mission that could become even bigger: Overseeing the movement of parts, supplies, food, mail and troops throughout Afg­hanistan.

About 270 soldiers with the Birmingham-based 135th Expeditionary Sus­tainment Command will have a send-off ceremony on Saturday. They will do a few more weeks of training at Fort Hood, Texas, and are scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan in early December.

By that time, they should know if President Obama has decided to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which now al­ready total about 60,000.

If that increase comes, the 135th and the units that will be supporting its mission will have even more on an already crowded plate. They not only will have to get the new troops and their equip­ment where they need to go, but also keep them supplied once they are there.

"It is a gigantic mission," said the 135th commander, Brig. Gen. Reynold Hoover, a 48-year-old West Point graduate who will be the first one-star general in the Alabama Guard to deploy in either the Iraq and Afgha­nistan wars.



How gigantic a mission? To start with, Afghanistan is five times the size of Ala­bama. And not counting about 9,000 British troops who have their own supply system, the nearly 100,000 U.S. and other coalition troops now in Afghanistan eat more than 210,000 meals per day. Each month, they also use more than 2 million gallons of fuel and consume more than a million cases of bottled water.

"The very basics of it is bottled water," Hoover said.

"Soldiers need water to drink and . . . they can't go to the local supermarket and buy water. And then at the high end, we have to make sure that the ammuni­tion is there for them to do their mission and then (sup­ply) fuel for the trucks and fuel for the vehicles and then all the spare parts to make sure that all the vehi­cles continue to run and op­erate."

The 135th won't be hand­ delivering the supplies or troops to their final destina­tions. It will assign a lot of that heavy lifting to several thousand other service members and civilians who will be under its command. Most of those will be sol­diers from the Army's 82nd Sustainment Brigade from Fort Bragg, N.C., and from a number of combat support battalions.

"From our headquarters, we're not so focused on get­ting

you a bottled water," Hoover said. "We're focused on making sure that the the­ater has bottled water enough for my sustainment brigade and the battalions under them to be able to do that last-mile distribution out to the soldiers."

While its role will be to di­rect the movements of troops and supplies, the 135th will not be a centrally located group of spread­sheet specialists looking at computer screens.

"We'll have folks all over the theater," said Hoover, a former Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent who spent part of his career in Birmingham.

Here, he met and married his FBI agent wife, Lucy Ann. Qualified in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), he also helped investigate the 1989 mail bombing death of U.S. Circuit Judge Robert S. Vance.

A member of the Alabama Guard since 1988, Hoover has commanded its 111th EOD Group, and he also commanded the first Army EOD unit to get into Kuwait City during the first Gulf War. One of that unit's tasks was removing explosives that Saddam Hussein's forces had left on oil wells.

In Afghanistan, some of Hoover's soldiers will have one of the most important jobs in the 135th's mission, what he calls "the mortuary affairs piece."

Simply put, that job involves getting a fallen service member's remains and his personal belongings accounted for, and arrang­ing for those remains to be shipped home.

"We have some very spe­cific timelines and require­ments to move our fallen hero remains back to the States," Hoover said. "I will have an officer and some folks . . . in Kuwait helping coordinate that movement . . . and we will have people located throughout the the­ater who are working specif­ically mortuary affairs."

Since 9/11, about 75 per­cent of the Afghanistan­bound 135th members have had at least one tour in and around Iraq or Afghanistan. For Hoover, the coming de­ployment will be his first.

McConnell Family Loss

Collected EMails concerning The McConnell's Loss of their son, Sgt. Andrew McConnell

First Email:

Dear Proud to Be ’83,

It is my solemn duty to inform you that we have lost a classmates’ son supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  Sgt. Andrew H. McConnell, 24, of Carlisle, Pa. son of COL and Mrs G. Scott McConnell ’83 died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device Sept. 14 in southern Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.  Killed with Andrew was 1st Lt. David T. Wright II, 26, of Moore, Okla.

His mortal remains were received at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del., at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Scott, Kathy, Ashlee and Alecia during this difficult time.

I will keep you updated as information becomes available.


I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. A. Lincoln

Second Email:

Dear Proud to Be ’83,

Here are final coordinating instructions for tomorrow’s funeral:

Where:  Tuesday, September 22nd at 1:00pm – Kent Covenant Church in Kent, WA. The burial will be at Tahoma National Cemetery at 2:30 PM.

Dress:  Please wear red, white, and/or blue.  Andrew’s Family wants to celebrate his life and service to our country.

In lieu of flowers, Andrew had requested donations to the Wounded Warrior Project. (You may also call Edline-Yahn and Covington Funeral Home for information: 253-630-2736).

There is also a memorial fund to help Sarah and their unborn baby through this very difficult time. If you would like to contribute, you can stop by any Key Bank branch. If you do not live near a Key Bank, you can send a donation to:

Key Bank, 505 West Meeker Street, Kent, WA 98032

There is a very nice Blog set up by Andrew’s Church –



 Third Email:


Dear Proud to Be ’83,

I am forwarding a note received from Kathy McConnell with thanks and overseas address:


My name is Kathy McConnell and I am the wife of your classmate Scott McConnell.  I am writing on behalf of our entire family to thank the class of 1983 for the beautiful arrangement of flowers that was sent in honor of our fallen son, SGT Andrew H McConnell.  We were all most touched that Scott’s classmates would reach out to him and our entire family during this most difficult time.  While Andrew’s death is tragic, we honor his service and walked away from his funeral immensely proud at the number of people that Andrew touched in his very short life time.  He was only 24 years old but it was clear he made a difference in the lives of everyone he encountered.


Several people through trial and error have found us to reach out to us and have said that there is a wrong address circulating through the class.  We can be reached at the following address:  CMR 489 BOX 231, APO AE 09751.  Scott is currently the Chief of Plans for AFRICOM, located in Stuttgart, Germany.  Please feel free to pass along our most sincere appreciation for everyone’s love and support and you may provide them with the above listed address.


We ask for everyone’s continued support and prayers for Andrew’s wife Sarah and their unborn child.




Kathy McConnell



Reunion success!!!!!

As anyone who was there would definitely attest to – the reunion was a huge success… Lots of fellowship, reminiscing and a lot of very bad golfing…There is a new gallery of pictures dedicated to the reunion being compiled – Please feel free to peruse the pictures by navigating to the “pictures” link on the far left of the home page.

Please be advised that the pictures have been reduced in size and resolution for web publishing. If you want to get an original, high res copy, you will need to contact the original picture taker – we will be updating the captions with the authors info over the next few days…

We would like to extend a heart felt THANK YOU to all the folks who worked behind the scenes to make it all happen. Although the football game was indeed a reliving of memories we would rather forget, everything else was spectactular..If you have pictures you would like to contribute to the gallery, please email them to or post them to a picture sharing site and send Joe Rangitsch ( )  the link for the site for posting / publishing.


Beat Navy!!!





2 Qtr 09 Update

Dear Proud to Be ’83,

 Many of you have told me that you are still not receiving the updates on the class.  I think I have solved this issue, however if you do not wish to be included, let me know and I will delete your address.  I want to continue to welcome all Proud to Be Alumni (not just those who graduated) to join us in our alumni events and support of the Academy.  Please pass this update to others who may be interested or who have had an email change I don’t know about.  If you would like the other two updates, check our website at .  This is the third update on class events and initiatives.  I apologize if you have not been receiving them.  There is much to report. 


Cadet Bob Lewis, ’09 Wins Inaugural Proud to Be ’83 Cadet Spirit Award (See Presentation Picture1 ,

Presentation Picture 2 and Presentation Picture 3)


 I was reminded how slow the bureaucracy at West Point was in establishing the Proud to Be ’83 Cadet Spirit Award.  After seven months, it is finally approved.  The first presentation venue could have been from any “Joe College” night of the past 30 years (although maybe not as spirited as the 4,000 C-ration boxes flying through the mess hall).  At the Corps Dinner on 7 May 2009 assembled on the Poop Deck were representatives from the Pep Band, Rabble Rousers, and some good old fashion mascots.  The Corps had assembled to recognize Cadet Bob Lewis ‘09 for his leadership in instilling Spirit.  COL Jeanette McMahon Agresano, our Rabble Rouser extraordinaire, made the first presentation.  The award is a mounted Bayonet.  Bob hails from Carbondale, Pennsylvania and graduated from Carbondale Area High School in 2005.  He majored in Environmental Geography and was commissioned in Armor.  Thanks Jeanette for making this event more than I ever imagined. 

USMA Class of 1983 Donates $5,000 at Wounded Warrior Project’s 2009 Courage Awards & Benefit Dinner

The WWP’s 2009 Courage Awards & Benefit Dinner was held on Thursday, May 14 2009 at Cipriani, 42nd Street in New York City.  Nearly 700 guests attended, including Bill O'Reilly, New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin and Tony Sirico from the Sopranos.  Bob Costas was the Master of Ceremonies for the event.  Amongst the star studded crowd was a table of USMA Class of 1983 Alumni there to support our wounded warriors – Tim McDonald, Joe Bassil, Bill Selman, Frank Giordano, and Mark Sullivan presented a check from the class for $5,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project in honor of our classmates on Active Duty.  The idea for support of the WWP was offered by BG Scott Miller at our 25th Reunion Class Meeting.  The Dinner provided the ideal location for the presentation.  Thanks Tim for encouraging and coordinating our participation.  Each year, the awards dinner provides the opportunity to bring together and honor many of the brave wounded warriors who have sacrificed much in service to our nation. The funds raised support thousands of injured service men and women and their families from battlefield to bedside and beyond. Almost $500K was raised to support the WWP from their signature program, which provides comfort items to newly injured service members — to TRACK, the first education center in the nation designed specifically for wounded warriors.  WWP’s benefits counseling, peer mentoring, and adaptive sports programs also aid in the challenging transition from a hospital bed to an independent, productive, and successful civilian life.  The following awards were given out during the ceremony:   The Talkhouse Award for Community Service – Johnny Damon, New York Yankees; The Tony Snow Award  – Michael Ward, CSX Corporation; The George C. Lang Award – John Fernandez, USMA 2001, Wounded Warrior & WWP Alumni member; and The John Melia Award For Warrior Service – John Melia, WWP Founder.

Wounded Warrior Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors. WWP serves to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women, to help severely injured service members aid and assist each other and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. For more information, please call 877 TEAM WWP (832-6997) or visit


Class Offspring Silver Dollar Presentation Graduation Week (See Coin1 , Coin2 , Coin3   pictures)


COLs Tim Trainor and Donna Brazil once again did an outstanding job recognizing our class Offspring during Graduation Week at the Honor Monument.  They presented 2009 Lincoln Silver Proof Dollars to our three graduating offspring – COL Laureen Barone and Joe Leforte’s son and daughter, Joseph and Kathleen Leforte, as well as Laurie and Gregory Gongaware’s daughter Andrea (remember she parachuted onto the parade field during our 25th).  Please make sure we are aware of anyone joining future classes.  The class leadership wants to make sure our class sons and daughters know we all are proud of their accomplishments.  Thanks Tim and Donna for another memorable event.


Class Gift (2013)


We are making slow headway towards the funding for our 30th Reunion gift of $1.5 Million to the Global Leadership Center.  Since Jan 2008 (reunion year) we have received pledges and donations to the value of $268,255 (11% participation); this coupled with our current balances gives us roughly $438,973 which is less than a third of our commitment. We understand the economic climate and the ever increasing demand for donations to all organizations, we would only ask that the class be one of your priorities.  If you haven’t made your pledge yet, please take the time to commit to our gift.  AOG has an easy online donation signup where you can pledge an affordable monthly donation to be put on a credit card for a specified period of time (i.e. 60 months) –  

Harry Shablom is moving forward with classmate volunteers to contact every alumni of the Class of 1983.  Set up your pledge now to avoid a last minute donation around reunion time.  We currently have three classmates who have pledged $50K to the cause!  The Class Coins are beginning to make their way out to those who have pledge $1000 or more to the class gift.  Make your pledge today!  Thank You and thanks to Harry for your significant time and effort.


Exxon Mobil Presents Matching Gift Contributions (See Picture)


Representing Exxon Mobil, our very own fundraising officer, Harry Shablom, presented a check for $144,837 to the USMA Dean, BG Patrick Finnegan '71 on 30 April 2009.  Exxon Mobil matches employee gifts 3 to 1 for individual employees.  Their lifetime giving to USMA is $1,295,097.52.


Division I NCAA Softball Champions


Alyson McWherter, daughter of Laura and Len McWherter ’83, is the starting Center Fielder on the 2009 NCAA Division I Softball National Champion University of Washington Huskies.  During the championship series she made several outstanding catches to rob opposing players of extra base hits.  Len and Laura were able to visit with Pete Brual in Atlanta (Super Regional) and Tommy Morgan for the finals in Oklahoma City.  Alyson is a member of the Army ROTC at the UW.  See ESPN article –


and the Washington News Tribune – 


Congratulations to the McWherter family.  That is all for now.  Go Army.Pete aka Fizzer