Class Poop

Send your input to Class Scribe - LTC Richard (Rick) D. Bunn (Retired) at
Visit the 1965 Class Notes Photo Album to see all the photos below full-size!

Class Notes First Quarter 2014

A Great Time Was Had at the AZ Gathering

At 3:00 PM on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, March 29th, 29 of our number gathered at the beautiful home of Dyanne Mogan simply to share the pleasure of each other's company and the camaraderie resulting from a shared 47 month experience many many years ago. Dyanne  has been our gracious hostess for two of our Gatherings. She and her husband, our dear Classmate John, hosted one of our first Arizona Gatherings back in 2007 and now, following his passing almost two years ago, she has stepped up again to host our 8th Gathering. In the second picture below are John's daughter Tara and granddaughter Jackie who joined us for the festivities. The third picture below demonstrates that there was a lot of color in the Hawaiian outfits worn by all, here with Frank Hennessee, Jack Blau, Hank Mickells, Larry Clewley, Dennis Hawker, and Jacki Clewley. Sorry about the glare from behind, but it was a beautiful sunny day.

This next picture includes Bob Hill, Cyndee Hill, Lois Muchovic, Tom Mushovic and Fred Laughlin enjoying the beautiful weather at one of six outdoor tables Dyanne had provided.  

Here's another picture to show how colorful things were. There's Dennis Hawker at the left rear, then Ron (Chops) Walter, Jack Blau, Hank Mickells, Lary Clewley and Barry Levine.

We had several folks who traveled pretty far to join us this year and I would like to acknowledge their efforts here. First, we have Bud and Judy Fish who came all the way in from San Bernardino, California. Next we have Barry and Christy Levine who came in from La Mesa, California.

While I failed to get a couples shot of Jack and Vicki Blau, they came in all the way from Laguna Niguel which is closer to Los Angeles than Sandy Eggo but still all the way out on the coast. Additionally, Hank and Trina Mickells came all the way up from Tucson, Arizona. Finally, even though they stay the winter right here in the Valley of the Sun, Tom and Lois Mushovic actually live (and have done so for 27 years) in Soldotna, Alaska. Here they are with big smiles for the sunshine they are enjoying.

Finally, the obligatory group picture (it's getting harder and harder to do as the Gathering grows). Here is the identifier followed by the picture itself. As you can imagine, it's pretty hard to give you all the names in a way that makes it easy to identify all your friends, I hope this helps.

I said finally, earlier, but I really didn't mean it. Here is the final picture. I had asked the guys to bring an article of clothing they had kept over the years from back in the day and while not many could find anything, a few did and I think it made a pretty nice picture. Here we have Bud Fish and Jay Vaughn standing behind and Frank Hennessee, Barry Levine, Jack Blau, Ron (Chops) Walter, Bob Hill, Dennis Hawker, Fred Laughlin, Moi, Larry Clewley, Tom Mushovic, and Hank Mickells. Check out those legs on Larry and me. Note also that Larry is holding one of the West Point scarves that Dyanne had made for the memorial service for John.

I think everyone truly enjoyed themselves. The food was terrific, the location is perfect for a party like this, the hostess was amazing and a good time was had by all.

With regard to next year, Dennis and Diane Hawker graciously stepped up to the challenge of hosting the Gathering in 2015. So, next year our Arizona Gathering will be held at their beautiful home in Mesa, Arizona. Thank you Dennis and Diane for that and thank you Dyanne for all your work to make this year's Gathering such a success.

One final note, just as we were leaving I shared a special moment with Dyanne as I told her that I found that on a couple of occasions during the party, I felt the overwhelming presence of my dear friend John. There is no doubt in my military mind that he approved of what he saw in his home.

2014 Founders Day in the Bay Area

I received a nice report from Dave La Rochelle (with a great picture of Dave and his wife attached) regarding the Founders Day Dinner in the San Francisco Bay Area and shortly thereafter received a brief supplement from John Swensson to help fill it out. However, your persistent Scribe did a little searching and found a few great pictures posted on the local Society's webpage. Here is Dave's report:

We had a very nice visit with John Swensson and wife and sat at the head table with Lt General Caslen, the new Superintendent and his lovely wife. He has an impressive career and is determined to assist with the football program as much as possible. We both had served with the 2/502 Infantry 101st Airborne. His tour was about ten years later than my 68-69 exposure. Lots of changes going on with USMA, mostly the big sex harassment political debate, changes in the curriculum, and training during the summer months. Girls now can go into the combat arms.

John added:

I think women will be in the Infantry within two years but not this year. LTG Caslen made the point that the 1st Brigade Commander who will be a Rhodes Scholar put her 1st choice as Infantry even though not yet eligible.

The pictures I found include this one as folks were entering the building.

Author Alison Levine & LTG Robert Caslen

Alison Levine, author of On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership and former adjunct professor at West Point, poses with LTG Robert Caslen, West Point's Superintendent, during the Benny Havens Hour prior to the 2014 Founders Day Dinner hosted by the West Point Society of the San Francisco Bay Area at the Claremont Country Club in Oakland, CA.

LTG Robert Caslen, West Point Superintendent 2014

LTG Robert Caslen, West Point Superintendent, gives the keybote address to the crowd at the 2014 Founders Day Dinner hosted by the West Point Society of the San Francisco Bay Area at the Claremont Country Club in Oakland, CA.

West Point Alma Mater Glee Club veterans lead the crowd in the singing of the West Point Alma Mater at the 2014 Founders Day Dinner hosted by the West Point Society of the San Francisco Bay Area at the Claremont Country Club in Oakland, CA. (Yes, I believe that's our boy John Swensson on the far right).

And here is the picture of Dave and Peggy La Rochelle:

I plan to visit San Francisco in a few weeks and I will brief these guys on the use of a camera.

Thank you gentlemen - see you soon.





'65 Leads the Way at the 2014 Founders Day Dinner in DC

Wow, what a terrific report I got from the WPSDC Founders Day Dinner. Chuck Nichols did a terrific job of putting together this report with some great pictures:

Strength and Drive had a strong showing at the West Point Society of DC (WPSDC) Founders Day Dinner on the 15th of March.  '65 was the largest group at the gathering partly due to the fact two of our members were honored that night.  The evening festivities started with the traditional posting of the colors and toasts, Ric Shinseki led the toast to our fallen comrades.  Two of our classmates were recognized by the Society.

Terry Ryan was recognized with the Distinguished Member Award, WPSDC's equivalent of a Distinguished Graduate award.  Terry was recognized for "his exemplary service to West Point, the West Point Alumni Glee Club and through them, the West Point Society of the District of Columbia and the Unites States Army."

Joe DeFrancisco was awarded the Castle Memorial Award (established by Ben Castle, Class of 1907, and first president of the D.C. Society), their equivalent of the Thayer Award.  "The primary objective of this award is to recognize a graduate whose outstanding qualities of character, distinguished service, and stature draw wholesome comparison with the qualities that West Point strives for in keeping with its motto 'Duty, Honor, Country'...."

These awards were well deserved by two outstanding classmates who have given so much of themselves.

The guest speaker was Brigadier General Timothy E. Trainor '83, Dean of the Academic Board.  Entertainment was provided by the West Point Alumni Glee Club with '65 members Terry Ryan, Jim Ferguson and Chuck Nichols present.  Terry is first on the left in the front row and Jim is fourth from the right in the front row.  Chuck is out of sight in the sound booth playing music accompaniment.

Part of the entertainment included skits the Glee Club performed at West Point with the Cadet Glee Club.  It was a portrayal of "Army Blue" through the years starting with "Aura Lee", the original melody for "Army Blue."  There were three video versions of cadets doing "Army Blue" by the Andrew Sisters, Beach Boys and PSY (I had a little trouble determining who this was but Google to the rescue - this is the South Korean singer who introduced us to Gangnam Style back in 2012) and two live versions by the Alumni Glee Club doing the Diamonds and Village People.  The Village People rendition, performing to "YMCA," got the most response and applause from the audience (Terry is on the left and Jim is lead singer).

The group picture shows our merry band of attendees.  From left to right they are:
First Row - John and Linda Concannon, Ric and Patty Shinseki, Bob and Phyllis Wolff, Elaine and Chuck Nichols, Karen Ferguson, Nancy Ryan, Lynne DeFrancisco, and Mary Harter.
Second Row - Dan and Susan Christman, Clair and Cheryl Gill, George Gehringer, Jim Ferguson, Terry Ryan, Joe DeFrancisco, and Bob Harter.

What a terrific turnout from Strength and Drive. Congratulations to Terry and Joe. Great report Chuck, thank you.

Founders Day at the Villages

Jerry Merges sent this great report regarding the Founders Day celebration held at the Villages in Florida:

Greetings from The Villages, Florida's Friendliest Hometown!

Our fourth Founders Day was once again held at The Nancy Lopez Legacy Country Club on March 8th. We had 38 in attendance and enjoyed a great time of fellowship, sharing memories and stories (some possibly embellished), and a wonderful meal in the Garden Room.

Our oldest grad was again Bill McPeek from the Class of '56. He was spared from a third go round speaking as the oldest grad and thankfully yielded his speaking time to our guest of honor, MG.(ret) John R. Landry, Class of '62, who recently retired after 18 years as the National Intelligence Officer for Military Issues on the National Intelligence Council.

Our youngest grad, Jeff Madsen, Class of '67, was recognized and he shared some great memories of his time at West Point and his subsequent service days. Jeff remarked that we need some younger grads to move into The Villages before next Founders Day!

General Landry spoke with passion about his many memorable assignments during his 32 year career, serving with distinction in armored cav units, as brigade commander of the 3rd Brigade/4th Infantry Div., as assistant division commander of the 8th Infantry Division(Europe). as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Studies as well as senior staff positions throughout the world. His was a most inspiring talk and reminded us all of the life foundations built at our Alma Mater and how we applied these to not only our service in the Army but also in our civilian careers by setting the example in integrity, leadership, and initiative.

A special thanks to the "Can Do" Class of '62 for their superb job in accepting and executing this memorable day. General Landry was presented with a hand crafted walking stick, courtesy of John Herrera of the Villages Woodworking Club, who provides such walking sticks to returning veterans in our area. It is a work of art and of love and will be cherished by both General and Mrs. Landry.

We welcomed many first time attendees and look forward to our upcoming luncheons in the spring, summer and fall. A special thanks to our leadership team, Scherr '62, Mosier '63, Gnau '65, and Madsen '67 for their dedication, drive, and determination to our Society and Alma Mater.

G. Jerry Merges
'65 Strength and Drive

P.S. alas, no pics this year

Thanks Jerry, next time remember the camera.

Founders Day in Las Vegas

Wow, I rarely get a report that is so complete that I don't have to do something to it to put it in a form to share with you all. Tom Kovach has done it, however, so here is his report with pictures inserted and all:

The attendance at the Founder's Day event in Las Vegas was rather modest - a total of about 40 attendees including four Nevada candidates for the Class of 2018 and their guests.  '65 was represented by the O'Donnells and the KovachsJim Holmes was unable to attend as he is currently buried with the launch of a new online gaming project in which he is involved.  Pictured here are Tom & Marilyn Kovach and Skip & Marilyn O'Donnell.

We spent some time talking with the candidates for the Class of 2018 who will report on 2 July for Beast Barracks. Quite an impressive group of young people.

Our guest speaker was COL Naessens, Head of the Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering.  He gave a nice update on the happenings at West Point including the construction of new cadet barracks on the site where Building 720 formerly rested.  The new barracks will house cadets while some of the old barracks are renovated.  When the renovations are completed, cadets will be housed two to a room rather than some three to a room as is the current situation.

One of the highlights of the evening was yours truly winning the door prize which was a copy of a new book titled West Point Leadership: Profiles of Courage, subtitle Inspirational Profiles of West Point Graduates Who Have Shaped Our World.  My copy is signed by one of the primary authors, Daniel Rice, Class of '88.

The book is about two inches thick and is filled with graduate profiles, including many photos, grouped into various categories such as Strategic Commanders, The Trailblazers, Astronauts, etc.  The Class of '65 is represented by the following:

Bob Arvin (in the category of Long Gray Line Members Who Have Made the Ultimate Sacrifice)
Buddy Bucha (Medal of Honor)
Ric Shinseki (Politicians and Government Officials)

In addition, Dan Christman provided a testimonial for the book.  The book is available for purchase on at a price of $59.95.  Use Amazon code "USMAGRAD" for a 10 percent discount.

Strength and Drive!
Tom Kovach

Thanks Tom, great report.

Lunch in Las Vegas

Here is a great example of how easy it is to share a quick gathering so that all out Classmates can see what goes on when we get a chance to visit one another. While I would like to have just a little more information regarding the where, why, who and how, at least we get a nice picture of Classmates getting together and enjoying each other's company. Here we have a lunch get together when Preston and Sandy Motes and who I'm assuming is their daughter Paisley (she sure looks like Sandy), visited Las Vegas and got together with Skip and Marilyn O'Donnell and Tom Kovach. L to R that is Paisley, Preston, Sandy, Skip, Marilyn, and Tom.

Thank you Preston, lots of smiles, looks like you had a great time.

Date Set for Rance Rountree Interment

Frank Arnall just sent me the news that a date for the service for Rance Rountree has been set. The service will be at West Point at 1330 hrs on June 11th. There will be a reception afterwards at either AOG or the Thayer. This is on Ric Shinseki's calendar.

Some added good news is that Frank extended our invitation for Eileen to join us at the 50th and she said she would like to come.

Thank you Frank for your continuing good work as our POC.

Founders Day in Utah

I just received a very brief report from Preston Motes regarding the Founders Day activities in Utah. Preston wrote:

West Point Founders Day in Utah. Pete & Heidi Lounsbury, Sandy & Preston Motes. Our annual dinner was held at Jeremy Ranch CC outside Park City.

Here is a great picture that accompanied the report. That's Sandy and Preston in the back and Pete and Heidi in the front.

Thanks Preston.

Ranger Class Pictures

At the request of Greg Letterman, Chuck Nichols has put together a really neat link which allows us to review the group pictures from the Ranger Schools that most of us attended in the fall of 1965. He has included Classes 2-66 through 4-66. They can be accessed by clicking on this link: Simply click on the small picture (thumbnail) and it will give you a large picture where it is easy to see faces. Enjoy.

A Farewell to John T. Anderson

Bob Baldinger stepped up without hesitation to take on the job of Point of Contact (POC) for our Class and for the family of John Anderson.  While he did a terrific job gathering and disseminating the necessary information and assisting the family as they prepared for the funeral service and burial, a prior commitment made it impossible for him to attend the actual event. Due to the extreme distances involved with getting to the rural town of Alpine, Texas, it appeared for a while that we would have no one able to represent our Class at this "Celebration of Life". Carmelito (Sonny) Arkangel Jr. and I felt this was unacceptable and coming from opposite directions (he from San Antonio and I from Goodyear, AZ), drove in to represent Strength and Drive, as we put our brother to rest.  Neither of us knew John, but nonetheless we received a warm welcome from the family and his friends.

The service was held at the St. James Episcopal Church in Alpine, Texas at 2:00 PM on Friday March 7th. It was a full, formal Episcopalian Funeral service conducted by Reverend Carolyn Metzler. The service was followed by a brief social time in the parish house after which an honor guard from Ft Bliss did a terrific job with a flag folding ceremony and presentation to John's daughter, Berit. All this was followed by many of the attendees driving some ten miles out of town to the John's brother Steve's ranch for the actual burial of the ashes.

To give you a feel for what it was like to be there, here are a few photographs taken along the way. Let me start with Sonny and I sharing a few moments at a local diner (this was actually one of those old metal buildings we all remember from the 50's and 60's that look a little like a railroad dinning car) as we waited for the scheduled time for the service to begin I'll let you figure out who is who. The next picture shows how our Class flag was incorporated into the service even though they were unable to find a pole and stand. I chose not to take other pictures during the service to avoid being disruptive.

Here we have a shot of the great food and brief social gathering in the Parish House (note our boy Sonny in the back and the Reverend Metzler holding the plate). The man Sonny is talking with is a high school classmate of John's who is also in another shot coming up.

These next two pictures will give you a feel for the professionalism of the honor guard from Ft. Bliss. On the table in the first picture is the container holding John's ashes. In the second picture, 2LT Lopez, Honor Guard Commander, is presenting the flag to John's daughter Berit. Directly behind them is the high school classmate I mentioned earlier and over Berit's right shoulder is her brother Cyrus

These next pictures were taken in the back yard of Steve's ranch. Reminiscent of the stories I heard about how thoroughly Harry Dermody had planned how he wanted things to go when his time came, John was also quite detailed in his instructions to his family and they were very careful to honor all his wishes. He had requested cremation and to have his ashes buried in the back yard at Steve's ranch. The first picture shows (from left to right) John's son Chris, his daughter Berit, his son Cyrus (holding the ashes), and his brother Steve. Next we see Cyrus, under the watchful eye of one of John's grandchildren, pouring a portion of the ashes in the hole they prepared earlier. Then we see Chris pouring a portion of the ashes with both of John's grandchildren watching. Standing by is the Reverend Metzler.

In his later years, John, apparently in a lifelong effort to broaden his horizons, embraced the study of many religions. In this pursuit he met and befriended a gentleman who is a self-proclaimed Shaman. I'm not sure how it works but he explained to me that he is a Shaman in both the country of India and with many Native American tribes. I'm afraid I didn't catch his last name (there was a bit of a language barrier) but he told me I could call him Alex. He was very gracious and made it a point to ask for permission from the family and the Reverend Metzler to perform a ritual which I think had something to do with appealing to the Indian Gods to accept John into their afterworld. He started by burning some incense type material on a rock placed on the now covered hole containing John's ashes. Here we see Alex appealing in prayer and then thrusting himself into a prostrate position where he would waft the smoke toward his face. He did this four or five times (a little rough on his suit) in a fascinating procedure. A few minutes later he came up on the deck where I was standing and proceeded to squat, jump, roll, split, and generally contort himself in ways I would never have expected from a man who I would have guessed to be in his late forty's or early fifty's. He surprised me so much that I didn't even get my camera out before it was over. Very impressive.

That concluded the activities at the ranch. However, I would like to add here the reminder of the John Anderson many of you knew back in the day.

Grip hands my friends as we say good bye to our friend John T. Anderson. On behalf of the entire Class of 1965 I wish to express our condolences to the family and to John - Be thou at Peace - Well Done!

Golf is Not Dead on the Left Coast

George Ruggles recently shared this great story which includes a nice picture (my favorite kind of story) which shows that there are still some of us out there hitting the little white ball around a goat pasture. George's story:

On Tuesday March 3, the gallery crowded around the Tenth tee at Desert Falls Country Club in Palm Desert, CA, to witness the start of the Class of '65 Invitational beginning on the back nine.  (Actually, it was one old geezer who's cart battery ran out.  Good thing it wasn't his pacemaker.)  Anyhow, two teams squared off, Ray Paske and Dave Thompson, (son of late classmate Mike), versus Bob (Ace) Bradley and George Ruggles.

Ray and Dave, both accomplished athletes, were confident from the start, and on paper looked to take the money.  But they play these games for a reason, and Bob and George overwhelmed the younger pair, coasting to victory, and the $4 each, on the last hole.

Always great fun to reconnect with old pals and meet new ones.  As the years pass by, we're ever more thankful we can even hit the little white ball with some degree of predictability.  I can recall gym class, practicing wedge shots on Trophy Point at 0800, whining and complaining, and Coach Joe Palone saying, "Some day you guys will pay money to do this."  Joe was right.

Indeed Joe was right about so many things including what was going to happen to my waistline.

The West Point Alumni Glee Club Returns Home

My technical supporter and frequent backup, Chuck Nichols, recently spent several days at Hogwarts on the Hudson and provided this terrific report. Don't miss the link to a 3 minute video of Glee Club in the Cadet Chapel.

The West Point Alumni Glee Club spent from Thursday through Sunday at our Rock Bound Highland Home sharing gloom period with the Cadets and changing the gloom to one bright, remember-able experience.  Forty-five glee club members made the trip, many with their significant other.  '65 was well represented by Jim Ferguson, Terry Ryan and me.  Terry and Jim were accompanied by their better half, Nancy and KarenElaine couldn't make the trip.  Pete Linn was also unable to attend.

Thursday evening started with the glee club eating in the mess hall with the Cadet Glee Club and singing "Eat, Drink and Beat Navy" from the poop deck to the assembled Corps.

The cadets really got into the spirit of the song.  Most of the old grads had a hard time grasping what had happened to the Corps.  It was Spirit Night and the cadets were in costume.  I didn't quite get what each class was supposed to wear but it was quite a mixture.  Thursday night is the only mandatory dinner meal the Cadets are required to attend and, of course, they no longer march to mess.  After the mess hall we did a short performance at the Thayer Hotel for their guests.

Friday was occupied with rehearsing for the performance that night.  I was unable to get pictures during the performance because I was back stage operating the video accompaniment for some singing skits by the Cadets and Alumni.  One of the skits was a takeoff on the Village People singing a contemporary version of "Army Blue" with our own Terry Ryan (left) and Jim Ferguson (center) playing the parts. Nancy Ryan composed and choreographed two of the skits.  I did get a picture of the assembled joint glee clubs during rehearsal. 

There was a reception after the performance for all the performers.  The 2015 Cadet Glee Club members and the 1965ers present assembled for a picture.  From left to right are Jim and Karen Ferguson, Terry and Nancy Ryan and Chuck Nichols.  

Sorry I didn't get the names of all the cadets.

Saturday most of the Alumni Glee Club went to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.  We had to hurry back from a delicious lunch there to sing the National Anthem at a basketball game against Lehigh followed by a hockey game against Holy Cross.

Sunday morning was Cadet Chapel and a joint performance with the Cadet Chapel Choir.  Even with the small number of alumni still remaining (many were concerned about the winter storm predicted for the East and left before the service) we greatly outnumbered the cadets (I think we even outnumbered the cadets attending the service as well now that Chapel is no longer mandatory).  I did record one of the songs in the service.  Please excuse the shaky start as I was not set up in time and missed the first note of the bugle.

All in all it was a wonderfun (new word) weekend, especially really getting to know better all the glee club members and spending the time with the cadets.  If any other classmates in the DC area are interested it still isn't too late to join in on the fun and camaraderie.

Chuck Nichols | Webmaster | USMA 1965 | 703.346.8611 (M)

Thank you Chuck, well done!

A Final Report from the 2014 Ring Melt

I thought the last message I sent out regarding the Ring Melt would wrap it up for now - Wrong! Jim (Swick) Thomaswick was kind enough to forward this great message from fellow alum Marie Lewis '04 and member of the AOG. She explains the process beautifully and I think this makes a much better way to wrap up the coverage of this year's Ring Melt. Do not miss the two links located toward the bottom of her comments, one to many more photos and one to a brief film clip of the event, both have many of our Classmates highlighted.
Dear Ring Donors, Class of 2015 and the West Point Leadership, Class of 1965, and fellow graduates-
I wanted to take the time today to touch base with everyone and thank all of you. 

Thank you to the donors for your gifts to the Class of 2015 and our future West Point graduates.  Thank you to those who were able to travel from near and far to Warwick, Rhode Island to be a part of the Ring Melt Ceremony.  And thank you for sharing the stories of your loved ones for us to remember and for the future grads to carry with them when wearing their Class Rings.

To the Class of 2015, thank you for your participation in the Ring Melt Ceremony and for representing your class with such poise, spirit, and appreciation for what this program means to everyone involved.  And thank you for your service and future service as leaders in today's military.  The rings that were melted down saw service in combat and within their communities representing the Long Gray Line.  You, soon, will make such an impact upon graduation and your rings will be with you throughout that time.

To the West Point Leadership, thank you for your leadership, mentorship, and guidance you provide not only to the cadets, but to the Academy.  Being able to take part in these special events with you continues to provide everyone involved a "look in" on today's Army and I'm so proud to work with you.

To the Class of 1965:  Thank you for showing us all how West Point's motto of "Duty, Honor, Country" guides your life and paves a path for your affiliate class of 2015 to follow.  Your class is now a tangible part of the Class of 2015.  Thank you for donating your bold molds of rolled gold.  It is a decision that does not come easily.
And lastly, to the graduates who took the time to take part in this ceremony and represent the families who were unable to make it - thank you.  Thank you for driving to Warwick, Rhode Island to honor those whose donated rings were placed into the crucible.  And thank you for taking the time while doing so, to take a moment to remember them and render a salute to their service.  I hope to see you all again and participate in this ceremony with you in the future.
With that, I wanted to take the time to share with all of you the current images and video our Communications and Marketing Department has put together.  Below are the excerpts from which they came along with the link to view the photos and video.
From the West Point Association of Graduates Facebook page:
[On Monday], the Long Gray Line strengthened at Pease & Curren Refinery in Warwick, Rhode Island. Cadets gathered alongside Grads and Family Members for the WPAOG Class Ring Memorial Program. The tradition continued as 29 donated rings along with gold from last year's ceremony were melted down to make rings for the Class of 2015. Check out photos from the ceremony here:
From the West Point Association of Graduates website:
The Golden Connection:  The 2014 Ring Melt:
I hope this finds you all safe home after your travels to, and from, Rhode Island.
Marie C. Lewis '04
Associate Director, Class and Membership Services
West Point Association of Graduates
698 Mills Road West Point, NY 10996
Direct Phone Line: 845.446.1563
Class Support: 845.446.1614
Thank you Marie for this great report.

Chris Needels to Be Inducted into the Skydiving HOF

Bob Frank found this brief note on one of those social media networks that I avoid like the plague. Bob reports that Dick Williams posted this:

I want my West Point, Class of 1965, classmates to know that Chris Needels has been selected for induction into the Skydiving Hall of Fame on October 10-11. Also my other another of my skydiving friends, Norm Heaton, will also be inducted into the HOF. Two well deserving significant contributors to the well-being of our sport. Congratulations guys. Blue Skies.

Thank you Bob and Dick and congratulations to Chris - Blue Skies indeed!

A Visit to Florida

Betsy Reed was kind enough to share this brief report of their recent trip to Florida (clearly needing a chance to get away from the rough winter in the north) where she and Howard visited with some Classmates and the widow of one of our fallen brothers. Her report:

Howard and I were in Florida in January and spent a few days in Venice with good friend Carol (John) Knowles. We had lunch near Tampa with Dorothy and Thom Powers who is actively involved in sports and in officiating. Dorothy is a volunteer at McDill's pharmacy. They looked great and we had a great time with all 3.  

That's Carol Knowles, and Howard and Betsy Reed in front of Carol's Florida home.

Thank you Betsy and Howard.

2014 Ring Melt - Another Report

My apologies for the delay in getting this report to you. The first attachment which is a copy of Dan Christman's speech in 1996 is a crucial part of the story and I had considerable difficulty getting it reduced to a size (electronically) that would not preclude many of you from receiving it. Finally, our technology Guru, Chuck Nichols, returned from a trip to our Rockbound Highland Home and was able to make the necessary reduction. Thank you Chuck.

Now to the story. John and Mary Kay Salomone saw a need to host a social gathering for those who planned to attend the actual melt, but were not included in the dinner (apparently sponsored by the foundry and the AOG) for those who actually contributed a ring (or in one case, a piece of a ring) to the actual melt. Here is John's report on the dinner he and Mary Kay hosted at their home in North Kingston, RI followed by photos of several attendees:

Had a wonderful time on Sunday evening with classmates and wives at our home in North Kingston RI.  Mary Kay made enough Italian food (and wine) to feed an army.  The following classmates were here:  Rick and Dagmar Kuzman, Jim and Carol Tomaswick, Linda and Mark Sheridan, Mary and Bob Frank, Maryann and Russ Campbell, Fred Smith.  Jose Sanchez, Joann Plotkin, Leslie Alger, and Jeanette and Bob Scully attended the donor's dinner first then came by the house for dessert.

This first shot includes, from left to right, Fred Smith, John Salomone, Bob Frank, Mary Frank, Linda Sheridan, Mark Sheridan (kneeling), Russ Campbell, Maryann Campbell, Dagmar Kuzman, Carol Tomaswick, Rick Kuzman, Jim Tomaswick. The second shot catches Mark Sheridan, John Salomone, and Jim Tomaswick looking very much like they may be getting ready to get into to some hanky panky (really, look at that smile on John).

Next we have Dagmar Kuzman and Fred Smith and then Bob Frank and Rick Kuzman (not quite as obvious but clearly up to no good). There is a lot of wine disappearing. 

Finally, Swick and John trying to get Russ Campbell to join them in their shenanigans.

Looks like it was a great party. Thank you John and Mary Kay for hosting it and for sharing these great photos.

Finally, the second attachment (also expertly reduced for my use by Chuck Nichols) provides a little more information (written by a professional) with some more great pictures.

Wow, this Ring Melt ceremony seems to have a life of its own. While working on this report I received another great report, forwarded to me by Jim Thomaswick, which came from the AOG. I will share it with you soon.

Finally Out of Uniform

I recently received this great report from Steve Bliss, the last of us to shed the uniform. Here is his report:

At the urging of my former roommate, Dave Kuhn, I am writing to report another milestone in the history of our class.

As you may recall, I was honored in absentia at our 45th reunion as being the last member of our class still in uniform.

Mark down January 17th 2014 as my last day to do so.

On that date, with Dave in attendance, I relinquished the Presidency of the Army and Navy Academy, Carlsbad CA to MG Art Bartell, USA (Retired).Here are two photos from the ceremony:

The Board of Trustees had also recently honored my 12 years of service by naming the Academy's newly constructed 800 seat athletic stadium, where the change of responsibility ceremony was held, after me during halftime of an October 2013 football game.

My wife and I have subsequently moved to the East coast and now live at The Landings on Skidaway Island in Savannah Georgia. Our doors are always open to all members of the Class of '65 and their spouses, etc.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone at the reunion next spring.

Best regards,

Thank you Steve - Well Done!

More Sad News

This has been a very sad week for Strength and Drive. I just learned from Bob Harter, who heard from Chuck Boohar, that last Wednesday we lost our dear friend John Anderson in a VA Hospital in Alpine, Texas. Bob Baldinger was quick to step up and take on the job of POC (Point of Contact) for the Class and the family. He will be providing information and scheduling of the service(s) following his preliminary contact with the family.

Sad News

Unfortunately, I have to, once again, perform the worst part of this job. I just received a message from Joe DeFrancisco that we have lost another Classmate. Here is Joe's message:

We have lost another classmate. Rance Rountree died peacefully at home early this morning after a long battle with numerous illnesses.  Ric Shinseki passed the sad news he had gotten directly from Rance's wife, Eileen. Ric had met Eileen when he visited his onetime roommate several months ago. Burial is being planned for this spring at West Point. Those wishing to contact Eileen may do so at 386-405-8103 or I'm confident details will follow.

I just got off the phone with Joe who, while a very busy guy, has volunteered to step up as an interim POC (Point Of Contact). He will be talking with Ric again soon to help me find a POC. Our Class roster shows Rance as having graduated with Company A-1, and currently living in Altamonte Springs, FL. If you knew Rance in school and/or live in the vicinity of Altamonte Springs, FL, please consider helping out by taking on the role of POC to help the family through this very difficult time. Please let me know if you can help out.

Grip Hands my friends

More Information on the "Ring Melt"

Bob Frank, our Class Historian has provided a magnificent report on the recent Ring Melt. I have inserted several pictures provided by Russ Campbell and Jose Sanchez to help give you a little better feel for what it was like to be there. Additionally, if you follow the link at the bottom of Bob's report, you will find many more pictures of the event.

In my previous report on the Ring Melt I referred to the "technician" who handled the actual melt process. I did this due to my lack of knowledge as to what to call him or who he was. Interestingly, Fred Smith shared a little more information about this gentleman. It turns out that his name is Hmong (I'll leave the pronunciation to you) and his grandfather fought with the Special Forces during the Vietnam War. What an interestingly small world we live in.

Here then is Bob's report:

The 2015 Class Officers gathered at Pease & Curren foundry in Warwick RI on 24 February 2014 to participate in the melt of 29 class rings donated to the West Point Association of Graduates.  The resulting gold ingot will be included in the gold from which the rings for the Class of 2015 will be cast.

The 14th Annual West Point Class Ring Memorial Melt is an AOG activity meant to ensure that donated Class rings become part, both physically and symbolically, of the heritage of those who are next to receive their class rings.  The importance of this connection was best laid out by Dan Christman in his 1997 "Superintendent's Letter." (Unfortunately, the copy of the "Superintendent's Letter" that I have is too big, electronically, to attach to this message so I will forward it later when I have had some help reducing its size)  Further info on the Ring Melt program is available on the WPAOG website.

Every year, AOG receives donations from families and individuals of rings worn by graduates from a range of classes.  This year, BG James O. Curtis, USMA '30 was the earliest graduate ring donated.  The youngest was that of John Moran, USMA '70.  Five rings along with a piece of a 6th ring were from the Class of 1965.  Three of our donors are still living.

Donor Bios     '65 Donors

The ceremony was conducted with solemnity, respect and grace.  A brief biography of each ring wearer appeared on the table in front of the 80 people in the room, including the AOG president, AOG staff, USCC representatives (Deputy Commandant, USCC Command Sergeant Major, Class of 2015 Advisor and Regimental Tactical Officer, and the 2015 OIC), along with donors, family members and Affiliation Class members and wives.  A cadet read selected portions of a bio, after which the donor or a graduate placed the ring in a crucible.  The Class of 1965 rings were placed by Leslie Alger (Alger), Fred Smith (Buckosky), Bob Scully (Metzner), Joann Plotkin (Plotkin), Bob Frank (Ruggles) and Joe Sanchez (Sanchez).  Mark Sheridan, John Salomone, Rick Kuzman, and Russ Campbell placed rings from other graduates whose donors could not be present.

One Class of 2015 CDT Ian Williams and Dr. James Williams '80 placed the ring of their grandfather and father, respectively, Dr. Robert M Williams, USMA '46 in the crucible.  It was connections such as this that brought home the meaning of the Long Gray Line to all present, but, in particular, to the 2015 Class officers.  It was noted also that George Ruggles' ring represented a special connection to the Class of 2015 because in his role as an Admissions Representative, he assisted two members of the 2015 to gain admission.  One of those was Cadet Hope Landsem, who is now the 2015 Class Secretary and participated in the Ring Melt activities!

At the conclusion of placement of the donated rings in the crucible, Cadet Will Goodwin, Class President added a sample of gold that contained gold from the previous 13 Ring Melts, totaling 293 previously donated rings.  This addition ensured that the Class of 2015 was not only connected to the 19 Classes represented through this year's donations but to Classes stretching back as far as 1898.

At the completion of the roll call, when all rings were in the crucible, all those present moved to the foundry floor to watch the crucible be lowered into a 2000 degree furnace for the actual melting.  After an hour, the molten gold was poured into a mold to form the ingot and to cool.  Slag was removed and the ingot was polished and then handed to the 2015 Class officers.  The ingot, weighing about 24 ounces, was later handed to the representative of Jostens, the company that will make the 2015 Class rings.  This was done back in the room where it all began.  The final words were spoken by Cadet Will Goodwin, 2015 Class President.  He thanked the donors, AOG, the Class of 1965, Pease & Curren, and others.  He drew on Dan Christman's letter, a copy of which had been provided by Joe Sanchez, to emphasize that the Class of 2015 understood the symbolic importance embodied by the Ring Melt and assured all that its meaning will be emphasized to his classmates. 

Photo 1     Photo 2     Photot 3     Photo 4     Photo 5

The Ring Melt itself was preceded the night before by an AOG "Donors Dinner."  In attendance from our Class were Leslie Alger and Joann Plotkin, accompanied by Jeanette and Bob Scully and Joe Sanchez.  Officers of the Class of 2015 also sat at the table, which allowed them to get to know more members of the Affiliation Class, and vice versa.  

The occasion also afforded other Class participants a chance to socialize the night before the Ring Melt at the home of Mary K. and John Salomone.  A casual gathering allowed for great food, great drink and great camaraderie.  You may note the many happy faces in the several photos that were taken.

And here we have Russ and Maryann Campbell admiring the final product.

This Affiliation event was a success on many levels.  The serious and meaningful purpose was accomplished with great effect.  The cadets remarked at their surprise at how emotional it was, not only for the donors, but for the cadets themselves.  The strong participation by the Class of 1965 demonstrated to the cadets and AOG how much our Class values its affiliation with the Class of 2015 and how beneficial is the Affiliation Program.  And for our own donors, this was an extraordinary event.  Both Leslie Alger and Joann Plotkin gained a sense of closure, as well as cherishing the support of our wives and Classmates before and after the Ring Melt.  Each Classmate present also got to place a ring, either from our Class or some other Class who could not be otherwise represented, into the crucible and render honors to all those departed.

In addition to pictures included here and in Jim Tomaswick's report, those interested in further photos can go to the AOG webpage for photos taken by the AOG communications folks.  Additionally, Cadet Ashley Phillips, the 2015 Class Historian, was kind enough to provide the Facebook link to photos she shot over the two day event:
Bob Frank
Class Historian
Class of 1965
Thank you Bob for this great report.


I just received a very nice report from Mike Lapolla who got together with Dave Bangert and Tad and Hiro Ono while visiting the one state that hasn't had below zero temperatures so far this winter. As is always the case when Tad is around, there seems to be plenty of wine. Hey guys, next time give me a picture which includes the ladies. Here is Mike's report:

Last week my wife and I visited Hawaii, and were invited to Class of 1965 I-1 company mate Dave Bangert's home for dinner. Dave also invited local residents Tad and Hiro Ono. The attached photo is left to right: Mike Lapolla, Dave Bangert and Tad Ono.
The dinner, and lanai setting overlooking Kailua's Enchanted Lake and Mount Olomana, was magnificent. Dave knows how to throw a dinner party. Photo was taken by Carol Lapolla. And yes, we cleared away a bunch of bottles before the photo - but we just couldn't get them all!
Dave had a very successful civilian career in engineering with several lengthy overseas projects. He also earned a PhD from Harvard and recently retired from the University of Hawaii. Tad had a successful Army career and has been involved in engineering consulting in Hawaii. I have recently retired from the University of Oklahoma. Life is good for all of us. See you at the 50th.
Mike Lapolla
2819 South Cincinnati Avenue
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74114
918-742-3503 (home)

Thank you for sharing this Mike.

Embracing the Cold

While most of the folks I send this to are struggling with what appears to be an endless winter with more cold than we have seen in years, our friends Paul and Neva Renschen, who live in Fairbanks, Alaska, just take this stuff in stride. Paul sent this brief report with two great pictures which show us just how cold and barren things can get:

I am feeling better so I am at it again. I have a ride to lead into the Tanana Flats this coming Saturday, so I organized a recon last Monday. I was looking for someone to go with me and ended up leading six of us into the Flats. It was a beautiful day. A little cold (about -20) when we started but it warmed up quickly. We are not supposed to have any sun on Saturday but it should be warmer.

Thank you Paul, it's always nice to hear from you.

Some Who Chose Armor

Gene Manghi, while going through an old Armor magazine from the mid-60's, found this item in the May-June 1965 issue. It's always fun to see photos from "back in the day".  Gene points out that not all who should have, received the notice of the photograph formation.

Thanks Gene, good stuff.

Ring Melt - After Action Report

I have been beating on those involved with the Ring Melt to make sure I got some information and photos to share and it paid off. Jim (Swick) Tomaswick came through with this great report and Fred Smith followed up with the photos below. Thank you gentlemen, I appreciate your efforts. Swick writes:

The event started on Sunday night.  Those classmates and family who were donating rings attended a dinner at the Pease and Curren foundry in Warwick, RI.  The others attending from "Strength and Drive" had a fabulous dinner hosted by John and Mary K. Salomone at their home in North Kingstown, RI.

Attending the ring melt ceremony on Monday from USMA '65 were:
Leslie Alger and Joann Plotkin - Both donating rings of their husbands
Other classmates and spouses attending were: Russ and Maryann Campbell, Bob and Mary Frank, Rick and Dagmar Kuzman, John and Mary K. Salomone, Joe Sanchez, Bob and Jeanette Scully, Mark and Linda Sheridan, Fred Smith, and Jim and Carol Tomaswick.

We had 5 rings and a piece of ring from the Class of 1965 in the melt.  The five rings came from John Alger, Jerry Buckosky, Ladd Metzner, Karl Plotkin, and George Ruggles.  The piece of ring was donated by Joe Sanchez.  As you know, John, Ladd and Karl are deceased.

Each of the 29 rings being donated was placed in the crucible by a family member or a West Point graduate.  Because some of the ring donor's representatives could not be present, those rings were placed by former graduates.  Note:  The Class of 1965 was honored by having each of us in attendance place such a ring into the crucible. 

After the ring placement ceremony, the crucible was taken to the furnace room and we all watched as they melted the rings.  After the melt, they presented the Class of 2015 with the ingot of gold that would eventually go into their rings.

As noted in a booklet provided by the foundry, they extract "The Sample" from the ingot of melted rings.  This sample is added to the melt the following year to insure that part of our classmate's rings will be included in the rings of future generations of West Point graduates.

The Class of 2015 leadership was visibly moved and very pleased that they would carry in their rings the gold of the Class of 1965.  They did an outstanding job of representing their class and the Academy.

Particular kudos go to Marie Lewis '04 and Jo Ann Shipley of AOG who organized the event and insured a flawless ceremony.

Following the melt, John and Mary K had us all back to their house for lunch.  We cannot thank them enough for the terrific food and their devotion to the Class of '65.

And here are a few of the photos shared by Fred Smith. First, we have the biographies of the five Classmates whose rings were included in the melt. Next the crucible used in the process as the Cadets in attendance look on.

Here is the technician who conducted the melt and the kiln used, and then the actual pour.

Finally, the ingot from which "The Sample" will be extracted for inclusion in future melts. Small, but very meaningful.

All in all, a very meaningful ceremony with sentimental connections for the many involved. Thank you all for this terrific report.

Grip Hands for Patrick J. (Pat) Donovan

While this information has been shared by the AOG, I found that the note I received from John Pickler to be far more moving and well written.

Company D-2 and other USMA classmates and friends,

I regret to inform you that our dear Company D-2 friend and USMA classmate, Patrick J. (Pat) Donovan, passed away on June 4, 2004, and is buried in Center Cemetery in Pembroke, MA.  This sad news was discovered as we were seeking information concerning Pat and his family so that they would be included in our upcoming 50th Reunion.  Born on August 26, 1941, Pat was 62 years old when he died.

In the past two days, George Ruggles and I have each spoken to Pat's widow, Julianne ("Julie") Donovan, and expressed our sincere sympathy and heartfelt condolences at Pat's passing.  George has offered to take the lead for the preparation of the Memorial Article for Pat to be included in the TAPS magazine, and Julie agreed to help George with the completion of that article. 

I told Julie that we would ensure the she has the information from our 50th Reunion Committee in the event that she, their two daughters, and other family members decide that they would like to attend our 50th Reunion.  In that regard, I pledged her our support for whatever she needs and gave her my contact information.

Julie continues to live in their family home in Pembroke, MA, and her address is:

Julianne Donovan
12 Clare Terrace
Pembroke, MA  02359-3308

Please keep Julie, their two daughters, and the Donovan family in your thoughts and prayers. 

Strength & Drive, '65!  John     
John M. Pickler
1923 Pointe Barton Drive
Lebanon, TN  37087-9053
Home:  (615) 453-5499
Cell:     (615) 416-1835

As has become my habit at the passing of our dear Classmates, I would like to share here Pat's Class photo and the brief bio from our '65 Howitzer:

Rest in Peace our dear Brother.

Another Great PMEE Update

Once again, Paul Schultz has come through with a terrific report on the PMEE program. Please focus on his last paragraph where he points out the need for more folks to participate and make the final PMEE session for this year the best yet. The program is clearly accomplishing its goal and the Cadets are learning. Also note, toward the end of the report, the comments of one of the Cadets to one of our Classmates - good stuff:

At the start of "Burning Grief" leadership Challenge, the Firstie Platoon Leader asked everyone in the Platoon to put themselves in the shoes of the young Lieutenant Platoon Leader who was going to be on the video.  Every cadet in the Classroom really watched and listened as the Lieutenant described a night patrol which experienced multiple IEDs and what happened afterward, and his own actions during and after the patrol as he dealt with death of his Platoon Sergeant and multiple people with wounds, plus the fallout from his platoons' grief and anger.

Class room participants commented throughout the video as to what the young Lieutenant did right or wrong - and this was before the breakout discussions.  The cadet response that day told me PMEE has really progressed from its earlier days.  The Firstie Platoon Leader and the 5 Firstie table facilitators were well prepared and ready to take the lead in the discussions which followed. Leadership challenges have no "school solutions", and often raise more questions than they answer.  

As the second year of the leadership challenges program comes to a close, it is amazing to me the transformation of the cadets who are now really leading the program. The program itself is being considered by other schools (the other Academies and also several other of the more elite schools), since no other school to my knowledge has such a program.  There was also discussion this time that portions of this program are being considered for as an addition to other
officer training/career schools.

It's a real pleasure to have been there when it started to get off the ground, and also to witness the impact the Class of 1965 participation and input had on the entire program.   

We had ten volunteer participants this time, with three others having to drop out for last minute medical problems.  The Class participant picture is attached. The young Major (Graham Davidson) standing with us has been one of the real founders and drivers of the program  as it is today.  He rotates at the end of the semester, and we are planning to give him a real "Thank you" at the last session March 31, 2014.

This February Class was the  first time another class (1966) really topped our participation, with 20 volunteers. We really do need to check our calendars and book March 31st for participation of as many people as possible. The kind of Cadet thanks you'll get is best summarized by an email received by one classmate the day after the February Session:

"On behalf of Company I-3 'Icemen', I sincerely thank you for taking time out of your already busy schedule to continue to build the connection with not only the Class of 2015, but the Corps of Cadets at large. Not every day do we get an opportunity to exchange stories, build relationships, and reach out to the long gray line as we've done today.

I have received a great deal of comments from those in my platoon about how wonderful it was for you to join us as a facilitator and mentor during the Leader's Challenge Seminar. Your perspective, wisdom, and experience sparked much conversation and provided a great deal of insight for the cadets.

I look forward to keeping in contact with you and reaching out to you again either as a cadet or as a young officer down the road."
The last PMEE for this semester is March 31, 2014.   There are 144 Cadet Platoons waiting for a mentor volunteer. Take the time and reserve your place by emailing Paul Schultz as soon as you can. His contact information is below. 
Phone                203-731-3571     Office
                        203-778-9164     Home
                        203-919-5600     Cell                 
Paul Schultz
Class of 1965 POC

Paul was also able to share some photos which always make a report more interesting. Paul credits Jim Wood with these photos - Thank you Jim.
First we have the whole gang in the Haig Room (L to R - Dan Donaghy, Jack Koletty, Rollie Stichweh, Paul Schultz, Bob Frank, Jim Wood, Jose Sanchez, George Gehringer {behind Sanchez}, Russ Campbell, and Dick Smoke. George, you need to see the camera so it can see you - don't be bashful.

Just in case anyone forgot what the Hudson can look like during gloom period, here is a reminder of winter at our Rockbound Highland Home.

And finally, Russ Campbell, Jim Wood, and Paul Schultz preparing to enter building for the afternoon review Session.

Thank you Paul and Jim for a great report and to all who participated. Now let's get many more for the final session of this academic year.

Ireland Anyone?

Ralph Adams has provided some very interesting information regarding a trip being put together for late summer of this year or alternatively, right after our 50th Reunion to accommodate those coming from the left coast (who will already have traveled 3000 miles in the direction of this trip). He gave me freedom to edit or disclaim any part of his message so I will disclaim any connection with or profit from any part of this adventure (Lord knows I tried but didn't get squat) so basically, I'm sharing this information as a service to those who might be interested in getting more information and/or possibly taking the trip. Attached are some specific details and below are Ralph's comments:

"This is an interest survey for our class."
Strength and Drive family,
You don't need to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick's Day or to enjoy a 'family' get together in Ireland next summer.  Mike Healy, Class of '69, has put together a travel package that is an outstanding opportunity. John and Susan  Swensson, Chuck and Rosemary McClosky, and Tom and Karin Henneberry formed up for a recon patrol in 2013 and have provided a glowing after action report. For more information about the trip, please see Mike's attached briefing and click on the link to his web site at the foot of this message.
This is a great way to enjoy or renew old friendships and make new ones. I recall fondly several golf weekends that I have made with our Class, and how special they were. The recon patrol reports that there are beautiful golf courses in the Emerald Isles, and I suspect that we could find a few foursomes. The report also notes outstanding shopping and site seeing for non-golfers.
The week of 31 August 2014 is available for our class. Here is a link to the web page. Learn more and if it works for you, let Mike or me know if you are interested. Also, consider waiting until 2015 and scheduling this trip as an extension of our 50th reunion. For those of us on the left coast, we're half-way there.
Ralph Adams

Thanks Ralph, it sounds like a great trip and as always I will ask that anyone who decides to go please be kind enough to share some stories and photos with your Scribe. By the way, I took a similar trip many years ago and took the opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone. I recommend that you visit the castle but avoid the kiss, it's pretty hard to get to and very disgusting after thousands of kisses over the years.

Gary Steele - 1st African-American to Play Varsity Football at West Point

As I've mentioned a few times before, I try to keep these Class Notes focused on our Class. However, from time to time things pop up that are very interesting, but lack the focus I like to strive for. Denny Coll's son Gavin sent him such piece and I've chosen to share it because I found it interesting and that's frequently the standard I use to determine if some of you might also be interested. The piece is a brief commentary about her father by Sage Steele (daughter of Gary Steel) with some old film clips of footballs games.  As Denny put it:

Gary Steele effectively broke the color barrier at the US Military Academy, becoming the 1st African-American to play varsity football at West Point.

Look closely and you'll see our boy "Rollie" in some of the clips. Sorry that you have to sit through a brief ad to get to the actual story, enjoy:

Thanks Denny.

Tommy Thompson - Future Hall of Famer

Tommy Thompson shared this great article which, I'm guessing, came from the Princeville (The Garden Island) newspaper in Kauai, Hawaii. Tommy did point out, however, that he wasn't comfortable with the comment, "graduated with academic honors from West Point", which appears in the final paragraph. He shared that he doesn't think that 310 or thereabouts qualifies as an academic honor. As he put it, he made the dean's list plebe year and that was before he spiraled into academic mediocrity. A great honor none the less - well done Tommy and a great photo of you in fighting form.

Sometimes it takes a while to be recognized for the Strength and Drive we had way back when.

Remembering Ranger School

I guess I'm the third in the chain and I'm making all of you the fourth. Jim Tomaswick (Swick) sent this photo to Pete Lounsbury who sent it on to me. I'm sharing it in pretty large scale with the hope that you will be able to see the faces. I'm also sharing two versions, one as presented to me and one with a little sharpening added. I hope one of them allows you to pick out your friends. The dates below should help you determine which Class it was (not mine) but it is very difficult to make out individuals. Pete points out that the most surprising thing about the photo is that most are smiling. Enjoy!

Thanks Swick and Pete.

P.S. You can see pictures of the three Ranger Classes that included everyone (I think) from '65 by clicking here.

Another Great Visit in the Valley of the Sun

My good friend Frank Hennessee and his wife Cam were kind enough to orchestrate a mini Gathering of Classmates to welcome Gill and Virginia Curl to the Valley of the Sun. While they reached out to many, the shortness of notice and busy schedules of many resulted in a nice group of six to enjoy lunch and camaraderie at the clubhouse in the community where the Hennesseys and Bunns live. Since your Scribe tries not to go anywhere without the camera, here are a few shots to help you get a feel for the good time enjoyed by all of us as we remembered the glorious past and solved many of the problems of today's world. Here we have Cam Hennessee on the left and our special guests, Gill and Virginia Curl on the right.

Moving around the table we see Cam, Gill, Virginia, and Ron (Chops) Walter (unfortunately, Janice was traveling and unable to join him and keep him under control).

This shot brings us full circle because you've seen enough pictures of me and my bride had to stay home to nurse a bug that has had her under the weather for almost three weeks. This brings us around to our host, Frank Hennessee (he even picked up the tab - my kind of guy).

As we began to wind down the festivities, I suggested that each couple stand by the adjacent wall for a picture as a couple just for the record. Here we have Gill and Virginia (Left) and then Frank and Cam (Right):

Unfortunately, my request to have folks stand by the wall for a parting shot, was misunderstood by one of our number (there's always that 2%), so here we have Chops preparing to be checked for documentation.

Thank you Frank, for putting this together, it was great!

A Speech that Matters

At the recommendation (with which I heartily agree) of Clair Gill, our Class President, I am pleased to share the opportunity for you to read the excellent speech, titled "A Sailor's Perspective on the United States Army", presented by Admiral William H. McRaven to our affiliation class of 2015 at their recent 500th Night celebration. Chuck Nichols has posted it on our webpage as an addition to the 500th night posting on the 2015 Affiliation Activities page. However, for your convenience, here is a link that will take you directly to the speech:

Welcome Home

I just received this from Ted Kleinmaier. I was about to tell him that I don't normally share information that does not in some way relate directly to our Class and then I took a few minutes to watch the video and realized that the story does, in fact relate to almost all of us. I saw the Budweiser commercial on TV during the super bowl as most did, but when you see this entire (it's only about 5 minutes long) video you will see that it is basically a message of appreciation to all veterans and clearly shows how attitudes in this country have changed since you and I came home from Viet Nam and other service.
Thank you Budweiser for sharing this story with all of us. I have found it very rewarding to say "welcome home" to anyone I see wearing a Viet Nam Veteran hat. And, given the strong ties I feel with all of you, let me say a very sincere, albeit late, "welcome home" to all of you. Please enjoy this video as we forgive the sometimes harsh reception we encountered way back then and applaud the almost universal spirit of appreciation currently encountered by all veterans. As the last line in the video says, "Every soldier deserves a Hero's welcome":

Getting to Some of the Terrific Stuff on Our Webpage

By now most of you have had a chance to see the announcement I shared regarding Buddy Bucha being selected to receive the Distinguished Graduate Award (DGA). Some have received it as many as four times because there were complications having to do with the amazing pictures that went along with the report. In case you still haven't seen it, our technology guru (Chuck Nichols) has posted it to our webpage. In the "Class Notes" which can be found at the top of the dropdown list which will appear when you simply hold your curser over the "Class Poop" item on the home page.

Additionally, Chuck has posted a terrific interview with Buddy which has become a part of the Center for Oral History (COH). Should you decide to spend a little time listening to this interview or any of several others with some of our outstanding Classmates, there are two ways to get to them. Always available is to go to our webpage (, when the page opens, put your curser over "Class Poop" which will cause a dropdown list to appear, from which you should select "Class News and Information". This will bring you to numerous items of interest to all Classmates. Go down (currently three items) to the item titled "Classmates Oral History". Within the brief paragraph you will see five items that are highlighted in blue print and underlined. The first is Buddy's interview which is followed by two interviews with Dan Christman, and one each with Bobby Jones and Russ Campbell. When you select one by putting your curser over the highlighted name, click on the arrow in the middle of the frame which will appear to start the video. Here is a shortcut which Chuck Nichols has provided to bypass some of the above steps ( This will take you directly to the "Class News and Information" page.

Please forgive my going into such detail, but we have some Classmates who have not yet had the opportunity to hone their computer skills.

These interviews are not real short, but I can assure you that the time you spend listening to them will be considered time well spent. Sure beats some of the TV that's out there these days.

Buddy Bucha - Distinguished Graduate Award

On behalf of our amazing Class, it is my honor and privilege to announce the selection of our own Buddy Bucha to be a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Military Academy. For those of you who haven't yet seen the release of this great news by the Association of Graduates, earlier today, the attachment contains their announcement.

Our Class President, Clair Gill, had some very nice words to share which I would like to use as an introduction to this report:


It has just been announced by the West Point Association of Graduates that our Classmate, Paul W. "Buddy" Bucha has been selected as a Distinguished Graduate of the Military Academy, with honors to be bestowed this coming May 20th on the Plain and following the parade, in Washington Hall.

Speaking for the Class, I cannot express adequately how proud we are of Buddy and his enormous contributions to our Alma Mater and all Service Academies, serving men and women in the Armed Forces, and to our veterans.  While all of his efforts have been totally selfless, I must admit that most of them were largely unseen until our Class chose to nominate him for this high honor. Buddy is just that kind of a leader - serving quietly but effectively and with no expectation of recognition.  Simply put, he makes us proud to be his Classmate.

There are a number of individuals who assisted in developing the compelling narrative and support for Buddy's nomination, but I would like to single out the author (and grammarian), Bill Birdseye, along with John Howell, our indefatigable operator and researcher who cajoled a dozen or so very busy persons of stature to support the nomination with hard-hitting personal testimonials.

Please join me in congratulating Buddy Bucha in his receipt of this richly deserved recognition, and stay tuned for details of the May ceremonies to which you will all be invited.

Strength and Drive.

Clair Gill
Class President

I'd like to add here that when Clair mentioned testimonials from "very busy persons of stature", he wasn't kidding. Several of them could be seen on television last night during the State of the Union address. While most of this report focuses on Buddy's Medal of Honor, please understand that the Distinguished Graduate Award is being presented because of his entire career of selfless service to his fellow servicemen, all branches of the military, and our nation.

As I was preparing this report, I contacted Buddy for some help with a few photos (I'm big on photos to supplement and enrich a story) and he came through with flying colors. Let me start by sharing a great picture that shows Buddy as we knew him back in the day:

One very serious looking dude for sure. Next there are two photos with a very interesting story. The morning after the battle, during which Buddy's actions earned him the Medal of Honor, several pictures were taken. The first one, which was chosen by the CG of the 101st because it shows an Airborne Ranger in what was considered an appropriate combat situation, was taken just seconds before the second one which was rejected because it was considered inappropriate to show such a soldier and leader crying. As it turns out the second picture was taken at the moment six of Buddy's men, KIA, were brought up on stretchers. Buddy explains that he was not embarrassed by the photo, instead it became, for him, the basis of his own need for accountability and his commitment to spend an average of one day per week with veterans or troops anywhere.

Next we have a couple of pictures taken the day he was presentation of the Medal of Honor. First the official photo taken with the USMA Color Guard and a great individual shot. As you can imagine photographs were the order of the day.

Then we move to two more photos taken a little further down the road (note the hair is just a tad lighter).

While he's not big on talking about himself, I was able to talk him into sharing this very telling comment about his reaction to the upcoming presentation of the Distinguished Graduate Award:

When a young officer in the class of '82 first asked if I would mind were his class to nominate me for the Distinguished Graduate Award, I was very surprised and humbled, but suggested they focus on one of their own given all that his class had experienced.  As time passed, I became aware that the initiative had not faded away as I had thought.  So when I was told by John Howell that he was working on the nomination with several other Classmates and merely needed the names of a few friends, I was truly moved. In these things, it is not receiving the actual award, the medal or the honor that is so moving, but rather the fact that so many truly good people believe that you are worthy of the honor in the first place.  That is to me the greatest honor of all.    I cannot think of anything more humbling than to have been nominated by your peers and selected by them to be included among those they call "friend."


Thank you Buddy, for these comments, and for being one of my most significant sources of pride in this amazing Band of Brothers we call "Strength and Drive".

500th Night

Bob Frank just sent me this information regarding the 500th Night for our Affiliation Class of 2015. Bob pointed out that Roger Frydrychowski provided background information, which you can read at the beginning of the article, to Cadet Will Goodwin who made a speech at the event. Cadet Goodwin's note to Bob said, "Sir, 500th Night was a great success, the Public Affairs article highlights a couple of parts from my speech drawing on the connection with 1965" - .

Bob also shared a note (suggesting that it not be included here - but I feel strongly that what he said is very true so I chose to share it anyway - sorry Bob), "These 'kids' are ready to shoulder the responsibilities of command that will soon be thrust upon them. They will make us proud!"

Additionally, Chuck Nichols has posted this PR release on our webpage under 2015 Affiliation > Affiliation Activities.

Another Winter at The Rock

I recently shared the story of watching the Army/Navy game with Ron Walter and Ed Hill. Here is a photo (yea, I love to put photos with my stories) from that story with Ron on the left, Moi in the center and Ed Hill on the right.

Ed just sent me this photo which I enjoyed so I thought many of you might as well. The question was asked, "Why are the athletic fields green, are they heated?" My guess is that they were covered when it started snowing and the cover was removed when the snow stopped falling. Regardless, it's a great shot of Hogwarts on the Hudson in the gloom of heavy winter.

Let's Rebuild the Goal Posts

I just received a novel idea from Tom Kovach who is obviously pulling out all the stops as he and his wife Marilyn work for us to make our 50th Reunion the best ever. In a separate story, I recently shared a picture which contained a piece of the goal post from the best football game I can remember - the 1964 win over Navy. I'll share it here to help you remember what Tom is referring to in his message to the Class which follows:

Recently, Rick Charles shared a photo that included a piece of one of the goal posts from our great victory over Navy in 1964.  Then Rich Leary posed an idea for a 50th Reunion activity that would focus on the goal posts from that game.  Rich also has a piece of a goal post.
So, who else has a piece?  If you have a piece, or know someone who has a piece, please e-mail Rich and provide him with the details.  Rich's e-mail address is
After we consolidate responses, we'll determine what type of activity might be appropriate.  It might be a "Reunion of the goal posts at our 50th Reunion."
So far, we are aware of the following owners of pieces:
- Rick Charles
- Rich Leary
- Larry Leskovjan
- the current Supe, LTG Bob Caslen, '75 (he was given a piece by someone; Rollie Stichweh has seen it at Quarters 100 and suggested to Rich to reunite his piece with the Supe's piece in a photo-op; Rich's idea has taken Rollie's suggestion to the next higher level)
Open question:  Were both goal posts torn down?  Probably "yes."  If you have a piece, do you know from which goal post it came?  Let Rich know.
Depending on the level of response, we might then poll the Classes of '66, '67 and '68 to find owners in their ranks.
Let's reunite the goal posts!
Go Army!
Tom Kovach
50th Reunion Committee

Sounds like an interesting project. I will be interested to see how many responses we get.

Welcome to the Valley of the Sun

John and Susan Swensson came to Phoenix from the Bay Area for, among other things, the famous Barrett Jackson Car Show and Auction driving the most beautiful Jaguar sedan you ever saw. Because he was nice enough to let us know ahead of time we (the Walters, the Hennessees, and the Bunns) made it a point to put a dinner together at one of the centrally located bistros in Scottsdale. Here are a few random shots taken around the table:

First we have John, Ron, and Frank at one end of the table.

Then we have Janice, Donna, and Susan at the other end of the table.

Next  (photo left) are Donna, Susan, Cam, and John on his cell phone, followed by Cam, John, Ron, and Frank. Obviously, a good time was being had by all. Finally, we have the almost obligatory group shot with Donna, Janice, John, Ron, Moi, Frank, Cam, and Susan. Note the bags being held by several, Maggiano's had a terrific special where you buy one pasta dinner to enjoy and take a second one home for a later day.

It was great to see everyone again and we all spoke of plans to get together again down the road and, of course, at the 50th.

Legacy Project

 About a month and a half ago I shared a great story regarding the TV Documentary, "Marching On - 1963 Army/Navy Remembered". It turned out that the son (Bart) of one of the giants of our Class (Bill Zadel) had responded to my request with a couple of photos and some memories of his father. That response is shared below and I'll explain why as I proceed. It turns out that another giant of our Class (he feels that his name has been included too many times recently to make him comfortable - so I will just say "this guy") came to me with a suggestion inspired by the response Bart provided. This guy points out that there must be dozens of offspring out there who would enjoy the opportunity to share their thoughts and hopefully some pictures of earlier years with their dads.
In return for providing this information to me (and permitting me to share it with the Class), they would get the opportunity to receive much more information about their dad from Classmates who had known the dad at school or served with him or otherwise knew about him.
I'm addressing this mostly to the wives because I'm sure they will know the best way get to the offspring with a request to do this and would probably be the most persuasive at getting them to take the small amount of time it would require to honor their dad in this special way. This is intended to include the offspring of all of our Classmates both living and passed. I like this idea and I'm curious to see what kind of response I get to this request. My hope is that I will receive several responses which I would then file and share periodically on a first-come-first-shared basis. In order to make this as easy as possible for any offspring willing to honor their father in this way I provide the following guidelines:
·         Keep your comments fairly brief - one, two or three paragraphs would be best.
·         Tell what makes your dad special
·         Provide pictures if possible and be sure to explain them using the standard - who, what, when, where, why, or how.
·         Be sure to share your e-mail address so others can get in touch with you.
Below is the story that inspired this idea to use as an example but by no means should you limit yourself - let me know what you feel!

Dear Mr. Bunn,

It was a pleasure speaking with you. As you requested, I have attached a picture of my dad and I. I'm afraid I could not find a picture of Rollie Stichweh and my father.

I did, however attach a picture from a trip to Las Vegas with some of the Class of 65; John Seymour, his son Matt and his brother Rick, Dennis Lewis, his son Dennis and his brother Carter, my dad, myself, and my brother David, Bob Jones, Don Parcells, Tim Vogel, and Chuck Shaw. I'm afraid you're on your own to figure out who is who, some are obvious, some, not so much.

 I always enjoyed spending time with my dad and his Classmates. They obviously had a good time together. I always admired the humor, intelligence, and confident ease with which these men of different backgrounds could fall right back in to such a familiar camaraderie.

My dad was very proud to have been an Army football player and West Point's win over Navy in 1964 was one of his proudest moments. It was such a privilege to hear so many first-hand accounts of the 1963 game during the wonderful TV special CBS produced. I am sad that my dad, and so many of his classmates, were not around to have seen it. I will show it to my boys and tell them to keep their eyes open for number 76 and be proud their Pappy played alongside so many exceptional men in such a historic game at so critical a time in American history.


 Bart Zadel

Thank you Bart. What a pleasure to receive this from you. The Class of 1965 is a unique Band of Brothers - you have helped renew fond memories of one of our greats!

OK ladies, that's it. Can you help me create a Legacy File that will be available to share with the Class just how special some of our Classmates have been to their kids?

Ring Melt

What better way to symbolically tie our Class with our Affiliation Class of 2015, than to have a little bit of the gold in their treasured rings be that of the melted down rings of some of our own. The melting of the rings for this purpose has become an annual event and this year it is even more significant because it is the year that the melt will go into the rings for the Class of 2015. I'm told that, to date, 294 rings have been donated and melted.  Currently, there are 23 rings for this year's Ring Melt three of which are from rings previously worn by our Classmates.
Pat Kenny has once again stepped up to organize and coordinate the event for our Class and Bob Frank has been designated to represent the Class. Much information (mostly provided by Pat) has been shared within the Leadership Team and Bob has kindly condensed it into this report:
Plans are set for the ring melt for our Affiliation Class's rings, which will take place in Rhode Island on 24 February.  In anticipation of this event, our Class President included a suggestion to Classmates in his October 2013 letter that any Next of Kin be encouraged to consider donating the 1965 ring at this time.  While the response was limited, I am happy to announce the 2015 rings will include gold from Ladd Metzger's ring, Karl Plotkin's ring and George Ruggles' ring.  Joann Plotkin will make the donation of Karl's ring at the Pease & Curren Refinery in Warwick RI. 
AOG has invited a limited number of STRENGTH AND DRIVE to witness the ceremony.  Bob Frank has been designated to represent the Class, but others are encouraged to attend in honor of our Classmates, support to Joann Plotkin, and in honor of the Class of 2015.  Please let Pat Kenny ( know of your interest in participating.  Also, be aware that John and Mary K. Salomone will host a dinner on Sunday night at their house for those who might be in the area that night.  Please let Mary K. ( know if you plan to attend.
SOME HELPFUL BACKGROUND:   Starting with the Bicentennial Class of 2002, USMA Class Rings which have been donated to the WPAOG for inclusion into the gold used to make rings of the rising First Class, have been melted at the Pease & Curren Refinery in Warwick, RI.  Donors, families, local graduates, cadets, USCC, and WPAOG are invited to attend.  The inclusion of the old gold into the new rings symbolizes the connection of all those in The Long Gray Line.  This relatively new event is meant specifically to convey to those receiving rings at the beginning of their First Class year of the support and expectations of those who have gone before.  The inclusion of gold from our Classmates is particularly important as it underscores our involvement with the Class of 2015 over the last three years, and anticipates the culmination of their time at West Point coincidentally with our 50th Reunion.  It also holds out the promise that we will be there in the future to support the members of 2015 after graduation.
Attached is the formal invitation should anyone else be interested in joining for this ceremony. I have asked Bob to provide pictures of the event for those of us unable to attend.

Yet Another B-Robe Story

his has really turned out to be some fun. I'm not sure who, way back in the history of our beloved institution, came up with the idea of allowing us the opportunity to personalize a piece of our clothing this way, but my hat's off to him. It gave each of us a little way to say, "This is me and this is what I like and think is of interest", while all our other clothing went so far in the other direction making us appear as one. I never thought of that as bad, but looking back the personalization of the B-Robe feels like a much more important part of our development than I had thought.

Here we have one more contribution. This time from Ed Armstrong:

I can't stay out of the B-Robe challenge. I am particularly proud of my Officer In Charge thingy that I "borrowed" in the middle of the night by doing the low crawl along the roof of the stoops in Central Area then traversing the stone wall and into the little OIC office. Most of the decorations are from my high school letter jacket and my dad's WWII ribbons (including three Silver Stars and three Purple Hearts), patches, armor insignia and silver first lieutenant bars. Also added all the cordage and buttons from an old dress coat. I used all the thread out of six sewing kits. A few items were scavenged by my granddaughters.  I have lost my parka as well as a Navy parka and B-robe but I still have a red Air Force B-Robe which is pitiful compared to ours.

Ed Armstrong

Thank you Ed. Another, very nice addition, to our continuing series on our treasured B-Robes.

A Rare "Twofer"

Terry Ryan sent me two terrific massages which I will share here together. First we have a nice piece about the continued use of the old B-Robe. As you may know Terry works tirelessly with the West Point Alumni Glee Club (WPAGC). Here he shares the fact that he incorporates his old B-Robe (and apparently the old tar bucket sans the plume) into the performance. Here is his report:

Since you have published some articles about parkas and B robes, I thought I'd take this opportunity to let you know that I may be one of only a few who still uses his robe.  Although the garment has long ago taken on a magenta hue, it often appears, coincidentally, when the "Old Grad" appears at a West Point Alumni Glee Club (WPAGC) concert.   The picture is from a concert at Lake of the Woods near Fredericksburg during our presentation of the West Point Fight Song Medley.

Speaking of Glee Clubs, this is an opportunity to inform the class that at 7 pm on February 28, 2014, in Eisenhower Hall, the Cadet Glee Club and the West Point Alumni Glee Club will present the first ever joint concert at the academy.  It is open to the public so all are welcome.  And in another first, the WPAGC will serenade the Corps of Cadets from the "poop" deck at the mandatory dinner on February 27, 2014.  AND if you haven't had enough yet, we will be singing at the Cadet Chapel service on Sunday morning, 10:30 am, March 2, 2014.

Terry's second message has to do with the Kennedy Center Honors:

Some may have seen the Kennedy Center Honors show that was aired on December 29, 2013.  The show honors five artists, one of whom this year was Billy Joel.  What you may not know is that Strength and Drive was represented in that show by our very own Steve Ammon and he was in uniform.

In late November I was contacted by a producer for the show who was trying to locate Viet Nam veterans to participate in the show in the tribute to Billy Joel.  The West Point Alumni Glee Club was able to provide three guys to appear (McNerney '59, Gatlin '68 and Leonard '70).  Since they wanted fifty vets, we put out the call through the West Point Society of DC as well.  When I watched the show, I thought I recognized Steve in the back row near a marine in uniform.  Sure enough when I called Steve to ask him, he admitted to participating to honor our generation of warriors.

The Viet Nam vet portion of the tribute to Billy Joel was via his song, "Goodnight Saigon," sung by Garth Brooks and then joined in the chorus by Steve and the other veterans.  It received a standing ovation.  Thanks Steve for helping welcome all of us home!

Terrance C. Ryan PhD PE
Executive Director
Engineers and Surveyors Institute
(703) 263-2232

Thank you Terry, it's always great to hear of the comings and goings of the WPAGC.

Shifting from Parkas to B-Robes

I mentioned earlier that the stories about parkas had taken on a life of their and now I have two more stories about B-Robes which are fun to share. Chuck Moseley has shared these comments about how his B-Robe came to look like it does:

Thought you might find this of interest!  I found my B Robe, Navy B Robe (from 11-8 victory in 1964) and Army and Navy Parkas - all have shrunk dramatically while in storage! 

Story behind the robe: My Dad retired as the G1 in the Surgeon General's office but he was stationed several times at Walter Reed where I would visit the Tailor Shop as a young lad and police up discarded shoulder patches.

At the beginning of our yearling year, my mother lovingly sewed on these many patches. I wonder if the Confederate flag would be politically correct these days.  The letter A is from Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio and the Y is from Yokohama High School where I was the only freshman to letter (Baseball)

Then I earned a Z my sophomore year at (Camp) Zama American High School which is a GREAT story in which four of 33 high school sophomore boys ended up at West Point - Buddy Bucha, Chuck Moseley, Jim (Pierce) Harvey and MG Williams '66.  Seems that Ricky Chapman was somehow entwined in all that too.

Happy New Year, Chuck

Here is the picture to go with all that history:

Funny how all these old B-Robes have changed color (and shrunk) over the years. It's almost as if they are trying to approach a shade of fuchsia. I'm sure there are many more stories out there about the reason behind many of the decorations on the B-Robes and I would be happy to share them if you would just share a brief comment and a picture. I have one myself about the patch my mom made for me to commemorate my joining the Century Club Plebe Year. I'll hold that in my closet unless there is any interest as this segment regarding B-Robes starts winding down. (How's that for an appeal to let me share some of my own memories?) 

Thanks Chuck, for sharing this. It look s like a lot of time and love went into making that a real source of great memories for you.


From Parkas to Old Uniforms

Wow, sometimes story lines take on a life of their own. I shared a little bit about my sister offering to make an oval twist (or braided) rug for me and Bernie Ziegler responded by telling me that his mother did that for him. Here is his comment:

Your recalling that your sister offered to make your old cadet uniforms into an oval handmade twist rug reminded me of my Mom doing just that.  Following graduation, I shipped all of my old uniforms home for "who knows why."  A couple of years later my Mom told me she had personally made those sturdy wool things into three nice looking rugs.  She needed a little color to add to the drab gray color and decided to add pieces of the bright red wool Nazi flag my father brought back from WWII.  (I never did find out if he approved or not!)  Being we lived in non-temperate Minnesota, her instruction for cleaning the rugs was to "sprinkle a little snow on the rugs, sweep the snow off, and the rugs will last for 50 years."  She was right.
Naturally, since I'm big on pictures to share, I pushed for a couple of pictures and Bernie came through. I must say, even if it is from a Nazi Flag, it does compliment the shades of gray (wow, did I just accidently slip in a reference to a currently popular book?) in the rest of the rug. When you think about it, this becomes a magnificent family heirloom combining two very significant times in the lives of a father and son. Kudos to Bernie's mother for putting this together.
Thank you Bernie for sharing this very nice story.

More Parka Stories

Early this morning I received yet another parka story from my friend Bob Frank. I would have shared it right away, but I was pretty busy. Tuesday is one of my regular golf days and I thought it would be fun to share with those of you living anywhere near the effects of the "Polar Vortex" that things here in Arizona are not that rosy either. After all, I had to wait until the 7th hole to take off my sweater and get down to a short sleeve shirt (actually, today it was my fuchsia shirt) and shorts and I wasn't able to put the top down on my car until my drive home. Then I thought, naw, that would just be cruel, so I decided not to share all that stuff and just move on to the brief note I got from Bob. Here is what Bob shared:
No pictures I'm afraid.  So, I do not expect to see this on the Class website.  However, I had a brief reunion with my parka over Christmas.  Seems, in a fit of generosity, I gave it to my niece a number of years back.  To my surprise, she was wearing it at Christmas time in Vermont.  Sad to say, the parka would not fit me these days.  However, it was gratifying to know that it still serves a useful purpose.
Thanks Bob, I too would have a difficult time getting into any of my old uniforms. I've tried my old B-robe and it feels a little like a long vest.
Since this is such a short note, I'll take this opportunity share my sad story of most of my old uniforms. Right after graduation I stuffed everything (except the robe) into a trunk with no particular plan as to what to do with them. While in transit to my first assignment in Okinawa I had a brief visit with my dear sister in California where she came up with a terrific idea to give me a keepsake and a super way to hang onto them. She offered to make them into an oval handmade twist rug for me. Unfortunately, the uniforms were already in transit to Okinawa so I would have to wait about three years. However, the plan never came to fruition because an employee of the moving company decided to hold several boxes of my belongings (including the trunk with the uniforms) hostage in a salary dispute with his management. Despite many efforts, the boxes and the trunk were never seen again, but I still think it was a great idea.
Any more parka stories? This has become a source of some fun.

Another Parka Story

As you've probably noticed, things have been a little slow recently, most likely due to the Holidays. That made it worthwhile to share the recent story about the return of Rick Charles' parka after 50 years. I also found it fun to have another parka story come in, this time from my little bitty buddy, Ron Walter, right here in Arizona. He writes:

I'm not sure if it is general interest to everyone else, but, for the record, I just recovered my own parka after "a number of years" in storage.  My son brought up a bunch of boxes full of various items that we had left in a storage bin when we left Sierra Vista.  Included was one box full of my uniforms, my USMA bathrobe, and my parka.  My oldest daughter, who was visiting with us for Christmas reminded me how much she enjoyed wearing the parka when she was in high school, and, in a fit of generosity, I gave it to her on the spot.  My reunion with my parka was somewhat short-lived!


Unfortunately, no picture was available of Ron wearing his parka, but when I saw that the box he found it in also contained his old bathrobe, I remembered that he wore the bathrobe to one of the first Gatherings we had here in Arizona. With that one I did get a picture which I thought you might enjoy along with the caption he provided ":

I believe this is the same guy who once referred to himself as the "epitome of all that is noble and worthy". Sure looks that way in this picture.

Any more parka stories? How about some Holiday gatherings or stories of interest?

Some Stories Take a Little Work

I hope you all enjoyed a Wonderful Christmas Holiday Season and that 2014 will the best ever for all of you.

Way back in mid-December, I received this nice story from Rick Charles regarding the return of his, now quite old, cadet parka:

One positive thing for me came out of the game.  Just prior to the game I posted this on my Facebook:

"50 years ago Pete Phelps, a friend from Fayson Lakes, New Jersey, and a year behind me in high school was then a midshipman plebe.  He bet with me on the Army Navy game of 1963.  The outcome was a heart breaking last minute loss to Navy. I dutifully mailed a Class of 1965 parka to Pete to pay off the bet. Pete reached me recently through West Point's Association of Graduates and we exchanged emails. Two days ago a package arrived. It was the parka I sent him in '63. Wow! I had forgotten the bet completely; probably wiped out with the disappointment of the loss. It was Roger Staubach's Heisman year and he was great. But we got even finally in 1964 when we beat the heavily favored Navy 11-8! The piece of the goal post attests to our victory. Thanks, Pete. GO ARMY, BEAT NAVY!!"

Army lost this year, but getting my parka back brings back the memory of the '63 loss and the realization that you can start building from a loss and go on to win again, as we did in 1964.  Beat Navy in '14!

Marlene and I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and great 2014.

S&D - Rick

He included this great picture which includes the piece of the goal post:

My reaction was that this is nice but it would sure make a more complete story if I could get a second shot with him wearing the parka and with his beautiful wife Marlene. Talk about pulling teeth! After three follow-ups, and nearly on my knees begging, I finally got my first New Year's Wish today with this nice note:

I think we were laughing so hard it vibrated the little tripod I had the camera on, because the picture is a bit blurry.  (Probably makes 71 year olds look better).

Marlene said to tell you, she only did this because Rick Bunn asked; she hates to have her picture taken.  Glad you're our scribe or the picture would never have happened.....

I finally packed it in officially at the end of the pay period that ended yesterday; just using up leave for the next few weeks.  Will stay on BRTRC's rolls for proposal purposes and consulting, but now I am free to start working on Marlene's 47+ years honey-do list.  We are off to Antarctica on the 29th of this month, going to Brittany, Normandy, and a Seine River cruise in May, and a cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest in September.  Making up for a slow 2013.

S & D - Rick and Marlene

Can you imagine the work it's going to take to get reports on all that travel?

Happy New Year!!!