will begin with some bad news: Duncan
Mac Vicar, after a long and courageous resistance and some
initial good news, is facing a recurrence of one of his several types
of cancer, and it looks serious. He and Jeanne can
certainly use all the support they can get. You can contact them with
your messages of solidarity at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He still hopes to attend the reunion, but that plan may yet be
overtaken by events
There are few things one can rely upon any more, but one of them is the periodic gathering together of our Central Virginia Classmates. Huns may come and Visigoths go, but these ladies and gentlemen continue unperturbed, true beacons of emotional equanimity and social grace. Dave Hopkins tells of their latest adventure:
"There were some emails exchanged in the days before our lunch about a couple of our attendees racing on their walkers at the restaurant, but the race didn’t materialize, probably because we all got distracted by the waitress finding an out-of-the-way place to store our walkers and canes while we ate lunch. We’re NOT getting old! Having solved all the world’s problems in previous get-togethers, we spent two hours mostly swapping stories of long ago (some, 65 years ago) and talking about the reunion. From Jim & June’s account, our class has over 200 rooms reserved at the Park Ridge Marriott and the overflow hotel a few minutes away—indicating attendance way beyond that expected for a 55th reunion.
"A side note: This was taken by a USNA grad who happened to be there as we gathered and heard us talking about the reunion. (As I heard later, his class just had its 20th reunion.) Just before he took the photo, he told us all to say "Go Navy!" You how well that went over!
"Given that we’ll all see each other at the reunion three months from now, we’ll have our next get-together, organized by Jim Helberg, in the Jun-Jul time frame."
L-R, June & Jim Harvey, Jim & Lynne Helberg, Jim & Margie Berry, Tricia & Bob Clover, Trish & Roger Griffin, Eleanora & Emery Chase, Darlene & Dave Hopkins
Every now and again an object lesson comes along that screams for use in these pages, and what follows is such a one. It emanates from Bob Frank, our eminent Class Historian, and represents the epitome of understatement:
"I don’t know if you can do anything with this photo, but I wanted to send it anyway - just to make everyone jealous. [I recognize that we violated Tyner Rule #1 - no hats; but that’s the way it is on the golf course.] Three B-1 Classmates joined forces on Red Tail Golf Course in Sorento FL recently. All three (Jim Dyer, Bob Frank, and Dave Jones) are hard to identify, but Ray Hawkins (on the left) is a distinct standout on the left. We offered to make Ray an honorary member of B-1, but his loyalty to the Second Regiment would not allow him to accept this honor. Despite this setback, Ray was able to lead the B-1 contingent around a wonderful, but challenging course. We all, including wives, celebrated at the Frog and Monkey in Mt. Dora after the round. A good time was had by all!"
This photo has occasioned the need for two more rules, to wit: No sunglasses, and use a camera manufactured in the 21st Century. Despite two years with three of these guys in B-1, I am at a loss to say which of them is which. Either that phone cam is generation 1.0, or somebody drooled all over the lens, and the sunglasses would confuse the most advanced facial recognition algorithm.
L-R, Four carbon-based life forms, possibly Hawkins, Dyer, Frank, and Jones
Larry Neal has liberated his inner William Wordsworth and composed a new version of a poem he wrote some time ago. I offer it on the next page as the product of the great pride and strong affection he feels for all of you out there.
The title is "Sons of Sixty-five, but I cannot manage to insert it above the text without introducing a blank page, so forgive the format error please.
that have passed number fifty and five, (Goodness, how time has flown
Since we were sent forth with a small bar of tin And a remarkably high sense of duty and pride.
behold us, the sons of sixty-five,
Behold our children, our friends and our wives And we that still stand recall times gone by,
A journey of making a difference. We cry. Not from sorrow or from burdens we bear, But rather with joy from ties that we share.
We drew our swords as we were taught And asked no quarter as we fought.
Gold turned to silver then doubled, our tin And the kids we were leading turned into men.
We along with them, at least in my case With no one to tell us to pick up the pace. Suddenly warfare was not an abstraction, No tacs or lane graders to test our reactions. Innocence lost in the jungle and paddy Replaced with a sense of our own mortality.
came not from those that we led, But rather a result of the blood that
From Bob A. to Bob Z. with two dozen between, Twenty-six of our mates would never be seen
As we returned home, but they would be heard, Their memories loud, eternal presence assured. They live in our hearts, are the soul of our nation. We will re-join them the day we enter the Mansion.
two, just passing through.
Southeast Asia behind us we then settled in To raising a family and earning more tin.
Our pathways diverged; our postings scattered But never forgetting the bond that most mattered,
in the Long Gray Line, to be sure, But also, cohesion that will ever
endure. Distinguished careers, remembered forever,
As civilians, as soldiers, or public endeavors.
the sons of sixty-five, Behold their sons and daughters, The progeny of
Strength and Drive,
Who carry out the vision of our Nation’s forefathers.
More time for golf, more time for travel,
time to just sit back and marvel
At the happenstance and our good fortune To be a part of that day in June,
Half a century ago when our hats in the air, Signaled the start of our lifelong affair,
With classmates and comrades who really do care.
It was chilly, but sunny at Arlington today, We had just finished putting Steve away
And that set me to thinking about our next phase, When we depart our own earthly ways.
all we are climbing that bell-shaped curve, A mere year or so from the
And ready to march down the final traverse Though hoping to glide down, not plummet.
the mark of success is to leave this old world In better shape than we
When the sixty-five flag is finally furled They will say, by Jove they have done it!
way! Make way! For generation next, As they have taken the helm,
And we, as a part of their genome and specs, Will gladly surrender the realm.
once were the wind for the sails of that Gen, And for those we led into
Then rudders for them as they gained their own wind And we guided them, along with the Corps.
we were cargo, with value and ballast But that is as far as we go,
We shall never be anchors, though we are calloused From a lovely journey, just so.
Strength and Drive
Epic work, Larry, and just the proper note to end this edition of Despatches. Thank you! Step
of you have been very busy of late, especially our own Web Master, Chuck
Nichols, who apparently did everything it is possible to do
Down Under except catch fire or have a volcano blow up under you. His
bucket list required several wash tubs to carry. Coincidentally, he
still drags pro as well. I rejoice in his good fortune and
energy, with but a scintilla of jealous rage spoiling my otherwise
lovely smile. He writes
"I spent most of the month of January having a blast in Australia and New Zealand. It was a totally arranged trip with private guides at the various locations we visited. We, my friend Diane accompanied me, started our adventure in Sydney where I was able to check off two items on my bucket list. The first was a target of opportunity on the first afternoon in Sydney with nothing scheduled. We were climbed to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge arch. I had walked the bridge many times while on R&R but never over the top. The second was dinner and a performance at the Sydney Opera House, which was still under construction when last there in 1969. We saw two performances on two consecutive nights. The first was La Boheme and the second was SIX. SIX was performed by a troupe of 10 women, six playing the parts of Henry VIII's wives and the remaining four providing the musical accompaniment. I would rate SIX on a par with Hamilton for energy and entertainment so if it ever comes to the US go see it.
Photo Left: Chuck and Diane checking bridge structure for web crimping
"Our next stop was Port George where I checked off item number 3, scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Diane, however, had the greatest adventure. While snorkeling she encountered a whale shark up close and personal. Many of the crew on the dive boat had never encountered one. Meanwhile I was down below looking at little fishes and coral and never saw the shark. [Editor"s note: I had to cut some photos so the two illustrating shapes in the water had to go. S.T.]
"Item number 4 didn't happen until we arrived at Queenstown, New Zealand where I was able to check off both 4 and 5. The first was bungee jumping at the Nevis site, the highest jump (440 feet) in New Zealand. Diane swore she wouldn't jump but at the last minute she hooked up and took the leap. I had to go first to show her how it was done. A video of both of us doing our leap of faith is at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_SmsRgaoe-TL7A0glRbC8MNuoIfj9-o-/view?usp=sharing.
Photo Right: Hazardous duty pay is authorized
following day I checked off number 5, zip
lining through the NZ jungle.
"In total we spent 21 days having the greatest adventure of our lives. There were numerous other activities, almost too numerous to mention. Some of the highlights include the Daintree Rain Forest, watching the Philip Island penguin parade ( https://www.visitphillipisland.com/listing/penguin-parade/), a private plane ride from the Milford Sound over the NZ alps, jet boating on the Dart River, the thermal parks and geyser of Rotorua, Waitomo Glowworm Cave, America's Cup Match Racing, and To Po - Hangi and Concert. If anyone wants the name of my travel agent who arranged this trip of a lifetime I would be glad to share."
Personally, Chuck, I think your travel agent should be arraigned for elder abuse. But ever the iron man, you appear to have emerged stronger from your exertions. I won’t be around to collect my winnings, but I am betting on you for Oldest Living Graduate!
Not only is he a Bill Murray look-alike, but Lloyd Briggs anticipated Murray’s Super Bowl ad and did it the day before. Here’s his story:
" Motivated by a deep and abiding concern about all matters climatological, I made a pilgrimage with several family members to Punxsutawney, PA to meet with Punxsutawney Phil himself. We got together the evening before the big day at the Punxsutawney Eagles Hall.
L-R, Son Jim, Son Lloyd Jr, Lloyd, Lloyd Jr.’s wife Robin, Punxsutawney Phil (sleeping), Lloyd’s wife Kitty (Ring Hop Date), Phil’s Handler.
"Incensed by the rascally rodent’s refusal to rise to the occasion and provide a truly great photo op, I found someone close by who was more accommodating.
"The weekend was a lot of fun. Hokey, small town America at its best. Put it on your bucket list."
Preston & Sandy Motes reacted to what for many would be paralyzingly bad news by hitting the open road for a few days and checking in with some Classmates, as he reports below:
"On January 13,2020 I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Sandy and I were scheduled to leave for our snowbird trip to Tucson, AZ and Port Arkansas, TX on the 15th. Those plans came to a screeching halt and we started talking options with the doctors at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. At 10:30 AM on January 23, with 5 days before our next appointment, we looked at each other and said let’s take the trailer and go to Las Vegas where it is warmer than Salt Lake.
"By 12 o’clock we were on the road south. We got to St George, UT by 3:30. Our 34 foot 5th wheel is our mobile happy place! I contacted classmates Larry & Rebecca Isakson and Preston & Ann Hughes who live in the St George area and set up a lunch get- together the next day. Preston Hughes has just recently finished a program of chemo and seems to be on the mend.
Photo Left: L-R, , Ann Hughes, Rebecca Isakson, Larry Isakson, Preston Motes, Sandy Motes, Preston Hughes.
"After lunch, we headed 2 hours down the road to Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, NV. I was able to meet up with a golfing buddy who has relocated to the area. It was warm enough to sit out and relax in the sun and recharge our mental batteries. On Sunday we saw the priest who married us 31 years ago, and then had dinner with classmate Skip & Marilyn O’Donnell. It was very relaxing to be in warmer climes and with friends of many years. With our mental health rejuvenated, we headed back home to face our future which will start with chemo and then surgery. Still planning to attend the 55th reunion!"
Photo Right: L-R, Preston Motes, Sandy Motes, Marilyn O’Donnell, Skip O’Donnell.
I’ll raise a sippy cup to that prospect, Preston! Your optimism is contagious.
And so another Despatch comes to an end. That’s 61 of them in three years, or about one every 18 days. And it’s all due to you guys – your stories and pictures. Thanks for all your cooperation and keep up the fire!
Many of Omar Rood's friends and family gathered on Saturday, 1 February, in the small town of Arivaca, AZ to say goodbye and pay tribute to Omar. This "party" was a request from Omar who did not want a memorial service but did want a party for the the people of Arivaca, a community and area that he loved so much. It was held at "La Gitana" cantina (which means "the gypsy") and organized by his dear friend, Monica Manning, and his siblings. The picture of Omar, above, will hang in the cantina.
Family members attending were sisters, Cindy Rood and Lori Rood Larson, brother, Joel Rood, and daughter Erika Regnier-Rood. Unable to attend were his sister, Judy Sundvor, and son, Charles Chevalier Rood. Classmates joining the family and 100 plus guests included Hank and Trina Mikells and Jay Vaughn.
The event consisted of sharing memories of Omar. His siblings and daughter were especially interested in (or tolerant of) stories of his days at West Point. As one lady's email later put it, "It was the essence of my friend, Omar. Good times, music, dance, food & drink along with the requisite hugs and kisses that are classic Omar, noticeable in a room, a tall, good looking, always smiling guy, his presence created happiness."
He will be missed!!
Count not the progeny of domestic fowl prior to their emergence. More than three weeks after the Navy game, I have received photos and lore from precisely two of our Classmates: Linda Concannon and Russ Campbell. Admittedly, the game itself was a thing of miserable disappointment for our side, but surely some of the social interaction was worth documenting, if only to reveal that no one had blown lunch on the OC’s shoes.
Well, I have learnt that any day in which one is not the object of green tracer rounds is to be celebrated, so below are the submissions I mentioned.
Linda Concannon held an off-site gathering of friends to watch the game. Frankly, it was almost certainly warmer than the stadium and had the added advantage of much cleaner rest rooms! Here’s both story and pic:"This is the third A-N watch party I have hosted and although the game didn’t turn out the way we had hoped, being with friends and sharing in the camaraderie more than made up for it.
"Next year! Best wishes for a happy holiday season."
Photo Left: Left to right: Seated -- Linda Concannon, Phyllis Wolff; 2nd row -- Ellen Ziegler, Karen Ferguson, Nancy Ryan; 3rd row -- Bernie Ziegler, Jim Ferguson, Terry Ryan and Bob Wolff.Attendees not pictured are Leslie and Dwayne Piepenburg, USMA ‘62
Russ sent a photo of himself and his grandson (it should be obvious which is which) at the stadium, taken some time during the game, obviously before the end because (a) neither has icicles hanging from his nose, and (2) there is the hint of a smile on both handsome visages. There was no message associated with the submission, but I am sure that each wishes us well and both are confident that next year we will score five touchdowns in the first quarter and coast to a victory!
Joe Anderson was our first famous Classmate, thanks to the excellent French documentary "La Section Anderson" (The Anderson Platoon), shot in 1966 and released in ’67. The first photo is a still from that epic.
Although Joe taught in the Social Sciences Department, recently the History Department borrowed his likeness for a poster publicizing some of their offerings, and right there with two four-stars and an ultimate three-star is our own Joe.
"West Point has done a series of Posters entitled: AT WEST POINT, Much of the History We Teach Was Made by the People We Taught
"Previous West Point graduate poster subjects have been World War I, World War II, and recent US Astronauts. The current poster now features West Point graduates who served in the Vietnam war."
Joe adds this: "The initial distribution of the Vietnam poster was at the Army VMI Football Game on November 16, 2019. Additional distributions will occur at the Army/Navy Game on December 14, 2019 and at West Point recruiting activities for the foreseeable future."
For those of you who have served on another planet since graduation, the individuals pictured who haven’t the honor of being members of the Distinguished Class of 1965 are Creighton Abrams, former COMUSMACV and CSA (middle left), Westy, ditto (middle right), and Hal Moore (bottom). On top, right where he ought to be, is our Joe, apparently calliing a little HE in on the Vanguard of the Proletariat.
Kudos, Joe! They couldn’t have found a better history-maker to represent the Class!
Winding up this edition is a shot of Skip & Marilyn O’Donnell attending a home hockey game in Las Vegas. I had never thought of Sin City as being associated with winter sports, but apparently through the miracle of refrigeration, any number of towns that are not in Minnesota now host hockey teams. I understand that all the boxes, including penalty, are furnished with liberally paying slots.
Quoth Skip, "Marilyn and I had a good time at the Vegas Golden Knights vs Arizona Coyotes hockey game on 29 November with an exciting overtime/shootout win at T Mobile arena."
I wonder if the Army Skydiving Team knows their name has been purloined …. A-blee-a-bloo-a-blee-That’s All Folks!
Strength and Drive! Step