Over a two-week period, several ceremonies were held to commemorate our dearly beloved Classmate, Oleh Koropey. A veritable dynamo in life, Oleh left a deep hole in many other lives when he departed, one that will probably never be filled in … certainly not by the tiresome routine that characterizes the bulk of our activities.
First, a visitation and funeral mass (Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church) were held in Bowling Green, KY, where he lived. For details on that, we are indebted to John Pickler, our POC for that part of the obsequies.
Photo Left: L-R, John McCullough, Ken Slutzky, John Longhouser, Janice Koropey, Dan Benton, John Pickler, Lena Koropey, Lesia James, Boris Koropey, and Ken Cherry
“On Monday, 9 November 2020, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, a Visitation for
our very esteemed, respected, and recently departed classmate, Colonel
Borys Koropey, was held at the J.C. Kirby & Son Lovers Lane Chapel from 9:30 to 11:00 AM, followed by a Funeral Mass at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church at 12:00 PM. In addition to Oleh's wife Janice and his children Lesia, Boris, and Lena, the Visitation and Funeral Mass included many friends from the local community and his church, as well as his West Point and Western Kentucky University classmates and former athletic team members. Our classmates who attended the Visitation were John McCullough, Ken Cherry, and John & Karen Pickler from the greater Nashville area; Dan Benton and Ken Slutzky from Powder Springs and Roswell, Georgia, respectively; and John & Cheryl Longhouser from Lake Lure, North Carolina. Serving as pallbearers at the Funeral Mass were Ken Cherry, John Longhouser, John McCullough, and John Pickler.
“A friend of over 60 years since childhood, William F. (Bill) Farley, gave a very personal and moving eulogy before the Funeral Mass that recounted many of their shared experiences throughout the years. Adjectival descriptions from Bill included the words kind, thoughtful, humble, extremely intelligent, and very athletically competitive. As an example of Oleh's humility, Bill said that he had no idea of his bravery in combat until he read his obituary and learned of his three awards for valor plus two Purple Hearts. Bill concluded his remarks by saying that Oleh was someone you could always trust and depend on, truly "one of a kind"!
“After congregational songs and Bible readings by Oleh's daughters Lena Koropey and Lesia James, Father Stephen Lailte gave the homily at the Funeral Mass to celebrate Oleh's life. Father Lailte concluded with the statement that "Many people have been touched by Oleh's life as a faithful servant to the Lord."
Oleh's obituary can been seen at the following website: https://www.vanemburghsneider.com/
The next week, a visitation was held at a funeral home near West point, but persons not part of the immediate family were prohibited from accompanying Oleh to his final resting place due to the pandemic. The report below is the product of Oleh’s son-in-law, BG Jack James, and our “coastal” POC, Mike Applin.
“On October 17th a visitation was held for our classmate Oleh Koropey at the Van Emburgh Funeral Home in Ramsey NJ preparatory to his interment at the West Point Cemetery later in the day.
“As a displaced person from the Ukraine who came to the United States with his family in 1949, Oleh had been part of a tight-knit Ukrainian family and community throughout his life and prayers were said by an Eastern Rite priest in both English and Ukrainian.
“Classmates from USMA 1965 attending were Fred & Mary Ellen Smith, Russ & Maryann Campbell and Mike & Cathy Applin.
Photo Right: L-R, Boris Koropey (son), Russ & Maryann Campbell, Lesia and Lena (daughters), and Mike & Cathy Applin
Jack James continues] “Following the visitation, the funeral procession
departed the funeral home in Ramsey and met an MP escort at The Hogan
Funeral Home in Highland Falls. "With an MP escort we slowly drove
through the central West Point area for one final time with Oleh.
Passing Trophy Point was both beautiful and melancholy as we had all gathered there for a tailgate just last October.
A Roman Catholic chaplain was provided by cemetery staff to conduct the burial service and in the absence of a color guard, my uncle, a Vietnam veteran, and a funeral director folded the flag and I (Oleh's son-in-law BG Jack James NYNG, CL 92) accepted it and presented it to Oleh's sister Oksana.
It was blustery with light rain which the family felt was entirely appropriate given our many Army football tailgate experiences. The priest did a lovely graveside service and my wife, Oleh's daughter Lesia, did the readings. Oleh’s cousin Roman Koropey, who was very close to Oleh, provided a touching and fitting eulogy. The family was happy with the outcome (in view of the current quarantine restrictions)”
I am informed that the Koropey family will schedule a service at the Old Cadet Chapel a future date when restrictions are lifted and an Honor Guard becomes available
And so, a dear friend and exemplary soldier is laid to rest near where we first came to know him. But in another sense, he is closer to us than that, for he reposes in our hearts and always shall.
Grip hands! Step.
Another Exceptional Classmate Crosses the Divide. It was with fond regret that we bade bon voyage to one of our most colorful Classmates, Jon King’ Emory Pylant served as Class POC, with help from Fred Smith in figuring out some of the details of Jon’s family situation, which wasn”t of the simplest sort. Below is Emory’s report.
“We had a very well attended and impressive Celebration of Life ceremony
for Jon King at the Second Baptist Church in Houston on Wednesday
afternoon, 28 October 2020.
Even with Covid concerns now heightened again, nearly 200 people were in attendance in the Sanctuary, and a large number of live stream watchers were on line.
“The service certainly brought into focus that Jon was truly a unique individual who marched to his own drummer, and while so doing, made great contributions to a range of people over many decades. The fact that he helped Dee Bryant ’85 get into West Point forty years ago underscores how long he was doing that. The service itself included both Christian and Jewish facets as requested by Jon.
Photo Left: L-R, Emory & Joanna Pylant, Jim Lane
“For those who may not know, Jon had a heart transplant about 19 years ago, and to be eligible for a transplant he had to have assured support at home during the projected recovery period. This only became possible because a good friend formed a Second Baptist Church support team that committed to 24/7 coverage. Dee was one of those team members and he had the Tuesday night watch for two months, plus he filled in other times as needed.
“After Jon’s surgery Johanna and I were back from one of our Japan tours and were catching up with Woody Epperson. Woody said Jon spirits were high as always, and that prior to a heart becoming available, he and a few friends made what they thought would be a final visit. When they asked if there was anything they could do, Jon replied, “Sure, get me a sniper”. I elected not to share that recollection at the service, but Classmates certainly understand the positive good humor he intended.
“Our local Academy grads well understood Jon’s contributions to our activities here in Houston. He was such a prominent figure in the monthly luncheons over many years that it was rarely clear whether he was currently the WP Society President or not. He usually had the key role arranging impressive speakers at monthly or annual events, and it was often clear that he had personal relationships with them that went beyond the speaking commitment.
“Compliments from the Rotary Club and the Baptist Church during the Celebration suggested similar contributions to those groups. Private conversations after the service reinforced that impression. Representatives from Camp Hope, the Houston PTSD Foundation of America, mentioned that Jon strongly supported that initiative since inception in 2012. He also served on their Board for the past two years. I think all of us were astounded at the total extent of his participation and contributions.
Photo Right: Emory Pylant and Jim Lane, with Class Flag on Right
“Shortly before the Celebration, attendees were invited to an upscale reception at the Touch of Texas. Those from Houston know that’s one of the top dining spots in town with a special Texas design and atmosphere. The owners, good friends of Jon, insisted on hosting the event when they discovered a reception could not be held at the Church.
“Jon was truly the ‘Energizer Bunny,’ and despite the many challenges he faced and overcame, I don’t ever recall him complaining, just planning paths forward.”
Strength and Drive, Emory
Given the restrictions imposed by the pandemic and tenuous aspects of Jon’s final arrangements, our Class was well represented. I did not know Jon very well at West Point, but I certainly now wish I had known him better.
The label “surreal” has been horribly misapplied in recent years, but it seems to be most apposite to the flavor of life lately, both in these United States and on our planet as a whole. The mood of quiet desperation, punctuated by periods of frenzied panic, has had an impact on collective life that is readily reflected in the frequency and tenor of these Despatches. Fortunately, the Class of Strength and Drive abides.
Jack Keith’s obsequies were held in Chattanooga on the second of October, with Lee Atchley having volunteered as POC on the scene to assist Bill Hecker. Below is Bill’s report.
Jack Keith's Viewing – 2 October 2020 at the Chattanooga Funeral Home, Valley View Chapel, Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Many Lee Atchley for volunteering to be the Class Rep for the event. And to Terry Ryan for taking care of the logistics of getting the Class Flag to Lee so that it could be proudly displayed beside Jack’s casket. We know that meant a lot to Dotty, and to the Keith children and grandchildren. Lee and Suzanne Atchley were in attendance, as well as John & Karen Pickler, who drove over from Nashville.
A link to Jack’s obituary follows: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/chattanooga-tn/john-keith-9378092
Nancy and I were sorry that we could not be there, but we do plan to fly in for the burial service at Arlington Cemetery. We have just heard from Dotty that the service in Arlington has now been scheduled for 1 PM, January 26, 2021. More details will be forthcoming as time gets closer.
(l-r) Corey Hessen, Carter Hessen, Davis Keith, Megan Keith. Sloane Hessen. Mason Keith, Kristen Hessen, Cooper Hessen, Tim Keith, Dotty Keith, Stella Hessen, Jessica Keith, John Pickler, Lee Atchley
We send much love to Dotty, and many thanks to Lee for sharing these pictures, and for coordinating with Terry to get the Class Flag to Georgia for Harold Jenkins’ service that followed so soon after Jack’s.
Strength and Drive, Bill & Nancy Hecker
Thanks Bill, Lee, and John, for your services to the Class and to the Keiths!
If there is a stock in which the prescient will have invested heaviy, it is Zoom. And ’65 is a strong consumer of that service: we have used it for several years for Leadership Team meetings. Several USMA companies among us use it, notably A-1 and G-2, as do geographically-centered groups of Classmates.
In G-2’s report, Pat
Kenny is credited with conceiving the idea
Greene with setting it up. Unfortunately, a
screen shot proved impossible to work with, but attendees were as
Greene, Barwis, Hopkins, Kenny, Kleinmaier, Applin, and Koropey.
Says my informant, Oleh Koropey, “It was a fun session and great to see these faces again. We plan to continue and add to the initial participants.”
Barkley sends word from the SEPA/NJ
contingent of quarterly luncheoniers.
Monday, 10/12/20, the “Neighborhood ’65 Group of Southeastern PA and New Jersey” met for lunch at Mastoris in Bordentown, NJ. There are 10 of us in the group, but only five were able to make it.
We started with a brief moment of silence as we “gripped hands” and remembered our departed classmate, Joe Sanchez, who was with us when we last met on March 10 the in Yardley PA. We ended with a loud “Beat Navy!” that woke up the dining room.
Rick Kuzman has recently joined the group as he lives nearby in New Hope PA.
As is our custom, Rick as the newest member had to catch us all up on his
past 55 years. Rick had some interesting assignment in Iran before the
revolution and in Taiwan too.
It was a lot of storytelling and reliving history too. We five have managed to stay healthy too.
We will meet next on “Groundhog Day” (February 2, 2021) at a location in
King of Prussia, PA. Fred will be the host.
Strength and Drive! Joe Barkley
Mike Leibowitz, Fred Smith, Howie Reed, Joe Barkley, and Rick Kuzman.
Ken Yoshitani has news of the Chicagoland ‘65ers.
Chicago Strength & Drive met today via Zoom and exchanged family news,
travel reports, and future activity plans. The gathering started with Dave
Jones who reported that the Jones family is
all doing well, especially his grandson who excels in athletics.
Dave started new treatment at University of Chicago which has resulted in slight fatigue, but he continues to golf, bike, walk, and carouse far more than an average senior.
Tom Croak was up next and reported his and his better half’s summer activities, which consisted mainly in taking care of their big backyard. The Croaks typically put in hundreds of miles in their canoe, but this year they have been stranded.
Denny Coll had much to report. The Colls have travelled around much more han the rest of us, not only local day trips, but also venturing out to the East. Denny reports that he has two grandkids, cow and plebe, at West Point and another plebe at Colorado Springs.
Norm Eckstein reported that he has earned a certificate as a trainer for the seniors and was eager to test his mettle on younger seniors in 70’s and 60’s. The Ecksteins are also busy with their grandkids’frequent academic, social, and extra-curricular activities.
George Seaworth reported his activities filled with
long walks and adult classes. The Seaworths live in an expansive senior
community and enjoy a lot of elbow room. George reports that their
daughter has now moved
to Pennsylvania to work on a regional airport which is one of a dozen that Amazon uses extensively.
There was a technical difficulty with Don Shutters’ connection. We can tell that he is connected via telephone and that he can hear our conversation, but we could not hear him nor see him. Don could not get hold of his grandkids to help him solve the technical issue.
Lastly, Ken Yoshitani reported that the neighborhood around his condo suffered from rioting and looting and that many small businesses are still boarded up.
Three were AWOL. Chuck Shaw was still busy at Harbor Springs near Petoskey, Michigan. Ron Layer was celebrating his wife’s birthday in a big family gathering. John Roseberg was on a day trip to a nearby destination. We are very pleased to inform Class of ’65 that we S & D in Chicago are all well, healthy, safe, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Life is good!
Ode to the P-38
All night on patrol,
By Larry Neal
(Somewhere in north Georgia, near Dahlonega, October 1965)
Dogged tired and so cold, Can’t recall the last time I ate.
Looked around for a seat, Took a load off my feet,
And prepared for my hunger to sate.
A box of C ration, Then still in fashion,
The nourishment I contemplate.
One can of turkey, Another of jerky
And crackers that might seal my fate.
I nonetheless crave them, And nothing can save them, Except … where is my P-38??
That magnificent tool, That little known jewel,
Outside of our K and C mates.
Simple and tinny, Costs maybe a penny,
Indispensable tool that works great.
I search all around,
But it’s not to be found,
And life is now over, this date.
Deep in my chest,
I feel sadness, at best,
And decide to move on then … but wait!
The dog tags that drape,
Round my neck, wrapped in tape, Wrapped also between them, a P-38!
Oh, glorious day!
I’m soon on my way,
With my little machine that pulls its own weight.
And on that note of aesthetic exquisitry, we say farewell for this edition. Stay safe!