68 Class News Shipmate Mar-Apr 2013
CORR. SECY: CAPT Gordon I Peterson, USN (Ret.)
7994 Hidden Bridge Drive Springfield, VA 22153
P: 703 913 5404 E:
In recent months our Class officers and committee volunteers have been steaming at flank speed to plan our 45th reunion. It is scheduled for homecoming weekend in Annapolis, October 24-27. Donít miss it! See the full-page advertisement in this issue of Shipmate for the current schedule of events.
All involved have worked hard to ensure the reunion is a memorable event, coordinating closely with the Alumni Association and others in Annapolis who have a long history of planning class reunions. As you will see from the schedule, it tracks with our past "milestone" gatherings. Efforts are being made to hold costs down as best we can, but it should be noted this is one of the most popular weekends for Academy alumni and tourists alike to visit Annapolis. Following careful research, the Westin Hotel was judged to be best-prepared to serve as our headquarters for the event and to accommodate the numbers we anticipate at a competitive price.
Attendees need to register for the Reunion online at the USNA Alumni Association (www.usna.com) website (as was done for our 40th) when our registration pages are on line. This is anticipated after mid-March. An e-mail notification will be sent via our Class e-mail tree to confirm it is operative, so please ensure your company communicationís representative has your current e-mail address on record. Full and updated information on the reunion will also be posted to our Class website (www.usna68.com) as it becomes available. Please review your personal profile under the "class roster" listing to ensure contact information is up to date. First-time visitors to this site must log in and enter the last name for the superintendent when we were plebes to "enter the wardroom."
Please read through the following instructions carefully and follow these steps to login and register for our Reunion when the Alumni Associationís registration pages are operative.
To update your account information and/or register for the reunion online, go to the USNA Alumni Association website at www.usna.com . Once there, click on sign in at the top right-hand section of the USNA Alumni Association and Development Home page. If you do not remember your user name and/or password and have the same e-mail address as when the account was set up or last updated, please submit a request to the Association online to retrieve your username and/or password.
If you have not registered to join the Alumni Association's website's "Online Community" in the past, you will need to do so before you will be able to login and access the reunion registration site. This process is not instantaneous. A first-time registrant will need to wait approximately 24 hours for the Association to open an account and assign a user name and password. Once this is done, you will be able to access alumni-only links on the website, to include our 45th registration site. I
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To register for the Reunion
Our Class reunion committee will also provide the means to register by snail mail for those who prefer this method.
In addition to registering online for our reunion, anyone planning to attend the tailgate and football game will need to purchase tickets to the game from the Naval Academy Athletic Association. Directions to do this will be provided later this spring, but as always the best advice is to purchase your tickets early and no later than June 15 if you are to take advantage of our Class seating arrangements.
A great deal of time and effort is involved in planning a reunion of this magnitude. I extend a special shout out to thank all who are working diligently to make it another memorable event, including Gary Storm, Mike Neale, Leo Kuehn, Joe Conway, Randy Bogle, Ed Sullivan, Greg Horne, Bill Ober, Bill Paine, Jim Niehus, Jim Brengle, Roy Graham, Ray Hopkins, Jim Cullen, Dave Tyler, and the ever-supportive staff at the Alumni Association.
In other class news, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden presided at former astronaut Mike Coatsí retirement ceremony in early January following a distinguished 44-year career in the Navy and, for the past 20 years, at NASA. Mike served as the director of the Johnson Space Center since 2005. Jim Von Suskil was on hand:
"Charlie Krupnick and I had the pleasure of attending Mikeís retirement ceremony at the space center in Houston. The place was packed with 600 well-wishers, including Charlie Bolden who presented Mike with the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. As you probably remember, Mike returned to Johnson Space Center after the shuttle disaster in an effort to get the program back on its feet. He obviously did that and much more. Judging from the many speeches and tokens of remembrance, Mike leaves behind a lot more than he took home that night.
"It was as good a retirement ceremony as you could wish for Ėwarm, funny, poignant, and full of the Mike Coats that we first met a few years ago. They even showed a photo of him wearing SDK (with 2/c boards) somewhere in the Yard, with Diane. Wish you all could have been there. If I had one wish it would have been that NASA had chosen Anchors Aweigh instead of In the Navy for the nautical touch, but that is probably attributable to a perverse Air Force influence. Good job, Mike. Charlie and I were proud to be in the audience."
Mike Coats received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal from Administrator Charlie Bolden at his recent retirement ceremony. (NASA photo)
NASA officials told me that more than $9000 was donated for charity in honor of Mike and Diane to benefit the Alzheimer's Association as a gift from friends and the contractor community. In the NASA press release announcing Mikeís retirement, Charlie said, "I am especially sad to see Mike leave, as he and I have been close friends and allies since coming together in the summer of 1964 as new plebes in the great Naval Academy Class of 1968. He is a true patriot and an American hero, and we wish him and his lovely wife, Diane, the very best. His expertise and dedication will be sorely missed, not only at JSC, but across the entire agency." The NASA Distinguished Service Medal honored Mikeís "distinguished contributions and outstanding career leadership" that contributed to the overall advancement of NASAís space exploration and research-development goals.
A retired Navy captain, Mike's NASA career began in 1978 when he earned a spot in the first astronaut class specifically selected to fly the space shuttle. He flew three shuttle missions, the first as pilot for the maiden flight of Discovery in 1984. He commanded two subsequent shuttle missions, logging more than 463 hours in space.
His numerous awards while serving at NASA include the Rotary NASA National Space Trophy in 2011 and recognition as the NMA Executive of the Year for 2011.
Mike saluted Diane and his family in a NASA "spotlight" article on his retirement. "Family really does come first," Mike said of his future plans. "My wife has taken good care of me for more than 43 years and deserves my full attention now." Asked what interested him in the space program, he described how he was on his way to Vietnam when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. "They were taking a bigger risk than I was, but I envied them, of course. I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to fly in space myself, but I followed all the Apollo missions after that," Mike said. Speaking of the best piece of advice he ever received, Mike observed, "Treat each individual as unique and special. If you can take the best advantage of individual strengths and differences, you win. And I love to win." Congratulations, Mike, and best wishes to you and Diane as you move on to a well-earned retirement.
Owing to magazine space limitations for the January-February column, I have a number of updates to share that arrived as 2012 drew to a close; Iíll need to save other welcomed news for the upcoming Stewardship issue.
Jack Rose and Jeff Dumas continue to impress with their long-distance running. Jeff was planning to run again in the Boston Marathon this spring, but "knee issues" will likely sideline him. Jack is planning for the Kenosha half-marathon in May, the Racine triathlon in July, and the Lakeshore Marathon in Milwaukee in October. Jack recently related the story of his first ultra-long run while serving on the Naval Academy faculty.
"LT Joe Fry, Marine Major Walt Cover, and I decided to run the JFK 50 Miler in1976. It was our first attempt at any type of distanceówe could not even do three miles in 27 minutes. Pretty stupid! Our plan was to walk a mile and then jog a mile (dumb). Our food and drink of choice for the event was Milky Way candy bars and the original green Gatorade.
"Walt and I finished in 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 01 second (284 out of 584 runners) and the quest began; however, it took me 10 more years to quit smoking (dumber). Joe really messed up his knee at about 35 miles and could not finish, but he is alive and well in Bethesda, MD. Walt was killed in a helo accident during his next tour. Marty Fry (Joe's fiancé at the time) was our support person. She was just incredible (God bless her) and stayed with us for the entire event (providing the candy bars and Gatorade). As you can imagine we were not the most hospitable guys as the day-into-night journey progressed. I don't think I've had a Milky Way since, and it was years before I could drink Gatorade!"
Jack Rose clocks a 14:28:29 and third-place finish (55-59 year olds) in the 2002 Vineman Ironman in Santa Rosa, CA.
In November, Al Burda related that Phil McKee, Curt Schantz and Tom Pestorius played in the Sarasota Manatee Council of the Navy League's 7th Annual Charity Golf Tournament in Sarasota, FL. Al is the councilís past president and current board member. "Phil came up from Naples, and Tom came up from Venice to join Curt in Sarasota for a great day of golf and fun," Al said. Tomís brother Dutch completed the foursome. Al said he worked at the tournament because his arthritis precluded playing. "Phil won the putting contest, and rumors are that he is a rich manóbut donít tell anyone or you will ruin his amateur status," Al noted. "The proceeds go to fund our charitiesólocal Navy and Marine Corps JROTC units, Sea Cadets, Young Marines, and USCG Cutter Crocodile and USCG Station Cortez. "Itís a scramble format so itís a lot of fun and serves a good cause. The tournament is held each year in November (the weather is superb then)." Golfers out there take note!
USNA 68 golfers Phil McKee, Tom Pestorius, and Curt Schantz prepare to tee off at a charity tournament in Sarasota, FL, recently.
Al responded to my request for an update on his activities as follows:
"After leaving active duty, I worked for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission until retiring as deputy chief of staff of the NRCís Office of Research in 1999. After retiring, my lovely wife Kate and I moved to Venice, FL, in 2002. Venice is a lovely town which abounds in retirement lifestyle activities, and the weather is perfect for Kate (although a bit hot for me in the summer). Tom and Ruth Pestorius have a home about two miles away and are transitioning to Venice. To stay active, Kate and I both work part time although I briefly taught math full time at Sarasota Military Academy, the first charter public military high school in the country. I currently work at Venice Christian School as director of development where we are building a gym and five more classrooms to accommodate anticipated growth. I am active in the Venice Chamber of Commerce and I continue to serve as a Blue and Gold Officer for USNA, and stay active in the Navy League, having served as president and chaplain of the Sarasota Manatee Council. As a Navy Leaguer, I spend time working with students at the Venice High School, counseling and assisting them with college and career decisions. Kate and I are active in our church, both serving and teaching.
"I am often asked to speak to civic groups on Veteranís Day but was really surprised to be asked to be the keynote speaker at the Venice High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC Marine Corps Birthday Ball at the PlantationGolf and Country Club in Venice. This was a genuine honor for someone who is not a Marine!
"It was a classy affair with some wonderful young future Marines. I spoke about The Battle of Bladensburg or what is known as the "Bladensburg Races" where in 1814, in the defense of Washington City, 103 Marines and 400 sailors fought bravely but unsuccessfully to defend our capital after all other Americans fled."
Al Burda salutes the colors during the Venice High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC 2012 Marine Corps Birthday Ball.
December and January brought the sad news that we lost three classmates from our ranks in December and January: Roger Hughes, Don Smith, and Barry LaFleur (a non-graduating member). Please see their entries in Last Call.
Roger passed away December 7 at Virginia Beach, VA, after a short, but tough battle with a virulent melanoma. Mike Cummings talked to Roger at least once a month, but he told me he did not know about his "second" extensive sports-officiating career until his memorial service. "Roger was chosen to umpire the Little League World Series in Williamsport, among other honors," Mike related. "I didn't know he had gone to law school after retirement and practiced law for a decade here in Virginia Beach until two years after I met him." Roger was very active in the Virginia Beach United Methodist Church.
At Rogerís memorial service, Mike related that the minister praised Roger as an attorney who would take on the cases of some of the most disadvantaged people. "He was one of the most humble people I ever met," Mike said. "You had to pull his teeth out to learn of his many accomplishments. He was a prime mover in the largest Methodist church in Virginia Beach but few people knew it. Several classmates who attended Mike Brosse's funeral also attended Roger's memorial service, and all referenced Roger's humility. Roger was a quiet man, who spoke little but when he did, people listened. I can't think of a better legacy." Rogerís wife, Rosie, and his family asked to convey thanks to the many friends who supported them through his hospital stay by visits and prayers.
Roger Hughesí love of athletics carried over into sports officiating for decades.
Don Smith, a retired naval aviator and former faculty member at Floridaís Embry-Riddle University's Aeronautical Science Department, died January 13 in DeBary, FL. An F-4 Phantom pilot, Don deployed multiple times during the 1970s to the North Atlantic and Mediterranean, primarily on board the USS FORRESTAL (CV 59). He was a graduate of the Top Gun air combat school at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, CA, and logged more than 3,800 hours of military, commercial airline, and diplomatic flight time.
Don and Jane Smith enjoyed life in DeBary, Florida, during his civilian career following Navy retirement.
I learned of Donís loss in a phone call from John "Hilby" Hilburn Ď69 (who was with us for three years before turning back to í69). Hilby deployed with Don to the Indian Ocean during 1980-1981at the height of the crisis with Iran. He understood Donís memorial service was a very moving tribute. "Obviously our classmate was held in high esteem by his community and the university," Hilby said. "Don was an effective leader. He passed his knowledge and skills in the air-combat maneuvering environment on to the rest of his less-experienced and wanna-be air fighters. He was a humble and personable comrade in arms and a great roommate. He will live on in some of my best memories of my days in the Navy."
Don Smith whacks a few golf balls during "steel beech liberty" while deployed to the Indian Ocean during the crisis with Iran in 1980.
Joe Sfara related that Don was the first mayor of his town, Debary, Florida, and a Donald E. Smith Boulevard is named in his honor. On a lighter note, Joe said Don was a devoted Southerner, with the "Stars and Bars" prominently displayed in his room. "On our first meeting during Plebe Summer," Joe said, "he let me (a Pennsylvanian) know that he was a teenager before he learned that damn and Yankee were two separate words! Nevertheless, we became great friends, and he visited my home in Pennsylvania on leave."
In closing, Barry LaFleur died January 12 at his residence in New Orleans, LA. Barry was a member of our class in 1964, but he transferred to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge that same year.
All the best,