ALL49 14 MAR 2017
Beware the Ides of March
Last month I opened with the predictions of Punxsutawney Phil and Staten Island Chuck, groundhogs of some fame in forecasting the weather. Whereas Phil went back in his hole, signaling 6 more weeks of Winter, Phil’s prediction was an early Spring. Those of you in the Northeastern states have worn out several snow-shovels by now. Do you have Chuck’s picture on a wanted poster in the post office?
Those of us south of the Mason-Dixon line haven’t been without snow, but the 12-inch levels have been in the mountains and 4-inch and less elsewhere. We in the piedmont area of Virginia have had the Appalachians deflect fronts through the Carolinas or to northward toward DC and Maryland. Sorry about that. How cold is it in Maryland, mister?
We have gone to daylight saving time with the Vernal Equinox soon to come, but beware the Ides of March. March is named for Mars, the Roman god of war. Although few of us are ready for the battlefield, most of us are in our annual battle with the IRS. (If you join the last two words of that sentence, you have “theirs.”)
Bob McElroy asked me a question two weeks ago, about “PC at the academies.” This was posed in a readdressed email he was forwarding to me. My first comment was that PC was not spelled out in his or forwarded messages. Political correctness has been with us since the ‘40s. It has grown from political positions on racial relations, female equality, gay rights, ethnic freedoms, etc. The military leadership, including that at the academies, must support the Constitution, the laws of the nation, and rulings of the courts, or they are replaced.
The USNA commandant spoke at the last COCP meetings about military discipline at USNA, with certain questions coming up. He reported his main problem is use of alcohol while away from Annapolis. The alcohol leads to more serious matters.
Last year there was an article in the newspaper about two openly gay midshipmen who were Commissioning Week dates. (“Drags” we used to call our young ladies.) I also can report the Chapel is still there with voluntary attendance, John Paul Jones and St. Andrews Chapel are below it. Tom Donoher Catholic Chapel is in Bancroft Hall, with Levy Jewish Chapel and a Muslim place of prayer in Mitscher Hall. Is that political correctness?
The above have evolved over the years; however, my big concern is what is happening to the academies themselves. The curricula are becoming less like that of a military academy. Being a WWII class, we spent 4 years studying to be a regular naval officer. Our only choice of subject was language. Our BS diploma was signed by 10 department heads, plus the commandant and superintendent. Now there are 22 (as I recall) department heads, plus the commandant, superintendent, and academic dean. Attendees can study in various majors. The next thing that will occur will be a name change to University of the Severn, with Naval ROTC unit. (Note my underline of BS. I get obituaries citing Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, etc. Our diploma is BS – Bachelor of Science, without other definition.)
Secretary of the Navy
I urge you to read an article about the new SECNAV in HOTLINE on the class website, www.usna-class49.org . From a bad beginning (Army) he seems to be well acquainted with the USNA with number one son a graduate and number two son a midshipman. He has served on the Foundation board and should be up to date on USNA issues.
I am now putting two or three of my latest ALL 49s on the website. I don’t know how many of you avail yourself of the website, but if I get submission of your memories of Navy days and other inputs I publish quite rapidly. Please have your submissions attached to an email in file form, with .jpg pictures if desired.
I recently put a long article of My Army Time in MEMBER INPUT, which you might find interesting. There are several episodes I’ve had for years for a book I hope to write, Near Fame, of my contact with famous people. You have seen a few in MEMORIES.
Note from Bob Smith
I’ve been “Sick in Quarters” for the past 2 years, having In-home Dialysis for advance kidney disease. As in many worlds, there are a lot of moving parts in the body – that leads to my granddaughter’s poster, “Progress isn’t always Linear”. So, we move a day at a time. I am fortunate to have a great medical team, primary care doctor and a range of specialists. With all our family members living in the area, they participate in support of the therapy. The family support team is anchored by Canda 24/7, as a combination angel and ever ready bunny. Daughter, Alexandra, manages my doctor appointments and personal accounts. This has provided regular time with family members and we have been able to celebrate anniversary, my 90th birthday, and holidays together. Bob
Dr. Robert L. Smith, CDR, U. S. Navy (Ret) March 13, 2017 in Alexandria, VA.
ALL49 9 April 2017
The Japanese cherry trees on the mall in Washington suffered from the harsh weather of what should have been springtime. Reports are that half the blooms did not survive. The March winds included tornadoes that hit from coast to coast, with the brunt covering the swath from Texas across the Gulf states and turning northward through the Mid-Atlantic. The old saying of “going out like a lamb” has not occurred this year with the April showers being in the form of sleet and snow as “Blue Northers” and “Canadian Clippers” have earned their names. Nevertheless, the worst time is less than week ahead as the IRS has us scurrying to reach their deadline.
The nice thing I can add is how relieved most of us will be when our returns in the mail. The time is approaching to put the grill outside and hook up the garden hose.
If you visited the class website, as I suggested last month to see the item about the SECNAV nominee, your return will find it has been taken down. Philip Bilden has redrawn as the nominee. During his hearings for confirmation there were lots of questions of his work and contacts in Hong Kong and the Far East. I am unaware if Trump has selected someone else as yet.
March 31st, I attended the ceremony in Alumni Hall for the induction of selectees for Distinguished Graduate Awards. Most of you are aware of the announcement a couple of months ago of classmate ADM Harry Depue Train II being one of five selectees. A month ago all ‘49ers received an invitation to attend the ceremony. Several people contacted me for amplifying information which I provided. Unfortunately, the weather I discussed in the opening paragraph must have impacted attendance. When Ursula Vosseler (Warren’s widow and my assistant Shipmate editor and ceremony guest) arrived at Alumni Hall between downpours, there were five chairs on the main floor marked for Class of 1949 attendees. A podium was on the left a stage about 50 feet from us. About 50 chairs were on the main floor stage right for family members of inductees. Center of the main floor was for certain midshipmen. Tiered seats in the lower tier had classmates of other inductees and special guests of the superintendent, and Foundation/Alumni Assoc. The upper tier of seats were open to all midshipmen. I’d guess 4-5,000 attendees.
When only four selectees mounted the stage, I noted that former Virginia Senator (and writer) Jim Webb wasn’t among them. Checking the program, it didn’t mention him. Later I learned there had been protests about his selection because of his views on women in combat units. (Did I have something to say about Political Correctness last month?) He respectfully declined to accept the award.
Midshipman Raymond, President, Class of 2017 was narrator during a pictorial review of the selectees’ lives/careers. An invocation by CAPT Foley, CHC, followed. There was a presentation of colors and playing of the National Anthem. VADM Carter, Superintendent, gave the welcoming and opening remarks. ADM Matter, Chairman of the Alumni Association Board of Trustees, and MIDN Isabel Krause, ’17, Brigade Commander joined VADM Carter in presenting the DGAs to the inductees.
After each inductee received his DGA, he went to the podium giving a short, inspiring talk to the mostly midshipman audience. All received great applause. After singing of “Navy Blue and Gold” and ceremony closure, midshipman stormed the main floor where the new inductees met them and classmates who attended.
There was a champagne reception in the Rotunda before dinner in Smoke Hall for inductees, previous inductees, family, and special guests. Class of 2017 midshipmen were at some tables. One at our table was 20th company commander, Harry’s last company. He was awed by the differences that have occurred since our time.
After one more round of “Navy Blue and Gold” and “BEAT ARMY,” we braved the rains to buses returning us to Memorial Stadium where our cars were parked.
April 5th, was a day between storms going through the Mid-Atlantic so I drove down to Virginia Beach for their first Wednesday of the month luncheon at Lynnhaven Fish House. I had planned to pick up Bob and Janie Fellows and Joanne Roos along the way but both were unable to join me. Arriving at Virginia Beach, Jack and Fran Huenerberg were at there to greet me, but Carolyn Dennis has not returned from her Christmas plus visits with her daughters and families. Harry and Catherine Train entered soon after I did.
One of my goals was to give Jack a citation for his service to the Tidewater ’49ers and families over the years and award him a USNA emblem pin. Unfortunately, my computer with the citation locked up and I couldn’t make the printout. Nevertheless, he has the pin for his blue blazer, if he ever wears one, or his bathrobe.
From the President
My item in the latest Shipmate about stressing the Association of the Class of 1949 being a veterans group with their wives being associate members raised some questions. Unlike USNA classes in the last 40 years we had no female classmates. Class presidents are members of their class whether graduates or non-graduates. We are in a unique position of being able to have a wife as Association president, if she had previous military service, or serve in any executive position as an associate member except president or vice president. However, in the Alumni Association our class wives aren’t alumni of USNA. Things do get complicated at times. But – can any of you name who we still have that meet the criteria for Association president?
Raymond W. Hargrove died March 21, 2017 in Trinity Hospital in Augusta, GA.
Nothing could be finer . . . .
ALL49 15 May 2017
Funny that the month of May is here and I haven’t seen anything in the news about dancing around the maypole as during our youth. However, rather than television covering the parading of Russian military forces on May 1st, we have seen North Korean’s parade of their missile capabilities. (I wonder if those tubes had anything in them.) Obviously, the ritual of sword-wielding in March, and following months, is still used for posturing by many countries for recognition on the world stage.
As I reported last month, this month started with attendance at the Council of Class Presidents’ (COCP) meeting in the N Room at Memorial Stadium. There was an ominous starting of the agenda with the announcement of the deaths of the presidents of Classes ‘31, ‘32, and ’37 since our last meeting. With the break-out of presidents by decade, who arrives at the “dinosaur table” (‘40s and prior) but the ’52 president, a plebe in my company first class year. George Ellis, ’44, brother of our deceased classmate, and I gladly welcomed the ‘50s decade guys allowing their decade leader to assume the chair with his decade recorder taking all the notes.
With the first issue being drafting a guide for reunion/homecomings, I advised them that there was one written in 2011 that had everything in it that the new draft has, but also included names and telephone numbers of Alumni Assoc. contacts responsible for certain actions. The new draft just needs to be updated. The second issue was the withdrawal of Jim Webb, former Marine valor medals and Purple Heart winner in Vietnam, as well as former SECNAV, Senator of Virginia, and author, as a recipient of a DGA in March. My position was stated along the same terms I responded to Bob McElroy’s question regarding political correctness a couple of months ago. The recorder didn’t ask me any questions so I assume I was pretty clear.
The Alumni Assoc. panel of speakers provided updates of activities and objectives. Most interesting to me were:
> The ring bank not only has a display in the museum in the Yard, but also in Ogle Hall. Also, a new effort has been started by Class of ‘70 to donate their rings for meltdown and being recast into rings for their “link in the chain” Class of ‘20. A lot of widows have supported this.
> Class secretaries are vital to class news. This was stated by Kristen Pironis, Shipmate Editor-in-Chief. Yes, she knows Class of ’49 quite well.
> AA gives $1M/year to superintendent for variable event needs. The Foundation gives $23.2M to superintendent for specific programs.
> Jamie Wolff, ’03, Information and Technologies Services Director, is working on a change in Internet Services Provider. I didn’t have time to corner him, but will try to schedule during another visit to Annapolis. His current email service does not provide access to needed capabilities.
> ADM Natter, Chairman of AA Board of Trustees, noted the division of efforts between the Foundation and Alumni Assoc. Both seek funding of their efforts. The Foundation has the big money; trusts, endowments, scholarship awards, etc. It has its own BOT.
>Chet Gladchuk gave another great pitch as Athletic Director. He noted the need for good coaches and training facilities for Navy to be competitive in all sports, not just football, against other larger schools. Our graduation rates far exceed other schools and USNA athletes normally stand above their peers in GPA. They not only improve their physical skills but also in teamwork and leadership roles.
>Superintendent VADM Ted Larson reported that his priorities were in International Study Programs, Experimental Leadership Development, and Cyber Warfare. He noted international study had a side benefit in learning a foreign language with better results than in class rooms at USNA, while studying in another curricula elsewhere. He was scheduled to testify the following day, but didn’t say for what purpose. Most of the questions asked concerned “midshippersons” conduct within the Yard.
Board of Trustees Meeting
The night before driving to Annapolis for the BOT meeting, southwest Virginia was spawning tornado warning areas. I checked the forecast for my travel day finding a 90 percent chance of thunderstorms, and the BOT meeting day forecast at 95 percent rain. I figured they didn’t need a representative of the “dinosaur” decade present. You should have received ADM Natter’s report to alumni.
Since nominee, Bilden, withdrew becoming the new SECNAV, leaving Malbus still looking for a relief, Jannine Davidson has been approved by the Senate to be Under Secretary of the Navy and was sworn in March 22, 2017. She was nominated in September 2015, but was held up by concern of a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Jean Eaton, widow of William T. Eaton, died March 10, 2017 in Lake Oswego, OR.
Charles R. Johnson died March 1, 2017 in Silver Spring, MD.
Gerald A. Mc Neely died March 12, 2017 in Louisville, KY.
Frank O. Roland died April 27, 2017 in Floresville, TX.
CAPT Donald A. Smith died April 26, 2017 in Manhattan beach, CA.
Obituaries for all are on the website.
Nothing could be finer . . .