|We began the day with breakfast at the Best Western Motel. Present were two of our class with impressive credentials, John Raster (7) and Allan Brown (13). John, as a Plebe (Freshman), with prior college football experience at the University of Detroit, returned an intercepted pass* in our 1951 Army-Navy game, from one yard inside the end zone, 101 yards for a touchdown. A record which still stands. He now lives near South Bend, Indiana where his three sons attended Nortre Dame and are now all Physicians. Allan, entered the Marine Corps. on Graduation, resigned as an Artillery Battery Commander 12 years later, went to Seminary becoming an Episcopal Priest. He then returned to the service in the Army retiring some 20 years later as a Lt. Colonel. Today, he is a Commodore (Flag Rank) in the Coast Guard Auxiliary from the 7th Coast Guard District in Eastern Florida. His reign includes my Flotilla 16-2 in Saint Thomas, USVI. He is one of seven of our class who later entered the ministry. *Note, the photo indicates he ran back a kick-off, while our year book, "Lucky Bag," reports it as an intercepted pass.
Our 16th Company began with 45 men, Plebe (Freshman) year. We graduated 33, 9 of whom entered the Air Force, the remainder entered the Navy. None of our company went into the Marine Corps.
During our time at the Academy, there was no Air Force Academy, as such, it was mandated that 25% of the graduating class of both West Point and the Naval Academy had to enter the Air Force. There was no problem filling this quota, as many of our class were marrying shortly after graduation, and, didn't want to see the next five years at sea! I spent 6 years at sea, serving on 4 ships, before my first shore duty station, which was in the Philippines.
We had 13 16th Company graduates attend this reunion, the widow of John Richards (16), and two non-graduates.
The first Reunion event Friday was a Memorial service in the Naval Academy Chapel in which the individual names of each of our departed classmates were read in categories of the companies to which they were assigned. As each companies names were read, those attending with their wives and families stood. Fourteen men of my 16th Company are no longer with us.
Seven classmates were lost at sea in aircraft accidents, there bodies never recovered. Seventeen died in operational duty while on active duty , while five had died from non-operational causes.
Our class of some 1067 men entered the Academy during the first week of July, 1951. Four years later, we graduated 742, an attrition of some 30%. In the 59 years of our service, we've lost some 234. I know we lost the first man soon after our academic year commenced in September. One of my company mates died in an automobile accident during our first years Christmas leave. In attendance at this reunion, some 191 folks signed up. This included a few widows and a number of non-graduates.
Our place in history in perspective, In 1955 when we graduated, the Class of 1900 were celebrating their 55th Reunion. Of a graduating class of 61, 22 were still alive. Ernest Joseph King graduated a year later with '01. Among their Firsties of '97 were Thomas Charles Hart and William Daniel Leahy. Their Plebes of '04 included Husband Edward Kimmel and William Frederick Halsey, Jr.
Couldn't get any of the family to accompany me to the memorial service, Gracie never goes as she cried through the service the first reunion, the 40th, that we attended, and hasn't attended since.
Joining however, was Patrick Robertson with his family, Maureen, and daughter, High School senior, Sara whose accompanying them visiting college campus. Tomorrow, they will be looking at the two schools in D. C., Georgetown, and George Washington University.
Patrick is the eldest son of one of my roommates, George George Fetterer. George was of German descent from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He played varsity Center Forward on our soccer team the last three years of our tenure.
Incidentally, being basically an engineering school, George was called G Squared. And I was known for the three years of our rooming, as Marty. and this is the name my classmates still greet me.
George was married in Washington, D. C. to Beverly in Washington, D. C. the afternoon of our graduation. He had joined the Air Force as a ground officer as his eyesight was not good enough for flight duty. Their first duty station was March Air Force Base in Riverside, California. There, Patrick was born in May, 1956. I was then stationed on a Destroyer out of San Diego, California and attended his Christening.
George subsequently, through the coaching of Bev, a nurse, was able to improve his eyesight sufficiently that he qualified for a Navigator/Bombadier's role in the flight program.
In January, 1960, the B52 in which he was flying, stalled on lift off during a touch and go landing at the air force base in Puerto Rico. The craft turned over on it's back and crashed, killing all aboard. Patrick was not yet 5 years old, the oldest of 4 children, with one more on the way. Beverly returned to their home town, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, buried George, then returned to Riverside, California with the children. I had a chance to visit her in 1961, just before my posting to the Philippine Islands. Within the next two years, Bev remarried and her new husband raised her children as his own.
Patrick and his siblings learned little of their father's life.
Five years ago at our 50th reunion, Patrick & Maureen attended, and I along with my other roommate, Jerry Gerdon, took him in tow and toured the grounds pointing out where we roomed, our classrooms, etc. Also we took him to the Library Archivist who provided Patrick with George's academy record as well as his High School credentials.
After the service, We toured the Rotunda and Memorial Hall in Bancroft Hall, I believe to be the largest dormitory in he US, housing some 4400 Midshipmen/women. Memorial Hall was where we were sworn in.
It was then time, to head back into the Historic downtown Annapolis for lunch with the attending members of my 16th Company.