Remembrances etc. from my 35th West Point Class of ’84 Reunion

This blog has the subtitle Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions.  Mostly it has been focused on hobby stuff- notably miniatures and gaming – and less on the other – and often more important – aspects of Life.  This post will be a bit different for some of you regular readers and I hope that you find it interesting.  As of this writing I am happy to say that this blog has had nearly 25,000 visitors and over 100 followers from dozens of countries.  It’s an enjoyable aspect of my blogging, and I have been able to connect with many like-minded people all over the planet.  Here, I aim to give a limited view into my alma mater and a bit into my own related history.  It’s a personal glimpse to a large extent, and by no means complete, but one I decided to share some thoughts and photos.  Hopefully it’s not overly self-indulgent, but I wanted to write this up.  If you are my classmate, or fellow USMA grad, and reading this, I hope that you get that, and of course GO ARMY!   BEAT NAVY!

Last month I had the privilege of attending my 35th college reunion.

Thirty-five years – wow.

I am a proud member of the United States Military Academy Class of 1984.  Our class motto is “Best of the Corps” – which we chose while just fledgling members of the USMA Corps of Cadets.  That motto certainly did not endear us to the upper classmen from the classes of 1981, 1982, and 1983 at the time.  Some of you may be more familiar with USMA’s more common name – West Point.  We were all commissioned into the US Army in May 1984 as second lieutenants.  Only a handful are still wearing the uniform on active duty.

Regrettably, I had not attended any previous class reunions – something “always came up” with family or work.  Our class of 985 people has now lost 32 brothers and sisters.  Four of the lost are even former roommates of mine, and many more were friends I knew well.  Some of course I only knew from seeing their faces in obituaries.  No matter what, I was never going to see these fallen comrades again, and that really stuck in my craw.  This time, I was determined to attend, honor the fallen, and share some camaraderie with my classmates while it was still possible.  I fervently hope to attend more class events in the future, and hope that we all grow old well.  As for the lost – I also wanted to honor my late classmates by attending the Memorial Service for them.  Below is the program booklet from that service.

1 Page 1 Memorial2 Pages 2-3 Memorial3 Page 4 Memorial

The service was very classy and moving – and those who participated as lectors and speakers (noted above) all did an outstanding job.  I’ll always remember how Craig Bohn sat next to me in the pew and sang “The Corps” and “The Alma Mater” like an angel (really impressive).  On the list of the lost above, many I called friends.  I knew most, and roomed with four – Craig Hogan, Bill Fallon, Troy Overton, and Mike Wooley.  Too soon for all of them, and honoring them was a major motivation for my attendance this year.  God rest their souls.

After the service, which happened on Thursday, we had several activities through the weekend which I will share some shots of as well.

4 Memorial Service F-4
Mark Morin, Bruce Bruno, and Angie Gaston – all company F-4 Frogs – after the Memorial service.

The first reunion event was actually a class golf outing at the West Point Golf Course on Wednesday (the day before the Memorial Service).  I did not want to start with describing it here, as the Memorial Service, in my view, was more important.  I played with Glenn Goldman and Matt Johnson and we had a blast.  I did not play up to my desired level, but hey, we had fun.  I only wish that I had some shots of us playing.  I had not played the course since the early 2000’s – and the hole markers were awesome.  Each described a war/campaign/battle in a lot of detail (especially for a hole marker) and referred to the West Pointers involved.  They covered the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts.  I really liked them and thought I’d share them below.

The Thursday golf was a nice start to the weekend.  Much catching up occurred that night back at the Park Ridge, NJ Marriott – to continue all weekend.  Things started well with a few beers with Tom Eisiminger.  There was certainly a lot of socializing over the weekend – ending up with a class dinner on Friday night, a parade on Saturday, revisiting West Point, and of course an Army football game against Morgan State.  It was great to be among fellow classmates and graduates.

For those who are not USMA grads or classmates, some background.  As a start, I was in company F-4 (company F, 4th Regiment) for my last three years.  I was in C-1 during my plebe (freshman) year.  My yearbook photo was fine – well sort of.  Fellow F-4 Frog Bruce Bruno (from photo above) wrote my blurb underneath.  Only by the time it went to press the girl I was involved with (and had at the time planned to marry) had broken it off!  I also had Aviation branch listed (the wings).  I started after graduation as a helicopter pilot, but decided to leave flight school.  As I had failed a simulator check-ride in instruments, I was told that I’d have no chance to get into Apaches or Blackhawks as a result, only Hueys.  So, I changed branches, became a combat engineer officer, and enjoyed that greatly until I left the Army in 1992.

1 Me back in the day

5 Michie on Friday
At Michie Stadium on Friday after the Memorial Service.  I reported here on July 1st, 1980 and my parents left me in the loving arms of the US Army.  On May 23, 1984, we graduated at on this very field.
16a BOTC Beast squad
My “Beast” (Cadet Basic Training) Squad shot, summer 1980.  We got a ride in a UH-1 Huey which was awesome.  I am in the middle row on the far right.  Standing behind me is Pat Scanlan from Chicago – and we got to catch up a lot at the reunion which was nice.
6 Class Dinner Bruno, Morin, Sgro
Fellow Frogs Bruce Bruno, me, and Jeff Sgro.
7 Class Dinner Ray and Morin
One of the most fun classmates I ever hung out with – Kyle Ray.   Great dude!
8 Parade Cabacungan and Morin
Fellow Frog Gil Cabacungan and me at the parade.
9 Parade Cabacungans (Alec and Gil) and Morin
Gil’s son Alec has raised millions for Shriner’s Hospital for Children – and it was an honor to meet the fine young man.  He has been on TV nationwide for them, and is very inpiring.
10 Parade Line view
The view of The Plain from our place on the parade field.  Third and Fourth Regiments would march by our reviewing position.  The Plain is where we in our class all took our first oath to the Constitution.

You can see multiple pieces of equipment in some of these shots – helicopters, tanks, artillery, and more.  They were there to show the First Class as they decided which branch of the Army they might want to choose to enter after graduation next May.

11 Parade Line view
Third and Fourth Regiments in formation.
12 Parade Line view
A view down our reviewing line.

One of my classmates who has really served the nation well  (and there are many who have) is one hell of an impressive dude.  H.R. McMaster is a retired three-star general, the author of Dereliction of Duty, and formerly President Trump’s National Security Advisor.  We got a chance for a photo together on the Plain after the parade.  Today he’s at Stanford University.

13 HR McMaster and Mark Morin
H.R. McMaster with me…
13a HR McMaster and President Trump
…and H.R. McMaster with his previous boss…

At the parade in the reviewing stand was also the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, USMA Class of 1986.  With him was the current and Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, LTG Darryl A. Williams.   He is a member of the USMA Class of 1983, and was in my company F-4.  He was also a very tough football player.  More importantly, he was smart, decent, a true leader, and funny as hell.  He has had a stellar career.  My first semester Firstie (senior) year (1983),  he was assigned to my platoon as he was a December grad – so I was his last platoon leader – and the late Mike Wooley (from above) was with me as roommate and platoon sergeant.  It is very gratifying to see him as Superintendent developing new leaders for the US Army.  He was swamped with people after the parade, but we F-4 folks snuck in for a photo and that was great!

18b F-4 1984 in 2019
Gil Cabacungan, Bruce Bruno, LTG Darryl Williams, Angie Gaston, and me

 

14 LTG Darryl Williams and Mark Morin
A very impressive soldier and me

After the parade, we hit the old officers club for a pre-game tailgate and to change into more suitable game for an Army football game.  Angie Gaston and I took a stroll along the Plain to our old barracks, checked out the equipment, and watched the helicopters take off.

15 Chinook
CH-47
16 Scout, Apache, Blackhawk
Apache’s and Blackhawks – still serving!
17 Helicopters departing and equipment in front of barracks
You can see the aircraft moving away over the barracks and the other equipment on display.

17a Helicopters departingAngie Gaston and I then made a visit to our old home – that being the 43rd, 44th, and 45th Divisions – our old barracks, Scott Barracks, which dates from 1938.  The Divisions are very different from the other barracks.  Think of them as stacked milk cartons  put side-by-side with no connections horizontally (except occasionally on the first floors).  Divisions are thus arranged vertically – with four cadet rooms and a restroom per stacked floor (with 5 or 6 floors per Division) – if fading memory serves.  Again, as opposed to long dormitory hallways there are no horizontal connections between the Divisions.  It was a fun environment, though if you were on the top floor you got a workout going back and forth to class.  A current G-4 cadet was nice enough to take our pictures – and now this is part of G-4 as F-4’s current barracks is located elsewhere.

18 Angie and me in front of 43rd Division
Angie Gaston and I on the 43rd Division landing…
18a F-4 1984
…and our F-4 class 35 years ago.  GO FROGS!  I’m on the the top row second from the left.  Angie Gaston, Bruce Bruno, Gil Cabacungan, and even Darryl Williams are in this shot.  Jim Kelly and Larry Carroll attended the reunion but I did not get pictures of them for this post.  Of note, the late Bill Fallon and Mike Wooley can be seen here too.

19 Angie Gaston and me in front of 43rd Division

20 Morin and M1A2
Those who follow this blog know I love tanks – so here’s a shot of me and an M1A2 in 2019…
20a Morin and M1
…and one of me and an M1 in 1981 in Fort Knox, KY.  I’m happy I went Engineer, but part of me always wishes I’d gone Armor (and that I weighed the same now as here).
21 Artillery
Artillery and movers
21a Artillery
Self-propelled howitzer (155mm)

Then on the way to Michie Stadium, we got some shots of LTG Williams current home!

22 Supe's house

23 Supe's house
Angie Gaston on the front porch avoiding detection.
24 Supe's house
She wanted this shot for our friend Darryl!

The game was a blast – and it was a very warm and sunny day.  Hung out with Pat Scanlan and Kyle Ray – and even got some Steve Kreipe and Shamus Hanlon time in!

25 At the game
And on to Michie Stadium for the game!
26 Army's got this!
Army defeats Morgan State 52-21!

It was a great weekend, and one that I will cherish the memories of for a long time.  We are all getting older and a 35-year gap is frankly way too long between catching up.  That’s on me – I will do better.

Classmates Jack Picciuto and Curt Cozart did an outstanding job in organizing the reunion – and great thanks to them.   Also, a shout out to Steve Epling, Randy Lee, and Meg Gordon who keep us all connected on the world wide web.  Lastly, I want to thank all of my fellow classmates who I got to catch up with and who thankfully retained a memory (mostly good) of me.  I definitely was thrilled to relive memories with you.

As always, I appreciate any feedback you may have in the comments section – thanks for looking!

Until we meet again, GO ARMY!  BEAT NAVY!

 

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

19 thoughts on “Remembrances etc. from my 35th West Point Class of ’84 Reunion”

    1. Thanks John! Glad you liked it. Though I would take the Challenger II over any other tank except the Abrams! You might also like to know, as a Brit, that on Independence Day (the 4th of July) at West Point, a national holiday for us, the duty officer (who loses the holiday as a result) is ALWAYS the British exchange officer!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Awesome post Mark and one I took the trouble to read twice. I like these sort of posts as it’s rather nice to get to know more about the people I am in regular contact with through my blog. Those with a forces background appear to have a much more interesting life story to tell. I have always tended to shun reunions, not that they are quite so big over here, mainly because they provide me with deadline to try and get a life and which I don’t have a chance of achieveing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Dave, but with SWMBO you have so much life, plus the wisdom that you dispense freely…you have achieved! Glad that you enjoyed the post, it was a departure from the usual to be sure for me. I’m glad it has been well-received so far.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I also enjoyed that. It was a fascinating read and gave me an insight into West Point. At first I was thinking the yearly intake was huge but then I always forget how much bigger the US armed forces are in comparison to ours.
    Oh and why Frogs? Did I miss something when reading this?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks hammer, our starting class was over 1400 I believe. During our basic training, I remember one trainer at a lecture saying “ look to your left, and look to your right, only 2 of you will graduate” and he was correct. As far as the frogs go, we were company F-4 and that was our company mascot. Glad you liked the post!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A bit of sliding door moment for me, reading about your class of 84. In 1984 the Australian army rejected my application, the psychologist recommending (rightly, with hindsight) that I wasn’t a good fit!
    Thanks for sharing this story.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Mark, this was wonderful. I was disappointed I couldn’t make the reunion. You have definitly added to my resolve to make the next one. Thanks for sharing so many F4 flashbacks.

    And to answer the question above about the Frogs: in the 70’s as a bit of resistance to the war in Vietnam, many companies changed their masscot names. G4 became the Gupies then the Gophers or something like that. Most have reverted to something stronger over the years. But F4 has retained the Frogs boldly and proudly. Our own civil disobediance West Point style.

    Bettyann Watson Sheats
    Go Frogs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Bettyann. It was nice to catch up with old classmates, and glad you liked the post.

      I see you’re up in Maine – I did not know you were in New England. I started going to HUZZAH! In Portland which is run by the Maine Historical Wargamers group. Fun group.

      I had not heard of the story of the origins of the Frog’s mascot. Where did you hear that? Not sure that civil disobedience suits me! I see that you’re in the Maine legislature- congrats. I was elected to the Board of Health in East Brookfield, MA. I did not file papers and got written in – and my wife refused to vote for me as she did not want me to do it! But that’s as far as I’ll go as a GOP guy in this state I’m sure – but as I am unemployed it’s the closest thing to a job that I have now!

      Very much appreciated your looking and the feedback. I am behind on posts and have one to do about a war game convention I attended in Maryland with Dave Wood the following weekend.

      Take care and again, nice to hear from you. Go Frogs!

      And GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY!

      Like

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