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