As you can tell, I lost my Dad, Anton (Tony) Patrick Morin, on February 7th at the age of 81 years, 6 months, and a day. His obituary can be seen here.
I am Mark A. Morin. The A is for Anton. I have his name. Dad was a proud Air Force veteran. His obituary has a lot of that information. I guess this post is my way of breathing – and finding peace.
Dad declined quickly. He was sent by ambulance to the hospital on Thursday, January 30th after he fell and had a mental break during which he was confused and yelling and just out of it. He had resumed a degree of normalcy (such as it was) by the time I saw him that morning/afternoon in the hospital. It appeared that he might have had a mass on his lung, but no explanation for the cognitive issues. We did not know what was going on medically, and still do not (he had a lot of health issues). My Mom was exhausted physically and emotionally, so I sent her home and I stayed with Dad. He was in pain, but we did get to have some conversations. He prayed aloud in pain and was worried about his soul and Heaven. His own Dad abandoned him in the 40’s – and was absent in his life. I got to tell my Dad that I wished that he had had a great Dad like I had. And despite his pain, he smiled.
I knew he was dying, but one never knows how soon. Ten years ago, he nearly died (he was hospitalized for months). Thank God he lived another ten years. This time, I waited until my Mom left and asked the nurses to get him a priest. Father Jose came later around 7 PM and Dad was finally asleep. He began to pray over him and Dad gently woke up. Dad spoke with Fr. Jose and even in Spanish a bit (Dad was a multi-lingual guy). He gave him The Last Rites and I got to pray The Our Father with my Dad. He then went to sleep, and I left.
The next day (Friday February 1st) he was scheduled for a lot of tests so I did not go to see him. I went Saturday morning and by then pretty much his mind was gone. He could not communicate in any effective way and was totally confused. His mental state never got any better from then on, and the cause of his condition remained a mystery.
Six days later, at 2:15 AM on Friday, February 7th, my Mom called to tell me that the hospital had called her to tell her that it would not be long. We got to the hospital, and he was unconscious, on oxygen, but struggling to breathe. His family was with him. He was given some morphine for comfort, the oxygen mask was removed, and I held his hand as he took his last breath.
His funeral was at St. Camillus, our old family parish in Fitchburg, MA, on February 15th. I got to speak and give a remembrance of Dad. I was honored to do so and share what my Dad meant to me – about his Work Ethic, his love for his family, and his Faith. It’s tough now, for sure.
However, I have Faith, the greatest gift he and my Mom ever gave to me. I feel especially blessed that I got to pray with him the last time he could with me.
I will go on to blogging about the significantly less important aspects of life, but I felt that I needed to have a blog entry about Dad before I moved on. I also held back posting from late January onward as all this was going on. Dad loved history and loved seeing my miniatures, especially the tanks. We all lose our Dads someday, and our worlds get smaller as a result. But I believe Dad has earned his Eternal Reward and we will be together again someday.
I am not looking for pity – just needed to put this down in a brief way. Thanks to all who reached out to me and my family – I will never forget your love and your compassion, and your friendship.
Love ya Dad, thanks for everything. I’ll do my best to honor your memory and what you meant to me.
In support of all these activities, of course I had a number of projects in terms of assembling, painting, and creating. I documented these here. Being an analytical type of guy I kept a spreadsheet of my hobby activities (below) and listed them on a page of this blog with links (also below).
The entire list and links are at the end of this blog which will refer to each project. These links are very useful to me in reviewing previous projects as to what paints I used, what techniques, etc.
The building and painting of tanks and support materials made up the largest part of my 775 project activities in 2019 (106 tanks I believe – 43 German, 23 UK, 18 US, 15 Italian, and 7 French), and the remainder were models for retro sci-fi games (around 50 or so).
The blog itself grew by a lot, and I was very pleased about that. In 2019, there were 20,965 views (versus 13,743 in 2018) by 13,819 visitors (versus 8,295 in 2018). I managed to get in 36 posts, 3 more than in 2018. I must say a huge thanks to all of my readers and followers of my blog! I especially appreciate all of you (and you know who you are) – who took the time to give me feedback – it was great to hear all of your perspectives. THANK YOU!
So what’s next for 2020? My goals are always changeable (hell, its a hobby right), but here is my current list:
Run convention games at TotalCon, HAVOC, HUZZAH, BARRAGE, and the Fort Devens Game Day (and a few more maybe)
Grow the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club with new members and new GM’s
Support the Historical Gaming Club of Uxbridge
Build a suitable force of French and German tanks for the Battle of France scenario for 80th anniversary of this event
Build 2 or more new platoons for retro sci-fi games of Combat Patrol
Start the Nomonhan project
Complete a supplement for Feudal Patrol for Mesoamerican warfare (Aztecs, etc)
Be productive, but never sacrifice quality
Grow the blog and find new ones to follow!
Entertain my audience!
Get my handicap below 14 (if I have enough non-gaming time!)
Thanks again for reading this and making my little hobby blog a part of your day! Here are the massive details of 2019 below:
Amazingly, this upcoming May-June 2020 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of France. I am curious as to how it will be remembered – if at all. Certainly I would think that both the French and the Germans will likely shy away from commemorating the event for diametrically opposed reasons. Yet, it is definitely worth remembering it as a seminal event that without question fashioned all of the world’s history since.
I have studied this battle since my days at West Point. I was fortunate there to study with the then-USMA Department of History Chair COL Robert A. Doughty (now a retired Brigadier General). I was able to participate in a class (HI498 – a colloquium) with him and just one other cadet during my second semester senior year as part of my concentration of studies in French. A side note – my class – 1984 – was the last class not to have majors – we had concentrations. This meant we could choose 8 classes outside of the 44 classes in the core curriculum. As I love military history, especially French military history, this colloquium was a great opportunity. We studied Alistair Horne’s works among others.
Previously, I have built French and German tanks and run several France 1940 games described in this blog – but my 15mm/1:100 scale tank inventory was quite lacking in terms of the wide variety of vehicles used. I aim to remedy that. I am currently planning on running a game at TotalCon in February, and at HAVOC in April. I may do others as well, plus club gaming sessions. This blog post describes the first chapter of my preparation and force building upgrades for those events – four Hotchkiss light cavalry tanks (one H35 and three H39’s).
I will go over a bit of history of the Hotchkiss tanks and then show some WIP shots of the models. I will then share some eye-candy shots of the finished models. Lastly, as per usual, I will share the paints and materials used in this project.
The H35 tank was originally rejected by the infantry, who chose the R35 instead. It was intended to be a light cavalry tank, though it did equip some infantry tank units as well. Hotchkiss built around 1200 H35’s and H39’s, with the majority being H35’s. The Hotchkiss company was actually founded by an American from Connecticut, Benjamin Hotchkiss. He was a Union ordnance engineer at Colt and a munitions builder during the American Civil War. Finding no US business after that conflict, he moved to France and set up his own company.
The H35 and H39 both had the same 37mm SA18 gun that many French tanks had though the H39 had a longer barrel with better armor penetration (30mm vs 23mm of armor with the shorter barrel). Given that a Panzer IIIE of the time had 30mm of armor all around, this was not adequate to be sure. It had a crew of just two, which made it challenging to operate effectively in battle. Three out of four of the armored divisions’ tank regiments had Hotchkiss tanks (the other one had SOMUA S35’s). The armor was adequate, but with a range of only 80 miles and a top speed of 17 mph, it was not very cavalry-like. On top of it all, it was tough to drive and mechanically unreliable.
After France capitulated, both Germany and Italy got Hotchkiss tanks. Some of these Italian vehicles faced US Army Rangers in Sicily. After the war, some Hotchkiss tanks served on with the Israeli Defense Force until 1952.
I acquired a 3-vehicle packet from Battlefront Miniatures (#FR020) and one single H39 vehicle from Peter Pig (#PP33). The Battlefront ones could be either H35’s or H39’s. In the end, one of the H35 guns was unsatisfactory, so I ended up with one H35 and three H39’s. In the game, there are no differences statistically between the two types.
Now, I would like to share the finished vehicles – eye candy (at least I hope you find them nice to look at).
Battlefront H39’s (two)
Peter Pig H39
This concludes my very last post of 2020 – and the beginning of this project. (I will be doing a 2019 round up of course – but that will be coming later this week).
More Battle of France vehicles (French and German) will be coming and I hope that you will find them interesting. If you have any feedback, good, bad or otherwise, let me know in the comments section – I do appreciate knowing what you think.
Thanks for looking and Happy 2020!
PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE VEHICLES:
Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol 91%
Microscale Liquid Decal Film
1/8″ neodymium magnets
Green stuff (kneadatite)
Poster tack and ¼” square wooden dowels on plastic plates
During the Battle of France (May-June 1940), there was an amazing variety of vehicles on both the German and the French sides. At this same time last year, I began putting together a collection of period 15mm/1:100 scale vehicles for this period. These were discussed here. I have previously posted about a couple of games (December 2018 and January 2019) that I ran using the What a Tanker™ rules from the UK’s Too Fat Lardies. I have been hoping to return to this period and add more vehicles to both armies. I am starting this augmentation by adding 3 FCM 36 light tanks to my fleet.
The FCM stands for Société Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, a shipbuilder in Toulon who manufactured this 1936 design – and delivered about 100 to the French Army up through 1938. Cost and industrial manufacturing concerns limited further purchases. They were a little more than 12 tons, with a crew of two. The armor was fairly good – welded, and very sloped for tanks of the day. It also had a diesel engine and reasonable range unlike many other contemporary French tanks. However, like many other French tanks, it was armed with the weak Puteaux SA 18 37mm gun which definitely had challenges fighting German armor. Notably, two battalions of FCM 36’s tried to repel the bridgehead that the Heinz Guderian had established across the Meuse, but they were too little and too late. After the surrender of France, some of the FCM 36 chassis were converted to Marder I’s or self-propelled artillery. Some of these conversions were involved in the Normandy Campaign of 1944. Today, only one FCM 36 survives at Saumur.
I thought these would be a good addition to my French early-war tank collection. In What a Tanker™, these are the cheapest tanks to buy point-wise. The only source I found for these models was Old Glory. They are metal, and quite small of course.
Lastly, I thought I’d share some group and individual shots and a bit about their debut on the tabletop the day after they were completed.
I used a blue diamond, a red heart, and a red club as decals which would also help identify these as different individual tanks on the tabletop. From my research, FCM’s did not seem to have as many markings historically as other French tanks.
On the other side of the table, Mike’s teammate Tom managed to kill Christine’s Panzer 38(t) with a SOMUA S-35. Mike got another FCM 36, and that was killed by Christine’s teammate Chris’s StuG A (in the shot below on the left). Mike replaced his lost tank with an R35. Tom drove his SOMUA around the building but frustratingly could not take a point-blank shot at the Panzer IIIE (as his dice roll failed him). Mike had to leave, and my wife Lynn (no gamer just watching) took over the R35. Lynn drove the tank to the side of Christine’s Panzer IIIE, and rolled three critical hits – and Christine failed to block any. This knocked out the Panzer IIIE!
That ended the game, with the French winning a very narrow victory 32-31. If Lynn had not rolled so well in killing the Panzer IIIE, the Germans would have won. Thanks to the players for a great and fun game!
I have plans for more French and German tanks for this scenario. I hope that you enjoyed this post, and feel free to share your thoughts and feedback with me in the comments section! I have been behind on my blogging efforts and hope that I can share more with you soon! Thanks for taking a look!
This was my second time attending this small convention and my first time as a game master there. For nostalgia alone, I really looked forward to the event as I was stationed at the old Fort Devens before it was closed in the 1990’s. It has since been converted to commercial uses and some US Army Reserve functions. Running a game here was fun.
Both sides started with 150 points/chips to use during the game. The Allies started with a 40 points worth of vehicles. For the UK, they bought a Dingo scout car and a Churchill “TIM” (nicknamed for theimperfectmodeler aka TIM), along with an M5 Stuart, and an M8 Greyhound for the US. The Germans spent slightly less, choosing to buy an SdKfz 231 scout car, a StuG IIIG, and a Panzer IVH for 36 points.
The Germans took up very good ambush positions – especially the Panzer IVH, which was hull-down behind a stone wall. The M5 Stuart successfully reconned it, and the German fired point-blank at the light tank, missing it. The Stuart then prudently backed up behind the hedgerow. The Churchill “TIM” then moved up the road, to be also shot at, and again missed by the Panzer IVH. Amazingly, the Churchill immediately reversed the bad German die rolls, and miraculously hit and knocked out the Panzer IVH for its first kill ring of the day.
The Allies then successfully reconned nine possible German positions at 2 points apiece, adding to their score. They also successfully crossed the tabletop with an M8 Greyhound, gained the points, and respawned as another M8. The Germans spent some points and respawned the destroyed Panzer IVH crew into a Panther D which drove up next to the burning Panzer IVH. The Churchill “TIM” went Panther hunting.
Meanwhile, the Germans tried to put an end to the Allied reconnaissance successes. The StuG IIIG ambushed both the M5 and the Dingo gaining them crucial points, which they used to buy a Marder III. The Allies respawned both losses with similar models.
The Allies spent some chips to respawn the Dingo as a Cromwell IV nicknamed “IRO” aka imperialrebelork. The Germans dropped some obscuring smoke in front of the Cromwell.
“TIM” continued its winning ways and managed a flank shot on the Panther D. Its good dice rolling (and the German bad dice rolling) yielded a second kill ring for “TIM”.
The Germans were aghast at this expensive loss and vowed revenge. The SdKfz 231 managed to call in a rare Luftwaffe air strike on the Churchill, which destroyed “TIM” after it had been so effective.
The StuG IIIG went head-to-head with the Cromwell “IRO”, and took it out. The Jagdpanther caught the Achilles “Per” in the open and made short work of it. In the meantime, the Allies successfully crossed a Dingo and an M8 Greyhound. This resulted in denying the Germans any end of game bonus points for preventing more than two Allied vehicles crossing the table.
To make matters worse for the Germans, the respawned M5 Stuart knocked out a well-hidden Marder III with some help from a supporting infantry assault (see how I use bonus attack cards here) and well-placed 37mm rounds. As the game was winding down, and it was clear the Allies had a commanding edge in the score, The Germans bought a Tiger I and converged all vehicles on the plucky M5.
At games end, the final score was Allies 193, Germans 142. This game yet again delivered a different result. Player choices, and player luck all made this game fun and unique.
This is my 12th post about my development and running of this scenario and the models that went into making it. I started back in May 2019, so it’s been a lot of work, but one project that I really am proud of now.
I wanted to honor the history and the struggle of the Allies in the days after the D-Day landing 75 years ago. I will continue to run the game, and at this point I really only need to add a StuG IV to be really complete vehicle-wise (and I have one to build!). To read about previous games and related posts, see the following:
When I was young boy, the local TV station would show an old monster or horror movie on Saturday afternoon. Sometimes these were the of the 1960’s Japanese Godzilla et. al. genre, other times they were the B-movie sci-fi stuff from the 1950’s. Even the British Hammer remakes would be shown. Those were all cool, but the best ones were the classic 1930’s and 1940’s films like “Dracula” (1931), “Frankenstein” (1931), “The Mummy” (1932), and “The Wolf Man” (1941).
My dad would enthusiastically watch these films with us and I have really special memories of those occasions. Now of course every movie ever made can be had immediately, but back then you had to wait and hope that they would be coming on – and that made their rare showings quite eventful. The subjects of those movies have seen numerous remakes, but the originals remain classics and have had a huge impact on popular culture.
One of those influences was in the creation of games with monsters, such as Dungeons and Dragons (and others) – and the miniatures that were used with them – such as 25mm scale figures from Ral Partha. For US folks unfamiliar with 25mm scale – this is the common Ral Partha scale in the 1970’s and 1980’s and it means that each figure is only about 1″ tall.
I first was exposed to Ral Partha miniatures in 1982 – and have loved them ever since. Sculptors such as Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, and Dennis Mize made fantastic creations that were true scale, not “hero scale” as many of today’s miniatures are. Ral Partha figures are still made today in Cincinnati by Iron Winds Metals. When I returned to the hobby in 2014, I acquired many of the old figures in various lots of figures on eBay. Among these of which I came into possession were several of the old classic movie monsters. They often were encrusted with the types of thick enamel hobby paint that was commonly used back then. I stripped many (with some damage), and put them away for future consideration.
That future consideration arrived this month. A local hobby store, Great Stories in Uxbridge, MA, has gaming and other hobby events that you can read about here. One of these events was “The Great Pumpkin Halloween Hobby Challenge”. The store had a pumpkin patch for figures to be displayed – and the only rules were that there needed to be a pumpkin (provided for $5 as entry) as part of the figure – and that it needed to be submitted by October 28th. I decided that my filed-somewhere Ral Partha monsters would make a nice diorama for the challenge. I dug into my stash, and found that I had 5 suitable figures, two werewolves, one mummy, one Dracula, and one Frankenstein’s Monster. I wanted to push myself with the mini-diorama – as I have been admiring many of those by theimperfectmodeler for years (check one of his recent dioramas here). I am nowhere near his creative league (he is award-winning) – but his work is inspiring and I wanted to see if I could accomplish something of which I could be proud. I decided to use an old DVD and card as a base and a Woodlands Scenics rock as elevation. The edge of the pumpkin patch would be on the DVD so I could line it up on the display at the store.
The effect that I wanted was that of having these classic monsters coming from off the pumpkin patch and moving to prey upon the unwary townsfolk beyond.
Again, these are 25mm figures so they don’t stand out like larger models. This is what we had back in the day! I will share details of each of the five models, and then the completed piece. As is my custom, I will list the paints and materials I used at the end of this post for those interested. I did use many Citadel Contrast paints as base paints.
The Dracula/vampire model was #01-014, a Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line. The base had “Ral Partha 1976” on it. I probably over-cleaned it – but the details on it – especially the face – were not great. Trying to get the right skin tone for Dracula was a challenge – and the lack of detail did not help. I wanted Dracula to be the highest model on the diorama – like he was sending his evil minions forth. The rock had a nice place for me to place Dracula’s base as its size and shape were considerations as well (it was not a removable base).
The Mummy model was #01-020, another Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line. It was also from 1976. This was the easiest to paint and I thought it came out as desired.
The Were Wolf (crouching model)
The were two werewolf models that I used. The first werewolf was in a crouch. This model was “Were Wolf” #01-061, (two words) – yet another Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line. However this one was from 1979. I wanted to have this one climbing up the back slope of the rock, giving a little more depth to the piece.
The Werewolf (standing model)
This is the second of the two werewolf models that I used. This model is standing (and this one is wearing pants). It is “Werewolf” #98-003, (one word). This could have been sculpted by Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, or Dennis Mize, as the Lost Minis Wiki is not clear on that. The sculpt is from the The Adventurers line and has 1979 on the base. I wanted this beast standing in the front of the diorama.
Often called “Frankenstein”, this is actually Frankenstein’s Monster (created of course by Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The model is another one from The Adventurers line and has the designation #98-003. The detail on this was also fairly good for a model from 1979.
The pumpkin was a from a Reaper sprue -and had to be part of the contest submission.
Basing the models after painting them required a bit of landscaping. To fit better on the hobby challenge table, I made a field edge with Citadel “Stirland Battlefield” on the field and “Agrellan Badlands” on the rest of the ground. I added autumn leaves from 4Ground (now available from Warlord Games here) to the still-wet texture paints and some matte varnish droplets on the rock. These were placed as how I thought they would naturally collect – as well as to break up the form of the flat mini bases that were mounted on the rock. Then, I used a handheld hair dryer to dry the terrain (and crack the Agrellan Badlands a bit). I added some grasses from Shadow’s Edge Miniatures. These also helped to hide Dracula’s base a bit.
Once it all had dried, I removed the piece from the poster tack.
I then drove down to Great Stories to get it entered. There are a lot of nice pieces there, so we’ll see how it does – and of course most folks who will vote are not used to wee 25mm scale! It did mesh well with the edge of the pumpkin patch. At the least, I’ll have a Halloween decoration for many years!
Thanks for looking – and I always love getting feedback and any opinions in the comments section, so feel free to post there.
PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE FIGURES:
On the base:
Gorilla Glue gel
Woodland Scenics resin rock
Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
Citadel “Stirland Battlemire” (texture)
Citadel “Agrellan Badlands” (texture)
4Ground Loose Copper Foliage
Shadow’s Edge Static Grass Tufts
Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
Commonly used on all figures for mounting, priming, and varnishing:
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.
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.
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!