This post is a little late! Lynn and I celebrated her birthday on June 12th by heading up to Hampton Beach, NH. This was our first trip back up there in several years, but it was a lot of fun.
We hung out at the beach for several hours, taking advantage of Lynn’s new beach umbrella. This kept us from roasting. I did hit the water briefly, but it was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit so when I could not feel anything in my legs I went back. We walked around the area – and it was pretty amazing that so much has been improved in terms of parking, signage, bath houses, etc. The old casino was the same with its many arcades, shops, etc. But again, it seemed less worn down than the last time we were there.
On the way home, had to hit Brown’s in Seabrook, NH. Had a couple of 2.5 lb. lobsters and a quart of steamers each.
On the way in we were surprised to run into Jim Herndon’s mother and his sister who were up from Leominster, MA. Small world!
Need to get back up there again soon – or so Lynn tells me!
It was a rare privilege to attend the Promotion and Installation Ceremony for my fellow F-4 ’84 Classmate Fr. Paul K. Hurley as he was promoted to Major General and installed as the 24th Chief of Chaplains of the US Army.
The ceremony was fantastic, and it was great to be in attendance with nearly 200 fellow USMA 1984 grads, dozens of Army personnel and Fr. Paul’s family & friends. The chapel was packed!
The outgoing Chief of Chaplains, Chaplain (MG) Donald Rutherford spoke, and ribbed Fr. Paul of the Red Sox/Yankees etc. rivalries (he of course is from NY). The history of the Chaplain Corps was read, to include the recent losses of Chaplains in the War on Terror. There was a scripture reading from Ephesians.
LTG H.R. McMaster (another ’84 classmate!) was the senior officer, and presented inspiring remarks and performed the swearing in ceremony. His passion and love for Our Army was on display, as was his immense respect for Fr. Paul. It was great to see Fr. Paul’s parents and family take part in the promotion as well.
I had not seen Fr. Paul since graduation, although we spoke once when he had a parish near Boston. He was the only other Massachusetts native around F-4, and it was great to have someone there besides myself with a proper accent!
He looked great, and gave a tremendous speech. I will always remember that he said the Chaplain needs to go “where it sucks most”. He has been living this mantra for 20 years, most of which while we have been at war. I am proud that such an inspiring man of God will be in a place of leadership where he can do so much good for so many. I PROMISE, I will be praying for Fr. Paul to succeed! The Chaplain Corps motto is “Pro Deo Et Patria” – for God and Country, and Fr. Paul has been a wonderful exemplar of this.
Here is the beautiful program from the ceremony: (in order of pages)
There was a reception at the Chapel at Ft. Myer, and I got to see many, many classmates whom I had not seen in 31 years (our graduation anniversary was the next day, May 23rd). I had many great conversations and along with Dave Wood (who was gracious to help me get there and to the party in Arlington afterwards – THANKS DAVE YOU ARE AWESOME) we had a great time. There is a photo of all from USMA ’84 who attended, and I will add it to this blog when available. From F-4, we had Fr. Paul, Dave Wood, Larry Carroll and his wife, and Jim Kelly and his wife.
The conversations and the celebration continued at Ireland’s Four Corners pub in Arlington. (fitting for a son of Hibernia!). The celebration and the night was great. Fr. Paul’s mother asked for us to sing the “Alma Mater” and I think that it was heard all the way to Annapolis! (BEAT NAVY!)
Here is the awesome cake that says it all:
Much credit goes to Steve Epling for organizing this after party and more – and Mike Kwinn too. I have only recently been made aware of all the class activities through Steve’s efforts and I appreciate them greatly.
God Bless you Fr. Paul and I will keep you in my prayers!
As I write this it is Memorial Day, and this weekend was spectacular in it’s breadth and depth of experience. I traveled from Albany, NY on the evening of Thursday the 21st after working at Albany Medical Center. I drove to Arlington, VA for the promotion of my fellow F-4 classmate Chaplain (COL) Paul Hurley, to Major General as the new Chief of Chaplains of the US Army (more to blog on that later as Fr. Paul’s ceremony and after party were indeed epic!).
The drive was going well until I hit an accident-induced traffic jam at the Baltimore tolls that lasted over two hours with ZERO movement. Finally, it cleared, and after five aggravated lanes of traffic merged into two, I made my way to our class hotel in Arlington, arriving at 2 AM. Got a key, went to the room, only to find that someone was in there. I felt badly that I woke whoever it was up at 2:15 AM – and made a hasty exit back to the front desk for a new key to an unoccupied room. This is why I ALWAYS bolt the doors at hotels. At least I knew what was going on – the poor guy in the first room only knew someone opened his door and said “sorry!”. I then crashed and slept until 7.
As backstory, the previous Saturday, Dave Wood, my classmate and old roommate from USMA swung through East Brookfield, MA on his way back from the Huzzah historical miniatures convention in Portland, ME with his wife Brenda. Lynn and I were happy to see then and really enjoyed spending some time with them and had a great lunch (thanks to Lynn and not me!).
While in East Brookfield, Dave and I made final plans to go to Fr. Paul’s promotion (at Ft. Meyer by the Pentagon) on Friday afternoon, which left us some time to plan to have a quick miniatures game using the Buck Surdu “Look Sarge No Charts”/Bear Yourself Valiantly system. Flash forward to Friday the 22nd – so Dave drove down to Arlington and met me at the hotel. After we grabbed a quick breakfast, it was on to the battle!
Dave set up everything and did a great job. He brought a drop cloth and that went right on the king-sized bed for a nice battlefield. The battle was between an attacking force of Elves (me) and a defending group of Ratlings (Dave). He also had a few orc/goblin ballistae, and I had an Ent. I do believe that Dave gave me plenty of forces and did a nice job teaching me the game mechanics as we went along.
I focused on maneuver and less on frontal assault. This allowed me time to marshal forces for multiple attacks on units. Dave of course accommodated by advancing his forces into woods that I could hit on three sides.
The Ratling defensive position on the Elven left flank became untenable, and they quickly scurried away to the next wood line. On the Elven right flank, casualties were higher, and progress was slower.
Ratling morale began to falter and their leaders faced multiple morale checks as shown by the red gaming stones. Dave’s Morale Check rolls led to retreats.
At this point, the end was near, and we called it over. Dave was gracious – really he set me up for a win. Back in the day, we kept records of all the games we played, and he held a commanding lead over me in victories. He did concede that now I am ahead in the 21st Century!
I was impressed with Buck’s system (no surprise). I was also impressed with Dave’s ability to teach me the system. I will be incorporating some of the mechanics and concepts into the version of fantasy rules that I am updating. I was also able to catch up with Buck on the way home to discuss them (again much thanks to Dave & Buck)!
And after the game, the promotion ceremony for Fr. Paul and the After Party! (my next post!)
This is some great news – Iron Wind Metals has a really interesting Kickstarter Campaign going for bringing back the Ral Partha Chaos Wars and figures. I really like the Goblin/Orc Battalion and will get that. Go to:
It looks like my re-entry into the hobby was timely!
My latest reclamation project was a unit of 18 Cavemen that I purchased from Buck Surdu or Dave Wood back in 1983 or 1984 (not sure who). These were from a line that Minifigs made around 1980 that was quite extensive. Like my other projects, these have been sitting around for quite a long period – 30+ years since I acquired them and 35 years since their manufacture! I thought that it would be interesting to have a large unit of Cavemen armed with Neolithic weapons.
The individual figures did not look very special at first glance. There were three types of cavemen in each package of six. One was armed with a large bone and a shield, a second had a stone dagger and a Neolithic spear, and a third had a shield and a Neolithic spear. There was much less detail than what you would find in later miniatures. I found that there was a lot of flash which I cleaned off, filed down, and saved for future miniature molding. The spears were very soft, and removing the flash felt like I was performing surgery to save the spears. I straightened them out with needle nose pliers. This was also true of the shields. There were 12 shields. I then used dishwashing liquid and a toothbrush to remove oxides and any other residue from everything. Buck had suggested fender washers, so I bought a package of 1” fender washer at Home Depot, which I used as initial bases. These washers were the smallest that Home Depot had, although later on I did find a source for ¾“ fender washers on eBay for future uses. I mounted two figures each on numbered popsicle sticks. Surprisingly, they cleaned up fairly well. I then used Krylon white matte spray paint to prime them.
As you can see above, the rectangular bases really stood out and I was not happy with this. I thought that before I base coated the figures, I needed to address this and my final basing plan. I used simple home vinyl spackle on the washers. By simply putting small amounts of spackle in water and using clay modeling tools I was able to hide the sharp linear edges. I let these dry overnight.
The other issue I had was how they were going to be based. I saw that the spears were soft, so I did not want to see them bent or broken easily. I additionally knew that this unit would fight in a mass formation. In my quest to determine how best to take care of these two issues, I arrived at hexes. I used my Skil scroll saw to cut ⅛” plywood into the shapes for the hex bases. To get the hexes correct, I traced one from my Settlers of Catan game. I then used other 1” fender washers to determine spacing – and ended up with six figures per base.
The painting went well as these figures were obviously mostly unclothed. To get the skin looking swarthy, I used a combination of Raw Umber from Americana and Ryn Flesh from P3. I then used Brown Ink from P3 as a dark shade on all the muscle recesses, darker areas, and where skin touched non-skin areas. I also added definition to the figures’ chest areas and faces. I lightened and highlighted high areas by making the base coat combination with more Ryn Flesh from P3. The cavemen’s hair, loincloths, boots, and stone weapons were painted with Americana Ebony. This was also the color for the eyes and eyebrows. Lastly, I used P3 flesh wash to add even more definition. The shields were painted with a combination of Armory Musket Brown and Armory Leather Brown from 1996. The shield edges were painted with Americana Ebony, and then darkened with Sewer Water wash from Secret Weapons Washes I then affixed the shields with E6000 epoxy and applied a spray varnish with Krylon Matte varnish.
I glued a series of six additional 1” fender washers to each hex base. Sequentially, I then glued each figure to the washer that was affixed to the base. I worked in Polyform Air Dry modeling clay around each figure to hide the washers and to make each base look like a continuous landscape. This required that I glue a few figures, and then work in the clay, and then let the clay cure before moving to more figures being added. This took a few days.
The final base work was done with flocking by Army Painter. I used three different types in random patterns – Ash, Green Grass, and Brown Battlefield. I then used Army Painter Battlefield Rocks painted with Apple Barrel Pewter Gray and Americana Ebony in conjunction with Wilderness Tuft (also Army Painter).
Overall, I am thrilled with how these came out. They were a lot more work than I anticipated, but the bases are solid, heavy, and look great. The figures speak for themselves and I look forward to the first game with them! Basically, I learned that you can do a lot with any figures if you take the time to plan and execute on the details.
I never played D&D or AD&D. I will confess to Buck Surdu’s introducing me to Tunnels and Trolls though (with fond memories)! I also do know that I did from time to time look at the AD&D Monster Manuals to get ideas for T&T, or units for Fantasy Miniatures. One of these ideas was the character of the Umber Hulk. It was a fast-burrowing creature with four eyes and huge mandibles. If you saw all four eyes, you would get confused while fighting it, and likely become lunch. It can burrow through solid rock and even faster through soil. It is intelligent as well.
I remember buying one made by Ral Partha in the late 1980’s (not sure where), probably while I was at Fort Belvoir in Virginia or in California while I was at Presidio of Monterey. Looked cool, but was to remain in limbo until this year.
Back to the word “umber” – I knew it was a color (remember Crayola), but I was unsure if it was brown or dark brown. Turns out there is umber and burnt umber, both of which are shades of brown. I could not see this figure in those colors. He reminded me of a June bug, so that is the direction in which I went.
I used primed the figure and mounted him on a small piece of 1/8″ plywood. I then mounted that on a popsicle stick a la Buck Surdu. I ended up needing a second popsicle stick as he was heavy and not balanced well on only one stick. I used three shades of purple from Americana – Purple, Dioxazine Purple, and Vivid Violet. I dry brushed and highlighted as I went. The eyes were a satin Americana Apple Green, and really shone. The result is below, and looks more like Jack Nicholson in Batman or Prince in Purple Rain.
This was on purpose, as I wanted to darken it. I used two washes sequentially from Secret Weapons Washes. First, Sewer Waster, then Purple, then Sewer Water again. It did the trick. The base was finished with the end of the 1996 Armory Flat Black.
I then varnished the figure with Krylon Matte varnish. I did work on this at the same time as my Cavemen unit – which will be a subject of another post, as these took up a lot of March and April!