Class History / Yard Evolution

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As a class of graduates from the U.S. Naval Academy we have served our nation honorably both as officers in the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, and in careers in industry, education, government, law, finance, politics, medicine and religion. We are bound together by our shared four years at the Academy, our service as leaders of our armed services and in industry, and our devotion to our wives, who chose to be our partners in our journeys.

We entered the Naval Academy from every state in the Union and 681 of us graduated in June 1956; 675 were commissioned as officers in the Navy (455), Marine Corps (51) and Air Force (169). As naval officers we served on surface ships, submarines, naval air, and in such vital specialties as supply, engineering duty, civil engineering, communications, medical corps, public affairs and meteorology. In the Marine Corps we served in ground warfare and in Marine air. Our Air Force classmates served in flying careers or in other key areas like space, missiles, logistics, and ground operations support.

We served our nation during the Cold War years when the United States countered the Soviet Union’s objective of world dominance. Our service time was mainly 4 to 30 years, with those of flag or general rank serving over 30 years. We now reside mostly in the coastal United States after our second careers; principally in California, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and New York. The next most popular retirement states are North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.

Two of our classmates are Distinguished Graduates of the Academy: Frank Kelso with a brilliant Naval Career topped off as Chief of Naval Operations during perhaps the most tumultuous period of change for the Navy. Robert Shumaker was a courageous and heavily decorated leader of his fellow prisoners while imprisoned in Vietnam for eight years during the Vietnam War, the second of a long line of near 800 taken prisoner over those eight years.

Most significantly, a number of our classmates received recognition for acts of valor in the service of our nation, principally during the Vietnam era. David Minton, Robert Shumaker, and John Webster were awarded Distinguished Service Medals—ranked only after the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. Silver Star citations were awarded to John Collins, John Fellowes, James Flatley III, Norman Frith II, Robert Greene, John Hopkins, Richard Kauffman, Ralph Schwartz and Robert Shumaker (2 awards). Twelve of us were awarded the Purple Heart.  Moreover, we lost five classmates who were killed in action: Wilmer P. Cook (USN), Philippe V. Fales (USAF), Charles A. Levis (USAF), Earnest A. Olds (USAF), and George H. Wilkins (USN).  In addition, two served long periods as POWs in North Vietnam under the most inhumane and punishing conditions, Bob Shumaker for eight years and Jack Fellowes for six years.

Many who left the military early to pursue other careers also distinguished themselves in other areas.  Mitch Hart as a founder of Home Depot, and of Electronic Data Systems with Ross Perot (’54); Worth Hobbs had a phenomenal rise to  top positions at the Alcoa Corporation; Charlie Wilson served in Congress for near 30 years and had a principal role in the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan (as celebrated in the film “Charlie Wilson’s War”); Frank White was governor of Arkansas (defeating Bill Clinton for Clinton’s only election loss); Harry Barnes and John Conway were United States District Judges; Barton Myers III was an award winning architect and professor at UCLA; Jack Binns was ambassador to Honduras.

We enjoy each others’ company in reunions at the Naval Academy every five years, and with the occasional ‘mini-reunions’ often where our football team is playing away games, including bowl games. We highly encourage our class widows to remain active in these and other class events and remain part of the class in all other ways, not only as our class constitution so clearly states but of our sincere wishes that you do.  We wouldn’t be complete without you. 

Our reunions, supplemented by articles in the Naval Academy Alumni Association’s periodic magazine ‘Shipmate’, the reunion books documenting our more recent reunions (especially the 40th and the Golden Lucky Bag from our 50th), from our frequent Chapter meetings in Washington DC, Virginia, Florida and California, our Internet communications, and now from this web site, keep us informed and together as a group who have fulfilled the Academy’s mission, “to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government”.

Finally, in a tribute to our wives and widows Frank Kelso wrote for our 50th reunion, “Throughout these years in uniform or out, our wives have sacrificed to provide us the opportunity to answer the nation’s call. Whatever our accomplishments may have been, we share them with our wives for...their strength, love and staying power.”

For a complete class history see:

Yard Evolution
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