2023 Annual Spring Letter to the USNA Class of 1956

Click header to download newsletter 


Greetings Classmates!

This is our 2023 Spring letter to update you on activities relevant to the Great Class of 1956. We hope you are well and staying safe.


Our 70th reunion (5-year reunion) will be in 2026, three years from now.

For the benefit of classmates and widows who could not attend our 65+1 reunion last year, or just want to enjoy the Naval Academy ambience and visit the new Alumni Association and Foundation Building (which we helped finance), before 2026, we will have a mini-reunion in Annapolis Thursday, May 2nd to Sunday, May 5%, 2024. 

As this is not a 5-year reunion, we expect no briefings by Academy officials and minimal support from the Alumni Association, nor do we plan on entering any advanced contracts with hotels or for food service, nor will we have a planned memorial service. We will not be able to provide special pricing for accompanying relatives. What we will have is plenty of time to gather together and enjoy the company of fellow alumni of the great class of 1956, enjoy events together that we have selected, and gather at the Annapolis hotel selected for lodging. Events will be planned based on your choices.

Following is a list of events you could choose from to enjoy: 

Thursday, May 2, 2024

  • Arrive at the chosen hotel. Visit the hospitality suite. Dinner together at hotel (or other chosen venue).

Friday & Saturday, May 3-4, 2024

  • Tour and Lunch at the new Alumni Center
  • Cocktail Hour and Dinner at the new Alumni Center
  • Trolley Tour of Annapolis — with Tea at the Paca House Gardens
  • USNA Sporting Events (see Athletic Association website)
  • Watermarks Boat Trip down the Severn River -
  • Day time or Early evening (with Drinks and Appetizers)
  • Guided tour of Preble Hall Museum (includes ship model exhibit)
  • Tour new Naval Institute facility
  • Lunch or Dinner at the Hotel or Carroll's Creek (Annapolis Harbor)
  • Shop at Midshipmen’s Store
  • Tour Academy grounds by supplied vehicle
  • Golf at renovated USNA course (if we can get a member to sponsor)

Sunday, May 5, 2024

  • Chapel services 9AM and 11AM (our Class will be recognized)
  • Sunday Brunch in King Hall with Mids

In early December this year we will send you a letter repeating the above list with pricing as available (and perhaps adding events based on feedback from this spring letter). We will ask you to mail or email us the list of specific events you would like to enjoy. You should reserve room(s) at the chosen hotel at this time.

In early February 2024 we will respond by letter or email to those who wish to attend the mini-reunion, sharing the list of interested classmates and widows and their chosen events.

Finally, in March we will ask you to make your final selections and pay in advance for the events you have chosen. We will add a surcharge for transportation and the hospitality suite.

We hope you will come to Annapolis. We will again make every effort to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs, and encourage you to bring younger relatives to assist. 

See you in 2024!!

JIM AND MARTHA THOMAS, who have resided in the San Diego area since 1977, are moving to Tennessee, which brings our minds to focus on Jim's distinguished service to the class of 1956 over the past 47 years. Jay Ransom, a former San Diego resident, responded to the news, “You have done the heavy lifting ever since you and Joe Talbert launched 56W way back when. We thank you and salute you for all you have done for our classmates, wives, and widows.” San Diego has been during Jim's time there the most exemplary one of the class groups outside of the Washington-Baltimore-Annapolis area.

Jim has done all the class secretary and company rep work for his area classmates. For the whole class Jim led the drive to increase life memberships in our alumni association, our percentage exceeding that of all other classes of the 50's decade. For our Golden Lucky Bag, Jim led the project to include a bio for every deceased classmate. A hearty “well done” to Jim and Martha.


Our great Class of 1956 stood first in percent giving among classes of the 50s decade in the recent Great Class Challenge (week of giving for USNA) and in financial support of construction of the new Alumni Association and Foundation Headquarters. Our great thanks to Chip Honsinger for leading our fundraising for the headquarters.


Thanks to Barbara (Charlie) Wilson, Jean Lindquist, Carroll and Fran Franklin, Marie Dillon, Steve Arnold, Sam Armstrong, and Dolores (Carl) Nelson having donated stadium memorial seats surplus to their own needs that were earned through donations to the class gift to the academy for our 50th reunion, all graduate classmates who passed away before last year have stadium memorial seats, except for a small number who declined to have one. The seat locations, with the exception of ones recently installed, may be found in our class website, usna56.org. The same list for each deceased person also tells where his obituary may be found, most often in Shipmate magazine. Every back issue may be viewed at the alumni association website, usna.com.


We continue to keep our class website online, regardless of our ever-decreasing number of likely users. Our Lucky Bag and all of our reunion books are accessible there. We have removed the class register from our website as it duplicated information available at usna.com, where every classmate should check his own contact information and keep it up-to-date. In general, we are not updating most information that is continually changing because the benefit of doing so is not worth the expense, but for now, keeping available online at minimal expense that does not change. We do aim to keep updated the contact information for our executive committee and company reps.


From Hoppy Hohenstein, our treasurer: 

As of April 2023 the Class of 1956 had the following financial balances:

Truist Checking $ 2,832.67

USNA AA checking $ 2,464.33

(as of 3/31/23)

Schwab account $ 8,497.21


 Total   $ 13,794.21

In April, one check in the amount of $1,047.49 paid for renewing our Class website with Network Solutions for three years.


We are often asked about the status of our Class Co-Chair, George Mushalko. We recently received the following information from Lisa, George’s and Barbara's daughter:

“Dad has relocated from assistant living to long term care. .... He needed more support to stay safe. His legs have weakened so he is a fall risk and uses a wheelchair now.

The move has been smooth and his spirits are good. His long term memory is amazingly intact; however his short term memory is lacking. His sense of humor is unchanged and the move has given him a new audience."

- and later

"He is doing much better in long term care versus assisted living. Because he’s such a people person, I have a paid visiting companion twice a week for him, a friend of mine visits him once per week, my husband takes him to Mass at independent living on Saturdays, and I fill in the remaining days. It’s made a huge difference in his happiness.

Hope you and the class are all well.

We appreciate your thoughtfulness towards our father.

-- Lisa”

(Note: Lisa advises that George rarely answers his phone.)

His new address: 

Falcons Landing Johnson Center

20535 Earhart Way, Apartment 229

Potomac Falls VA 20165


Kudos to Pete Fitzwilliam, our Shipmate correspondent, for his always interesting articles on behalf of all of us. Well Done, Pete.

Jim Van Metre                             

Co-chair USNA Class of 1956      

Doug Hayman

Secretary, USNA Class of 1956

This website is a repository of current and historic class information--history, archival data, class activities, social events, reunions, class directory kept current, all obituaries, class organization, widows, survivors actions. etc.—not available elsewhere in its totality-- preserving the legacy of the Class of 1956.  With Shipmate and 56USNA group mailings promotes class cohesion and participation. It is open to classmates (grads and non-grads), wives, widows, families, and other interested parties, expanding its use and thus the class legacy.   We made this website easy to use by dividing it into just 6 links (major sections), each of which, upon selection, has drop down menus for sub-sections of interest.  To make the site even better and keep it current we encourage users to submit ideas for additions or changes or updates.   

About us—see class history.