CLASS of 1953 SHIPMATE Apr-May 2019

Dark Ages Brunch

 Many thanks again to Chuck (20) and Alix Fellows for hosting our delicious Class winter brunch Sunday, Feb10 at the Army-Navy Club in Arlington, VA. Chuck sent me the list of attendees. Interesting, our number was 53: 12 Classmates, 12 wives/widows, 29 family/guests. They were: Nedra Bird and daughter Debbie; Art (22) and Marcy Bivens and daughter Chrissie, son Jon, and his wife Lisa; Frank Brady (12) and son Ed, and brother Joe; the Fellows family, son Andy, son Peter and his wife Helena, grandson-in-law David Williams and his father Robert Williams; Art (10) and Nell Gilmore and daughter Barbara and husband Gary Grasso, and son Steve and wife Nancy; George and Barbara Graveson and daughter Debby and husband Bob Wulff; Al (15) and Jean Glazier; Earl (13) and Mary Lou Griggs and daughter Meredith and husband James Klein, daughter Mary K and husband  John Rutherford; Dorothy Hoch; Judy Hubal and son Mark and wife Amy; Joyce Jones; Sally Jones; Patricia Mayer; Joe Malone Jr (24) and son Joe III and guest Jeanne Vaas; Bob Raffaelle (23) and son Robert; Carl Trost (22) and son Steve and wife Gail and their daughter Alexa; Pete Walker (7); and Chris Zirps (5). Thanks to David Williams of the Fellows clan for providing the photos: (53#1), (53#2), (53#3), (53#4), (53#5).

Al, Jean, Marcy, Art

Art, Carl, Judy, Mary Lou, Earl


Pat, Joyce, Chuck, Dotty, Sally, Chris


Pete, Joe B, Frank, Ed, Joe M


Chrissie, Lisa, Jon, John, Mary K

This gathering also took the place of the monthly Class Luncheon and Chris took the stand to welcome everyone and mention that we had a great year 2018 for getting together; the Dark Ages Brunch, the 65th Reunion, the Summer Picnic, and the Army-Navy Game Luncheon. He also mentioned the planned 68th Reunion in Annapolis 21 – 24 April 2021 at the Doubletree Hilton. Chris has already set out much of the agenda. Stay well!


Mail Bag

Leo Brachtenbach (19) sent a letter December 21 and wrote: “He was surprised with the presentation of a ‘Quilt of Valor.’ This national award is given to veterans who have been touched by combat. In 1969-70, Leo was at Headquarters 7th A.F. War Plans Directorate Saigon, Vietnam. During this tour, he was exposed to Agent Orange. His rare leukemia was diagnosed in 1984 and he has endured 34 years of risky experimental chemotherapies and multiple hospitalizations since…The Quilt of Valor was presented to Leo by MIDN 1st Class Dane Livengood. Leo advised Dane prior to his USNA admission and followed his successful academic career. Dane will graduate in June and has been accepted into the SEALS.”  See the photo L-R; Charlie Hodges (Grandfather of Dane), Leo, and Dane

Frank Lammers (13) sent a photo of him and his three eldest granddaughters; Deirdre, Anna, and Amanda. It was taken this past Christmas. Frank sent another family photo with his 13 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. Will hold for another time.



Daniel G. Terry, CAPT USN (Ret) (5) died December 8, 2018. Dan became a Naval Aviator flying off the aircraft carriers Hancock, Ranger, Coral Sea, Monterey, Enterprise. He had command of two squadrons and flew 40 types of aircraft and helicopters. Awards included Air Medals (6), Navy Commendation (2), and Navy Unit Commendation. In civilian life he worked 20 years for Gruman Aircraft Corp in aviation, space, and information technology. Dan is survived by 5 children (No info on other family members)….*

Gertrude F. (Dixie) Viers, widow of LCOL Willard G. Viers Jr. USMC (Ret) (23), died February 10, 2019 in Savannah, GA. Survivors include 2 sons, 2 granddaughters, and one  great-grandson….*    

Lawrence H. Watson, Jr. (13) died February 13, 2019 in Alexandria, VA. Larry came to USNA via NAPS and after graduating he served in the surface navy for four years. During that time he was an Air Traffic Controller. Awards included the Korean Service Medal, UN Service Medal, China Service Medal, and Korea PUC. Larry was a longtime resident in Alexandria, VA and with his wife, Octa they were well known and active in our Class of ’53 activities. Also, he was well known in the city of Alexandria with his various enterprises, and his leadership in the Kiwanis Club and other Pro bono activities. Survivors include his wife of 57 years, 2 children, and 2 grandchildren.

Paul N. Sonnenburg (20) died February 14, 2019 in Huntsville, AL. After graduating from high school Paul enlisted in the Navy and entered USNA via NAPS. After USNA he became a Naval Aviator and served four years flying from aircraft carriers. He then resigned from the Navy for an engineering career. He earned a master’s degree from Southern Methodist Univ. and later a Ph.D. from the Univ. of New Mexico. Among his jobs he worked 37 years in Huntsville, AL and retired from Physicon Inc. in 1996. Survivors included 2 daughters and 6 grandchildren. His wife of 65 years, Mary Ann, preceded him in death in February 17, 2018.         

*See 50th Year Legacy Book


Literary Corner

“RED NOVEMBER, Inside the Secret U.S. - Soviet Submarine War” by W. Craig Reed, Copyright 2010, 386 pages including photos is a non-fiction book that  seems to follow “BLIND MAN’S BLUFF” , Copyright 1998, that exposes even more of our “Cold War” submarine operations top secrets; Ivy Bells, Boresight, Bulls Eye, and Holystone, etc. I was not aware of this nine year old book until one of my submarine veteran friends here in Greenspring community gave it to me after he read it. The author is a submarine veteran and a diver and he was a crew member in one of our secret ops in which their boat collided with a surfaced Soviet submarine while trying to get an underneath look. They got out of there fast. It was one of several other collisions and close calls. Some years later Reed was invited to St. Petersburg, Russia and he met with the former captains of the four Soviet diesel submarines that almost fired nuclear torpedoes at our aircraft carrier that was part of the “blockade” during the Cuban missile crisis. Our ASW forces found the subs and signaled by dropped practice depth charges convinced them to surface and head home.  There is a photo in the book of those former captains taken some 30 years later. This meeting was of course more cordial during the warm up period after the Cold War and before the not so warm Putin era….ACB