Class of 1962 History

The More Things Change...

As the Class of 1962 walked in the footsteps of the Class of 1912, so will the Class of 2012 walk in ours. It is well that the newest members of the Brigade know a little about our Class and that they pay careful attention to current world events that will shape their futures as the events of the 1950s shaped ours.

The radio and newspapers addressed a new threat from America’s former ally, the Soviet Union -- the “Cold War”. This “Cold War” would consume the careers of most of the midshipmen of USNA ’62 for the next thirty years. Three news stories during the 1950’s would have a profound effect on the members of the Class of 1962 during their military careers. These events include the defeat of the French forces at the hands of the North Vietnamese Army, at Dien Bien Phu. This defeat eventually led to the introduction of U. S. troops in the early 1960’s ultimately involving many of the Class of 1962.

Second, the successful sea trials of the submarine USS Nautilus, ushered in era of the nuclear powered ship and placed enormous demands on the naval officer corps. The Naval Academy Class of 1962 responded to these demands.

Third, the launch of the Sputnik satellite by the rocket branch of the Soviet Union military sent shock waves through both the U. S. educational and military establishments causing an increased emphasis on mathematics and science at the high school level. The Class of 1962 responded to the demands starting with a much tougher curriculum during their time at the Academy.

1054 young men reported to the United States Naval Academy on the 30th of June 1958. They came from the 48 states, the territories of Alaska and Hawaii, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Six came from South American, and the Caribbean; one from Chile, two from Peru, one from Argentina, one from Panama, and one from Cuba. 159 enlisted men arrived from the Naval Academy Prep School at Bainbridge, Maryland, among them Marine Corps Donald McCray, the first black Marine to go from NAPS to USNA. Another enlisted group came from the reserve forces

When the upper classes returned, the new plebes quickly learned the rigor of “Plebe Year”. We were the last Class to attend a football game in old Thompson Stadium, now the site of Lejeune Hall. Navy played their final game there in 1958 against William & Mary, winning 14-0. The football loss to Army caused the continuation of that “rigor” to the end of the first year.

Instead of a foreign cruise for the new third class midshipmen, the Class of 62 was privileged to participate in the official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway serving in U. S. Navy ships along with President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth aboard the Royal yacht Britannia.

Youngster and Second class years went quickly. In November, 1960, a relatively young (age 43) Navy veteran, John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States. The Brigade march for the Inauguration Day parade, in January 1961, became a memorable experience when heavy snows fell before the inaugural parade. A football highlight, after beating Army was an appearance at the Orange Bowl where we saw our classmate and All American End Greg Mather intercept a pitchout and run it 98 yards for a touchdown.

First Class year began with the traditional summer cruise. The class was deployed to various modern ships around the world. One hardy group travelled to at Fort Benning, earning Army Parachutist wings.

Returning to class in the fall of 1961, the academic rigors seemed to increase with many classmates taking extra courses. The football team beat Army again for the third year in a row, a fitting end for the Class of 1962 team members. Under the leadership of Ralph Beedle, we were the last class to win an NCAA Fencing Team Championship for the Naval Academy (and apparently will hold onto the record in perpetuity, since the Athletic Department eliminated all fencing in 1993). An invitation to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) capped a great basketball season for the team with Dave Tremaine as Captain. Spring sports brought another national championship and Wingate Trophy for the lacrosse team captained by Roger Kisiel. Sixteen classmates are in Navy’s Athletic Hall of Fame for achievements in nine different intercollegiate sports.

The 11th Company walked away with the Color Company honors On June 6, 1962, 789 happy midshipmen sailed their caps into the air after the cheer for those left behind.

During 1963, the world of the Class of 1962 and that of all Americans suddenly changed with the murder of President Diem of South Vietnam and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president and immediately faced a growing problem in Vietnam. President Johnson ordered the first bombing of North Vietnam in late August of 1964. The class prepared to go to war.

The class of 1962 would lose seventeen classmates in the Vietnam conflict, the heaviest losses of any class.

Four classmates suffered as prisoners of war. The United States and North Vietnam agreed to a cease fire on January 23, 1973 and the formal agreement was signed on January 27. The last U. S. troops left Vietnam on March 29 and the prisoners of war, including Classmates Ed Davis, Paul Galanti, Mike McGrath, and Dave Hoffman, were released.

In 1991, senior officers from the class helped to plan and direct both Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the successful actions against Iraq. The sudden collapse of the Soviet Union meant the Cold War was over. For the Class of 1962 this was a victorious effort taking almost 30 years.

Post-war, the class was honored on several fronts. One classmate was selected for astronaut training. 27 members of the Class of 1962 were selected to be flag and general officers including 23 Navy flag officers, 1 Peruvian Navy flag officer, one flag officer in the US Merchant Marine, one Air Force general and two Marine general officers. One of the Navy admirals, Harold Koenig, left USNA early, went on to medical school and ultimately became Surgeon General of the Navy. Two classmates were selected for four stars. In March of 1994, President Clinton named Classmate Bill Owens to the position of Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second ranking officer in our military. In 1994, President Clinton nominated Classmate Leighton Smith to four stars and to the positions of Commander in Chief, US Naval Forces Europe and Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe, a NATO command. Admiral Smith was knighted by the Queen of England for his 1995 service leading a NATO coalition force in the former Yugoslavian Republic that was disintegrating into its ethnic components.

John Ripley, one of two classmates awarded the Navy Cross, was named a Distinguished Graduate of the Naval Academy in 2002. In addition, to being our first classmate into this distinguished company, Ripley was the first Marine to receive that honor. Admiral Leighton Smith was honored as a Distinguished Graduate in 2007.

During their service to our Country members of the Class of 1962 were presented with 2 Navy Cross Medals, 1 Defense Distinguished Service Medal, 10 Silver Star Medals, 26 Defense Superior Service Medals, 103 Legion of Merit Medals, 28 Distinguished Flying Cross Medals and 91 Bronze Star Medals.

The Class of 1962 has succeeded in many ways to pay back the Naval Academy for the profound effect it had on our lives. The pay back has taken many forms from funds donated to upgrade Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium to the Corbin McNeill / Class of 1962 Endowed Chair in Naval Engineering. The gift to the Stadium is particularly fitting because in 1959, along with the Classes of 1960,'61 and '63, we marched into new stadium and watched the first football game played there. Our ongoing Academic Enrichment Endowment provides funds to benefit Midshipmen academic projects where other funds are not available. Howard Pinskey of USNA 1962 was on of the driving forces behind the new Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel at the Academy. We are currently planning another major gift to commemorate our 50th year since graduation.

In December 2000, Classmates John Ripley, Steve Chadwick, former Commandant, and Admiral Charles S. Minter, Jr. led the Memorial Hall Committee that would oversee the restoration and renovation as well as the addition of the new “Operational Loss Memorial”, that recognizes all graduates who are lost in the Line of Duty.

We pass this legacy to the Class of 2012 for you to safeguard and surpass. Take care of each other and cherish the men and women with whom you serve. Than Midshipman in the next room – or you – will go on to replace one of the heroes mentioned above.

"Lord God you have done wonderful things for me in my life,
the greatest of which is that you have allowed me to walk among men such as
these.” - Arnie '62


by Edwin (Buzz) Hurst'62

Now that the Class of 1962 has reached its 40th anniversary year, suspect that more than one of us has reflected on the changes that have occurred around the Yard since his own fleeting time there (a time that, when I was a Mid, seemed anything but fleeting). Some of these changes were major, and get recorded in written histories, but most were pretty small. I sometimes think, though, that it was the small ones that had the greatest cumulative effect on the life of a midshipman. I'm sure that some other Classes out there are going to dispute my thesis, but I believe that more things big and small changed at the Academy during the Class of 1962's four year stint than in any other equivalent period. When we swore the oath in Memorial Hall in June of 1958, we entered into a routine that had not substantially altered since at least 1928, if I can judge by my father's Lucky Bags. By the time we left in June of 1962, midshipman life, and the Naval Academy itself, had mutated in a number of different directions.

'62 got thumped with a major first before we even walked through Gate 3 when we became the first Class in USNA history to be required to take the SATs rather than the Academy's own entrance examination. The History of the Naval Academy by Jack Sweetam has it wrong when he assigns that dubious honor to '63. As I recall being told by an Academy official, for our year and a number thereafter the median scores for acceptance at USNA were higher than most other colleges in the nation, including the Ivies. No matter what system we overcame to get into the Academy, though, we were quickly introduced to the Navy 4.0 grading system for all quizzes, P-Works and Finals, one of the traditions that just survived our passage through. One that didn't, however, was that of marching to academic classes by sections: that was abolished at the start of our Second Class year. It was a tremendously liberating experience for us, as many a Mid up to that time spent any number of mornings running extra duty after being fried for "eyes not in the boat" or "section in disorder". The 1-2 combination of getting fried by the O.D. while marching to class and then bilging the quiz is but a joyful memory to us now. Nevertheless the change was a tremendous letdown for the tourists - and for the Academy squirrels, who delighted in playing "chicken" with oncoming sections. I must remark here that one thing that has definitely not changed in the Yard is that the squirrels appear to be as insolent as ever I remember.

Something that remained constant for us and our squirrels over our four-year run was the sound of a pile-driver. During our time, so much was built up or filled in that some wag in the Brigade suggested that the entire Yard was being moved 12 inches north. A few of our NAPSter classmates even claimed there was a naval rating of Pile-Driver's Mate.

We did actually see some benefit from all the digging and filling when, as First Classmen, some of us became plank-owners in the newly completed 7th & 8th wings of Bancroft Hall (Steve Crooks, Don McCray, and I christened Room 7058 for future generations). Venerable Dewey Basin was filled in (it's now Ingram Field) and Dewey and Farragut Fields were created out of the perfectly innocent Severn River. The disappearance of Dewey Basin also marked the approaching extinction of one of the true horrors of every new plebe's life: the whaleboats. None of us who participated will ever forget those devil-may-care races from the old Severn River bridge back to the boat sheds.

And speaking of fields, we were the last Class to attend a football game in old Thompson Stadium. Navy played their final game there in 1958 against William & Mary, winning 14-0. It was Homecoming, therefore it rained. The stadium continued in use for track meets, and the track itself lived on in infamy as the site of early morning extra-duty and the First Class Mile Run. We registered another "last" when we became the last Class to take trains to Philadelphia for the Army Game. The next year (1959) the Brigade converted to buses. Going by road really was faster and more convenient, and the modern motor coaches that were used were certainly superior in decor to the ancient passenger cars (Men-40/Horses-8) that the Pennsylvania Railroad put on the run. One does occasionally conjure up the image, though, of the midnight tableau at the Philadelphia train terminal as the midshipmen dragged themselves back from post-game liberty. It always has put me in mind of the scene at the Atlanta railroad station in Gone With The Wind. In June of 1959 we participated in another first (and I believe only) when the entire Class of '62 had its Summer Cruise on the Great Lakes. This whole evolution was to celebrate the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and it was planned that Queen Elizabeth II would review the fleet off Quebec in her yacht Britainnia. We spent considerable time learning how to "Cheer Ship" (how many out there know that one?) and after we finally got it right, somebody decided that we wouldn't do it. Anyway, for a kid who came to Annapolis from the Midwest, the opportunity to number among his first Navy ports of call such exotic locales as Detroit, Duluth, and Cleveland was particularly deflating. Honestly, though, the welcome given the fleet, and particularly us Mids by these cities was really warm and open-hearted, and very memorable.

We returned to the Severn, sighted the chapel dome, and in a few short weeks, along with the Classes of 1960,'61 and '63, became the first midshipmen to march into brand-spanking new Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and watch the first football game played there.

The curriculum was beginning to change dramatically, although we just missed the introduction of Minors and letter grading. Nevertheless, while our Firsties were still laboring with naval gunfire and ballistics in their Weapons Course, by the time we got there we were confronted with basic ballistic missile theory, binary numbers, and Boolean Algebra (whatever the hell that was). The marvelous "New Math" experiment had just been introduced in Annapolis public schools, and I still remember my instructor at the time walking into class and announcing that, although none of us First Classmen could make heads nor tails out of binary manipulations, his daughter had already covered it in her 8th Grade math class!

In 1958 the tropical white shirt was first added to the midshipman inventory, and '62 became the last Class to wear "Yachting Dress"(Dinner Dress Blue'C', if memory serves) for hops: for you later Classes, that was a service dress blue blouse matched with bow tie and white trousers and shoes. For June Week of 1960 the Brigade donned white mess jackets for the first time. The original regs called for a hand-tied bow tie, but the results were so frightening that a clearly shaken Commandant rapidly relented and let us use clip-ons. How many out there remember the dress shirt that was originally issued? It had a detachable wing collar and tied in the back so as to present a seamless starched white front to an adoring world. Putting it on was a two-man operation and I've never seen its like again.

And while on the topic of shirts, our Youngster year marked the end of the beloved detachable starched collar; we were allowed to wear normal white dress shirts with collars with service dress blues starting in the Fall of 1960. Never again would plebes in the middle of a uniform race experience the thrill of seeing their rasputin (that's collar button, folks) fall on the floor and disappear underneath something large and immovable.

The Fall of 1960 also marked the demise of one of nature's true wonders: the cap stretcher. Our white cotton cap covers needed to be constantly scrubbed, so naturally one needed a metal frame device over which the cover could be stretched taut in order to dry without wrinkles. We were finally allowed to wear white plastic covers that could be wiped clean without even taking the cap apart - not a major advance in Western technology, but a small step towards heaven for a Mid. As a parenthetical note, I'm sure many of you will recall that in cloth cap cover days, officer's covers tended to become more and more shapeless as rank increased (I think it had something to do with looking properly salty). By the time one made Captain, it often appeared as if somebody had merely soaped the thing and then thrown it at a cornered weasel.

Anyway, about the same time we also traded in our old "boat cloak" style raingear for a regular raincoat with buttons and, mirable dictu, real sleeves. The only downside to the change was that, since the old gear folded into something that closely resembled a Confederate blanket roll, and the material was quite stiff, one could deliver a substantial whack to any Mid who was not sufficiently alert. With that and our slide rule cases, a midshipmen of our era was a far more effective weapons platform, at least around Bancroft Hall, than is generally assumed.

When we returned from Second Class Summer, we discovered that the N3N biplanes based across the river had gone to that big hangar deck in the sky (although I see that they have stuffed one and hung it in Dahlgren Hall*). During Plebe Summer we got an orientation flight in them, and for many of us it was the best moment of the summer. We actually got to wear leather flying helmets, goggles, a leather jacket, and ordered to wear our silk scarves for the flight (yeah!). Aviators assigned to duty at the Academy used the old "Yellow Perils" for proficiency hours, so the birds seemed to be constantly in the air during our first two years. The N3N-3's engine was arguably the only man-made device that could drown out the sound of a pile-driver.

And, while on the subject of airplanes, we witnessed (along with sixty-one, sixty-three, and sixty-four) the first Navy-Air Force football game. It was played in Baltimore and Navy won 35-3. Moreover, we were privileged to watch Joe Bellino play for three seasons and become the first Navy man to win a Heisman Trophy, and as a former member of the fencing team, I have to point out that the Class of 1962 was the last to win an NCAA Fencing Team Championship for the Naval Academy (and apparently will hold onto the record in perpetuity, since the Athletic Department eliminated all fencing from the Yard in 1993).

A few important places that have disappeared from a midshipman's life since my Class graduated are Carvel Hall and the old math building adjacent to that architectural flower, the Naval Academy laundry. Too, I can't help but wonder when Service Dress Khaki disappeared or when that indispensable accoutrement to a gentleman's attire, the spiffy, left active duty.

Anyway, excluding the previous paragraph, that's my list of the changes that occurred on 62's watch. I think it is pretty long for one four-year stint, but some Class out there may have a longer one. If so, I hope that somebody will write an article about it like this one.

Oh, and one other thing. While we were there an outfit called "The Night Crawlers" concocted a series of activities that exceeded even those of the legendary Philo McGiffen. A mist-shrouded group, it was originally composed mainly, I think, of guys from sixty-one, but I believe that at least a couple of sixty-two'ers were in the unit. Their story cries out for the telling, particularly the time in our Youngster year when they rearranged the company markers on Worden Field the night before a dress parade, but that, as they say, is another story.

The End

* USNA AA Note: The N3N that had been housed in Dahlgren was moved during the summer of 2002 to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.


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