Lost & Found
A ring lost at the beach, a sword lost in a move, a misplaced Lucky Bag. Naval Academy alumni count on their classmates, the kindness of strangers and their Alumni Association to reconnect with lost Academy artifacts. The Alumni Association continues to work closely with alumni, family and friends to reunite lost or misplaced items that are relevant to the Naval Academy. These stories rival Sea Stories in their passionate retelling and detailed recounting. The Alumni Association posts many on www.usna.com and a few are shared here. To share your story of an item once lost, send us an email.
The Silver Dollar Salute: A Tradition Fulfilled 25 Years Later
June Week (now Commissioning Week) is exciting for all midshipmen, especially for the class commissioned. The surreal moment of throwing our covers into the air starts our service as military officers. Graduation day is also full of naval traditions. One that has stood the test of time is the tradition of the silver dollar first salute. Newly commissioned officers give a silver dollar to the person delivering the first salute after the pinning on of their new shoulder boards. The coins are often given to a person of particular significance who helped them along the way.
Remembering back to 1989, I threw my hat and went to have my parents pin on my shoulder boards, but they would not go on. It seemed that in my haste to make the purchase I did not verify the gender of the boards. Needless to say, female shoulder boards do not go on a male uniform. It was clear that I needed to get the right ones, and this drill was futile. As I left the store with what appeared to be the last pair of shoulder boards, I just about ran over a midshipman who saluted and returned the greeting. I missed the silver dollar presentation opportunity, and it remained in my pocket.
The midshipman who saluted me was a companymate, Jill Gregorieff ’91. I made a promise to myself that somehow I would make this right. The years passed quickly and with every Navy move I would come across that coin.
The internet has done a great deal to connect the world since 1989. I found Jill on LinkedIn and sent her a note and luckily, she responded. She was quite humble and firmly asserted that this was not necessary. I insisted it was the right thing to do even after all these years. Not for self but for something bigger, the U.S. Navy tradition. I was proud to present her with the 25-year-old silver dollar. She gave an impromptu salute and big smile. Thank you Jill for allowing me to fulfill what should have been done years ago! Go Navy!
Thanks to Commander Charles R. “Chuck” Bailey ‘89, USN (Ret.), for sharing his story.
A Sword Returns Home
Once held in an antique shop in Tampa, FL, a Marine Corps dress sword found its way into the hands of Bonnie Perry. How it got to the antique shop? No one knows. However, a card found attached to the sword reading “Larry J. Polk” was a clue. The name had no familiarity to Perry, nor did the sword contain any pertinent information with regard to contacting Polk. After almost 10 years of having the sword, Perry set out to find its rightful owner.
She began her search in February and contacted several Naval Academy alumni who would have more insight on the sword and its owner. To assist in the search for the sword’s original owner, one graduate reached out to the Naval Academy Alumni Association. Fortunately, the Alumni Association was able to provide additional background information.
The sword originally belonged to a man named Larry J. Polk, who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1958.
As a Marine, Polk was not only a helicopter pilot but also as a fighter pilot, serving in Vietnam. He died on 18 June 2000. The Alumni Association was also able to assist in connecting with Polk’s brother, Don J. Polk, who lives in Missouri.
In April, a piece of family history and a treasured keepsake was returned to Dan Polk and the Polk family.
A Ring Story
Like many good sea stories, it began with a poker game.
Frank Greeley Bradley, an Army officer, won a 1903 Naval Academy class ring at a poker game while serving in the Boxer Rebellion in China. Through the next several decades, the ring stayed in the possession of the Mulvey/Bradley family.
Frances Mulvey and her son Bradley are very eager to see the ring returned to the original owner’s family. “I feel it is past time that this ring be returned to the family to whom it belongs,” said Frances Mulvey.
The Alumni Association has been involved with many lost and found rings—they’ve turned up in shoe boxes, on the beach and in forgotten pockets. If you can help this 1903 ring make its way back to the family, please let us know.
Source: Membership and Services, Shipmate 2016