Tributes & Stories


By Joshua D. Gillespie '00

Reporting Aboard

Time makes all details “fuzzy”, but as accurately as I can recall it, my First Class summer cruise got off to an interesting start. To begin, I was (at that time) still decidedly opting for “Navy Air”, and had about as much interest in going to a Surface ship as I did redoing Physics in summer school. Be that as it may, I found myself assigned to USS MOUNT WHITNEY berthed at Gaeta, Italy, and reasoned that “the best job you have is the one you have right now”.

Showing up at BWI to catch my flight to Rome, I discovered that three other Mids were joining me, though I was the only one from USNA. For some reason that still eludes logic, my shipmates decided this put me “in charge” of our little movement of not-quite baked candidate officers. The first challenge turned out to be scheduling, because the Navy had somehow booked us on the wrong flight. Using some fast-talking, I somehow managed to get us all on the next available to Italy, and somewhat surprised at my own finesse…we were on our way.

However, the deft maneuvering resulting in my bag getting lost somewhere in Europe, and I ended up arriving in Gaeta wearing the same khaki shorts, flip flops and Hawaiian shirt I left in. Despite my best efforts, nothing could be done by the time we were due to report aboard, and as two of my fellow Mids were female, and the third a much larger male…I was forced to report aboard in this sad “uniform”. To say the least, the CO was not pleased, but suppressed his wrath long enough to see if I was really that stupid, or just the victim of a cruel twist of fate.

Fortunately, the E-DIVO, a kindly ROTC generated ensign, was my same size, and loaned me some khakis to make it the four days or so it took to get my own seabag from wherever it had gone off to.

The CO ended up giving me a “buy” on the whole affair, and it ended up being a pretty memorable cruise. Since I ended up on LPDs anyway…a lot of those “black shoe” experiences were invaluable when I finally reported to my own division on USS SHREVEPORT a few years later.


This tale comes to you third party, may be completely spurious, and could be true…some of my classmates might be able to confirm/deny this one. Apparently, we had a former enlisted SEAL in our ranks on I-Day. This “legend” spread pretty quickly in 1st Batt, and owing to the fact that despite the relatively small size of USNA, one never really gets to know everyone…I can confirm it was regarded as fact then. In the lead up to our Herndon, I recall someone noticing a Dixie-Cup had been placed on of all places…the Chapel dome. Word was this SEAL plebe was responsible. I’d love to know if it was true, as I imagine it may have been a USNA “first”.

Fly Navy

During my Second Class year, one of my “Youngsters” was in fact a pretty accomplished private pilot already. His connections at the Flying Club afforded me a trip with him in one of the older, reciprocating engine powered T-34s at Lee Field, with “Fly Navy” painted on the tops of the wings. During our joy-ride, we came across a flight of U.S. Army helos in formation…and (hoping any statute of limitations has expired) we ended up doing a 90 degree pass on ‘em with “Fly Navy” showing as we waved. Don’t know if those Army flyers responded with any “salutes”…but it sure felt pretty epic at the time.

Rock you like a Hurricane

This one features a notable classmate and friend, who for security purposes, will remain un-named, as I understand he went on to become a pretty “high speed” individual in the Marine Raiders. Anyway, you might recall a hurricane hit us some point during our upperclass years. My friend was captaining our club rugby team that season, and we held practice as the storm closed in, with high winds buffeting the field the whole time. Cold, rainy and windy…morale was pretty low. That’s when my friend came out with the largest boom-box I had ever seen blasting “Enter Sandman”…holding it over his head and shouting.