With August now upon us (I can't believe the year is going by so fast!), this seemed like an appropriate time to send out a "Mid-Summer"Message. A lot is going on in our BoB '59 life, in our personal and family lives, in the lives of Americans more broadly… and, indeed, in the lives of people all over this complicated and, unfortunately,
Jim, Sandy, and Sue continue to do a first rate job of keeping us abreast of the challenges and developments affecting our Classmates and their families. Health issues seem to be becoming more widespread –which, realistically, is to be expected – as we continue our march toward the front of the Long Gray Line. That said, the strong bonds which have been nurtured and reinforced through the years, are helping us to bring a sense of fellowship and caring humanity to this stage of life's process.
Mother Nature is pointedly and poignantly adding her "contribution" to the challenges of aging, as well – witness the tragedy of Vick and Sherry Fernandez losing their home, and all their belongings, in the Waldo Canyon fire. Those of you who have had the opportunity to talk with Vic and Sherry would agree with me, I'm sure, that the way the yare dealing with that devastating setback is a shining example for us all of how their faith, and the temper of a strong Army family, can make the best of whatever hand one is dealt. They're thankful for having gotten out unharmed, and they very much appreciate the positive support they've received from our BoB '59.
The more than half century since we departed from our Alma Mater has seen a series of profound changes – in our world, in our lives, and in our Army. In the broad scheme of things, nothing seems to remain constant for very long. Today, we find ourselves entering yet another period of transforming change. The U.S. banking crisis of 2008 has broadened into global financial stress. Europe, and the Euro Zone are facing particularly urgent financial challenges, and those issues are affecting the pace of recovery here at home. One consequence of all this is the predictable reduction in defense spending. In addition, National Security policy in the U.S. is shifting its attention from Iraq and Afghanistan to issues of hegemony in the Pacific and, specifically, to the question of how to prepare for, and prudently manage, the inevitable competition with China in that region of the world.
All this confronts our Army with the need to, once again, adapt and evolve. This message is neither the time nor place to delve into detail, but I would offer my view that our Army has clearly taken the bit in its teeth, and is actively working to reinvent itself. Old Cold War concepts, and large-scale conventional land engagement tactics, are morphing into something new, and quite dramatically different. The shape of what will ultimately emerge is not yet fully fashioned, but it appears likely that keystone components will include an amalgam of special operations, remotely piloted aircraft, and cyber conflict.
At this point, we are destined to observe all this from the sidelines. Our turn in the driver's seat has passed to a younger generation. Looking back, I believe it's fair to say that, in most respects, what we did met the needs of our time – and indeed, continues to provide a useful prologue to what today's graduates must now take on. And my recent visits to the Military Academy convince me that West Point is, in fact, adjusting and evolving to meet these new demands.
Nothing is perfect, of course, and the recent harangue by "Armorman" – which has gotten widespread exposure, and mixed reactions throughout the Long Gray Line – expresses understandable frustration at the complexity of adapting revered traditions to the practical realities of 21st Century America. The bottom line, at least in my mind, is that the folks up on the Hudson are doing an impressive job of arming today's young graduates with a sound and sturdy foundation, and imbuing them with strong, enduring values, that will serve them – and our country – extremely well as we face the challenges of the future.
I've asked Jim Walsh to follow up this Summer Message with several Emails to spell out more completely, and in greater detail, a variety of topics of general interest. In addition, there are a few of them on which I would like to offer brief commentary on here.
STAYING CONNECTED: GETTING TOGETHER
OVERALL: Many Classmates have gathered at a number of different locations and in a wide variety of numbers since the start of the year: the annual Ski Mini, Founders Day Dinners, Veterans Day Ceremonies, Informal luncheons, etc. One of the larger and particularly enjoyable gatherings was at the A-1 & Friends picnic in May. You can read and see pictures of these get-togethers on our web site at CLASS NEWS or on CLASS NOTES http://www.westpointaog.org/page.aspx?pid=4408. In that regard more generally, special thanks are due to Hank Larsen and Charlie Tennant for their excellent work in keeping our Class so well informed!
Our Class Band of Brothers continues to do a superb job of assisting the families of our deceased Classmates, and arranging appropriate Class participation at each of their services. We continue to present the families with our distinctive Class of 1959 Flag Case as a token of our regard and esteem.
ANNUAL CLASS DINNER AT FRED and MARLENE MALEK'S: Fred and Marlene Malek have, once again, graciously offered to host the Annual Class Dinner – on Saturday, September 22nd – at their wonderful home in McLean, VA. Mark your fall calendars, and plan to attend!
HAWAII MINI-REUNION: Lenny Katsarsky, with help from Jack Bohman and Mel Santos, has planned a Major Mini-Reunion in Hawaii (again!) this year, 21-28 October 2012. Plans are fully developed, and Lenny and his team have organized what is sure to be a stellar occasion. They're hoping to add a few more participants to bring the total to 100, so contact Lenny LenKatsarsky@aol.com for more details, and join us, if you can.
FLORIDA MINI-REUNION: A Florida Mini is in the works for 3-10 March 2013. Bill Benagh & Jay Warren have sent out a snail mail letter with alll the information, and instructions on how to register. If you would like more information, or have questions, let them know at email@example.com.
55th CLASS REUNION: It gives me great pleasure to announce that our Class Chair for the 55th Reunion will be Tom Russell. Many thanks, Tom, for stepping forward to lead this popular and important Class function! This is a
Nothing is set in stone yet, but FYI here are some of the initial planning thoughts:
Bottom Line: As we begin to establish firm plans and arrangements, we will be aiming at staying at the Hotel Thayer in the fall of 2014, on anon-football weekend.
Every summer we accept proposed nominations for the Thayer & Distinguished Graduate Awards (DGA). To get information for both:
Click here: West Point Association of Graduates Then, type in Thayer Award or DGA in the search box.
The nomination and selection processes are outlined for both, and are quite self-explanatory. A difference between the two is that any Class, Society, or individual Regular Member of the Association may submit nominations for the Thayer Award, while only Societies or Classes—not individuals – may nominate candidates for the Distinguished Graduate Award.
From experience, we recommend the following process for nominees for the Distinguished Graduate Award: Contact the potential nominee, insure they want to be nominated and agree to attend the award ceremony, and then work with them to come up with a 3-page nomination and send the draft to Jim Walsh. He will distribute it among the Class Committee for comments and final preparation, and then send it to me for formal nomination to the AOG. Nominations are due in early November so it is not too soon to begin the process now.
As a reminder, we have three major LISTSERV's:
It has been noted that quite a few Classmates are leaving the Forum. I strongly recommended and encouraged that, even if you choose to leave the Forum, you make sure to remain on the OFFICIAL net to maintain contact with the Class, and receive important information.
Finally, Judi and I send our personal greetings and best wishes to you and your families. We especially want to express our thanks and appreciation for the outpouring of prayers, care and concern we received during our daughter, Noel's recent health scare. I'm happy to report that Noel is doing wonderfully! It turned out that she had a massive infection in the mitral valve of her heart, which required emergency open-heart surgery. A spectacular surgical, cardiology and
Have a wonderful summer!