I’m running late this month for it is 18 April, submission is due tomorrow. I have gone through what you have sent to me since the last issue and it is pretty skimpy but let’s see how things go.
Let’s start with the 65th reunion. You will be reading this in June so the reunion will be just a year away. Many of you have said you or your spouse’s health might be shaky by that time so you are reluctant to commit. May I suggest “think positive” and plan accordingly. Roger Carlquist 19th Co. has called a meeting of the reunion committee for next Mon., the 23rd of April and if all goes well the 250 of you with email contact will have received my report of that meeting, and all of you will probably have received a snail mail letter from Roger covering Reunion plans. Phil Rogers 9th Co. says we had 210 paid attendees at the 60th. An interesting observation, the sign in sheet shows 197 so there were a significant number of people who neglected to sign in. Obviously there were more of us around five years ago but we could still surpass 200 attendees. To give you some idea of how many are available to attend the 65th, my data shows that as of this writing there are still 352 graduates alive as are 227 widows. Add in the “significant others” who will attend with their spouses and there certainly are enough of us to make a very good reunion!! Betty and I are signed up and really hope to see many of you there.
I sometimes refer to our “class family” and I find the following note supports that moniker. When I emailed the obituary of Dean Hansen 4th Co. I soon afterwards received the following email from Nick Castruccio 4th Co. who lives in Christiansted, VI. “I have my reservation and leave tomorrow for MSP to attend Dean’s services. Hansen and McCurdy 4th (deceased) were my roommates ’47-’48. All three of our spouses have gone West. I spoke with Dean and Mac a few years ago after Boots (Swedes wife) died. I also spoke last year with Mac’s daughter after Mac went West. I had been meaning to visit Swede in Richmond and now will be there to attend his burial. I am sure I will meet his daughters and probably some of Mac’s family. I was the youngster in our room, we all had great spouses. We are definitely in the zone.” Scribe’s note: A long trip Nick but I’m certain the return on investment for both you and the families was worth every penny.
In the last column I mentioned the Deeley’s and their son Joe. Unfortunately Joe has had a stroke, which affected the left side of his body. He is making progress and hopes to get out of rehab before his birthday in June. The Improv group, of which he is a part, had a benefit for him at the DC Improv Club and the members of that group have come from all over the country to visit with him at rehab.
Jim Cox 10th Co. tells me that he and Joan have moved into Ocean View, Falmouth, Maine. It is a senior community and we are enjoying having new friends who are like us in not being able to remember what we had for dinner last night or where. My snail mail address is 33 Blueberry Lane, Cottage 33, Falmouth, ME 04105. Jim’s email address is email@example.com .
In the short period between the last column and this one we have lost more of the “family”.
16th Co. Allen, G.E. 2/20/12
6th Co. Bradley, C.S. 2/25/12
22nd Co. Larson, J.H. 3/2/12
4th Co. Hansen, D.B. 3/10/12
Allen, Pat, wife of George Allen, (Deceased) 16th Co. 12/10/11
Bradley, Nancy, wife of Claiborne Bradley (Deceased) 3/21/12
I have also learned that Alice Byrd, wife of W.J. Byrd 16th Co., passed away on 7/6/2011. You may see this note twice for it was supposed to be in the last column but I don’t know if it made press time.
Note that in the Allen and Bradley families we lost both husband and wife in a very short period of time.
Our condolences to all of the families. We too shall miss them.
At this point I was finding myself with nothing further to report so I begin combing through old material and came across an email from Walt Spangenberg 2nd Co. written in May of 2009. It was in response to something I had written in email concerning O’Clubs. Those of you on my email list know that I have visited this subject before but this will be my last visit and Walt’s input is excellent.
From 2/c Bull class, I think:
“We look before and after, and pine for what is not;
Our sincerest laughter with some pain is fraught.”
Walt remembers CAPT Stokes, who was head of the Steam Department while we were there, saying that he really regretted that in the pre-WWII Navy an officer knew all of his contemporaries, at least by reputation if not as a shipmate, but that the Navy had grown so large so fast during the war that such was no longer possible.
Walt says, I believe that one of the worst things BuPers ever did to the aviation Navy was to institute the concept of “Level Readiness,” under which officers were ordered to and from squadrons when the BuPers computer said it was time for a change of duty station, with no relation to the squadron’s training cycle. I was both sent to a fighter squadron as XO and relieved as a CO while the squadron was deployed in Viet Nam, and I think this is the worst thing in the world to do to a squadron in the middle of a combat deployment.
Now, how does this relate to Happy Hour at the O-Club? Well, it relates very strongly! If you put together a group of people in a squadron or ship at the very beginning of a training cycle and keep them together until they return from deployment at the end of the cycle, then there is maximum opportunity for them to get to know one another, and perhaps their wives or gal pals to get to know the group and thereby cometh group spirit, morale, esprit de corps, or “bonding,” as the fashionable writers say these days. A lot of this getting to know one another occurred during Happy Hour at the O-Club when I was a JO in a fighter squadron, but there is not much opportunity for that when you are sent by airmail to join a deployed unit with a bunch of guys you have never known before. And think of the problem for a new XO/CO’s wife back home, in her attempt to build morale for a group of women she has never met before!
Scorchy Smith, the same month by email sent me an item he found in a blog.
There is a lithograph of Marines from various eras wearing the uniforms of their time and gathered around a bar. It was painted by LtCol R.L. Cody and is appropriately titled “Happy Hour.” It used to represent the camaraderie most Marine officers shared with one another during regular visits to their local O’Club. Today, however, Cody’s work has come to represent a nostalgic look at a bygone era, a bittersweet tribute to a fading tradition of our Corps, the O’Club is dying.
How did this happen? For some the end of the O’Club’s happy hour is not a bad thing and is in line with the master plan that grew out of the infamous 1991 Tailhook scandal in Las Vegas. Shocked and embarrassed by the incident, the Navy and Marine Corps moved to lay the foundation for dramatic, comprehensive changes that would ultimately shape the Services’ cultural fabric of 2009. Many of the changes were positive and overdue; however, even with the best of intentions, some of the rudder steers made in the early-and mid-1990s have undoubtedly caused negative impact to today’s Marines, sailors, and families. The death of the O’Club is one example.
After Tailhook the Navy instituted the Right Spirit Campaign, which included the alcohol abuse prevention and glamorization campaign. Semper Fit was the Marine Corps equivalent and partner program. Both aimed nobly at infusing the Services with plans for healthy lifestyles, equal opportunity, sexual harassment free workplaces, and alternatives to alcohol-inspired charades. Secretary of the Navy John Dalton told an interviewer at the end of his term in 1998 that one of his proudest accomplishments was the glamorization of alcohol campaign. Although this campaign had many benefits, it quickly became a “demonization” of alcohol campaign, sometimes resembling a dreaded witch-hunt and rapidly scared away junior officers from the club.
O’Clubs could also no longer sponsor “ladies’ nights,” offer drink specials, or even advertise happy hours. Military police positioned themselves at the clubs every weekend, and a climate of fear settled onto the club scene. In this setting, as membership and attendance dwindled, the clubs began to transition from active duty social hangouts into retiree and civilian dining facilities.
In 1997 Gen Krulak visited the captains at Amphibious Warfare School to discuss, among other things, the noted decline in company grade retention rates. A few officers raised concern over the recent closing of the Quantico O’Club, Harry Lee Hall, and establishment of the new “trimod” multiservice club in its place. The commandant respectfully told the captains that what was lacking was the officers’ esprit de corps from his company grade days. Arguably, the esprit of the captains in the mid-1990s was well intact; what was lacking was an appropriate venue to bond and foster that critical aspect of comradeship.
O’Clubs across the country followed Quantico’s lead and with the creation of Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) at about the same time, the focus of the club system shifted from supporting the needs and desires of our corporals and captains into a bureaucratic business most concerned with “making a buck.” The last decade saw officer club membership across our Corps dwindle, trimods and their like replace traditional separate facilities, and a generic watering down of the club experience in general. Today, the officers’ club has become more of a dining facility focused on catering and buffet, a restaurant for lunch and brunch, than it is an establishment to support the social gatherings and morale-building and camaraderie-fostering events, (such as professional military education (PME) get together, and yes, happy hour), for our officers. This is no secret: the transformation that has occurred over the last 10 plus years is well known to all, and in an effort to jump-start the dying club system, the Commandant, Gen James T. Conway, ordered an end to all dues with the hope that it would spur more attendance and interest in the suffering tradition of club gatherings.
Although this was a welcome gesture and a well-intentioned attempt by our senior leader to save the club, many think it missed the mark. Dues is not the problem; the clubs’ focus is. People will always pay for a good product. No on expects or needs the lingerie shows or bottle smashing debauchery of the 1980s or wants an irresponsible return to condoned alcohol abuse. But there are creative ways we can improve the O-Club so Marines young and old will again want to go there, even if they have to pay dues.
A note at the end of this write-up said, “ recently Camp Pendleton closed its Officer’s Club.”
Scribe’s note; this will be my last trip down this particular memory lane for we are no longer in a position to influence any change, but what wonderful stories all of us, wives included, can tell of Happy Hour past.
Finally-- Gorder’s 2013 cruise, cast off Jan. 4th for 12 days. Call Pat Russell 760-930-9377