I think I’ve finally recovered from the exhaustion and hangover that resulted from our 20th reunion. If my count is right, we had more than 90 guys in Lexington for the weekend. The weekend started with a cookout at Matt Schwarzmann’s house, which Joellyn insisted upon having even though she had given birth just 2 weeks prior. The merriment followed with about 15 guys closing down the Palms Thursday night. Not that they asked us to leave, but they put up all of the chairs and mopped around our table so we got the hint.
There had been some early questions about what a spring reunion was going to be like, and the feedback received has been that with baseball, lacrosse, and rugby games going on there was more than enough to do on Post. It also gave us plenty of time to really catch up with each other and feel like we were back at VMI. I think the weekend highlight for me was during Sunday morning breakfast when we were recounting stories and Cal Lloyd’s wife Laura turned to him and said “I finally understand, it’s not just you, they’re all just like you!”
In the weeks before the reunion I heard from a lot of guys who were unable to make it because they were deployed. Ley Havird was in the middle of final preparations for deployment and couldn’t make the trek from Travis AFB in California.
Daren Payne wrote that this was the third reunion he has missed due to deployment. To top that, he claims that his roommates are no longer responding to his emails, and he’s feeling no love. If anyone’s at Camp Victory and wants to look Daren up, I think he could use some of that BR spirit. We’ll also try to schedule the next reunion for after your retirement sir.
Mike Kimberly dropped a line that his deployment in Afghanistan would prevent him from attending the reunion. He let me know that he had gotten to see his roommate Mike Swanson when Mike K. had his battalion up training at Ft. Pickett. He also had heard from Weedon Gallagher on the USMC birthday (the former Kevin G. likes to call Mike to make sure he remembers).
I had received a call from a gentleman from a class in the 40’s who was hunting down Jefferson Kaster, and got some time to catch up with Jeff. He let me know that he was unable to make the reunion because his command was in Bahrain and wouldn’t be back in time.
Our BR John Golden lamented not being back to the "I" for an official function since graduation, but it has not been for a lack of desire. The USMC has seen fit to deploy him until summertime conducting “Phase Zero Counterinsurgency” in West Africa. He said that’s a fancy way of saying he is training African militaries. John added that he’s proud of his 17 year old daughter who got to sing for the Pope at Easter Mass in St. Peter's this year.
Last but not least, Raynor Garey reported that he had Guard Duty on reunion weekend, taking a team of communications technicians to Alaska for a Vigilant Guard exercise. Raynor is a full-time technician in the NC National Guard working at JFHQ NC in Raleigh. His expertise is tactical and emergency communications, so he gets to go “camping” a good bit. Last year he went to Puerto Rico, and he almost had to go to Haiti so Alaska didn’t seem like too bad a deal.
Tim Feagans dropped me a photo he took with Dr. Stinson Jones ’62 who he ran into flying out to Colorado. Tim’s usually shy, but when he saw the VMI ball-cap on the guy in front of him, he couldn’t contain himself. Tim is still in Dallas and he and Sally are busy with their boys, work, and the rest that live brings.
Mr. Feagans was able to give me a full update about a lot of guys. He and his family have been able to consistently connect with Mark Dick, Jeff Moushegian and Bill Ator each summer. Bill is at Randolph AFB in San Antonio (Tim says that Bill is screening phone calls for the Air Force and trying out their new lounge chairs). Bill, Suzy and their kids have been up to Dallas to visit the Feagans a couple of times.
Mark Dick is still active Army, Ft. Detrick, and living out on the farm in Flint Hill. He had SG&L perform out there not too long ago and his family is still running the Foxfield steeplechase.
Jeff Moushegian is with RK Engineering in Roanoke, and is hunting when he’s not chasing after his three kids (Tim says to say a special prayer for Jeff’s wife Tammy). Jeff misses being an active RANGER, but practices on the weekends around the house.
Tim also indicates that he thinks Andrew McCaig, will be on next year’s edition of the Bachelor, but they are having a hard time finding women he has not already dated. He says that in truth Andrew is doing well and recently competed in a transatlantic regatta where his yacht finished 2nd out of 250 boats.
Luis Del Valle has taken a break from his energy trading job in Manhattan and had redeployed with his Marine unit the early 2010. Luis made it to the reunion, so we know he’s back now.
Tim also saw Greg Hatchett and Mike Kemp during the last football season and said they are both doing great. Apparently Mr. Kemp is still upset that EC Glass beat Cave Spring in 1985…..but some losses are hard to get over.
Thanks for all the info sir!
I received a great update from Teri Hudgins about our BR Reed. LTC Hudgins is now the Battalion Commander for the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), and Teri sent along some photos as evidence. The 17th will be heading to Afghanistan later this year, so I'm sure Reed has his hands full. Teri's kept busy with their son Fraser Lee, and as the G-8 for the 94th division where she works with a number of VMI guys like Jay Higginbotham ‘79, Trip Bowles '87, and Skip Goodwillie ‘83.
We had a classmate looking for a legal referral, so I had a chance to chat with fellow Charlie Company survivor John Franklin. He’s an attorney in Fredericksburg, VA and has 5 boys starting at age 11 and up to driving age. He said that he now knows what it's like living in a fraternity house. He feels like someone in the house is always awake, and half of the furniture seems like it's broken.
I know that many folks who were able to make the reunion got to catch up with our BR Irving “Joe” Jones, who I asked to fill me in on what had gone on with him since he was at VMI. I remember Joe well because he was a Lexington townie, and even as a Rat he always had a smile on his face. Just prior to breakout, Joe ruptured 3 disks in his back during football practice but pushed through the pain for the next 2 years. He ended up needing to have major surgery our 2nd class year and to take time off of VMI for recovery. To add to his challenge, during his recovery period he was working under a 1973 Ford Thunderbird which fell on him causing a great deal of damage, and ending his aspirations to return to VMI or go into the Army. Joe shared that his time at VMI was part of the foundation of strength he needed to push through his ongoing recovery, and that he was lucky enough to have two VMI alumni as doctors helping him on his way.
Joe tells me that he has been blessed with a great wife (Joanna), kids Josh, Joseph, and Jessie, and his foster son Robbie. He has spent 19 years working in mental health, mental retardation, and substance services and has had the opportunity to create training standards are now part of the standard process for all of Virginia's Community Service Boards. He’s back in school at EMU getting a degree in Organizational Development and is toying with going into the seminary someday.
The weekend of our reunion Joe brought two community little league teams he works with to the VMI baseball game in their team uniforms. One of the VMI personnel from Cameron Hall noticed the kids and invited them onto the field with the VMI players. The kids were instructed to each take their respective positions on the field for the National Anthem alongside the VMI players, and then got to enter the team huddle with the bright red VMI uniforms swallowing up the little blue uniforms. With a shout they broke the traditional huddle signaling the commencement of the game, and out emerged the little guys like ants with ear to ear smiles! Joe said that their enthusiasm for the game was still felt the next afternoon at practice, and that VMI gave them an experience that will follow them the rest of their lives. My bet is that at least a couple of them will be Rats with the class of 2023.
On a closing note, I do want to express my thanks to my wife Stacy, Jim & Kim Hynes, Charles Plageman, and Matt Schwarzmann, for all of their help with the reunion planning and execution. Without the help of this group, it never would have happened. I got a note from Rob Clark last week that our class scholarship funds are growing. If you need any information on that please feel free to touch base, and thanks for giving to that fund guys. Soon we’ll be able to make a direct difference in the lives of cadets.
Keep in touch,
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Last Updated: August 16, 2010
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