719 S. Alfred St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
I had a lot of folks in contact around the holidays -- great to hear from everyone.
My roommate during cadre week, Tom Tolley, gave me a call from just outside Charlotte where he lives with his wife of 10 years, their 5-year-old son, and his two teenage step-kids. He's done a lot since VMI, becoming a gemologist and working for a jewelry company, working for an insurance company, and then coaching gymnastics at UNC for a good bit. Tom's now with AO Smith, and he filled mi in on the rest of the Tolley clan who are keeping quite busy.
I also heard from another roommate, Chris Dixon, who had just returned to Camp Lejeune after seven months in Iraq as the XO for 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines. While in Iraq he saw Todd Eckloff, who is the XO for 1st Recon Battalion out of Camp Pendleton, and Tom West, who was the Civil Affairs Officer in the area to our south. As a Marine, Tom was supporting an Army unit attached to the Marines there. He also ran into John Piedmont '89 who was serving as a Reservist in support of the Marine Historical Division taking field histories jut following battles and engagements.
Chris said that Minter Ralston and his wife Stacy live a couple of houses behind him, and that Minters was enjoying life as the aide-de-camp for the MEF commander there. They all spent time drinki8ng beer around a fireplace outside during Halloween night handing out candy. Sounds like a good time to me.
Kevin Cool dropped me a note to let me know he and his wife Lisa are loving life in Tamps, Florida. By the time this is printed, they'll have their first son. They own a preschool and Kevin works for John Hancock wholesaling VAs (I think those are Variable Annuities, but unfortunately I'm a computer guy and don't know the financial jargon). He let me know that Pete Mantz was back in Florida, and that they'd gotten together a few times. Upon reflection, the last time I saw Kevin was just after Pete had forced me to take my Jeep on a roller-coaster ride through the "enchanted forest" near Kevin's house in downtown Norfolk. Oh, to be invincible again...
Charles Plageman and I were e-mailing back and forth, and he let me know about Ashley Taylor being appointed as a new commissioner to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. Ashley was a state deputy attorney general from 1998 to 2001, and prior to the appointment had been practicing civil rights and constitutional law with Troutman Sanders in Richmond.
Chris Whittaker and his family are still in Germany, and having fun traveling. He was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in March 2005 for a year. He let me know that Brian Burchette and Andy Mergens were also in Germany. (Maj) Brian is newly married, back from Iraq, and up in Hanau as a Support Operations Officer for a Corps Support Battalion. (Maj) Andy is transitioning to Germany with his family from Turkey; he is going to Chris's unit, the 21st Theater Support Command.
Chris Callahan was in touch from the North Shore of Easter Long Island. He hangs out a lot with John Hopkins '95 who lives nearby. He is now in executive recruiting, placing executive in the supply chain logistic arena. He's regularly in contact with Dave McGraw, who says he hasn't changed a bit.
Barry Johnson sent me a note that his family had joined that of Hal Jones at the VMI/VPI basketball game in early December. He said that they greatly enjoyed watching the Keydets whip the Hokies, that the Crops was out in full force, and that Cameron Hall was rockin'!
Searay Sundeck captain Foster Taliaferro dropped me a note from Dacula, Georgia. He seriously looked like an advertisement in the picture he sent me. Foster is still a production manager for Martin Marietta Aggregates. He and his wife Tiffany are enjoying watching their kids (Wyatt, 8, Ashlyn, 6, and Alyssa, 4) getting big.
Joe Kenneback made a major life change, leaving New York and heading to Montana. He's working for the State Dept. of Commerce, heading up equity trading for the Board of Investments. He relayed how nice it was to be able to stand outside in the evening and actually hear only sounds of nature (minus sirens and horns). He said that his time in New York was fun, but that longer term the very small0won atmosphere of Montana was more his style. Joe's welcomed anyone coming through the area to stop in for some skiing or fly-fishing (and I caution folks from trying to do both at the same time). Joe has finally gotten back in touch with Chris Johnson, who is still enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest.
Lt. Col. Yuh-huei (Peter) Wang is in the Taiwanese Army (Armor branch), and dropped me an e-mail from his current assignment to check in on reunion details. Peter is the directory of the student office/Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, D.C. About a week later, I received a letter from J.G. Li who is working for a semiconductor trading company. Included in the note was a wedding photo that included J.G., his wife, Rebecca Chen, Charlie Lin, C.Y. Liu and Peter Wang.
I found out that Jeff Kaster and I are practically neighbors. He and his wife, Alison, live about a mile from me, but his assignments are keeping him very busy. He was on his way back to Iraq again after two months at home. While he was there last time, he ran into Brian McCarthy and a few other VMI guys and too a picture at the Al Faw palace in Baghdad. Jeff's a major with the Marine judge advocate attached to the DoD Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF) at Fort Belvoir. I'm pretty sure that means I shouldn't mess with him. His daughter Virginia is 2-1/2 years old, and Alison delivered their new baby, James Benjamin Kaster II, on Dec. 29, 2004.
Trey Wetsel shot me a cartoon about getting old, and conveyed that he was finishing up his history major with an IT minor, poking fun at himself that 18 years was just a little "too awful long" to finish one's schooling. Try, your "sticktoitiveness" out weighs the time it took -- congrats, sir!
Folks, when you get this set of notes our 15th Reunion should be right around the corner. I hope to see you all there!
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Last Updated: October 22, 2009
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