Memorial Day 2020

Remembering Today Reilly Family Members Who Gave the Last Full Measure of Devotion


Three Dot … 137

CNO Sea Power Presentation Team

The growth of the Russian Navy during the 1960’s was a matter of great concern for the United States and the American Navy.

During the last 14 months (April 1970 to May 1971) of my four years in the Navy, I helped inform the public about the Russian Navy, and other subjects of interest about the American Navy, as part of the Navy’s CNO Sea Power Presentation team.

The Russian Navy … covered in a program called The Soviet Sea Power Presence …

CNO Sea Power The Soviet Sea Power Presence 1 Title Slide

… was by far the most popular and and most often requested subject of our presentations.

My Dad, who was then nearing the end of his long and distinguished Navy career, was also a member of the CNO team. He and I had a spirited competition to see who would be the first member of the team to earn the Centurion Award for making 100 presentations. Dad won that competition, giving his 100th presentation on April 12, 1971, while I gave mine four days later.

The CNO team was formed by then Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Thomas H. Moorer. I was officially welcomed to the team by him in a letter dated March 23, 1970.

CNO Sea Power Letter from CNO Admiral Thomas H. Moorer 700323

Not long after, on April 1st, I gave The Soviet Sea Power Presence presentation for the first of the 82 times … to the Sun City California Retired Officer’s Association.

CNO Sea Power News Clipping Sun City CA Retired Officer's Association 700401 First Presentation of Soviet Seapower Presence

Dad and I were the subjects of any number of news articles about these presentations, including a mention in Lou Copozzoli’s “Military Beat” column in the Santa Ana Register.

CNO Sea Power News Clipping Santa Ana Register 700607

I traveled all over Southern California to give these presentations … speaking to groups in 40 different cities. The audiences included military units, school groups, political organizations, community groups, and service organizations, such as Kiwanis, Lions, Elks, Masonic, Sertoma, Optimist, Shriner’s and Rotary Clubs.

I have in my CNO Sea Power scrapbook a number of brochures and programs promotion these presentations …

CNO Sea Power Rotary Club of Long Beach The Rotarygram 700720

CNO Sea Power Wilmington Rotary Club Program 700831

… as well as photographs.

CNO Sea Power Wilmington Rotary Club JTR Presenting Soviet Seapower Presence 700831

Dad and I did one TV program together, discussing The Soviet Sea Power Presence and showing many of the slides from the presentation. The program, called “Urban Forum”, was shown on KCOP-TV in Los Angeles.

On August 11, 1970, I did TV program solo on KHJ-TV on a daytime talk show called “Tempo”, which aired in Southern California and parts of Arizona and New Mexico. After each of our presentations, we submitted reports to the program coordinator in Washington DC. My report for this show notes that other guests that day were movie producer Otto Preminger, a Hollywood actress (whose name I did not record) and a pilot and executive from Continental Airlines. My report also notes (in the last line of the “General Interest” paragraph) that the host of the show was none other than a then little known host named Regis Philbin!

CNO Sea Power Presentation Report KHJ-TV (Tempo) Host Regis Philbin 700811

Depending on the available time, we used up to as many as 60 slides in the presentation about the Russian Navy. Among other things, they showed some of the Soviet ships …

CNO Sea Power The Soviet Sea Power Presence 2 Soviet Naval Growth

CNO Sea Power The Soviet Sea Power Presence 3 Russian Submarines

… and the extent to which the Russians were exerting their sea power presence in crucial areas of the world.

CNO Sea Power The Soviet Sea Power Presence Exerting Russian Sea Power

My in-person audiences ranged in size from as few as 10 (the Alhambra Optimist Club) to as many 225 (the Long Beach Rotary Club and the State Convention of the California Republican Assembly (CRA), a very conservative political organization).

I did have an interesting experience with another Republican group, the Republican Women’s Club of Mission Viejo. A representative of the group contacted me about doing a presentation, the result of which I described in a memo to Navy Capt. Marr, the CNO team coordinator, on October 1, 1970.

CNO Sea Power JTR Memo to Capt. Marr 701001

Some things, it seems, haven’t changed much in the intervening 45 years! On the other hand, several Republican groups had no such reservations. Besides the state convention of the CRA mentioned above, I gave presentations to 10 other Republican organizations (most of them, unsurprisingly, in Orange County). I never was asked to speak to a group of Democrats.

In addition to the Centurion Awards, the Navy recognized the efforts of CNO Sea Power Presentation Team members with Certificates of Merit, of which I received five. Each came with a cover letter from the Chief of Naval Operations … by the time I received my first, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., had become CNO and he signed each of the letters I received with my certificates.

CNO Sea Power Letter from CNO Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr 700829 re Certificate of Merit

CNO Sea Power Certificate of Merit Fifth Award 710208

For several months leading up to my 100th, I led my Dad by a small number of presentations. Then, for a variety of reasons … including my impending departure from the Navy … Dad caught up to and passed me. Capt. Marr sent me a note asking if I had let him beat me to the 100 mark on purpose. I replied with the following memo to him:

CNO Sea Power JTR Memo to Capt. Marr 710426

My kids will confirm that that aspect of my personality never changed … not even for them.

In any event, it was just over 45 years ago … July 29, 1971 … that Dad & I received our Centurion Awards from Rear Admiral Joseph W. Williams, Jr., the Commandant of the Eleventh Naval District. By that time, I had resigned my commission and left active duty.

CNO Sea Power Photo 11th Naval District 710806

CNO Sea Power News Release 11th Naval District 710806 adjusted

Looking back through my CNO Sea Power Team files to write this blog reminded me just how invested I was in the program. I spent hundreds of hours preparing for, traveling to and from, and giving these presentations, many of which took place during off-duty hours. And I had forgotten how many memos I sent to Washington suggesting changes to the program and its presentations, asking for more information and new slides, and otherwise making a pest of myself.

I suspect that the two captains who supervised the team while I was a participant wondered exactly who that lowly lieutenant in Long Beach thought he was (in one memo, for example, I asked why other team members were not keeping up with the pace Dad and I were setting!).

On the other hand, I know they … and the admirals for whom I worked directly … appreciated the effort that I put into the program. My last Navy boss, Rear Admiral H. V. Bird, Commander of Naval Base Los Angeles – Long Beach, wrote a very nice farewell letter when I left active duty.

Naval Base Los Angeles - Long Beach Rear Admiral H. V. Bird Letter of Commendation 710615


Three Dot … 128

Vietnam Veterans Day 2016 …

Today is Vietnam Veterans Day

… a day for honoring all those who served there, including …

… my Dad, GMCM Lawrence John Reilly Sr. (US Navy Ret) …

Reilly Lawrence John Sr. @ USS Frank E. Evans Reunion 2012

… my brother, BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr., one of The Lost 74 of the USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754)

Larry Jr cropped

… the rest of the crew of the Frank E. Evans

USS Frank E. Evans photo 2

… my prospective brother-in-law and West Point classmate, Thomas Havard “Trey” Sayes III (Capt. US Army) …

Sayes Thomas H -- 1968 Vietnam Army

… his Dad, Col. Thomas Havard Sayes Jr. (US Army Ret) …

Col. Thomas Havard Sayes, Jr. cropped

… all of my other West Point Class of 1967 classmates who served with courage and distinction in Vietnam …

West Point 1967 Crest

… and all other American & allied veterans of that war.

Vietnam Veterans Day 2016


Three Dot … 123

Memorial Day 2015

Memorial Day is a day for remembering American military servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice. Sadly, of the 34 members of the extended Reilly-Douglas-Sayes-Davis families who have served in the military, we remember 3 of them today:

My younger brother, BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr. USN, was one of the 74 men lost in the sinking of the USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754) on June 3, 1969.

BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr. USN … September 22, 1948 — June 3, 1969

The Evans was participating in a SEATO training exercise during a brief respite from gunline duties off the coast of Vietnam. My Dad, GMCM Lawrence John Reilly Sr. (USN Ret) was one of the survivors of the collision, barely escaping from the sinking front half of the ship.

I have blogged here several times on the efforts of the USS Frank E. Evans Association and others to have the names of The Lost 74 added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, thus far to no avail.

One of my father’s uncles, Stephen John Otten, fought with the US Army in Europe during World War I. He received a Purple Heart after being gassed and several years later died as a result of the injuries to his lungs.

Going back even further on my wife’s side of the family, one of her ancestors, John Calvin Busby, was killed in action during the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. He was one of nine family members who fought in the Civil War, eight of them in the Confederate Army.

Unfortunately, I do not have photos of either Stephen Otten or John Busby and do not know any of the details of their military service.

Today is also a day to remember two other groups of veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice … The Lost 74 of the Frank E. Evans …

The Lost 74 of the USS Frank E. Evans (DD754) … Lost at Sea June 3, 1969

… and the 30 of my West Point classmates who were killed in Vietnam.

USMA Class of 1967 ... KIA Vietnam

On this Memorial Day, I salute all of these men … John, Stephen & Larry … The Lost 74 … and my 30 West Point classmates.

Three Dot … 107

President Obama’s Response …

… to my USS Frank E. Evans presentation …

USS Frank E. Evans President Obama Response postmarked 150209… strangely, it was postmarked in Rochester, NY …

USS Frank E. Evans President Obama Response postmarked 150209 envelope… and was actually just an acknowledgment of the gift of the signed copy of Louise Esola’s “American Boys” …

Slide3… it still remains to be seen if he is going to respond to the substance of the presentation and the request that he issue an executive order adding the names of The Lost 74 to the Vietnam Wall.

Put the Frank E. Evans Lost 74 on the Vietnam Wall …

… so, after my previous post on this subject:

… one of our cats climbed up on my desk and barfed all over the copy of “American Boys” that Louise Esola had inscribed for me to President Obama …

… necessitating that I have her send me another autographed copy for the president …

… and also necessitating that I revise my letter to him.

I did that on January 1st … put together a presentation booklet to send with it … sent the package certified mail … and it was delivered to the White House on January 20th …

… here is the complete presentation that I sent to President Obama:

Front Cover

Front Cover

Letter to President Obama -- Page 1

Letter to President Obama — Page 1

Letter to President Obama -- Page 2

Letter to President Obama — Page 2

Slide3Slide4Page 1 of PresentationPage 2 of PresentationPage 3 of PresentationPage 4 of PresentationPage 5 of PresentationPage 6 of PresentationPage 9 of PresentationPage 10 of PresentationPage 11 of PresentationPage 12 of PresentationPage 10 of PresentationPage 12 of PresentationPage 13 of PresentationPage 14 of PresentationPage 15 of PresentationSlide12Slide13Slide11Slide12Slide13Slide14

Put the Lost 74 on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial


West Point, June 7, 1967 …

West Point 1967 Crest on whiteOne more anniversary this week … 47 years ago today … 6-7-67 … my West Point class graduated … and went off to make its mark in the world.

There is good reason to conclude that the class lived up to its motto … “None Will Surpass” … with ’67 grads excelling in their military careers and civilian endeavors after leaving the Army … or, for three of us, the Navy!

For today, though, I just want to remember … through representative photos … what an experience it was for me to be a West Point cadet from July 1, 1963, until June 7, 1967.

West Point Crest enamel

Company I-2, Class of 1967 Plebes

Company I-2, Class of 1967 Plebes

Among my I-2 classmates were my two best friends, Jim Vance (3rd row, 2nd from left), who nearly four years later introduced me to my wife-to-be, Sandy Douglas, and Dick Waterman (upper left corner).

With Candy Sayes at the Thayer Hotel, Christmas 1963

With Candy Sayes at the Thayer Hotel, Christmas 1963

On October 19, 1963, another classmate and good friend, Tom “Trey” Sayes, introduced me to his younger sister, Candy.  We dated throughout the rest of plebe year … and, after her family moved to Oklahoma the following year, saw each other rarely … and finally drifted apart.  We saw each other one last time in July 1967, while I was on graduation leave … then not again until exactly 43 years to the day of our first meeting … October 19, 2006 … when I drove to Colorado to see her again … as they say, the rest is history … and we have been back together ever since.

Co I-2, Class of 1967 Yearlings

Company I-2, Class of 1967 Yearlings

By yearling (sophomore) year, we were more relaxed … and a smaller group, several of our company mates having departed.

Door to My Room 5243, November 28, 1964

Door to My Room 5243, November 28, 1964

I was a rabid Army football fan and festooned the door to my room … and the surrounding walls … with support for the team … and, along with the rest of the Corps of Cadets, enjoyed Army’s 11-8 win over Navy in the 1964 game … the winning margin of which came by way of a field goal by my classmate Barry Nickerson.

In April of 1965, near the end of Yearling year, my family visited West Point … and my Mom took this picture of me … my favorite of all of my West Point photos …

Photo after Parade, April 17, 1965

Photo after Parade, April 17, 1965

As a plebe, I had run on the plebe cross-country, indoor track and track & field teams … but was not good enough to compete intercollegiately as an upperclassman.  As a result, I participated in intramural athletics … including football …

USMA 1967 Intramural Football D-2 Card… and wrestling …

Brigade Open Intramural Wrestling, March 8, 1966

Scoring 2 points in a Brigade Open Intramural Wrestling match, March 8, 1966

Eventually, as a first classman (senior), I was the coach of the company intramural football and wrestling teams … and finally was designated Athletic Sergeant for the company … my official rank upon graduation.

Company D-2, Class of 1967 Cows

Company D-2, Class of 1967 Cows

Between our yearling and “cow” (junior) years, the corps was re-organized from two regiments to four … and we were re-assigned to new companies.  I was assigned to Company D-2 and housed in the old Central Barracks (which were later demolished to make room for new cadet barracks).  Among my D-2 classmates were my roommates our last 2 years as cadets … Bob Unterbrink (front row, third from left, next to me) … and Rob Walker (4th row, right end). 

Company D-2, Class of 1967 Firsties

Company D-2, Class of 1967 Firsties

Two of my D-2 company mates went on to become Army generals … Chuck Sutten, (front row, 4th from right, directly in front of me) … and Ed Smith (2nd row, 4th from left).  Note in this picture Arnie Cano (from Panama) … holding in his right hand a small lizard!

First class (senior) year marked the beginning of our transition from cadets to officers … starting with receipt of our rings …

Ring Hop, September 10, 1966, with my date Gail McGahren

Ring Hop, September 10, 1966, with my date Gail McGahren

During the 1966 football season, Army played the California Golden Bears in Berkeley … providing me with the opportunity to visit for the first time Cal’s Memorial Stadium …

California Golden Bears, Memorial Stadium, Student Section

California Golden Bears, Memorial Stadium, Student Section

… a place I would later visit many times and grow to love as a fan of the Cal Bears myself (after #1 son attended Cal and worked as a student manager for the football team).  Army beat the Bears 6-3 in the 1966 game!

Another major milestone came in March of 1967, when we were allowed to receive delivery of our new cars … mine a maroon with white top 1967 Corvette convertible …

My 1967 Corvette -- "So Rare, Too"

My 1967 Corvette — “So Rare, Too”

Then came June Week … the traditional celebration of a graduating class of West Point cadets.  The day before graduation, we had an academic award ceremony … at which I received the “Colonial Daughters of the 17th Century Award” as Honor Graduate (First in Class) for the Department of English …

Mrs. Marshall I. Groff presenting Colonial Daughters of the 17 Century Award

Mrs. Marshall I. Groff presenting Colonial Daughters of the 17 Century Award

.. the night before graduation, we had our graduation hop …

Graduation Hop photo with my date Jessica Poulson

Graduation Hop, June 6, 1967, with my date Jessica Poulson

… and then graduation day itself … and my swearing in as a newly commissioned United States Navy ensign … a whole other story for another time!

Being Sworn in by US Navy LCDR C. A. Sorenson

Being Sworn in by US Navy LCDR C. A. Sorenson

With Mom & Dad After Swearing In  --  GMCM Lawrence J. Reilly, USN (Ret) and Marion Thomas Reilly

With Dad (GMCM Lawrence J. Reilly, USN (Ret)) and Mom (Marion Thomas Reilly) After Swearing In

And … finally … graduation …

USMA Class of 1967 Standing for National Anthem, Graduation Ceremony, June 7, 1967

USMA Class of 1967 Standing for National Anthem, Graduation Ceremony, June 7, 1967

… and liberation!


Ring Hop Photo September 10, 1966

Ring Hop Photo September 10, 1966

USMA Class of 1967 Senior Portrait

USMA Class of 1967 Senior Portrait

USMA 1967 Howitzer (Yearbook) Photo

USMA 1967 Howitzer (Yearbook) Photo

D-Day, June 6, 1944 …

June is a busy month of historical and family anniversaries … today is a day on which the two converge … as one of the American soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach at Normandy on D-Day was my father-in-law, Joe Marion “Pappaw” Douglas, of Senatobia, Mississippi.

Douglas Joe

In all the years I knew him, Joe Douglas talked about D-Day only once, describing for me what happened to him and others on his craft … a member of the venerated Big Red One … the 1st Infantry Division … he recalled nervously anticipating his first combat as his landing craft headed toward the beach.

He described feeling seasick as the landing craft bounced across the waves … and then the ramp dropped … and “all hell broke loose”.

His was one of the landing craft immediately taken under heavy fire from the Germans defending Normandy … several members of his platoon were killed in the first few seconds and those toward the rear of the craft, including Pappaw, had to either climb over their bodies and into the line of fire … or jump over the side into the breakers.

Although not much of a swimmer, Joe Douglas chose to jump … and nearly drowned himself in the process … to survive, he shed his pack and dropped his rifle … and then, once ashore, picked up another rifle and ammunition from a dead comrade … and joined the attack on the German defenses.

Several years after Pappaw described his experience to me, Steven Spielberg directed his Oscar-winning depiction of the invasion … Saving Private Ryan … and Pappaw went to see it with my sister-in-law, Penny Douglas. 

He broke into tears during the opening scenes, one of the few times any of us had ever known him to cry.  Joe Douglas was a gentle man in his personal life … but a tough one in combat.  By April of 1945, he had fought with the 1st Infantry Division in all of its major battles … as the allies drove across Europe and into Germany.

Pappaw gave his imprimatur of historical accuracy … and emotional impact … to Spielberg’s recreation of the D-Day invasion … as it brought back memories he had long sought to keep hidden deep inside.

On this very special anniversary day, I salute Joe Douglas and all of the other men who made this momentous invasion an Allied success.  Pappaw died on July 7, 2000, at the age of 76.  He never considered himself a hero;  the rest of our family knows better.

———- ooo ———-

For the website about D-Day, complete with a detailed history, videos and photos, see:

———- ooo ———-



Memorial Day …

Memorial Day 2014

… to most Americans is a day to honor those who have given their lives in the military service of their country …

… to “remember” men and women they have never actually known …

… and to “celebrate” the day with barbecue, beer and baseball.


To the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, however …

… Memorial Day is a day for somber reflection …

… and honoring the memory not of multitudes of unknowns …

… but of loved ones who, in earlier times, had shared the day, unaware of the heartache and sorrow lying ahead.

Flag RibbonOurs is such a family …

… and today our thoughts turn to our son, brother, father, grandfather & uncle …

BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr

BT3 Lawrence John Reilly Jr.

… who was lost at sea on June 3, 1969, in the sinking of the American destroyer USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754).

I described the collision which cost Larry his life in earlier blog posts here …


… and here …


USS Frank E. Evans Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery

USS Frank E. Evans Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery

Because he was lost at sea, Larry has a memorial headstone at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego (coincidentally, the city of his birth) …

… which I first visited with other family members when Larry’s son Lawrence John Reilly III was a small child …

Scan-140524-0002Scan-140524-0008… while later visits showed the changes in the setting …

Scan-140525-0008… and damage to the headstone from maintenance of the lawn.

02100009Also note the error in the date of death on the headstone …

… an error I shared for many years because it was still June 2, 1969, in the United States when the collision occurred …

… though it was already June 3rd in the South China Sea …

… as a result of which the official date of the collision in June 3, 1969.

Larry & EvansMemorial Day Banner/>

———- ooo ———-

Reilly Family December 7, 1968 ----- Luanne, Jim, Larry Sr., Larry Jr., Jerry, Marion and Suzie

Reilly Family December 7, 1968 —– Luanne, Jim, Larry Sr., Larry Jr., Jerry, Marion and Suzie

Joyce E. Gillich Reilly & Lawrence John Reilly Jr.

Joyce E. Gillich Reilly & Lawrence John Reilly Jr.





December 7th … Army-Navy 1963

Besides being my wedding anniversary …



… and the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor …



… December 7th is a significant date to me for another reason …


… the Army-Navy football game in 1963, about which I have blogged once before …



Separate and apart from my personal interest in the game, the 1963 Army-Navy game had national significance, coming as it did on the heels of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy


… the game had been scheduled for November 30th, but was delayed because of the assassination … and there was some discussion of possibly cancelling it completely.


The president, however, had been a big football fan, particularly of the interservice classic …

President John F. Kennedy Flips the Coin at the 10962 Army-Navy Game

President John F. Kennedy Flips the Coin at the 1962 Army-Navy Game

… and had planned to attend the game and flip the coin for the opening kickoff … his family, in particular First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, wanted the game to be played, even as the country was in the midst of the official 30 day period of mourning for the slain president.


JFK, of course, was a Naval officer and World War II hero … about whom the movie PT-109 was made … so, after a one week delay, the game was on …  with Navy, ranked #2 in the country, a big favorite to win its 5th Army-Navy game in a row.


Instead of names across their shoulders, the Navy uniforms featured the slogan “Drive for Five” … and the Middies were led by Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Roger Staubach.


Rumor had it that an upset win by Army would put the Black Knights, in place of Navy, into the Cotton Bowl against #1 ranked Texas … and Army had a secret weapon named Rollie Stichweh at quarterback …

Army Quarterback Rollie Stichweh

Army Quarterback Rollie Stichweh

… so we cadets were hopeful.


The game was played at Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium, which was later renamed John F. Kennedy Stadium in honor of the president … and the nation looked on as the two service academy teams met in honor of their fallen commander-in-chief.


Army scored first, but Navy ran off three unanswered touchdowns to lead 21-7 with ten minutes to play … which was when Army … and Stichweh in particular … took over and mounted one of the most thrilling comeback attempts in college football history.


First, Army drove to a touchdown … which was scored by … Rollie Stichweh on a one yard run … after which Army made a daring 2 point conversion, to make the score 21-15.


And then, with everyone in the stadium expecting it, Army attempted an onsides kick … and succeeded … with the ball recovered by none other than that man Stichweh … after which Army once again drove deliberately (too deliberately, as it turned out) toward the Navy goal line.


On a 3rd down run, Army halfback Ken Waldrop dove to the Navy 2 yard line with 18 seconds to play …

Army Fullback Ken Waldrop

Army Halfback Ken Waldrop Dives to the Two Yard Line

… but with deafening noise in the stadium and no timeouts remaining … Army was not able to get off a 4th down attempt to pull out the win.


Like all Army fans, I was crushed when the officials waived off the game as time expired … and the memory remains vivid even after 50 years … but there is no doubt that the game helped to heal the grievous wound which the nation had suffered two weeks before.


Oddly, the game is known in football history for another reason … it featured the first ever use of instant replay … showing Stichweh’s 4th quarter touchdown run.


As mentioned in my earlier blog, Sports Illustrated writer Dan Jenkins wrote an excellent story about the game … which I have saved to this day … and which is reproduced below.


One other personal note … my guest for the 1963 Army-Navy game was none other than my then girlfriend and now fiancee Candy Sayes (Davis)!

Candy Sayes & I During Plebe Christmas at West Point -- December 1963

Candy Sayes & I During Plebe Christmas at West Point — December 1963 — Shortly After the Army-Navy Game

Army-Navy Game Logo

This year’s Army-Navy game will be played at 3:00 pm EST next Saturday, December 14th, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia … the Middies are on an 11 game winning streak against Army … the longest such streak in the 113 year history of the game … and lead the series 57-49-7.


I, of course, will be rooting for Army … as will Candy’s brother, my West Point classmate, Trey Sayes … but she, her son Jason Davis, a 1994 Annapolis graduate, and my Dad (Lawrence Reilly, Sr., a retired Navy master chief gunner’s mate) will all be cheering for the Middies.



For other stories about the national significance of the 1963 Army-Navy game, see:





A documentary has also been produced about the game and its importance to the country …

Army-Navy 1963 Marching On


… it is called “Marching On:  1963 Army-Navy Remembered” and is described here:




Army Black Knights Logo


The Army football website is here:




Navy Football Logo.

Navy’s is here:




Arm-Navy Game Logo Football

The Wikipedia article on the history of the Army-Navy game is here:




And here is the Dan Jenkins Sports Illustrated article about the game:


USMA 1967 Army Navy game 1963 Sports Illustrated article


Army-Navy Game 1963 Sports Illustrated Photo

December 7th … A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

FDR Addresses Congress

FDR Addresses Congress

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s speech to Congress on December 8, 1941, asking for a declaration of war against Japan:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

USS Arizona (BB-39) -- December 7, 1941

USS Arizona (BB-39) — December 7, 1941

USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii


USS Frank E. Evans Reunion …

This weekend, the USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754) reunion was held in Virginia Beach.  I was not able to attend, but my Dad — one of the survivors of the 1969 sinking of the ship — was there.

The Virginian-Pilot ran a front page story about  the reunion, which included a photo of my Dad.

USS Frank E. Evans Reunion Virginian-Pilot Front Page 130928 cropped

The online version of the article and several photos from the reunion can be seen here:

They are also linked in a post on my Facebook page here:

Freelance writer and author Louise Esola, who is writing a book about the Evans and who is a strong supporter of efforts to have the names of the lost sailors added to the Vietnam Wall, also attended the reunion and posted several comments on her Facebook page:

Louise Esola

Louise Esola

For more information about the Evans, see the USS Frank E. Evans Association website:

USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754)

USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754)


Other websites with information of interest about the Evans:

Lost at Sea Memorials article about the Evans:

Article re Sage family from the Lincoln Journal Star:

Sage Brothers Memorial, Niobrara, Nebraska

Sage Brothers Memorial, Niobrara, Nebraska

Information about names on the Vietnam Wall and the requirements for inclusion:

Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers … debunking some myths …


A viral email about the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers has been making the rounds since at least 2004 and recently showed up again on Facebook:

The guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns are truly inspirational.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers

Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers

However, based on my own experience as a Navy brat and 8 years in the military (4 at West Point and 4 in the Navy), some of this seemed too extreme to be true, even for an elite military unit. Therefore, I did some research when I first saw this chain email in 2004 and again when it resurfaced in 2011.

Unless otherwise noted, my responses below to the inaccuracies in this piece come from the FAQ page website for the Society of the Honor Guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why? 21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.


2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why? 21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1.

Inaccurate. The Guard site response: “He does not execute an about face. He stops on the 21st step, then turns and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds. Then he turns to face back down the mat, changes his weapon to the outside shoulder, counts 21 seconds, then steps off for another 21 step walk down the mat. He faces the Tomb at each end of the 21 step walk for 21 seconds. The Sentinel then repeats this over and over until he is relieved at the Guard Change.”

21 Steps

21 Steps

3. Why are his gloves wet? His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.


4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time, and if not, why not? No, he carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes an about face, and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

Mostly correct; see response to #2 above.

5. How often are the guards changed? Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

Inaccurate. The Guard site response: “The Guard is changed every thirty minutes during the summer (April 1 to Nov 1) and every hour during the winter. During the hours the cemetery is closed, the guard is changed every 2 hours. The Tomb is guarded, and has been guarded, every minute of every day since 1937.”

24/7 Honor Guard

24/7 Honor Guard

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to? For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5’10” and 6’2″ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30″.

Possibly inaccurate. The Guard site does not contain the physical requirements. The “Home of Heroes” site for the Guard at …

… gives the requirements as: “Each soldier among them is physically fit for the demanding responsibility and between 5’10” and 6’4″ tall with a proportionate weight and build.”

6. (cont) Other requirements of the Guard: They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.

Complete nonsense (the patent silliness of this and some of the following “requirements” prompted me to check on this to begin with).

The Guard site response: “False. The average tour at the Tomb is about a year. There is NO set time for service there. The Sentinels live either in a barracks on Ft. Myer (the Army post located adjacent to the cemetery) or off base if they like. They do have living quarters under the steps of the amphitheater where they stay during their 24 hour shifts, but when they are off, they are off. And if they are of legal age, they may drink anything they like, except while on duty.”

6. (cont) They cannot swear in public FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES …

More nonsense, to which the Guard site responds: “False, how could that be enforced?”

6. (cont)… and cannot disgrace the uniform (fighting) or the tomb in any way.

Inaccurate. See response to following item re the guard badge.

6. (cont) After TWO YEARS, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

Inaccurate. The Guard site response: “The Tomb Guard Identification Badge is awarded after the Sentinel passes a special test. The Badge is permanently awarded after a Sentinel has served 9 months. Currently there are 525 awarded. And while the Badge can be revoked, the offense must be very severe, such as a felony conviction. But you can drink a beer and even swear and still keep the Badge. And the Badge is a full size award, worn on the right pocket of the uniform jacket, not a lapel pin.”

Note:  I checked today and determined that the current number of badges is 610. See:

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

6. (cont) The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.

Partially accurate. The Guard site response:

“The shoes are standard issue military dress shoes. They are built up so the sole and heel are equal in height. This allows the Sentinel to stand so that his back is straight and perpendicular to the ground. A side effect of this is that the Sentinel can “roll” on the outside of the build up as he walks down the mat. This allows him to move in a fluid fashion. If he does this correctly, his hat and bayonet will appear to not “bob” up and down with each step. It gives him a more formal and smooth look to his walk, rather than a “marching” appearance.

“The soles have a steel tip on the toe and a “horseshoe” steel plate on the heel. This prevents wear on the sole and allows the Sentinel to move smoothly during his movements when he turns to face the Tomb and then back down the mat.

“Then there is the “clicker”. It is a shank of steel attached to the inside of the face of the build-up on each shoe. It allows the Sentinel to click his heels during certain movements. If a guard change is really hot, it is called a “smoker” because all the heel clicks fall together and sound like one click. In fact, the guard change is occasionally done in the “silent” mode (as a sign of devotion to the Unknowns”). No voice commands – everything is done in relation to the heel clicks and on specific counts.”

6. (cont) There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

Could not find any information on this, though it seems reasonable to expect that the uniform pants would be creased front and rear.

6. (cont) The first SIX MONTHS of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV. All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

More nonsense. See response above re living under the tomb and drinking alcohol.

6. (cont) A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.

This much appears to be accurate, if somewhat understated. “From the Home of Heroes” site: “In addition to extensive training in the manual of arms, the guard change ceremony, and the intricacies of military ritual, the new-soldier is required to memorize additional information on Arlington, including the grave locations of nearly 300 veterans.”

6. (cont) Every guard spends FIVE HOURS A DAY getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

Inaccurate. The Guard site states: “Currently, the Tomb Guards work on a three Relief (team) rotation – 24 hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on, 96 hours off. However, over the years it has been different. The time off isn’t exactly free time. It takes the average Sentinel 8 hours to prep his/her uniform for the next work day. Additionally, they have Physical Training, Tomb Guard training, and haircuts to complete before the next work day.”

Thus, they are on duty three days on out of each nine day cycle. Eight hours of uniform prep for each work day equals 24 hours every nine days, or an average of 2 hours and forty minutes a day.

The widely reported refusal of the Tomb Guard to stand down during Hurricane Isabel IS a great, inspirational, and true story.

Rain or Shine

Rain or Shine

However, the final reference to the Tomb being guarded 24/7 continuously since 1930 is erroneous. As noted above, the 24/7 guard was instituted in 1937.  By the way, to date there have been 3 female tomb guards.