Class History: 1965

History of the Great  Class of 1965 - A link in the chain to the Class of 2015

On June 28, 1961, we were appointed Midshipmen in the United States Navy.  Over 1200 young men stood in front of Bancroft Hall, raised our right hands, and swore an oath of service on that warm and sunny afternoon. We came from all walks of life and fifty states plus a few foreign countries.  Most were fresh from high school, some from college.  A few came from the enlisted ranks of the Navy and Marine Corps or a military preparatory school.  Those were the days when Bancroft Hall was not air-conditioned, and tennis courts stood in the place of Michelson and Chauvenet Halls.  There was no Alumni Hall, Lejeune Hall, or Wesley Brown Field House.  Women would not yet join the Brigade for another fifteen years.

For the most part we were young and naïve, coming to Annapolis for different reasons. We had a goal to become Navy or Marine Corps officers, but triggered by different events for each person. For some it may have been watching the ‘Victory At Sea’ and  “Men of Annapolis” TV series or Navy and Marine action in WW II.  Others were there because fathers or relatives were on active duty or had served in the Navy and Marines in World War II or Korea.

Our four years by the Severn were formative with great learning in the classroom and professional experiences on summer cruises, accompanied by liberty in ports around the world.  But, as we were training to become Junior Officers in the Navy and Marine Corps, the world was rapidly changing.  In June 1961 John F. Kennedy was President, and John B. Connally was the Secretary of the Navy who had signed our Midshipman Appointments. No one could anticipate what would happen to these two men two years later on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.  In October 1962, we experienced the Cuban Missile Crisis with the Brigade listening to the President’s blockade speech.  In August 1964 at the outset of our First Class year, two American warships, the USS TURNER JOY and USS MADDOX, were attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats.  President Johnson sought a declaration of war.

Few of us knew in that summer of 1964 the influence of those attacks.  We were focused on the academic year, our graduation, and commissioning. We knew we were in a “cold war” with the Soviet Union, but not the beginning of a “hot war” in Southeast Asia. Vietnam and US military advisors were in the news, but not as major headlines.  None of us could anticipate the large-scale US involvement that would commence in 1965, the year of our graduation.

Vietnam and the subsequent domestic upheaval in cities and on college campuses had a major impact on our lives and careers.  Six of our classmates are honored in Memorial Hall, having given their lives in combat.  Seventeen more classmates’ names adorn the wall in Memorial Hall having lost their lives in active duty operations.

Prior to our commissioning and joining the Fleet or the Marines, we had much to be proud of as a Naval Academy Class.  We beat Army in football three of our four years.  In the fall of 1963, we beat Notre Dame, and little did we know that would be the last Navy team to accomplish that feat for 44 years.  On New Year’s Day, 1964, we played Texas in the Cotton Bowl for the national championship.  The Longhorns won, but our classmate, Roger “The Dodger” Staubach, received the Heisman Trophy for that season.  In 1963 Navy’s 150-pound football team was the national champion.  In the fall of 1964 our soccer team went undefeated and won the NCAA championship.  In the spring of 1965 our Lacrosse Team was undefeated and won the national championship, described at the time as possibly the best lacrosse team ever to have played the game.  Our heavy-weight crew team won the 1965 Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship.  Members of the Class of 1965 played the major role in all of these successes.

On June 9, 1965, a proud group of 802 classmates graduated, having survived Plebe Year, hard physical training, and a tough academic curriculum.  We left the Academy for all points of the compass to ship assignments, Supply School, flight training, the nuclear power program, and the Marine Corps.  Some of our best and brightest went to advanced science and engineering programs or the Civil Engineer Corps.  Our Brigade Commander went overseas for a Rhodes Scholarship.  A small number went into the Air Force and the Army.

Our accomplishments as a Class were extensive.  Twenty-two classmates achieved Flag or General Officer rank, one serving as Atlantic Fleet Commander and another as Vice CNO.  We have two Distinguished Graduates, awarded in 2000 and 2010.  One classmate is enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame.  Many found great success in business, medical, and legal professions or served in executive positions in the US Government.  Several classmates became President or CEO of a major corporation.  As a Class, we have provided significant financial contributions to the USNA Foundation, supporting a million dollar grant to the Admissions Department and for developing promotional films such as “To Lead and to Serve”.  Major contributions by individual classmates have supported the stadium rebuild and various academic departments.

We look forward to the opportunity to contribute to the success of the Class of 2015 with whom we anticipate a very unique bond.

 

 

 

 

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