Email sent 31 Dec 2019
1. The chapter met INDOORS at Tate’s on 4 December with 14 members attending.
2. INTRODUCING THE NEW CHAPTER BOARD
An electronic voting took place this month, with strong support for the new Board slate presented. Leading the chapter in 2020 will be –
- President – Chris Heath ‘72
- Vice President – Keith Hruby ‘01
- Secretary – Ron Seits ‘88
- Treasurer – Tim Corcoran ‘67
- Comms Director – Steve Swift ‘87
- Board Members – Jane Lochner ’84, Dave Spoerl ’82, Nick Pinkston ’04, Chris Thompson ‘92
Hruby, Pinkston, and Thompson are new to the Board, and we look forward to their leadership. Many thanks to departing members James Castano ’91, Janel Brown ’97, and James Hamm ’84 for their excellent service to the chapter.
We also received a few comments in the open area of the election/survey form. We are following up on those as appropriate. Thanks to all who participated.
3. ARMY-NAVY FOOTBALL – Navy begins a new winning streak!
This one wasn’t in doubt for long, as Navy and QB Malcom Perry rolled to a 31-7 victory over Army in Philadelphia. Perry broke the series record with 304 yards rushing. What a quick and electric runner! Perry is a senior, so Navy will have to replace him, but the defense made great strides this year under new Defensive Coordinator Brian Newberry, so the future looks pretty bright. And it was a great turn-around season for Coach Ken Niumatalolo. Both Perry and Niumatalolo are up for national post-season awards. But we have a bowl game to win first –
4. NAVY FOOTBALL in the Liberty Bowl on New Year’s Eve
Navy faces Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl at 3:45 pm on New Year’s Eve (TV on ESPN). As of this writing, Navy is favored by 2.5 points. If you noticed on social media, the New England Patriots lent Navy their private airplane to make the trip to Memphis. GO NAVY!
5. CONGRATULATIONS Nick ’04 and Karen Pinkston on the birth of daughter Mary Margaret in early December.
6. HAIL AND FAREWELL
New at the December chapter meeting –
Keith Hruby ‘01 – Formerly assigned in the area; recently returned. Working as a Financial Advisor for Raymond James in Clearwater – just moved into a home in West Chase. Was a chapter secretary in his previous location. Welcome, Keith and Rose –
UPCOMING EVENTS CALENDAR
31 December – Liberty Bowl game (TV) – Navy vs. Kansas State
8 January 2020 – Chapter meeting
8 March 2020 – Candidate Information Picnic
12 March 2020 – USNA Glee Club performs in Tampa
28 March 2020 – Tampa Bay Lightning game (Inter-academy)
KEY INFORMATION LINKS:
Next chapter meeting – Wednesday, 8 January at 1800 – Tate’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, West Shore Blvd., Tampa. See you there.
Also – alumnus’ Rich Gano’s ’69 moving description below of Ensign Joshua Caleb Watson’s ’19 funeral as a Link in the class attendee.
Carry On and Happy New Year,
Chris Heath ‘72
Sent: Saturday, December 21, 2019, 02:29:16 PM PST
Subject: Dolorous duty as Callsign “Poot” passes
Ensign Joshua Caleb Watson USNA ’19, Caleb to many, Callsign “Poot” to the aviation community which in its own curious way posthumously assigned a childhood nickname to him for a callsign, had a funeral read for him today. I somehow felt it incumbent upon me to attend the ceremony to represent our class of 1969 members of which were on stage at Caleb’s graduation just last May, even though it was a 170-mile round trip in the rain, and I’d be swallowed up in what I knew would be a huge crowd. You see Alabama has a very strong military heritage and following – you can go no farther than 16 miles in any direction without running across an armory, and the state has the largest per capita reserve component allowance of any state in the Union. If you lived in Enterprise today and had a uniform to put on, even an old gray-haired Hull Technician first class in his dress blue crackerjacks, you donned it and went to the capacious performing arts center theater at Caleb’s high school (EHS) and hugged his mama and honored his memory as you sat through his funeral – I thought for a while the uniforms would outnumber the civilians. Many butter bars in Marine and Navy dress blues (many I assume USNA ’19) were in attendance apparently preferring to drive themselves from Pensacola rather than be bussed – young people, what are ya gonna do! Except for the Coast Guard, every uniformed military service was represented, mostly by active duty, officer and enlisted clear down to Marine Private. The way into the place was “guarded” by the usual military affiliated motorcycle riders we see at military funerals throughout the South and likely the country as a whole, each standing with a US flag after which the EHS JROTC members in uniform lined the foyer area. I signed the register “Commander R D Gano on behalf of USNA Class of 1969.” Our ’69 class crest was on my left lapel. Numerous young lady ushers all in blue jackets and khaki skirt were at every turn and in the seating area to guide attendees along. This was a well-organized event supported by many people. All the flags around town were at half-staff. Arriving at 1000 for the 1100 ceremony, I quickly found my way to the stage with the flag-draped casket front and center flanked by two modest flower arrangements and a festoon of small US flags on a stand. Caleb’s family, mother, two older brothers, and father were at the far end of the casket receiving people. In my turn I told his family who I was and expressed condolences on behalf of our class and our respect for his service and courage. When I mentioned to Mr. Watson the Link in the Chain connection, he said, “Oh, yes, I remember your guys on the graduation stage that hot day last May.” Mission accomplished, and the audience continued to swell into the hundreds. Eventually, I made my way over to a bunch of ensigns and discovered they were USNA classmates of Caleb’s. I introduced myself and my mission, for which they were grateful. While I am only aware of the news reports of his actions on December 6, 2019, the Navy chaplain officiating noted Caleb’s warrior heart as his short 23 years were marked by a very strong desire to take the fight to the enemy, and thus he shifted from a preference to be a SEAL to strike air as a means of getting there faster. There was no mention of his actions on December 6 nor comment on the insane cultural and religious hatred which precipitated this event; the accent was on the positive about this young man. The chaplain told how he was called on his cell phone at the hospital that awful day by an Airman Apprentice who had just stood a night watch at a desk with Ensign Watson and had just learned of his death. The watch had ended only forty five minutes before the shooting – the last eight hours of Caleb’s life. The young Sailor needed to vent. The chaplain told him to write it down, and 24 hours later a truly well written and beautifully expressed account arrived by email. The letter told how this ensign who would shortly die expressed so many profound ideas about life and service and doing your best all the time, and it jibbed with everything else we learned of this fine officer during our short acquaintance with his life. It was further disclosed that thanking him for his service made Caleb uncomfortable because he felt he had not yet done anything worthy of thanks. A trio of ensigns (male and female) sang an introductory of “Let it be” by the Beatles, and they finished the ceremony with an acapella rendering of the usual two verses of the “Navy Hymn” asking help for those in peril on the sea and in the air. If you can sit dry-eyed through a short selection of photos thrown up on a giant screen with John Michael Montgomery singing “Letters from Home,” you are a hearty spirit indeed and far tougher than I. I will think of this day every Memorial Day and Veterans Day and any other time appreciation for military service is brought up. Driving home in the rain on the first day of winter and just four days before Christmas, did little to lighten my mood as I thought of the loss to our country and his family, but I thanked Ensign Caleb Watson for his service all the way. I hope he doesn’t mind now.
Non sibi sed patriae