25th Reunion
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At the Sunday Memorial Service during our 25th Reunion, Rob Holmes provided a touching tribute to our first Class President, Mike ‘Gibby’ Gibson. He was a kind soul and will be missed by all who knew him. His family held a memorial service on Saturday, Sep 18 at 2:00pm in Walters, OK. The service was attended by a number of ’96ers, as well as Shipmates from other classes, and you can read his obituary here. Heartfelt thanks go out to all those who were able to travel and represent the Class of 1996 and pay tribute to our first fearless leader.

Passing along some sad news via Gina (Foltz) Payton:


It is with deep sympathy, that I share Mrs Susan Pegram, Robin Pegram’s mom, has passed away and joined her daughters. The following are the best details that I have right now for her memorial service –

St. Clements Episcopal Church
706 W 113th Ave
Tampa, FL 33612

Friday, June 11
Mass 1030
Visitation at 1000 before service

Lunch to follow at funeral home (details at service or I may be be able to get the address for this that need it)

Burial – Bushnell National Cemetery
6502 SW 102nd Ave
Bushnell, FL 33515

If you would like to donate for flowers or gifts, please message me (originally posted on FB) before Tuesday (08 June). Right now I know that my family and Cathy Nguyen will be attending. If you would like to send cards or a note to the family, message me for an address. This family has endured much over the years and remained an inspirational couple to many of us. Her presence in our class page will be missed, along with the many stories she would share of Robin. Please pray for Mr Earl Pegram as he has lost his wife of over 55 years.

As many of you have already heard, Shannon Willits passed away suddenly during competition in late March (classmail – 31MAR21). A friend of the Willits family has put out a call for donations via GoFundMe to help the family if you are interested in making a contribution.

For those in the Jacksonville area, and those able/willing to travel, there will be a service for Shannon in early May:

SHANNON WILLITS’ CELEBRATION OF LIFE MAY 8, 2021

Saturday, May 8
From 4pm to 7pm
Military honors rendered at 430pm

Maranatha Church Of Jacksonville
7550 Collins Rd
Jacksonville, FL 32244

Per his family, this will be “Open House” style, just come and remember him with us.

 

If anyone has addtional stories or photos of their memories with Shannon to share in tribute, please send them my way. I’ve already sent the Shipmate column in, but I’m working on a crowd-sourced memorial wall for the In Memoriam section of our class webpage. Very much in draft form now, but expect to be live later this spring.

Happy New Year, ’96! Sharing some gouge on a 501(c)(3) established to honor CAPT Teresa Elders called the The Captain Teresa E. Elders Foundation (CTEEF). The first annual CTEEF Fundraiser started in December with a goal of raising $9,600 by 17 January (goal selected to honor of the upcoming Class of 1996 25th reunion). If you would like to donate, use the Facebook group or donate directly via the foundation website. This charity is a non-profit which distributed donations from friends and family to initiatives that Teresa supported. More details from the foundation:

Mission:
We are a not-for-profit established to further the goals and charities that Teresa supported during her life and to honor those who came before by inspiring those who come after. The foundation provides donations aimed at encouraging women from young to old in family, service, and faith, including programming support, scholarships, and angel donating to ensure others have the opportunities and services that Teresa herself benefited from and that she wanted to help others attain.

Programming:
In 2020, CTEEF grant recipients include:
Nine Girls Ask (for a cure for ovarian cancer)
National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
New Jersey Distinguished Young Women (formerly America’s Junior Miss; Teresa was Junior Miss New Jersey in 1992)
First United Methodist Church Chula Vista Children’s Ministry

Yesterday marked the annual wreath laying at USNA Cemetery and Columbarium. Despite COVID restrictions and a scaled back ceremony, a smaller than usual cadre of volunteers laid the many wreaths donated this year at gravesites and along the wall on Hospital Point. If you read the USNA official website describing history and memory at the USNA Cemetery you will read of the record of peacetime and wartime; the record of tears; and the record of accomplishments. Of parents and children. Of Medal of Honor recipients and midshipmen. But to me, the cemetery is much more than merely a record. It is the final resting place of so many links in the chain, including our own classmates that we hold so dear. Many thanks to Nikki Battaglia, who represented our class at the wreath laying this year and ensured wreaths were laid for Autumn, Robin, and Terri – among the many others honored there. From the hallowed ground of a place that taught us toughness, honor, humility, courage, commitment, duty, and allegiance – the bond that connects us all can never be broken.

A different-than-usual ceremony followed suit at Arlington National Cemetery this year, spread out over a number of days (13-19 December) and limited in attendance to families and the soldiers designated to lay wreaths on behalf of families who could not travel to the area. Brian Reardon, who visited Arlington on 13 December to honor his mom, and shared with us photos of two classmates who were laid to rest nearby – Brian Hoke and Tom Budrejko. In this month of December, the tail of a very difficult year for all of us, please pause and remember those of our ranks who paid the ultimate sacrifice and have preceded us over the rainbow bridge.

Rest in peace, classmates. We have the watch.

 

 

There are more that a few charities worthy of our pennies (and dollars) on this Giving Tuesday, many of which need donations now more than ever. However, on eve of this Giving Tuesday, I call your attention to Wreaths Across America, whose mission is to “REMEMBER the fallen… HONOR those who serve… TEACH our children the value of freedom.”

The ceremonies planned for both Arlington (19 December) and Annapolis (11 December) are both still in need of wreath donations. There are over 250,000 gravesites at Arlington, and another 2,600 at the Naval Academy. Arlington, in particular, is only a third of the way to reaching the donation goal. If you are able to contribute, please consider sponsoring a wreath (or more than one). To donate to the Arlington Cemetery Wreath laying ceremony, click here. To donate to the USNA Cemetery/Columbarium wreath laying, click here.

There are more that a few charities worthy of our pennies (and dollars) on this Giving Tuesday, many of which need donations now more than ever. However, on eve of this Giving Tuesday, I call your attention to Wreaths Across America, whose mission is to “REMEMBER the fallen… HONOR those who serve… TEACH our children the value of freedom.”

The ceremonies planned for both Arlington (19 December) and Annapolis (11 December) are both still in need of wreath donations. There are over 250,000 gravesites at Arlington, and another 2,600 at the Naval Academy. Arlington, in particular, is only a third of the way to reaching the donation goal. If you are able to contribute, please consider sponsoring a wreath (or more than one). To donate to the Arlington Cemetery Wreath laying ceremony, click here. To donate to the USNA Cemetery/Columbarium wreath laying, click here.

As many of you know, Wreaths Across America lays memorial wreaths at sites throughout the country, including those at the Naval Academy Cemetery and Columbarium. This foundation relies on monetary donations to fund wreath purchases, and volunteers to lay the wreaths out each year in December. The event at USNA is currently scheduled for Friday, December 11, 2020. I recently received an email from Mrs. Carol Turman, the local USNA Wreaths Across America Coordinator, calling for donations and volunteers. Wreaths cost $15.00 apiece, although if you purchase two, a third is automatically sponsored. You can purchase wreaths or volunteer to lay wreaths online using the USNA WAA page, or you can mail a check for a donation to:

Wreaths Across America
PO Box 249
Columbia Falls, ME 04623

Please mark in memo section of your check “MD0011” (so they will give credit to the USNA cemetery)

You can find more details online or in the entire call for donations letter here. Please donate or volunteer if you are able! If the event is cancelled due to COVID restrictions, all monies donated will be applied to next year (2021).

Email sent via Classmail 11/12/18

Greetings classmates,

I’m emailing out our annual update this year (last year I tried the Facebook video feature but most didn’t take advantage of it so back to email). I will continue to use Classmail for the more “official” announcements to reach all of those not on Facebook. Remember that we also have a website (this one right here!) that Cara keeps up date date and has done a LOT of work to get up and running.

SAD NEWS

I hate to start off with unfortunate news, but this week we lost our classmate Jeff Dixon. Funeral service/visitation will be Thursday 1:00-4:00 in Westminster, MD. Please keep his family in your thoughts. (Link for details)

CLASS GIFT

For some time, we have been talking about our 30th Reunion Class Gift and our effort to raise $600,000 is support of USNA. We have decided to lead the way with a new pilot for raising money for Class Gifts. Rather than rely on a few large donations, we want to push for record levels of smaller donations and much larger participation rates than is the norm. To that end, please consider making a minimum pledge of $30 a month for 96 months ($2,880 total over 8 years).

Our project consists of Conservation of the 1st/2nd Class Benches (see previous post for photos), Project Based Learning, Athletic Excellence, and the Naval Academy Fund. It does not seem unreasonable that we could get the 208 classmates we need to reach our $600K goal.  In fact, we would love to blow past that participation rate. Please spread the word and reach out to your Class Officers or Company Reps with any questions.

We had hope to get this drive up and running for on-line donations, but USNA Foundation issues with their software provider is delaying progress. Please excuse our 20th century methods and please donate the old-fashioned way to help us reach our pledge goal before the Army-Navy Game! Just email,scan, fax (seriously? what is a fax?), or call in your pledges. Details are on the downloadable pledge form: Class of 1996 Pledge Form $30 for 96 months

POC is Brian Reardon (Brian.reardon@1996.usna.com)

Last note –  to those that give to other priorities (Rugby, Crew, D&B, Cyber, etc.) please consider supporting our Class Gift in addition to your other annual donations. To those that plan to give more than $2,880 over the next 8 years, feel free to up your $30 pledge, make larger annual gifts, or supplement your current giving by adding a pledge to our Class Gift.

25TH REUNION

The planning for our 25th Reunion is well underway. The Committee has chosen Air Force weekend, 01-03 October 2021, as the tentative dates for our event. This choice allows the group to move forward with planning and vendor negotiations. Expect the dates to be finalized when the football schedule is published in Winter 2021. Please feel free to contact me directly if you want to contribute or help with the planning.

POC is Thomas Leahy (leahyt@gmail.com)

COUNCIL OF CLASS PRESIDENTS (COCP)

This year, Cara Albright attended the COCP on 8 Nov. Although this was a very abbreviated meeting, there were a few things that she wanted to pass along:

  • Suicide Prevention – This initiative began with ’98 in response to their own personal situation (50% of class losses that are not operational are due to suicide) and will be discussed at great length at the spring ’19 COCP.
  • A lot of discussion on reunions (lessons learned, costs, alternative venues, etc…).  All these things have been fed back to our Reunion Planning Committee.

COMPANY REPS

We are still looking for a few more volunteers to be their company rep. It’s really not that much work but helps when we need to reach out to large groups.

Looking for reps for 7th, 26th, 29th, 32nd, and 34th still….

You get to help us track down your company mates and make sure they are getting all the information on class news.

FOOTBALL TAILGATE

Another awesome year is almost over (JUST HAVE TO BEAT ARMY!!). Each week is like a mini-reunion and we often get people that are on work travel for the week to stay an extra night to come to the game on Saturday.

The donations in the tailgate kitty pay for all of the sustainment (~$3000 a year). This year, all of the prices went up pretty significantly but we are still about breaking even. All the funds we receive to the paypal account help to pay for any of the larger upgrades (e.g., eventually we will need a new trailer, etc). If you feel like throwing a few dollars that way to help make our spot one of the most envied tailgates, please send them to paypal at USNA1996Tailgater@gmail.com

POC is Nikki Battaglia (n.battaglia96@gmail.com)

There may be a few 96 jerseys (link here) left if you didn’t get a chance to get your personalized one!

ARMY/NAVY GAME

As usual, many of us will hit the town Friday night. Some of us will try to meet up so let me know if you want to join. Saturday, I’ll do the standard no-host social at Tir na Nog in Philadelphia starting about 10:00. Every year they allow us to hog a section of the restaurant to stay warm, eat, and drink before the game. Hopefully the weather will be better than it was last year.

 

And with that, I’ll wrap up this update.

Nagel Sullivan

Class President

BEAT ARMY!

From Matt Holman – I’m heartbroken to announce the loss of a ’96 classmate. Jeff Dixon passed away last Sunday. A giant personality, hugely talented human being, friend to all and 12th Co. legend, he’ll be missed. Services will be held in Westminster, MD next Thursday afternoon. Details are below for any in the area or from afar who would like to honor Jeff.

For those in the area, call hours are Thursday, 15 November at Pritts Funeral Home and Chapel, Westminster, MD (see link for details, directions, and obituary).