September 8th, 2017

From the Department of Disassociated Connections Department

My Naval Academy classmates exchanged an email thread tacking from Houston weather to Navy football documentaries to jets bursting from the decks of aircraft carriers with a casual mention of a Public Broadcasting special. The following association occurred in a note to my classmates:

Re Public Television – there has been a cooperative effort between our local Naval Academy alumni chapter and the local PBS affiliate, UNC TV, to promote the upcoming Ken Burns series, The Vietnam War, beginning on 17 September. Curiously, our chapter of 130+ includes numerous veterans of that period – pilots, Marines, F-4 POW with many and varied stories of their experiences. I only consider myself a product of Vietnam when I meet with Blue & Gold reps (Naval Academy recruiters) and the applying hopefuls. We hosted a picnic for the Class of 2021 in June. Amazing were their credentials and the wickets of Getting into Navy (one lass met with a US Senator – surely a sign of acceptance – only to be informed later that she was bested by others. Off to Air Force went she! I didn’t think that senators met with you unless you were a lock for appointment). When I meet these mids, I marvel and often comment that ‘there is no way that I would be accepted today’ and that my appointment – 16 June 1970 via telegram – describes the then prevailing lack of nationwide appeal of a role, job or billet in the military – “if that’s what you want to do” was an often heard rejoinder to my choice of road out of New Orleans.

We’ve mentioned Ruben Torres (ed note: RT was a flamer, boxer, aspiring Marine who bullied all of the new plebes. As the Fates would have it, he flunked out in his senior year and sent into the enlisted ranks. How we plebes cheered when we learned of his ill fate!) and the 6-3 funsters on Plebe Detail before. Plus no air conditioning in the Halls. Somehow, whenever asked “Were You in Vietnam?” I reply immediately in the negative and equally quickly think of Rich Hormel and Dek Pullen. Hormel was a squad leader elsewhere in Hotel Company; Pullen in the 3rd set was one firstie whom I admired for his humor, level headedness and fair sense for playing the Plebe Summer game.That they were both lost in aircraft accidents soon after their own graduations are tragedies that I, for some reason, attribute to the Vietnam War. In those moments of recollection of ‘couldabeen anybody,
I am amazed with the reminder of decisions lightly taken – “Of course, I’ll try Annapolis; got to be better than LSU” sort of illogic. Fate is indeed fickle. Boys making the same decision at nearly the same time amidst similar circumstances. Most meander-through graced by ignorance of consequence; some lost altitude nearly immediately.

https://usnamemorialhall.org/index.php/RICHARD_C._HORMEL,_LTJG,_USN

https://usnamemorialhall.org/index.php/GRANVILLE_D._PULLEN,_CAPT,_USMC

1971_Hormel_LB


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