Alumni Updates

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Dan O’Brien ’54

Little-Creek-July-1952-large

Photo from the Little Creek part of the Summer cruise for the Class of 1954 taken in July, 1952.

A brief history of my career over the last 60 years. After graduation in 1954 I served three years on the USS Borie (DD704). I returned to UVa to be married and to obtain my PhD in Chemistry in 1961. Then I spent six years teaching at the University of Dayton, one year at Case-Western Reserve University, and finally settling down in Bryan, TX where I taught and did research at Texas A&M University for 30 years until retirement. Since retirement in 1997 my wife and I have traveled extensively. We have seven children and 23 grandchildren. My 60th Reunion is coming up in May!

Attached is a photograph from the Little Creek part of the Summer cruise for the Class of 1954 taken in July, 1952. I’m in the middle holding the Virginia sign. I also have a copy of the “Salvo” for 1954. I used it to make tentative identifications of those in the picture. You may click on the picture to enlarge it.

Front Row: Phillip Ropp, James Waddill, William Eels, Daniel O’Brien, Edward Smith, Thomas Williams, Robert Gearhart

Back Row: Unknown, Unknown, Unknown, John Ritchie, Roger Massie, Robert FAy, Paul Lockwood, Unknown, Rust Reid, Frank Haynes, McMullin, Furman Barton

Archie Bolster ’55

After graduation in 1955 I reported for duty on board the USS John R. Pierce (DD753) at the Convoy Escort Piers in Norfolk. Over the next three years we trained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, did firing practice at Culebra, and sailed to the Mediterranean twice. (On the second trip to Cuba we cruised to Santiago de Cuba, where we heard about a rebel army in the hills southeast of there headed by Fidel Castro.) Visiting ports such as Iskanderun, Turkey and Wexford, Ireland (where we marched to dedicate a statue of Commodore John Barry, one of the founders of our navy) whetted my appetite for an eventual foreign service career. I met two fellow officers with whom I’m still in touch: Frank Greene (whose wife’s cousin I married in 1959) and Robert Littell (the writer of spy novels and a book Sweet Reason that includes some disguised anecdotes of life on the Pierce) . I joined the Department of State in June of 1958 and went to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (A colleague was posted to Havana and was one of the last people to leave our Embassy when Castro took power.)

After 10 months of Persian language training, I was posted to Tabriz, Iran. Subsequent posts were Tehran, Iran; New Delhi; Tehran again, and Antwerp, Belgium, where I served 3 years as Consul General. After retirement, I worked in the Freedom of Information field, reviewing documents from State Department files for full or partial release to requestors, a job I am still doing on a part-time basis. A notable experience in that field was some 3 years researching documents used in the trials of Iran-Contra Affair defendants.

I credit the varied responsibilities of a naval officer as a valuable experience in preparing me for life as a Foreign Service Officer, and am proud of my NROTC service.

Rev. Dr. Daniel Garrett ’63

RevGarrett1

Onboard the USS Coconino County (LST-603) as XO and Navigator, Vietnam, 1967

Commissioned in 1963, I served as Communications and then Operations Officer of the USS Duval County (LST-758) homeported in Little Creek, Virginia. We supported the Southern Command with deployments to Panama. After a brief [two week] assignment to the USS Northampton (CC-1), I received orders as Executive Officer and Navigator of the USS Coconino County (LST-603). She was recommissioned out of the mothball fleet in Philadelphia in June 1966, and after training in Little Creek, we deployed to Vietnam as part of LST Squadron 4, with homeport in Guam. We were actively deployed in Vietnam from Dec 1966. We conducted the first joint amphibious landing in the Mekong Delta with US and Vietnamese Marines. We operated mainly in I Corps out of Danang in support of Marine operations. One naval historian from the Vietnam era called us “the lucky Coco” as we survived a sapper unit attack that blew out the bottom of our ship as we beached in the Cua Viet River close to North Vietnam in Dong Ha, in June 1967. The ship was towed to Guam where she was refitted, and returned to Vietnam.

I left active service in July 1967 to attend Yale Divinity School, with the intent to continue my naval service as a chaplain. I received a Master of Divinity degree in 1971, but my plans changed to serving in parish ministry in Virginia as a United Methodist.

I served six pastorate appointments in the Virginia Conference, and along the way earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in 1984. My last active appointment in ministry was to teach United Methodist Studies in three seminaries in Virginia.

In retirement, my wife Susan and I live in Berryville, Virginia. She is also a retired clergyperson. I teach adjunct at Shenandoah University and chair the regional Salvation Army Advisory Board. I try to guide that unit as the “Salvation Navy.” Susan coordinates the volunteers for the regional Master Gardeners organization.

Our two sons, both Wahoos, are research electrical engineers with Broadcom, Inc. in Irvine, California.

I have fond memories of Naval ROTC at Virginia, and value the learning and experience of having passed through Maury Hall and Halsey Hall.

I forever remember my classmate, roommate, and friend Peter Zakis, UVA NROTC ’63, whose death in 1970 resulted from his Vietnam service.

Kate Hendricks ’02

Blackhawk over Baghdad, 2005

Blackhawk over Baghdad, 2005

I served as a Marine Corps Military Police Officer for 6 years on active duty and an additional 2 as a reservist. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work in garrison law enforcement and as a field MP overseas. From 2006-2008 I trained Marine Corps recruits as a Series and Company Commander aboard Parris Island.

Today, my interests lie in Health Promotion and Public Health. I earned my MS and PhD in Health Promotion and teach in the field. I also co-own a small business with a friend and colleague from my UVA and USMC days. Just Roll With It Wellness provides holistic health and leadership instruction in both workshop and retreat format all over the country, often partnering with veterans’ nonprofits to do so. www.katehendricks.com

F. Patrick “Pat” Dillon ’59

Battalion Commander. Winner of Trident Award

Aboard La Fayette, A French  aircraft carrier which was previously my Father’s command during WWII as the USS Langley (CVL-27). The Des Moines pulled into port where  La Fayette was anchored. When her skipper found out the son of the Langley’s first skipper was on the Des Moines, I was invited on board as a special guest of the ship for a tour and dinner with her Captain.

Aboard La Fayette, A French aircraft carrier which was previously my Father’s command during WWII as the USS Langley (CVL-27). The Des Moines pulled into port where La Fayette was anchored. When her skipper found out the son of the Langley’s first skipper was on the Des Moines, I was invited on board as a special guest of the ship for a tour and dinner with her Captain.

I entered NROTC at Virginia in the fall of 1955 with one goal – to follow my father’s career path as a navy pilot and skipper of an aircraft carrier. There were 6 of us who wanted to be pilots. We got in a lot of flying time during our 4 years at UVA as the pilot navy instructor always took one, or more us, with him when he had to put in his flying time to remain qualified. Unfortunately, I flunked the navy pilot physical just prior to commissioning. My eyes went bad so I could not pursue my dream to fly.

I still had to complete my required service. I ended up on the USS Des Moines, a heavy cruiser and flagship of the 6th Fleet for 2 years in the Med. I became the first ensign to ever qualify as an underway OOD on the Des Moines. When Admiral George Anderson, ComSixthFleet, found out I could speak fluent Spanish, he gave me TDY orders for every fleet ship to visit a Spanish speaking port. Interestingly, when Adm. Anderson graduated from the Naval Academy, he reported to a ship where my Father was his senior watch officer. Admiral Anderson said my Father was a terrific naval officer and “coach”.

I had no desire to stay in the sea going navy as my goal had been to fly. Since this was not possible, I wanted to find a job in a Spanish speaking country where I could use the language. Adm. Anderson who became CNO, appointed me as Assistant U.S. Naval Attaché in Brazil. To prepare for this assignment I was sent to graduate school to get a masters degree in foreign affairs and then to Portuguese language school. I became the youngest accredited diplomat in the US Foreign Service. I served 2 ½ fantastic years in this amazing assignment.

It took another year to get out of the navy. My civilian career was as a Human Resource Officer in electronic manufacturing. I am now retired, living yet another wonderful life in Del Webb’s showplace active young adult community in Surprise, Arizona. Life has been great!!

Chauncey G. Olinger, Jr. ’55

Battleship IOWA officers at Majorca reception, 1957; (l.to r.) Capt. Jones (USMC), Lt.(jg) Chauncey G.Olinger, Jr., USN, Lt.(jg) William B. Huntley, USN, and Lt. David Tobias, USN.

Battleship IOWA officers at Majorca reception, 1957; (l.to r.) Capt. Jones (USMC), Lt.(jg) Chauncey G.Olinger, Jr., USN, Lt.(jg) William B. Huntley, USN, and Lt. David Tobias, USN.

Upon commissioning in June of 1955, I shipped out aboard the U.S.S. Iowa (BB-61) as a watch and gunnery officer. At that time, the Iowa carried ComBatCruLant on board so all was spit and polish, and as we cruised the Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Med social occasions showed up regularly at which contingents of younger officers were required.

This photo by the ship’s photographer shows four Iowa officers in 1957 at a city hall reception by the mayor of Majorca in the Mediterranean. From left to right, the four officers (the local ladies’ names are lost to history) were: Captain Jones (USMC), yours truly Lt.(jg) Chauncey G. Olinger, Jr. USN, Lt.(jg) William B. Huntley, USN, and Lt. David Tobias, USN.

 
 
 

James G. O’Neill ’65

USS Taylor 2012 Reunion(I'm in red in the middle)

USS Taylor 2012 Reunion(I’m in red in the middle)

I finished requirements for my BEE degree on February 26, 1965; walked over to Maury Hall in my Ensign’s uniform; took the oath; returned the Chief Yeoman’s salute; gave him a silver dollar; and went home to Wilmington, Delaware. The following June, when my class graduated, I was already in Pearl Harbor on the USS Taylor (DD-468). I served two years on the Taylor with two deployments to Vietnam as Main Propulsion Assistant (MPA) and then was assigned to the pre-commissioning detail of the USS Leahy (DLG -16) which was undergoing modernization at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Upon Leahy’s (re)commissioning I was assigned as MPA and remained throughout a UNITAS cruise around South America.

After active duty, I worked at Newport News Shipbuilding as a Noise Review Coordinator on the SSN-688 quiet submarine design. Subsequently, I obtained an MEE from UVA and worked as a frequency synthesis engineer with ITT, in electronic countermeasures at the Naval Surface Weapons Center, and as a Security Engineer at US Secret Service. I finally obtained a position with the US Marine Corps where I spent 18 years. I was a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in Virginia for 40 years and have been a Certified Professional Logistician since 1981.

I can honestly say that I have retired from both the Navy and the Marine Corps; the Naval Reserve as a Commander, Engineering Duty; the Marine Corps as Deputy Director, Program Analysis & Evaluation, Marine Corps Systems Command. After retirement, I worked on a consulting basis for MKI Systems for 13 years specializing in weapons system acquisition policy. I am now travelling and FULLY retired.

Eric Luehrs ’04

Day day and me

Day day and me

I went Submarine Service and completed the training pipeline by November 2005. Then I was stationed onboard USS CHICAGO (SSN-721) out of Pearl Harbor for almost 3 years where I earned my Submarine Warfare pin and became PNEO qualified. My shore tour was at NAVSEA 07 in Washington DC where I worked in PMS 392A supporting the active submarine fleet.

While at NAVSEA I took classes I needed to apply to medical school as well as the MCAT. I left the sub force at the end of 2010 and applied to medical schools during the summer of 2011. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk where I grew up.

Now I am in my M2 year of medical school and will graduate in 2016. I am once again active duty in a program called HSCP, where the Navy pays me as an E-7 plus time in service and I use the GI Bill to cover tuition.

I was married on December 30th, 2012 to Sarah Coleman, the love of my life who I met in Hawaii back in 2008. We have a labradoodle puppy and are living in Norfolk.

Since I started working towards becoming a Doctor I have received a lot of questions from other Navy friends about how I did it etc. The main reason for posting this update was to reach out to any other UVA alumni or MIDN who might have questions about the Medical route, the sub force or switching communities, I can be contacted at eric.luehrs@gmail.com. Cheers.

Bill O’Malley ’51

I enjoy hearing from you. It’s been a long time. I have fond remembrances of my years in the NROTC at U.Va. and the 3 years I spent on active duty aboard the USS Roanoke (CL145) and the USS Gilbert Islands (CVE 107)

David Van Petten ’73

Commanding Officer of NAVSEA Det 1506 (NAVSEA Inspector General Office)

Commanding Officer of NAVSEA Det 1506 (NAVSEA Inspector General Office)

Captain Van Petten was born 26 January 1954, and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1977 with two degrees in Nuclear Engineering and Applied Mathematics. After Navy Nuclear Power Training and Surface Warfare School, he served aboard the Navy cruiser USS TRUXTUN (CGN-35) from 1979 to 1981 as the Machinery One Division Officer where he deployed to the western Pacific (WESTPAC) Ocean and the Indian Ocean during the Iranian Hostage Situation. During this WESTPAC, the TRUXTUN served as plane guard and duty on “GONZO” station. Prior to his departure from CGN-35, he completed his CICWO and Nuclear Engineer (NAVSEA 08) qualifications. After completing Damage Control School, Captain Van Petten reported to the USS BAINBRIDGE (CGN-25) from 1981 to 1982 as the Damage Control Assistant and Repair Officer. During t his tour on the USS BAINBRIDGE, he deployed on his second WESTPAC, qualified OOD and Surface Warfare Officer.
Navy Reserve duty since 1982 includes two Commanding Officer (CO) tours and two Executive Officer (XO) tours within the Navy Reserve Readiness Command (REDCOM) Mid-Atlantic Region: USS D. B. Beary (FF-1085) – CO & XO; Surface Warfare Center Det 106 – XO; and the CO (see photograph) of NAVSEA Det 1506 (NAVSEA IG). Captain Van Petten was the Primary Technical Training Advisor (TTA) for the REDCOM Mid-Atlantic Region from 1997 to 2003 and served as the Reserve Battle Force IMA Augmentation (BFIMA) Technical & Training Advisor from 1997 to 2002. Prior to his retirement, he was assigned as a Senior Program Management Officer in NAVSEA’s Program Management Unit performing Aircraft Carrier Surge Maintenance (SurgeMain) work at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Prior tours included Officer Conducting the Exercise (OCE) during ADSW for the Large Test Asset Live Fire Testing & Evaluation (LFT&E) on the ex-AMERICA (CV-66) for the Program Executive Office – AIRCRAFT CARRIERS, Future Aircraft Carrier Office (PMS 378); NAVSEA Det 1206’s Chief Engineer, supporting PMS 312’s work on the Aircraft Carrier Ship Maintenance (ShipMain) Project; the Engineering (N43) Department Head in COMNAVSURFLANT Det 606; the Projects Action Officer for NAVSEA Det 1706 (NAVSEA IG); and in the Pentagon’s OPNAV N4 106 Unit, as the N43 Assistant Department Head, providing support in the N431 Office for Supportability, Maintenance, and Modernization.

Captain Van Petten is a life member of the Association of the United States Navy (formally the Naval Reserve Association), participating since 1988. Other memberships include the Navy League, American Society of Naval Engineers, and the Naval Institute. He is a licensed Professional Engineer (Mechanical) in the State of Virginia.

Awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (3), Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Medal (2), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal and the Battle “E” (2).

Captain Van Petten and his wife Karen, a Registered Nurse, have one son and daughter. His son, a graduate of the University of Maryland in College Park, is a Program Manager. His daughter, a graduate of Longwood University, teaches elementary school. The family resides in Chesapeake, Virginia where he works as an Engineer for Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, a Department of Defense contractor.

Robert Warner ’68

NROTC-Ens-Warner-and-Capt.-Coston

On the USS Stribling (DD-867) with Captain Coston, off the coast of Viet Nam, 1969.

 

After graduation in 1968, I served in the Navy as a ship driver off the coast of Viet Nam – and later as Destroyer Squadron 32 communications and (later) operations officer in the Mediterranean Sea until 1972. The Navy got tired of me running into things and finally sent me to law school at William and Mary. The following years were spent as a Judge Advocate and then as a government contracts attorney with the Navy Office of General Counsel. I retired from the Naval Reserve as a CDR in 1991 and then finished my civil service career in 1997 as a field attorney and teaching government contract law to contracting officers. (You can see now who is responsible for all that waste, fraud, and abuse..) Took my boat to Florida ahead of the howling mob and settled in Fernandina Beach (near Jacksonville) – where I taught public school (Global Studies, Economics, U.S. H istory, and Government) until 2006 and heart trouble. Been recuperating ever since…. I have a fine daughter, Caroline, from my first marriage, who is an Architectural Historian with the Maryland Historical Trust, three dogs, one ancient cat, and a garter snake that still lives under the porch.

Alexander Monroe ’64

Monroe '64


Transiting the Straits of Gibraltar in USS Aucilla (AO56) with Tarifa, Spain abeam to port.

Following commissioning, I served as Gunnery Officer and an underway OOD in USS Aucilla (AO56) and at the Naval Amphibious School, Little Creek. Following release from active duty, I enrolled in the graduate school at William and Mary and earend an M.A. in Government. Concurrently, I affiliated with the Navy Reserve and reached the rank of Captain. I served in a Group I Navy Reserve Destroyer and in vairous other commands. Ultimately I gravitated to the Naval History and Heritage Command. In that capacity, I was assigned to the Command Historian’s Office at USCINCLANT, later known as USJFCOM. I was retired and asked to stay on by the Director of Naval History and am now occupied doing oral histories and abstracts of those done by others. It has been a long and rewarding time, for which I am very grateful. I have two daughters, one a lawyer in Oregon with a husband and two boys and one, a physician at Johns Hopkins with a husband and daughter.

 

 

Jack Cann ’63

Jack Cann '63

Jack Cann ’63

John P. Cann is a Research Fellow at Marine Corps University, a former member of the research staff at the Institute for Defense Analyses, a Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Virginia, and a retired professor at the Marine Corps University. He earned his doctorate in War Studies at King’s College London in 1996, published Counterinsurgency in Africa in 1997, Memories of Portugal’s African Wars, 1961–1975 (ed.) in 1998, The Brown Waters of Africa in 2008, Flechas in 2013, and numerous articles on small wars over the years. His fifth book, Flight Plan Africa, is forthcoming in 2014. He is a retired naval captain and flight officer specializing in open ocean reconnaissance aviation and served in a variety of aviation assignments, including command. He has been awarded the Portuguese Navy Cross Medal and the Medal of Dom Afonso Henriques for his writings on conflict in Lusophone Africa.

 

Brian Gritte ’76

Brian Gritte '76

Brian Gritte ’76

Mr. Brian Gritte graduated from The University in 1976 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and received a commission as an Ensign, USN. He went on to earn his Naval Flight Officer Wings of Gold and an then received an MS in Aeronautical Engineering at the Naval Post Graduate School. During his 21 years of Naval Service he completed Operational tours as Tactical Coordinator and Mission Commander in P-3B and P-3C UII aircraft. He now has over 25 years of experience as a Program Manager, Deputy Program Manager, and Lead Engineer both as a Naval Officer and in the commercial sector. As a Naval Officer, he completed Acquisition tours as Deputy Program Manager for integration and installation of Global Positioning System hardware and software into all Navy and Marine Corps aircraft and Lead Systems Engineer for Propulsion and Power Systems in the new technology V-22 Tilt-Rotor Aircraft. After transitioning to the commercial sector, Mr. Gritte gained experience as a Lead Engineer for the installation of night vision–compatible lighting into a series of HC-130 aircraft and as Program Manager for installation of test apparatus into a USAF C-12 aircraft. He has worked Counter IED programs with the US Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) providing management oversight, acquisition documentation, schedule management, field test support, and technical issue resolution for technology solutions being used in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). He has also supported the Joint IED Defeat Organization in their Initiatives and Technology Branch. He is currently the International Lead supporting the Army’s RDECOM and their Data Exchange Agreements with foreign partners on the subject of Counter IED technologies.