Official Website of the United States Naval Academy Graduating Class of 1974, Annapolis, Maryland

Beat Army!

Doug Cook sends: This is a group representing USNA class of 1974 for the purposes of both social and professional networking. All Class of '74 classmates are encouraged to join and actively participate! Only members of '74 need apply. All applicants will be vetted. GO NAVY!


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Classmate News
Loss of Classmate: Daniel A. Burns passed away on Friday May 10th . Dan had been battling lung cancer for over a year and regrettably, it spread to other areas of his body. Dan was under hospice care and passed away peacefully.

Dan was a member of 10th, 28th, and finallly 35th company.

Our hearts and prayers go out to Dan's wife Vickie and their two daughters.

Loss of Classmate: J. L. Ward This note is passed on from our classmate – the USNA Superintendent Mike Miller:
Classmates, police officials have confirmed that J.L. Ward, '74,  was killed in a private helicopter crash yesterday afternoon off of Apollo Beach near Tampa, Fl, where he lived with his wife Karen.  J.L. and I met in flight school & became best friends there, and throughout our life's journey.  He was my Best Man, and I was his.  An American Airlines Captain, he had a love of flying, and life, that could not be surpassed.  I miss him already. 
According to press reports, the helicopter was witnessed to have lost it main rotor, and the fuselage subsequently rolled and fell into the water from a couple hundred feet.   Sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, most especially at Christmas-time.  Mike

Pilot identifed in Apollo Beach chopper crash

Loss of Classmate: Timothy James Supko, Sup to friends, of Jacksonville Florida, passed away on Wednesday, November 7 at the age of 60 due to Pancreatic Cancer. His family was by his side as he peacefully drifted away to be with the Lord. Tim was born on May 21, 1952 in Baltimore Maryland. He graduated from the U.S. Naval academy in 1974 and served our country for 21 years before retiring as a Commander and earning his masters degree in Education to become a teacher. He was a talented athlete and played for the Navy lacrosse team, and during his time in the Navy he formed many lifelong friendships. Recently he taught mathematics at Switzerland Point Middle School and Pacetti Bay Middle School where he touched many lives of both his peers and students. He loved his dogs, bass fishing, golfing, cooking, and cheering for the Navy Goats, Jacksonville Jaguars, Florida Gators, and of course the Baltimore Orioles he often called himself a Baltimoron. It was this sense of humor and his optimistic spirit that enabled him to battle his Pancreatic Cancer for 19 long months, during which he spent as much time as possible with his loved ones, traveling, and living life to the fullest. He is survived by his partner Deborah Powell, his daughters Christiana Winsor and Jennifer Supko, his former wife Rhonda Diggins, his brother Leonard Supko, and his dog Dewey. He is predeceased by his parents Michael and Johanna Supko, his late brother Dennis Supko, and his dogs Yogi and Mia. He had countless close friends who loved and supported him throughout his life and during his illness, for which his family is extremely grateful. A celebration of life will be held for his close friends and family. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that you consider making a donation in his honor to the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. Arrangements by Naugle Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 1203 Hendricks Ave.

Bill Mayo has recently published two books. From his press release:
About the Author
Bill Mayo is a former Vice President of Caterpillar Inc, retiring in 2008. He has held a wide variety of positions during his Caterpillar career primarily in Marketing & Sales, both domestically and in Europe. Bill currently serves on numerous corporate boards and is a member of the Leader Group of Gerson Lehrman’s global consulting practice. He teaches leadership at Eureka College, and is co-founder of Fullsail Leadership—a personal development company focusing on servant leadership. Married, with five children and eleven grandchildren, he is also a published author of a number of books and business articles and is an active public speaker & trainer on the topics of leadership development, customer service, business culture, and marketing.

Loss of Classmate: Tony Phelps
Anthony F. Phelps, 61, of Knoxville, Maryland, passed away unexpectedly yet peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, June 23, 2011.
Tony was born November 28, 1949 at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Maryland. Both parents served in the Navy - Richardson Phelps, Jr., US Naval Academy Class of '43, serving from 1940 until retirement in 1961, and Frances L. Phelps, USN WAVES '43-'47.
Tony graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the US Naval Academy in 1974. From 1974-1981, US Marine Corps Captain Phelps served as a pilot for CH-53 heavy helicopters and then as a pilot reservist at Naval Air Station Dallas, TX.
As Tony's career progressed in corporate roles, Tony received an MBA in Technical Management from the University of Dallas in 1987.
At the time of his death, Tony worked at BAE Systems as a Systems/Mechanical Engineer on Strategic Defense Weapons Systems, Rockville, Maryland.
A life-long fitness enthusiast, he enjoyed cycling and swimming, and was an active volunteer leader and mentor in Scout Leadership and FIRST Robotics Youth Competition.
Tony loved his God, his family, and his country, and was a proud American Patriot.
Tony is survived by his wife, Wendi Sorg Phelps of Knoxville, Maryland; son, Everett Anthony Phelps and daughter, Lauren Elizabeth Phelps from a previous marriage of Frederick, Maryland. He is also survived by his mother, Frances Lokey Phelps, sister, Anne Lokey Phelps, and niece, Julia Lokey Phelps all of Wilsonville, Alabama; brother, David Montgomery Phelps of Tucker, Georgia; brother, Samuel Craig Phelps of Montgomery, Alabama, and nephew, Andrew Richardson Phelps of Mobile, Alabama; brother, Joseph Richardson Phelps of Sylacauga, Alabama, and nephew, Matthew Glenn Phelps of Columbiana, Alabama. He is preceded in death by his father Richardson Phelps, Jr. and by his nephew Joseph Richardson Phelps, Jr.
Loss of Classmate: Steve Kane
Posted On March 8th, 2011 - Honolulu Star-Advertiser

March 3, 2011
Stephan Patrick Kane, 59, of Kailua, a retired Navy commander and Science Applications International Corp. project manager, died in Tripler Army Medical Center. He was born in Dunkirk, N.Y. He is survived by wife Katherine, sons Stephan P. II and Kevin J., daughter Mary Claire R. and father William J. Services: 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church (on Pali Highway). Aloha attire. Donations suggested to Oahu Resource Conservation & Development Council, 99-193 Aiea Heights Drive, Suite 111, Aiea, HI 96701.

Classmate Paul Creamer's daughter, Paula Creamer just won the LPGA US OPEN!!!
Paula between Paul & Karen Creamer

OAKMONT, Pa. — Four months ago, when she was crying on her father’s shoulder wondering if she’d be able to play golf again, Paula Creamer kept thinking about the US Women’s Open. Weeks later, a cast on her left hand following thumb surgery, the focus never left, even if pain and the past might try to conspire against her once more, keeping golf’s biggest prize out of her reach.

Not this time. Coming up with an experienced plan to navigate one of the world’s toughest golf courses in Oakmont Country Club — and forced to devise another plan for that throbbing thumb — Creamer capped her biggest week by convincingly winning the 65th US Women’s Open yesterday. A final-round, 2-under-par 69 — her lowest score of the tournament and third time she bettered par — gave the 23-year-old Californian a 3-under 281 total and a four-stroke victory over Norway’s Suzann Pettersen (69) and South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi (66), and, more importantly, her first major championship.

Loss of Classmate: Emory Joseph (JOE) Derrick, 58, of Blacksburg, went home to be with his Savior Friday, May 21, 2010, at Montgomery Regional Hospital. He was born in Chester, S.C., on January 17, 1952. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1974, and received his Ph.D. in 1992 from VPI and SU. 

He served the Lord in China for 10 years, and returned to teach at Radford University for six years. Joe was a member of Blacksburg Christian Fellowship. He is survived by his wife, Ruth B. Derrick; two sons and daughters-in-law, Evan and Kristena Derrick, of Tulsa, Okla., and Collin and Stephanie Derrick, of Black-sburg; one daughter, Jillian Derrick, of Blacksburg; two grandchildren, Emily and Jacob Derrick; parents, Curtis and Virginia Derrick, of Woodruff, S.C.; one brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Dianne Derrick, of Orlando, Fla.; one nephew, Brooks Derrick; his mother-in-law, Eleanor Williams, of Dodgeville, Wis.; broth-ers-in-law and sisters-in-law, David and Joyce Williams, Earl and Betty Williams, Leslie and Diana Williams, Richard and Peg Williams; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Helen and Robert Schuerman.

Mike Miller nominated to become the next Naval Academy Superintendent
Today, the Secretary of Defense announced that the President has nominated RADM Michael H. Miller (USNA Class of 1974) for appointment to the rank of vice admiral and assignment as the next Naval Academy superintendent. 

A career naval aviator, RADM Miller is presently the Navy’s Chief of Legislative Affairs in Washington, DC.  He has an extensive operational background to include command of the aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy and Carrier Strike Group 7 aboard USS Ronald Reagan.  His biography at provides additional information.

The date of the change of command has not been determined.

Loss of Classmate: Theodore Alan Coyle
Ted Coyle, beloved husband of Mary Patricia Mason-Coyle, Loving father of five and grandfather of four beautiful children, passed into heaven peacefully on the afternoon of April 15, 2010, surrounded by his family at  home in St. Charles, Missouri. Ted was born on December 20th, 1950 in Key West, Florida to Robert Moore Coyle and Geraldine Shaffer-Coyle of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  Robert Coyle, a career Navy Chief, moved the family frequently throughout the United States until finally settling in Charleston, South Carolina. Ted attended St Andrew’s High School and went on to complete a year of college at Newberry College. In 1970 Ted was accepted to the United States Naval Academy and upon his graduation on June 5th, 1974, was commissioned  an Ensign in the United States Navy. Ted served in the United States Navy for over twenty years with distinction and honor. Ted’s personal awards included five Meritorious Service Medals, five Commendation Medals, one Achievement Medal and twelve Unit / Campaign Awards.

Ted’s tours included two aircraft carrier assignments, the USS Independence and the USS Kennedy, and a nuclear submarine, the USS Jack. Ted’s final position was Commanding Officer, Defense Fuel Region & Defense Logistics Agency – Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.

After his retirement in 1997 Ted worked for British Petroleum in Anchorage, Alaska, Supply Chain Operations Manager – Southern California Edison, Director of Supply Operations Services, Hexcel in Kent, Washington, VP of Operations and Supply Chain, AVChem, and Saavis in the St. Louis area.He is survived by his wife, Mary Mason-Coyle, children Jeffrey Alan (Sasha), Kelly Jean, Michael Andrew (Chelsea), David Douglas and Theodore Robert. Grandchildren Eli, Cope and Jack. Ted is also survived by his sister Lesley Coyle Kelly of Beaufort, South Carolina, and his mother Geraldine Marion Coyle with many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Ted was a parishioner at St. Cletus Catholic Church in St. Charles, Missouri.

  Loss of Classmate: Art Stout
F. Arthur Stout III, 57 of Scottsdale, Arizona died January 30, 2010. He was born March, 1952 to Fred and Kathleen Stout of Odessa, Texas. Growing up, Art was an outstanding student, athlete and musician who received a Vice-Presidential appointment to the United States Naval Academy upon graduation from Odessa High School in 1970. He also attended the University of Colorado and moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University. At ASU he earned a degree in mechanical engineering while also playing varsity tennis and soccer. It was there he met the former Kim Clark of McLean, Virginia, his wife of 31 years. After graduating, Art and Kim moved to San Diego to begin their careers with the same company, San Diego Gas and Electric. They were married in 1978 and in 1979 returned to Phoenix where Art began his nearly 30 year career with Intel. Art traveled the world for Intel building their manufacturing plants in Ireland, Japan, Israel, the Philippines, China, Malaysia and in the United States including New Mexico and Arizona. In addition to building for Intel, Art had a passion for architecture. Using his talents Art built and remodeled several of his own homes in Arizona, New Mexico and California. He was happiest working on his boat, snow skiing, golfing, racing his car or just sitting on the front porch of his beach house watching the waves with friends. Upon retirement from Intel in 2008, Art spent time as a managing partner for Stout Oil, a company founded and built by his late grandfather, Fred Stout Sr.whom he admired very much. Art leaves behind his wife Kim, four sisters, Anne (Tyre), Laura (Williams), Noelle (Ince), Mary Stout; 2 nephews, 5 nieces and his much loved canine "children" Turbo and Tiffany. Per Art's wishes no services will be held, his ashes will be scattered in the sea he loved at a future date. Kim also wishes to thank all of Art's friends, family, and colleagues for their encouragement, love and support for him during these difficult months.
Loss of Classmate: Kevin Flannery
Kevin Lee Flannery of Juno Beach, FL died February 6, 2010 at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, FL. He was 57.
He was born September 16, 1952 to Verda Kringen Flannery and the late Rod Flannery. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1974, he served in the United States Navy and later as a pilot for U.S. Airways for 25 years. Mr. Flannery enjoyed hunting, fishing and golf. Besides his father, he was preceded in death by a sister, Kim Busby.
Kevin is survived by his mother, Verda Flannery of Wessington Springs, SD; two sons, Bryan Flannery of Magnolia, DE and Sean Flannery of Juno Beach, FL; daughter, Erin Flannery of Dover, DE; brother, Kelly Flannery of Rapid City, SD; two sisters, Karen Weiss of Parkston, SD, Kris McMullin of Ft. Worth, TX.
Loss of Classmate: Scott G. Nichols
Age 57 Of St. Paul, MN Lost his battle with cancer Friday, December 18th surrounded by family and friends. Preceded in death by his parents, Lawrence A. and Ruth C. Nichols, Scott is survived by his sister, Katharine Nichols (John) DeVinck and nieces Kris (Brett) Sharockman, Barb (Eric) Johnson and Joanne (Jerod) Krenz. Scott was a 1970 graduate of Superior Senior High School, a 1974 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and a 1984 graduate of the Hamline Law School. Scott was passionate about the outdoors and enjoyed canoeing on the Brule River, curling with his buddies and spending time with his golden retrievers. Scott was a favorite great-uncle to many grandnephews and grandnieces and he will be dearly missed by his friends and family.

Loss of Classmate: David Stone
David Stone (Rear Admiral, Ret), the first federal security director at Los Angeles International Airport who quickly rose to become the third head of the Transportation Security Administration, has died. He was 57.
Stone had traveled from his home in India to Arlington, Va., last week to attend an awards ceremony honoring TSA employees, then died sometime during the weekend, officials said Tuesday.
The cause of death was not immediately reported. (More)

Loss of Classmate: Andrew Borchardt
Retired U.S. Navy Capt. John Andrew "Andy" Borchardt, 56, of Eagle Pointe, died June 26, 2009, peacefully in his sleep. He is survived by his high school sweetheart and loving wife of 34 years, Debra Lynn Borchardt; sons, Eric Walter Calise Borchardt and Brian Andrew Borchardt and his wife Hollie Michele Borchardt; and by too many friends and family members to ever possibly recount. (more)

Loss of Classmate: Rick Jensen

Patrick McKay
Lt. Col. Patrick James McKay(USMC ret.,) 56, of Scott Depot, W.Va., formerly of Paden City, W.Va., passed away August 8, 2008, in Charleston, W.Va.

Pat was born February 2, 1952 to the late Owen Edward and Hope Postlethwait McKay.

Following graduation from the United States Naval Academy in 1974, Lt. Col. McKay spent 20 years proudly serving our country in the United States Marine Corp. He attended the Catholic Church of the Ascension in Hurricane, W.Va.

He leaves behind his loving and devoted wife, Paula Smith McKay; two daughters, Leann Nicole and Patricia Ann; and a granddaughter, Kaylee. He is also survived by his siblings, Owen (Sara) McKay of Princeton, Tom (Erline) McKay of Knoxville, Tenn., Eileen (Doug) Miller of New Martinsville, Cora (Scott) Bowers of Paden City, Frank (Stephanie) McKay of Paden City, Florence (Steve) Zucker of Sardis, Ohio, Mary (Tim) Yoho of Paden City and Mike McKay of Paden City; and his step-mother, Joann McKay of Belpre, Ohio.
Doug Crowder

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced on May 7 that the President has made the following nominations:

Navy Vice Adm. William D. Crowder has been nominated for reappointment to the grade of vice admiral and assignment as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans, and Strategy, N3/N5, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. Crowder is currently serving as Commander, Seventh Fleet, Yokosuka, Japan.

Doug Cook

Doug has been voted in as the USNAAA-Puget Sound Chapter President for the next two years. He is still living in the Great NW and enjoying the area. Classmates are welcome to stop by and have a home brewed beer or two and do some fishing.

He has be working as a NJROTC senior instructor since retirement from the Navy in 1993. His NJROTC website is He is still married to Lea (going on 34 years). His son is up for E-7 and waiting for word of this promotion soon. He spent 1 ½ years at Gitmo guarding the bad guys… He currently serves in Okinawa with his wife, Angela and their 6 year old son, Torin. Life is good.

Bert CallandBert Calland

CACI Appoints Vice Admiral Albert Calland, USN (Ret.) as Executive Vice President for Security and Intelligence Integration Former Deputy Director of National Counterterrorism Center and Central Intelligence Agency, Commander of Special Operations, to Support CACI
National Security-related Business Areas
August 13, 2007: 09:25 AM EST
ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- CACI International Inc
announced today that it has appointed retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Albert M. "Bert" Calland III as Executive Vice President for Security and Intelligence Integration. Mr. Calland most recently served as Deputy Director for Strategic Operational Planning at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Prior to that he was Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and served as Commander of Special Operations Central within the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). Mr. Calland will support CACI's continually expanding business within well-funded markets in the Intelligence Community and the growing market for information sharing at the nexus of intelligence, defense, and law enforcement capabilities that is so critical to our nation's defense.
A highly decorated veteran, Mr. Calland brings battlefield leadership and command experience at all levels. His 33-year Navy career included service as a platoon commander with the Navy's Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) special operations forces through command of the Navy Special Warfare Development Group from 1997 to 1999.
In 2000, Mr. Calland assumed command of CENTCOM's Special Operations Command. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, he transitioned his headquarters into a forward-deployed Joint Forces Special Operations Component Command, directing more than 3,000 U.S. and Coalition Special Operations Forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. In this role, Mr. Calland
was the first U.S. military flag officer in Afghanistan.
After serving as Commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command from 2002 until 2004, Mr. Calland was assigned as the CIA's Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support and was subsequently appointed the CIA's Deputy Director (the Agency's second highest position) in 2005. In 2006, Mr. Calland was assigned to NCTC, the federal government's primary
organization for integrating and analyzing intelligence on terrorism and conducting strategic operational planning across multiple agencies and organizations. At the CIA and at NCTC, Mr. Calland worked on the most difficult national security issues at the highest levels in our government.
" I look forward to joining CACI and continuing to improve our country's national security capabilities," Mr. Calland said. "CACI has an outstanding reputation and a strong commitment to its customers' missions. I'm excited about helping CACI grow its business and enhance its solutions for the vitally important intersection of intelligence, homeland security, and law
CACI President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Cofoni said, "Vice Admiral Albert Calland is a special operations professional of extraordinary experience and expertise. He is also an accomplished intelligence expert. He has led troops in battle and worked at the highest levels of government. He possesses an unmatched understanding of the challenges facing our nation
today and the solutions CACI can offer to help meet these challenges. CACI is especially focused on growing our information technology services for the intelligence and national security priorities of our country, and we are extremely proud to welcome him to our team."
CACI International Inc provides the IT and network solutions needed to prevail in today's new era of national security, intelligence, and e-government. From systems integration and managed network solutions to knowledge management, engineering, simulation, and information assurance, we deliver the IT applications and infrastructures our federal customers use to improve communications and collaboration, secure the integrity of information systems and networks, enhance data collection and analysis, and increase efficiency and mission effectiveness. Our solutions lead the transformation of national security and intelligence, assure homeland
security, enhance decision-making, and help government to work smarter, faster, and more responsively. CACI is a member of the Fortune 1000 Largest Companies of 2007 and the Russell 1000 index. CACI provides dynamic careers for approximately 10,400 employees working in over 120 offices in the U.S. and Europe. CACI is the IT provider for a networked world. Visit CACI on the web at

Robert George Stengle, 55, of Carlisle, died Friday, July 20, 2007 at his residence. Robert was born March 26, 1952 in Baltimore, MD. He was a son of the late Francis and Esther Margaret Stengle.
He was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Mechanical Engineering; graduate of MIT, with a Master's degree in Nuclear Engineering; and a graduate of Loyola University, with a Master's degree in business administration.
He was employed by Stoner Associates as an engineer. He also worked for the State of PA as a budget analyst. He was a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church, Carlisle, and was a member of the church choir; was a Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop #186; and enjoyed hiking and camping. He was a naval history buff and served in the U. S. Navy.
He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Jennifer Ann Gibson Stengle, Carlisle; sons, Robert Stengle and Andrew Stengle, both of Carlisle; daughter, Meghan Stengle Cintron, Carlisle; sisters, Barbara Stengle, Baltimore, MD, Betty Dennis, Boston, MA, and Bernadette Dellone, Baltimore, MD; and brothers, William Stengle, NJ and Barry Stengle, TX.

William F. Readdy
Veteran Astronaut Readdy To Speak At Embry-Riddle

25Apr07 - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide Campus will hold commencement ceremonies for 372 students on Saturday, May 5, 2007, at 10 a.m. in the Vince Carter Gym at Mainland High School, Daytona Beach. A reception will follow the ceremony at the Student Center of the Embry-Riddle Daytona Beach Campus.
The commencement speaker will be William F. Readdy, former astronaut and NASA Associate Administrator for Space Flight/Operations and founding partner of Discovery Partners International. He will receive the Embry-Riddle Distinguished Speaker Award in recognition of his professional accomplishments and international stature in aviation and aerospace.

Joe Sestak
Joe Sestak Wins!Joe Sestak Wins Congressional Seat

On November 7th, former Vice Admiral Joe Sestak (Class of '74) became Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District's next Congressman. Fellow Naval Academy graduate Bill Walsh (Class of '74) aided in the effort, serving as Joe's campaign manager. Other Class of '74 grads, Chris Perrien, Mark Petersen, and John Odegaard were there on Election Day to help in the efforts. (Click on link to see entire article)

Joe Sestak Shipmate Article (Bill Walsh)



Steve Middleton
The Capital (Annapolis, MD)September 10, 2006 Sunday

One vehicle was the cause of Marine Sgt. Jason Wittling's woes. Another vehicle may help solve a few of his problems. At halftime during yesterday's Navy-Massachusetts football game in Annapolis, Sgt. Wittling received the gift of a $45,000 customized van from the charity Wheels for Warriors.

The new van is a big boost for the 32-year-old retired career Marine, his wife Maureen and their two children, Cody, 9, and Emily, 6. Three years ago, their daddy returned home from Iraq a quadriplegic.

On March 19, 2003, the Wisconsin native was clearing weapons caches out of a Baghdad neighborhood shortly after the city fell to U.S. forces. A member of the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, he piled up 8,900 pounds of ammunition, guns and explosives and set a charge to destroy the mound. He jumped into the pas-senger side of a Humvee and its driver took off. As the Humvee rounded a corner two hundred meters from the impending blast, it rolled over.

The accident burst the C-6 vertebra in his neck. "I was knocked out for about 30 seconds," he said. "When I came to, I couldn't move anything. I knew I was paralyzed. It wasn't a shock when the doctors told me I was a quadriplegic."

He can lift his right thumb a half-inch. It's taken three years of therapy to do that small, but significant, task. That means a nerve in the C-7 is still transmitting signals. "I'm not regressing, I can do everything but transfer out of chairs," he said. "I can shave, brush my teeth, open a soda."

Severna Park resident Steve Middleton is chairman of Wheels for Warriors. A 1974 graduate of the Na-val Academy and its class president, he is a former surface warfare officer and engineer with seven years of active duty and 16 years more in the Naval Reserves.

Today, the Winona, Miss., native is a self-employed Healthy Lifestyle Coach who motivates his clients into age-defying lifestyle habits. His son Pete, now 21, is a senior at West Point, something that irks his dad - a little. That's why his cell phone loudly plays "Anchors Away."

When he dropped his son off at West Point three years ago, he met Mary Kay Salomone, a USMMA parent-mentor. She also is founder and president of Operation Support Our Troops. Mr. Middleton got involved right away, dealing with a large shipment of clothing that needed to be sent quickly to injured soldiers hospitalized in Landstuhl, Germany. When Ms. Salomone thought up Wheels for Warriors, Mr. Middleton took on responsibility as its chairman.

The easy part is getting a van equipped for a wounded soldier. This is the second one Wheels for Warri-ors has been able to acquire, reconfigure and give away. The two hardest tasks are tussling with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and finding donors.

"I'm out there begging people for money anywhere I can - anybody and everybody," Mr. Middleton said. Through his efforts, Northwest Airlines donated tickets to fly the Wittling family to D.C. The Marriott and Loews Hotels are providing deluxe rooms for their weeklong stay in the area. The Baltimore National Aquar-ium gave Maureen Wittling and the kids a VIP tour and the Orioles host the family at today's Orioles-Yankees game.

At yesterday's football game, the Wittling, Middleton and Salomone families were guests of the acad-emy's superintendent. Raymond Torreon, an Annapolis resident, is another guardian angel. He's the general manager of Ride-Away in Greenbelt, one of an 11-shop East Coast chain of mobility mavens for the handicapped. Mr. Torreon was selected by Wheels for Warriors for his understanding of a disabled veteran's needs and his ability to cut through the VA red tape. Ride-Away also "gave some discounts on the van and labor. We want to support our troops," he said.

The "Linen Gold" Dodge Grand Caravan, commissioned through Ride-Away, has been transformed into an elegant Braun Rampvan. Its floor was dropped 10 inches, the vehicle kneels and tilts to one side. Four buttons placed throughout the interior and two remotes control the silent power ramp and power door. A wheelchair gets held safely with a quick release/lock-down system that eliminates tedious strapping.

"Strapping down is such a hassle for quick trips around town," said Sgt. Wittling with a sly grin. "I just don't do it. On long trips I do." If they want, two more friends in wheelchairs can also ride along, it's that roomy.

The group's board chose the Wisconsin soldier not knowing his name or age. They developed a "sterile selection process" with Cmdr. Dave Julian, who heads up the Military Severely Injured Center at the Pentagon. When the sergeant learned in a conference phone call that he was going to be given the sleek new vehicle, he was stunned.

"The way my luck was running, I didn't think it would happen. I was speechless."

"Getting something like this is like getting a brand new Mustang," Sgt. Wittling mused. "Or having your legs work and getting around."

To donate or for more details about Wheels for Warriors or Operation Support Our Troops, contact Mr. Middleton at 410-544-3155 or visit the Web site

Michael C. Bachmann
Rear Admiral Bachmann is Commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR). He is responsible for providing information technology and space systems for today’s naval and joint services. Additionally, he is the chief engineer for developing, delivering and maintaining effective, capable and integrated command, control, communications, computer, and intelligence systems. He is also responsible for engineering and assessing FORCEnet, the foundation of the Sea Power 21 vision.

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