45th Reunion and Other Gouge


First, I want to send a big BZ to our 45th Reunion Committee for all the hard work they put in to make our time together in Annapolis extra special. Thank you, John Cooke, Vince Balderrama, John Rudzis, Joe Martin, Jim Fiorelli, and Kevin McGhee, and thank you to all those that participated in our memorial service and prayer breakfast. Also, thank you Captain Bill Fell for being our Class Representative as a parade reviewing officer (very sorry it rained so hard while you stood for the pass-in-review).

Secondly, please welcome aboard as new class officers Matt Elias (11th CO) for a full term as our Vice President, Lary Galvin (15th CO) for a full term as Trustee-at-Large, and Lee Yarberry (9th CO) and John Semcken (2nd CO) as new Trustees-at-Large.

Yesterday, I attended a Council of Class Presidents meeting where our Athletic Director, Chet Gladchuk, announced that Army football has agreed to join the American Athletic Conference (AAC) to replace SMU when they leave in 2024. He explained that the Army/Navy game will continue to be played the second week in December and that game will not be an AAC game. The conference championship will continue to be played the week before and there is a possibility that Army and Navy could play each other two weeks in a row if Army and Navy are the top two teams that will play for the conference title. So, beat Army, twice!

Other news from the Naval Academy Athletic Association (NAAA) included announcing the 2024 Navy/Notre Dame game will be in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Finally, they commented that the NCAA portal had over 21,000 athletes this year and that it appears coaches are recruiting more from the portal than from high schools. NAAA sees that as an opportunity to recruit higher quality athletes for Navy football.

The Academy’s new Academic Dean, Dr. Samara Firebaugh, spoke to us. She is a Navy Junior as her father is a retired Rear Admiral who served as a Surface Warfare Officer. She has impressive credentials with an electrical engineering degree from Princeton and a Master and Doctorate from MIT. She started teaching at USNA in 2001 and has held leadership positions throughout her tenure. After a nation-wide search, she was chosen to be our new Dean. Some of her priorities include: 1) increasing midshipmen regional and cross-cultural awareness and foreign language skills; 2) preparing midshipmen for the future battlespace by expanding data science, machine learning, AI, robotics, and cybersecurity curriculum and scholarship; and, 3) expanding the use of wargaming as a pedagogical tool. She seemed very focused on the mission of training our midshipmen to be leaders prepared to join the fleet.

The Alumni Association staff briefed us on their approach to providing Alumni Support Services. They are creating an alumni support services department that will provide a lifetime of continuous support from graduation until memorial services and support to surviving family members. This includes providing information and support during the various milestones of our alumnus careers to include Career Programs, Continuing Education, Medical Support, Coaching & Mentoring, Legacy Support, and Spouse Support. Some of these programs include the Alumni Mentoring Program, Executive Coaching, GI Bill education benefits, Scholarship Information, Networking Resources, Service Academy Career Conference, Veteran Transition Resources, VA Benefits & Procedures, Tricare Options, and Memorial & Funeral Services. Although some of these programs already exist, the staff is in the process of pulling together the resources to support many of the others, and to build the staff organization to provide the best support possible. It is a work in progress and will provide all our alumni with valuable resources for decisions they will make throughout their lifetimes.

We are working on a post-45th reunion survey we will soon send to you. This survey will be for the most recent reunion but also collecting your thoughts for our 50th Reunion in 5 years. Please take the time to give us your thoughts and suggestions. Thank you.

Fair winds…


Glen Woods

President, USNA Class of 1978