Your Letters – WINTER 2015

Tank Platoon, circa 1950.

Tank Platoon, circa 1950.

More on Tank Platoon

Regarding the “Looking Back” photo in in the summer 2014 Record, on the right, in front, is Glen Thomson ’50; behind him, Rollie Reiter ’50; on the left, in front, Dave Hicks ’50. I can’t make out who the other person is.

I was one of the original members of the Tank Platoon. The tanks were already present when the platoon was formed in spring 1949, as we used them at Junior Week and Commencement of that year. Page 142 of the 1950 War Whoop contains a write-up on Junior Week. The first paragraph states, “The band, the MPs and the tanks went downtown … .” Then, in the fifth paragraph it goes on to say, “a tank show on the polo field … .”

The show simulated a tank attacking an enemy position while under enemy shell fire. There were no blanks for the tank cannon, but a machine gun belt of .30-caliber blank cartridges appeared so we could at least fire the turret machine gun. We also didn’t have a government-issue blank-firing device, so someone with access to Machine-Shop Lab turned out a cylindrical “valve” to fit inside the front barrel bushing of the machine gun. It worked, though sporadically; the rig would clog with fragments of blank-cartridge wads, but at that point we didn’t have time to tweak the valve dimensions. For the enemy shell fire, we obtained some dynamite and a ten-cap blasting machine, thanks to Norm Johnson, whose father worked for the railroad.

On “The Day,” using my WWII Army Engineer training, I went out early and set out some small charges. The show was really pretty short. I don’t recall who was manning the tank, but they chased me through the pucker brush along the railroad embankment, firing the machine gun as I scampered around setting off the charges. I don’t know how it all looked to the audience, but it was fun!

Phil Tiemann ’50
Augusta, Maine

Keep Up the Great Work

I enjoy getting and reading the Record. You and your staff have done an outstanding job improving the Record and connecting with alumni and friends of Norwich University in many inventive ways. I especially love the articles and pictures that highlight the history of the University and its graduates. There is so much rich history most of us would not know; for example, the stories concerning James McKaye and the Chaplin Library fire I never would never have known about if it weren’t in the Record. (I was a Bachelor of Arts/History major, can you tell?) Keep up the great work. I look forward to future editions.

Denis Mulvihill ‘70
Melrose, Massachusetts

More on the Chaplin Library Fire

James Rowley’s smoke-damaged math textbook.

James Rowley’s smoke-damaged math textbook.

In response to the “Looking Back” photo in the fall issue, I can’t say exactly where I was when the fire started; I may have been at third mess, but I’m not sure. But I do know where some of my books were: on a table in the library, probably in one of the nooks on the floor below the main floor. The attached photo doesn’t show it very well, but my PDE book (Math 334 with Professor Race) was left open to page 80, which became permanently discolored from the smoke. (Some papers were covering page 81, which is still white.) I was relieved to be able to go in and get my stuff later that evening. When I opened the book to take the photo, I could still smell smoke, only now very faintly.

James E. Rowley ’79
Albuquerque, New Mexico

CPT Tim Donovan ’62 on long-range reconnaissance patrol near Cheo Reo, Phu Bon Province, Vietnam, 1966.

CPT Tim Donovan ’62 near Cheo Reo, Phu Bon Province, Vietnam, 1966.

A Letter, Full Circle

During my first tour in Vietnam—this was 1966—I got a letter from a friend of mine by the name of Bernie, who was a graduate of the University of Massachusetts. We had gone through basic school together and got assigned to the same brigade in Germany, where we were stationed before we were sent to Southeast Asia. In his letter, Bernie told me that his wife (a Navy corpsman he had met on the transport to Germany in 1963) was now pregnant. Between the time Bernie wrote that letter and I received it, he was killed.

About ten years ago, some of the guys from that same Germany brigade saw a post in the Army Times from Bernie’s son, asking if anyone knew his father, who was killed in Vietnam. It was the same baby he’d mentioned in his letter to me. As it turns out, I had kept that letter all those years. I contacted the son, who was by then in his late 30s and teaching out in Oregon, and I sent him the copy of the letter his father had written to me in 1966.

It only seemed right that the son have this letter from his Dad.

COL Tim Donovan ’62 USA (Ret.)
Winchester, Virginia


Tom Morse ’60 used this reel-to-reel tape recorder to correspond with his loved ones back home while serving in Vietnam.

Tom Morse ’60 used this reel-to-reel tape recorder to correspond with his loved ones back home while serving in Vietnam.

Another Kind of Record

Note: When we requested letters from Vietnam for this issue, we learned that many of our alumni communicated with family members via tape recordings. Here, Tom Morse ’60 shares a photo of his recorder with original packaging and postage. See the full feature, “Give ‘em Hell/Love, Me: Letters from Vietnam.”

I served in Vietnam from June 1966 to June 1967 as the commanding officer of the 147th Criminal Investigation Detachment. Our primary responsibility was investigating fraudulent acts committed by civilian contractors and high-ranking military officers.

I bought two small reel-to-reel tape recorders and mailed the tapes back and forth. My daughter was 31/2, and hearing her voice was wonderful. I am not sure if you can tell but there are two 8-cent stamps on one of the tapes.

Tom Morse ’60
Lake Wales, Florida

Bravest of the Brave

My mentor at Norwich was a Vermonter by the name of Steve Carr.* Steve was from Barre, Vermont, and why and how we became friends I will never know. Steve was killed in Vietnam as he attempted to fly into a combat zone to rescue a platoon even though his direct commander advised him not to go. Steve told the commander that no one should forget they were our soldiers and that he could not live with himself without attempting a recovery. I received the notice of his death via a telegram from his dad delivered to me in the DMZ in Korea. I cried then just like I am crying now. Unfortunately, probably every Vietnam veteran reading this is going over a memory trip that will never go away and quite frankly probably all of us don’t want it to go away because of the courage of those that are not around. I will never forget Steve Carr, as well as Phil Benn—who in his junior year was my first sergeant—and others like him.

Samuel G Hayward ’68
Louisville, Kentucky

*For more on Stephen Carr ’66, see “Courage from the Heavens.”


In the recently published 2013-14 Annual Report, Daniel Evans, Class of 1987, should have been listed as a Partridge Society Annual Member and indicated as both a Partridge Society Annual and Garrison Associate Member in his Class listing. If you have any questions about the Report or notice any inaccuracies or omissions, please contact Chrissie Eastman at 802-485-2307 or

Comments are closed.