For information on social activities, reunions, sports and upcoming events for the Great Class of 1966, Click HERE.

2022 GONZALEZ Leadership Awards

On Tuesday evening, 2 November 2022, Charlie and Sharon Votava (17) hosted Tidewater Area, Virginia Classmates at a “Welcome into Town” for VADM Scott and Donna Redd. VADM Redd was in Norfolk as the flag officer awarding the Class ’66 Leadership Award on board USS GONZALEZ (DDG 66) on Wednesday.

L/R: Joyce & Rob Ploeger, Charlie Votava, Pat Muldoon, Jim Powell, Donna & Scott Redd, Marjorie Powell, Peggy & Charlie Pfeifer, Tom & Faye Martin

The weather for the reception was perfect, and almost the entire evening was spent outside. Sharon’s menu theme was “a soup exchange”. Many Classmates brought and took home samples of someone else’s soup. {Charlie was caught off guard and was not sure these were Navy Classmates as only about 10 bottles of beer, maybe a bottle of wine, and about a case of Diet Coke (?!?!) were consumed.}

Classmates and spouses who attended were: Scott and Donna Redd (12), Tom and Faye Martin (16), Pat Muldoon (17), Charlie and Peggy Pfeifer (20), Rob and Joyce Ploeger (20), Jim and Marjorie Powell (20).

On Wednesday, 2 November 2022, our Class President VADM Scott Redd (12) presented the annual Class ’66 USS GONZALEZ (DDG 66) award, citation, and check, for superior leadership and professionalism to Lt. (SWO) Eryn Stockdale, and BM1 (SW) John Monroe. Classmates onboard for the presentation and following lunch were: Pat Muldoon (17), Rob Ploeger (3), Jim Powell (20), Bob Titcomb (15), Chuck Grutzius (33) and Charlie Votava (17).

L/R: foreground; CO, CDR Reynolds; XO CDR Stegner; LT Stockdale; BM1Monroe; VADM Scott Redd. L/R: rear; Bob Titcomb, Charlie Votava, Pat Muldoon, Rob Ploeger, Chuck Grutzius, Donna Redd.

Lt. Stockdale, as Integrated Training Team Officer, expertly led deployment workup and prepared GONZALEZ for surge deployments to the FIFTH and SIXTH FLEETS. During deployment, Lt. Stockdale continued to exhibit leadership, management skills, watch standing, and tactical acumen normally observed in a more senior officer. Lt. Stockdale is a Class ’17 USNA Graduate. (Letter of Commendation, Award Certificate)

BM1 Monroe, formerly an Army Infantryman and Patriot Missile operator, expertly led the Deck Division to an above-average grade in the 2021 INSURV Inspection. BM1 Monroe’s knowledge, experience, and rare combination of leadership and management skills ensured that the Seamanship, Medical, and Anti-terrorism teams maintained their qualifications. (Letter of Commendation, Award Certificate)

Following the award presentations, VADM Redd opened his remarks to the crew by welcoming them home and congratulating them on their successful, and long, deployment to the FIFTH FLEET.

After congratulating the CO, CDR Erik Reynolds for taking command 5 days ago and recognizing CDR Katrina Stegner for her recent assignment as XO, VADM Redd thanked them for continuing to host this annual award ceremony.

He recounted many of the circumstances that closely associated the Naval Academy Class of 1966 with GONZALEZ and the DDG with hull number 66.

  • The commissioning of USS GONZALEZ (DDG 66) and re-commissioning of the FIFTH FLEET both occurred in 1995 within months of each other. I was the commissioning FLEET Commander.
  • With the decommissioning of USS HUÉ CITY (CG 66), GONZALEZ is the only ship left in commission with a hull number that matches our graduation year of ‘66. But our respect and dedication to this ship goes much deeper than just a hull number.
  • You now are also the only ship in commission whose name is directly linked with the war in Vietnam. As you may know, Viet Nam was “our war.” Our class, the class of 1966, lost more classmates killed in action in Viet Nam than any other Naval Academy class. Not only were more classmates killed in action in Viet Nam, but we also lost more total KIA than any other Naval Academy class going all the way back to the World War II class of 1945.
  • Several of our classmates fought alongside Sergeant Gonzalez in the battle of HUÉ City. One of those was our previous class president who went on to serve as a four-star US Marine Corps General, Gen Carl Fulford, Jr. He has signed and presented several previous awards to your shipmates.
  • Our Classmate, Capt. Tom Eubanks, was the Commanding Officer who Commissioned HUÉ CITY.
  • Mrs. Dolia Gonzalez, mother of Sargent Freddy Gonzalez was present and received a standing ovation at the USS HUÉ CITY (CG 66) commissioning ceremony in 1991.
  • That ceremony – which was attended by hundreds of marines as well as sailors – served not only as well-deserved recognition of an individual, Sergeant Freddy Gonzalez, but also as a long overdue “well done” and a sincere “thank you for your service” to all who fought and served in Viet Nam.
  • For the full text of the speech, Click HERE.
L/R: Charlie Votava, Chuck Grutzius, Bob Titcomb, Charlie, Pfeifer, Scott Redd, Pat Muldoon, Rob Ploeger. Photo by Donna Redd

VADM Redd completed his remarks by noting the long, loving, and emotional bond the Class of ’66 has had with the ship, sailors, and officers who have manned her over the years.

Decommissioning USS HUÉ CITY

USS Hué City (CG-66) at her last sunset before decommissioning

After 31 years of dedicated and honorable service, USS HUÉ CITY (CG 66) was decommissioned at a pier-side ceremony on Friday, 23 September 2022, in Norfolk, VA.

The ship and her heritage were honored in a manner that was deeply respectful and – for the class of 1966 – highly emotional, for several reasons.

First, and specific to us, she was one of only two ships in commission with a hull number matching our USNA class year, 66. Second, her commissioning Commanding Officer was a ’66 classmate, CAPT Tom Eubanks, USN (Ret.). Providentially, Tom was the Guest Speaker for this final event, bookending the ship’s life of service. Third, when Tom first took command in 1991, he reported to another classmate, then RADM Scott Redd, Commander Cruiser/Destroyer Group 12.

For the rest of the article and more photos of this historic event, Click HERE.

Final Presentation of USS HUÉ CITY Leadership Award

VADM Redd, presents the final Class ’66 Enlisted Leadership Award to Petty Officer Daralynne Smith, USN

On Thursday 14 July, on board USS HUÉ CITY (CG 66), VADM Redd, presented the final Class ’66 Enlisted Leadership Award, check and citation signed by our Class President, Gen Carl Fulford, USMC Ret., to Fire Controlman 1/C (SW) Daralynne R. Smith, USN for Superior Leadership and Professionalism for 2022.

The summary of Petty Officer Smith’s achievements during the canceled Cruiser Modernization Program and subsequent Decommissioning Availability would fill two pages and detail exceptional response to tasks necessary and critical to the successful daily administration and operation of a ship in this difficult environment.

For the “rest of the story” Click HERE.

2021 USS GONZALEZ Leadership Awards

The annual Class of 1966 2021 USS GONZALEZ (DDG 66) Leadership Awards ceremony took place on board GONZALEZ on Tuesday, 21 September.

Monday evening before the ceremony, classmates, and wives: Tony and Linda Franzitta, Tom and Fay Martin, and Rob and Joyce Ploeger, gathered with Pat Muldoon and Charlie and Sharon at Villa Votava to welcome our Class President, USMC General Carl Fulford and Mary Ann to the Tidewater, Virginia Area.

Tuesday morning the CO, XO, CMC, the Engineering department and classmates Tony Franzitta, Chuck Grutzius, Rob Ploeger, Pat Muldoon, Charlie Votava, and General and Mary Ann Fulford mustered on GONZALEZ’ main deck aft, for the awards ceremony.

Prior to presenting the awards, Carl addressed the crew thanking the CO, CDR Battles, the XO, CDR Reynolds, and Command Master Chief Connolly for the warm reception and the honor to be aboard. Carl’s remarks pointed out The Class of 1966’s unique tie to the Vietnam War, in that most of the class fought in Vietnam at sea, in the air or on the ground, and we lost 17 Classmates and good friends in that war.

Carl provided a brief history of The Class Leadership awards beginning 30 years ago with the commissioning of USS HUÉ CITY (CG 66) and 25 years ago with USS GONZALEZ. He mentioned that he did not personally know Sergeant Gonzalez but had a small part in the Battle of Hué City in 1968 and witnessed the courage and sacrifice of the sailors and Marines in that battle. Click HERE for additional information including the names of those sailors who have been awarded with The Class of 1966 Leadership Awards.

Carl closed his remarks with telling the crew how proud our Class is in seeing their dedication to preserving the freedom and security of our nation. He sincerely thanked them for their service.

While the XO, CDR Reynolds read the citations, Carl presented the awards to:
LT Laura A. Krause, USN, for her tremendous effort, devotion, and dedication to duty as Damage Control Assistant. LT Krause successfully attained certification, six weeks early, in the Damage Control Material Assessment inspection, and for flawless leadership in achieving above average scores in all aspects of the inspection. Furthermore, she was recognized by the INSURV Board as “the best Division Officer” the inspectors had seen. Click HERE to read about LT Krause’s accomplishments. Click HERE for a copy of the certificate presented to her by The Class of 1966.

MM1 (SW/AW) Cody A. Hauser, USN, in recognition of his outstanding professional performance of duty and exceptional leadership of the Auxiliary Division. He was instrumental in achieving a score of 95.5% during the Light Off Assessment, and as the LPO of A-Gang he earned high praise for the above average score of .90 during the INSURV Inspection. Click HERE to read about Petty Officer Hauser’s accomplishments. Click HERE for a copy of the certificate presented to him by The Class of 1966.

The CO and Officers then hosted Carl, Mary Ann, Lt Krause, and 66ers to lunch in the wardroom following the ceremony.

26th Annual RADM James Prout III Memorial Golf Tournament

The 26th annual RADM James Prout III Memorial Golf Tournament was held 27 Aug at the Sea and Air Golf Course at Naval Air Station Coronado (Naval Base Coronado). It is sponsored by SNA San Diego and Anchors Scholarship Foundation and generates the funds for the RADM James Prout $5,000 scholarship. The tournament made enough money to pay for the 2022 Prout Scholarship plus 2 Anchors Scholarships. Kathy Prout attended the awards ceremony. The scholarship recipient was already at UC Berkeley.

Kathy Prout with CAPT James Harney, USNA ‘95, President of SNA San Diego.

2021 USS HUE CITY Leadership Award

On Thursday, 15 July 2021, a group of local Tidewater `66ers welcomed Pierce Johnson and Chuck Grutzius to Norfolk for the annual awarding of the USS HUÉ CITY (CG 66) Outstanding Leadership Award for a Petty Officer. There was no JO award presented since there are only two officers assigned, the CO and XO. HUÉ CITY is out of commission with a crew numbering in the mid-30’s. HUÉ CITY is on the CNO’s list of ships to be decommissioned on 31 March 2022. Seven CG’s are on the list for decom in 2022. There is also the possibility that Congress will not accept the CNO’s list to decom 7 CG’s, and HUÉ CITY may get a new lease on life and continue her modernization upgrade. The crew is tasked with maintaining the ship’s material condition until a final decision is made.

On Wednesday evening, Charlie Pfeifer & his wife Peggy, Jim Powell, Rob Ploeger & his wife Joyce, Pat Muldoon & his wife Kate, Hank Strickland, and Tom Martin & his wife Fay hosted Pierce at Rancho Grande for some great Mexican food and fantastic margaritas.

On Thursday morning at 0930, Pierce led the delegation of Chuck Grutzius, Rob Ploeger, Hank Strickland, and Charlie Pfeifer to the foot of pier 2 where each of us had a reserved parking spot with a van standing by to transport us from our parking spaces to the brow. Five Star service for sure! Pierce was welcomed aboard with proper honors by the CO, CDR Ethan Reber and the XO, LT Brian Skirvin. We were escorted to the flight deck for the presentation where we had an opportunity to interface with the crew.

The Leadership Award for Superior Leadership by a Petty Officer was presented to GM2 (SW) Johnny J. Hoyos, USN. His outstanding accomplishments are listed in the letter he received from The Class, along with a framed certificate and a check for $200. Click HERE to read about Petty Officer Hoyos’ accomplishments. Click HERE for a copy of the certificate presented to him by The Class of 1966.

Since the ship is uninhabitable during its 3-year modernization overhaul, the crew has spaces ashore. After a tour of the ship, we were transported to the ship’s ashore offices where we were treated to a fantastic buffet lunch with the entire crew and some of their families, providing plenty of time to interface with the crew in a more comfortable setting.

The hospitality and friendliness of the crew were outstanding. USS HUÉ CITY is a ship truly worthy of the hull number “66”.