The summer of 2022 is coming to an end, and this would normally be the time that people settle into their work or retirement routines, plan out their monthly schedules and determining how much activity they can fit into their busy days. But our lives are no longer “normal.” Those of us who were raised in simpler times are often bewildered with what has happened.
We have a rather unique Chapter in the USNA Alumni Association. We charge no dues, we do little in the way of recruiting participation, the summer picnic, which was cancelled for two years, and the Army Navy Game are our signature, off-site events, and our membership is determined by a count of those who have come to our luncheons in the preceding two years. This has been a successful formula since the mid-80s, we have been repeatedly recognized for our efforts, and many of those who initiated our chapter are still the bulwarks of its sustenance.
I have been the Chapter President throughout the COVID pandemic and am concerned with our ability to survive, continuing to do what we do and expecting membership, enthusiasm, and leadership to rise above the lethargy and what seems to me to be a declining interest in Naval Academy graduate activities. This is not just among the younger classes, because we have seen declining participation among many who regularly attended luncheons in the past. I saw an article (not verified) this week that said that the total number of applicants to USAFA last year was around 8,300. For as long as I can remember, the average number of yearly applicants to USNA has been over 17,000, with around 12,000 completing applications. Are we even seeing a decline in interest in the military?
Our September luncheon is being changed to the third Wednesday, the 21st. Then it will return to the second Wednesday in October. It is at 1130, which is the most favorable time of day for Portland traffic. Come and stay as long as you can. The lunch offerings are excellent, and we are honored to have Captain Don Walsh, USNA ’54, as our guest speaker. Captain Walsh and Jacques Piccard, were the two people to first descend to the Challenger Deep, the deepest point on earth, in the bathyscaphe Trieste in 1960. At over 7 miles deep, they held the record for the deepest dive by humans for over 60 years. He will discuss this, along with other adventures to the North and South pole as time permits.
So, in my view, the health of the OR/SWW Chapter of the Alumni Association is declining. Those of us who have been around for a long time and those in positions of leadership will continue to do our best to make it a vital, welcoming organization for any Naval Academy graduate, and graduates from other military schools/academies who have chosen to affiliate with us. In the not-too-distant future we will need relief. If you have an interest in maintaining contact with fellow graduates, perhaps even your classmates in the area, come join us and become a regular member.
John Adams ‘69, CDR, USN (Ret)