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Class of 1956 was a great one at West Point (Eldridge Miles)

on 03 March 2012.

     Although I was unable to serve, I have always had a great respect and admiration for our men and women in uniform.

     A few years ago through golf, I hooked up with the class of 1956 from the United States Military Academy at West Point. This is the class that produced General Norm Schwarzkopf, the hero of the Gulf War. In addition, that class included LeRoy Suddath, Retired Army Major General Airborne and Special Operations Commander. LeRoy is a true gentleman from Savannah, Ga.

     There was Dr. Butch Harbold, renowned cardiologist living in Charlotte, N.C., known

as “The Class Doctor.” Also in that class was Doc Bahnsen, a highly decorated Army Aviator and cavalry man and a Retired Brigadier General who plays golf twice a year just to be with his classmates. He lives in West Virginia.

     Many from this great close-knit class are golfers who meet two times a year for a mini reunion. They call these outings, “The East Coast and West Coast Swings.” Their wives are invited and some are quite capable golfers.

     The East Coast Swing meets annually in June in Pinehurst, N.C. Three class members live there: Dick Curl, Pete Lash and Stainton Smith. Pine Needles Country Club, home of PGA professional Peggy Kirk Bell, is a favorite venue.

     On two occasions their outings have been held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where three golfing members live. Retired Army Lt. General Jack Woodmansee, former Corps Commander of the V Corps in Germany lives in Plano. Ex-Airborne Division General Bill Roll lives in Coppell. And Retired Air Force Lt. General Charlie Hamm, a former Air Force Superintendent and Thunderbird Pilot, lives in Argyle.

     I feel honored to have participated in their outings. These brave, honorable soldiers and their wives accepted me into their group as a friend and a fellow golfer. Incidentally, while I was at TCU, I had two years of ROTC and graduated in the class of 1956.

     After a recent round of golf, I was in the 19th hole with Bill, Jack and Charlie. They asked me if I could teach them how to get 20 more yards off the tee.

     I promptly guaranteed that I could. They wanted to go to the range right then.

     “That will not be necessary, we can get it right here,” I told them.

     They all leaned in. They couldn’t believe I was about to give them a secret that would add 20 or more yards to all of their drives. I waited a minute and took a drink of my beverage. Finally, they couldn’t wait any longer. They had to know my secret.

     I simply said, “Move up to the forward tees.”

     They all laughed…but ended up taking my advice, too. They recently told me that they were enjoying golf more than ever. Half-joking, I reminded them they still owed me for the lesson.

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