Navy, Seaman Apprentice (WWII)
Marine Corps, Captain (Korean War)
Many Andover graduates served honorably and some with exceptional valor in WWII. A few come to mind immediately: at the top of the list is probably Richard O’Kane ’30. He was the top submarine commander in the Pacific and was the most highly decorated officer in the U.S. Navy. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor plus just about every other medal you can think of. They ran out of medals for him. Then there was Frederic A. Stott ’36. Fred, who died in 2006, was a captain in the Marine Corps in WWII. He fought in four major amphibious campaigns in the Pacific, won the Navy Cross and Purple Heart at Saipan, and was wounded a second time at Iwo Jima. He was at PA for some 30 years after the war and I believe was secretary of the academy when he retired in 1981. There was also the guy (I forget his name just now—class of ’42 or ’43) who was a pilot in the Army Air Force, was shot down twice and escaped captivity twice while flying over “The Hump” in the China-Burma-India theater. And don’t forget Tom Hudner ’43, Naval Academy in WWII, Congressional Medal of Honor in Korea as a Navy fighter pilot in 1950. On and on.
As for my own class, the Class of 1944, I think of us as “the D-Day class.” We graduated on June 8, just two days after the allies landed on the Normandy beaches. (I still remember the church bells ringing all over Andover early in the morning of June 6, proclaiming the invasion, our men fighting for their lives on the Normandy beachheads at that very moment). The war was raging and still had another year to go. We knew, most of us, that we’d soon be in uniform ourselves and headed for–where? Europe? The Pacific? The class just ahead of us, PA ’43, had already taken its share of casualties. Among the fallen was Cal Burrows, one of the best and brightest of PA ’43. Cal Burrows died in Normandy on D-Day.
A good number of my classmates joined the Navy, particularly the officer training programs designated V-5 (aviation) and V-12 (deck officer). Others, including former Andover trustee Bill Boeschenstein, joined the Army Air Corps or were drafted. One of my classmates, the late Robert C. Lawlor, joined the Marines—just in time to make Iwo Jima. Great timing! Another, William Y. Boyd II, was drafted right out of Andover and was sent to Europe, where he served in the infantry in the bitter fighting of the winter of 1944–45. He later wrote a memoir, disguised as fiction, titled The Gentle Infantryman. It’s a terrific book, now out of print unfortunately. It should have been made into a movie. Only someone who was there could have written about war with such gripping authenticity.
And of course there are many other aspects of Andover and WWII worthy of mention: How the school tried its best to prepare us for the worst—classes in Morse Code, daily PT on the lawn out by the baseball diamond (lots of pushups), Rocky Dake’s emotional farewell to us at the end of our final chemistry class: “Above all, gentlemen, try to keep your sense of humor. You’re going to need it.”