Category Archives: At School

William H. Morris ’45

(1927–    )

On the Sunday of Pearl Harbor I was in the library when the weekend librarian, Miss Boyle, the daughter of my physics teacher, rushed into the reading room (I was the only one in the library) and frantically said that they “had bombed Pearl Harbor” and we were at war. Neither of us knew where Pearl Harbor was, but certainly recognized Japan. We searched for Pearl Harbor in the stacks and found it in Hawaii. On my way back to Rockwell House, where most of the juniors (preps) lived, I ran into my classmate Larry Ward and told him of what had happened. On our 50th Reunion weekend, Larry reminded me that he first heard about the beginning of WWII from me. I had forgotten that, but will never forget that day and Miss Boyle. At 14 years old then, many of us went on to serve in the military—hardly an expectation when we arrived at school.

Morris '45

William Morris '45, back row, sixth from left

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Angus Deming ’44

Deming '44

Angus Deming '44

(1926–    )
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.”

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Benjamin H. Stevens ’46

Stevens '46

Benjamin H. Stevens '46

(1929–1997)

In his Phillips Academy ’46 (50th) reunion musical revue, Ben Stevens wrote a song titled “Dizzy Blizzard.” He introduced it as follows: “Although some of us may remember it well, the great blizzard actually occurred in the winter of ’43 before many of us arrived, so you will just have to take Sammy’s word for it that classes were suspended and the PA students were hired—for pay—to shovel snow for the Boston Maine Railroad—a delightful change from the usual routine and, for some, a great learning experience.”

“Dizzy Blizzard”

I.
Day off from classes (oh wow!)
Steaming my glasses, I’m now
Shov’ling so the trains can make
It through their underpasses.

Supplies must get through! New gig:
Uncle Sam wants you to dig.
Switches froze, they’re shunting all
Those trains to East Timbuktu!

Even the Chattanooga Choo Choo
Must be sidetracked so guns can get through:
Berserk!

II.
Two Bits an hour (big time!)
Excess boypower, but I’m helping guys like me to win
The War for Eisenhower.

My muscles tell me (big ache!)
What this may well be: mistake!
Just can’t work as hard as that
Poor guy who soon will spell me.

He’s prob’ly been here all of his life,
Wages too small for man, kids and wife.
Rough work!

III.
I need a break now! (cocoa?)
I just don’t know how guys go
Digging on while colder than
The Nazi troops at Moscow.

Day off from classes (oh wow!)
Steaming my glasses, I’m now
Shov’ling so the trains can make
It through their underpasses.

I’m not so sure that I can go on;
Despite the free chow, strength is all gone!
Dunkirk!

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J. Morton Dunn ’44

Dunn '44

J. Morton Dunn '44

(1926–    )

In the winter of 1943–44, my senior year, classmate (and later class secretary) Roger Seymour and I journeyed to Doc’s for a late breakfast. It was a Sunday morning, and Rog said he had to call home. We stopped at the Andover Inn so Roger could use the telephone. When he concluded his call, he had a very somber expression. Rog informed me he had just learned that his brother, Hovey Seymour [’38], had been killed in action or was missing in action—I do not recall his exact words. I then realized Hovey was the highly regarded student athlete who had graduated from Andover and whom I had seen on Saturday afternoons playing football for Yale. This news made me aware of the war in a more personal way, and the toll it took on each one of America’s youth.

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Roger Morgan ’43

Morgan '43

Roger Morgan '43

(1926–    )

I had always assumed that we would win the war. How I heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor on that Sunday, or exactly at what hour, I do not remember. But I recall that a stunned silence had fallen over the Campus. The news was terrible. This couldn’t have happened. And I wanted to celebrate.

I walked out of Johnson Hall, wanting to dance—but alone. At last, you really would join us. Britain had fought alone, often admired, often unbelieved. I was at Andover because my father, who knew what Britain’s defenses were after Dunkirk, thought a Nazi occupation was more than likely. Incredibly generous Americans offered us sanctuary, and in late August 1940 my mother, my sister and I sailed for America for—maybe forever.

I was sent to Andover. I wanted to be in England—my country. I finished my second year as an Upper just before my 16th birthday, and such were the oddities of that time that I, as a male, was able to get a passage home. In August 1942 I sailed for England from New York—at the height of the U-boat attacks along the American coast and on the Atlantic convoys. Of course at that age I knew nothing would happen to me—and nothing did. My ship sailed alone, far from the convoy routes, for 14 peaceful days.

I was disappointed: there were no heroic stories of survival in an open lifeboat. My disappointment was mitigated by my camera having been removed for security reasons, so that I would, in any case, be unable to emulate the wonderful photographs of Margaret Bourke-White in the pages of Life! And my personal contribution to the war-effort was another two years at Eton before I was able to join the army in September 1944—and occupy Germany after it was all over! It was a fantastic experience to have had those two years at Andover, but I am glad that I returned to experience the remaining wartime years back in Britain.

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Robert K. Reynolds ’42

Reynolds '42

Robert K. Reynolds '42

(1924–   )
Army/USAAF, Second Lieutenant

Memories of December 7th

To most people December 7th brings to mind that day in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II. For me it also brings back two other dates. One year later on December 7th, 1942, I enlisted in the Army Air Force, served as a pilot until the end of the war, and twenty-six years later, on December 7, 1968, I retired from the Air Force.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor I was a senior in the class of 1942 at Andover, and the details of that day are still clear in my mind. It was a clear, sunny Sunday, and just after lunch I walked from my dormitory, Day Hall, to Cochran Chapel to the second floor rear where there was a room for cello practice, an instrument I played not too well, but good enough to join the Academy orchestra. At my arrival at Andover the music department somehow found that I played the cello. When I explained that I didn’t have a cello nor was I very good, the music department solved both problems by procuring a cello and arranging for me to take cello lessons from Gerard Haft, first cellist of the Boston Symphony. He not only came to Andover several times a month for lessons, but he

also played in the orchestra at concerts (you can see me sitting next to him in the photo of the orchestra in the 1942 class yearbook).

Around 2 p.m. I was returning from the chapel and ran into another student who told me of the Japanese attack. I was shocked! Although I knew we were having some disputes with the Japanese over our embargoing oil and scrap metal shipments to them, an unprovoked attack was unthinkable. Along with other students I spent the evening in my housemaster’s suite listening to the war news on the radio (students were not allowed to have radios, only phonographs).

The next day, Monday, the student body assembled in George Washington Hall for the daily meeting with headmaster Dr. Claude Fuess, who gave us further details of the Japanese attack, ending the meeting with a prayer for our ultimate victory.

For the next few weeks, life at the Academy continued much as usual. The major change was the news from the Boston Herald which normally featured headlines of major fires (Boston must have been a tinderbox in those days) but which now featured stories of German submarines sinking merchant ships off the New England Coast.

When we returned from the Christmas vacation in January we noticed that many members of the faculty were either enlisting or, if in the reserves, had been called to active duty. Many of the students talked of enlisting, but since most of them were only seventeen there was a problem. The armed services wouldn’t accept enlistees under age eighteen except with parental approval, and it wasn’t likely that any parents would give this approval to a student who was only months away from graduation.

However, I became eighteen on March 13 and along with several other seniors decided to enlist in the Naval Air Corps. I don’t remember telling my parents about this. We sent in the applications and awaited replies. When they came there were mixed results. I can’t remember how many students, if any, were accepted, but at least two were rejected. I was one, because at 5′ 5″ and 105 lbs., I didn’t meet the physical requirements.

A stranger rejection was for classmate Barnette “Barney” DeJarnette. The Navy’s letter to him read, “Dear Miss (sic) DeJarnette: The Navy is not admitting women to its flight program. Also, at 2′ 6″ you do not meet the physical requirements.” Barney was 6′ 2″ and would have made a great pilot. Sadly, after enlisting in the Army, he drowned during a landing at an island in the South Pacific.

Classmate George “Poppy” Bush was among those accepted for naval flight training. He was eighteen on June 12th, graduation day, and immediately went on active duty and to a distinguished career.

On July 4th I entered Yale in the class of 1945W on an accelerated program. Giving up on naval aviation, I decided to enlist in the Army Air Force, whose requirements were less stringent than the Navy’s. By late November I had gotten my weight up to 110 lbs., the Army’s minimum, and passed the physical. I was sworn in as a private in the Enlisted Reserves on December 7, 1942, and several months later was called to active duty for flight training.

Twenty-six years later on December 7, 1968—after three years on active duty during WWII and twenty-three years in the reserves—I retired. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the day I finally shuffle off this mortal coil happens to be on a December 7th?

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