Military Friars who have served and presently are serving our nation, fighting for freedom.
By Mark Vruno
Patriotism rings out loud and proud within the Fenwick community. The Catholic school in Oak Park, Illinois, may be best known for turning out top-notch doctors, lawyers, business leaders, educators and politicians, but the Fighting Friars make good soldiers, too. And there are and have been a lot of them. One covert, black-ops Friar alumnus prays the rosary every morning at 5 a.m.
Editor’s note: If you know of Friars who have served in the military and are not mentioned in this story, please email us at email@example.com.
Two recent graduates from the Class of 2017, Will Flaherty and Kyle Gruszka — one a wrestler from Riverside and the other a soccer goalie and baseball player from Chicago — are among 4,000 cadets enrolled at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Senior Alex Pup ’18, a baseball player for the Friars, will join them next year.
Back home in Chicago, former Fenwick running back Josh McGee ’15 enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after high school and now is working in communications while attending community college. Jimmy Coopman ’14 enlisted in the Marine Corps Infantry after Fenwick, while Steven Barshop ’17 recently completed his USMC basic training. Kyle Graves ’15 has enlisted in the Navy and ships out early next month. Michael Sullivan ’12 was Army ROTC at Indiana University and now is commissioned in the reserves.
Out east Mike Kelly ’14 is a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland. Erin Scudder ’16, a standout swimmer from Western Springs, is in her second year at the Naval Academy. She aspires to become a Navy or Marine Corps pilot. When Scudder thinks to her influential teenage years, she recalls the value of a Moral Theology course her junior year at Fenwick, where she “learned lessons that I can apply to my life outside the of the classroom.” Joining her at Annapolis will be River Forester Brooke West ’18, who recently received an appointment to swim for Navy. Another Western Springer and Scudder’s classmate, Malone Buinauskas ’16, also a member of USNA (Class of 2020) and plays forward on the Navy women’s hockey team. Buinauskas says her first choice for service selection is to become a Naval Flight Officer.
Trent Leslie ’16 from Chicago is in his second year at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY. “I want to be an aviation officer and potentially work for the FBI after my time in the Army is finished,” explains Leslie, who played ice hockey, rugby and chess while at Fenwick.
Career Marine Otto Rutt, Jr. ’79 retired in 2013 as a colonel in the Corps. Rutt went to the Ivy League after Fenwick, graduating from Harvard in three years with an economics degree. In 1982 he entered the Marines and became an F/A-18 pilot, serving two combat tours: one in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and one in Operation Iraqi Freedom II in 1994. In between those tours, he received an MBA with concentrations in Finance and Business Policy from the University of Chicago. Rutt has been decorated with the Meritorious Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal, the Seas Service Deployment Ribbon and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
By 2000 he was flying airplanes commercially while serving as a Marine Reserve Officer. In 2006 he received the distinction of “honor graduate” from the Air War College. “I relish both the history of the Marine Corps and Fenwick,” the former fighter pilot has said. “They are similar in many ways, particularly in the context of excellence and expectation.
“I have a great affinity for my Fenwick experience, particularly spiritual development. One of my most momentous experiences was a midnight mass Christmas Day in the Arabian Desert prior to the invasion of Kuwait,” Col. Rutt continued. “Without Fenwick, I would not have nearly the personal growth and inner strength to face such challenges.”
Sibling Military Rivalries?
Chicagoans Sylvia Musselman (nee Knap) ’07 and her sister, Margaret ’03, are Friar alumnae and Naval Academy graduates. Sylvia graduated in December 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, minoring in Russian language. She was selected to be a Naval Intelligence Officer and embarked on a five-month training session at the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center in Dam Neck, VA.
“Sylvia first served on the USS Arleigh Burke in Norfolk as their Electrical and Legal Officer from 2012-13,” her sister reports via email. “She was then stationed with her husband at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, working as a Student Services Officer from the middle of ’13 to mid-2014.” In 2014-15 she served as the Communications Officer on board the USS Benfold out of San Diego. “Her last tour was as the Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff for the Pacific Fleet’s Naval Surface Force Commander out of Coronado, CA, where she completed her term of service at the end of ’16.”
As for Margaret, “I graduated [USNA] Class of ’07 with a B.S. in political science and minor in Russian. After that, I went straight to Quantico, VA, for Marine Corps training.” From there, she was selected to become a Supply Officer, so Margaret completed supply school in Jacksonville, NC, and arrived at her first duty station in the beginning of ’09: on the Japanese island of Okinawa in the East China Sea.
(Read more about what Margaret Knap did in Okinawa.)
In addition to the Knap women, two younger sisters of Fenwick English Teacher Jennifer Ori ’06 (nee Morris) are Navy and Air Force, respectively: Caitlin Morris ’08 graduated from the USNA at Annapolis and presently is assigned at U.S. Department of Defense headquarters in the Pentagon. Melinda Morris ’12 graduated from Virginia Tech ROTC and is an officer in the Air Force stationed in Louisiana.
There are numerous Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship stories coming out of Fenwick, including those of 1950 classmates the late Bill Jenks (Navy ROTC) and John Lattner (Air Force ROTC). At the University of St. Thomas/University of Minnesota ROTC, Aaron Black ’14 is a MS4 Cadet going Active duty in May 2018; MS3 Cadet Alex DeRouin ’15 is set to commission in May 2019. Last year’s football teammates Danny Kannin ’17 and Alex Pierson ’17 are Navy ROTC freshmen at Marquette and Miami (Ohio) universities.
Our list of Friars turned veterans is long, distinguished and far from comprehensive. Marines Officers Larry Hartigan ’01 and Dan Kurtz ’05, for example, both served their country in Afghanistan. Pat Novak ’85 was a Combat Medic in the Army National Guard but “saw no action” during Operation Desert Storm, the first Gulf War, in the early 1990s. “I volunteered but did not get mobilized,” he explains. Pat did spend some time in Turkey “playing” NATO war games, but most of his tour was “Cold War” stuff. Today, he serves the City of Evanston as a Captain on its Fire Department; wife, Monica, is a police officer in Chicago.
Civil servants: A future issue of Friar Reporter will feature fire fighters, paramedics, police officers and other first responders with ties to Fenwick.
“I wanted to join the Marines when I was 17 but my father refused to sign me off,” Novak recalls. He also remembers having a fight about it with his dad, who was a Marine during World War II. “At the age of 16, my father was on a dive bomber in the South Pacific,” the son reports. “Today, our 16-year-olds [are on] Snapchat,” jokes Novak, who has three children at Fenwick: senior Lyanna, junior Ambrose and freshman Isaac. “Years later I told my dad that he was right – I was too young at the time – and he had this big smile on his face.”
A Football Star, Gestapo POW and ‘Green Beret’
In our school’s history annals, there are stories of war and combat veterans who span generations. On its Facebook and Twitter social-media platforms, Fenwick has posted about World War II heroes John Barrett, Jr. ’39, Bill Cullerton ’41 and Special Forces icon Mike Healy ’45, whom North Korean, Chinese, Viet Cong guerrillas and North Vietnamese troops failed to kill. Printed here, in more detail, are theirs and a few other battlefield stories whose protagonists have deeply seeded Dominican roots.
Five years ago, Fenwick Head Football Coach Gene Nudo renamed the team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player award in memory John Barrett, Jr. ’39. A gridiron legend in Oak Park, Johnny Barrett was an All-State fullback and captain of the 1938 Friars. Barrett, who wore jersey #66, was named most valuable player (MVP) of the Chicago Catholic League and played fullback on the All-Star Team that represented Chicago in Los Angeles in a game between the two cities. He also was captain of Fenwick’s National Catholic League championship team in 1937.
Barrett went on to play collegiately at Georgetown when the Hoyas were a national football powerhouse in the pre-WWII era. He played in the 1941 Orange Bowl (a 14-7 loss to undefeated Mississippi State) and in the North-South All Star Game. Barrett was drafted by the Boston Redskins before the NFL franchise moved to Washington, D.C., but war broke out and Johnny enlisted in the Marines.
On September 15, 1944, 2nd Lieutenant Barrett made the ultimate sacrifice: He was mortally wounded and killed in action (KIA) while leading his platoon during the invasion of Peleliu, a small coral island with a strategic airstrip in the South Pacific. For his valor in combat, in 1947 U.S. President Harry Truman, himself a former Army Captain, posthumously presented the Silver Star Medal to Barrett’s family, citing John’s “gallantry, inspiring leadership, outstanding fortitude and valiant fighting spirit.”
As kids, the father of John Brundage ’65 was best friends at St. Luke’s with Barrett, for whom he would later named his son. Brundage went on to attend West Point, graduating in 1973. At Fenwick he was salutatorian of his class and a Catholic League medalist in golf, coached by Father Bernacki. After two tours of duty in Vietnam as a Captain in the 101st Airborne Division, the younger John graduated from Vanderbilt Medical school as M.D.; he then earned a Master’s in Epidemiology /Public Health from Harvard. Dr. Brundage spent the balance of his career stationed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., specializing in Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases. He retired as a Colonel.
(Read about Fenwick Football’s Don Heldmann Defensive MVP Award.)
Like Barrett, the late Robert Cooney, Sr. ’41 also belonged to the “Greatest Generation.” Cooney served in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II with future U.S. Senator Bob Dole (R) from Kansas, reports his son, Bob Cooney, Jr. ’70. (Now 94, Dole went on to become a presidential nominee in 1976.)
Captain Cullerton, of Oak Park, was another Friar serving in WWII. Younger generations may not be aware that he was a fighter pilot in the Army Air Corps, which was the precursor to the Air Force. Cullerton flew a P-51 Mustang called “Miss Steve.” He was taken prisoner by the Gestapo, shot and left to die. But he survived, escaped and returned to the U.S., where he was inducted into the Illinois Military Aviation Hall of Fame as the fourth highest ace of the Second World War with a total of 29 hits. Always an avid outdoorsman, after the war Cullerton ran a hunting/fishing equipment business and, for 20 years, hosted “The Great Outdoors” show on WGN Radio before retiring in late 1999. The former captain passed away in 2013 at age 89.
The Original ‘Iron Mike’
Fenwick’s most famous military veteran, perhaps, is Major General Healy, who rose from enlisted man at the U.S. Army’s Fort Sheridan in Northern Illinois. Predating Coach Ditka, the original “Iron Mike” served in the U.S. Army from 1945-81. Highly decorated for valor in the Korean and Vietnam wars, during the course of a 35-year military career Healy earned:
- 3 Distinguished Service Medals
- 2 Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- 7 Bronze Stars with Valor
- 2 Purple Hearts
Maj. Gen. Healy served as the inspiration for the Colonel Mike character in the book and movie (played by John Wayne) “The Green Berets.” In real life, he commanded the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Center for Military Assistance/Institute for Military Assistance (now Special Warfare Center and School) and retired as the highest ranking leader in the Special Forces.
All told, Healy received 29 citations and decorations. “It was said he received more than [generals] Eisenhower, Patton and MacArthur,” the late Fenwick Swimming Coach Dan O’Brien once wrote. “Renowned as a speaker, he was introduced as a graduate of ‘that wonderful school on Washington Boulevard in Oak Park, Illinois: Fenwick High School.'”
In July of 2015 the commanding general of the Kennedy Special Warfare Center, Maj. Gen. James Linder, awarded Healy (now 91 and living in Jacksonville, FL) with the Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment award, essentially enshrining him in the Special Forces ring of honor. “Gen. Healy is not just significant in our community, he is a genuine icon,” Linder told the Florida Times-Union. “Many will serve and a few are recognized. Then only a very, very small few walk in the formation that Gen. Healy does.”
Eight years ago the Fenwick Hall-of-Famer returned to school and addressed the Friar community in the library. Healy spoke of his military experiences and, not surprisingly, the endurance of his Catholic faith. As a boy Michael Healy aspired to the priesthood, enrolling at the former Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary in downtown Chicago. After a year and a half, he changed his mind about becoming a seminarian and transferred to Fenwick, where he was a member of the swimming team. After attempting several times to enlist before reaching the minimum age required and shortly after his 18th birthday, Healy took his GED and enlisted in the Army as a private in 1945, two months before the Japanese signed their surrender ending the Second World War.
Healy’s first taste of combat came as an officer with the 4th Airborne Ranger Company in 1951 during a jump into the South Korean village of Munsan-Ni. There, according to a 1981 Chicago Tribune article, he was stabbed in the leg by a North Korean bayonet, but captured a vital hill. Healy earned his “Iron Mike” nickname and a Bronze Star with Valor for his efforts. Twelve years later he went to Vietnam as a Special Forces colonel. Ultimately, Healy would serve five tours there, totaling nearly eight years.
War on TV and in Books
John Schmid ’57, a First Lieutenant and Marine infantry officer, was killed in combat in Quang Nam, Vietnam, in 1965. Fifty-seven members of Fenwick’s Class of 1959 served in the military during the Vietnam War, according to a plaque that hangs on the hallway wall adjacent to Social Studies classroom (Room 21) of John Quinn ’76. Mr. Quinn and departmental colleague Jerry Lordan, O.P., Ph.D., regularly invite veteran alumni to speak to their government classes about opportunities for service.
In the news lately has been Phil Caputo ’59 of Westchester and Berwyn. Caputo was a Marine in Vietnam; he also is an author and award-winning reporter/journalist. Caputo’s 1973 coverage of election fraud for the Chicago Tribune earned him the coveted Pulitzer Prize. His latest novel, Some Rise by Sin, published in 2017, is one of 16 books he has written. A Rumor of War, the best-selling memoir of his experiences as a platoon commander in Vietnam, was reissued this year to mark its 40th anniversary. Documentary film-maker Ken Burns has consulted Caputo for his new TV series on PBS “The Vietnam War,” which aired recently on WTTW Channel 11 in Chicago.
John Scully ’60 is an ROTC graduate of Notre Dame, served in Vietnam and spent 30 years in the Army Reserve, retiring as a Major General in 1996. Scully currently serves as the Civilian Aide to the Secretary for Illinois North. From the Class of ’61, Brian Duniec and Jim Thompson, two football players, “enlisted together in 1965 or ’66,” recalls classmate and teammate James “Jamie” Carey, who retired in 2012 after 32 years as a law professor at Loyola University. “They served in Vietnam and both were tank commanders, if that is the right phrase.”
Duniec was stationed with ’61 classmate Jack Lambke at the Pensacola (Florida) Naval Air Station, where they both played football. “The Goshawks played a 10-game schedule,” recalls Lambke. “Brian played a year ahead of me with Roger Staubach,” the Navy quarterback who had won the Heisman Trophy in 1963. The following season, Lambke too worked out with “Roger the Dodger” in spring and early summer, before the QB joined the Dallas Cowboys.
Jamie Carey reports that “Bill Hanley ’61 went to Annapolis [U.S. Naval Academy], and Tom Dames ’61 reached a high Navy rank.” (Dames retired as a Rear Admiral.) Ray Drennan ’61, yet another teammate, flew helicopters in Vietnam, then was tragically killed back here in a helicopter crash in 1971. “He was, at the time, flying for the State of Illinois,” Carey notes, “and his job was to ferry dignitaries, including the governor, around the state.” George Selcke ’61 was a Marine Officer. Tom Lescher ’61 served as well, not in Vietnam but as an Army burn specialist based at Fort Sam Houston.
In 1974 Lambke and Army Reservist Johnny Lattner co-founded the Frank Leahy American Legion Post #1974, which “marched in every St. Patrick’s Day Parade until about six years ago,” Lambke writes. Other Reservists from the Class of 1961 include Larry Brady (Air Force) and Tom Williams (Army), he reports, adding that Mike Greco was killed in action in Vietnam.
At least four Friars from the Class of 1962 are former U.S. Marines: Tom “Whitey” Engel, Jim Herbstritt, John Mason and Wayne Pier. Neal Armstrong ’63 served in the USAF from 1969-75 and was a C-130 pilot at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. Bill Winters ’64 is an Army Veteran serving from 1969-71. Winters spent 14 months in Vietnam, where he was Awarded the Army Commemorative Medal and was discharged as a Specialist 5th Class. Bob Shennan ’65 served in the Army in Vietnam, and classmate Jack Coath ‘65 had a long and distinguished Army career (recently retired).
Larry Strom ’62, who passed away last summer in Michigan, served as a B-52 Air Force pilot during the Vietnam War. “I knew Larry well as we were both members of Fenwick’s band while we were students at the school and we were fraternity brothers at Loyola University in the mid-’60’s just as the war began to heat up …,” writes classmate Karl Sundstrom. “Larry was an unlikely participant for so dangerous a job, but it was what happened.”
Seventeen years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 20-year-old USMC Private First Class Robert Keag ’66 was KIA on December 7, 1968, in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam; Keag is a 1995 inductee into Fenwick’s Hall of Fame. Fellow Marines and 1966 classmates Dave Boyle, John Kiley, Bob O’Leary, and fighter pilots Kevin Garvey and Dick Pohl made it out of ‘Nam. Pohl is a retired commercial airline pilot (Delta Air Lines), while Garvey served for 20 years in the Corps, retiring as a Colonel and going on to vice-presidential status at Northern Trust Bank. O’Leary is a retired sergeant of the Chicago Police Department. Boyle, who became a lawyer, passed away in 2011 at age 62. Zach Sochacki ’68 also served with distinction in Vietnam. Jim Sullivan ’71 was a C-130 pilot and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the USMC.
Friar military service has continued throughout the decades of the 20th and 21st centuries:
- Ed Norris ’35 was a recruit at Great Lakes Naval Station in Northern Illinois during WWII. One of our most celebrated athletes in the early years of Fenwick, Norris “was a member of the contingent of recruited athletes nationally to compete with great teams of national reputation for public- relations purposes,” explained O’Brien, who was a year ahead of Norris at FHS. “Ed was the only athlete to be consensus regular in football, basketball and baseball.” Later in life, he coached and scouted for the Friars.
- Mike Murphy ’50 spent 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, entering in 1952. I entered the Air force in 1952 after graduating from Fenwick in 1950. “I was able to get into Aviation Cadets as a result of my fine education at Fenwick,” Murphy says. He was commissioned in 1953, served in Korea and Vietnam, and retired as a Colonel in 1978 having flown a combat tour in Vietnam and served in the pentagon for six years. Murphy was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Along the way I obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering,” he adds. “It was a fine career, and I always credit Fenwick with getting me started.”
- Paul Kerwin ’53 flew three tours of duty in the Vietnam War as a Marine Corps pilot, flying the A-6 Intruder. He retired as a Major.
- Lt. Col. (ret.) Joseph Abate ’55 served proudly in the U.S. Air Force and now resides in Florida. Classmate Robert LaPata was an Army Medic in Vietnam.
- Henry Lazzaro ’65 was a U.S. Naval Captain. Following graduation from Triton College in 1972, Lazzaro obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Lewis University, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law, and a Master of Arts degree from the Naval War College. He began his legal career as an Assistant State’s Attorney and simultaneously obtained a commission in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He served as the Chief Deputy Public Defender in Lake County, IL before founding his own law firm specializing in criminal defense.Lazzaro was recalled to active duty by the Navy in 1997 to serve as the Head of the Navy and Marine Corps Defense Capital Litigation Resource Center. In 2000, he was appointed as an Administrative Judge with the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals, where he served until his retirement in 2013. In addition to the three-year recall to active duty in ’97, Lazzaro was recalled to active duty following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and on three other occasions to successfully represent military members who had been accused of war crimes and other capital offenses. Additionally, as a Naval Officer, he served as an international law officer for three commands, three tours of duty as a Commanding Officer for legal service office units, and as a General Courts-Martial Military Judge.
Lazzaro’s military awards include the Legion of Merit, four Meritorious Service Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Presidential Unit Citation. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2010 and the Distinguished Civilian Service Award from the U.S. Department of Defense in 2013.
- Bill Hopkinson, M.D. ’70 is a West Point graduate and was an Army physician. Fenwick presented Dr. Hopkinson with its St. Martin dePorres award, which the school gives to deserving friends or alumni serving within the medical profession.
- Tim Fitzpatrick ’71 was commissioned as an Infantry Officer from DePaul University Army ROTC in 1975 and started service as a Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Officer at Fort Bragg before becoming a rifle platoon leader, 81mm Mortar Platoon Leader, 4.2″ Heavy Mortar Platoon Leader and Company XO in 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade 82nd Airborne Division. He also became a Jungle Expert in Panama with a unit training rotation there in 1978. “My Chicago blizzard survival skills came in handy when we jumped into Fort Drum from 800 feet at midnight in 40-below weather loaded down with 120 pounds of winter gear and snowshoes,” Fitzpatrick recalls. (Read more about Fitz’s service.)
- 1982: Paul Kiamos was a Navy JAG Officer in the 1990s.Air Force pilot John Urbik flew in first Persian Gulf War and spoke to Fenwick’s student body 10 years after his high school graduation.
- 1984: Brian Braithwaite, M.D. is a Navy Commander and served as a flight surgeon with Marine Harrier squadron was Chief of Plastic Surgery at Bethesda Naval Medical Center (now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center). Mick (John) Finn was a pilot in the Air Force and spent 10 years in the Wisconsin Air National Guard. His brother James Finn ’86 followed suit, serving eight years in the air guard north of the Illinois border. The Finn brothers were Air Force pilots flying in many different theaters across the globe. “Both of us are now captains at Fedex flying the MD11 aircraft,” reports James. Martin LeFevour is a West Point grad and was top of his engineering class. Matthew Mangan is a 29-year veteran of the Air Force. He graduated from the AFA, then was further educated at Squadron Officers School, Air Command and Staff College, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and Air War College. Mangan was Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation for the U.S. Department of Defense from 2011-15 and presently is Chief of the Liaison Office at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Randy Teteak was a Marine Cobra helicopter pilot who now lives in California.
- 1985: Jeff Breneisen was an Air Force cardiologist who now is practicing in California. Nick Etton graduated from the Naval Academy. Peter Sullivan, a graduate of West Point, has deployed; he was an Army Ranger now serves as a Colonel in the reserves. The late Stephen Wendt was ROTC and an Army Ranger.
- Jeff Oakey ’88 joined Navy ROTC at Notre Dame after graduating from Fenwick. “I raised my right hand while still 16 years old and graduated in 1992 with a BA in Government and a commission as an Ensign,” Captain Oakey reports. “I served in five ships and in combat in the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom before being selected to command a ship in 2009.”He now serves as the Deputy Commodore of Amphibious Squadron 11 in Sasebo, Japan. “My squadron’s four ships and 2,000 Sailors and Marines serve with our Marine Corps partners as the Pacific Command’s crisis response force and patrol regularly in the waters off of Korea, Japan and the East and South China Seas,” Oakey explains, adding that he will assume command of the squadron in May 2018.”We’ve entered an exciting phase of American history in which the peace that our country brought to this region is under threat of violence from unpredictable regimes dedicated to the preservation of their leadership,” the Commanding Officer continues. “I volunteered for my current assignment, in part, because the values I learned at Fenwick about leadership, conscience and acting on our faith to improve the lives of our fellow humans everywhere. I’m excited about the opportunity to serve here, continuing to demonstrate the good will, hard work and commitment to peace and prosperity that Americans have brought to our globe. Thanks to Fenwick for helping to shape me and thousands of other young men and women who do the same in and out of uniform.” (Read about the FHS classmate and fellow sailor who Captain Oakey met eight years ago in San Diego.)
- 1990s: Andy Graham ’90 was a Marine officer who now lives in the Boston area. Lieutenant Colonel Paul White, M.D. ’91 has served two tours of duty in the Middle East. Dr. White is director of the Vascular Surgery Fellowship Program at Walter Read National Military Medical Center at Bethesda, MD. Brian Pendergast ’93 was a record-holding swimmer at Fenwick who went on to the Naval Academy. Army Major and Military Police Officer Nick Bugajski ’96 taught a character-building Military Leadership course at West Point from 2014-16. Bugajski was the Executive Officer of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership and also served as an Officer Representative for the Army Football Team and the Officer in Charge of the Army Water Polo Team.
- After completing college and law school, Collin Delaney ’00 accepted a commission as an Air Force Judge Advocate (JAG) and served on active duty for six years — overseas twice, deploying as an intelligence law adviser to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and as a trial defense counsel to the Republic of Korea. In 2015, he transitioned into the Air Force Reserves and presently is assigned to the 352nd Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom. “In my civilian capacity, I went on to serve as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland,” Delaney reports. “I most recently accepted an appointment as a federal Administrative Law Judge for the Social Security Administration, taking the bench in October 2017.”
- Chuck Schauer ’04, a USMC Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, now serves as a Police Officer in Berwyn, IL.
Jack Finan ’08, son of Fenwick football standout Marty Finan ’79, graduated from West Point in 2012 and commissioned as an Infantry Officer in the Army. Finan trained initially at Fort Benning, Georgia, and then served in the 1stBattalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment in the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, NY. (That is the same unit in which Bob Cooney, Sr. had served 70 years earlier with Bob Dole.) While there, Finan was a Rifle Platoon Leader in Battle Company, an Executive Officer in Attack Company, and the Assistant Operations Officer for the Battalion. “I was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2014 and was in Logar and Wardak Provinces,” he explains. “My primary mission set was to lead the Provincial Quick Reaction Force (QRF) Team.” During his tour, Finan came under direct hostile enemy fire, for which he was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s badge. Captain Finan left the Army this past May and began working for consulting firm Accenture in Chicago.
Read about the Fenwick “SEAL Team.”
Letters to Home
On New Year’s Day 2013, a former Fenwick student wrote to Dr. Lordan from Afghanistan. “He seemed lonely,” the wise teacher shares. The soldier had written: “We sometimes think we are forgotten.”
Lordan thanked the young man “for the sacrifice you are making for the commonwealth of our society.” He then asked alumnus Col. Rutt to send a note to the lonesome warrior. Rutt had not yet retired from the Marine Corps. After he obliged, Lordan wrote back to the high-ranking fellow Friar: “Thank you for sending your message …. We are 18 forever in our teachers’ eyes. We never know to what distant shore the ripples travel when we drop a pebble of kindness into still waters.”
Mike Federico ’02, another former student, deployed three times during his career and earned a Bronze Star on the Iran-Iraq border. “I still use some of the skills I picked up from Model UN today with my dealing with the ANA [Afghan National Army] and used them during my time in Iraq as well,” Federico, who went on to become an Army Captain, has told Dr. Lordan. Model UN is a simulation role-playing game sponsored by a university and held at a hotel over a weekend. According to Lordan. “Each high school is assigned a nation to represent and plays that role in committee sessions — Security Council, General Assembly, etc. All sessions are run by Robert’s Rules of Order [parliamentary procedure].
“It is our goal at Fenwick to train patriotic citizens, literate workers and moral servant-leaders,” concludes the longtime History Teacher and Faculty Mentor. “The lives of these U.S. military veterans have been a validation of our ministry, and we thank them for the witness they have been to the Friar Experience.”
May God continue to bless these United States of America – and may He bless our Fenwick military veterans, past and present, who have fought and died for our freedom. Veterans Day this year is Saturday, November 11th. Remember a veteran; thank a veteran for his or her service.
The holidays are coming. Consider sending a Care Package to a soldier. The USO (United Service Organizations) can help.
Alumni, if you know of Military Friars who are not mentioned in this story, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Links to related content on the Fenwick website:
We Remember Anne Smedinghoff ’05 of River Forest was an American diplomat who served in Venezuela and Afghanistan. Anne was killed by a suicide bomber in April 2013 while serving her country in a diplomatic mission in Zabul province, Afghanistan.
- This past May, Fenwick Math Teacher Mr. Bob Arscott was named the Air Force Association Teacher of the Year.
- Read about two other Fenwick alumni: astronaut Joe Kerwin, M.D., ’49 and author Steve Twomey ’69.About the Author: Mark Vruno is Editor of Friar Reporter, Fenwick’s alumni magazine, and Head Freshman Football Coach.