Corky Newcombe ‘66S and Doug Pearson ‘66S submitted this story for the Spring 2019 edition of Reveille.
For the Farragut Class of 1966 South, there is a special bond. One that is committed anew every year at Homecoming. Ah Homecoming, that time of year when alumni return to campus for a football game and dinner. But the definition the Class of ‘66 likes to use is, “a person’s arrival home after being away for a long time.” We relate to this one most because Farragut was, and is still, home to many students for about 10 months out of every school year.
A Farragut Homecoming is distinctly unique from most others because our grads are different. We not only studied together but we lived together, drilled together, and were disciplined together. We studied military doctrine and learned to be accountable to each other. Many of our fellow alumni will tell you that they entered the school as naïve children, but left as young adults with very high ideals and ambitions.
For the Class of ’66 South, it goes even deeper. We attended at a much different time in history. A time when the school was an all-male military boarding school, a time when war was brewing in a place most of us had never heard of and where alumnus Dennis Babers, 1961-62 Battalion Commander, gave the ultimate sacrifice. In 1986 several class members were motivated to get our class together for a class reunion to celebrate the 20th year of our graduation. Capt. Orie Banks, a longtime educator, friend and newly assigned alumni director, was contacted and plans were made. After several strategy discussions, we all knew that something special was in the works.
The rest is history. Fourteen of our classmates, along with their spouses, showed up on that Homecoming weekend in 1986 and we certainly made our presence known. ‘66S outnumbered all other alumni in attendance. We and toured the Academy and visited our dormitory rooms. During the Homecoming Parade, along with the other alums, we marched with the battalion in Pass-In-Review; led cheers at the football game, and that evening attended a dinner arranged by Capt. Banks (in our honor).
After dinner, we adjourned to the Thunderbird Hotel, a site where several of us got into trouble as Cadets. We sat around the pool deck for hours, catching up on 20 lost years. We decided then and there to return every five years and to make our reunions all-inclusive affairs with spouses and families. We also committed to contacting more classmates and encouraging them to join us for future reunions. Since that first reunion, our class has been true to our promise, returning a total of 7 times. Each time proved more special than the last and we have truly bonded for a lifetime.
At our 50th reunion, we discussed how we might share our experiences, not only with the alumni but also with the Academy and others. The possibility of documenting our memories and experiences in a book had been discussed for several years but not acted upon until now. For the past two years, we have been collecting individual memoirs, from our classmates that desired to participate in the project. Each submission is authentic and in the writer’s own words. AFA-The Cadets of ‘66S, A Journal of Their Brotherhood is now a reality and will be released at Homecoming 2019.
There are no plans to sell the book and the entire project was self-funded by the Class of ’66S. Only sufficient copies have been produced to ensure that each of our classmates might have one and we are allocating a number of copies for Admiral Farragut Academy. It is our sincere hope that our actions and activities over the past 33 years, and the development of this journal, encourages all alumni, both North and South, to come back home for a reunion. We promise you will not regret it. Hope to see many new faces at Homecoming 2019 and beyond.
Doug Pearson ’66S
Corky Newcombe ’66S