Santa Clara ROTC Alumni Memories

ROTC Memories: ROTC alums share their memories of the program.

This fall, we invited ROTC alums to submit their answers to the following questions. Click a question to see their responses.






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What did you do after graduating?

attended law school at SCU. I served as an army captain in Viet Nam for 13 months and 12 days. Later practiced law

Joseph DiLeonardo '65

After serving my 6 months at Sill I came back to California and practiced law in Fresno Ca. for 50 years and raised 6 kids and 5 step-kids of which 6 went to Santa Clara. I have stayed close to the University, serving on the Board of Fellows for the last 38 years.

Curtis Cole '55

I became a Pilot in the US Air Force and served 20 years. In the process I also went back to school and obtained a Masters degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois.

William Hartung '54

I was initially assigned to Ft. Eustis, VA, awaiting a slot in flight training. Two years later I attended flight school and then the maintenance officer/logistics training for aviation. I served in Platoons, Companies and as a Battalion XO and on the Division (3rd Armor) and Department of the Army staff. I was stationed in Virginia, Alabama, California, six years in Germany (Stuttgart, Nuremburg, Frankfurt, and Hanau). I was with the 3rd Armored Division on the famous left hook in Iraq, in which we kicked serious butt. We over ran 2 Republican Guard Divisions! My last duty assignment was the Pentagon, avoid it if possible. Stay with troops and enjoy.

Richard Ostermann '76

Upon entering active duty, my wife and I drove across this great country for the first time and experienced how wonderful the U.S. is. Then to Maryland and the Boston area for the winter and my first snow season. I had flights to the Azores, Spain, Germany, Athens, England and Bermuda escourting nuclear warheads. Next was travelling by bus in full combat gear with my new M-16 rifle to Boston Navy Yard and boarding a ship with 2000 friends. We sailed via the Panama Canal to Vung Tau harbor in Viet Nam and saw lots of tracers and parachute flares and heard lots of gunfire before departing the ship. Next stop was a C-130 ride to a deserted tapioca plantation near the Cambodian border where we built an Army base at the bottom of the Ho Chi Minh trail. Viet Nam had very beautiful rice paddies and small villages with huts for the people, dirt floors, no running water, no electricity, but the people had smiles and were very interested in these new foreign visitors. One night the Viet Cong sent mortor rounds onto the base. We could hear them flying overhead as we squatted behind a sandbagged area in our olive drab shorts. Capt. Stewart later came by to see how we were doing. He had on his flip flops and was carrying his M-16 rifle - and that was ALL he had on! One night we could see tremendous flashes off in the distance where B-52s were bombing. A few days later I was flying to saigon and flew over the pocked mark bombing site. In the field one night I was able to experience a Mad Minute wherein as soldiers awake at dawn they train their weapons outword to where the enemy may have snuck in under the cover of darkness and fire virtually every weapon they have for one minute. If that didn't kill anybody it was supposed to at least scare the heck out of anyone in that area. Then there was R&R to Hawaii to see my wife, and two more trips to Singapore and Bangkok. Finally the flight home to Travis AFB and a long bus ride to Oakland Army Depot and my beautiful waiting wife.

Dave Rigney '63

Attended Field Artillery Officers Basic at Fort Sill, OK., then spent 1 year in Turkey with 528th FA Group. Was first 8 months assigned to an Ordinance Company as a security officer, then was assigned to a desolate detachment for the remainder of my tour. Upon completion of the tour I was assigned to Fort Ord, CA as an Admin. Officer. Needless to say I never trained in my primary MOS between 1972 and 1974.

George Berrettoni '72

Served in Germany as a battery officer (Forward Observer 8 inch howitzers).

Richard Wood, '54, J.D. '59

I was a Platoon Leader in the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks HI. I was then a Company Commander in the 5th Infantry Division at Fort Polk LA. I left active duty in 1984, but stayed in the Army Reserve. I commanded a PSYOP company and a PSYOP battalion, as well as being the S-3 (Operations/Training for a PSYOP group. My last job was the G-3 (Operations/Training) for a Civil Affairs command. I was recalled to active duty in 2005 and deployed to Iraq, where I was Director of the National Iraqi Assistance Center in Baghdad. I also was one-third of the SCU Baghdad Alumni Chapter with LTG Joe Peterson and Special Agent Bob Gorini. I retired from the Army Reserve in February 2007.

Tom Eichenberg '76

As a senior I was hired as a Santa Clara Police Officer in 1970 before graduation, spent one year before being sent to active Army duty, and returned to SCPD in late 1974. After a 30 year career in the Police Dept, I was fortunate to have been promoted to Captain and spent the last six months in the new Police Dept. located across the street from the University..........a real treat. The City and University were both wonderful places to have been, and I am now living in Idaho.

David Coppom '70

I spent 11 years in the Army, serving on 3 continents. After my service, I have spent 20 years as a logistician For WALMART Stores, Inc.

Thomas Robinson '79

I was a lieutenant in the Army Signal Corp stationed at the Satellite Communications Agency at Ft Monmouth, NJ for 2 years; upon discharge from active duty, I went onto graduate school.

Robert Peters '61

I was ready to move on from school, so I went into the Army. Officer Basic Training at Fort Bliss, language school in Monterey, two years in Europe as a custodian of nuclear weapons assigned to a Belgian Air Force Nike Hercules Battery, then Viet Nam via Jungle Warfare training school in Panama. (see above) One night while the Duty officer at our compound in Viet Nam I connected with Dean Dirksen via TWIX (sort of the FAX or Texting of those days) - talked him into admission into the MBA program so that I could exit the military. I often wonder if that was my best move, as the alternative was just one more month in Viet Nam, then on to work for my commanding General who was taking over as the head of transportation ops in Europe. Might have been an interesting career move...

Rick Enos '68

Served in the Regular Army for a period of time until moving to the Army Reserves and going on to Medical School and now practice as a physician. I have now retired from the Army Reserves after 27 years.

Michael McNellis '82

I was a Platoon Leader, A Btry, 867th FA, in Germany. My platoon had only one gun...but one BIG gun...280mm, 85 tons, approximately 20 mile range, atomic warhead capability, now a museum piece! After my active duty tour, I went back to a school up the peninsula for an MBA (GI Bill) and started a career.

Rich Scholz '54

Spent about 50 years in building construction administration.

Bill Brunkow '54

Was commissioned in the Army Field Artillery and stationed in Germany.

Dan Fitzgerald '64

I requested and received an Artillery commisssion and was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis. I was with a 8 inch Howitzer, Honest John, Little John Rocket Battalion and served in many capacities from Asst Platoon Leader to Battery Commander and ended up as the Battalion Communications Officer. After finishing my two year committment, I became an Insurance Claims Representative in San Jose and also did about 6 years in the California Army National Guard in an Artillery Unit. I was fortunate in that my only "combat" was being activated for the Watts and Hunters Point riots.

Al Girolami '61

Spent a career as an Army Officer with stations around the world, to include ten years in Germany, Vietnam, Thailand and the Pentagon. Retired after 23 years and joined Pfizer, American Home Products and Wyeth pharmaceuticals as VP in environmental and energy sciences. The Army provided the leadership and professional skills I needed to excel.

Wain Stowe '60

Served in the US ARMY for 2 years (Vietnam 1971-73--Bronze Star recipient)...upon discharge, went to work for ERNST & YOUNG (32yrs); retired partner in 2002; currently living in Maui Hawaii.

David Ward '70

I went to the Transportation Officer Basic Course at Ft. Eustis, VA. Went to Mannheim, Germany and was assigned to a Transportation Truck Battalion. In December 1995, we deployed to Kaposvar, Hungary as part of the force enforcing the Dayton Peace Accords. I ran truck convoys from Hungary, Croatia and Bosnia. I deployed a second time in 1997 where I became the basecamp mayor of Kaposujlak, Hungary supporting forces deploying to Bosnia. I left active duty and joined the Army Reserve in 1998. Have been working in the family coffee import/export business since then. In the Reserves I commanded a heavy boat company and in 2004-2005, my unit was mobilized and I deployed to Ash Shuaiba, Kuwait where we ran a port. I am currently the battalion commander for an Army terminal battalion in Vallejo, CA. I got married in 2003 and I have 2 kids now.

Steve McLaughlin '94

16 cadets from the class of '76 were commissioned as Second Lieutenants (2LT)s on Friday, the day before our graduation. I chose Field Artillery as my branch so immediately drove off to Ft Sill, Oklahoma for the Field Artillery Basic Course. Enroute to my first assignment in Germany, I attended and graduated from Airborne and Ranger School at Ft Benning, Georgia. For the next 3 years, I served as a platoon leader twice and as a battalion staff officer. I continued my career on Active Duty serving at Ft Bragg, NC, Alaska, and the Pentagon before retiring after 22 years.

Mike O'Hara '76

I was an Engineering student and in my senior year was approved for an internship in San Francisco in the offices of the Army Corps of Engineers. I don't quite know how it happened but also in Senior year I ended up being the Commander of the Corps of Cadets. One of my best memories was a few days before graduation when my father, Col. John C. Parker (Ret) was allowed to administer my oath of office as a Second Lieutenant. The ROTC staff was convinced that I would request commissioning in the Corps of Engineers but I surprised everyone and requested Infantry so off I went back to Fort Benning, Georgia to attend Infantry Officers Basic, followed by Ranger School, Pathfinder School, and Air Assault School at Fort Campbell, Kentucky--my first active duty assignment. The 101st Airborne Division, Ft. Campbell held more surprise as I participated in REFORGER 1976, the first deployment of the 101st with all its helicopters to Germany. At the end of the exercise my unit was allowed to remain and attend Germany Jump School in order to earn our Germany Jump Wings. Later, back at Campbell, we were linked up with a reserve Special Force unit and sent to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas for Jump Master training using C-123 cargo aircraft and transport helicopters. Soon it was 1978 and I was getting itchy feet again and was successful in my application to Helicopter Flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama. I think this was facilitated by my ROTC Aviation scholarship and private pilot's license. At flight school I entered into a new program where a small portion of the class was broken out to become Scout pilots flying OH-58A KIOWA's. After flight school I was reassigned to the 82nd Airborne Division to fly UH-1H (Huey) lift helicopters however not too long into the tour the Division formed an attack helicopter company, D Company (Delta Dogs) and I was transferred over to fly scouts and eventually sent back to Fort Rucker for my AH-1ECAS attack helicopter transition. By now we are approaching the end of 1981 and again I am in wander lust mode, Grenada and Panama are still in the unforeseen distance. Having been intrigued by intelligence work for awhile I eventually initiated a quiet pursuit of applying to the CIA. Eventually in the spring of 1982 I resigned my commission as a Regular Army Captain and entered the Agency as a paramilitary officer running air operations in the foreign field; as well as trying to maintain my reserve status serving with the Maryland National Guard at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. There were a few more twists and turns and my wander lust remained active and never quite satiated so the adventures continued.

Chris Parker '75

I worked for RCA in Camden, NJ, going through their electical engineering training program up until I entered the military at Ft Monmouth, NJ. Subsequent to three months of basic training for new officers in the Signal Corps, I participated in a Radar Training class for another three months before being stationed at Ft Huachuca, AZ, for the remainder of my two year tour of active duty. Spent nine months as an assistant at the Officers' Club, a month as a Company Transportation Officer, and the remaining eight months working in the Electronic Warfare Dept as an engineer designing and testing artillery countermeasures.

David T Van Etten '55

Winter 2012

See all articles from this issue


My fight, my faith

As secretary of defense in an age of budget austerity, Leon Panetta '60, J.D. '63 has to make sure the Pentagon doesn't break the bank and that the nation doesn't break faith with the men and women who serve.

Bronco Battalion

What does it mean for a Jesuit university to be home to the Reserve Officers' Training Corps? Seventy-five years after ROTC came to Santa Clara—and 150 years after officers were first trained on campus—a few answers are clear.

Mission Matters

Going global

A $2 million grant creates a year-long fellowship program—with students taking part in a global network of socially conscious businesses.

Bribes, bombs, and outright lies

Legendary lawyer Clarence Darrow comes to campus—and shows that ethical issues raised in the Trial of the Century remain as vexing today as they did when spittoons lined the courthouse floor.

Alumni Arts

Let me lay it on you

Hot Tuna is back with their first studio recording in 20 years.