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K-2, aka Kappa Dos, Holds Reunion at Hilton Head Island 13-14 Mar 08

Left to right standing - Siegenthaler, Ritchie, Stewart,Witherspoon, Lionetti, Sheeder, Dahle, Noble
Seated - Scott, McCunniff and Kenny

Company K-2, aka Kappa Dos, gathered for an unprecedented reunion of all former members of the company at Hilton Head Island on 13-14 March 2008.  The dates and location were chosen so that a former K-2 Tactical Officer, Colonel (Ret) Thomas G. McCunniff, could be honored on his 86th birthday near his home in Hilton Head. 

The majority of attendees had been cadets during his tenure from 1956 to 1960.  Also in attendance was a K-2 veteran who was there when the company was created in 1946 and another who was the company’s last commander just before the guidon was furled in 1965.

After his retirement Col McCunniff described his time as the Tac of K-2 as the most satisfying assignment in his military career.

The main event was a banquet at which the history of K-2 and many notable exploits of its members were related first-hand by those who were there.  John Chandler, ’49, described the genesis of K-2 and how this “expansion company” won the Bankers Trophy in its first year of existence.   They were also called “Truman’s Own” after the President chose K-2 as the best marching unit during a parade in his honor. 

Art Hester, ’65, assisted by Bob Lowry, ’66, placed the other bookend for the company and described how K-2 went out in a blaze of glory winning both the Superintendents and Bankers Trophies in its last year.  But most of the history concerned the intervening years when K-2 earned and cemented its claim as the only West Point fraternity, Kappa Dos! 

Carl Waldenmaier, ’57, described the creation of the Kappa Dos poem by his roommate, the late Jack Hesse.  The poem that appears in several Howitzers was Jack’s first draft, written in ink -- no revisions.  He was one of 12 academic star men for the K-2 Class of 57. 

The class of 58 led K-2 to such excellence in drill and ceremonies that the company was selected to represent West Point during internment of unknown soldiers from WWII and the Korean War at Arlington on Memorial Day 1958. 

Then Tom Leo, ’59 regaled the group with the exploits of the “moles” who prowled the steam tunnels under West Point after taps on many a dark night.  Among other adventures, they borrowed the reveille cannon’s breechblock seven times and left it in a variety of places including the Ordnance Department display case, the poop deck in Washington Hall and finally hanging from a gargoyle on the Clock Tower. 

Tom’s crew was also responsible for the grave stones announcing scores of our football games during the undefeated 1958 season.  The K-2 class of '60 related the Great Pants Swipe caper. When they were plebes and the night before Christmas leave, they surreptitiously removed virtually all of the upperclassmen’s trousers from their rooms and hid them in the barracks sinks.  Reveille was a “loose” formation that morning, even by K-2 standards, with only the plebes and company commander in proper uniform, and he only because he had been “pressing” his trousers under his mattress the night before. 

Gene Witherspoon, ’61, related the tale of events surrounding the visit to West Point of a particularly gung ho and gullible ROTC cadet which culminated in the presentation to him of the Otis T Lee award in the K-2 Orderly Room with a plebe honor guard and company staff in full dress gray.  A replica of this ultimate “Out to Lunch” award, crafted from a mess hall plate, was produced by its originator, Duane Slater, ’62, and Gene Witherspoon presented it to Tom Leo with appropriate justification. 

Not to be outdone in audacity, the midnight swim of Bob Cooper and Bob Goode, ’62 was recounted.  Their mission was to paint a white “62” on a Constitution Island rock which was accomplished, albeit with the “2” backwards because they had to paint upside down, hanging over the rock. 

Another '62 exploit was Bruce Parson’s “borrowing” OC armbands from two unsuspecting Officers in Charge during his First Class year.  He allowed us to return them to the Department of Tactics through Colonel McCunniff who wore both for the rest of the evening at the banquet.

The reunion program ended with presentation of a tribute book to Colonel McCunniff by Jack Bohman, ’59 who compiled it.  The book contains K-2 photos from his time as Tactical Officer and letters and mementos from his former charges.  Tom McCunniff’s wife Nina, four children and spouses, and five of his ten grandchildren were in attendance to participate in the celebration. 

Kappa Dos lives as does its motto, Illegitimus non Carborundum!

Contents of K-2 Reunion CD Made Available on this Web Page 

The Photo CD documents is a truly unique, perhaps the first ever, all-class, West Point company reunion.  During the limited existence of K-2 (1946-1965) Kappa Dos always viewed itself special; a fraternity among the then twenty-four companies of the United States Corps of Cadets. 

This reunion of former members of company K-2 was held at Hilton Head Island on 13 and 14 March 2008.  The dates and location were chosen so that a former K-2 Tactical Officer, Colonel (Ret) Thomas G. McCunniff, ‘45, could be honored on his 86th birthday near his home.  The majority of attendees had been cadets during his tenure from 1956 to 1960. 

Within the chapters of this CD you will find numerous photographs depicting the several events of the reunion and, within the file “Memory Book,” you will be able to review the pages of a tribute book presented to Colonel McCunniff at the Banquet.  The book contains K-2 photos from his time as Tactical Officer, and letters and mementos from his former charges.  The file “McCunniff Family” contains photos of Tom McCunniff, his wife Nina, their four children and spouses, and several of his grandchildren in attendance.

Although many helped, the prime movers on the planning for this event were Tom Leo, ’59, Jack Bohman, ’59, and Gene Witherspoon, ’61.  Tom articulated the vision, Jack did the McCunniff Tribute Book and Gene was the prime coordinator and executor; the G-3 of our organization.  Georgia Witherspoon magnificently decorated the ballroom for our Banquet.  Bobbi Lionetti and Ken Siegenthaler, ’61, were the principal photographers.  Phil Huntington, ’59 and Joe Stewart, ’61 also contributed.  Don Lionetti, ’61 organized and produced this Photo CD.

Click here for a slide show of the Memory Tribute Book  presented to COL (Ret) McCunniff

Click here for photos of COL (Ret) McCunniff and his family

Click here for slide show of Thursday Night Cocktails before Dinner

K-2 Reunion Dinner Program

MC: Secure guidon and report to Colonel McCunniff, “Sir Company K-2 is formed.”  Welcome Company K-2 veterans, spouses and guests.  We are gathered for an unprecedented event – a reunion of those from all classes who served in a now extinct company of cadets, a company that enjoyed the well-earned distinction of being the only fraternity at West Point.  Tonight we will relive (as best we can remember) some of the events, sagas and escapades that earned us the right to claim our nom de guerre, Kappa Dos, and its unique motto, Illegitimus non Carborundum – Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down!  Some of our Latin scholars argue that in Latin this phrase should actually read “Illegitimatus,” not Illegitimus, but do we care? – heck no!

Click here for the full 45 page script of Reunion Dinner Program.

Click here for a slide show of Thursday '61 Dinner

Click here for a slide show of Friday Trolley Tour

Click here for a slide show of Friday Night Banquet

Click here for a slide show of 20 pictures taken during the Reunion.

Click here to read Phil Walker's trip report on the K-2 Reunion to the Class of '60


The Kappa Dos Poem 

Dawn crept slowly up the Hudson shore

Reveille! Reveille!  Wake up the Corps

But the cannon and the bells had not perturbed

Twenty-four hundred who slept undisturbed.


Then slowly awakened by the bugle and drums,

Out of grey barracks the whole Corps comes.

Silent salutes are hurriedly exchanged;

Twenty-four hundred stand neatly arranged.


“Dismissed!” is shouted by the company commanders;

Back through barracks the grey line meanders.

Turning on lights and picking up brooms,

Twenty-three hundred clean out their rooms.


Twenty-three companies out of twenty-four,

Eagerly awaiting a new day to explore.

The twenty-fourth company in darkness had fled;

Kappa Dos, the fraternity had gone back to bed.


                                 Jack Hesse, ‘57














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