K-2, aka Kappa Dos, Holds Reunion at Hilton Head Island 13-14 Mar
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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
Dawn crept slowly up the
Reveille! Reveille! Wake
up the Corps
But the cannon and the
bells had not perturbed
Twenty-four hundred who
Then slowly awakened by
the bugle and drums,
Out of grey barracks the
whole Corps comes.
Silent salutes are
Twenty-four hundred stand
“Dismissed!” is shouted
by the company commanders;
Back through barracks the
grey line meanders.
Turning on lights and
picking up brooms,
clean out their rooms.
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