Houston Maritime Center Lecture

On Tuesday, February 8, Chapter-member Bill Prom ’09 will present “A Warfare of Dockyards: Expeditious Shipbuilding in the War of 1812” as part of the Houston Maritime Center‘s History Lecture Series.  It will be similar to the talk he gave at the Chapter’s June Luncheon, so if you missed it then, this is an excellent opportunity to catch it again.  Here are the details:

  • 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 8, 2022
  • Houston Maritime Center
  • 2311 Canal Street, Houston, TX 77003
  • In-person tickets are free to members and $5 for nonmembers
  • Zoom registration is free

The lecture covers the exploits of the self-taught shipbuilders, Noah and Adam Brown, who over the course of the War of 1812 built everything from gunboats to ships of the line. Their work included some of the most successful privateers of the war; the sloop Peacock, which took more prizes than any other U.S. Navy ship; and Robert Fulton’s steamship Demologos. However, their most impressive work was on the lakes. They built Perry’s squadron at Lake Erie with nothing but hand-powered tools in the winter of 1813. And in 1814, they built Macdonough’s squadron on Lake Champlain, which included launching the brig Eagle in 19 days after laying the keel. In both cases, the brother’s ingenuity and resourcefulness contributed directly to American victories. As entertaining as the brothers’ exploits are, the lessons that their story provides for our modern Navy regarding the importance of a strong commercial maritime industry are even more impactful.

Read more about the Houston Maritime Center and register for the event here.

Naval Academy Summer Programs

The U.S. Naval Academy’s Summer Seminar and Summer STEM Program are now accepting applications for high schoolers interested in attending the Academy.  For the last two years, both programs were conducted virtually, but it is hoped that attendees will be able to return to in-person participation this summer.

Current high school juniors can apply to attend Summer Seminar to participate in Naval Academy academics, athletics, professional training, and life on the Yard for an immersive week-long program led by Midshipmen cadre.

Current 8th through 10th graders can apply for the Summer STEM program to create, build, and explore science and engineering projects at the Academy’s world-class facilities with faculty and Midshipmen.

If you know interested high school students, please pass on the information.  More details and applications can be found at the Naval Academy Summer Seminar and Summer STEM Program websites.

Distinguished Chapter Announcement

For the third year in a row, the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter of the USNA Alumni Association has been designated a Distinguished Chapter.  The award is presented to chapters based on an evaluation of the engagement, activity, and planning of their leadership teams; frequency and variety of communications with constituents; development and execution of events promoting the Naval Academy mission and message; collaboration with other Naval Academy-related organizations and affiliated groups; and membership growth.

We couldn’t have achieved this without the wonderful support and engagement of all of you, our chapter members. We hope you continue to remain dedicated to the chapter so that we can continue to support each other and the Naval Academy’s mission.

2021 Joint Service Academy Military Ball

The USNA Parents’ Club is hosting this year’s Joint Service Academy Military Ball.  the event will be at Moody Gardens in Galveston on Sunday, December 26 and will feature a presentation by former Navy SEAL and NFL player, Clint Bruce ’97.  There are still seats available for those interested.  You can find more information for purchasing tickets at the Parents’ Club website and updates at the Parents’ Club’s Facebook page.

2022 Chapter & Foundation Board Elections

It’s time to vote for the 2022 USNA Alumni Association Texas Gulf Coast Chapter and Foundation Board.  We look forward to another great year of community building, Academy mission support, and alumni events.  Please take a few minutes to participate in the election to help make that happen.

Follow this link to submit your votes.  All voting closes at midnight Friday, December 31.  Thank you for your support.

Smith/McCool Award Luncheon – UPDATE

Every year the chapter presents the 1/c Midshipman from our region with the highest order of merit with the Smith/McCool Award.  The award is named in honor of the astronauts Michael Smith (Class of 1967) and William McCool (Class of 1983) who tragically died in the space shuttle Challenger and Columbia disasters respectively.  With the award, we present the Midshipman with a Navy or Marine Corps Officer sword.

Join us as we recognize Midshipman 1/c Michael Kurp with this year’s award and a special presentation by Captain, Michael Coats, USN (Ret).  Here are the details:

  • Monday, January 3: 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
  • Taste of Texas – 10505 Katy Fwy. Houston, TX 77024
  • $30 per person, advance purchase 
  • $5 OFF for TxGC member
    • Disc. code sent via email newsletter
  • Lunch provided by Taste of Texas
  • Limited attendance, very limited walk-ups

Midshipman 1/c Michael Kurp
This year’s recipient, Michael Kurp of Oak Forest, is a Computer Engineering major with a minor in Russian.  Michael has served as a Sea Trials Company Commander and Battalion Training Officer and will be 18th Company’s Operations Officer during the spring semester.  He will begin work on a Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland through the Voluntary Graduate Education Program (VGEP) this spring.  When studies and Academy responsibilities allow, he participates in the Muay Thai ECA, reads, plays guitar, and rock climbs.  Michael will commission into the Marine Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant with a cyber contract this May.

Captain Michael Coats, USN (Ret)
Coats graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 and commissioned into the Navy as a Naval Aviator.  As an A-7E pilot, he flew 315 combat missions in Southeast Asia from 1970-1972.  After time as a flight instructor and test pilot, Coats was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1978.  He flew in three space shuttle missions, STS-41-D in 1984, STS-29 in 1989, and STS-39 in 1991. Coats retired from the Navy and the astronaut corps in 1991.  He worked for several air and space companies before returning to NASA in 2005 to serve as the 10th Director of the Johnson Space Center until his retirement in 2012.  You can read more of NASA’s biography of Coate’s impressive career here.

We hope to see you all there.

George W.S. Abbey Rocket Park

NASA’s Johnson Space Center renamed the Rocket Park for former Director George W.S. Abbey (USNA ’54). Abbey began working with NASA on the Apollo Program in 1964 as an Air Force Captain.  His NASA career included investigating the Apollo 1 ancient, serving as Director of Flight Operations, and Director of the Johnson Space Center, among many other roles.  His service has been recognized with the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  You can read more of Abbey’s impressive bio in NASA’s press release for the Rocket Park dedication and the Houston Chronicle’s coverage of the dedication ceremony.

Navy Football Sings Second!

Navy Football put up a great effort in their victory over Army.  It might not have been the prettiest of seasons, but beating Army made up for it.  Navy Athletics created a video that sums up the victory nicely.  Check out Navy Athletics presents: Mission Accomplished.

We had a great time at the viewing party with the West Point Alumni chapter and Combined Arms at Little Woodrows.  It is always nice to have alumni of every generation (including some mids-to-be) come together to cheer on Navy as they beat Army.

It’s sad to see the football season end, but what a great way to end it.  We can’t wait to join you all again for our viewing parties next season.

Death of Commander Brian Bourgeois ’01, USN

The Commanding Officer of SEAL Team 8, Commander Brian Bourgeois ’01, USN, suffered serious injuries from an accident during a fast rope training event last week. Tragically, he died of his injuries on Tuesday, December 7.  You can read the U.S. Navy’s press release and Navy Times’ reporting for more details.

Commander Bourgeois is survived by his wife and five children. The Navy Football Brotherhood, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization, started a fundraising campaign on Facebook to collect funds to support the family.  100% of donations will go directly to the family.  Check the campaign’s page for more details and to donate.

Please consider supporting a shipmate’s family in their time of need and sharing the information with others that can help support them too.

Call for 2022 Board Nominations

Have you thought about contributing more to the Chapter, the Alumni Association, and the Naval Academy mission?  Then please consider serving on the board of our Chapter, Foundation, or both.  We are now accepting nominations for those to be considered for election to the Boards of Directors for both the 2022 TxGC Chapter and the Foundation.

The Chapter Board plans, organizes, and manages our luncheons, tailgates, and other events.  Our Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization affiliated with, but separate from, the Chapter.  Foundation Board coordinates and manages our support of the Naval Academy Alumni Association Foundation, Veterans, and local Houston community programs and events.

You can read more about the details of our Chapter, Foundation, and 2021 Officers at the Chapter website.  Also, feel free to reach out to any members of the current boards to learn more or ask any questions.

If you wish to put your hat in the ring or nominate someone else for the Chapter Board, please email Bill Pritchett (billpritchett01@gmail.com) with the name and any desired Chapter Board position.

If you wish to put your hat in the ring or nominate someone else for the Foundation Board, please email Chris Black (chrblack07@gmail.com) with the name and any desired Foundation Board position.

Please submit all nominations by December 1.  Elections will soon follow.