The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

John Buss Fulfills A Dream,
Commissioned in the U S.Navy

Little does a teacher know what effect her teachings may have on her students.

One such story is about teacher Mrs. [Carolyn] Waddell.

Mrs. Waddell required the 5th graders to read a biography and do a book report. John Buss chose a book on Admiral Halsey.

After reading the book, John came home and told his parents, Dale and Donna Buss of rural Media, that he knew where he wanted to go to school. He had decided he wanted to be like Admiral Halsey and go to the Naval Academy and be a Navy officer on a ship.

Reading about Admiral Halsey's character and life inspired John's goals.

"Destiny can be strange," Donna told The Quill, "because Mrs. Waddell was not supposed to be his teacher that year. She had retired the year before. His 5th grade teacher took a long maternity leave, and Mrs. Waddell came back for the last half of his 5th grade year. We were excited to have her teach him because of her strict academic discipline for students"

Donna said John was in shock after the first day because they had to use "complete sentences, punctuation and correct grammar" on all homework!

"I don't know if they would have been given the same assignment under a different teacher."

For half of his life, John Buss has had a dream of graduating from the United States Naval Academy and becoming a Naval Officer.

On May 25th, his dream was fulfilled as his family and friends watched the festivities.

Attending his graduation was his parents (Dale and Donna Buss), brother (Brad), Godfather (Dr. Richard Kieft), Grandmother (Carol Pace) and hometown friend (Petty Officer Clayton Grafton).

John was commissioned an Ensign in the Navy and received a Bachelor of Science in Weapons and Systems Engineering.

He will report to his first assignment, the USS ROBERT G. BRADLEY homeported in Mayport, Florida later this month.

The BRADLEY is a frigate with a crew of approximately 200. They recently came back from deployment in the Atlantic, Pacific and Caribbean Oceans with tons of confiscated cocaine. They also completed several humanitarian projects in Central and South America during their mission.

The Naval Academy has a week of special activities honoring those who will graduate and marking the end of the "Four years by the bay". It was a time to celebrate shared experiences with classmates who will soon be scattered to the four corners of the world.

The four years at Annapolis provided opportunities to train and travel to areas in the United States from sea to shining sea: Boston, Norfolk, Miami, Savannah, San Diego, Quantico, San Francisco and points between.

The USNA Class of 2007 saw Navy football victories over Army and Air Force for four straight years; saw the Navy football team play in four bowl games, were welcomed to the Naval Academy in October of their first year by Hurricane Isabel which completely flooded the Academy grounds and buildings, were inducted, trained, educated and commissioned during the War on Terror and will serve in active duty during the War. 1228 Plebes were inducted on July 1, 2005 and 1028 are now commissioned four years later on May 25, 2007.

John's commissioning week began with a return from Detroit where a team of 12 Midshipmen (John, one of them) presented their race car at the SAE competition.

They had designed, engineered and built this car for the last year. The Blue Angels flying team gave the race team permission to use the Blue Angels colors.

Later in the week, the Midshipman race team met the Blue Angels pilots at Andrews Air Force base after the air show at the Naval Academy.

(John is pictured 4th from the left.)

On Monday night, John and his guests attended the Superintendent's garden party with others from his company and battalion. Tuesday was the Blue Angels air show practice and Wednesday was the actual show in honor of the graduates.

The Blue Angels would be seen one last time at the fly-over at the beginning of graduation at the Navy-Marine Corps stadium on Friday. Throughout the week, there were special military parades with most of the 4000 Midshipman participating.

At the graduation ceremony, Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, was the honored speaker. Every member of the class was acknowledged individually as they received their commission and diploma. Those who were accepting commissions in to the Navy wore the white Navy uniform; those being commissioned in to the Marines, wore the Marine uniform.

Finally, as the class gave 3 cheers for those classes remaining at the Academy, they tossed their hats (covers) high in to the air. The young children attending the ceremonies raced to pick them up.

The newly commissioned officers disregard them because the covers are for Midshipmen and will never be worn by them again. John was met on the field by his family and friends. His mom and grandma attached his new Ensign shoulder boards and handed him his Navy Officer cover.

Petty Officer Clayton Grafton honored John's new position as an officer with a formal salute. (see above).

Tradition holds that Naval Academy graduates are given two silver dollars before the ceremony. The first person to salute the new officer receives one of the silver dollars. Clayton gave several "first salutes" that day.

There was a tailgate party for John before and after graduation/commissioning.

During the last two years at the Academy, John was a "company tailgate coordinator" during the football season. So, in keeping with tradition, his parents had a tailgate party for John from 7 am until 6 pm in the stadium parking lot.

Four exciting years have come to a close. John has a minimum of a five year active duty obligation to the Navy and an additional 3 years of reserve obligation to complete in exchange for the education the Navy provided.

Public Invitation

The community is invited to an informal celebration of the graduation and commissioning of John Buss on Saturday, June 16 from 2-4 pm at the American Legion Hall in Stronghurst.