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Hell’s Hero

I am writing to tell you that I liked the article, “Hell’s Heroes,” which appeared in the fall 2002 issue of GW Magazine. Like you, and I suppose like many, I am very impressed with its author, Eric M. Jones, BS ’98.

Specifically, I am impressed with his philosophical premises. His focus on doing the right thing—of supporting the good and not letting the bad take you down. I am impressed with his willingness to act—to see something that needs doing and to jump in and do it, no matter how hard now or how unpleasant. I am impressed with his ability to write and communicate about his experiences with Sept. 11 and its aftermath. And I am impressed with his positive attitude in the face of such an ordeal.

Eric Jones’ article did not play for sympathy as so many news stories have tried to do. He did not emphasize the awfulness of the whole thing. Instead his emphasis was on getting in there and doing your best—of not letting yourself be defeated by the evil that was expressed that day. He demonstrated the psychology of a winner, and the philosophy of a hero. He demonstrated it in his actions and in his writing.

I was interested to see that his undergraduate major is emergency medical services, that he is a volunteer firefighter, and that he wants to go to medical school to become a trauma surgeon. With his actions during this national tragedy, his perspective on life, and with his ability to communicate as well as he did in this article, I have little doubt that he could do it.

Richard Nickerson, MD ’62
Huntington, N.Y.

Tuned into WRGW

Marc Leepson’s memory of his “appointment” as sports director of WRGW matches mine exactly. I was one of the three students sitting at the desk, and in fact I was the one who appointed him. Paul Johnson, Charlie Jekofsky, and I had already appointed ourselves station manager, program director, and general manager (actually we had held “elections”). A few weeks earlier, I had taken his call, or picked up an information sheet on which he had expressed his interest in sports. Voila—he became sports director. Of course, a few weeks later, Mike Frankhouser (Mike Patrick) showed up claiming he could do play-by-play (“Yeah, sure,” we thought.) So we made him director of play-by-play or something like that. We made sure that anyone who wanted to work could get an appropriate title.

What fun and crazy times we had. I tried to do a political-type, call-in talk show called “Open Mike with Mel Wahlberg,” except no one ever called in and I had to fill a lot of time, and Rick Moock changed the slot in the schedule to say “Open Mouth with Mike Wahlberg.”

There were major technical problems of getting the remote transmitters in the dormitories to work, and once the then all-powerful phone company threatened to press charges against us for tampering with its lines. The remote sports broadcasts were also a challenge. Sometimes we would arrive on-site to find that our dedicated line had not been installed. Once at D.C. Stadium for a football game, the broadcast crew from WMAL (Mal Campbell was one of them) watched in shock as the phone company took apart WMAL’s phone system in order to connect our line.

I could fill many pages with these memories; an excited Marc Leepson grabbing the microphone from Mike Frankhouser as GW rallied to upset West Virginia in basketball (Joe Lalli was the star of that game); listening in amazement to Mike calling play-by-play, even then, he had the smooth professional delivery that he has today. My only regret is having lost touch with most of these individuals over the years.

Mel Wahlberg, BS ’67
Columbia, Md.

I enjoyed Mark Leepson’s article on WRGW. It brought back a lot of memories: I did a radio show my freshman year (1962-63). I think we even had a speaker over in Quigley’s back then. Mark Leepson and Dave Miller were funny, funny guys. Anytime they were together was nonstop laughter due to their ad-lib, Marx brothers-like antics. Mike Patrick and I were in ROTC together. My wife and I were houseguests of his in 1968 when he did a stint at a radio station in Somerset, Pa.

It was heartening to learn that so many of that pioneering group developed successful careers in or around broadcasting. I don’t recall the course catalog ever saying anything like this: “Please come to GW; if we don’t have a major you want, create your own.” Yet that is what this group did.
I’m sorry that time has put me out of touch with Mark Leepson, Dave Miller, and Mike Patrick. If there’s any way you can forward this letter to them I would appreciate it. Keep up the good work.

Ron Denham, BA ’67
Park Ridge, Ill.

Home Program Hurrah

Your article, “Home, Sweet Home,” in the fall 2002 issue is one of the most encouraging D.C. stories I have heard since obtaining my BSE in 1957. I worked in D.C. from 1961 to 1963—commuting from the Virginia suburbs. The GW Home Program may well be the first step in reclaiming our nation’s capital from the morass of decay and corruption it has so long endured. I fervently hope that GW’s fine example will be emulated by other organizations with a significant presence. Then additional organizations might be motivated to make themselves present in the district.

Warren E. Keene, BS ’57
Jacksonville, Fla.

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