The Naval Academy Class of 1940 was the last class to complete all four years of study before World War II. They’ve held regular class reunions, but this year, there are only eight known surviving sailors — only two are well enough to travel.
Those two sailors met this weekend for the final class reunion of the Class of 1940.
According to their yearbooks, they danced with Eleanor Roosevelt at their ring dance. They dealt with things like a leaky training submarine. But just one year after they graduated, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Seven of them were killed on the USS Arizona; 12 more died on other ships during the attack.
Altogether, 59 classmates would perish during World War II. It’s the most deaths for any academy class in any war. The survivors came home with 18 Navy Crosses, 38 Purple Hearts, and 33 Silver Stars.
On Friday, retired Capt. Robert Kaufman met with retired Capt. Edward Rodgers. Kaufman served on the submarine Gato in the Pacific during the war; Rodgers served on an aircraft carrier, the Lexington.
They met in Annapolis, where they visited the chapel and the museum, discussed the war and remember classmates with their widows and their children. Kaufman, the second-youngest to graduate in his class, is 96. Rodgers is 98, and has prostate cancer — so he won’t be returning to Annapolis next year.
This weekend was the final reunion for the Naval Academy Class of 1940.