Class of '84
November 2008

Dear Gustie:

I don’t know about you, but I find it astounding that next year we will celebrate our 25th reunion.  How can that be?  When I pause to think about how many class letters have been written since we left the hill with diplomas in hand, it makes me shake my head in disbelief.  Think about how much has changed in our lives since that May day when we embarked on our adult lives:  new jobs, graduate school, career changes, marriages, births, deaths, travels, sending children to college, taking care of aging parents, etc.  Not to mention how in the beginning, we couldn’t have dreamed that class letters and news from the College would come to you over something called the Internet.  It’s been a wild ride to be sure.

Come next fall, we’ll have a chance to gather and reminisce on all that we’ve experienced since graduation.  Ken and I hope to see you at our 25th reunion at Gustavus on October 9 & 10.  In the coming months, we’ll be in touch with more details, so watch your mail/e-mail.

A few classmates have sent updates on their lives; here is the latest:

•     Tracy Johnson DeJong (Minnetonka) is tour manager for Metro Connections.  Her husband, Bruce, works for the City of St. Louis Park.

Text Box:Two former Gustie classmates (Peter Ford and Randy Richert ’85) linked up in Iraq earlier this year, although neither one knew the other was in the country.  Peter is a special agent with the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service and the principal advisor on hostage affairs to the U.S. ambassador in Iraq.  Randy is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force who serves as the deputy commander of the 732nd Air Expeditionary Group operating out of Balad Air Base about 38 miles north of Baghdad.  Randy was at the embassy in Baghdad conducting visits with some of the 1,500 airmen he leads across Iraq when he passed by an office with Peter’s name on it.  He left his card and later that day they connected.  Peter was most recently detailed to the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in D.C.  Upon hearing Gen. Petraeus’ hearing before Congress last September, Peter was motivated to volunteer for a tour in Iraq.  Meanwhile, Randy was serving as the deputy chief of security forces for headquarters, Air Mobility Command, located at Scott Air Force Base in southern Illinois, where he deployed from to Iraq.  Back at Gustavus, Peter and Randy were classmates in several political science and international affairs courses and also played together on the rugby team.  In addition, they did simultaneous internships in Washington, D.C.  They have kept in touch over the years and occasionally get together, but their chance meeting in Iraq was a surprise to both.  For more from Peter on his experience, you can read a message from him at the end of this letter.

•     Rob Gamm (Woodbury) is vice president of data center operations at Thomson Legal & Regulatory Group.  His wife, Morli (Johnson ’87), is a certified RN anesthesiologist.

•     Ruth Lauersen (Spokane, WA) works in quality assurance compliance for the Spokane Housing Authority.  In June, Ruth was at Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, NE, for LutherFest, a gathering of Lutheran college and academy graduates from Wahoo, NE.  The Lauersen family has strong ties to Luther.  Her grandfather Rev. Floyd Lauerson, Gustavus class of 1926, was president of Luther from 1941 to 1953.  Her aunt, Marie Lauersen Fournier (another Gustie ’62), was in attendance at the celebration of the Lauersens and Nygrens (Ruth’s paternal grandmother’s side of the family tree).  In August Ruth represented the Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod in Chicago at the church-wide assembly.  A fellow Gustie, Matt Goodrich ’91, was also in attendance as a representative for the same synod.

•     John Morris is vice president of Jennic’s new Americas operation, based in San Diego.  (Jennic, a privately held company, is a fables semiconductor company leading the wireless connectivity revolution into new applications.)  This is the company’s third international sales and support office (the others are in Taiwan and Japan).  In this role, John is responsible for building out the Americas’ office sales team, including local, in-country support, and field sales.  John moved into this position after serving as vice president of ZigBee marketing for Figure 8 Wireless.  According to a company press release, John “has been a key player in the wireless and wired device networking space for over a decade, with senior-level positions in a number of pioneering companies, including Echelon Corporation and most recently Chipcon/Figure 8 Wireless.”

•     Katri Korpela Mullaly (Marston Hills, MA) works for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts.

•     Susan Onstad-Samuelson (Young America) is co-owner of The Mill House, Inc.

Since we’re on the topic of classmates, as we prepare for our reunion, we hope to connect with everyone from our class.  To do this, we need your help locating the following classmates.  If you happen to know how we can contact these people, please e-mail Carole Arwidson (swedebabe84@aol.com), Ken Ericson (ericson5@comcast.net), or the Alumni Office (alumni@gac.edu).

  • Hilde P. Aarseth
  • Kathryn Handberg Belgarde
  • Craig C. Cooke
  • Nancy M. Dahl
  • Cheryl E. Dornfeld
  • Charles W. Extrand
  • Nancy L. Fischer
  • Beverly Woodruff Gauer
  • Rebecca Helgeson Grassau
  • Janice Grev
  • Todd Kettner
  • Becky Anderson Morgan
  • Robert J. Muir
  • David J. Nordlander
  • Kalsey S. Nymann
  • Lennae Olsen
  • Jeff R. Parris
  • John T. Pollard
  • Ken Rask
  • Kathleen Welsh
  • Marie A. Young
  • Lori Lackman Zeman

Also, Ken and I are still looking for people to help make reunion invitation phone calls.  Please let us know if you are willing to help call your friends and invite them to our 25th!!

This is also our first official request for you to help out the Gustavus Annual Fund with a donation this year.  We have ambitious goals and need your help.  We need to help others experience the thrill of Gustavus.  An envelope is enclosed for your convenience.  If you have already given, thank you very much.  If you haven’t, please consider making a gift and helping us achieve our 25th anniversary fund-raising goal.

With the inauguration of the new president and the start of a new academic year, Gustavus itself has some news to pass along:

Presidential Inauguration

Gustavus Adolphus College inaugurated Jack R. Ohle as its 16th president on Friday, Oct. 3 in Christ Chapel.  Various inaugural events were held over a four-day period.  On Homecoming Saturday, Oct. 4 the celebration was capped-off with an Oktoberfest; a buffet-style dinner immediately following the Homecoming football game with about a thousand Gusties in attendance.

Twin Cities Gustie Breakfasts

Join other Minneapolis/St. Paul area Gusties for a morning cup of coffee and breakfast while getting an update on Gustavus.  The group meets the third Wednesday of each month.  November’s presenter will be Tom Young ’88, vice president for institutional advancement.  Here are the details:  Doubletree Hotel, Minneapolis-Park Place, 1500 Park Place Boulevard (Hwy. 394 & Hwy. 100).  Third Wednesday of the month - 8-9:30 a.m.  Cost is $10 per person.  Reserve a spot by calling Don Swanson ’55 at:  763-533-9083.

Nobel Conference ― Who Were the First Humans?

Nobel Conference XLIV held Oct. 7 and 8, 2008 focused on the first humans.  Presenters considered the full range of recent evidence about the first modern humans going beyond archaeologists and paleoanthropologists to the work of biologists, climatologists, geneticists, mathematicians, and psychologists who have been adding to the scientific database.

Need medical insurance?

Are you between jobs?  Self-employed?  Not covered by an employer health plan?  If you need health insurance you can find the right coverage for yourself and your family through the alumni association.  Whether you need temporary or permanent coverage, please visit http://www.meyerandassoc.com/health to learn more about the range of coverage options available.

The Linnaeus Arboretum's 2009 calendar is available now for purchase

The calendar features the photography of Anders Björling ’58 and phenological notes by naturalist, Jim Gilbert ’62.  You can purchase your copy for $16 ($15 for current members of Friends of Linnaeus Arboretum).  Please add $3 per calendar for shipping and handling.  Checks should be payable to Linnaeus Arboretum Calendar and mailed to:  Linnaeus Arboretum Calendar, Gustavus Adolphus College, 800 West College Avenue, St. Peter, MN  56082.  (Contact Shirley, shirley@gustavus.edu, 507-933-6181 with questions.)

Legacy Award for Gustavus admission

The Gustavus Legacy Award was created for new students whose siblings are current Gustavus students or graduates or whose parents or grandparents are Gustavus alumni.  Renewable awards of $2,500 per year are given to scholarship recipients who have a high school grade point average of at least 3.5 or an ACT of 26 or 1170 (Critical Reading + Math) on the SAT.  For more information, contact the Admission Office at 800/GUSTAVU(S).

Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Twin Cities Lecture, “The Threat of Global Terrorism,” Dr. Magnus Ranstorp ’85 — Nov. 6
  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast, Thomas Young ’88 — Nov. 19
  • Christmas in Christ Chapel – Joyeux Noel – December 5-7
  • St. Lucia Day – December 11, 2008.
  • Twin Cities Gustie Breakfast, Steve Kjellgren ’86 — Dec. 17

That’s all for now.  We’ll be in touch again soon, but if you have news to share or are interested in helping us with reunion planning, we’d love to hear from you.

Carole Arwidson

1984 Co-class Agent


From:  Ford, Peter (Baghdad)

Sent:  Sunday, May 25, 2008 10:56 AM

To.  craig allen; dale alien; scott allen; susan ford

Cc:  Ford, Peter (Baghdad)

Subject: An Update from Iraq

To Everyone,

Greetings from Baghdad.  I am going to try and write a bi-weekly newsletter to those in the U.S. who have repeatedly asked me about “what’s life like in Baghdad, and what do you do there?”

Some background:  Last September, when I was working as a “Detailed” for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I had the opportunity to observe the first Petraeus Hearing ‑ September 2007.  I have to admit, I was taken by his leadership and his problem-solving to fix the problems for the Iraqi people and correct the problems of the previous U.S. Coalition Provincial Authority (CPA).  Within three days, I called up a military buddy of mine and asked to be mobilized for a six-month tour (military reservists can get mobilized for six months).  I did not know where I would end up, but the job that opened was Principal Advisor to the Ambassador on Hostage Affairs; my predecessor was a Full Colonel from the War College.  I told my family that I was volunteering for Iraq because of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker (I firmly believe these two leaders are the best America has to find a solution to this endeavor) and I would be getting “called-up” as a Reservist anyway, possibly for a one-year tour (active army soldiers, for the past year, have served 15-month tours; now, the tours are back to one-year tours), and the Iraq “problem” would not be going away anytime soon.  So, the prudent course of action would be to volunteer for a six-month tour (I do not deny that I did feel a tinge of “guilt” of not serving my time either in a Military or State capacity).

I decided to extend again after a month or so after arriving in Iraq; first off, a six-month tour in a war zone is not enough time to actually make a difference; secondly, the job I’m in takes time to figure out all the different personalities and acronyms, etc.; thirdly, if I were to extend with the State Department for an additional six months, that would help me with the State Department in my next overseas assignment―supper nice assignments, e.g. Europe (good schools for the kids).  Point number three was the only way I could extend in Iraq for an additional six to eight months with the family receiving a benefit―nice post.  Presently, I’m assigned here until Oct., but wish to extend here again until three days before the Army/Navy game (I have four tickets).

The first six months of my tour were professionally fulfilling; the first four months were actually quite safe...relatively speaking.  I remember it was Easter Sunday when our way of life here in the International Zone (official government name, but everyone calls it the Green Zone) changed radically.  When Muqtada Al-Sadr told his followers they were “allowed to defend themselves against threats from coalition forces,” the JAM Special Groups (bad, bad guys) unleashed a barrage of rockets into the Green Zone, in particular the Embassy compound.  After a week of rocket attacks, I know where every one of the bomb shelters are located (there are four, I’ve spent hours in each one of them) from my trailer (hooch) to the Embassy.  In my trailer, if the sirens went off at night, I would roll off the bed and right into my personal protective equipment (PPE, aka flak jacket)―it was strategically laid out on the floor next to my bed, including the Kevlar helmet.  After the “all-clear”was given, I would climb back into bed and go to sleep or roll cut with the next siren which happened quite often.  The technology is go good that there are systems that actually give us―most of time―about five seconds to react before a rocket hits.  Unfortunately, we’re located about 3km from Sadr City.  So, I would hear the rockets pass overhead and then wait for the impact.  I don’t know how many hundreds of rockets impacted the Green Zone.

In the first six months, we had success in our efforts to recover hostages or remains.  I flew down to Basrah three times in a two-month period, once to Mosul for a week conducting an investigation into a kidnapping; twice to Kirkuk and once to Irbil, plus other smaller trips.  I usually travel with the FBI who are doing outstanding work out here.  They have the investigative ability; I have the assets.  I’ve seen the country mostly from a helicopter, it varies― mountains up North, desert out West, dusty around here, and a lot of marshes down South.  I saw a white albino camel (sign of good luck) my last time down to Basrah.  Because we finished our cases in Basrah, I will not have to go back down there for the time being.  That’s good, I don’t like Basrah.  Too much shelling down there.

I just came from the States (two weeks ago) where I had to go through two weeks of training because I switched from Military to State Department of State status.  I used to teach many of their courses to include the high-speed driving aspect, but there is a black and white regulation that All State Department personnel much attend.this course.  One week was the history and culture of the Iraqi people, e.g. difference between the Sunnis, Shia and Kurds as well as history of Mesopotamia (area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers).  During my time in the States I briefed some people on Capitol Hill on the persecution (kidnapping) of Christians in Iraq, and meetings on the general trends of hostage taking in Iraq.

Returning to Iraq from leave is quite difficult―Susan, every time I leave says, “Don’t be a hero.”  I’ve thought about the phrase every time I make a decision on whether to leave the Green Zone.  Up in Mosul, while there investigating a kidnapping, the Special Forces Commander (West Pointer), asked me if I wanted to ride in the Command Vehicle in the early morning for a rescue attempt (Iraqi lead attempt with U.S. Special Forces backing them up).  That “Don’t be a hero” was loud and clear―I didn’t go.  On the raid, they didn’t get the hostage, but they got the ringleader of the kidnapping.

On my initial re-entry into the Green Zone (early May) there was less tension than when I left.  Within the first three days upon my return, we were rocketed probably ten times; four times in a short time period.  However, since the first couple of days after my arrival, things have quieted down, and now, one again hopes that some sort of calm and stability returns to Iraq.  When it’s quiet like this, I have hope that the people of Iraq will realize that we’re here as long as it quiets down.  Last week, two Iraqi Brigades went into Sadr City―before that, no Iraqi units were allowed into Sadr City.  It was quite a surprise when the bad guys, e.g. JAM Criminal elements, Sadrists, whatever they’re called didn’t put up a fight.  To make this thing work over here, the rule of Law must be enforced―no militias.  There should be one central government and that’s it―bottom line.

Last week, I was on a video teleconferencing with the world-wide hostage conference in Washington, DC.  I couldn’t go, but my Deputy was there.  80% of American hostage cases world-wide are in Iraq.  Hopefully, that number can be reduced in the next couple of months.

Yesterday, we had a false “duck and cover” alarm.  No one likes hearing it and people take it seriously; everyone is running to the bunkers which are all over the place.  They’ve done a good job with providing the necessary bunkers; one can almost see a bunker in his line of sight wherever he is within the Embassy compound.  Three days ago, an Air Force Full Colonel showed up at my office; he and I played rugby together at Gustavus Adolphus College; he’s German descent from Wisconsin.

I’m off on a trip next week.  Of course, I cannot say where I’m going, but it won’t be too long.

Feel free to call my cell phone ―it’s like dialing N.Y. State (area code:  914-360-2342) or you can snail mail something:

Peter Ford

American Embassy Baghdad

Office of Hostage Affairs

APO, AE  09316

Peter D. Ford

Principal Advisor, Office of Hostage Affairs

Baghdad, Iraq