Gerald Carl Capelle
West Point, 1958
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by William E. Serchak on June 17, 2013:
Captain Gerald C. Capelle Memorial Trophy
FOR EXCELLENCE IN INTRAMURAL COMPETITION
IN MEMORY OF CAPTAIN GERALD C. CAPELLE
KIA VIETNAM 1 APRIL 1965
Classmate Gerry Capelle is memorialized in the annual award of a trophy in his name at the US Military Academy Prep School. This is a brief history of the award.
"Following specialized training in Air-Ground Coordination procedures, Captain Gerry Capelle was assigned to the Military Assistance Command, Republic of Vietnam as an advisor to the Vietnamese Army. During a field operation on 1 April 1965, Captain Capelle was killed while fulfilling his advisory role. For his courageous actions in RVN, he was awarded the Silver Star for heroism, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart. The USMA Superintendent, MG Lampert, presented the awards to his widow, Arlene, and to his son, Jeff."
In early 1972 the Prep School, then at Ft. Belvoir, was looking for ways to reward Cadet Candidates for outstanding performance including intramural athletics. Chuck Densford, then Assistant Commandant of USMAPS, suggested that an award for the Candidate Company winning the yearlong intramural competition be named after Gerry Capelle (USMAPS '53-'54 at Stewart Field, and KIA in Vietnam). The idea was adopted by the school staff and Gerry's 1958 classmates in the area agreed to support the creation of a trophy and annual engraving out of class funds.
At the first presentation at the end of the '71-72 USMAPS school year, classmates present included Jack Bradshaw and Tony Smith along with Gerry's K-1 company mates Tom Sands, Brad Johnson and two of his former roommates...Hugh Trumbull and Bill Serchak. The Capelle Trophy was then presented to the first winning company in the office of the USMAPS Commandant.
When the Prep School moved on to Ft. Monmouth, the annual Awards Ceremony was incorporated into a parade as part of the USMAPS graduation ceremonies. The class of 1958 has continued to support the award by often providing a "presenter" at the graduation parade as well as funding the engraving of the trophy with the name of the winning company each year. The class also provides a Pizza Party for the winning company. "The Capelle" as the Cadet Candidates call it, is a coveted goal for the cadet candidate companies during the year while the pizza party adds an extra fillip for the winning company that sets the "soon-to-be-cadets" a little apart as they enjoy their win!
Over the years, there have been a number of trophy presenters including Jim Davis and Mel Drisko as Commandants of USMAPS, and Bill Giallourakis when the school moved to Ft. Monmouth. More recently, Bill Serchak and Hugh Trumbull have presented the award on behalf of the class.
As the years passed, engraving spaces on the original Capelle Trophy were used up. The Class of 58 sponsors, working with the staff and Athletic Director at the Prep School developed a new trophy to continue the award. The new trophy is designed more as a plaque than the classic trophy so that the winning company can hang it on their Company Game Room wall -- showing not only the latest winner but also all of the previous winners of the trophy.
USMAPS has now moved to a brand new facility at West Point and the annual presentation of the Captain Gerald C. Capelle Memorial Trophy continues on there to honor our classmate as it has for the past 40 plus years.
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