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Pat Leineweg '93

Life Beyond Prep ... the decision to serve

Honoring Prep Graduates in Military Service and the Service Academies

In September last year, the Prep community was notified that J.P. Blecksmith, Class of 1999, a Naval Academy graduate serving in the Marine Corps, had been deployed to Iraq. Intense combat was anticipated in Fallujah and J.P.'s deployment reminded us of the grave dangers and noble courage military service demands, particularly in times of warfare. Work on this feature began with the intention of recognizing the many graduates throughout Prep's history who have chosen the military for their educations and careers. One month later, news was received that J.P. had been killed in action on Veterans Day, November 11th. His death, and the recent passing in April, 2004, of another young Prep graduate, Andrew Torres, Class of 1998, a 2002 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, has made our decision to honor and thank the many Prep graduates who have chosen military service to the United States all the more appropriate.

Andrew Torres, graduated from Prep in 1998 and attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He graduated in 2002 and, while courageously battling liver cancer for two years, successfully completed his academic studies, achieved the rank of 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, and served as an assistant to one of the academy commanders.

J.P. Blecksmith graduated from Prep one year after Andrew. J.P. starred at Prep as an All C.I.F. quarterback on the football team and was a premier 400 meter sprinter on the track and field team. He epitomized courage and leadership at Prep and his athletic career continued at the Naval Academy as a member of Navy's Division I football team. Upon graduation, J.P. joined the U.S. Marine Corps earning the rank of 2nd lieutenant and served as a platoon commander in India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, 1st Division, U.S. Marine Corps. He died leading his platoon in combat. On Saturday, November 20, 2004, more than 1,200 people gathered at The Church of Our Savior in San Marino to say goodbye to J.P.

While we continue to feel sorrow over the death of these graduates, to a greater degree their memories inspire us. The dedication, discipline, sacrifice and courage that this career demands makes each and every story of the men and women in the armed services an inspiring one.

Graduates from Prep's earliest decades are members of what scholars and historians have called "America's greatest generation” for its service and sacrifices during World War II, the Korean War and the challenges of the Cold War. No better example of a life of service can be found than Ned Kellogg, Prep graduate of 1950. In the years after his graduation from Prep, Ned attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and ultimately served the United States as a commander of the nuclear submarine, USS Narwhal SSN 671. Following his military career, Ned pursued a second career of service, not to country, but to God, becoming an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. Ned returned to Prep last March for a reunion of Flintridge Prep's first football teams - the Classes of 1948, 1949, and 1950. Ned is just one of many extraordinary Prep graduates from the late 1940s and 1950s.

Another generation of Prep graduates is admirably represented by Tom Manning, Class of 1984. Tom also attended the Naval Academy after Prep and served his country as a Navy Seal in the Persian Gulf. Like Ned Kellogg, service did not stop upon retirement from the military. Tom has since earned a doctorate in biochemistry and a medical degree from the University of Chicago. Tom's service now is for the health of others as a resident in neurosurgery in Washington state.

As America enters this new century, another generation of impressive Americans stands before us, and many graduates of Flintridge Prep are front and center. Stephen Ures, Class of 1992, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1996 and is currently a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy with the combat designation of Naval Aviator. Steve has piloted the F-14D Tomcat and the F/A-18 Hornet, having flown 60 combat missions in Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His military experience includes over 1,400 flight hours, with 360 aircraft carrier landings – 150 at night.

Duty and dedication to country is equally evident among Prep's graduates who have attended non-military colleges and universities. Prep is proud of Patrick Lieneweg, Class of 1993, who is currently a captain in the United States Marine Corps serving with a Marine Light Attack Helicopter squadron based in Camp Pendleton, California. After earning his bachelors degree in History at U.C. Santa Barbara, Patrick attended officer candidate school and flight training school. As a lieutenant, he was deployed with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and, during his 8-month deployment, served in both military and humanitarian exercises. As a Utility Helicopter Commander, flying the UH-IN “Huey,” Patrick is expected to re-deploy to Iraq in 2005.

There is no distinction of gender when it comes to heroes, patriots and soldiers. Prep is proud to have women graduates also serving in the armed forces. Melissa Filbeck, Class of 1996, is currently stationed in Europe with the United States Army as an Arabic linguist. She is serving in the 1st Armored Division of the U.S. Army in Wiesbaden , Germany . Melissa joined the Army in 2002, completed her basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and studied Arabic at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio in Monterey, California. She was then stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas before being assigned to the 1st Armored Division, which recently returned to Europe after a 15-month deployment in Iraq.

Military service has a strong calling among Prep's Classes of 1998 and 1999. In addition to Andrew Torres and J.P. Blecksmith, three other graduates of these classes have chosen military service. Two of them played varsity football at Prep with Andrew and J.P. Andrew Zwerner, Class of 1998, enlisted with the U.S. Navy after graduating from Bowdoin College in Maine. Andrew completed his naval intelligence training in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is now serving as a U.S. Naval intelligence officer on the carrier USS John F. Kennedy, currently patrolling the Persian Gulf. Chris Kim, Class of 1999, graduated from U.C. San Diego in 2003, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, and completed officers training school in Quantico, Virginia, in 2004. Chris is currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Charles “Chas” Terhune, Class of 1999, is currently enlisted with the United States Army. Chas is a member of a U.S. Army unit on active duty in Afghanistan.

In addition to these Prep grads, a number of Prep grads are currently attending military academies. Jenny Rowland, Class of 2001, and Lisa Rowland, Class of 2003, both attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Benjamin Watt, Class of 2001, is a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Recent grad Tyler Stutin, Class of 2003, is a midshipman attending the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Port, New York.

The responsibilities of today's high school and college students can be rigorous and demanding. For men and women who serve in the military, their responsibilities are even greater for they carry the prospect of the ultimate sacrifice. To all Prep graduates – those who have completed a career of service, those currently serving and those beginning a future of service - the Prep community thanks and salutes you. But whether life after Prep involves service in the military, or whether it is in civilian life, we hope that all Prep grads feel that their sense of responsibility and duty were, in part, fostered and molded by experiences with friends, faculty, and families at Flintridge Prep. Common bonds link us all, but the bonds among Flintridge Prep graduates are stronger still.

This article is not intended to provide a complete list of all Prep graduates who have served in the military or attended a service academy. Rather, it is intended to represent graduates from different generations based on information available at the time of publication.
January, 2005.



Within a few weeks, we will post additional information about other Prep graduates whose stories have been provided to us by readers. We appreciate the interest and assistance from so many caring members of the Prep community.



Andrew Torres '98

Andrew Torres '98
J.P. Blecksmith '99
J.P. Blecksmith '99

Ned Kellogg '50
Ned Kellogg '50



F/A-18 Hornet
F/A-18 Hornet


Pat Leineweg '93
Patrick Lieneweg '93
(also pictured in top photo)


Melissa Filbeck '96
Milessa Filbeck '96


Jenny Rowland '01
Jenny Rowland '01
Ben Watt '01
Ben Watt '01 (on left)