New Officers and Board

Congratulations to our new class officers and directors!

President: Dave Gravseth
Vice President: Kate (Kranz) Jordan
Secretary: Kristi (Tjoa) Laughlin
Treasurer: Andy McCann
Board Members: Charlie Mello, Elizabeth (Kreft) Brienza, Sean McClintock


The Board voted unanimously to amend our bylaws; the goal was to set the next Board up for success and clean up lingering administrative issues. 

Major changes

  • Removed mention of membership dues
  • Removed active/inactive membership designation
  • Removed annual membership meeting requirement
  • Bylaws amendment vote changed to simple majority (from 3/4 of board)
  • Simplified elections process; removed nominating committee, SHIPMATE notification requirements

Minor changes

  • Cleaned up description of board/officer duties
  • Consolidated discussions of committees to one section
  • Other miscellaneous formatting and editorial changes

What's next?

Thank you to our many volunteers for putting on an exceptionally fun weekend of reunion events. None of this happens without their hard work and dedication. We'll have a more full recap and thank you coming soon.

The Board has several tasks to finish out our terms; the most important being elections. Feel free to ask any current member about their experiences. To submit your name for a position, please email Class Secretary Kate (Kranz) Jordan.

We'll also be asking for feedback on the weekend, looking for input on the 20-year fundraising goal, and a few other minor items.

Thanks for a great weekend, '02!

2016 Year in Review, and Upcoming Class Events


Wherever this email finds you, we hope you are happy, healthy, and excited about the prospects for 2017. As a Class (and specifically as a 501(c)(3)), USNA 2002 Inc. has made incredible progress the past five years. This annual letter informs you of the Class’ recent accomplishments and will generate excitement to do more in the years ahead.

Year in Review

In 2016, our class took a steady strain approach towards activities planning knowing well that the 15-year reunion was coming and that would be a heavy burden on the leadership team. Last year’s brag sheet: 1) Exercised our competitive spirit and supported the “All Service Academy Challenge” (first week in June); 2) Under John Augusto’s leadership, established an informal partnership with the Travis Manion Foundation to drive participation in the 9/11 Memorial Run; 3) On Veteran’s Day, the class donated $2002 to Paradox Sports, an alternative sports organization helping veterans rehabilitate from their wounds; 4) Meagan (Varley) Flannigan, Kate (Kranz) Jordan, Allison (Beamer) Wolff, Natasha (Sistrunk) Robinson, Ben Drew and many other alumna participated in the 40 years of Women’s Service Athena Conference at USNA in September. Natasha represented the Class during a football halftime ceremony, and Ben was honored by USNI for a contest-winning essay. You can always catch up on class news here. On a sadder note, two classmates passed away: Erik Boyce and Whitney Saunders. Whenever a friend passes, it is important to remember their service to the country and the kindness they brought to our community.

Bravo Zulu

Congrats to many classmates climbing the ranks in the Navy and leading in business and government. A few of those we're heard about: Rion Martin completed command of a mine countermeasures ship; Cari Murtagh is nearing the completion of her medical degree (not many women are pilots AND doctors!); Dirk Heron was selected to be the F-35C replacement Department Head, standing up the first squadron to transition fleet aviators from F/A-18 to Joint Strike Fighter; Dan Cnossen graduated the Harvard Kennedy School and was appointed by the President to be on the USNA Board of Visitors. We know there are many more accomplishments to share — as you reach personal and professional milestones, send your updates to Class Secretary Kate (Kranz) Jordan.


Our VP, Pat McConnell, has led the charge in keeping our class website running, managing back-end services like this email, and all of our accounting. Put simply, he is the engine of our Class’ operations. Please visit and look here for information on our class financials and anything about bylaws, rules, or procedures. Of note, we are still using our non-profit status to generate funds through Amazon’s affiliate program. Whenever you buy from Amazon, use this link <> and you automatically increase donations for USNA 2002 volunteer efforts. Also, be sure to sign on and checkout our other communication tools: USNA 2002 Facebook (link), USNA 2002 LinkedIN (link).

Looking Ahead

The USNA 2002 Inc. mission is to support the Naval Academy and advance the ideals of that institution in government and communities. We are committed to increasing volunteership amongst USNA 2002 graduates in as many ways as possible. Whether governing a non-profit, supporting with donations, or giving time and effort, John Augusto is standing by to receive your ideas on how the class can do more. In addition, we are starting a Scholarship Committee to explore the feasibility of helping students seeking a career in public service. Special thanks to Tim White for heading the Scholarship Committee, he will be looking for new volunteers immediately. Lastly, the Class of 2002 book, In the Shadow of Greatness, has been selected for a paperback edition. We will be launching a marketing plan to increase sales of that book and generate resources for veteran non-profits and volunteer causes.

15-Year Reunion is October 19 - 22, 2017 and Class Elections

Mark your calendars for October 20-22, 2017. It's homecoming, though Navy's opponent has not yet been announced. All information about the reunion is posted at USNA 2002 15-Year Reunion. We will also being holding elections shortly after the reunion; if you are at all interested please contact any of us. Rules and processes for seeking elected positions will be announced this summer.

Finally, we have provided a short survey so we can get your feedback on issues pertaining to the Class. Please take a few moments and fill it out!

Have a wonderful year, and we look forward to seeing you in Annapolis in October.

Best regards,

Josh, Pat, Cari, Kate, John, Charlie, and Chad

Financial Summary for 2016

As of January 15, 2017, the Class has $5,680.77 in assets and no liabilities. 

Income for CY 2016:
Amazon Affiliates Program + interest: $521.54
Donations: $970.70
Royalties: $2199.10
Total income: $3,691.34

Donation to Paradox Sports: $2002
(website costs donated)


'02 Tailgate at Army-Navy

Ready to tailgate before win #15? Dan Lesniak has generously sponsored a table for '02 at the "Mother of All Tailgates" at the Army-Navy Game on December 10th in Baltimore. The Class will also be contributing to the event.

Tailgate For Troops puts on a huge tailgater every year; this year they are raising money for Homes For Our Troops. The event will start at 10 am at the corner of West Street and Burgundy, near M&T Bank Stadium. It will feature all-day festivities, drinks, food, and live music. Our class will have a table to meet at during the event — come on out to support a great cause and to show our support for Navy as we BEAT ARMY!
For more event information please visit the links below.
Event Information

Dan's company and lead sponsor for the 2002 table is Orange Line Living — check them out if you're in the real estate market in VA, MD, or DC. Thanks to him and his team, and Beat Army!

Annual $2002 Veterans Day Donation

We are excited to announce that in honor of Veterans Day the Class is donating $2002 to Paradox Sports, an organization that "seeks to recognize and foster an individual’s potential and strength, defying the assumption that people with a physical disability can’t lead a life of excellence." Read about this impressive group in an NPR story from September 2013.

This is our third annual Veterans Day gift of $2002 to worthwhile organizations; previous recipients are Run To Honor and One Summit. The Class has just over $4,000 cash on hand following this donation.

Thank you for your continued service to our nation and communities, both in and out of uniform. We hope you take a moment to enjoy your Veterans Day.

Bookmark to earn money for charities like Paradox Sports while shopping at Amazon. Follow the link before you add an item to your shopping cart!

All earnings go to charity — this does not fund class events or operations.

SHIPMATE September 2016

REUNION UPDATE: Mark your calendars for October 20-22, 2017 for USNA Homecoming and our 2002 15-Year Reunion! Our class room block is at Historic Inns of Annapolis (, call 1-800-847-8882 to book your room early!

Plan for a day of homecoming events, class memorial service, and a casual happy hour on Friday and a football game and family tailgater on Saturday.

Please e-mail Kate ( if you’d like to help with the planning or execution of the reunion.

A few updates from our classmates from sea to sea:

Josh Welle dropped in on Chad Summe and his family this summer, got a selfie! Lookin’ good crew!

Last summer, Matt Wright, wife Caitlin and family, and John Merchant, wife Marjorie (’03) and family moved into the same neighborhood.  The adults and kids became fast friends - they attended many Navy football games, enjoyed the kid's soccer games together, and did some DTA exploring.  Matt is a MH-60S pilot currently serving on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, Marjorie received her Masters from Boston College and is a pediatric nurse practitioner, and John completed his MBA from MIT Sloan and works for the Boston Consulting Group. 

Marjorie Merchant, Caitlin Wright

Marjorie Merchant, Caitlin Wright

Anderson Wright, Olivia Merchant, Grace Wright, Connor Merchant

Anderson Wright, Olivia Merchant, Grace Wright, Connor Merchant

Elizabeth Vary played in a polo tournament in July at Honolulu Polo Club and one of her ponies won "Best Playing Pony." She ran into Makani Christensen ('03 and a former candidate for US Senate!) at the tournament. 

Wishing everyone a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season…as always our thoughts and prayers go out to all those separated from family - standing the watch, keeping our nation safe.

We’ll be back in 2017!

Fair Winds and Following Seas,
Josh, Pat, Kate, Cari, Chad, Charlie, John


SHIPMATE July 2016

Greetings 2002,

On July 6th, 2016 we lost a good soul from our class: Erik Boyce. Many of you knew him at the Academy (Systems Engineer, 28th Company). Some of you crawled through the mud at TBS or flew with him in the fleet. He might even have backed up some of the Marines among us with close air support as a Cobra pilot.

As a Marine aviator, Erik “Backstreet” Boyce proved to be the consummate professional. He was winged in 2004, and as part of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 (HMLA-369), the “Gunfighters,” Erik flew the AH-1W Cobra in hundreds of missions during three deployments to Iraq. He led Marines both on the ground as the Legal Officer, Flightline Officer-in-Charge, and Pilot Training Officer and in the air as a flight leader during numerous named combat operations. He was a graduate from the Marine Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course in 2008 and steadfastly mentored those Marines in his care, epitomizing the phrase, “a good Marine.” 

Boyce helicopter.png

After his three combat deployments, he was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 2009, graduating in 2010. He was a quiet, humble, and consummate professional who would never have told you that he graduated at the top of his Naval Test Pilot School Class. As a test pilot, Erik brought his deep intellect and eye for detail to every task, big or small. 

In 2013, Erik left active duty to become an experimental test pilot with Bell Helicopter. On the fateful day of July 6, 2016, he was test flying the Bell 525 with a fellow Marine test pilot and friend with whom he served while assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 31 (VX-31) at NAWS China Lake.

Erik met his wife Sarah while stationed in San Diego, and they have a 9 month old daughter, Theresa. It is heartbreaking that Theresa won't know her father as we knew him.
You can donate to the Boyce family by visiting

Please read Erik’s full obituary, beautifully written by Jason Chen, Deanne Smith, Benjamin Heineike, and Ryan Fair.

Dan Finnegan wrote in with an update:

Long time reader, first contributor. My career path took some twists and turns, and I lost touch with many along the way. I flew MH-60S's out of Norfolk for a while, with classmates Joe Maggi and Scott Halvorsen. I got married in 2007 to Emili Evans, and went on to grad school at Hopkins for computer science. I taught in the CS department at USNA for a couple of years, and served as the O-Rep for the men's gymnastics team. Then the Navy, in its infinite wisdom, decided to send me to Kabul on an IA. After that glorious deployment, I separated, and went to veterinary school at Tufts. Veterinary medicine is a fantastic mix of internal medicine, surgery, case management, public health, and communication. Plus, my license allows me to treat every species on Earth but one. While in school, the Army made me an offer I couldn't refuse (paying for 3 out of 4 years of school), so I'm now a Captain (CPT) in the Army Veterinary Corps. The Navy wings stand out nicely on the Army uniform. I'll be at Fort Belvoir, VA this next year for an internship, so stop by with your pets for some medical care!

For anyone who missed it, be sure to check out Kristen Kavanaugh’s incredible speech at the Democratic National Convention in July!

Mark your calendars for October 20-22, 2017 for USNA Homecoming and our 2002 15-Year Reunion! Our class room block is at Historic Inns of Annapolis, call 1-800-847-8882 to book your room early!

Josh, Pat, Kate, Cari, Charlie, Chad, and John



Erik Boyce

On July 6, 2016 Erik Boyce '02 was killed when the Bell 525 helicopter he was co-piloting crashed in Texas. He was a Systems Engineering major and a member of 28th Company. In the Marines he was a Cobra pilot and later a test pilot; he left the Corps in 2013 to fly for Bell Helicopter. 

More details on Erik's life are on the Memorial Wall.

Dan Cnossen profile in Harvard Gazette

On May 25, 2016, the Harvard Gazette featured our classmate, Dan Cnossen. Click through for pictures of Dan.

By Chrstina Pazzanese, Harvard Staff Writer.

Until that moment, just about everything in Daniel Cnossen’s life had been going as planned.

Born on a 250-acre farm just outside Topeka, Kan., Cnossen, 35, was passionate about athletics and the outdoors during his carefree boyhood, traipsing through the fields and woods surrounding the family’s fifth-generation homestead.

He had long set his sights on attending the U.S. Naval Academy, perhaps becoming a Marine. But after getting in, he felt a special affinity for the elite Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) teams, whose special-operations fighters undergo some of the toughest military training in the world. SEALs must maintain superlative fitness and master a host of advanced combat, survival, and escape skills, like swimming while both hands and feet are bound, rappelling out of helicopters, and deep-sea diving under grueling physical and psychological conditions.

After graduating from the academy in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, Cnossen entered SEALs officer training, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander. On SEAL Team One, he led a platoon of 20 men and completed deployments in Iraq, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and Afghanistan.

“That was just an amazing job. I can’t think of a better job with better people. I would do that job in perpetuity,” said Cnossen, now a degree candidate for a mid-career master’s of public administration at the Harvard Kennedy School(HKS).

But in September 2009, during a nighttime SEALs operation in Afghanistan, Cnossen stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). The ensuing explosion destroyed his legs and caused severe damage to his lower body, including a fractured pelvis.

Unconscious for eight days, he woke up to find himself back in the United States at the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center. In unrelenting pain, he learned that his legs had been amputated above the knees.

In all, he spent six months in the Veterans Administration hospital. So far, he has undergone 40 surgeries to repair injuries and internal damage and to stave off infection. The first months after the injury were all about survival and trying to relearn the most basic human skills.

“First, I’m going to drink. Then, I want to eat. Then, I’d like to get out of this bed. Then, I’d like to get in my wheelchair,” said Cnossen of his earliest goals. “At one point, it was so liberating to be in a wheelchair. And then I got my prosthetics, and I wanted to get out of the wheelchair and just wear my prosthetics,” custom-made aids that required 18 months of physical therapy to adapt to and master.

“And then I wanted to walk all the time and not have a wheelchair. Then, I wanted to run.”

True to the SEALs’ ethos of humility and quiet professionalism, Cnossen doesn’t like to talk about himself or his ordeal. He didn’t volunteer that he was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with Valor for his combat service, that he was recognized by first lady Michelle Obama at the White House, or that he was the only double amputee on active duty in Navy SEAL history before his medical retirement last year.


Daniel Cnossen competed in the 2014 Sochi Paralympics as a sit skier. He plans to train for the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Photo by Joe Kusumoto

Cnossen had always loved running and wanted to get back to it after his injury, but found it took a long time to master the wide-swinging gait he must use because of his amputations. It’s a movement that’s quite different from the one employed by “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius and other below-the-knee amputees, who often can do far more challenging activities, such as hiking and running uphill, than bilaterals. That confusion can lead to frustrating assumptions and misguided expectations.

“People, sometimes in an optimistic way, to try to be cheerful, can say things that are very misleading,” said Cnossen. “There’s differences, so sometimes the more able-functioned people get a little more credit or you assume that’s the role model, when in reality, you may be more impaired than that, and that’s just not an option.”

Still, within a year, Cnossen ran a mile on his prosthetic legs without stopping. He went on to run a 5K in less than 18 minutes and in 2011 finished the New York City Marathon in a remarkable 2:38, using a combination of running and hand cycling.

Unsatisfied with those benchmarks, Cnossen then learned cross-country skiing, using a sit ski. Taking up a competitive sport again after his injuries was a natural progression, he said. “My identity was wrapped up around training, physical ability, perseverance, and mental fortitude, so these were the things that I fell back upon after my injury. I would credit being an athlete to living through what I went through.”

Cnossen moved to Colorado, where he trained for a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Ski Team and competed in the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia.

“I really wanted to do the Paralympics — to train as a team, to compete representing the U.S., which is an honor. The sport of cross-country skiing requires a lot of mental discipline, mental toughness. It’s a tough sport to train day after day after day for a whole season, and that’s why I gravitated to that,” said Cnossen, who graduates soon.

He’s still exploring career possibilities, but he knows they will involve human rights work done in tandem with religious organizations around the world.

In the fall, he will enter Harvard Divinity School to pursue a master’s of theological study degree while juggling a return to training and international competition in order to qualify for the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea. It’s a demanding agenda that Cnossen is eager to embrace.

“How could I really stress about this place when six years ago I was dealing with ‘Am I ever going to walk; am I going to eat again?’ It changes perspective. It did make me probably appreciate life more, so it was a good lesson for me,” said Cnossen, who refuses to submit to the mostly self-induced pressures of graduate school and skimp on exercise, eating well, and getting enough sleep.

“If I can be an example for anything, sometimes people take this environment, in my estimation, a little too seriously. It’s just school,” he said. “The real world has much more serious consequences.”

USNA '02 + 14 Years!

Dear Classmates,

Fourteen years ago, we left the Yard to begin (or continue!) our service. Amazing how the time flies! It's almost time to start thinking about the…

15 Year Reunion

Following last year's survey of the class – thank you again to all participants – we decided to maintain course and speed with a traditional Fall reunion centered around a football game in Annapolis. Mark your calendars for October 20-22, 2017. It's homecoming, though Navy's opponent has not yet been announced. We have a great rate for a block of rooms at the Historic Inns of Annapolis; call (800) 847-8822 to book.

Still plenty of work, obviously, so if you'd like to be involved in planning or execution please email Kate (Kranz) Jordan.

Charity Check-Ins

On Veterans Day 2015 the Class donated $2002 to One Summit. Visit their site to join the mailing list, and stop by their Facebook page to see the wonderful and inspiring results of their work with children battling cancer.

On Veterans Day 2014 the Class donated $2002 to Run To Honor. On Memorial Day they will host a virtual, world-wide run to honor our lost shipmates. Tag your run in Instagram with #RunToHonor or upload it to their Facebook page. Visit for a full history and live-updating collection of the photos.

USNA Update

"Cyber" is the big word on the Yard lately. Groundbreaking on the new cyber building is in October; the design includes other engineering facilities, a SCIF, and an auditorium. Class of '02 + 14 graduates the first cyber studies majors, and all midshipmen are now required to take two cyber classes. Perhaps more importantly, a 2-level parking garage is being constructed near the officer's club and Warden Field. The Supe is also focused on expanding international programs; goal is 500 international training opportunities each year.

Class Financial Update

The Class has approximately $6,400 in cash and assets, with no liabilities and very limited recurring expenses.

Remember to use our affiliate link before adding an item to your cart at Amazon. Since late 2012 the Class has earned over $3,400 from the affiliate program.

All-Academy Challenge

The All-Academy Challenge begins on June 1st. The service academy with the most participation (as a percentage of alumni) wins. Last year's challenge raised over $3M.

SHIPMATE and Social Media

You know we have a Facebook group, right? Of course you do. LinkedIn, too. And don't forget to share big promotions, weddings, kids, and other events with Kate.

We hope all is well for you and your families. Go Navy, and Go '02!

Josh, Pat, Kate, Cari, John, Chad, & Charlie

Results of 15-year Reunion Survey

Thank you for such a great response – 234 of you took the time to help our reunion planners create the best reunion possible for 2017.

Several dozen also volunteered to help: Thank you! We'll be in touch after the new year.

2015 Veterans Day Donation

We are excited to announce that in honor of Veterans Day the Class will be donating $2002 to One Summit, an organization that enables SEALs to mentor & assist children battling cancer. 

If you check the site, you'll catch a glimpse of Dan Cnossen '02, belaying a young survivor on a rock wall. 

We would like to thank Jeff Servello, John Smith, Patrick Thomas, Jaime Fisher, and especially Tim White for their work researching potential donation recipients and for providing a recommendation to the board.

Thank you, as well, for your continued service to our nation and our communities. We hope you take a moment to enjoy your Veterans Day.

John William Cude, 1977-2015

We received some sad news yesterday: John was a member of 2nd company when we graduated. His family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers. 


John William Cude, of New Braunfels, Texas passed away Tuesday, August18, 2015 at the age of 38. John was born in Nuremburg, West Germany on January 3, 1977 to parents William and Ruth Cude. John graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2002, and later was a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association. 

John is survived by his parents, his daughter Kristen Cude, his sister Nancy (Jason) Gary and their sons Braden, Landon, and Talon Gary, his paternal grandmother,  Mary Cude, his maternal grandmother Nancy Fly, and numerous aunts,uncles, and cousins.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, August 21, 2015 at 11:00am at Doeppenschmidt Funeral Home in New Braunfels. Pastor Rich Van Natter will lead the service. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations honoring John may be made to the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, 247 King George St., Annapolis MD 21402 (

2014 Army/Navy Events

Classmates & Friends,

The 115th Army/Navy game is this Saturday at 3pm EST, noon PST (11pm Bahrain, 6am Sunday in Guam…). Our Class is leading the way with two great events:

- At the game there's a tailgater sponsored by the Orange Line Living of Optime Realty, which includes classmates Dan Lesniak & Sean Ponder. It runs from 10am-3pm, and includes plenty of food, drinks, and fun. Go here for more information and to register.

- In San Diego, classmates Tim Collins & Chris Cisek are running the 7th annual Shore Club Army Navy WEST fundRAGER. Hit the link for the  details, including the full list of charities being supported. Also, plan on joining them for "march-on" at 7am! Yes, it's early. The alternative is to risk being left outside in the mild, temperate San Diego "winter" with the others – probably woops – who hate both fun and America.

(If you are looking for something a little more family-friendly and less chaotic, the USNA AA San Diego chapter is also holding an event.)

We know there must be other events going on, but we don't have specifics. Check out your local alumni chapter and share what you find in the Class's Facebook group!

Bravo Zulu

StoryBox, founded by CEO Justin Nassiri in 2009, recently re-branded as it continues to grow and innovate.
Seth Lynn's organization, Veterans Campaign, celebrated its 5th anniversary and the election of several graduates to political offices across the country.

Josh, Pat, Kate, Cari, John, Charlie, & Chad

P.S. You're using before shopping at Amazon… right? And sharing it with your friends and family so they, too, can benefit great charities at no cost to them? Great – thank you!