Nearly 40 Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center alumni, from the four branches of the services, attended a homecoming event at the Presidio of Monterey Nov. 18.
Howard and Jennie Young met and married while Howard was studying Chinese Cantonese in 1965. “I married her for money,” laughed Young. “I was a Marine private, making $101 a month, and she was making $400 as a Pan Am stewardess.”
The reunion was organized by the DLI Foundation and Alumni Association and included a briefing by the Institute’s commandant, classroom visits, lunch with students, and a historical tour of the lower Presidio.
“DLI occupies a special place in our hearts. For many of us, DLI tested our personal mettle and allowed us to attain our full potential,” said Jack Franke, who graduated from the Basic Russian Course in 1984. Today, Franke holds a PhD in Russian, has published several books, and has held several different high-ranking positions at the Institute.
While some attendees came from nearby towns, many flew in for the event.
Ted Wozniak came all the way from Louisiana to see his old stomping grounds. Wozniak used his German language in the Army for 10 years and then decided to go back to school. He soon changed his mind. “In 1992, I dropped out of grad school, hung up a virtual sign on the nascent Internet and began my career as a professional freelance German to English financial translator, which has been very successful over the years,” he explained.
The consensus among all the visitors was that having survived the rigors of DLIFLC helped them overcome any bumps along the road in their lives. “Learning German, and then Spanish, definitely contributed to building my career after DLI,” said Grand Davis, who flew in from Salem, Oregon. His military career led him places like Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, and Haiti. At home, he spent time working arial surveillance in a counternarcotics team in Florida.
Finally, the road led him to another DLIFLC Spanish graduate, Bernadette, whom he married in 2015. Today, he lives in Salem, Oregon where he provides intelligence support for the Salem Police Department.
“Our DLI alumni are among the brightest and best this nation has to offer, and the Foundation takes great pride in being able to share the Institute’s importance with others and support this great mission,” said DLI Foundation president, Melody McBeth.
The Foundation and Alumni Organization held several social gatherings surrounding the main event, allowing alumni to share stories, become reacquainted or even meet for the first time. McBeth says that plans for next year’s reunion are in the making.