John Young of Kailua, Hawaii; Mike Dungan of Leavenworth; Dennis Fendler of Clarksville, Tenn.; and Joe Beavers of Monument, Colo., pose in with the school cornerstone, dated 1958, during their tour of Patton Junior High School Aug. 10. The four men are 1969 graduates of Patton and were members of the undefeated football team that year. After years of talking about getting together, and often reminiscing about their undefeated ninth-grade team, they gathered last month to reconnect. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

For the first time in more than 50 years, four Patton Junior High School graduates were back together Aug. 10 to tour the school and reminisce.

Dennis Fendler compares his ninth-grade 1969 Patton Junior High School diploma with the one in the library display case during a tour of the school Aug. 10. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Mike Dungan of Leavenworth, Kan.; Joe Beavers of Monument, Colo.; John Young of Kailua, Hawaii; and Dennis Fendler of Clarksville, Tenn., are all members of the 1969 ninth-grade graduating class as well as members of that year’s undefeated Patton football team.

Dennis Fendler of Clarksville, Tenn., reads the names of the teachers he remembers on a plaque recognizing the “outstanding and dedicated service” of past Patton Junior High School teachers, including the second name on the plaque, Robert Cowan who taught in the district for 28 years, during Fendler’s tour of the school with three of this 1969 classmates Aug. 10. Fendler said he planned to visit Cowan’s gravesite at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery while he was in town for the reunion with his classmates. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“Whenever Dennis and I would talk, the conversations would always drift back to the glorious, undefeated, 1969 football season,” Young said. “Dennis would always say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to get the guys back together just one time and just reminisce and talk about the good old days?’”

Mike Dungan of Leavenworth; Joe Beavers of Monument, Colo.; Dennis Fendler of Clarksville, Tenn.; and John Young of Kailua, Hawaii, reminisce as Beavers flips through their 1969 Patton Junior High School yearbook Aug. 10 in the Patton front office. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Young and Dennis were having the same conversation yet again a few weeks ago, so they opted to make some calls to get the ball rolling on a reunion. Soon four members of the undefeated team were together again.

Joe Beavers of Monument, Colo., points out the photo of the undefeated football team in his 1969 Patton Junior High School yearbook Aug. 10 in the Patton front office. Beavers toured the school last month with three other members of that undefeated team. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


For the 1969 football season, Dungan played center and linebacker, Beavers played tight end, Young played running back and Fendler played defensive half and free safety.

“We were really special because I think we actually played Lansing in a scrimmage and
beat them,” Fendler said. “When (Young) came through it was like a freight train, but silent. He was so fast. It was incredible.”

Young said playing football that year was the highlight of his athletic career having also been awarded the “Best Athlete” award in the 1969 Patton yearbook.


“I don’t know why (I was voted Best Athlete) because we all made the team happen,” Young said. “I didn’t do as well athletically after I got out of high school, and my dad always joked and said, ‘John kind of peaked in ninth grade.’ It was (the coaches) who really instilled what it took to be a decent athlete. They motivated you.”


Joe Beavers of Monument, Colo., flips through his 1969 Patton Junior High School yearbook before a tour of the school with three of his 1969 classmates Aug. 10 in the Patton front office. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Football wasn’t all that the graduates looked back on as they walked the halls of the school again, guided by Rich Holden, Unified School District 207 chief financial officer.

“We were all pretty close friends. That’s one thing about military kids. The military kids, we’re all thrown in,” Dungan said. “It’s like a melting pot of all different races and different countries. We had kids from Switzerland play here.

“It’s just that time of your life where you’re just starting to push your boundaries, and it’s that camaraderie of the Army brats that just kept everybody tight for a while,” he said. “We’re all on the Patton (Junior High School Alumni) Facebook group. All those people just …rave about this place.”

While the tour of the school allowed for a trip down memory lane for the graduates, it also showed them how some things have changed since they graduated. Holden said the school has had around seven or eight renovations since 1969.

“I couldn’t tell you where my locker was,” Beavers said. “It’s so totally different, but it’s
good to see the changes and progress.”

Joe Beavers opens his 1969 Patton Junior High School yearbook to the page showing him chosen as “best dressed,” bottom right, as well as John Young as “most athletic” and Mike Dungan as “most school spirited” while revisiting the school with Young, Dungan and their fellow 1969 classmate Dennis Fendler Aug. 10. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Dungan agreed. “It’s just amazing to see the growth and the overall improvement and the new school is even going to be better,” Dungan said. “This was such a big part of our lives, so to see other kids get that same opportunity we did, it’s just incredible.”

John Young of Kailua, Hawaii; Mike Dungan of Leavenworth; and Dennis Fendler of Clarksville, Tenn., 1969 graduates of Patton Junior High School, walk by the trophy cases, after finding only newer trophies in the cases and not the one from their undefeated football season, during their tour of Patton Junior High School Aug. 10. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Despite the changes, the graduates agreed they were glad to walk the halls of Patton
again. “It just gives me goosebumps being here. I could stay here for days,” Fendler said. “It’s surreal. This beats everything coming back and seeing this. This is fantastic.”

Mike Dungan of Leavenworth; Dennis Fendler of Clarksville, Tenn.; John Young of Kailua, Hawaii; and Joe Beavers of Monument, Colo., line up on the track for a mock race during their tour of Patton Junior High School Aug. 10. The four men are 1969 graduates of Patton and were members of the undefeated football team that year. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Beavers said it was about being together again.


“It is just the fact of getting together with old friends and reminiscing,” Beavers said. “We’re at the time in life where you make every day the best you can.

Mike Dungan of Leavenworth; Dennis Fendler of Clarksville, Tenn.; John Young of Kailua, Hawaii; and Joe Beavers of Monument, Colo., line up on the track for a mock race during their tour of Patton Junior High School Aug. 10. The four men are 1969 graduates of Patton and were members of the undefeated football team that year. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“For us, it is kind of like for those who would’ve gone and revisited Woodstock,” he
said. “This is our Woodstock.”

Young agreed. “We’re in the last quarter of our lives, so it just makes you realize that time is real precious. We get so caught up in our lives and in our careers that doing stuff like this, it’s hard to find the time to do it, especially with COVID-19 last year, we were on lockdown,” Young said. “This opportunity gave us a chance to break out of that whole period, and I’m glad we did it this year and didn’t have to wait.

John Young of Kailua, Hawaii; Mike Dungan of Leavenworth; Joe Beavers of Monument, Colo.; and Dennis Fendler of Clarksville, Tenn., talk with Rich Holden, Unified School District 207 chief financial officer, about some of the changes that have been made to Patton Junior High School over the years while taking a tour of the school Aug. 10. After years of talking about getting together, and often reminiscing about their undefeated ninth-grade football team, 1969 Patton graduates Young, Dungan, Beavers and Fendler gathered last month to reconnect. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“I know I’m going to see these knuckleheads again. This is not going to be the last time. In fact, hopefully, the plan will be in subsequent years we’ll get more people to join us,” he said. “Ultimately, when you grow older, you realize that all that is really, really important are friends and family, and if you can’t make the time to make that connection
then it’s all for not.”

Rich Holden, Unified School District 207 chief financial officer, meets with 1969 Patton Junior High School graduates Mike Dungan of Leavenworth; Joe Beavers of Monument, Colo.; Dennis Fendler of Clarksville, Tenn.; and John Young of Kailua, Hawaii, to give them a tour of the school Aug. 10 in the Patton front office. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Rich Holden, Unified School District 207 chief financial officer, takes a photograph of 1969 Patton Junior High School graduate John Young of Kailua, Hawaii, while giving him and three of his 1969 classmates a tour of the school Aug. 10. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
John Young of Kailua, Hawaii; Mike Dungan of Leavenworth; Dennis Fendler of Clarksville, Tenn.; and Joe Beavers of Monument, Colo., pose in with the school cornerstone, dated 1958, during their tour of Patton Junior High School Aug. 10. The four men are 1969 graduates of Patton and were members of the undefeated football team that year. After years of talking about getting together, and often reminiscing about their undefeated ninth-grade team, they gathered last month to reconnect. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
John Young takes a photo of Mike Dungan and Joe Beavers recreating a pose similar to one that appeared in their 1969 Patton Junior High School yearbook during their tour of the school Aug. 10. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Joe Beavers takes a photo of a portrait of the school’s namesake, Gen. George S. Patton Jr., during his tour of Patton Junior High School with Mike Dungan and two other 1969 classmates Aug. 10. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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