50-Year Reunion for the 1972 Olympic Oarsmen

After 50 years, the boys are back in the boat. From stroke to bow: Jim Moroney, Dick Dreissigacker, Bill Miller and Chuck Hewitt. Photo courtesy of Benoit Destenaves ©

3 September 2022

By Göran R Buckhorn

Four old Olympians met up at Duxbury Bay, Massachusetts, for their 50th reunion Olympic row on 20 August.

Fifty years ago, four young Vesper Boat Club oarsmen packed their bags to go to West Germany to represent the USA in the coxless four at the Olympic Games in Munich. In the American crew were bow Charles “Chuck” Hewitt (Harvard ‘71), 2 William “Bill” Miller (Northeastern ’69), 3 Richard “Dick” Dreissigacker (Brown ’69) and stroke James “Jim” Moroney (U Penn ‘75).

The open ceremony for the Games was on 26 August, and the day after the Olympic rowing began on the rowing course in Oberschleißheim, outside of Munich.

Going to the 1972 Olympic Games, Philadelphia’s Vesper BC oarsmen (left to right) Jim Moroney, Dick Dreissigacker, Bill Miller and Chuck Hewitt in the coxless four made the cover of the August 27 to September 2, 1972, issue of The Philadelphia Inquirer’s TV magazine.

Having some tough opponents in their first heat, among them the Soviet Union and Denmark, the U.S. four finished in fourth place, going to the repechage for a second chance to get to the semi-final. In their repechage heat, the Americans ended up in fourth place again and did not advance further.

At Duxbury Bay, from left to right: Jim Moroney, Dick Dreissigacker, Bill Miller and Chuck Hewitt. Moroney is holding the photo that graced the cover of The Philadelphia Inquirer’s TV magazine, August 27 to September 2, 1972. Photo courtesy of Benoit Destenaves ©

Fast-forward 50 years, the U.S. 1972 Olympic coxless four met up at the Duxbury Bay Maritime School in Massachusetts on 20 August for a reunion row on Duxbury Bay. It was the first time in 50 years the crew with Chuck, Bill, Dick and Jim were back in the same boat rowing together.

“It was fun to get into the boat again,” Bill told HTBS. “It has been fifty years since we last rowed together and it was surprising that it came together nicely. We took a few 3/4 power-20s and it slid along pretty smoothly. It was a great celebration for us.”

The 1972 Olympic coxless four showing that, after 50 years, they’ve still got it! Photo courtesy of Benoit Destenaves ©

One comment

  1. A decade ago mates from high school trained every Sunday for several weeks as we approached 25 years since leaving school. The crew comprised of four rowers two speed boat drivers a Cox who retired at school when told he had to start dieting and a novice mate whose son had taken up rowing at a different school! We were referred to as the heavyweight eight by the commentator and finished in the same order as in 1979(second last) and It was made worthwhile when our mates in the basketball team clapped us in as we sheepishly pulled into the pontoon

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