Always Ready
Fall/Winter, 2007                                                                                                                                                             1 November, 2007

Association Officers

Ron Zimmerman Sr.
474 SW Prater Ave.
Port St. Lucie, FL  34953
(772) 621-4016

Vice President
Jim Dunno
272 Stone Hedge Row
Johnstown,  OH  43031

Jack Norton
2386 SE Patio Circle
Port St. Lucie, FL 34952

George Kaiser
311 W. Oak Lane
Glenolden, PA 19036




From our President: Here it is November already and Christmas is just around the corner.  Where has the year gone??    We have something in the Ship’s Store for the ladies this Holiday Season.  Due to several requests we have  made a special purchase of Polo shirts in women’s sizes for the ladies.  They are a pastel pink with maroon lettering and the light blue ship’s silhouette just like the men’s gray shirt we had at the reunion this year.   Check out the Ship’s Store Order Form in the newsletter or on the web site.
    Speaking of the reunion, Doug and Kathy did another fine job of putting together this year’s event.  Lots of time available to spend with shipmates and friends, some really neat places to visit and let’s not forget the good grub.  Thanks to both of them for all their hard work.  See Doug’s Post Reunion Report for more details.

New Finds: Richard Thibodeau, SN, ‘67;   John Miller, SN, ‘54;  William Taylor, SN, ‘71;  Joe Weber, HT3, ‘71;  Nicholas Liberto, PC3, ‘62 and Dennis (Mike) Epperson, SK3, ’63.

Honor Roll: Gavin Spangler, BM2, ’50; Ernest Queck, CWO3, ’72; Thomas Menze, SK1, ’63; Ronald Stone, SK3, ’54; Larry Renker, GMG3, ’70 and Roosevelt Banks, SH3, ’59.
  We wish to express our deepest sympathy and most sincere condolences to their family and friends.

Web Site: I have received a large stack of Reunion pictures  from our Official Photographer, Dorothy Hodnichak but have not yet had the time to get them ready for the web site.  Dorothy always does a fantastic job taking pictures of those attending the events.  Without her and Mike’s hard work and dedication in support of the Association we would have a whole lot less pictures on the web site not to mention the actual photograph books that are made up from the pictures she gives us.  Next time you see her and Mike, let them know how much you appreciate all that they do for the organization.
    I have added a new picture and bio to the Retired page and also a couple of pictures to the ’60’s Cruises.
    Due to some problems with the company who had been hosting our web site that were unresolved I had to move it to another server the end of October.  I think everything is working as it should.  I
f you find a web page that is not working, please let me know.  I can’t fix what I don’t know is broken!

Ron Zimmerman Sr.,

From the desk of the Vice President:   Two difficult tasks are upon me: following Doug as Vice-President and following him and Kathy as host of next year’s reunion.  That said I would like to thank Doug and Kathy for another great reunion.
    Doug has given me several words of wisdom for this job.  Reunion tips, and of course, keeping after you guys to pay for your membership.  If you’ve had thoughts of hosting a reunion, but are a bit leery of the idea, as I was, rest assured there are past hosts to help you along.  I’m no different from the rest of you.  It took Ron months of arm-twisting to talk me into hosting.
    The 2008 Reunion in the Cincinnati area is coming right along.  The Presidential Plane tour in Dayton may be earlier in the day than originally planned.  This would allow time to see the museum too and still get to the memorial service at 2 PM.  More information will be made available by the next newsletter.
    Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by phone at 1-740-817-2177 or by e-mail

Membership Report:  This is another “Follow Doug Report” seems like that’s all I’m getting done this month!  As of the end of the reunion, we have 374 members who at some point in time have paid dues.  We have 159 active members who have paid dues through 2007, 68 who have also paid through 2008, and some have even paid into future years.
    Again, as Doug mentioned in the last newsletter, 2006 was 197 and we have been as high as 235.  The good news is we are up from the 118 mentioned in Doug’s last report.  So, if you are talking to some shipmates, ask them to send in their dues so we can keep the membership numbers up.  Again thank you all for your support and keep our memories of the USS Great Sitkin alive.

Jim Dunno
Vice President & Membership Chairman

Secretary Report: Another reunion has gone by and a fantastic time was had by all in attendance.  At our Business Meeting all the officers gave their annual reports to the members in attendance and the elections of officers for the 01 October 2007 to 30 September 2008 year was held.  The slate of Officers nominated and elected was the same as our current officers except for Doug Hauser who choose to resign this year.  Nominated and elected for Vice President and Membership Chairman was Jim Dunno.  Congratulations to all on their re-election and "Welcome Aboard" to Jim.
    The President presented A Certificate of Appreciation to Doug in recognition of the outstanding job he did during his 6 years as Vice-President and Membership Chairman.    
    Also at the meeting the location for the 2009 Reunion was voted on.  Wayne Agee had been considering making a presentation for Charlotte, NC but at the last minute decided to hold off until Cincinnati to give him more time to gather information and prepare his presentation.  For the past 2 years Ron, Sally, Pat and I have been kicking around the idea of Boston and decided to put together a proposal as a reunion location for 2009.  It was presented to the active members present, voted on and accepted.  The location for the 2009 reunion is Boston, MA.  Ron and Sally Zimmerman along with my wife, Pat and I will be hosting this reunion.  Plans and contracts are getting underway and we will have more information in future newsletters.
    Also at the last reunion I met up with another good friend from my years’ aboard the Sitkin, LT. John J. Kelly.  I cannot explain how great it was to see him after 49 years.  So many friends getting together, telling and reminding each other of old sea stories.  If you have not attended a reunion yet, now is the time to make plans to start. (See shipmate John Whitford’s article in this newsletter).
    All the officers wish to thank you for your vote of confidence.  We are trying to keep the shipmates of the USS Great Sitkin (AE-17) Assoc. active and afloat.  Wishing happy Holidays to all.

Jack Norton

Repair 3:  Glenn Frankenbach, one of the founders of the Association, used to say in his newsletters that there was no such thing as a bad reunion, just that some are better than others. I was really on the fence this year about going to Baton Rouge. As keeper of the Great Sitkin  memorabilia that seems to grow more each year, flying is almost out of the question. It was looking like having time to drive, with work being very busy that time of year, was not going to happen either. And really, what was so exciting about Baton Rouge? But by the last week in August, it worked out that I was going to be able to go, by myself, so I started making my plans. The week of the reunion, I left Tuesday, drove 13 hours the first day and 6 hours the second. Shipmate numbers were down a little this year, but I quickly relearned an old lesson. A Great Sitkin reunion is not about the venues or location of the event. It’s about the Friends we see every year. 4 short days to talk to old Shipmates about things we did so very long ago. Yeah, the stories are the same every year, and our wives kind of roll their eyes at each other, sort of “Not this story again!” We pile in each others cars to go to Carabas or Cracker Barrel  for dinner. But, whether you sailed the ship in 51 or 71, we all are 19 again, or 20, or maybe 30, whatever you were when you were a Great Sitkin Sailor. This year we visited the USS Kidd, as WW2 era destroyer now a museum ship in Baton Rouge. One of the staff opened the #2 boiler room to let some of us go in. Ed Herbst, one of my Shipmates and a Boiler Tech, well, it was his first time in front of a Navy boiler since he got off the Sitkin. Let me tell you, you can’t buy that kind of experience. I’ll limit my 2007 reunion words to that, but I do need to say this, to all my 69-71 Shipmates and really to all of you who this newsletter goes out to. The Great Sitkin Association is really a standout in the vast sea of former Navy ships that meet for reunions. As an auxiliary ship, we didn’t get much glamour or press. But we did a vital job, and we continue to do a vital job in keeping the memory alive in the hearts of a bunch of great people.
   In past newsletters, I’ve gone on memory tours of various parts of the Great Sitkin. As I write this today, it is pouring rain here in Collingdale, Pa., and it’s a Saturday. Guess I kind of have “the duty” so when I’m done here, I just might go hang out in the crews lounge. Now I know the lounge was in different places at different times, but on the 1970 Sitkin, it was on the port side, main deck, just aft of the GM shack. It was a claustrophobic little place where we would jam in to watch the lone 19” TV hanging on the bulkhead. Some worn out chairs and couches, we mostly sat on the floor. Cigarette smoke hung heavy, if I’m ever going to suffer the effects of second hand smoke exposure, it’s going to be from being in there. But it was ours, no Chiefs or 1
st Class petty officers. And if we got tired of hanging there, we  went down to the “compartment.” That’s where our racks were. Even as tight as it was, it was still a comfortable place to stretch out. My rack was on the bottom, which made it easy to get my 6 foot self in and out. Right up against the starboard side hull, so the sound of the water sloshing put me to sleep real fast. Yeah, that was home for 2 years. Hard to imagine it was 37 years ago.
   In closing, just want to tell you something that just happened this morning.  Like I said, it’s a rainy Saturday here, and there is some house cleaning going on. We just found a letter I received from a guy in St Augustine Florida. He found a bottle with a note in it I put in the water from the ship while we were in Cuba in November 1970. He found it on the beach in 1975. I know a lot of us were doing that, using those big Coke bottles we got in Bayonne and sealing messages inside. I did get another reply from a lady in France that found a bottle from the same Cuba cruise. Wonder if anyone else ever got a reply? I’ll leave it at that. Be sure to look at all the good stuff we have in the ships store, and get your Christmas orders in early.

George Kaiser

2007 Reunion Report:  If you missed this reunion, you missed a great time.  Wednesday was the main registration day.  That evening the hotel furnished wine and cheese for the Welcome Reception and along with the hors’ d’oeuvres, including Louisiana specialties, everyone relaxed and enjoyed the fare.
    Thursday morning we went by coach to New Orleans for our tour of the World War II museum.  Bus service was very prompt and drivers were great to work with.  I would recommend if you haven’t seen it, to make it a point to check it out.  They keep expanding it, so they add something whenever money is available.
    Friday was a free day so people had a chance for shopping and mingling with  shipmates.  A short Business Meeting was held at 3:30 and then on to the BBQ pool party.  The meal was set up inside on the veranda, not many people went into the pools, but all enjoyed the food and time together.
    Saturday was the tour of the USS Kidd and our Memorial Service, which was very impressive.  Our Chaplain, Mark Rucker, as always, did a great job.  We had a bag piper who played Amazing Grace, Taps was sounded and the service concluded with a volley of 5 rounds from one of the 5 inch gun mounts.
    Saturday evening started with cocktails and a photographer for our memory book photos.  We had a buffet this time around with 3 entrees and to my knowledge I think all enjoyed it.  We had a seven piece band with a singer who were very good and the dance floor filled quickly.
    Sunday breakfast went well. We had our own dining area by the café which was convenient to the buffet table and we could be together and say our good byes till next year.  Hope to see you all next year in Cincinnati, good Lord willing Kathy and I will be there.

Doug & Kathy Hauser
Reunion Coordinators

From a crewmember:  Remember the old recruiting slogan “Join the NAVY and See the World”.  That is what the Great Sitkin did!  Places like Naples, Venice, Rome, and Pisa Italy, Sicily, Gibraltar, Scotland, Spain, Malta, Athens (Greece) and the Greek Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.  That is just a few that the ship visited in the 27 months I served on the Sitkin. 
    Then there are the stories of the “The Bent Screw, Sabotage in Shaft Alley, Cuban Missile Blockade, sending new bees to get 20 feet of chow line or 5 lbs. of relative bearing grease or getting them to help catch SEA BATS!
    All this and more is what I remember.  What about your stories?  This is what we talk about at the reunions.  That and what we have done since we left the Sitkin.  Some stayed in the Navy for a career, some got out and started their civilian life. 
    I have met shipmates from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s (when I served).  The association has gotten several of the Deck Logs and is looking to get them all if possible.  There are photo albums and DVD’s of the ship, its cruises and port of Calls.
    One of the best part of the reunions is the hours spent in the Hospitality Room, talking, looking at the books, sharing these old NAVY stories.
    That is only part of a reunion.  We have a Memorial Service for our fallen shipmates over the past year.  We had them at a Chapel in Norfolk Navel Base, on board the Memorial ships, USS Yorktown in Corpus Christi, TX, the USS Lexington in Charleston, SC, and the USS Kidd in Baton Rouge, La.   We went to an 800,000 acre working Cattle Ranch in Texas, spent a rainy day in Colonial Williamsburg, toured the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and took a tour of the World War II, D-Day museum in New Orleans.  That has only been the last 5 reunions since I have started going.  I had a great time at all of them.   The 2008 reunion is going to be on the Kentucky-Ohio border and the 2009 reunion is in Boston Mass.
    The association has and is doing a great job.  We have found over 900 shipmates all of whom gets a news letter 3 times a year.  Yet there is only about 200 dues paying members of only $20.00 per year to keep this going. 
    Now you do not have to pay dues to get the newsletters and if you have a computer you can go to the web site and read them as well.  Of course the website costs as well, so if you enjoy the web site and newsletter just remember if there are no dues paying members the association dissolves and the information stops.
    We also would like to see everyone come to a reunion.  A lot of the shipmates come to one then, like me and my wife, keep coming back because they had a good time.  By the way bring your wife, or girlfriend, and if you want to make it a family vacation, they are welcome to join us. 
    So when you joined the Navy and saw the World, you can now join the association come to the reunion and see the USA. 
   Hope to see all in Cincinnati,

John Whitford SK2
(Editors note:  Thank you John for taking the time to share your thoughts.  These pages are available to any crewmember who wishes to contribute an article they feel is beneficial to the organization or to their shipmates)

Support the Troops:
Unfortunately I have to report that my son has deployed for his 2nd tour. At the moment he is the only one that I have information on.  I have heard from a couple of other shipmates that their son's, grandson's, or nephews either have deployed or are getting ready to, but I have not received their names, units or locations yet.  As soon as I do, they will be posted in the next newsletter.   If you have someone to report, please get the information to me as soon as you can so I can add them to our list.  Whether we agree or disagree with what is going on and why, the troops are only doing what is being asked of them and they need and deserve our and every American’s  support!
    Ron Zimmerman, President

    SSG Jason Zimmerman, US Army, 1st Battalion 502nd INF, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne
(Air Assault), Al Taji, Iraq.  Son of shipmate Ron Zimmerman, SK3, '72 - '73

last updated on 11/01/07