Ron Zimmerman Sr.
474 SW Prater Ave.
Port St. Lucie, FL 34953
272 Stone Hedge Row
Johnstown, OH 43031
2386 SE Patio Circle
Port St. Lucie, FL 34952
311 W. Oak Lane
Glenolden, PA 19036
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.
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,
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.
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
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. If
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:
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
Should you have any questions, please feel free to
contact me by phone at 1-740-817-2177 or by e-mail
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.
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
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.
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 1st
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.
2007 Reunion Report:
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
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
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
From a crewmember:
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
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
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
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
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
Ron Zimmerman, President
SSG Jason Zimmerman,
US Army, 1st Battalion 502nd INF, 2nd Brigade Combat Team,
(Air Assault), Al Taji, Iraq. Son of shipmate Ron
Zimmerman, SK3, '72 - '73