Always Ready
   Spring, 2006                                                                                                                         1 March, 2006

Association Officers

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

Vice President
Doug Hauser
2137 Young Farm Pl.
Montgomery, AL 36106

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

George Kaiser
311 W. Oak Lane
Glenolden, PA 19036

Reunion 2006
Sept. 20th - 24th
Kissimmee, FL
See Jack Norton's article for details!

From our President:  Plans for the 2006 Reunion are being finalized as we go to press.  Jack & Pat Norton have done an excellent job of getting everything together and did some terrific arm twisting to get us the best discounted prices available.  Check out Jack's article for more specific details and make your plans for attending NOW! 

Nominations for Office: 
Nominations for Executive Board positions are now open.  All positions are up for election each year and officers may be reelected.  Only ACTIVE Members, whose Annual Dues are current, are eligible to serve.  All nominations for office must be received by the Association's Secretary no later than 15 May 2006.  Nominations must be in writing and may be sent either by postal service or electronic mail.  Nominees will be contacted by the Secretary to insure their acceptance of the nomination and willingness to serve.  Nominations will also be accepted from the floor during the Annual Business Meeting.  Nominees must be present at the meeting to accept the nomination. 

New Finds: 
Frank Favire, SN, '63;  Dennis Leary, SN, '66;  Donald Yoder, TE3, '56;  Kenneth Meade, SN, '71;  Gary Clark, DK2, '58;  Frank Peralta, SFP3, '66 

Honor Roll: 
Anthony SanFillippo, RM1, '56;  Kenneth Reeder, SN, '56;  Joseph Foster, FA, '49;  Carluccio Palazzotto, SFC, '61;  Ronald Rydel, LT, '71;  James Shoughro, MoMM1c, '46 
    We wish to express our deepest sympathy and most sincere conodolences to their family and friends. 

Web Site Update: 
I finally got the 2005 Reunion web pages done and uploaded!  There were over 300 pictures sent in by our shipmates covering this event.  Thanks to each one of you for taking the time to share your pictures. 
    Besides the usual updates to the crew lists and Honor Roll pages, we also added a few pictures of shipmates and cruises from '45 and '55 time frames along with another mug shot and bio for the Retired Crew Members page. 

Ron Zimmerman Sr. 

From the desk of the Vice President
:  Well another year has passed and it was bad news for the Gulf Coast Region of  Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The ones hit hardest were Mississippi and Louisiana. I know we have shipmates in all these areas and hope many were spared any hardships. We will keep them all in our prayers. 
    Kathy and I are looking forward to this years reunion in Orlando.  Your Hosts, Jack & Pat Norton with Co-Hosts Ron & Sally Zimmerman, have been working very hard putting together a very good reunion package.  So let’s support them for their hard work on putting this years reunion together by attending.  We all will have a great time and it looks like there will be ample time in the hospitality room for telling ships stories.  I am sure you will meet some of your old shipmates, of course they won’t look the same, but we will have name tags so you can identify each other. These reunions are a great way to get involved and it makes you feel good when you see the smile on the face of the men you have served with.
    If there is anyone who might want to host a future reunion bring some information with you to present at the business meeting. I will be willing to help or assist  you if you want to host one. The things  to remember is transportation close by hotel of your choice. Work with the Convention and Visitor center in making initial contact with hotels, tour groups, etc.  They are a great help and a fountain of information on the local area and what's available. Also check with more than one Tour company for possible tours and costs - they are usually very competitive and you can find some good deals on group pricing.   Always tell
them what  kind of tours  you are looking at.
    Please contact me if you are interested. My phone number is  334-277-2151.  Remember, we are now voting on reunion locations 2 years in advance. 
    Baton Rouge, LA. was voted in for 2007 which my wife and I will be hosting. We will be going down to check it out and see what it like now since New Orleans was hit hard, and Baton Rouge has almost doubled in populations. My concerns are for the safety of our group and the ability to obtain hotel rooms and tours at a reasonable cost. I will keep you informed through the newsletter and ALL HANDS e-mails.  If you have any concerns on this please contact me at 334-277-2151.
    Take care and will see you all at the reunion in September in Orlando, Florida.

Membership Chairman
:   First let me thank you all of those who have already paid their 2006 dues for your continue support of the Association .  As a part of this Membership Report I would like to include a brief history on Active Membership in the Association. 
    When I took over this position we had 76 paid members.  Since then we have grown  significantly.  In 2002 we had 215 active members;  in 2003 we had 206 - down some but not to bad.  In 2004 we had our best year with 235 Active Members.  In 2005 this dropped to 208.  
    We have to try and keep the active members up in able to continue our mailings to all located shipmates and support our web site which has helped us grow.
    So far in 2006 we already have 131 paid but we need to bring this number up.  So when you receive your newsletter, and
if you haven’t  paid for 2006
, please sit down, fill-out the Active Membership Application,  write a check, and put it in the mail.
    We have been getting new members as they retire but need to encourage many of our shipmates to join or renew their membership.  My hope is to reach a goal of over 300 or 400 before I retire as membership chairman. This means we need a lot more new members.
    For those who have been reluctant to join, thinking "that's not for me", you are not alone.  Many of those who are now Active Members and attending the Annual Reunions on a regular basis had previously felt the same way - myself included.  But, if you don't check it out, you will never truly know for sure if your feeling of "that's not for me" is accurate or not. 
    All you need to do is to attend one. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised at how much fun you are having and will be wondering why you procrastinated for so long. We have one in Orland, Florida this September so why not join us there.  You might even meet some of your old shipmates and I know you will meet a bunch of nice people.  Also bring your wife as the ladies also enjoy the activities. 
    Remember the association Active Members Awards, it may not be much but  it is a little something to let you know we appreciate your support.
    Thanks again for making this all possible with your support as it keeps us in contact with many men who served aboard the USS Great Sitkin. 

Doug Hauser,
Vice President and
Membership Chairman

Repair 3:  Well guys, here it is, spring already. Geez, I write that as we here in the northeast are digging out of a big snowstorm. Anyhow, by the time this piece gets in the newsletter and it gets on the street, it WILL be Spring!
    And, with the coming of the spring newsletter also comes another reunion push. Anyone who’s read my past articles knows how I feel about the reunion, so I won’t belabor the point for long. Jack and Ron have put together a great package for a very reasonable price. Looking at it, you will notice there won’t be any ships this year to visit. Looks like our only “Navy fix” will have to come from our own memories and sea stories.  I know that won’t be a problem for a lot of us, our memories of the Great Sitkin still are strong despite the years. I’m a big fan of The History Channel, and today they had two good shows about the USS Midway and the USS Missouri. They interviewed crewmembers from the ships, and they all spoke of how much the ship, and the shipmates, still mean to them. Unlike a lot of Sailors, they also still have their ships to visit, they can still walk the decks and smell the oil, paint, etc. For us Great Sitkin crew, the old boat is long gone. But, has anyone ever thought about spaces and decks we all worked and lived in for those years? I send my newsletter articles from “back here in Repair 3.” I often think about what else was back here. Let’s see, out the watertight door and a slight left is a short passageway. On my right is the after diesel emergency generator. A few more feet, and on my left is the small brig. Aft of that is the sail locker.  At the very forward part of this compartment is the door to the trunk that goes down 5 decks into shaft alley. As best I can recall, that is all that occupied this deck in the stern. Next deck down back here is the steering gear room. Always a noisy place underway, it is still nice to think of those smells and the constant drone of the steering motor. 
    Staying at the back of the ship for now, we go up on the main deck, exiting out through the scuttle in the large deck hatch under the 3” 50 cal gun tub on the starboard side. Not being a gun type, the number of that mount escapes me, but a personal encounter at the precise moment of firing gave me a constant reminder of how loud that gun is. One thing that isn’t back here in 1970 is the 5” gun mount. Anyone recall when that was taken off? Bet it would make a great story for the newsletter! In 1970 and 71, this area was used officially as the helo drop zone, unofficially it makes a great place to lay out and work on your tan! And that’s where we’ll leave off the tour for this time. Next time, we’ll take a walk around the engineering  spaces. about good smells!
    Sitting here in Repair 3, I look around at all of the cumshaw stuff we have for sale. As you’ll see in the store ad, we are putting the 4” window decals on sale for $5 each.  Ships profile decals are still $6, they are a great deal and will be a nice touch on your car or truck. We are working on a new style shirt that will be available for the 1
st time at the reunion this year. And speaking of reunion, better start now making your plans to be part of the crew gathering in Orlando.
    Until next time, keep it safe, and stay in touch!

George Kaiser

!2006 REUNION UPDATEWell, after a great amount of time and decision making, Ron, Sally, Pat and I are able to announce that the USS Great Sitkin Association 2006 Annual Reunion will be held on September 20th – 24th in Kissimmee,  Florida.  Our headquarters will be at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Inn Gateway, where we have negotiated a special rate of $69.00 per night, double occupancy, plus tax.  The rooms we have blocked are deluxe rooms in their recently renovated tower with all rooms having a microwave, mini-fridge & coffee maker plus other amenities.  The room rate is good for 3 days before & after these dates for those who wish to make it an extended vacation.  To make reservations call the hotel direct at 407-396-4400 daily between the hours of 9AM - 5PM EST.  MAKE SURE you request the Hotel Only Reservations Agent and use the special Registration Code GSA06.
    As in past years, we want your time with all of us to be a great experience. So, after going over proposals from all perspective providers, visiting the different sites, countering their proposals and negotiating pricing we have decided on the following fabulous itinerary for the Reunion Package:

Wednesday, September 20
:  Our main Registration Day with a hotel sponsored wine & cheese reception around 5:30 PM.

Thursday, September 21
:  Free time during the day.  About 4:30 we will be going by motor coach to the famous Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Show.  We will experience a show of 32 magnificent horses with a cast of top notch trick riders, specialty  & comedy acts  and a very patriotic grand finale.  Dinner is a fabulous four course feast served during the show and includes 2 complimentary beers or wines per person and unlimited soft drinks, coffee or tea.

Friday, September 22
: We depart the hotel by motor coach around 8:30 AM for the Kennedy Space Center.  We have maximum access tickets which includes a behind-the-scenes bus tour of massive launch pads, International Space Station Center & Apollo-Saturn V Center, admission into the 5 story IMAX 3-D theater, all exhibits & shows. This tour takes about 8 hours round trip so please plan accordingly.  We should return to our hotel late afternoon, around 4:30 PM.  Please note that lunch is not included with this tour.  The cost of doing this as a group was not reasonable. 
    Also for
Friday Evening we have a great barbeque by the pool planned.  This will be a cookout with our own chef grilling the hamburgers and hot dogs right there plus we have all the typical fixings.  Good food = good times!

Saturday, September 23
: Around 3:00 PM we will have the Honor Ceremony followed by the Annual Business Meeting.  Saturday Evening is our Annual Dinner Banquet commencing with a cocktail hour at 5:00 PM followed by a terrific meal from 6:00 to 7:00 PM.   This year we have chosen a combination plate of roast sliced sirloin and shrimp scampi as the main entrée’.  At 7:00 PM the party starts with music provided by the Z-Street Band.  They are very talented and have a good repertoire covering most everything from the Big Band era through the 70’s and some more current songs as well.   We recently saw them perform and all I can say is bring your dancing shoes with you!  They were great!

Reunion Package Cost?
The Reunion Package is only $153.00 per person and includes Dixie Stampede Dinner Show, Kennedy Space Center, the BBQ & Annual Dinner Banquet!

OPTIONS:  This year we have 1 Optional Tour, and because in the past so many of you have had to leave early Sunday, we have decided to make the Sunday Morning Farewell Breakfast optional as well.

Saturday Morning, September 23
:   For those interested in going we have an Optional Tour to see 2 local attractions,    Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and Titanic – Ship of Dreams.   Both are located a short motor coach ride away on International Drive.  We will depart the hotel around 8:30 AM and return around 2:30 PM.   Cost  is $35.00 per person (lunch not included).

Sunday Morning, September 24
: Optional Farwell Breakfast.  We have arranged for an exceptional farewell breakfast buffet.  Cost is only $10.00 per person.
    If you were to take in everything we have to offer this year, the cost for the Reunion Package and the 2 Options is only $199.00 per person.  So now shipmates it is up to you --- we were able to get you discounted prices without sacrificing quality --- so make plans to be with us September 20th through the 24th.  See you there!

Jack Norton
Secretary & 2006 Reunion Host

Letters From Shipmates: 

#1) Mr. Hauser:  I want to thank you again for having such a wonderful organization.  If you remember, I registered my Dad back in October, and you sent me a very nice follow up letter.  As I mentioned to you, he is in the early stages of Alzheimer's, but can remember clearly the service to our country on the Great Sitkin. He is thrilled with the decal, and wears his membership pin every day! 
    It's sad to see his memory fading with this terrible disease, and every time I talk with him he tells me about how he got the decal and pin from you and "the Great  Sitkin" . . . . . like I've never heard the story before. The great part is, that he has something to remember, and it eases his frustration by being able to talk about something he CAN recall instead of the frustration of not remembering what he had for breakfast that morning.
    I am ordering some hats and coffee mugs for him now, but thought I would drop you a line and thank you again for adding a great deal of pleasure to my Dad's life.  Please feel free to share this story with some of your members.  And from me and my family, thank you all for your service to our great country.
Jim Quist
Midlothian, VA 23112

Ron:  As you know I think it is important that we support our troops. Even more important is that we show them our support rather than just saying we do.
    I travel a lot and see a lot of troops in the airports. I try to personally thank each of them for their service. Nothing major, I just go up and say "Hi, I just wanted to say thanks for all you are doing." 
    I will continue doing that but I decided I need to do more. I went to Sam's Club and bought a bunch of 100 minute phone cards. A pack of 10 costs about $33 and they come individually wrapped. I will be carrying these with me and passing them out to the troops. I know it's not much but it does at least give them something tangible and useful to show my thanks.
    I wonder if other association members have ways to show their support? It might be nice to put some ideas in the newsletter.
John R Henry CPP

Support the Troops: 
In the last issue I mentioned the possibility of  starting a program of sending "goodies" to the troops stationed overseas.  Since that newsletter, my son has e-mailed me that the goodies are great and much appreciated but what they are really lacking is access to and the availability of personal hygiene items. The list he sent me is very basic and consists of soap, shampoo, toothbrushes & toothpaste, shaving cream & disposable razors, q-tips, alcohol free baby wipes, AAA extended life batteries, and some other comfort items like books & magazines, stationery items, hard candies, sunflower seeds and a few others.  A few people have mailed some items and they had a "little stash" going so they would have items available when the guys needed them.  However, that all changed when their rear area camp building burnt to the ground - they lost it all!
    If you are interested in this
Support Our Troops effort  please give me a call at (772)621-4016 and I'll provide specifics on how get the "care package" to them. If you get my voice mail, leave me a message and I'll give you a call back ASAP.

Ron Zimmerman