USS Great Sitkin (AE-17)
2nd Issue, 17th Year                                                                                                                                                   1 February, 2009

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:  I hope everyone had a happy and joyful holiday this year.  I know we did. Our son Jason got home from his 2nd tour in Iraq in time for Thanksgiving.  Their tour was shortened to 1 year instead of the 15 months we had expected.  The support of our troops remains steadfast with the Association so please let us know if you have a family member that has returned from or has deployed to the middle east in support of war on terrorism.  Keeping these young men and women in our thoughts and prayers is important and very much appreciated by them.

New Finds:  Ronald Seal, YN3, ‘67  ~  Michael Houck, MMFN, ‘71  ~  Thomas Dever, SA, ‘56. 
                   Welcome back aboard shipmates. 

Found - now Lost:  When we 1st went to the “Bulk Mail” system, we stopped getting mailings back with good ole the “return to sender - address unknown” marked on it.  With the recent change we had to make to our mailings, we also had to add “return service requested” due to the change in Postal Regulations.  That has one again provided us with names of shipmates who were “found” and are now considered “lost” as we no longer have a valid postal address for them.  If any of you know the whereabouts of the following shipmates, please let us know, or get them to contact us with their updated information.  Thanks!
Harry Kamman; Henry Blizzard; Albert Henzl; Richard Steege; Robert Cameron; Walter Schaefer; Russell Roll; Lawrence Merwarth, Ralph Knoerr, Kenneth Bagarella and Robin Grieves.

Web Site: The company that “hosts” our web site on their servers recently offered us an upgrade for renewing our contract.  Besides a great price of only $4.95 a month the offer included unlimited storage space and unlimited access.  We took them up on the offer and renewed the contract for 36 months.  This was a savings to us of about  30%.
    Got lots of new stuff added this time like over 280 pictures from the 2008 Reunion; the list of ships we have UNREPED that I had at the reunion - about 213 ships listed and pictures of  most every ship; a couple of new shipmate pictures and a new link on the links page.  This last item needs a little explanation about what the link entails…
    In doing some research for my day job, I have obtained almost all of the Monthly Summary Reports from Commander Naval Forces Vietnam for the period 1965 through 1973 from the US Navy Historic Branch (on-line freebee - wish the Deck Logs were available like this).  They are in PDF format.  I decided to add them to our links page for our shipmates who pulled a tour of duty there also.  Several Vietnam era veterans I have worked with have used information contained in these reports to help them substantiate claims for service connected disabilities with the VA.  The amount of information in these reports is amazing....
     Ron Zimmerman

A word from the Vice-President:    “HAPPY NEW YEAR”! I hope everyone’s New Year has started out on the right foot and you are looking forward to a brighter and better year. Joy and I have just about recovered from the reunion and are looking forward to what Jack and Ron have in store for us in Boston.
    It looks like there will be plenty to do in Boston. The last time I visited the Boston area was about 37 years ago, all I can recall is copious amounts of draft beer and tequila-----but that’s another story and we will leave it at that.
    Since the last issue of our newsletter the 2009 membership has risen to 106 paid, with over 40 paid for 2010 and beyond. I guess that last article asking you to check the date on your cards must have worked; keep up the good job fellows!
    I now have a new spread sheet made to keep track of award pins for consecutive years in a row for paying dues. So far I have mailed out 21-2 year pins, 34-5 year pins and 15-10 year pins and as soon as I can get the 15 year pins there are at least 7 of you who will be receiving them.
    On a lighter note, I received a very nice letter and picture from the Pendleton County Class of 1978. For those of you who were not at the reunion it seems that the music from the band we had for entertainment drew a large crowd of on lookers from 2 separate reunions going on at the same time. Being the gracious group that we are, we invited them all in and everybody had a great time. I will bring the picture and letter to Boston for everyone to read.
    That about wraps things up for me; again if anybody needs to know where they stand or think I have made a mistake with your dues, call or email me anytime.
   Jim Dunno
    Vice-President &  Membership Chairman

Secretary’s Report:   Hello Shipmates!  Hope you all like the new look to the newsletter.  Ron really does a fantastic job, not only with the newsletter preparation but also with the web site and all of the computer interactions.
    What a shame that the newsletter had to go from a distribution of over 900 to around 250 now.  In fact we had at least 20 returned from the 250 because of change of address or not deliverable.  (Actually it makes my job easier because it takes a lot less time to get the newsletters out, but I feel bad that so many people that were receiving the newsletter no longer do).  We could not continue the way it was because of new Post Office Requirements.  If you have contact with some of your old shipmates, please encourage them to join us and become “Active Members”.
    Also just a reminder to all of the shipmates, we would love to hear some of your sea stories for possible printing in the newsletter.  Also a reminder, if you have a change in address, even if it is temporary, please let us know.

Nominations for Office:  Nomination for the Executive board positions are now open.  All positions are up for election each year and officers may be reelected.  Only active members who have annual dues current are eligible to serve.  All nominations for office must be received by the Association's secretary no later than April 15, 2009.  All nominations received by that date will be published in the May edition of the newsletter.  Nominations must be in writing and may be sent either by postal service or e-mail.  Nominees will be contacted by the Secretary to insure their acceptance of the nomination and willingness to serve.  If you have any further questions regarding nominations or serving as an officer please feel free to contact me by phone or mail.
      Jack Norton

The Chaplain’s Corner:   “Good Day” to all of you this New Year. What a marvelous time of the year.  What lies ahead beyond the horizon? What new adventure will we encounter? I was thinking of a scripture in Joshua 3:4 when the children of Israel were getting ready to cross over the Jordan river into Canaan. God gave them instructions not to follow the ark to closely. He then said, “for ye have not passed this way heretofore”. We are sailing into “Uncharted Waters”, a road we have not traveled before. None of us can predict the future but we can know who holds the future. Let us keep our hand in God’s hand and let him lead us this year.
    As I sit here in Ohio and the cold I think of many of you around the country and the states you live in. There’s Charlie in CA, Jack and Ron in FL, Don in TX, all of you suffering from global warming. I think all of you in the south and west could ship us a few buckets of warm weather. There is one thing that we all have in common no matter where we live and that is our memories of the “Great Sitkin”, good or bad. For all of you who haven’t come to a reunion let me encourage you to attend and give us a chance to touch your lives. My wife Patsy and I have been truly blessed to meet so many of you and to share wonderful times together and to see places that we probably would not have seen.

Honor Roll Update: Let’s keep these families in our prayers that have lost a loved one who sailed aboard the Great Sitkin.  May the Lord Bless and Keep You.  
Peter Gaedeke, FTG3, '66  ~  Ronald McIlhenny, QMSN, '51  ~  Gerald Berry, SN, '52  ~  Ernest Ellis, PhmC, Plank Owner
  Donald Taylor, RM2, ‘58  ~  Michael Culpepper, SR, ‘72

    Mark Rucker

2009 Reunion update:  Thanks again to Ron who has been staying in full contact with all of the planning and contacts for the Sept 9 - 13 Boston Reunion.  All planning, places to visit, transportation, functions and lodging are complete.  The only item not finalized is the music for the banquet.  We are in touch with people responsible for functions in the Boston area that know groups who can meet our requirements for this event.  This will be finalized real soon.
  This Reunion hopefully will be as fantastic as the one in Cincinnati.  We are hoping all of the shipmates in the Boston Area, and in fact the Northeast, will get out and support this Reunion, Sept 9 - 13.  We know that all of the regulars will be there but we sure would like to have all of those North Easterners who do not want to fly, will drive to the Boston Reunion.  There is plenty of parking and we are attempting to make this a truly memorable reunion.  From the special wine and cheese Reception, tours of Boston including the USS Constitution visit, the trip to Fall River and the USS Massachusetts and other ships, the picnic, “optional” tour of the Kennedy Library, Annual Dinner Banquet and finally the Farewell Breakfast there is plenty to do and see.  Please, all North Eastern shipmates, contact any of the shipmates that you know and plan to attend this reunion.
   Thanks again to Ron and Sally who have been keeping everything moving for the reunion while I was still recuperating.  I am about there, feeling great and looking forward to Boston and seeing all of our friends and shipmates.  Thanks!
Jack & Pat Norton
    Reunion Hosts

Repair 3:  I’m going to do this issues report a little different. Rather than taking us on a walk down memory passageway, I’m going to reflect on the present a little, and how it pertains to our Great Sitkin past, so indulge me a little.
    My Great Sitkin Shipmates neither may or may nor be aware of the 4 distinct tracks my life travels on:  Home & family, church, the fire service, and the Great Sitkin Association.
    In the past 2 months, my fire service track has been dealt 4 untimely deaths, 2 of which were much unexpected to 2 very young guys. Young as in my age, 58 + or - .  And just days before Thanksgiving, a very good friend and Brother from the New York Fire Department was killed at a house fire on Staten Island.  All of their funerals were full fire department spectacles, and I don’t know about you, but these kinds of things always cause me to dwell on my own mortality, if only for a few moments.  Having just come off a very successful reunion of Great Sitkin shipmates only a month prior, it made me think of just how fortunate I am to have the friends I’ve made on my “Great Sitkin track” and how much I will miss them as we all get longer in the tooth and we start to transfer to the Staff of the Supreme Commander, to use a Fleet Reserve Association parlance. Maybe that sounds a little morbid, but like I said, after 3 friends passing, it makes you think. What’s the moral of my story? Beats me, except to say, if you haven’t ever been to a reunion, or have missed the past few, plan on being in Boston next September. Maybe a crewmember from your era might be there that you didn’t particularly like, maybe a officer that busted your, uh, chops. Hey people, that was over at least 36 years ago! Get over it, ok? I can sit here right now and know this newsletter is going into the homes of 4 of my R Division shipmates, only 1 of which is a reunion regular. Hey guys, this will be in your backyard! Be there! Someday, you’ll go to bed  and wake up dead and then it will be too late for me to see you.
    Ok, soapbox put away. The other thing I want, or need, to cover is the ships store. Have you looked at the stuff we have lately? Golf shirts, 2 kinds of coffee cups, 3 kinds of ball caps, we even have a red ball cap for those of you that are on the same “fire service track” I am.
    Ok, to leave you all on a lighter note this edition, some points to ponder:    
No piece of paper can be folded in half more that 7 times.  ~  You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television.  ~  Apples, not caffeine, are a more beneficial way of waking up in the morning.  ~  Most dust particles in your home are from dead skin.  ~  The 1st product to have a barcode was Wrigley's gum.    ... And now…YOU know!

George Kaiser


last updated on 02/01/09