From Our President: First,
let me apologize for the delay in getting the pictures from
our last reunion posted to the web site. I just haven’t had
the time to devote to the web site like I have had in the
past. I will try my best to keep the web site current.
Quick update on the 2012 Reunion. Doug and I did our
best to get things lined up in Wilmington, NC as voted on.
Hotels were very cooperative and provided acceptable rates.
However, we could not come up with much to do there without
spending a couple of hours each way on a bus. The Executive
Board voted to look for another site. We looked at 3
different locations and Baltimore presented the best
choices. The Executive Board voted to hold the 2012 Reunion
in Baltimore. George Kaiser and myself will be Co-hosts.
More details will be provided at the General Business
meeting and in the November newsletter.
John Bishop, ENS, ’62,
John Glenn, SN, ’60 and Ric Ancrum, SN, ‘72. Welcome aboard
pictures for 2010 Reunion are now posted along with updates
to the “Found Crew” list and the Honor Roll pages. I
also have information, itinerary and registrations forms for
the 2011 Reunion posted.
you all in Chattanooga!
A word from the Vice-President:
around quickly, it’s time for more words of wisdom? Actually
just some update stuff on membership and a big update on the
2011 reunion. January is here— the snow is still flying as
you guys on the coast know so well. It had to be somebody’s
turn! I have to sympathize with you though because I got it
Membership forms have been coming in very nicely; we have 124
paid members to date. I am glad to see some of you are
remembering to update your information like addresses, phone
numbers and emails which makes it easier for our mailings.
Ok here it is, Chattanooga 2011! I have everything set and
ready for you all to have a Great time! Our hotel will be
the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, an old Railroad terminal turned
into a hotel. It has expanded to include 3 separate hotel
buildings with all the modern updates. It has train cars
that have been turned into hotel rooms, several dinning
cars, a trolley which tours the ground, 3 restaurants, gift
shops, and several pools.
Rooms will be $99 a night. If you think it’s too far to walk,
they have golf carts that will come and pick you up. They
have a free shuttle from the airport and next door is the
free electric shuttle that will take you all around downtown
Wednesday will be our usual welcome reception with fruit and
cheese trays along with wine from the local area. Thursday
will be a trip to the Chickamauga Battlefield for a tour of
the field, movie about it and they have a very large display
of guns used during the civil war and up through today.
After the tour we will have a box lunch from Jimmy Johns. It
will have a large selection to choose from. We will have
this either at the battlefield picnic area or Millers park
in downtown Chattanooga. In case of rain, we will be back at
the hospitality suite. After lunch we will travel to the
National cemetery for our memorial service.
In keeping with the thought you would all like a little extra
time to visit, Thursday evening and Friday until 6 is free
time to do what you want. Hotel shuttle will take you to
Hamilton Mall for shopping; free electric shuttle will take
you downtown to the Aquarium, Moon Pie museum, WWII duck
trip on the river and lots of other things.
Friday evening will be a BBQ by the pool. Porkers, one of the
best in town, will cater the meal to our hosp. suite. Pulled
pork, chicken, beef brisket, cole slaw, baked beans and the
usual will be served.
Saturday will start with a trip to Rock City; from one point
you can see 7 states. It is a maze through rock formations,
gardens, swing bridges, fairy tale land, gift shops and
several eateries. Now for those of you who think they do a
lot of walking, the place is ADA approved and it has a
“SHORT CUT” to the look out which is about ½ mile round
trip. I believe there are a few wheelchairs available but
don’t hold me to it.
After this we will have our business meeting in the
hospitality suite, the sooner we get business taken care of
the sooner we all can take a nap! Starting at 6PM will be
the pre-dinner reception. The Hotel bar is located just
outside of our dinning room so we won’t need a bar set up in
the room. Dinner will follow at 7 with a Buffet style meal;
I think I covered the right types of food for everyone. If
there are special needs or diets, please let me know and it
will be arranged. I don’t want anybody to say they didn’t
come because they couldn’t eat what was being served.
After dinner there will be dancing from 8 to 11 to the music
of Sweet Georgia Sound. They are a 16 piece band that will
play almost anything you would like to hear. I think you can
listen to them at
Sunday morning will bring about the “Farewell Breakfast” in
the Roosevelt room (the same one we had dinner in).
Breakfast will be served from 7-9 AM. Well, I have rambled
on too long, hope to see “ya all” there.
Vice-President & Membership Chairman
The Chaplain’s Corner:
to all of you. We have made it to 2011. I am sure glad I was
not up in the Bayonne or New York City a few weeks ago. What
a storm. I thought of you folks living in that area.
I was thinking about my one and only trip from the ship at
Bayonne to Times Square on New Year’s Eve December 31, 1970.
One of the Storekeeper Seaman I had become friends with just
after arriving on board invited me to go along with him that
evening. Well not wanting to miss an opportunity like this I
accepted. We put on our dress blues, pea coats and white
hats and headed for the bus stop a few blocks away. Next
stop Port Authority. And they call this a bus station? Not
like anything I had ever seen in Springfield, Ohio. We
walked a few blocks from the station and I began to see
people, all kinds of people, more people, many people! They
were in front of me, behind me, all round me. More people
than I had ever seen in one place. There were thousands of
people there. More people than in my home town! I was here,
Times Square. The place that I had seen on TV! I had made
it. As we stood around waiting for the ball to drop I was
amazed at all the different kinds of people there. They were
singing, drinking, dancing, climbing traffic cross walk
poles, and they all appeared to very happy to me. Well, we
made it back to the ship early in the morning, nearly froze
to death. It has been a great story to tell folks down
through the years that “I was there”.
I am reminded of what John who wrote the book
of Revelations saw on the isle of Patmos. Revelation 7:9
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no
man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people,
and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb,
clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;”
We won’t be alone in Heaven! We will never have to leave!
Let’s keep those families in our prayers that have lost a
loved one who sailed aboard the Great Sitkin.
Honor Roll Update:
Perry, SA, ’63; B.J. Reynolds, LCDR, ’71; Jimmy Pratt,
MM3, ’56; Ernest Parish, MM3, ’49; Howard Hurst, LCDR,
’60; David Perkins, SN, ’59 and Wade Pitman, CSSN, ‘52
Spouse Honor Roll:
Gerry Theisen, spouse of
shipmate Joe Theisen
I would like to start my article by telling you about an
exciting event that took place about two weeks ago. I don’t
get onto Facebook very often, however when I came home from
work late one night, I checked my email and here was this
astounding request to become friends on Facebook. I could
not believe who it was from! After 38 years, finally I was
only one click away from being friends again to a long lost
Great Sitkin Shipmate! What does make this such a special
event is that Ric and I spent time in Brooklyn Navy Yard
together awaiting what we didn’t know would be a long
journey to pick up the Ship in Palma, Spain. We had been
through a lot those first few months being new young Sailors
and didn’t know much about where we were going or what we
Now decades later, we got to talk on the phone for about
two hours catching up on the last 38 years. My point is that
our Ship was the beginning of friendships for a lot of us
that have lasted a life time. I believe that’s why our
reunions are so important to all of us who served onboard
her. And we can gain new friendships of those who served at
I would like to report that from the last newsletter
mailing, I only received four back with the post office
unable to deliver or forward to new addresses. Please, if
you move, contact me via phone or email with your new
address. Also, if you have shipmates out there that let you
know they did not receive one, have them contact me. One
side note is that only Paid Up members receive a newslettter
due to cost.
As I sit here in my home office, the sun is coming up
and you can feel Spring is coming here in Pennsylvania.
Time to start thinking about plans for coming to the next
reunion. Jim has done an awesome job setting up our next
reunion in Chattohoga, TN in September. I hope all can plan
As I close this article for our March Newsletter, again I
thank you all for your support as your secretary of the
Great Sitkin Association and we will have another Newsletter
in June with the information and registration form for the
September 2011 reunion.
As this edition of the Great
Sitkin newsletter gets ready to hit the streets, my thoughts
are turned to the fact that it’s been 40 years ago that the
ship was underway on yet another Mediterranean cruise with
the US navy 6th Fleet. We are only a link in the Navy’s
supply chain of service force ships, yet to me, even after
having been on her since November of 1969, she was not only
home, but the mightiest ship in the fleet. Yeah, I know, I
didn’t really think so then, but 40 years does have a way of
blurring bad memories into good ones. At least for me,
anyhow! And speaking of memories, one that doesn’t dim is
what part the Great Sitkin played in that Service Force
supply chain. We carried explosives. Now, not being an
intimate part of the division that took care of the cargo, I
never really knew much about what we had packed into our 5
holds, but I did know it was enough explosives to make a big
hole in the water, or in a large piece of real estate, or,
in the case of the nuclear weapons in 2 hold, enough to
clear out a large part of the world as we knew it. But, it
was just something we did, we knew the danger, but we lived
with it. It’s just what we did.
2 years after I got off the Great Sitkin, my wife and I
moved into a house in Collingdale, Pa, a suburb of
Philadelphia. Right next to us was a welding supply company,
they also were a major propane distributor in the tri state
area. Now, the fact they had storage for over 60,000 gallons
of propane was always a concern, but never a bother. I mean,
what were the odds? Much like serving in the Great Sitkin.
The last AE that blew up was the USS Mount Hood AE-11, that
was in 1944. So, we raised a family, started a business, and
made a life and a living in the shadow of what could be, but
probably would “never be.”
Well, on September 1st last year, the “never be” became
reality. At 12:47 PM, the propane company had an accident
that caused an explosion and fire, and that fire burned away
a third of our business. Our home was spared fire damage,
although flying shrapnel caused some structural damage. But
the fire did burn a garage to the ground where we housed 11
antique cars and trucks, as well as a large display of fire
service and military memorabilia. And, it’s also where I
kept all of our Great Sitkin memorabilia, as well as all of
the ships store merchandise. In the beginning of my report,
I mentioned that it’s been 40 years since the 71 Med
Cruise. I kept a journal of the trip, I could go back and
tell you just where we were on March 1st, 1971, and any
other important dates of the cruise. That journal, along
with all of my pictures, and the 8mm movies I took, were in
the garage. Thankfully, a lot of the pictures are on the
website, and the deck log and history sections have some of
the events covered, but the tangibles are gone.
So, in closing, what’s my point in dragging my troubles in
front of the crew? Only this. 40 years from now, if I
haven’t been released from this earthly cruise, I’ll be 100
years old, and probably not caring much about what I did in
the Med in 1971. Annual reunions will be a thing of the
past, and the newsletter will have long ceased to exist.
Maybe, in whatever form the Internet finds itself in in
2050, greatsitkin.org will still be available to
grandchildren and great grandchildren who want to see where
PopPop served in the Navy. But for now, let’s make the
memories we still can. Your annual dues will keep the
website going for many years. And our reunion each year will
keep us in touch, for as long as we can. But someday, the
word will reach you that a friend from your Great Sitkin
days has passed to their Reward, and you will feel bad about
not having one, last time together.
See you in Chattanooga.