USS Great Sitkin (AE-17)
2nd Issue, 20th Year                                                                                                                                                   1 March 2012

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

Secretary (Interim)
Joe Savadge
84 May Dr
Dillsburg,  PA  17019
George Kaiser
311 W. Oak Lane
Glenolden, PA 19036


From Our President:  Here it is March already and Spring is just around the corner.  I have no idea where the time has gone these past couple of months as it seems like just a couple of weeks ago we were in Chattanooga having a good time.  Not much has gone on to report about.  We did here from the insurance company about the items we lost in the fire at George’s Storage units.  The news is not good….  After at lot of talks with his attorney, George informed us that the other person’s insurance was not going to cover the loss since we did not actually “rent” space from him.  George has always donated the storage place to us so we had a place to keep the memorabilia. The bottom line is this…  If we want them to cover the loss then we will have to file suite against the company that caused the fire.  The Executive Board held a discussion about what to do and it was decided that it was going to cost us more money than what we lost in merchandise, probably take several years for it to go to litigation or trial and was not worth the time, effort or money.  Since all of the pictures we had are on the web site, basically all we lost was the merchandise we had left in stock.  The Executive Board also decided that for the time being, we were not going to restock the Ship’s Store.  Looking at the list of those that pay dues and attend reunions, most have already purchased shirts, hats, mugs, pins, etc.  It just doesn’t make sense to buy in the quantities needed to get decent prices and end up maybe selling only 25% of what we buy.  If anyone wants to, they can bring this up for discussion under New Business at the General Business Meeting.

Web Site:  I’m sorry to tell you I have some bad news about the web site also.  Effective 1 April we will be losing our Visitor Log.  Since the inception of the current web site, back in Jan 2000, our Visitor Log has been hosted by a web server providing this service for FREE.  They have decided to no longer continue the “Guest Gear” feature they offered, either free or for money.  They have provided us with great service for the past 12 years.  Not only was it maintenance free for us, they also had things in place to block spam attacks and foul language from being entered into the logs.  I am looking into seeing if I can locate another service that we can use for guest book feature.  It seems that everyone is going to Facebook or Twitter features.  I have looked into this as a possibility and decided that we would not go that route at this time.  Doing so would mean that I would have to set-up the account and maintain it on a daily basis to chunk out the garbage.  I don’t have the time to devote to doing that.  If anyone wants to come up with a way to do a Visitor Log/Guest Book using Facebook or Twitter and also do all the maintenance on it, let me know and we can discuss it in more detail.

     Ron Zimmerman

A word from the Vice-President:  Well here it is time for another exciting newsletter article! Ok,OK time for another newsletter article! Anyway I’m glad the snow from previous years decided to stay away, all the tulips and Lilies are about 2-3” out of the ground. It reminds me of the butter commercial saying “it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature” looks like Mother Nature is pulling a fast one this time. On a more surprising and Happy note our oldest daughter just informed us Grand Baby #6 is due in August!!!
    Now it’s time for the usual membership update, as of this time we have 106 paid members from a current roster of 214, I believe that last year we ended up with about 150 paid. Now for the bad news this will be the last newsletter for anyone who’s dues are not current. Sorry those are the rules folks.
    I would also like to update you on the 2013 reunion but it is still too far out for the Cruise lines to give dates and prices, hopefully by the next newsletter I will have something. So until them everybody can look forward to Baltimore.

     Jim Dunno
     Vice-President &  Membership Chairman

The Chaplain’s Corner:   "Good Day” to all of you. Well it certainly has not been a much of a winter. I don’t remember one like this one. We have folks around here that have flowers starting to come up. I am ready for Spring!
    We conducted a funeral last week of another WWII Army veteran, Patsy’s uncle Lee. He was 87 years old. He lived a long and happy life. One of his hobbies was being a Grotto Clown. He loved to make people laugh and smile. It made me think what King Solomon said in   Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Sometimes the trials and storms of life make it hard to laugh but remember, Psalm 30:5 “….. in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
    “A smile costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it. Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.” -- Author Unknown
    A last minute note. We just received word from Dorothy Hodnichak that Mike passed away.  We will miss him so much at our reunions. Please keep Dorothy and the family in your prayers.
   Let’s keep all those families in our prayers that have lost a loved one who sailed aboard the Great Sitkin. May the Lord Bless and Keep You..

Honor Roll Update
Russell Willard, EN3, '58
Paul Rhorer, Capt '70
Richard Stuart,  FA, '52
Albert Flaton, BM2, '63
Charles DeRoche  GMG3  '53
Antonio Avallone, MMC  '63
Mike Hodnichak,  ME3  ‘53

       Mark Rucker

Secretary’s Report:
  Spring Has Arrived Shipmates!  Here in PA we have the four seasons but this past winter was the most mild I can remember in my life-time.  I don’t have a lot to report in this newsletter other than we have lost some great Shipmates this since our last newsletter.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families.  The 2012 reunion will be here before we know it.  Hope to see you there.  I would like to remind everyone that if your dues is not paid up to November 2012 this will be the last newsletter that you will receive. So, please keep your dues up to date by sending it to Jim.  Until June, take care and enjoy the Spring and Happy Easter.

      Joe Savadge

Repair 3:  Getting ready some thoughts for this newsletter, I started thinking about the “firsts” we’ve all encountered in our lives, but recognizing the need for brevity, I started to narrow it down to our military experience. Further narrowing puts it to some of my own firsts I encountered early in my Navy experience. September 1968; First airplane flight to boot camp. First time away from home. First Navy uniform. Lots of first time stuff. After boot camp, a short time of reserve center boredom, then, September 1969; off to service school. Damage Control “A” School in Philadelphia. First time fighting fires, real, big fires. First leadership responsibilities. So many more firsts. Then came the orders we all received to that first duty station. For most of us, it was more than likely also our first ship. And even more likely, USS Great Sitkin was that first ship. My pal from DC School got orders to the USS Albany, a real live shooting warship. Another guy went to a carrier. Me? My first ship carries bombs and rockets? I was doomed!  November 1969; I dutifully reported, climbing the accommodation ladder to the Quarterdeck. “Request permission to come aboard Sir.” Hmm, first time I said that. And while I was standing there with EMCS Kerfien sizing me up for the first time, the first real officer I was to encounter came by. Holy Cow, this guy has eagles on his collar. That would make him a Captain! (Recalling my all too fresh boot camp education.)  Captain Hermann, my first commanding officer! A very awkward first salute, and I was ushered off to my first contact with my R Division shipmates. And so my time aboard Great Sikin began, with almost every day bringing me new firsts. Working assignments, Repair 3. Berthing assignments, mess cooking, first time underway, which very humorously was from Bayonne to the yards in Hoboken. July 1970; First real deployment, to our first attempt at refresher training at GITMO.  That didn’t go real well, so we went back to Bayonne for more readiness training, heading back to GITMO in October. By this time, I was serving under my third Captain, but he was really the first one I really looked up to. Captain Hermann left after only a month, being relieved by Captain Gerhard. Captain Paul Rohrer took command just prior to our return to GITMO. We did well this time, came home, and started prepping for my first overseas deployment. Along about this time I also met my first girlfriend, Mary. The last week in January 1971 Great Sitkin deployed to the Med, taking me on an adventure that would also encompass many firsts.
    Right now, I want to leave the “first time” thought process and talk about a significant third. As I mentioned, Captain Paul Rohrer was my third Captain during my time on Great Sitkin. I’m sure a lot of you have different thoughts about various officers you served under, but I consider Captain Rohrer to be the best. I really liked him, he treated a 3
rd Class Damage Controlman with respect, which was pretty cool to a 20 year old kid. I can remember him coming around the ship during working hours, looking in on things, keeping his ship tight. Comforting to know, seeing how the floating bomb carrier was also our home. He sent letters to the families of the crew, keeping them informed of what we were doing and where. And he got us home. July 1971, back in the states, and my first duty was coming to a close. Time for separation. Time to check out from my first ship. The last person I had to see was Captain Rohrer. I went into his stateroom, he kind of rocked back in his chair, “So what’s next for you petty office Kaiser?” “Well sir, back to my first job I guess.” He asked my about my first girl, and for some reason, he advised me 2 things. “Marry the girl.”  I did, My first wife, and I’m happy to say, my only wife! He also suggested I stay in the reserves, which I also did. Great advise from my Captain.
    Rear Admiral Paul Rohrer transferred to the Staff of the Supreme Commander in December. Those of us that served him are greatly saddened by his passing.
    Another important first coming up is my first attempt at co-hosting a Great Sitkin reunion. Ron and I have a great time planned, and yes, it will encompass quite a few military and nautical venues. The hotel is within walking distance of the awesome Baltimore waterfront, we will be spending considerable time on the Liberty Ship John W Brown, and we will be making a few stops at war memorials in Washington DC. Everyone will enjoy the Brown, while it’s not exactly like the Great Sitkin, it’s close enough to be able to provide a unique experience for us service force Sailors. Be sure to check out the website for much more info, and sign up early. It’s been almost 40 years since the youngest of us left the ship, I can promise that if you come to the Baltimore reunion, you will have a first of your own. You will see an shipmate you sailed with for the first time in a long time.
    Wishing you all smooth sailing this spring.  And remember, “Once a Sailor, Always a Sailor!”

George Kaiser

last updated on 03/01/12