From Our President:
Another reunion, our 19th, is
in the History Books. Jim and Joy did a great job putting
this together and had some fun and different things to do
lined up for us. The hotel was very accommodating which
helped make the event run smoothly. But I’ll let Jim give
you the full Post Reunion update.
Reunion 2012 Update:
Everything is in place except for the entertainment which we
are still working on. The few live bands we have been in
contact with so far have been way too pricy for us to
consider. George and I have discussed having a DJ as an
option. Most good DJ’s these days are computerized and have
digital music files of thousands of songs. This could be a
good way for more people to have their favorite song
before we go too far with this idea, we would like to hear
from the members that attend the reunions on your thoughts…
Please send your e-mail to both George and myself. We
appreciate any input you may have.
New Finds: Donald Rock,
SMSA, ‘72; Homer Smith, MM2c, Plank Owner and Joseph Rios,
Sorry folks, nothing this time. But I do have a whole lot on
my desk to work on. I just received the CD’s of the reunion
from Mike and Dorothy. That’ll keep me busy for awhile…….
FULL 2012 Reunion information is now available on the web
site, including Hotel information, Itinerary and
Registration Form. Bank is open………
A word from the Vice-President:
Time fly’s when you’re having
fun! Seems like we just get home from another reunion and
it’s time to write another newsletter article! I don’t need
to remind you to send in your dues because if you paid them
you’re getting this newsletter. For those of you who read
this on the website think about supporting the Association
and send in your $20, currently we have 64 members paid for
Now to update you on the reunion, from all the cards, letters, and
emails seems like everyone had a good time! One thing I need
to apologize for is I forgot to do a group photo for this
year. I received a lot of pictures from Dorothy which I’m
sure will show up on the web site.
The Hotel was great and the Convention Bureau helped out
quite alot, the band Sweet Georgia Sound was also great.
Seems the “Shore Patrol” showed up when Wayne Agee and
daughter went wading in the fountain. After looking at the
pictures of this event and seeing Wayne’s skinny white legs
I’m glad he didn’t consider “Skinny Dipping”!!!!
Joy fell in love with Sticky Fingers BBQ sauce seems I now need to go
online and purchase some. Rock City was a fun time also, did
everyone pick up on the Coca Cola written in the corn maze
below the look out? I think this tour was the favorite of
our President due to the fact it was in walking distance of
Once again Mark Rucker did an excellent job with the Memorial
Service. Thanks Mark. Chattanooga has done a wonderful job
of keeping this National Cemetery up and keeping the honor
of our fallen servicemen foremost.
Well on that note, I will close and hope to see you all again in
Baltimore next year.
Vice-President & Membership
The Chaplain’s Corner:
“Good Day” to all of you.
Well it seems that “Ole Mother Nature” had assumed a
Halloween costume for all those over on the east coast. She
made it look like winter already. Hope this isn’t an early
picture of what winter is going to be like. Ron maybe we can
ship some snow down your way.
What a great reunion we had in Chattanooga. Well Done Jim &
In just a few weeks Thanksgiving will be upon us. We all have
so much to be thankful for. Let us remember what the
Psalmist said in Psalms 100:1-5:
1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2 Serve
the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with
singing. 3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that
hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and
the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter into his gates with
thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful
unto him, and bless his name. 5 For the LORD is good; his
mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all
Waldo Emerson said it like this!
For each new
morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
Well it’s time to say “See ya latter”. Let’s
keep those families in our prayers that have lost a loved
one who sailed aboard the Great Sitkin. May the Lord
Bless and Keep You.
Another Great Reunion! Many thanks to Jim and Joy for all
the hard work they did for us. An awesome part of the
reunion for me was being to travel with Wayne and Irene
Keech to and from the reunion. We had a great time on our
travels. Wayne was so proud that Irene won the Special Tie
Pin of our Ship from the raffle. I know the Tie Pin will be
in safe keeping with Wayne.
Thinking ahead, remember next year’s reunion will be early in the month
of September – the 5th thru 9th Sept 2012 in Baltimore MD.
I’m sure it will be another great time.
I would like to bring to everyone’s attention,
in case you haven’t done so yet, make sure your association
dues are up to date to ensure you can receive the March 2012
Remember Ron also has the Reunion information on the website
and phone numbers and email addresses listed on the website
I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry
Can anyone of my shipmates I sailed with during the 70’s
really believe it’s been 40 years? It seems like everywhere
I turn, something else comes up to remind me of an event
that happened during my days on the Great Sitkin. Like, just
tonight, we were at a local pizza restaurant, they have a
detailed map of Italy on the wall. I was looking up
landmarks, like, Naples, Rome, Venice, Straits of Messina,
Augusta Bay, Hah! Remember Augusta (Disgusta) Bay? The place
was so polluted you could walk on the crud on the water. And
Naples, that charming little city in the shadow of Mt
Vesuvius had so many unflattering nick names. Wonder what
it’s like now? Do any of you wonder what things we knew way
back then are like now? Obviously, the Great Sitkin is long
gone. Memories fade. Fact is, I just looked back over some
previous newsletter articles I wrote, and the same, “been 40
years” theme persists throughout them all. An article in the
US Naval Institutes “Naval History” magazine a while back
was a story about a guy whose father was at Pearl Harbor on
December 7, 1941, and how he grew up with the stories of
that day. I’d like to quote a piece of that story.
“Under the fire that Pearl Harbor knew on the morning of
December 7th those men there literally became brothers. I
saw it, felt it, all hands did. I don’t think there is a
word in any language to describe what I mean. It’s something
that can only be felt, and no other emotion in the world can
be felt quite as strongly. It is the reaction that occurs
when all men present are struck with the realization that
they all were emitted from the womb of Mother Destiny and
that all are united in a common cause. For the thousands who
were there and survived, Pearl Harbor will always be just
While I in no means am attempting to equate the Great Sitkin
experience with the Heroes of Pearl Harbor, reading this
struck me with somewhat the same sensation of the
Brotherhood of the Sea. We were always in harms way, sailing
as we did with a belly full of bombs. Operating the
complexities of a steam propulsion plant. Standing by
dressed in an aluminized fire proximity suit while a CH47
Sea Knight helicopter dropped provisions on the fantail,
wondering if the big thing was going to drop itself on the
ship. Hanging over the side painting the hull. Geez, were we
crazy? No, just doing our job for the Navy. And in so doing
those jobs, we were all brothers, born out of that same womb
of Mother Destiny
A few weeks ago, I enjoyed another week with my brothers.
What a great reunion it was. Maybe the often recalled fact
that each year, a few more of are either gone or unable to
travel, makes each successive reunion all the more precious.
In the next few years, we’ll have some very great reunions
planned. Next year in Baltimore, we have another very
nautical venue planned, including a tour to the SS John W
Brown, a freighter very similar to our own ship, where among
other things we hope to dedicate a permanent display of
Great Sitkin artifacts. In 2013, we are actually going to
get underway again on our first reunion cruise. And in 2014,
we will be returning to Mobile, Alabama, home of the
battleship USS Alabama. All promise to be good times with
good people. Good Brothers.
Enjoy the holidays. And keep the Brothers and Sisters in uniform today
in your hearts and prayers.
father, Captain George Edward King, USN (USNA 1928) was
Captain of the USS Great Sitkin from July 1950 to July 1951,
a time when she sailed up and down the East Coast, north to
Newfoundland and south to Guantanamo Bay, Panama Canal Zone
and Trinidad. Perhaps some of you were very young sailors
aboard at that time. The Great Sitkin was my father’s first
ship command. Later he commanded the USS Juneau (Alaskan
again) on her final cruise to the Mediterranean and to her
decommission in 1955. His last command was the Naval Powder
Factory at Indian Head, MD. From there he retired from the
Navy in 1958.
My father might never have gone to the Naval Academy if
it had not been for the foresight and thoughtfulness of a
young officer who recognized my father’s abilities when he
was a seaman. Perhaps you fellow Sitkin alunms will enjoy
his story as he told it to me some time in the l970s.
George Edward King was born on April 15, 1904 in Normal,
Illinois and grew up in that very small town. His father was
a carpenter for the railroad and money was very tight. As a
boy, my father delivered milk with a bicycle and a wagon. He
was outstanding in school, always winning “Math Bees” (like
“Spelling Bees”), but soon was not allowed to play because
he always won. Instead, he was made the judge of the events.
For one year he attended Illinois State Normal University in
his home town, but became disenchanted with it and didn’t
want to continue there.
His much older half-brother, Pyrle D. Binnion, was a
Chief Petty Officer who enjoyed his years in the Navy and
who was much admired by my father. So with his
encouragement, my father joined the Navy on August 14, 1923
in Denver, and served as a “Hospital Apprentice, 2nd Class”
in Mare Island, CA. While he was there, a young officer took
an interest in him and recognized him as a Naval Academy
prospect, and said, “King, you should go to the Naval
Academy. There is a training program that starts up soon in
San Diego, and I think you should sign up for it.” My father
said, “Thank you very much, sir,” and went on with his
Time went by and the young officer was transferred to
another location, and my father forgot about his
recommendation. But one day, at his doorstep, there appeared
the young officer. He had traveled back to Mare Island to
find my father. He said, “King, have you signed up for the
Academy training program I told you about?” My father was
stunned that the officer had traveled some distance to find
him and was embarrassed to say, “Well no, sir, 1 haven’t
done that.” The young officer then said, “King, you’d better
get on it. Tomorrow’s the last day to sign up.“Yes, sir,” my
Dad said. “I’ll certainly take care of it, and thank you,
sir, thank you for going out of your way to find me and
Dad told me he was so amazed that this young officer had
made so much effort to find him and prompt him that he
thought it must be really important, and then went as fast
as he could to sign up for the program. He did well in the
program and gained admission to the Ordnance Department of
the Academy in August of 1924. In 1928 he became a brand new
Ensign. “And it almost didn’t happen!” my Dad reminded me.
All through the years he treasured his education and
career in the Navy, and often encouraged other young men and
women with their educations and careers. Throughout his life
he was devoted to the Class of 1928 and organized many a
“1928 Nutmeg Reunion” in Connecticut.
My father would be happy to know there is still a
thriving Great Sitkin Reunion. I would be happy to hear from
any of you who might have served on the Great Sitkin when he
did, or who might have served with him elsewhere. The Navy
was great for my father and also for my mother, my sister
and me. We still benefit from USAA membership, as do most of
you, I suppose. God bless, and thank you for your service.
Marilyn King Bartle