USS Great Sitkin (AE-17)
1st Issue, 20th Year                                                                                                                                                   1 November 2011

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:  
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 played.  BUT… 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, SN, ‘64.

Web Site 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………

     Ron Zimmerman

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 2012.
    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 Starbucks!
    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.

     Jim Dunno
     Vice-President &  Membership Chairman

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 & Joy!!
    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 generations.

 Ralph 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.

      Mark Rucker

Secretary’s Report:
  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 newsletter.
    Remember Ron also has the Reunion information on the website and phone numbers and email addresses listed on the website also.
    I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!

      Joe Savadge

Repair 3:  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 yesterday.“
    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.

George Kaiser

Sea Story:
   My 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 ordinary activities.
    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 remind me.”
    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

last updated on 11/01/11