USS Great Sitkin (AE-17)
3rd Issue, 21st Year                                                                                                                                                   1 June 2013

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

Jim Perko
PO Box 675
Barnegat Light, NJ
George Kaiser
311 W. Oak Lane
Glenolden, PA 19036

Mark Rucker
241 Larchmont Ave.
Springfield, OH  45503

Editor  (Non-officer)
Dorothy Hodnichak
25850 Lake Shore Blvd.
Euclid, OH  44132-1107
(216) 731-5289



From Our President:  First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their “get well wishes and prayers.”  They were very much appreciated!  I finished my sixth round of Chemo treatments in April and have had both a follow-up CT scan and bone marrow biopsy test.  My doctor reported that the results from both tests show the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is in remission!  I now go into a follow-up program of two CT scans in the next six months to make sure everything stays the same.  If everything is okay after six months, then two more CT scans over the next year.  Once I pass that test, then one scan per year for two more years.

New find:  George Morrell, FN ’67.  Welcome aboard Shipmate!     

 Web-site update:  I finally got the 2012 Reunion pictures on the Internet and the Web pages complete.  I also added a couple of shipmates’ pictures.

     Ron Zimmerman

A word from the Vice-President: Now that Dorothy is back from China, word has come that it is Newsletter time again, and she is looking for our reports!  Of course, I put it off to the last minute too.  I don’t know about you, but where we live, it snowed on Monday and the temperature went into the 80s the next day!  Should I be surprised?  No!  It’s Ohio.
    Membership update:  As of this time, we have 100 paid members.  This isn’t bad considering the number of members we have added to the Honor Roll these past few years.  I found a Sailor, George Morrell, from the ‘67 - ’68 period.  Welcome to the Association, George!
    Everyone has been doing a great job in keeping us informed of their addresses, E-mails, phone numbers, and other important information.  KEEP IT UP!  Mobile is around the corner.  See you all there!

     Jim Dunno
     Vice-President &  Membership Chairman

Secretary’s Report:
  Nominations for Officers:  Nominations for the Executive Board positions are now open.  All positions are up for reelection every year.  Present 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 September 4, 2013.  Nominations must be in writing and sent by either postal service or E-mail. 
    Nominees will be contacted by the Secretary to insure their acceptance of the nomination and their willingness to serve.  If you have any questions concerning nominations or serving, please feel free to contact me.
    All of us have had many experiences on the USS Great Sitkin. We’d like to begin collecting stories to possibly include in upcoming Newsletters.  Think about your stories, write them down, and send them via postal service or E-mail. 
    In closing, please think about attending our September reunion in Mobile.  Looking forward to seeing you there!  Remember: 

      Jim Perko

Repair 3:   As we roll into the summer months and all of the ensuing crazy schedules, I’d like to take a few inches of this Newsletter and encourage you to look back at where you’ve been.  For some reason, it seems to me that I’ve been on this subject before.  If so, just let me say, “Here we go again!”
    Out of my 30-year career in the Navy Reserve, I have what I like to think of as three significant Navy experiences that shaped not only what I did in the Navy, but actually who I am today.  I am going to skip past my boot camp time to my first encounter with the Naval Damage Control Training Center in Philadelphia.  I attached with that command 16 September 1969 to attend Damage Controlman “A” School.  It was there that I learned all the intricacies of my rate, fighting fires, shoring, pipe patching, hull repair, woodworking - all that good stuff!  I met shipmates, learned even more about the Navy and was prepared to go to my second Navy experience reporting aboard the USS Great Sitkin in December 1969.  With my newly acquired DC knowledge and my sea bag, I entered into this new world.  Beyond being a Sailor in the world’s greatest Navy, I was able to forge friendships that are still in place today.  That is the reason I’m sitting here on a rainy Sunday in May doing my Newsletter report.  Hold this thought for when I tell you about events that happened just this past week. 
    After 18 months of active duty on the Great Sitkin, I left the active Navy and entered into the world of the Navy Reserve.  It was one weekend a month in a Reserve Center, watching old training movies, doing correspondence courses, blah, blah, blah.  No small wonder that when I got to the end of my enlistment in July 1974, I got out  as fast as I could.
    Fast forward to 1976.  It was one baby here, more to come, need cash, so I decided to “re-up” and go into the Navy Reserves again.  I’m lumping the period between July 1974 and December 1980 as Navy experience #2.  Not much went on, but I did make 2nd Class and was able to build my “Navy knowledge résumé” into a useful package for the next few years. 
    In January 1981, I went into a Reserve unit that was attached to the Naval Damage Control Training Center (NDCTC), Philadelphia.  Yeah, this was the same place I did DC “A” School 12 years earlier.  This is where I lived out experience #3.  We had a small unit, approximately 20 of us.  We did Damage Control, shipboard firefighting, and CBR training for Reserve units from up and down the East Coast.  We never set foot in a Reserve Center, only stood an inspection once a year.  We knew our Officers and Chiefs by their first names.  Most significantly, we trained Sailors on how to save lives and protect valuable Navy assets, and we made friends.  As with my Great Sitkin shipmates, I have friends from the NDCTC whom I still have close contract with today.  As we’ve seen these past years with Great Sitkin shipmates, time is working its way on us.  Slowly, but surely, our numbers are being called to the staff of the Supreme Commander; that’s military jargon for “passing away.”  On May 11th, I had the sad duty of putting on my dress blues and attending the Life Celebration Service of MMC Jerry Reynolds USNR retired.  Jerry was a shipmate from NDCTC.  We taught firefighting together for nine years.  Good Sailor and Chief; treasured friend.
    I was with NDCTC up until September 1993 when the facility was shut down.  For the next four years, I was with a unit based in Brooklyn, New York.  In January 1997, I walked over the brow for the last time.  Ahh, the wonderful world of Reserve retirement.  Live until you are 60, and we’ll give you your pension.  Okay!  Game on!
    Thankfully, I was able to connect with the USS Great Sitkin Association in September 2000.  Hmm…..maybe I could call that a significant “Post Navy experience?”  If so, then being a part of this with all of you is surely #1.  Just about the same time, I was able to begin my post Navy experience #2 by joining the Tri-state Maritime Safety Association, Maritime Incident Response Team, based in the PA/NJ/DE area.  
    We provide shipboard firefighting and damage control training for area emergency response organizations, as well as taking our “show on the road.”  We travel as far as Bath, Maine and Norfolk, Virginia.  This is where I was last week.  Again, I was spending time with brothers from the fire service teaching the same material I learned on the Great Sitkin and the NDCTC.  What goes around does, indeed, come around.
    Why would all of this interest you, our card carrying-dues paying members?  Simply this:  There is a story that’s been around about the guy who was looking through a cemetery reading the years on the headstones:  “John Smith 1923 - 1985.”  What the fellow wondered was what did that time period cover?  Take a few minutes to think about your life experiences, especially your Navy time, be it a few years or a whole career. 
    Leaving you with that thought, Mary and I hope to see you in Mobile in September.  If you haven’t been to a Great Sitkin Reunion before or maybe have been absent for a  time, please come this year.  I promise:  You will have fun!  And…….maybe you will make another memory to fill that period of time shown on your headstone. 

    George Kaiser

The Chaplain’s Corner:   Good Day to all of you.”  I hope you are planning to be in Mobile in September.  I’m sure we will have another wonderful reunion!  Doug and Kathy always do a great job! 
    Patsy and I just got back from our vacation in St. Augustine, Florida.  We had a wonderful time in this great city.  The weather was a little cold for this time of year in Florida.  We were able to drive down and have lunch with Ron and Sally.  He looks great and feels good!  He is growing some fuzz back on his head too.  The doctors are very pleased with his progress.  Prayer and Hope can move mountains.  Keep up the fight, Ron!
    It’s time to say good-bye for now.  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.

Honor Roll Update: Walter C. Beilfuss  BT2  ‘51,  Carl T. Franke  SKSN  ‘51,  Frank E. Hacker III  GM3  ‘61 ,  Donald H. Roberts  SK3  ‘55,  Howard B. Steelman  S1c  ‘46

       Mark Rucker

Comments from the Editor
:   Jim mentioned my return from China.  I spent a month visiting my daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren in Shanghai.  They are an Expatriate family living overseas, and China is their third country assignment. |
    I asked Joanne what helped her become successful at being an Expat wife and mom.  Her answer surprised me.  While growing up, she used to listen to her Dad’s stories about his Navy experiences aboard the USS Great Sitkin and the USS Waccamaw.  Not only was she fascinated with his stories, but she developed a real interest in everything international.  He passed on his love of traveling and all the countries he saw while serving on these two great ships.  
    Mike’s experiences didn’t end with his four years of service.  They have affected our family right up to the present.  He was very proud of his service to the Navy and his shipmates.   
    See you in Mobile! 

Dorothy Hodnichak

Sitkin Blog: 
I have many fond memories of my time on the Great Sitkin.  Two events especially stand out.  One event was when we went to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  As you entered the Harbor, the scenery was fantastic.  The natives would come out in boats, and we would throw coins from the deck.  The natives would dive for them.  It was like in the movies. 
    The second event:  I believe it was in Italy on either the ‘58 or ‘59 Mediterranean Cruise.   The Captain stopped the ship’s engine and put the whale boat in the water so we could jump from the deck of the ship into the water.  We then either climbed back up the Jacob’s ladder or the gangway was lowered to get back on the ship.  What an experience! 

Tom Dever  SM ’56 - ’60

From Your Reunion Host: 
This is JUST to remind you the reunion is only about 3.5 months away.  If you plan on attending, please call the hotel and make your reservation ASAP.  Sit down, break out your wallets and write me a check! 
    Kathy and I are looking forward to seeing all of you once again.  We’re also looking forward to seeing new faces too!  New comers:  Don't forget to bring your wife!  Family, too, if you would like.  The more, the merrier!  You are all welcome! 

    You have activities to attend, and you will also have free time to spend with your Shipmates, spouses, and friends.
  I have only two tours so there will be plenty of free time to do as you please.  There is so much to do in Mobile!  Almost everything is within walking distance, too! 

Thursday will be the Mystery Dinner Theater which is right across the street from the hotel.  We will tour the museum first, then have dinner and see the show.  You can have all the wine you can drink! This will be a good time for all!

Friday morning we board a bus @8:30 a.m. for Pensacola, Florida, to tour the Naval Air Station where we will have our Memorial service.  Afterwards, we will tour the museum and have lunch on the base.  We will be back at the hotel by 4:00 p.m.  Plenty of time to relax and renew ole times with everyone in the Hospitality Room!  Pssst!  Did I tell you how much there is to do in Mobile?

Saturday morning is “free” time to do whatever you please.  There is the Hospitality Room or you can tour Mobile.  There will be coffee and ice tea.  Good time to trade Sitkin stories and give family updates.  Family photos?  Bring them on!  Love to see photos of children, grandchildren, etc. 

Saturday afternoon (2:30 p.m.) the Sitkin Sailors will have their annual, hour-long business meeting.  Then you will have plenty of time to relax before the cocktail hour at 6:00 p.m.

Saturday evening - There will be an opportunity to have a photo taken with the Trail Maids.  The Sitkin photographers (Dorothy and I) will be taking candid photos too. Dinner buffet will begin at 7:00 p.m.  Then party time!!!  Yipee!!!  8:00 p.m. – Mardi Gras Party – parade, beads, and so much more. And…we will crown a King and Queen!!  Will it be you?   It will be a wonderful time for everyone!!  Live band and dancing until 11 p.m. 

Sunday morning – breakfast from 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.  Time to say goodbye!

But – first things first!!!  Call the hotel and make your reservation!  Secondly, write a check and mail it to me ASAP!  Third, set up your travel accommodations!  (Registration form on back).  See you soon!!  Kathy and I are pulling out all the stops!!  You don’t want to miss this reunion!

Doug and Kathy Hauser
       2013 Reunion Hosts

last updated on 06/01/13