Like a submarine which has to surface occasionally to recharge the batteries, I feel as though I have been rejuvenated from the recent trip to Vegas enough to go another year. But I must admit, I wouldn’t mind if the second weekend in September were to come next week. The group voted to next meet in Cleveland with Mike and Dorothy Hodnichak serving as hosts. The details will be made available in the spring newsletter.
After attending my nephew’s wedding in KC the weekend before the reunion, we took a leisurely three day drive out I-70. We stopped at the Barbie museum in Abilene where Norma got to see a #1 Barbie, even though she will probably never own one. But she thought the trip was complete a couple days later when she found the Biker Barbie #3 in Vegas. We spent a couple days visiting her cousin in Vegas before checking in to the Imperial Palace on Friday. As you may recall, I had little good to say about the people at Creekside Terrace in Gatlinburg last year but I have nothing but good to say about how we were treated by all the staff at the Imperial Palace. I would recommend it to any other group wanting a reunion site in Vegas.
But, to be perfectly honest about it, I would have to say that Las Vegas is not the best place in the world to have a reunion with people you haven’t seen in 40 years because of the main "detraction" which is so prevalent there. The hospitality room didn’t get as much use as it has in other reunions. I was glad to be able to spend a small amount of time with 50s shipmates Larry Merwarth ‘52, Doug Hauser ‘53 and Bill Hickok ‘52, whom I had not seen since 1955 but there was one whom I never saw during the whole weekend. When I checked into my room I found messages waiting for me. Plankie Peter Sluka had been hospitalized a few days before and had to cancel, as did Capt. Boice. Another message was to inform me that a recent find, Wally Sherer, had been found dead from a heart attack on the morning of Aug. 16th, just as they were planning to leave for Vegas.
In addition to the three mentioned above, other first timers present this year were: Don Riggenbach ‘71, Contee White ‘62, Ed Beikirch ‘61, Russ Willard ‘57, David Blansett ‘66, Gale Kratzer ‘65, Ed Rulenz Plankie, Frank Hausen ‘56, Alan Petersen ‘54, Carl Gill Plankie, Ron Brosius ‘57, Gary Brosius ‘59, and Tony Peet ‘70. (You missed him, Pat). Repeat appearances were made by Ron Berg ‘53, Al Ryerson ‘50, George Mitchell ‘51, Pete Pietryak ‘51, Herb Bradly ‘52, Wayne Keech ‘71, Dick Albrecht ‘48, Bob Cameron ‘48, Nick Huzinec ‘55, Tom Miner ‘51, Sal Recine ‘51, Larry Kozielski ‘52, Norm Pichler Plankie, Sam Carolluzzi Plankie, Garcie Roberts ‘48, Domenick Indelicato ‘51, Walt Carlson ‘52, Joe Festa Plankie, Fred Applegate ‘68, Ralph Pennacchio ‘51, Joe Theisen ‘51, Frank Perrelli ‘51, Adelmo Costantini ‘53, Joe Cuneo ‘49, Mike Hodnichak ‘53, Andy Fullmer ‘52, John Kelly ‘51 and our host Tom Schlundt ‘54
We added a new feature to our reunions this year - a memorial bell ceremony (complete with a color guard from a local high school NROTC unit) to honor the memory of the 125 shipmates whom we know to be deceased. This took place with a backdrop of a flag which flew over the Sitkin in the 50s which was so graciously donated by my paesano Pennacchio. It will be present at all future reunions. I also want to thank Ed Harrison who donated a bell to be used in this ceremony, as well as Tom for doing all the leg work to plan this get-together.
The reunion of people whom I worked with at the nuclear fuel plant wasn’t very well attended. But I was thankful that I had made the effort when one of the men died of a heart attack two days after we got together. That is why I keep reminding people to not wait until "next year" because next year may not come - and I don’t mean the Y2K problem which many seem to fear. As to my own health - I have had minor out-patient surgery for prostate problems since I got back from Vegas but, other than that, I feel like I’m good for quite a few more years - as many as God has me scheduled for.
I have just about wrapped up the search effort to locate Sitkin sailors. I have been through that entire roster several times now and have just about exhausted all possibilities. I do still look for info from any of you who may have "hints" as to where I should be looking to find the other 3700 without addresses. By the way, we lost contact with a dozen or so whose newsletters came back because the address was no longer valid. Please inform me of any address changes. Also, I would like to know if your phone number area code has changed in the last couple of years. My own is changing to 636, I think effective next February. If I don’t have an e-mail address on you, or, if you change e-mail addresses, please drop me a message so that I can update my records. There are about 125 on that service now which will save that many stamps and envelope licking because I will notify them when the next newsletter is posted on the web page. The address of the web page is still www.theriver.net/~gfrank. If you have trouble accessing it, drop me an e-mail and I will send the address back by e-mail so all you have to do is click on it. That seems to have solved the problems for some.
Added to our honor roll since the last newsletter are: John Luviano, Thaddeus Borkowski, Bob Addiss, Frank Vansickle, Albert Tome, George Iuli, Edwin Barberich, Mathew Barvir, Harold Nydick, and Paul Mosyjowski.
Others added to the address list are: Robert Planco ‘67, Earl Taylor ‘61, Jerry Krause ‘57, Norman Johnson ‘53, Wallace Burbine Plankie, Garrett Glover ‘58, Robert Breault ‘55, Lowell Boggs ‘58, Richard Bonnell ‘57, Michael Graham ‘72, Stuart Gibson ‘56, Gerald Agee ‘59, Lynn Raymond ‘65, Mickey Doyle ‘65, Bill Doyle ‘66, John Daly ‘64, David Pike ‘63, Richard Arena ‘64, Carl Anderson ‘69, Bill Bonvicino ‘65, Normand Gaulin ‘62, Oscar Guillermo ‘70, Bill Brecheisen ‘67, Warren Gramley ‘67, Lonnie Stephens ‘67, Albert Snapp ‘60, Carl Moore ‘60, Manny Stoes ‘ 57, Charles Stille ‘65, Bruce Tooch ‘68, Tom Mindas ‘69, Romeo Tamoria ‘61, Mark Wilant ‘72, Thomas Colburn ‘69, Timoth Wread ‘69, Robert Wesa ‘64, James Tait ‘67, Philip Weddle ‘64, Daniel Schultz ‘69, A. W. Trautwein ‘59, Bruce Bleir ‘72, Paul Finical ‘61, Paul Dipilato ‘63, Robert Case ‘68, Walter Cathcart ‘69, Felix Ciesielski ‘61, James Eibel ‘60, Gerald Frickson ‘66, Ernest Fischbein ‘65, Bruce Gervias ‘66, Timothy Heiden ‘63, William Yuengling ‘63, John Hutsell ‘64, Milton Sims ‘50, Alvin Spire ‘54, Russell Barkhimer ‘71, Joseph Solley ‘58, Joseph Bozick Plankie, Benny Barton ‘60, Charles Collins ‘60, Lee Bubb ‘71, Tyree Cornish ‘48, William Briggs ‘67, Claude Kimery ‘62, Michael Koyne ‘59, Donald Walter ‘59, Tom Burns ‘48, Howard Krommes ‘70, Carl Maiello ‘60, Robert Mitchell ‘59, Richard Regeczi ‘48, Thomas Dejarlais ‘57, Leon Ryder ‘49, Bobby Knoskie ‘70, Jerry Tomlin ‘61, Jack Gridley ‘58 and James Putman ‘66. As has been the practise in the past, I will provide the address and phone numbers for any of these people to other shipmates only. Why not take advantage of this and contact some of your buddies to make arrangements to meet in Cleveland next September. Or, as I know some have done, have your own mini-reunion somewhere.
I have been in contact with the AE Sailors group and asked their secretary for the list of Sitkin people they had on their roster. It showed several whom I had not been able to find, including Tim Hewitt ‘67, Ken Bagarella ‘65, Gilbert Taylor ‘53, Charles Turner ‘52 and Richard Weaver ‘51. I went up to St.Louis yesterday to take in the start of that AE reunion. There were no Sitkin sailors present but I did have the pleasure of visiting with a guy from the Mauna Kea who, in 40 years of service, went from SR through the fire control rates to retire as a 4-striper. I had no idea that EMs could advance that far. The secretary of the association has asked for my address list so he can contact you but I will just pass along his address so that you may get in touch with him if you are interested in joining them : Ralph Gaul HC63 Box 32, Mifflintown, PA 17059. His note says he is looking for "dues paying, reunion attenders". That’s a little different from my philosophy about our group. Yes, we would like to have dues from those who can afford it (raised to $15 this year) and I would certainly like to see every last one of you in the same hospitality room. But I will settle for just staying in touch with those of you who care to be kept informed about our group.
Adelmo has found a supplier who will provide shirts on a "no minimum" basis. They are Navy blue and have a gold embroidered USS Great Sitkin AE-17 over the pocket. They are available in S, M, L, and XL sizes and will cost you $30 each including shipping. Send your orders (with size) to Adelmo. Also, please send all monies for dues, pins and caps to him (he’s the treasurer). I will order another batch of caps shortly. Checks should be made out to the USS Great Sitkin Assn. and he has asked to remind the people not to be concerned if your checks don’t clear in a couple days as it is impossible for him to go to the bank each time he receives a check. He is still active in running a business.
I’m getting near the bottom of the page and running out of information at about the same time. With few new finds to report in future newsletters, I welcome any info you may want to provide. Also, I’m still looking for "then and now" pictures from those who cannot make the reunions. And don’t worry about the thinning hair or expanding waistlines - just about all of us, except Joe Theisen, have experienced those "changes".
See you all in the next century!