Fall/Winter 2001                                                                                            November 15, 2001

 Association Officers

Ron Zimmerman Sr.
1000 SE Everett Mall Way
Suite 206
Everett, WA 98208

Vice President
Doug Hauser
609 Hillsboro Rd.
Montgomery, AL 36109

George Kaiser
311 W. Oak Lane
Glenolden, PA 19036

USS Great Sitkin Association
Web Site

Omaha, NE.
(Dates to be
announced later)

2001 Reunion: Sept. 13–16, Mobile, Alabama
The September 11, 2001 tragedies that had happened in Washington DC, New York City and the plane that crashed in PA, that took the lives of many, did not keep us from going through with the reunion. Through several phone calls and much discussion it was decided that the reunion would go on as planned for much work had gone into it and we would be there for those who could make it.  
    As it was, of the 117 we had reservations for, 73 were able to make it. A few had got sick in route and had to turn back; and I know by the many phone calls I received on my answering machine at home and my daughter had relayed to us at the hotel, along with the many calls I received at the hotel, that many kept trying till the last minute. Most who were unable to make it were people who were flying and had been grounded due to airport closings and were from the east and west coasts.  Ron Zimmerman, our president, was coming in from Washington could not make it in as all flights had been cancelled and had no other way to get there until after everything was over.  
    We had 12 people arrive on Wednesday and by Thursday the total was up to 43. Our Friday morning tour to NAS Pensacola had to be cancelled due to the base being closed to visitors. I worked with the tour director and came up with a tour of the Eastern Shore of Mobile. It took us to a Private Greek Church, beautiful beyond words, then next to a candy factory in an Antebellum home, and then on to Point Clear to the Grand Hotel, a resort area, for lunch. We then stopped at a small town for shopping, and back to the hotel. When we arrived there I went to the hospitality room and there must have been at least 25 to 30 people in there, which really made me feel real good. There were also a couple more that made it in time for the Cotton Blossom Dinner Cruise.  
    We left the hotel at around 7:00PM and boarded the boat at around 7:30, we had a good dinner and cruised the harbor and saw the shipping area which some say is the 12th or 15th largest in the world (which ever is right). Got back to the hotel around 10:00PM and back to the hospitality room where all mingled, drank coffee and snacked. But most of all I believe a lot of people met old friends and made new one. It was great to see people from the 40's, 50's, 60's, and 70's get together to compare notes.  
    Saturday morning we boarded the bus and went to the Alabama Memorial Park where we held a Memorial Service for our shipmates who have passed away. We also paused to remember all who had lost their lives in the tragic events of the 11th in Washington DC, New York City and Pennsylvania, in the buildings and on those planes. Then we toured the ship and at 11:30 had lunch in the ward room. Then we toured the Air Pavilion and saw planes from WW2 to the Gulf War. The submarine had been pulled out of the water for repairs and will be left on shore from now on. We then visited the gift shop for those who wanted to bring something back with them.  
    Back to the hotel for a little rest and then business meeting at 3:00PM, for the purpose of conducting old business, new business, election of officer's, and also to choose a location for next years reunion. Being there was no one there who had brought any information with them, and as I had received much unsolicited information from 3 places, San Diego, Omaha, and Virginia Beach, we went into discussing the options we had before us. All were briefly discussed and a motion was made to have Omaha, Neb. the next Reunion site with Kathy and myself being your Hosts again. The motion was seconded and a Vote called for by a raise of hands with 25 people who voted yea of the 34 or 35 there, so the motion carried. Omaha, Nebraska will be the site of the 2002 Reunion. From the amount of information I had received from them previously, I'm sure there will be plenty for us to do and enjoy. Exact dates of the Reunion and the itinerary will be posted in the next couple of newsletters once everything has been firmed up. Elections were also held as called for in the Association Bylaws.  
    Next was the cocktail hour at 6:00 PM where folks were met by The Azalea Trail Maids, 5 beautiful young ladies dressed in Southern style hoop dresses and full attire. They also did a little southern thing they do by entering the hall and took their little curtsy. In lieu of payment they asked us to give a donation to the Red Cross for the people of New York who gave their lives.  
    At the Banquet we had a DJ who played and sang during our Dinner, and since this year we had a Mardi Gras Party theme, we also had live entertainment. The Bienville Troupe put on their performance and Crowned our King and Queen for the night, Don Mclane and his wife Patti. They had a great time and Don really got into playing the King! Afterwards the DJ also provided music from all eras for our listening and dancing pleasure. There were a few times the dance floor was full, but always someone out there having a good time. Towards the end of the evening we had the DJ play and sing Lee Greenwood's, “Proud To Be An American”. Everyone formed a circle and held hands and sang. We all shed a few tears and not a soul was sitting down. We were all very proud of this country we are part of.  
    Not quite finished we still had a tour of Historic Mobile on Sunday morning. Our first stop was at a beautiful 1800's Catholic Church, under renovation, but we were still able to go in. It was very impressive. Then we toured the Mobile area and saw many homes built prior to the Civil war. We then stopped at Fort Conde, which is a replica of a Fort used during the Civil War to defend the port of Mobile. We then took a tour of Bragg-Mitchell Antebellum Home, REALLY, REALLY, beautiful. We then returned to the hotel and met with a few people to say good-bye to those departing for home.  
    We want to thank Bay City Tours and host Carol Peterson and especially Linda Cox, the best Tour Guide ever. She even partied with us on Saturday evening at the banquet.  
    We also want to thank all of you who had made reservations and could not make it due to the Terrorist situation, and hope to see you all next year in Omaha.  
    Well that is it for now, we hope all that attended had as great of a time as we did, and we are looking forward to seeing them, and we hope many more, in Omaha next year.  
                                 Be talking to you soon, 
                                 Doug & Kathy Hauser
2002 Reunion:  
As Doug mentioned in his report on the 2001 Reunion, the Crew has voted on Omaha, Nebraska as the site for next year’s get-together. He and Kathy are already getting started with the negotiations for hotel rooms, banquets, dinner out and tours. We should have everything set-up and in place for the March newsletter.  
    Once, everything has been decided on, there will be On-Line applications as well as the information sheet that will be provided in the newsletter.  
    The dates have not been confirmed at this time yet as they will depend on the availability of hotel rooms, tours, etc. Right now the dates we have in mind are: Sept 5th—8th as first choice, and Sept 12th—15th as second choice.

Found – now Lost:
Since the July newsletter the following is the list of shipmates we have recently lost contact with:  Norman Gage, Terry Taber, Howard Townsend, Hulett McDowell, James Snider, Harry Hesser and Roland Curtis.  
  In addition, the following is our list of “Bad E-mail” addresses:  David Mogill, James Talley,  Wiley McLeod, George Tessier  
  If anyone knows the whereabouts of these shipmates, or has current E-mail addresses for them, please contact us at the Association’s mailing address or by E-mail at ae17assn@aol.com 
LOST, now Found (again): With a little bit of Internet sleuthing and some help from some of our Shipmates, several of the Crew Members reported as “Lost Again” in the last newsletter have been located. They are:  Robert Melville, Andrew Cole, Kenneth Rohan, George Inch, Charles Thistle, John Schrope, James Pixomatis, Paul Rufty, Thomas Gemperline, and Michael Kleinbeck.
Honor Roll: Since the last newsletter we have received notice that several more of our shipmates have passed on. All have been added to the web pages and will be added to the list for the Memorial Ceremony at the next reunion. They are: 
Raymond Francoeur, SM1, ‘59        John Stobla, SN, ‘52 
Melvin Hovan, SN, ‘55  
                  Alan Dollen, F1c, ‘45*  
Lowell K. Boggs, GM3, ‘58            Ernest Fischbein, Cdr, ‘65  
James Brown, SN, ‘52  
                     Our condolences to their family and friends.
                        (* denotes Plank Owner)
New Finds:  Since the July Newsletter 17 more of our shipmates have been located. These new finds are:
Kent Robertson, SN, ‘59                   Peter Briggs, SN, ‘61  
Christopher Niemir, SN, ‘71              Paul Brosie, EN3, ‘56  
Franklin Coleman, GMSN, ‘55         
John Evers, S2c, ‘47  
Raymond Federle, DC1, ‘56              David Leefelot, RM3, ‘63  
Thomas Scherer, CSC, ‘71                Albert Stephson, FN, ‘57  
Gerald Wolff, MM3, ‘56                   
Thomas Routzahn, BT3, ‘67  
Dan Prior, RD2, ‘70                           Robert Pratt, MM2, ‘56  
John Maniscalco, FN, ‘53                  Jimmie Pratt, MM3, ‘56  
John Henry, MM2, ‘68
Election of Officers: The Association By-laws calls for the election of officers each year with the election to coincide with the annual reunion. The result of this year’s elections are posted below: 
     2001 – 2002 Officers:
Ron Zimmerman (re-elected)
Vice President: Doug Hauser
Secretary/Treasurer: George Kaiser (re-elected)

A specials “Thanks” goes out to Nick Huzinec for the years he dedicated to the Association as our Vice President.  
Web site update: We’d like to thank everyone who has responded with sending us pictures of cruises, shipmates or themselves.  
    Over 60 new pictures have been added to those pages alone. We also have over 60 pictures of the 2001 Reunion posted and are expecting more from the photographer and from shipmates.
    I guess the only place we are really lacking in response is in the “Retired Crew Members” section. Now we know that there are a lot of you out there who made the military a career. And most of you probably have a picture of yourself as a “Lifer” in a photo album somewhere (if not on your wall), and that along with the big stack of military records you collected in the 20+ years you spent, there is probably a list of Duty Stations you were attached to.  
    So what’s the hold up? We’d like to get all your “mug shots” added. And just in case you are hesitant because you don’t like to brag. It isn’t a “I Love Me” page. It is to honor those who gave a lifetime of service to their country.
REPAIR 3 REPORT: by George Kaiser
    Well Shipmates, a lot has gone on since the last newsletter. While the big event a lot of us were looking forward to was the Reunion in Mobile, that was overshadowed by the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Both cut deeply into the heart of every Great Sitkin Sailor. The destruction of the twin towers in New York City also took down a portion of the skyline that many of us watched being built in the 70's. The pier where Great Sitkin was home ported in the 50's was in the shadow of the towers, and is still a part of what is now called Ground Zero. One can only imagine that among the over 6000 victims were a number of Navy men and women; active, reserve, or retired.
    The Pentagon attack struck at the nerve center of the nations military, and many Sailors died there as well.
    And as we watch the reports of the reprisal attacks on Afghanistan, we must remember our brother and sister Shipmates as they sail into harms way on the fast ships of today's US Navy. Especially let’s remember those on the AE’s and AOE’s providing the same weapons support services we did. Different ships, same mission.

REUNION NEWS & VIEWS:  by George Kaiser
    On the afternoon of 9/11, I called Ron Zimmerman to discuss the future of the Mobile reunion. It was the unanimous decision of the Ron, myself, and Doug Hauser to proceed with the reunion. (Attempts to contact Nick Huzinec were hampered by the fact that phone lines into that portion of New Jersey were jammed.) That decision would prove to be a very wise one indeed.
    In another portion of this newsletter, your new Vice President, Doug Hauser, has provided an excellent overview of the reunion. I won’t repeat his in my report, but I will add a few observations of my own. 
    My wife and I drove down from Philadelphia on Wednesday and Thursday. On our minds was the events unfolding in our country. Our excitement to get to Mobile was tempered by our concern for the people of New York City. Anyhow, we did get to Mobile about 1700 (this is a military document) Thursday. Even then, the hospitality room was a jumping joint! A brief trip to our room, and we were off and running! From the standpoint of a 70's crew member, it was fantastic to see so many old friends. A little older, some gray here and there, but what a reunion. MM2 Mark Rucker and his wife Patsy, CWO Don McClane and Patty, BMC Jim Halpny and his wife, MM1 John Borchers, CS3 Paul Marsan and Cathy, plus a whole lot more. It’s been a month, and my CRS disease is making me forget some of the names, but you get the idea. Don McClane was the last MPA on the ship, he replaced CWO Stephanski. the MPA from my time. On Saturday, all of us Snipes were in the engine room of the USS Alabama, and if we had a little fuel and a match, I think CWO McClane would have had the plant lit off by lunch! And for those of you that knew BMC Halpny, it will be a pleasure to know that he did 27 years on active duty. Pretty impressive Gypsy! 
    Apart from our era, there were quite a few from the early 60's, including the Cuban Missile crisis time frame. RMC Charles Ross was there, and one Shipmate (I forget his name) who served with him as an RM3, was also there and they had a grand reunion. The banquet Saturday night was a real great time of getting all the years together for fun and fellowship. The 50's guys went out of their way to mingle with everyone else. RMC Ross and myself wore our Service Dress Blue uniforms, looked sharp indeed! Got a promise from Joe Theisen that he’ll be in his next year and Patty McClane said Don will fit in his as well. If Ron Zimmerman and Sally make it, (heh, heh), he claims he fits in his too. Get the idea here? If you got your blues, bring ‘em, and wear ‘em. Anybody who wants or needs it, I can give you the number for the Navy Uniform Support Service Center, or your might be bale to find a set on Ebay! 
    Another important observation I made at Mobile. We had quite an impressive assembly of USN memorabilia on display in the hospitality room. Doug Hauser had his 1954 cruise book there, and browsing through it, I realized that an awful lot of our number were shipmates during that period, which shows why there is such a strong bond with that group. We have the same such bond amongst us 70er’s. When I first thought of the 54 team I thought “Cheez, I was only 4 years old!” It didn’t take much math to remember that in 1971, I was only 21, so that was an 18 year difference. Not much in the scheme of it all. All that to say that the years 1945 to 1973 the Great Sitkin was in commission, it wasn’t much time at all. This years reunion really showed that in a big way. I am really looking forward to “Omaha Beach”, Nebraska next year. Middle of the country, easy to get to from all points. No excuses guys!

BUS CHARTER FROM THE NE US:  I’m looking into the possibility of chartering a bus for a group from the northeast for Omaha. More info in the next newsletter.

SHIRTS, HATS, PINS, ETC:  Still have a lot of stuff back here in the repair locker. Hats; $16    T-Shirts; $16    Pins; $5.  In the near future, patches and stickers. Watch the website for more info! 
All store items can be ordered from:
        USS Great Sitkin (AE-17) Association
        311 Oak Lane
        Glenolden, PA 19036
Please make check or money order payable to: USS Great Sitkin (AE-17) Association.
    To ensure prompt shipping make sure your order contains your name, street address, City, state and proper Zip code (UPS does not ship to PO Boxes.).

PLEASE NOTE: Do not include your “Dues” payment in with your Ship Store Order. They need to be separate checks or money orders. 

    Special thanks to Don and Patty, Mark and Patsy, Paul and Cathy, Doug and Kathy, Garcie and Robbie, just to name a few. The fellowship of the Great Sitkin made this reunion both memorable and special for Mary and me. And take a few moments to again remember Glenn and Norma Frankenbach as they continue the biggest fight of Glenn's life.