The Newsletter of the USS SLATER's Volunteers
By Timothy C. Rizzuto, Executive Director
Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
Phone (518) 431-1943, Fax 432-1123
This short month ended with our streak of mild weather continuing. Compared to the last two years, this has been unbelievable. Now opening day is a mere month away.
We're gearing up for the 2016 season, with our tour guide refresher training set for Saturday, March 12. Our overnight caterer will provide lunch for the docents and the maintenance crew. Which bring us to the fact that we are always looking to recruit new tour guides. If you live within a 50-mile radius of the ship and can commit to two days a month or more, April-November, we welcome your volunteer application. We're looking for people with a love of history and an outgoing personality. Giving a tour consists of leading a group of 5-15 people through the ship, and giving a series of two-minute lectures at 15 stops around the ship. We do all the training, and we make sure you are prepared and confident about the material before we send you out on your own. We've trained all kinds of people over the years, but prior Navy service certainly makes the training easier. If you're interested you can download our volunteer application here: http://www.ussslater.org/participate/volunteers.html You'll be joining a great group of people and making an important contribution to naval history, and to our community.
We have been busy scheduling overnights, tours, and Speakers Bureau Presentations. We have presentations coming up at Woodlawn Commons in Saratoga Springs and Heermance Memorial Library in Coxsackie, as well as a few others scheduled for later in the season. Shanna will be attending University of Scouting (Pow Wow) at Shaker High School, aiming to keep the scouts involved with SLATER for tours and overnights.
Inside the trailer, Rosehn and Shanna have been working hard (through the construction!) to get everything ready for the season, and keep the ship going throughout the winter. Over the winter, Claire Burgon has been in weekly, doing a great job of processing our donations and managing our membership database. Thank you to everyone for keeping her busy. Your generosity is amazing, and the ship wouldn't be here today if it weren't for you!
We have also had our whole team hard at work researching! Chris Wright, Ed Zajkowski, and Shanna have all been preparing for our next Trim But Deadly article. Chris has pulled some amazing DE related information out of the National Archives. Having the realization that the document you're reading has probably not been touched since it was filed during WWII, is not something many people can boast about, and we're pretty ecstatic! Tune into the next Trim But Deadly issue to see what I mean! If you don't receive our quarterly newsletter, Trim But Deadly, and would like to, just head over to our website and become a member! In addition to this great publication, you'll receive invites to our events and free admission to the museum.
March 1st marks the 65th anniversary of the SLATER being transferred to Greece. To celebrate this, we are offering a limited time sale of t-shirts, including long sleeves or hoodies. These shirts are designed with the ship silhouette and an eagle referencing the SLATER's American pride. They also show her Greek pride by the fact that the Greek name for the ship was AETOS, meaning eagle. The shirt is only available for a limited time and only online. Check it out here: https://www.bonfirefunds.com/uss-slater-2016-fund.
We have scheduled our work weeks for this season. The Michigan Chapter DESA workweek is scheduled for May 1-6. The Michigan coordinator is Ron Zarem, and he can be emailed at email@example.com. You don't have to be a member of the Michigan Chapter to participate. The USS HUSE Reunion Association work week is May 15-20. Again, the event is open to anyone willing to work. The coordinator for that event is George Amandola, and he can be reached at Gamand@aol.com. Our fall work week is October 2-7 and the coordinator for that event is Dick Walker, and he can be reached at CascadeWalker@cs.com. Pre-registration and submitting a volunteer application to firstname.lastname@example.org is required. You don't have to commit to the whole week. Coming for a day or two, you can still make an important contribution.
The workweeks are a wonderful opportunity to interact with Navy vets, and contribute to an important cause. Berthing is aboard ship in the after crew's quarters, and the only cost is for the meals. You will be eating on the Mess Deck; food will be cooked in the Ships Galley. We divide up the food costs at the end of your stay. The work assignments are made on Monday morning, depending on your skills and what fits you best. Bring a sleeping bag or blankets, old work clothes. Maybe a sweatshirt or jacket for the evening. Also, you'll want to bring towels, toilet kit, medications, and clothes for a week. And, bring a bucket, sponge, rags, paintbrush, paint roller, and any special tools you think you may need. Showers are available aboard, but laundry is not. Bunks are rigged with mattresses and vinyl covers. For some reason, the lower bunks are preferred these days. It's not a vacation, everybody should expect to bear a hand. This can be a great intergenerational experience, too, and you don't have to be a DE Sailor to participate. You just have to want to help the SLATER. But, pre-registration is required.
One of the most heartening aspects of taking care of USS SLATER has been watching new volunteers come in as the older hands back off. This past year, we've been fortunate to add some real talent to our team. Bill Holt works in criminal justice. He's been working on Saturdays, helping Boats Haggart as needed, with painting and scaling. We picked up two new welders this past year, too. Danny Statile has done most of the work under gun three, and is now making brackets, so we can stow our pipe and bar stock in there to get it out of sight. Matt Clifford has been welding for Gary in aft steering and the laundry, and is also comfortable working aloft. Nate Shakerley is an E-6 in the Army Reserves, a demolition expert, and knows fire pumps, so we put him to work chipping paint. Ken Powers is a fire alarm tech who's been working with the deck crew. And, retired state worker Cathy Wheat has made herself indispensable as our Saturday cleaning lady, and getting the ship ready for opening day.
RPI Midshipman Tulsa Scott has done a great job keeping his unit involved. We're going to miss him when he goes to the fleet in May. Sophomore Nick Grocki appears to be the heir-apparent to Tulsa, as the RPI midshipmen liaison. Freshman Midshipman Paul Naumann has also put in more time than most helping set up our new computers. Pat and Shawn Sutton have been working with Barry, and helping Gary in aft steering. Pat Sutton served as a machinist's mate on USS Nimitz, as a highly specialized cryogenic systems technician. His brother Shawn served in the USMC as an infantryman. Jimmy Lenden has also been a regular, but will be leaving us in the fall as he matriculates at UPenn as an NROTC midshipman. All in all, it's been a great year for bringing new young blood into the organization. If you're so inclined, feel free to join us.
The trailer rehab project has been going extraordinary well, thanks to the mild winter. Doug Tanner, Earl Herchenroder, Tim Benner, Super Dave Mardon, and Tommy Moore have been making way more progress than we ever anticipated making in the middle of winter. The frame reinforcement is 60% complete, the installation of the new skirt is progressing well, the Ship's Store door has been replaced, and all the handrails have been reassembled on the street side and the ship side. Earl has even started cleaning up the site in anticipation of opening day in a month.
On the surface it would appear that Gary Sheedy's aft steering restoration is progressing agonizingly slowly, but the kind of perfection Gary demands and gets takes time. The project has grown, encompassing the steering gear room, but also the ship fitter shop, chemical warfare stowage, the laundry, after officer's country, and the adjacent passageway. Gary's dedicated chippers; Bill Wetterau, Ron Prest, Ron Mazure and newcomer Nate Shakerley have been doggedly needle gunning the aforementioned spaces down to the last flake in a hopeless attempt to keep Sheedy happy. Ron comes as part of the Monday crew, so at least he gets lunch out of the deal. But the Tuesday crew, Ron Prest, and Bill Wetterau don't even get a Smitty lunch. Ron was a radioman aboard USS CHARLES BERRY DE-1035. Bill Wetterau was an electrical engineer who did a lot of contract work on nuclear submarines. Apparently, what they have in common is that they love to needle gun. Ron drives two hours from Webster, Massachusetts for this fun. Bill only has to drive forty minutes, from Voorheesville. We wouldn't be anywhere without such dedication.
The engineers, Karl Herchenroder, Ken Myrick, Gary Lubrano, and Mike Dingmon are in maintenance mode. They completed work on the installation of the cooling system for the B-1 high pressure air compressor. They got the battery issue sorted out on the emergency diesel generator and have maintained a float charge on the generator batteries, as well as on the motor whaleboat batteries. They did a monthly test run of the emergency diesel generator without putting it under load, and the engine itself ran fine. They are just waiting until we put the cold weather behind us for good so they can get back to work on the 8-268A.
Boats Haggart and his deck crew, Paul Guarnieri, Bill Holt, and Ken Powers have been marking time, cleaning out the anchor windlass room and learning how to make monkey fists, waiting for spring. Around March 10th, when we start making opening day preparations, they'll have more work than they can handle. Guns have to be uncovered, canvas has to be stowed, circulators have to come up and be cleaned and stowed, helmets put back on display, vents uncovered, and a dozen other details to get the ship ready for the public.
Again, we can't thank you enough for your support of our annual Winter Fund Drive. It looks like this year's donations will exceed last year's drive. The contributions continue to come in, giving us enough operating cash in reserve that we will get through another winter without having to touch our savings. We'll continue to use your donations judiciously to honor all the men and women who built and sailed these heroic little ships for the thirty years that they served the US Navy.
Don’t forget the donate button on our homepage www.ussslater.org and to like us on Facebook for daily updates. Please be as generous as you can to help us keep the volunteers warm this winter.