The Newsletter of the USS SLATER's Volunteers
By Timothy C. Rizzuto, Ship's Superintendent
Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
Phone (518) 431-1943, Fax 432-1123
The morning of June 19th dawned partly cloudy, but a good day for our DE Day Memorial service. The program started at 0930 hours aboard the USS SLATER DE-766. Our Master of Ceremonies was our hero from Korea CAPT Greg Krawczyk, USNR, who came all the way from his new duty station in Washington D.C. for the event. CAP-DESA Yeoman Bob Donlon and our own Paul Czesak put together a touching ceremony to mark the day. This year not only were we honored to have our own Mayor Gerald Jennings, County Executive Mike Breslin and Rensselaer County Exec Kathy Jimino. Also attending the event as well were State Assemblymen Ron Canestrari, and the man who got us the grant to restore the whaleboat, Assemblyman Bob Prentiss, who is still waiting for his invitation for his boat ride.
Museum Vice Chairman Martin Davis gave a brief history of DE Day. Shipmates from the CAP-DESA Chapter of DESA remembered the ships and their shipmates who were lost by dropping a carnation into the Hudson for each ship and following it with a salute. Tom Sawyer's Saratoga National Cemetery Honor Guard did a three volley rifle salute followed by Erik Collin's three gun salute from the SLATER's own "K" guns. Steve Stella ended the service with a beautiful rendition of TAPS. Special thanks to CAP-DESA members that participated: Paul Albertine DE-228, Les Beauchaine DE-509, Bob Callender DE-744, Dick Cromer DE-634, Doc Dachenhausen, Martin Davis DE-253, Bob Donlon DE-419, John Fautz, Don Justus DE-766, Don Kruse DE-682, Ray Lammers APD-81, Ron Mazure MSO-47, Stan McMillan DE-693, Bob Nolte, Hank Rizzo DE-158, Sam Saylor DE-306, Bill Scharoun DE-701, Dick Smith DE-5, and Larry Williams DE-246. CAP-DESA Auxiliary members present included Betty Ringanese, President, Helen Andersen, Treasurer, Joanne Albertine, Shain Davis, Dot Everin, Mary Alice Kruse, Judy McMillan, Mary Smith, Annette Beauchaine, Lynn Donlon, Mary Donlon, Meghan Garcia, Dot Gerrish, Marian Rizzo and Geri Scharoun. Hank Rizzo again donated the flowers. CAP-DESA also provided quality music from Robert Ditton, Piper, from the Albany Police Pipes and Drums. A check in the amount of $300 was presented to us for the USS SLATER Endowment Fund from the Ladies Auxiliary.
We were especially honored to give out a few special awards. We publicly recognized the past volunteer efforts of two of my favorites, Dick Smith and Ray Lammers, who have had to pull back from the restoration effort due to health reasons and are sorely missed. Our own Beth Spain was given the RADM Josephthal award for being the most outstanding naval reserve surface sailor for the year 2003. She also received the "Soldier of the Quarter" award from Team Indian Point, 27th BDE, National Guard, for her service with the NYSDMNA and CO of the patrol boat PRIVATEER. Apparently they haven't come up with a "Sailor of the Quarter" award, but we're all proud of her.
In conjunction with the Memorial Service, that evening was the social event of the SLATER Season, USS SLATER night at the Fort Orange Club. A word about the Fort Orange Club. Established in 1880, it is probably the most exclusive venue in Albany. Don't even think about entering the dining room if you don't have a jacket and tie on. Don't ask me how I know that, because as with most things in life, I learned it the hard way. The afternoon was spent decorating the club for our event under the direction of our own Rosehn Gipe directing the movement of SLATER artifacts to the club for display during the dinner. Guests entering the lobby were greeted by a steering stand and helm to set the mood, and various tables around the club held ship models, navigational instruments and accoutrements of day to day shipboard life to help the old salts rekindle memories and explain shipboard life to their spouses. Among the guests were Sheridan and Susan Biggs, Charles and Charlotte Buchanan, Richard and Monique Cunningham, Jim and Rhea Clark, Ed and Jeanne Neff, Deborah Onslow, Richard and Ellen Robison, Bill Cromie, and Jim and Joanne Lenden, eleven SLATER volunteers and spouses, as well as many old friends.
The steering committee had put together an elegant black tie event that began with Cocktails & H'ors d'oeuvres in the West Lounge. A group photo was taken to commemorate the event and after everyone was well relaxed, a bagpiper led the group upstairs to the President's Room for the formal part of the program. I should note that the room gets its name from the fact that there are framed pictures of every President of the Club since its inception. Though Frank Lasch's picture is prominently displayed and I'd just spent an hour at an open bar, I withheld the urge to shout out, "Hey, I know that guy!" At this point, Frank took over as Master of Ceremonies and introduced everyone to the SLATER and thanked everyone for their support. He then introduced SLATER Board member and benefactor Robert Cross who gave a lively and informative talk on Franklin Roosevelt as the Sailor in the White House. Next up, Capt. Greg Krawzyk was on stage again to talk about his tour of duty in Korea and his efforts on behalf of the SLATER to obtain parts from the former USS CAVALLARO and the generosity of the Republic of Korea Navy. Finally, it was my turn to speak on "The USS Slater, Then and Now," to give a recap of all the progress we have made, but more importantly of our future needs for dry-docking funding and a permanent mooring.
Then, Albany Police Piper led us back downstairs to the Main Dining Room. As we took our seats, Tony Esposito's Ft. Orange Singers led us in a rendition of the National Anthem. Former destroyer sailor Bishop David Ball gave the invocation and we were served one of the finest dinners I've ever eaten in my life, starting with traditional Navy bean soup, and moving up the culinary ladder from there to some wonderfully tender beef. The meal was completed with the traditional formal toasts with fine port wine to, first the President of the United States. And then the other four service branches, The United States Marine Corps by Major Kyle East, the United States Army by Hal Hatfield, the United States Coast Guard by Doug Tanner, and the United States Air Force by Al Van Derzee. Then the seats were resumed, Frank made his closing remarks and called for the semi-final toast: "To the ladies." Then Capt. Greg Krawczyk made the final toast, "Ladies and gentlemen, the United States Navy." All responded with a hearty "The Navy."
At the conclusion of the toasts Bishop Ball gave the Benediction and the Ft. Orange Singers led the group in singing the Navy Hymn. We then adjourned back to West Lounge for the Afterglow with Cordials & Coffee. The meal was a wonderful event that brought a lot of us out of the bilges and up to the promenade deck. It gave us all a chance to meet and mingle with the community leaders who will have a lot of impact on the future of the SLATER, and hopefully gave them a real chance to learn first hand what the SLATER volunteers have been doing to preserve this cherished piece of our nation's heritage. Our thanks to all who worked so hard to make this event a success, especially Doris Fischer, Geoffrey and Thessaly Bullard, Tony Esposito, Gordon Lattey, Paul Czesak, and our own Frank Lasch.
Meanwhile, ship's work went on without missing a beat. The whaleboat went into the water for the season on the 26th of June. Hack Charbonneau, Frank Beeler, Barry Witte, and new volunteer Nelson Potter handled the anchor windlass and the falls. At the boat we had talker Alan Fox, Bob Lawrence, Stan Murawski, Joe Breyer, and the boat crew Rocky Rockwood and Roy Gunther. It was a small crew, but we didn't have any real problems. We got all the lines fair led, and picked her up, swung her out and lowered away. That simple process took about two hours. If we were rescuing a pilot, he didn't have a chance. And it was flat calm to boot. Can't imagine putting one over in fifteen foot swells. Roy rode the boat down, and we towed him around to the fantail. Then he and Rocky secured the boat off the port quarter as we let her sit for a few days to swell up. Meanwhile the deck gang got all the lines secured and restowed all the tackle.
That would have made it a successful day right there, but as we were securing the boat, a covered trailer pulled by a pick up truck from Massachusetts came in. It was volunteer Steve Whynot and Gene Byers who volunteer on the JOSEPH P. KENNEDY JR. DD850 in Fall River. In another inter-ship arms exchange, they brought fifteen inert hedgehog projectiles still in the original crates, and a "K" gun and arbor for Erik Collin to play with. As soon as the boat was secure, we called the crew to the pier and began loading the hundred pound hedgehogs, which are still stacked on the quarterdeck as I write. They will be stowed in the hedgehog magazine, main deck portside forward. The space will be placed on display as an unrestored compartment to give people a better sense of how far we have come with the restoration of the SLATER. These hedgehog projectiles had a long trip. They were originally spotted through the efforts of Peter Papadakos, Chris Nardi and Rich Angelini of the Battleship MASSACHUSETTS while they were spotting gear in Nevada. It just shows the kind cooperation taking place among members of the historic fleet.
And that wasn't all for Saturday. As the whaleboat was going into the water and the hedgehogs were being unloaded, the radio gang was gearing up for their annual American Radio Relay League Field Day. In this emergency exercise, Amateur Radio operators work ‘round the clock to set up field radio communication stations, get on the air, and contact thousands of other operators in the U.S. and Canada as part of participation in this test of their emergency preparedness. This is an annual exercise sponsored by the American Radio Relay League. For many years, Field Day has provided practice and a demonstration of the capability of radio amateur (ham) operators to provide emergency communications in times of natural disaster such as hurricane or earthquake. When telephone lines are disrupted and regular commercial power is off (and even the Internet is down) amateur radio operators throughout the world have demonstrated their unique ability to handle emergency communications using their own radio equipment and power generators to assist government agencies at all levels. Three of our licensed "HAMs" participated in the drill, using transmitters and receivers powered by an onboard emergency generator. Despite being in what they call an "Electromagnetic black hole" here under the Dunn Bridge, Jerry Jones, Joe Breyer, and Stan Murawski made 292 contacts from Russia to Hawaii. Joe said the high points were Stan's Strawberry & Rhubarb pie and the rescue of whaleboat by one heroic radioman.
Thus, I left the ship that day at 1700 feeling things were in good hands. We had an overnight encampment aboard with twenty Girl Scouts with Gordon Lattey, Paul Czesak and Penny Welbourne supervising. And we had the radio gang aboard in force conducting their drill. The ship was well manned, and it was a good thing. I had just gotten home, taken off my shoes, put on my shorts and propped my feet up when I got a call from Gordon Lattey. The whaleboat was sinking. Down came the feet, on came the shoes, and I was back on the ship fifteen minutes later. The electrical cord to the bilge pump had pulled apart and she was taking water. Down in the boat, while the rest of the crew was discussing the risk of getting their uniforms dirty, ET1 Jerry Jones had climbed down the rickety Jacob's ladder and was pumping furiously with the hand pump. At this point, we might want to say a word about ET1 Jones. A highly skilled technician with both computers and electronics, physical activity is not his forte. You may recall this is the gentleman whose answer to "You need to get into shape" is "Round is a shape." His nose can detect fresh pizza at a thousand yards, and he never met a donut he didn't like. He is currently under treatment by seven doctors, who "Never talk to each other" for a heart condition, and is taking twelve medications. In other words, he has about as much business going down a Jacob's ladder as his wife has climbing Mount Washington. But that's another story. We got the pump plugged back in, got some buckets, and it took about fifteen minutes of continuous bailing to get the water back down. After that the pump seemed to keep up with it fine. It is interesting to note that the whaleboat has a backup bilge pump hooked up to the 12 volt battery that should have come on when the 120-volt pump failed. It didn't. Jerry's only comment was, "I'm sixty-five years old, and I've never lost a ship. I wasn't about to go down in SLATER's whaleboat." And he made it back up the Jacob's ladder okay.
By now all of you should have received a book of raffle tickets from the Los Angeles Chapter of DESA. We again want to thank our shipmates who are holding their annual raffle on behalf of the SLATER. Please support their fund-raiser by sending in your tickets and your check. Thanks Los Angeles Chapter Shipmates for all of the hard work you put into our raffle. Due to a foul-up in the mailing of the raffle tickets, it was necessary to extend the drawing date to August 31. This in no way affects the integrity of the drawing. It means if you win you will have to wait a bit longer to get your winnings. Also, on June 25-26, we participated in the "I Love New York Main Street Festival" at the New Baltimore Travel Plaza. The festival is sponsored by the New York Thruway Authority. We set up a display, including our video and Jerry Jones' nifty MP3 with speaker that simulates sonar pings and Morse code traffic. Thanks to Russ Ferrer, Bob Donlon, Jerry Jones, and Kay & Dick Eberle for manning the booth and encouraging travelers to stop in Albany and visit the SLATER. Also, a couple of events to mark on your calendars. Remember that we will be looking for a large painting crew on August 17th and 18th to work off the Fireboat HARVEY and repaint the SLATER's starboard side. And the Michigan chapter of DESA has firmed up their fall field day dates and are coming the week of October 10th. You don't have to be from Michigan to participate. If you're interested in doing a little volunteer work on the old SLATER contact Earl Moorhouse, phone 248-549-1907 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Erik Collin did a beautiful restoration job on the secondary compass binnacle, and felt that should have been a photo op. At the same time, he redesigned the website home page, so if you haven't visited lately, take a look. The crew continues as before. The shipfitters were quite unhappy about their lack of recognition when they activated the new shipboard septic pump and pumped sewerage from the ship into the City septic system for the first time. They felt that there should have been a ribbon cutting, a little media coverage, or a least a photo op of the "Ship's Superintendent opening the valve to release more of the same type of material he's been writing ever since he came to the SLATER. "
See you next month.
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