VOL 11  NO 3                                                                                                                                  AUTUMN 2000





     The GIRA Board of Directors voted unanimously to change the venue of our 2001 convention from Las Vegas to Atlanta.  Despite the best efforts of GIRA negotiators (Bob Mitchell with Buddy Diebold), an acceptable agreement with Las Vegas hoteliers eluded them.

While the U.S. economy hums, that of Las Vegas sizzles. Last year Las Vegas reported some 30 million visitors, and they expect 32 million this year and still more in 2001.  Perhaps that is why they were somewhat disdainful about a couple hundred or so of GIRA septuagenarians.

This is far from a sanguine situation, but it doesn’t rate a MAYDAY or even a PAN either.  Look upon it as a single voyage being diverted.  It certainly doesn’t preclude our going to Las Vegas at another time, perhaps in 2002.

     Golden Cross, with the advice and consent of GIRA VP Raymond King, will be in charge of the arrangements in Atlanta, moved up (forward) from 2002 to 2001.

The dates are August 8--August12, the same as this year in Braintree, at the Marriott Gwinnett in Atlanta. Rooms are $79.00 plus tax, single or double occupancy. AAA Airport Express will provide transportation between airport and hotel.  The national telephone number for Marriott reservations is 1-800-228-9290. The local Gwinnett Hotel phone number is (770) 923-1775.

     So that Golden Cross doesn’t have an additional “cross to bear” in planning an event without any idea of number of attendees, please fill in the simple form at the bottom of page four and mail to Golden promptly. Your reply in no way obligates you for anything, however, it will give Golden Cross and Ray King a ball park figure and help them immensely in making plans and negotiating arrangements.

Thanks and best wishes.




Inside This Issue:


Director’s Meeting               Page 2

Membership Meeting          Page 3

Mail-In Questionnaire         Page 3

Gallups Reunion Report    Page 5

Favorite Instructors             Page 6

Reunion Photos                  Page 7

Convention Attendees        Page 13

Cold War Incident                Page 14

Biting Message for Tojo     Page 15

Canadian MM                       Page 16

Spring Dance                       Page 17

Henry Bacon & Benjamin Hill   Page 18

Letters                                   Page 19

Flotsam & Jetsam               Page 22

Ball Cap Offer                       Page 24

Roster Correction Sheet    Page 25

Silent Keys                            Page 25

AMMV                                     Page 26



AUGUST 12, 2000


     Present at this meeting were: Urban (Bud) Guntner, Raymond King, Homer Gibson, John Dziekan, Bob Clough (proxy for Ed Wilder), Bill Yount, Bill Anderson, John JJ Ward, Bernie Flatow, Gene Harp, Bob Mitchell, and Lee Schultz.  Our President, Bud Guntner, presided and called the meeting to order at 8:00 A. M. and welcomed everyone to the meeting.

     After speaking about the rising costs of everything, Bud proposed that Article VII Section 4 of the by-laws be amended as follows:  A stipend of $250.00 per month shall be paid to the Secretary/Treasurer and a stipend of $500.00 per issue will be paid to each of the editors of the Gallups Island Radio Association Inc.’s publications (Spark Gap and Gallups Islander) and asked for a motion to that effect.  A motion was made and seconded.  The vote was unanimous in favor of the change.

     The second change to the by-laws involved Article VII, Section 2 which defines a Quorum as the number of full members present at any meeting.  Bud stated that the Directors decided to add to that:  A simple majority of 50% or more of the votes cast will be required to pass any motions or resolutions at the meeting.  This was something that was left out of the rules that we believe should have been added.  After asking for a motion for that little change, it was moved, seconded and voted on.  The motion carried.

     Bud then stated that one of the biggest jobs we have at these annual reunions is determining the place where the national reunion two years hence will be held.  He stressed  the importance of having a member or two living in the vicinity of the selected site to be the chairman of the reunion.

     Bob Mitchell gave a brief report on the Las Vegas reunion to be held in 2001.  No specifics could be given at the time, as the hotel will not quote room rates until one year prior to the event.  Bob stated that he had gone ahead and agreed to raise the registration fee from $10.00 to $15.00.  After considerable discussion, a motion was made to keep the 2001 reunion at Las Vegas

     Bud then mentioned a packet of information that he, Ray King, and Homer Gibson received from Craig Weeks about Estes Park, Colorado.  After reviewing the list of available activities, such as horse back riding, mountain climbing, and fishing, no action was taken.  The consensus was that most of us have trouble getting up and down the steps of the bus, let alone climbing steep mountains.

     Bill Anderson suggested that we have reunion 2002 in the Mid-West.  Homer suggested that we have reunion 2002 somewhere in the South. Bob Clough suggested San Antonio.  Ray King made a motion to have the 2002 reunion in the South, Southeast or Southwest. Motion carried, and it was decided to bring it before the General Membership meeting.

     Bernie Flatow, National Chairman of Veterans Affairs Committee of the American Merchant Marine Veterans, gave a talk concerning the compensation that the Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans received from their government for their service during WWII. He suggested that GIRA might consider merging with the AMMV in order to increase the number of voices available to lobby the government for the same type of compensation for our services in the Merchant Marine, during WWII.  Jack Bandazian also suggested that it would be advantageous in such a merger and suggested that we should have a liaison member to work closely with the AMMV.   Ray King volunteered to be such a liaison person.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 A. M.

Respectfully submitted,  Homer N. Gibson,  Secretary/Treasurer





AUGUST 12,2000


     Bud Guntner called the meeting to order at 10:00 A. M.  After welcoming everyone to the meeting, he explained that we had just concluded the Director's meeting and asked for the cooperation of the membership in ratifying the things that the Directors had decided.

     The first thing involved an amendment to the by-laws, Article VII, Section 4, which specifies the stipends paid to the Secretary/Treasurer and the Editors of the two publications.  We had a motion made to increase the stipend for the Secretary/Treasurer from $150.00 to $250.00 per month and the stipends for the Editors of the two newsletters from $400.00 to $500.00 per issue.  Bud then explained that, since it figures out to be less than the minimum wage, it’s the cheapest thing we can get.  After calling for a motion from the membership, a motion was made, seconded, voted on, and carried.

     The second change to the by-laws involved Article VII, Section 2 which defines a Quorum as the number of full members present at any meeting.  Bud stated that the Directors decided to add to that:  A simple majority of 50% or more of the votes cast will be required to pass any motions or resolutions at the meeting.  This was something left out of the rules that needed to be added.  After asking for a motion for that little change, it was moved, seconded, voted, and carried.

     Bud then stated that one of the biggest jobs we have at these annual national reunions is to determine the time and place for the national reunion two years hence.  He stressed the importance of having a member or two who live in the vicinity of the selected site to be the chairman of the reunion.  After some discussion about the Las Vegas reunion, Bud asked for a show of hands of those who plan to attend the Las Vegas reunion in 2001.  A show of hands indicated that we will go ahead with the Las Vegas reunion.

     Sam Hucke indicated that he would like to hear some discussion about a reunion in Estes Park, Colorado.  Bud then mentioned that he, Ray King, and Homer Gibson each received a packet of information from Craig Weeks about Estes Park.  After reviewing the activities available there, like horse back riding, mountain climbing, and fishing, no action was taken.  Since the Colorado mountains are straight up, climbing them is not like strolling along little hills.  The consensus was that most of us have enough trouble getting up and down the steps of the bus.

     Ed Peterson suggested that we consider Pittsburgh, PA. for 2002.  We could tell you about the French and Indian War and we have the incline there.  Most people have never ridden on an incline.  Bud then stated that at the Directors meeting, it was decided to have the 2002 reunion somewhere in the South, Southeast, or Southwest.  Then several suggestions were made: Williamsburg, VA, Disney World, Florida, Charleston, SC, New Orleans, St. Petersburg, Atlanta, GA, St. Louis, San Antonio.

…continued on page 4

Cut along dotted line.  Fill-in questionnaire.

Fold and tape closed.  Adhere 23 cent stamp.

Mail-in as soon as possible.

Or notify Golden Cross at his e-mail address:









Please indicate your plans to attend:




______   I (we) definitely plan to attend.

______   I (we) may (hope to) attend.

______   Undecided at this point.





Membership Meeting   …continued from page 3

     Clark Martin stated that we should not forget the fourth coast.  We talk about the East Coast, West Coast and the Gulf Coast, but The Great Lakes is the fourth Coast.  He then suggested that Chicago would be a good choice for the 2002 reunion.  Several members stated that we would get lost in Chicago.

     Sam Hucke said he would like to hear more discussion about Florida, and Bud stated that we only have two members present from Florida and asked if either one of them would be willing to host a reunion in Florida.  Robert Hudson, a new member, stated that he would be willing to Co-Chair a reunion.  Bud thanked him for volunteering and then told him that he would have to get someone to be host chairman.

     Golden Cross volunteered to host a reunion in Atlanta, Ga in 2002.  Bud asked for a motion that we set the reunion for 2002 be held in Atlanta and Golden Cross be the chairman, or reunion organizer and he would set the date. Ray King offered to help Golden Cross in planning the reunion in Atlanta.  A motion was made, seconded and vote taken.  The motion carried.

     Sam Hucke made a motion that the by-laws be amended to include the immediate past president be made a member of the Board of Directors for two years as an advisor and be a voting member.  The motion carried.

     Bob Mayhew suggested that we make a mailing to the membership, asking for recommendations for a site for the 2002 reunion.  Bud explained that it was too time consuming; mail out 1000 letters, get about 500 back in a couple of months and half of them would probably be blank.  Then another letter would have to go out to vote on the sites submitted.  Besides, the ones that attend the reunions are the ones that are here, so this is where the decision has to be made.

     Bob Mitchell gave a report on the Las Vegas reunion, answering questions from the floor: he could not give any prices, activities, shows, stating that it is too early to nail down the specifics of the reunion.  He did say that reservations can be made directly with the hotel.

     Homer presented certificates of appreciation to Tom Cruse, Bill Corcoran, Jim Kinkel and Bud Guntner for exceptional service to the Association and its members. Bernie Flatow, National Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee of the American Merchant Marine Veterans, gave a talk concerning the compensation that the Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans received from their government for their service during WWII.  He stated that they received $20,000 for war related service for more than 2 years, $10,000 for 6 months to 2 years, $5,000 for 1 to 6 months and 20% extra for Prisoners of War.  The AMMV has scheduled a meeting on Long Island to review and determine the feasibility of petitioning the United States government for compensation for our service in the Merchant Marine during WWII.  We were denied the GI Bill, and we were denied most post war rehabilitation, in fact we really got nothing.  It took us ten years, from 1988 to 1998, to get recognition for those men who were denied veteran status on August 15, 1945.  We project that it may take another ten years to get this through.  We have an organization in place where we can make contact with most or all of the representatives of the House of Representatives and the Senate.  It will take a lot of work on everybody’s part.  The

…continued on page 6












Return Address                                               Place







Mail To:       Golden H. Cross, Jr.

                         1445 Lake Lucerne Road

                         Liburn, GA 30247-4334





By JJ Ward

     Gallups Island Radio School, founded in 1940 and lasting five magnificent years, arguably contributed as much to America’s WWII victory as any similar group. The first classes were composed almost entirely of Amateurs (hams) largely from CCC camps. We came from all over, we went everywhere as the title of our book proclaimed. Radio officers had one of the best and most important jobs in the world, the only crewmember without whom the ship could not sail.  A few skippers tried and were immediately relieved from duty.

     Reunion attendance was down significantly from 1997 perhaps because Braintree was the venue of the GIRA convention for the third time in the 90s decade, but enthusiasm of the attendees soared.

     It was Ray King’s third time organizing GIRA’s convention in Braintree, and everything was fine-tuned. When the hotel tried to switch our hospitality room to a “superior” fourth floor location, he said, “no way, it’s here in the contract.” So we had a hospitality room on the first floor by a side entrance convenient for to loading for the various tours. It also allowed for bringing in beer unobtrusively. I remember a St. Louis convention for another group when the Budweiser Brewing Company had donated substantial quantities of beer, but the hotel charged “cartage” that cost more than if it had been purchased from the establishment’s bar.

     The Plimouth Plantation tour was very popular. The village replica gave a lucid picture of what the pilgrims had to endure. Despite their good luck to encounter a remarkably mild winter for New England, only 52 of more than a hundred pilgrims survived the first year.

     The Boston area tour proved a magnificent success. While maneuvering the huge bus through the area’s serpentine roads and streets the driver gave us more early American history than most college 101 courses. We visited the locations where our revolution began. Britain’s General Gage sent 500 British soldiers (the best in the world at that time) to Lexington on a mission to capture Samuel Adams and John Hancock and to confiscate a suspected cache of arms. Aware that the area was a powder keg, he forbade them any provocation. But as Robert Burns so succinctly put it, “the best laid schemes O’ mice and men aft gang aglee.” (Aft Gang aglee is old Scot for often go awry).  And they certainly went awry here. The Quartering Act had British troops living in private homes, which followed that significant intelligence was readily gathered by both sides.

     The revolution began in remarkably beautiful areas. The first scrimmage occurred at Lexington when the forewarned militiamen numbering 77 faced off with 500 redcoats. A shot fired by an unknown individual (perhaps a nervous accident) started a short battle. But the “shot heard around the world” was at the north bridge in Concord a few hours later when the first British soldiers were killed.

     Our tour group lunched at Durkin Park, the magnificent restaurant established in 1832 and still serving inexpensive and tasty cuisine, before continuing to cover most of the downtown historical sites. Boston’s subway system, still operating efficiently, preceded New York’s by more than a decade.

     While falling short of haute cuisine, the hotel restaurant was certainly adequate and was on par with similar establishments countrywide. There were a number of eateries close by. But crossing the street to the huge nearby shopping center required both perseverance and stealth.

     At the general meeting, Atlanta, Georgia was selected for the 2002 convention site, and Mr. Golden Cross volunteered as chairman/coordinator. Ray King offered his service for advice and assistance. San Antonio was also a popular possible choice. Often the decision comes down to having somebody on hand to take on the myriad arrangements. Bob Mitchell gave an update on the Las Vegas site for 2001. It’s standard policy that hotels won’t negotiate prices and other details more than a year in advance. While the 49-cent breakfasts are long gone, Las Vegas is still a bargain with something for everybody. Last year they had 30 million visitors. This year they expect 32 million, which should tell us something.


…continued on page 6



60th Reunion   …continued from page 5

     Certificates of appreciation were presented in absentia to Tom L. Cruse, R50, former Secretary/Treasurer and long-time Spark Gap editor. Also to William Corcoran, R50, of Tucson who served as Secretary-Treasurer and other offices. To James A. Kinkel, R103, of Corroles, NM, for his legionary services in locating former Gallups Islanders and for myriad other duties. And Secretary/Treasurer Homer Gibson presented a certificate of appreciation to Urban A. (Bud) Guntner, R72 of Baltimore for his long and faithful service as GIRA president.

     Responding a suggestion from the floor, a moment of silence honored GIRA silent keys and ailing members. Best wishes were extended to Alex Newbold, Al Hadad, and Bill Devoe who couldn’t be on hand because of maladies that we hope are temporary. The banquet was magnificent, the food tasty and the music, from the same band as the last time, beautiful.

     Many of Gallup’s old grads demonstrated they haven’t lost their dancing touch. R15 had the most members attending (five). There were numerous inquires about Ed Wilder, R19. Actually it’s the first GIRA convention that Carol and I have attended without Ed and Delores being there. They’re were off for a fortnight to visit cousins in the Emerald Isle (Ireland).

     On Sunday a GIRA group departed in three vehicles via a back route led by the Kings for a three-mile (5 K) trek to World’s End, a beautiful tear-shaped land protrusion out into the bay that was saved from a master planned community by gallant effort of community groups.

Hope to see you all in Atlanta August 8 through 12. Mark your calendars.



Membership Meeting   …continued from page 4


National president of AMMV and several of the officers will be at the meeting.  I will be in contact with the Spark Gap and Gallups Islander publications so that we will notify you completely what is transpiring on this matter.  We will do the best we can for all of you.  I just wanted you to be aware of what we are doing.

     Bud gave a brief report on Les Rauber's situation and asked everyone to send him a card.  Jim Jolly brought greetings from Alex Newbold and Al Hadad.  Ray King reported that Bill Devoe had open heart surgery and would appreciate a card also.  Golden Cross made a suggestion that we observe a minute of silence in memory of all those members who have become Silent Keys.  Bud thanked him and a minute of silence was observed.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:20 A. M.

Respectfully submitted,  Homer N. Gibson,  Secretary/Treasurer


Who Was Your Favorite Instructor?


Ralph Albers thought to have a “Favorite Instructor” contest.  It’s unclear who won, but here are names that might jog your memory:


Bellman  -  Batteries & Motors

Bradley  -  Ship Board Lab

Canovan  -  Ship Board Lab.

Frickland  -  Antennas, Auto Alarm, Alternating                   Current and Meters

Furey  -  Superintendent

Garcia  -  Theory

Heinzman  -  Frequency Multipliers, Keying


Hollison  -

Lane  -

Lodge  -

McElroy  -

Moore  -  Power Supply, Detectors, Amplifiers

Mullen  -

Reed  -  Superintendent

Ricker  -  Oscillators

Smith  -  Lab

Snitzer  -  Ship Board Lab

Stickland  -

Summerfield  -  Theory

Summers  -  Theory

Sweeny  -  Code

Taylor  -  Code

Waller  -  Ship Board Lab.







* In WWII 8,651 mariners were killed at sea, 11,000 were wounded, 1,100 died of wounds ashore, 604 were taken prisoner, and of these, 60 died in prison camps.


* No U.S. merchant ship was captured.


* Experienced mariners who had been drafted were released by the Army to serve on merchant ships.


* Merchant mariners were subject to court martial.


* Of the 833 large ships sunk during WWII, 31 vanished without a trace.


* In 1942, an average of 33 Allied ships were sunk each week. That’s 4.71 per day or one every five (5) hours.



Reunion 2000


A quartet of lovely GIRA spouses chatting in the hospitality suite

Zelda Buckles, Carolyn Sherman, Rose Jolly, Elaine Clough




During the Membership Meeting


Ralph Albers holds court





Waiting for the bus

Photo by John Dziekan


Enthusiastic GIRA members prepare to hike World’s End



Hiking World’s End

Jane King, Carol Zimmerman, Don Fipps


On the North Bridge

 Bill Evans, Ken Shapleigh, Margie Hucke, Sam Hucke


Walt & Jean Rudat in Lexington




Farewell –again- to Gallups

Photo by John Dziekan



Gallups Island Memeorial in Boston Harbor



Gallups Island



Rose Dziekan stands in front of the Gazebo, which is the only structure on the island

Photo by John Dziekan


Inside the Gazebo

Photo by John Dziekan









Jane and Stan Jennings


Rion and Ann Dixon


Arby and Bud Guntner

Photo by John Dziekan


D Dotty and Homer Gibson

Photo by John Dziekan


Carol Zimmerman

Photo by John Dziekan


John (JJ) Ward

Photo by John Dziekan


The Joe Contrino Trio



Lorraine Cannarella and Jack Bandazian


Evelyn Ventola and Scotty Ferguson


Otto and Anita Claus


Elsie and Bernie Flatow


Bill and Terry Evans


Barbara and Gene Harp





Joe Gilmaker and friend Betty Barrus


Walt and Jan Rudat






Jane King


Ray King




Ralph H. Albers of Falls Church, Virginia   R009  W4ER

William Anderson and wife Marjorie of East Kingston, NH  R072  N1BWP

William F Banks and wife Dixie of Bedford, NY   R117

Jack Bandazian and Friend Lorraine Cannarella of West Milford NJ  R069  WA2ZQH

Wilfred Beaulieu and wife Catherine of Waltham, MA  R015

Robert L. Berger and wife Victoria of Bethesda, MD R049   W3TQZ

Robert A. Bouchard and wife Frances of Watertown, NY  R007

Robert K. Brainard and wife Jean of Homewood, IL   R110

John A. Brennan and wife Ethel S. Felts of Miami, FL  R110

Nelson Buckles and wife Zelda of Independence, KS  R007  W0JUN

David L. Calderwood  of Beaumont, TX  R001(A1) AB5KM

Arnold Y. Claman of Westfield NJ  R016

Otto R. Claus and wife Anita of Parkton, MD  R033  W3LZZ

Robert F. Clough and wife Elaine of Thousand Oaks, CA R007 K6RS

Golden Cross Jr and wife Edith of Lilburn, GA  R061

Stanley R. Cross, Jr. and wife Eleanor of Worcester, MA  R063

George W Cushman and wife Iris of Kennebunkport, ME  R015  N1VWS

Angelo Demattei of Belmont, GA    R097

Dr. W. Rion Dixon and wife Ann of Hartsville, SC  R017

Bernard A. Dorsey, wife Jean, and son Ira of Albany, NY   R061

John Dziekan and wife Rose of Bayonne, NJ   R108

William Evans and wife Terry of Trumbull, CT  R113

James R. (Scotty) Ferguson and friend Evelyn Ventola of Old Orchard Beach ME  R019

Don Fipps of Delano, CA  R100   K6EDO

Bernard C. Flatow and wife Elsie of Floral Park, NY  R044

Chauncey Gene Gercken and wife Delores of Kansas City, MO  R071

Homer N. Gibson and wife Dotty of Hermitage PA  R051   KB3APS

Joe Gilmaker and friend Betty Barrus of Villa Park, CA  R095 W6HGUA

Urban (Bud) Guntner and wife Arby of Baltimore, MD  R072  N3IAD

John K. Hallaran and daughter Karen of San Antonio TX  R026

Eugene Harp and wife Barbara of Eugene, OR  R091

Charles Havens and wife Jessie of Belle Mead, NJ  R077

H. John Hefferman of Falls Church, VA  R014  W4HVG

Sam Huckie, MD and wife Margie of Fayetville, AK  R015  KD5BYL

Robert J. Hudson and wife Cecelia of Dunnellon, FL

Stanley Jennings and wife Jane of Silver Spring, MD  R058

Dennis A. Jensen and sons Steve and Jay of Sun City, AZ  R050

James A. Jolly and wife Rose of Fair Oaks, CA R008  W6RWI

James Gordon King and wife Helen of Panama City, FL  R071  AD4NS

Raymond E. King and wife Jane of Weymouth, MA  R103  W1OBD

Gareth C. Linder of Braintree, MA  R023  W1ACL

Maynard Lonis and son William of Phoenix, NY  R061  W2MXE

Clark F. Martin and wife Virginia of Independence, OH R105

Robert Mayhew and friend Nina Lombardo of New York, NY  R061

James Mitchell of Pasadena, MD   R040

Robert H. Mitchell and wife Virginia of Broken Arrow, OK R034 W2CSL

Alvin S. Mullen, Jr. of Walpole, MA Instructor

Paul D. Ozbun and wife Dorothy of Kansas City, MO  R065

James Pafumi and wife Rosemary of Saugerties, NY  R070

Kenneth R. Palmer and wife Ann of East Aurora, NY R098  K2FJ

George Parker and friend John Anderson of Attleboro, MA  R093

Edward A. Peterson of McKeesport, PA  R077  KB3FCY

Frank Rines, Jr of Quincy, MA  R012

Walter Rudat and wife Jan of Sun City West, AZ R049  N5BAD

Leland Schultz and wife Maxine of New Brighton, MN R015  KB0DVM

Kenneth Shapleigh of Woburn, MA  R019

Robert Sherman and wife Carolyn of Murrieta, CA  R-4 (B-1)  ND6N

Nobert E. Sinamark and wife Edna of Shamong, NJ R047  WA2AIP

Raymond Stough of New York, NY  R015

John J. Surina and wife Elaine of Cinnaminson, NJ R007  W2VSF

Keith E. Wallace and wife Lynne of Spokane, WA R119

Jack Warner and wife Julie of Grand Rapids, MI R008  W8FCP

John JJ Ward and wife Carol of New River, AZ R019  K7OTE (expired)

M. Craig Weeks of Drake, CO  R008  W0WKY

William D. Yount and wife Christine with daughter Saundra Robinson of Palm Harbor, FL  R077





By Harold Hanson, R-046

Back in November 1948 with the Cold War on and the Berlin Airlift underway, I was shipping with the U.S. Lines aboard one of their forty-odd freighters. The SS American Harvester was a C-2 (formerly the SS Rattler), and I was with her, on and off, for several years.

This particular voyage began happily for many of our crew when we went up the coast to Searsport, Maine to load a cargo of potatoes. A couple of our mates had attended the Maine State Maritime Academy, and as we sailed up Penobacot Bay we passed by that school. While loading cargo, we fished and clamed and explored the area thereabouts. It was a new experience for many of us.

All too soon it was time to leave, and we headed across an early-December North Atlantic to Bremen where our cargo would be much appreciated. After a routine passage and a slow trip up the Weser River to Bremen, we found ourselves docking at Bremen’s U-dock. The U-dock was so-called because it was shaped like a “U” with perhaps ten ships accommodated along each side of the U and several others at the dead end of the U. We tied up about halfway down one side. Just across the way was a Soviet vessel—one of our Liberty ships which was no doubt a wartime gift to them.

With the Cold War already established and the Berlin Airlift in progress, our crew’s feelings about our former allies had cooled considerably. Many of the German stevedores working the cargo had fought the Russians so the scene was set, and the situation tense.

A day or two after our arrival, the Soviet ship was readied to depart. When the tugs came to warp her away from the dock, the stevedores and some of our crew began shouting at her. Then they began to pick up stray potatoes and hurl them at the departing ship as it came into range. Hundreds of potatoes flew and splattered on her deck and hull. There was little reaction from the Russians as the only men on deck were fore and aft handling the lines.

I had been only an interested witness to the action, taking no part until, suddenly, my anti-Soviet feelings surfaced. I picked up a baseball-size potato and threw it at the wheelhouse in my best center-fielder style. It was a dandy toss that struck the wing of the bridge just as the Russian skipper came out of the wheelhouse dressed in his dress blue uniform. He was splattered with the remains of the potato and furiously shook his fist at us activists. The potato throwing and shouting did not stop until the Russians were out of range.

This, however, was not the end of the “the Great Potato War.” First, let me introduce our skipper who had been with U.S. Lines for a long time, mostly serving on passenger liners. He was a rather formal sort wearing a blue uniform on board ship. A London tailor made both his uniforms and business suits. He had a way of turning his entire upper body toward a speaker rather than just his head. It reminded one of the Prussian officer in a skit that Peter Ustinov used to do. Our skipper rarely smiled, never laughed or exhibited any sense of humor.

A day or so later it was time for us to depart for Hamburg, and I was in the radio office doing routine chores.  The Captain strode in and looked at me a long moment before he finally said, “Sparks, I suppose you know about the incident with the Russian ship the other day?”

I said, “Yes,” expecting that he would dress me down for my part in it. But he began, “Heh! Heh! Heh! Well, when we get to Hamburg, ‘heh heh heh’, I have to go to our consulate, ‘heh, heh, heh,’ and make a formal apology, ‘heh heh heh, to the Russians for the way you men insulted them with your potato throwing. Heh heh heh.” He laughed all the way back to his cabin. And so ended our contribution to the Cold War.



By John JJ Ward


After the end of WWII, the Sagamo Prison in Tokyo held the Japanese military and civilian prisoners accused or suspected of hideous war crimes.

An elete American medical team was assigned to look after the medical needs of the prisoners (keep them alive until they were executed or released) and the crack U.S. military police unit responsible for security.

Prisoner Hideki Tojo complained that his poor fitting dentures were bothering him and requested a new set of teeth “so that he could speak better at his war crimes trial.”

The young American dentist who got the job of modifying Tojo’s dentures was also an amateur (ham) radio operator and couldn’t resist using his dentist drill to engrave a short CW message onto them. The plate was returned to a satisfied Tojo who wore them ignorant of the secret message they held.

The dental surgeon kept his doings secret from his peers but couldn’t resist confiding them to his wife. She, in turn, couldn’t resist telling a friend, so the story got out and soon appeared on a wire news service.

Embarrassed, the Pentagon confiscated the dentures and had a new set made for Tojo who wore them when he was executed for his crimes in 1948.

The ham radio-operator dentist was disciplined and sent back to the U.S. after telling his replacement the story. His obituary, appearing earlier this year in the San Francisco Chronicle, read in part, “The Navy once took a dim view of a post war dental prank played on Japan’s military leader, Hideki Tojo. The deceased was head dental surgeon at a prisoner of war camp in Tokyo where he engraved a message in Morse Code on Tojo’s dental plate.

“While the navy originally took a dim view of the postwar dental prank played on Japan’s military leader, they had since apparently relented. The false teeth once worn by the infamous Tojo will be displayed at the Dental Corps Historical Museum in Bethesda, Maryland.”


The message engraved in Morse Code on the palate of  Tojo’s dentures in phonetic form is:




In the Early 1950s, when the interminable Korean conflict strained the U.S. shipping capacity, the government put out ads in the national media for former merchant mariners that they were again needed to man Liberty ships hauling cargoes to Europe for another give-away program.

Perhaps to escape soul-shriveling jobs and/or disliked bosses, far more than were needed responded and arrived at East Coast ports to find no berths. At that, the government brought out far more ships out of mothballs than were needed. Instead of a more limited number that would make several trips, all or most made only a single voyage. I joined one in Baltimore loaded with coal for Trieste to find the chief mate, a delightful fellow named O’Conner, busily loading cases of wine and beer. “This will get us over there, at least,” he said. “Then we’ll see about re-supplying for the return trip.”

After delivering the cargo of coal to Trieste, everybody was surprised when the ship was ordered to Wilmington to go back into “moth balls.”

The officers’ mess man had been on the Cincinnati city police force for a number of years when he heard, and answered the call for ex-mariners. He didn’t even bother about resigning or telling anyone, but just packed a bag and took off, and called his wife from the east coast.

Faced with no shipboard job, he asked me to help him concoct a satisfactory excuse for his police department boss. For the last homebound week, we agonized over stories, none of them very believable. Finally settled on a tale that he had sort of lost it after a difficult shift, had drank too much, blacked out and came to aboard a ship in Baltimore. I typed up the highly unlikely fiction, wrote a glowing letter of recommendation and got others from chief mate O’Conner and the skipper. 

His chum was an AB named Bruce Shirley. When he called his wife from Wilmington, NC, she asked, among other things, what he was doing. “Oh, just fooling around here with Shirley until I can get out of here.” She promptly hung up on him.

He promised to write and let me know how things worked out back in Cincinnati with his irate wife and HIS equally disturbed police department boss, but never did.

The radio operators’ and other unions suggested that the government should at least apologize to all the men who quit jobs and headed for the seacoast not to be needed, but they never did either.












































































EXCERPTED from Kings Point AMMV Chapter


The Canadian Merchant Navy veterans earlier this year received a $50 million compensation after a 55-year quest.

Like their U.S. counterpart, the Canadian merchant marine suffered a higher percentage of casualties than any of the uniformed services (nearly 1,500 died in the Battle of the Atlantic). The package came after more than a half-century struggle including a hunger strike on Parliament Hill last year.

Approximately 7,300 merchant navy veterans or their surviving spouses will be eligible for the tax-free compensation to be awarded in two installments based on service aboard cargo ships and tankers.


Basically the breakdown is:


·         $20,000 for war-related service of more than two years.

·         $10,000 for war-related service of six month to two years.

·         $5,000 for war-related service of between one and six months, or for less than one month if captured, killed, or disabled.

·         An extra 20 percent for any prisoner of war.


Also eligible for the bonus are a large number of Newfoundlanders who served in the British merchant marine before Newfoundland joined Canada.  Some 48 Korean War veterans or their widows are also eligible.  Veterans Affairs Minister George Baker called the announcement “an historic occasion” for the seamen. Canada is the first wartime Allied government to compensate civilian sailors for war service.




Will U.S. WWII Merchant Marine Veterans be similarly remembered?


                *Not if we don’t ask for it!

                *Not if we don’t fight for it!

                *Not as long as the AF Secretary and his minions are in charge!


As he signed the GI Bill in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated:

I trust Congress will soon provide similar opportunities to members of the merchant marine who have risked their lives time and time again during war for the welfare of their country.”


The President’s plea fell on deaf ears.


At its August 23rd national meeting, the AMMV noted that some groups have filed class action suits, but agreed that we should launch a major national effort seeking publicity and help from the media, unions, maritime organizations, religious groups, and veterans organizations. (Unfortunately, the latter certainly didn’t come through for us in the past, but time often changes attitudes.)  You can join the AMMV by contacting:



P.O. BOX 151205

CAPE CORAL, FL 33915-1205


See application form printed elsewhere in this Spark Gap. AMMV memberships dues are a modest $12.00 per year.






Spring Dance 1943


Ray Maustard sent an interesting e-mail regarding a brochure from a Spring Dance held in 1943.

The small brochure (gold colored) has a braided string and tassel.  The front cover reads:




-  Spring Dance  -


Ruby Newman

And his



Main Ballroom

Copley Plaza Hotel


2000 – 2400

May 8, 1943


Inside the front cover:


(The U.S. Flag)


Dance Committee

          H.W. Arthur          Lieut. (Chaplain)

          T. H. Grant           Lieut.

          N. Thompson        P. C.

          S. Block                Ch. Sp.

          J. Duggan             Sk 1/c

          W. Johnson           Y 1/c


Public Relations

          R. Meyers             Ensign


Refreshments & Entertainment courtesy of


Russell Harmon (Division Manager)



On the third page there are 12 blanks to fill in "Dances"

but none are filled in.  On the back page there are the words to "Official song of the U.S. MARITIME SERVICE".



The Spring Dance message prompted John Pino to respond:


I have some memory of the Great Event. I did not attend because I had the duty that night. It was a big deal then. The good word was passed along the next day.

I found the list of persons on the program interesting. Mr. Arthur was the first Protestant chaplain assigned to Gallups. Father Bernard was also made the first station Catholic Chaplain. Grant was one of the Instructors. Newt Thompson was the Personnel Officer. Stanley Block had just been assigned to the OD's Office as Chief (I later replaced him). Duggan was a handsome Irishman who was in charge of the Supply Room. I can't remember who Johnson was nor can I remember Meyers. Ruby Newman was the leader of a very popular dance band in the Boston area.


The next Spring Dance was held on the island in the new Rec Hall, which was dismantled, and then erected as a temporary building on the campus at Boston College until it was demolished for a permanent building some years later. I regret not following the building to the end because without realizing it, the workmen painted over  the two inlaid Maritime Emblems at each corner of the Stage. They had been made by Chief Carpenter’s Mate Virgil  Hoots. They could have been restored to their original state. They were works of art.


Unfortunately, we have arrived in a point in our lives where we look to empty-out some of our draws of old memorabilia. Is there some archive for material such as this program? I am certain you didn't attend the affair because your Dance Program was not filled completely.


Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane. My God, I was only eighteen years old to turn nineteen on May 16. There were five members of the Ship's Company with that birthday. The only one I remember is the Captain, Sherman W. Reed


John A. Pino


Our web site is:


(No space between gallups and islanders)




Henry Bacon and Benjamin Hill

This e-mail exchange between Spud Campbell and Howard Keller discussed the dramatic stories of the Henry Bacon and the Benjamin Hill during a terrible storm and subsequent enemy attack in February 1945.


From: Spud Campbell <spud@cneti.com>


Greetings to all who lived on that magic isle. I was in R6 from May 1941 to April 1942 then went to sea for the remaining years of WW2. Served on 7 ships and traveled the world. Participated in invasions of Sicily and South France. Then on the famous Henry Bacon in February of 1945 we experienced the most dramatic week imaginable. Returning from Murmansk with 19 Norwegian refugee passengers we experienced worst possible weather which disabled the ship, then attacked and finally sunk by 24 torpedo planes. Went in lifeboat with these Norwegians and was rescued by British Destroyer Opportune  This drama has been publicized and will be more so. I, along with wife Bea, have been reunited with these survivors and participated in many interviews by Norwegians, Brits and CNN.

The Henry Bacon story was on CNN (TNT) during the Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, Norway in 1994. However I have knowledge that the Norwegian TV will air a three part documentary (1hr each) in the Fall of 2000. This covers the history of the Russian convoys and will feature the Henry Bacon story. This documentary will no doubt eventually be translated into English and could air over here and Britain. Yours truly was transported to Norway and interviewed from Oslo up to Hammerfest and Soroya Island in this project. And I have been promised a copy of the tape after it has aired over there. On this subject, a book has been written and is now in the hands of a publisher on the history of this ship from launching ‘til the day it was sunk in the Arctic on 23 February, 1945. Other documentaries are being projected including a Scottish production company. Will keep you advised if and when any of this is available for viewing or reading.



From: Howard Keller <kellerhm@aol.com>


Hi Spud,

Your bio brought back many memories.  I was chief radio ( R32, Gallups Island, October 1943) on the Benjamin H Hill, a Liberty ship out of Jones shipyard in Brunswick, Ga. and sailed in the same convoy with you. Our ship also carried Norwegian refugees (26 of them) and a family of eight were bunked in the deck cadet's cabin, adjacent to the radio shack. They consisted of mother, father, and children ranging in ages from about 3 years up to late teenage.

I recall the unbelievably violent weather - in fact our steering gear broke down and caused us to fall out of the convoy until our crew got it repaired. While out of the convoy we were attacked by JU88's and were fortunate that our Armed Guard drove them off.  In spite of the weather and the enemy action our passengers never complained. How fortunate you and so many of your shipmates, and of course all of the  refugees, were  to survive.  And how remarkable that you were able to see them again after all these years.   I read the chapter "Ship of Glory" in the book "Heroes in Dungarees", by John Bunker, and am most impressed with how well the crew handled a very difficult situation.  I am looking forward to watching the CNN broadcast.

Best Wishes,  Howard Keller



From: Spud Campbell <spud@cneti.com>


Glad to hear from you Howard. Yes, that was a bad few days. We had rudder damage and were helpless in that storm for three days then the attack. Our gunners got five of the torpedo bombers but being dead in the water the planes finally hit us. We lost about 24 of our crew including the Captain and all senior officers. That little lifeboat transmitter saved my life twice. It got me a place in the lifeboat and may have been the beacon that brought in the rescuers. The CNN tape has aired and I have a copy. The Norwegian documentary is much longer and will air in Norway this fall. If I get a copy as they promised, I'll pass it on. The book, The Henry Bacon Story will be out soon and I will let you know when I get a copy. By the way, I met the guy who was born on another Liberty during that voyage. His name is that of the ship. Lebaron Russell Briggs is now a captain of a Norwegian ship and is 55 years old. It was great to meet the survivors of the survivors. Only the ones who were under ten at the time are still living. One we met that was a surprise identified herself as having been a fetus in her mother’s womb in the lifeboat.




Check out the website GOOGLE.COM.

Type "Spud Campbell" in the search box to find different sources about Spud’s career and recent visits to Norway.





Spark Gap:

Just thumbing through Volume 11 # 3, Summer 2000 and thought I’d let you know that all (nonagenarian) operators are not silent keys. I am still going at 90 years old. I was a “ham” in 1944, and felt I had to do my “bit,” but I was married and had a 2-year old daughter—the end? No. I was 34 years old at the time and just squeaked under the age limit for the Maritime Service. I joined the USMS at Charleston, SC and was sent for basic training at St. Petersburg, Fla. I applied for Radio School and was sent to Gallups Island where I was placed in R79. Later, because of my “ham” experience, I graduated in R74. The dog tags (after my name) read 4405-01434-T5-44 USMS AB. (I still treasure this!).

During the war I served aboard the SS Jan J Corbet/KOPH, of Shepherd SS Company out of San Francisco.

After the war I went into commercial radio broadcasting for 20 years then taught radio and TV in a local school, retiring in 1977.

I keep busy doing scroll saw work and making puzzles for local schools and people. Just a voice from the past. 73’s  Cecil A. Tankersley R74



Dear JJ:

Re: “A Walk on Death March Road” Spark Gap, Summer 2000:  Your article on that infamous road stirred memories for me. While serving on the USNS Mission Dolores we made a couple of runs to that desolate little port called Quitang Point.

One particular march along the road stands out vividly in memory. Some six or seven of us were hiking along the road headed for the little village where we could enjoy some cold San Miguel beer.  It was beastly hot, and the tropical sun was merciless. When we came to a desolate beach area with no one in sight, we decided to skinny dip in the ocean to cool off.   While we were all in swimming, another crew member with a perverted sense of humor, came along and gathered up all of our clothes. He was seen headed for the village and we all took after him in hot pursuit.  We arrived mother-naked at the village, and all the women and girls took off, some screaming and some laughing.  We found our clothes and valuables intact at the first bar. The perpetrator of the joke kept out of sight until we all had a few beers, and had relaxed to the point where we could appreciate the humor of it.  The women, of course, returned, casting sly glances at us and muttering to one another in Tagalog. Practically, though, it gave them an unprecedented  opportunity to size us up.


Jim Addison Hester, R88



Dear JJ,

We’re back from Boston and glad we had a chance to go to the GIRA reunion. It’s always good to get together again. Just too bad some of the men could not be there with us;  I would especially like to have had a chance to say a thank you in person to Tom Cruse for all his work over the years as editor of SPARK GAP and to Jim Kinkel who did so much to find missing graduates of Gallups Island.

Since I did not get to see them, I would like to take the opportunity to thank them through the Spark Gap;  And also to Les Rauber. I wasn’t a special friend of his. He knew me by name, not much else, but he went to a lot of trouble to give me leads so I could get my veterans status. I lost all my records after I left the Merchant Marine. But by following his recommendation to contact the archives in New York, and the Coast Guard, I got all my records of the ship to which I was assigned, names of crew, and my ports of call, and finally my DD214 Discharge Certificate. Les has probably forgotten this, but I haven’t.

These are just a few of those who have made GIRA so terrific. I won’t try to name them all, but I must not pass up Ray King and all he has done to give us a great reunion. GIRA sure is a great bunch.

Charles Havens R-77


Hello Ray & Jane,

Jan and I would like to thank you for arranging another great reunion for our organization.  When you have talent, flaunt it.  I hope we did not cause you too many problems!  We arrived two days early to explore Cape Cod and an area of Rhode Island that I had lived in for a while when I was 11-12 years old. Cape Cod was interesting, we did expect to see more of the ocean, but the tall trees prevented that for a while.  Should have taken the shore-side road all the way.  In Rhode Island I was able to find the firehouse and schoolhouse I had attended in Quinville.  I needed to have a detailed map of the area as it is today.  Trees had grown where there were farm fields before and I couldn't get my bearings by viewing the landscape.  Provincetown was interesting. Interesting too was the comments of Braintree locals that said they avoided the place because of the influx of Gays.  Sounded like the Key West, Florida that we knew.  I'm still amazed at the skill of Boston tour bus drivers in piloting one of those monsters through the tight city streets.  I may have closed my eyes and prayed at some of the tight turns.  The shipyard stop and a good meal in town were up to par, enhanced by the good company of our group.  The Plymouth recreation was talented and new to us.

Burned up some film there to show the folks I correspond with, though they could not hear the 'Old English' that was spoken.  Ray, I think we would come back as often as someone would encourage us.  Many thanks again.

Walt and Jan Rudat


Dear JJ,

The Summer 2000 Spark Gap had, on page 15, a short article about a Veteran Administration program that would allow veterans to obtain pharmacy services from the VA while permitting them to keep their own doctor.  I have contacted the VA here, Ft Howard Medical Center (Maryland), and they deny that such a program exists.  Can you advise where this article came from and if you have any more information on this subject?

Tom Gibson R-17



Spark Gap editors contacted the local Veterans Administration in Phoenix and ran into the same denials.  Like all bureaucrats, they seek the course of least resistance.  The individuals we spoke to knew nothing about the program, so they denied that it exists.  We were put off about four times before we found someone who knew something about the program, but the individual was not an expert.  We understood, after our discussion, that qualification for the two dollar co-pay depends upon income.  We will continue to investigate this.  In the meantime, we urge you to contact your local Veterans Hospital and insist on speaking to the supervisor.

Please read the next letter…



Thanks for the RX article on page 15 of the Summer 2000 issue. Very important to all vets not in HMOs. Here are some updates:

This is not a new benefit, but has been in effect since about 1997. Hospital people say, “If you qualify” does not apply. Your worst classification is #7 (which almost everyone is in). No service-connected disabilities, annual income too high, and net assets too much, so you get no free services from the VA. However, RXs from VA  hospital are only $2 per RX per month, for #7 classification. The only drawback is that the vet has to get a doctor’s appointment at the VA and the VA doctor will rewrite the vet’s RXs into the pharmacy system. The vet is billed $50 twice a year for this procedure and fifty dollars each hospital visit. Worthwhile only for very expensive RXs. I received this service from 11/99 to 5/00. My private doctor got a poor blood test reading and changed my RXs.  I told the VA all about it. This scared the VA doctor and he expelled me from the system. Shoulda kept my big blabbermouth shut. Your HMO or MEDIGAP may pay the $50.  The VA did not completely expel me but gave me a choice: If I want to keep getting $2 per month RXs, I will have to resign my private doctor and accept the VA doctor’s and medical hospital team instead of my present one. So it works just like the HMO except VA does not accept medicare (they are supposed to be working on it, but it’s been ongoing for 50 or so years now). The vet will likely get stuck $50 for each hospital visit unless he has a very low income and net assets.   Mel Lindsey, Tuscon.


Harry Harronian of Jacksonville suggested that it would be unique and fun to camp on Gallups Island for three or four days in July or August.   This could be done in conjunction with a National Guard camp-out, who would provide the tents.  Harry, originally from Rhode Island, has contacts which may be able to arrange this.  Sounds like fun.  Would be a male thing, but wives could possibly "double up" at a hotel for a few days and take in some shows, sightsee...or bar hop. Harry points out that this would give us plenty of time to talk to EVERYONE and really have a meaningful adventure.  Would be interesting to go to sleep on the island and not worry about shipping out....except back to Boston.  Would be interested in seeing if anyone else shares this view.  Cheers Chet Klingensmith R-88.


Note: It was about a century ago when the Grand Army of the Republic was winding down their Encampments not for lack of interest, but because most had marched into oblivion.

The annual encampments began shortly after the Civil War and were initially competed for by communities much as the Olympics are today but they were far less commercial.

Then as time took its relentless toll, there finally were too few left to make the effort. Time finished off those that awful war spared.



Hello Carol and JJ,

I mentioned to JJ as we ate lunch in Boston that I would try to send him some sea stories and he could massage them as he saw fit.  After returning from Boston we recuperated for a week, then drove up to Lake Powell for a day boat tour of the lake and its canyons. Then on to Bryce and Zion National Parks. To keep auto traffic down they had busses to transport visitors to the lookout points and you could get off and catch the next one as you pleased.  I thought that a great feature.   That took care of another week and Jan went back to work.

FYI:  Joe Graber, from Florida, had a heart attack and could not attend our reunion.  He's in rehabilitation at New Jersey.  He's on the internet and I've corresponded with him and sent some of our reunion pictures to cheer him up a bit.  His email adds:  JGraber651@aol.com.

Keep Healthy and Happy ------- Walt and Jan Rudat



Dear JJ,

Sam Marchinsky  was a member of Gallups Island class  R002 (A-2)  charter member 62.  He is well and happy at age 80.  He did have a heart attack June 9, 2000 while we were on a cruise.  He’s doing A-OK now, playing golf and making plans for three more cruises.

H. Marchinsky





Dear JJ,

I’m Lawrence O. Bultema, M-1046, R-112. I writing to inform you that Charles E. Thomas, my good friend, brother-in-law and fellow member of platoon R-112 passed away on June 12, 2000.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about Chuck and I. Chuck came from a farm in Centerville, South Dakota, and I came from a farm in Lansing, Illinois.

Our lives came together the day we stepped onto Gallups Island. We became fast friends and after graduation were sent together to San Francisco to the WSA office for assignment to the next ship requesting radio operators.

The war was just over and after waiting three months we returned home and both enlisted in the armed forces. Chuck went to the Air Force and served 3 years while I went to the Army.

After being discharged we were both married. Chuck lived in Warner Robins, GA while I stayed in Lansing, IL.

Over the years we always stayed in touch. Shortly after my retirement, my phone rang, and it was Chuck.

He told me, “Larry, I’m so depressed. My marriage broke up, and it’s really taking its toll on me.”

I replied, “Chuck, I’ve just retired. Pack up a suitcase and come up and spend a few days with Lorraine and me. So he did.

When we went out for dinner, and I invited my sister Esther along (She had lost her husband to war-related causes). From that, they fell in love and Chuck, my merchant marine buddy became my brother-in-law. They were married for more than 10 years.

So it became my sad duty to ask GIRA to place Charles E. Thomas of platoon R-112 amongst the silent keys on June 12, 2000.

Best wishes to all my friends at GIRA. Larry Bultema



Dear JJ,

I want to inform all of you Gallups Guys about the death of my good friend, Jimmy Goodwin, who was the assistant platoon leader of R-19 in 1942 and 1943.  I'm sure that anyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting him will remember him well.  He was a rare guy, smiling all the way.   I particularly remember him the night of the Coconut Grove fire on November 28, 1942 (the worst fire in history).  Like many others from the island I had gone over there to see if we could help.  Jimmy had been INSIDE  and just made it out in time.  He was very shaken but still smiling.  It was a long ride back to the island that day.  He had a long career running the sports page for several newspapers in Florida and kept turning out deep-sea articles right up to the end.  Good old Jim!  I had been in touch with him until his final illness began a few weeks ago.  I'll miss him more than I can say and I know a lot of others will too.  His wife, Carolyn, still lives at their home in Sarasota, Florida.        HANK CLARK  R-19



Died. William A. Morrison R045 of Saint James, MO, became a silent key 23 June 2000 after a long illness. He leaves a beloved wife Meredith of 54 years and sons (and families): William J. Morrison, and Donald J. Morrison and nine grandchildren.



I am Don Long, class #32, Hoffman Island, June 1944 and a member of that association.  Looking for a graduate of yours by the name of Jim Hutson who sailed on the SS Salmon Knot between NY, Halifax and Reykavick, Iceland.  I was on the Becket Hitch from the same company.  Sorry I don't have the dates, but does anyone have any information on him ?

Thanks and 73’s

Don Long



Subject: SS Cardonia and SS Esso Bolivar

My dad, Robert Edison Dunn, was Third Engineer on the SS Cardonia when she was shelled, torpedoed, and sunk by the U-126 March 7, 1942.  I am writing my family history and I am trying to locate any survivors of the Cardonia's sinking as well as any survivors of the shelling and torpedoing of the Esso Bolivar (also by the U-126).  In addition, I am very interested in finding anybody who sailed with my dad at any time. 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Ken Dunn

3921 Potomac Court

Charlotte, NC  28211

(704) 561-8300 (Work)

(704) 364-4611 (Home)

Kenny.Dunn@clt.sungardtrust.com (Work)

dtcs.rkd@att.net  (Home)


Food Chain


Nearing the end of my morning walk,

Mulling Wheaties or scrambled eggs,

I witnessed a commotion at the corner ahead.

Two bluejays were loudly debating the rights

To a frantic, panicked cicada.

My approach postponed the probably outcome

But I did not involve myself in rescue.

I did, however, ponder my relative good fortune

In having only a churning hurricane a distant threat

As I mused about my place on the food chain.

I decided on the cereal.


>>>>Chet Klingensmith






Upon arrival in Wilmington, NC, an AB who always remembered to send (via radio) flowers for his wife’s birthday and their anniversary, hurried to wire most of his payoff to their place in Texas. Then from the nearest bar’s telephone he called home, and was on the line for only seconds, but long enough for his ebullient mood to change for one of despair.

“What happened?” first mate O’Conner asked.

“I…I called my wife and a man answered the phone. He said, ‘I’ve taken over here, and I don’t want to see you around here anymore.’”

“Where’d you meet that woman anyway?” O’Conner asked.

“Well, in church, actually. I just went to please my mother. She introduced us,” the despondent AB said.

“That’s where you fouled up,” O’Conner said emphatically. “If you’d picked her up in a bar, it might ‘uv worked out better.”



Made nervous by the current trial of suspects of the fatal bombing of the Pan American B757 over Scotland, a nervous frequent flyer demanded to know what his chances were of becoming a victim of an airline bombing.

“For the average traveler the chances are approximately one in 25 million,” an airline spokesman said.

“But…but, I’m not the average traveler. I fly somewhere two or three times each week,” the frequent flyer protested. “What can I do to improve my odds?”

“We’ll consult with our statistician and get back to you,” the airline expert said.

Several days later the statistician called the nervous frequent flyer.

“The answer to your problem is very simple,” he began. “What you have to do is take along your own bomb. The chances of having two bombs on the same airliner are virtually zero. Then you can relax and enjoy your flight.”


The Boeing 717 is finally here.

Nobody has ever been able to tell me where the Boeing Corporation came up with their jet aircraft numbering system beginning with B707. A query to their public relations office got only a form letter in return stating they couldn’t respond to individual requests. They did send several pounds of brochures with myriad facts and figures, but nothing about their numbering system. I asked every Boeing rep that I met. None had the foggiest. I finally contacted the FAA library in Washington who referred me to a thick tome. The Phoenix library system didn’t have it, but they graciously borrowed a copy. It provided not a hint, but did say that B717 was not used because the military already had a Boeing manufactured aircraft numbered 717.

Boeing has finally come our with a Boeing 717 medium-sized airliner. TWA pilots pointed it out to us on our flight to Boston. We still don’t have a clue as to the origin of the B707. Does anybody know?



Unwanted ships no longer tied up in bone yards as the U.S. did after WWII. Ships wear out and become antiquated after about 20 years. Most are sold to wreckers in the orient for about a million dollars each and are broken up for scrap. Everything is saved.  Alang, India, with some 40,000 low-paid employees, is one of the biggest operations. The ships’ last operation is to circle offshore to gain maximum speed then are run aground on the beach where they are cut up for salvage.  Virtually all the work is done by hand. There’s hardly a crane to be seen. Heavy steel beams and other pieces are carried on the shoulders of scores of workers.

Green Peace in London vigorously opposes this as unfairly polluting third world countries. But India and other Asian countries just as vigorously seek the business.

As in almost all countries, rural inhabitants are migrating to the cities in droves, and this gives work to the mostly unskilled workers. Although the pay is as low as two dollars per day, there is no shortage of applicants, Green Peace not withstanding.



*** Recently the British, who are prone to do such things, tested Ben Franklin’s claim that “early to bed and early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise. The earlies (called Lodi) are no healthier nor smarter than the lates (known as owls).


*** The Nile River is the longest on the planet. It is also the oldest.  And although the competition in the polluted category is intense, it would certainly finish in the money.


*** The Arctic Circle is at 66.32 north latitude.


*** The WWII Merchant Marine Veteran bumper sticker is available for purchase.

Go to http://www.usmm.org , scroll to bottom of website, click on the bumper sticker and get ordering instructions.

Order by mail, delivered by mail.


*** Foubourg Marigny introduced the game of craps (dice) in New Orleans. Craps comes from CRAPAID, meaning toad  or in New Orleans, “toad frog.” Monsieur Morigny subsequently lost his considerable fortune betting on craps.


*** MIT sporting yell:

Cosine, secant, tangent, sine, 3.14159.


*** The word Wehrmacht is the defense force collective term for all German armed forces—army, navy, and air force.


*** End of a line. William Daniel, 41, Grandson of former president Harry Truman and the only offspring of Truman’s only daughter, Margaret, died of head injuries after being hit by a New York Taxicab.  Daniel was en route to visit his mother at her Park Avenue apartment. He was unmarried so thus ends the Harry S. Truman family line.









In the air and in my mind,

(There are those who may mutter “redundancy”)

Airplanes have intrigued and mesmerized me

From before I knew the theory of flight.


Long before I understood the Doppler effect

I’d lean over as if to touch my toes

To change the pitch of the lazy, droning Piper

From F to high C and back, like a love-starved cicada.


As the “Big War” dragged on, brother Ken,

A Captain now and teaching others for their wings,

Dived out of the morning sun in his AT6

And buzzed our back yard at less than 50 feet.


And brother Stan, the radio man on a General’s B-25,

Based in Newfoundland and gagging green

From a night of swilling “Newfee Screech”,

Flew to Cuba just to pick up orchids for the dance.


The Navy PBY flying me from Miami to Panama

Lost an engine over Cuba and returned to try again.

Landing in Panama I joined the crew of an oil tanker

To deliver fuel to Navy ships at Leyte Gulf, Philippines.


Brother Bob fought the battle of Keesler Field

As flight engineer on a tired B-24.

He, more than any other, would loudly laude

The proliferation of post-war air-conditioning.


In the two-year euphoria after the war,

Bob traded his ‘47 Plymouth for a Piper Cub.

Honed his skill flying it from Florida to Pittsburgh and

Landed on number five fairway at our Harmar Golf Club.


Now in my own back yard , I absently peered at a

Climbing Cessna as it banked to reflect the early sun.

My wife, chiding from behind in a mock wartime whisper,

Observed, “I think it’s one of ours”.


>>>>Chet Klingensmith






A river boat was heading up the Galloping River, a tributary of the Ohio, to GIRA Island for a day’s outing. The Captain was on the bridge wing chatting with a young lady.

Not to be ignored, the dashing young mate approached and reported, “We should arrive at GIRA Island in one hour, Captain. We’re making 20 knots over water.”

Just then, a sudden gust of wind blew the pretty maiden’s hat into the water. “Oh dear, there goes my ermine hat, it’s my favorite,” she gasped.

“Never fear my dear. We’ll get it for you,” the Captain reassured her. Then he yelled, “turn about Mr. Mate and retrieve the lady’s hat.”


The Galloping River’s current was 10 knots, and it was a full minute before the mate received and responded to the captain’s order to turn about.

It required a half-minute to turn the boat around to give chase, and of course another 30 seconds to turn again and head back up stream after the hat was retrieved.

The smiling mate handed the grateful young lady her hat, being ermine, was undamaged by the water.

How long was the boat delayed in reaching GIRA Island?


This type of problem was often given to young students of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. They’re dealing with two things simultaneously: the speed of the boat in relation to the river and in relation to the shore. Approached with that in mind, the solution is rather “simple.”

The answer and solution will appear in the Winter SPARK GAP. If you can’t wait that long, contact us by E-mail address: foxtaildown@worldnet.att.net



The SPARK GAP is mailed from the main Phoenix post office located about 100 road miles from New River. The spring issue required 13 days for delivery and the summer copy took ten. In a terse letter to the post master I pointed out that the Pony Express averaged 8 miles an hour or about 100 miles per day, and would have gotten it out here in a day or so, that 13 and 10 days for delivery was an unacceptably long time.

There was a time when you could talk to the post master in person but no more. Several days later I got a two-line response from a lady in their public relations office asking me to call her. She was busy and unavailable so I expected that would be the end of it. But she called me back within minutes, honey dripping from her lips. She promised to pass my complaint along and sent a book of stamps decorated with roses remarking she was sorry they didn't smell. But the service does. We’ll see!




By Homer Gibson, Secretary/Treasurer


We now have a NEW 60TH ANNIVERSARY BALLCAP (made in U.S.A.)!!


I have been authorized to offer FREE BALLCAPS to all Members paying their dues

(including any back dues owed) BY THE DUE DATE APRIL 1st, 2001.



The date appearing on your address label should read: 03/31/2001.

This means your dues for 2000 have been paid and the dues for 2001 will be due on next April 1st.

Any other date would indicate that you are behind on your dues. (or paid ahead, in some cases).





In order to get the best price, I purchased a few extra hats.  Any member wishing to obtain an additional hat, can do so.  The cost of the additional hat is $10.00, postage paid. (Limit one extra hat, while supply lasts).


I also have a few 60"' anniversary lapel pins.  The cost is $1.00 per pin, WHILE SUPPLY LASTS.




NAME      _________________________  DATE _______________ 2000


ADDRESS __________________________________________________


CITY ____________________  STATE _______________  ZIP ________


PHONE ________________  E-MAIL _____________________________


DATE ON THE ADDRESS LABEL IS _____________________________



_____  My Check #__________  In the amount of $ ________ is enclosed for:


_____  My 2001 dues $ ________


_____ My catch-up dues $ ________


In addition to my dues, I enclose $ ________ for a donation.


For an additional hat I enclose $ ________.


For an additional lapel pin I enclose $ ________.


(Total in one check, please!)

Make check payable to:         GIRA

                                               P.O. Box 1235

                                               Hermitage, Pa  16148







In order to help keep your new roster up to date, in each subsequent issue of Spark Gap we will publish this correction sheet with any additions and changes since the previous issue.  Please send any changes in your information to me as soon as they occur.  Then I will be able to include your changes in the next issue.  By doing this, we can all have an up-to-date roster, all of the time!



Homer Gibson Secretary/Treasurer

P. 0. Box 1235

Hermitage, Pennsylvania  16148


Following are the changes received since printing the ROSTER 2000:


Buxton, Kenneth      new address:             Langdon Place Apt. 205B          new phone:               603-891-3113

                                                              319 E. Dunstable Rd.

                                                              South Nashua, NH  03062

Fairfield, John          e-mail address:          johnfairfield@aol.com

Linder, Gareth          e-mail address:          gcelinder@,juno.com

Mitchell, Robert       e-mail address:          bobw2csl@webzone.net

Murray, Jack M.       new address:             10345 Champios Circle             new phone:               810-694-1532

                                                              Grand Blanc, MI  48439






Besch’s 50th Anniversary. Congratulations and best wishes to Alicemae and Gordon Besch (R17), Ph.D. Professor/Physics, Emeritus, UWS, of Superior, Wisconsin who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary August 14, 1999.


Jack Bandazian celebrated his 75th birthday on August 12th during the reunion banquet






Goodwin, James W.




Kelly, William L.




Lawrence, Charles E.




Meadowcroft, Bruce




Morrison, William A.










From the American Merchant Marine Veterans “NEWS”


A good PR Program should publicize all facets of an organization's efforts in the best possible light, to the largest possible audience.  This year has been our most successful year.  Special thanks to the SCI and the Edwin J. O'Hara Chapter for helping me to organize and carry out, the many activities which were part of my regional program.  These are merely the highlights:


In August 1999 our annual ceremony at the Prison Ship Martyr's Monument in Fort Greene Park, had the largest attendance ever.  We're expecting an even greater response this year.


In September the O'Hara Chapter hosted a fund-raiser in support of the American Maritime History Project.  They raised  $1,100.00.


MARAD and the Maritime Association Foundation, invited us to take part in the ceremony, honoring African-American sailors.  Regional Vice President George Goldman was one of the distinguished speakers.


In March the O'Hara Chapter hosted the First Regional One-Day Workshop.  We discussed common problems and arrived at positive and constructive solutions.  We plan another.


In April we broke into "SHOW BIZ" when the "hometown heroes" of the O'Hara Chapter were interviewed for a segment on Channel 2-TV.  Later I was invited to appear LIVE, and presented Captain Moore's book to the CBS-TV Reference Library.  These segments were on the air four times.  From the response, I know that our message was heard.


On May 28 , in a grandiose ceremony, the Gene DeLong Hudson Valley Chapter dedicated a monument to the memory of the American Merchant Marine.  In attendance were legislators, representatives of veteran organizations, and hundreds of distinguished guests.  This ceremony will be long remembered.


I've been assured that we will be represented at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.  I urge you to support this permanent memorial.  If you wish to contribute, name our ORGANIZATION, and enter the Code: VG 029 on each check.


In January, we will try once again, to introduce the Merchant Marine Recognition Bonus Bill into the State Legislature.  Hopefully, this year it will not die in Committee.  The states of Utah, Iowa, and Louisiana have passed a similar bill.  Why not NYS?


You're all aware of the settlements given by the Canadian Government to Canadian World War II Merchant Marine veterans.  I've made initial contact with the Canadian representative and have passed on all information to our National Vice President, Hank Cap.  I know that we are all anxious to receive a similar settlement.  This will require a concerted effort under the direction of our National Office.  WE SHALL OVERCOME!!


In the coming months, I hope to publicize your efforts, and continue to gain for all of you the recognition and respect you truly merit.


Gloria Flora Nicolich

Public Relations Officer

Northeast Region







Join the American Merchant Marine Veterans, a growing organization of active and retired seamen. Help us gain recognition for what we, the men of the Merchant Marine, have done for our Country in war and peace. This is a not-for-profit organization governed by its Membership.


We stand for a strong American Merchant Marine and will help launch and support legislation along these lines.  We intend to help the cause of American seamen and American seapower.


The American Merchant Marine Veterans is a national organization with Chapters throughout the United States.  National membership dues is $12.00 per year collected through its Chapters.  Chapter dues are determined by the membership of each Chapter.



NAME ________________________________________________________  DATE ________________


ADDRESS ____________________________  CITY ___________________  STATE _______  ZIP _____


PHONE NUMBER ________________  AGE _____  POSITION ABOARD SHIP ______________________ 



Were you sailing aboard American Flag Merchant Ships during:


[  ] WWI      [  ] WWII       [  ] Korea         [  ] Vietnam          [  ] Desert Storm      [  ] Peacetime  [  ] Navy Armed Guard


[  ] Are you an Active US Merchant Seaman         [  ] Active or Retired Member of the US Armed Forces


[  ] Widow of a DD 214 recipient              [  ] Maritime Academy Cadet           [  ] Other


If you qualify in one or more of the above categories you are eligible to join the American Merchant Marine Veterans, Incorporated. Sign-on with the American Merchant Marine Veterans and help us with our efforts.  Enjoy the activities of our organization while rendering a service to our COUNTRY, your fellow seamen are the American Merchant Marine.


We are a not for profit organization, Charter No. 4837 in the state of Florida. The Chapters operate with in the preview of our National Constitution and by-laws. Active members receive the National Newsletter quarterly.

If you live in an area where no Chapter is available, help is available from our National Office to organize one.






P.O. Box 151205

Cape Coral, Florida



Phone:  941-549-1010

FAX:  941-549-1990










PERMIT # 201




Post Office Box 83

Black Canyon City, AZ 85324


John JJ Ward, Editor

49220 North 26 Avenue

New River, AZ 85087-8080



Urban A. “Bud” Guntner, President

527 Windwood Road

Baltimore, MD 21212-2108

(410) 377-5316


Raymond E. King, Vice-president

108 Great Hill Drive

N Weymouth, MA 02191-1038

(781) 331-6154


Homer N. Gibson, Secretary-Treasurer

P. O. Box 1235

Hermitage, PA 16148

(724) 962-4213



The Spark Gap is published by The Gallups Island Radio Association (GIRA), a non-profit organization.  Basic circulation is confined to Association members, Gallups Island Radio School graduates, instructors, and administrative personnel during World War II, and friends of GIRA.  This alumni newsletter is dedicated to the men who went to sea as Merchant Marine Radio Officers, school instructors and support people assigned to Gallups Island Radio School. Contributions of personal experiences, seagoing and otherwise, of general interest are always sought. It’s time to share your life’s adventures. Manuscripts may be edited for length, clarity, and redundancy.  Photographs will be returned upon request otherwise shall be filed for possible future use. Opinions expressed herein are those of contributors or the editor, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Organization, Officers, Directors, or Association members.



Of all the arts the wind can blow,

  I dearly love the West

For there the bonnie lassie lives

  The lassie I love best.


There wild woods grow and rivers flow,

  And many a hill between;

But day and night my fancy’s flight,

   Is ever with my Jean.




I see her in the dewy flowers,

  I see her sweet and fair.

I hear her in the tuneful birds,

  I hear her charm the air.


There’s not a bonnie flower that springs

  By a fountain show or green,

There’s not a bonnie bird that sings

  But reminds me of my Jean.


                                               Robert Burns