VOL 11  NO 2






GIRA Reunion 2001             Page 2

Marconi Gold Medal             Page 3

Region 9 Mini-Reunion         Page 4

Computer Helpers               Page 5

Gallups Memories                Page 6

Calvin Victory                       Page 8

Seagoing Experiences         Page 11

Death March Road               Page 12

Still No Honor                       Page 13

Notes on GMDSS                Page 14

Flotsam & Jetsam               Page 15

Letters                                  Page 16

Obituaries                            Page 20

Registration Form                Page 21

Faux Pas                              Page 22

Silent Keys                           Page 23



The 2000 GIRA reunion will be August 10 - 13 at the Braintree Sheraton Hotel in Braintree, Massachusetts.  GIRA convention host and VP Ray King reports that reservations for the Braintree Sheraton are coming in slowly. It might be prudent to lock-in your rooms while they are still available. You can cancel later if something should develop.  You still may get a reservation person who says  the 89 dollar rate does not apply for the three days before and after the convention.  But the Sheraton Corporation assures Mr. King that it most certainly does, that the misinformation is the fault of the company’s internal communications.  Requests will be honored.  Call the Sheraton reservations direct at 1-800-325-3535. Tell them it’s the Gallups Island Radio Association inasmuch as they may not recognize the acronym GIRA.

Ray also reports that the PLIMOUTH PLANTATION and the OMNIBUS TOUR OF BOSTON LEXINGTON AND CONCORD are nearing capacity. So get your requests in promptly.

For those still requiring airline reservations—and for future reference—you might want to try Cheap Tickets, Inc. at 1-800-755-4333. In our case at least, we found the reservations personnel among the most knowledgeable and gracious imaginable. Internet address: cheaptickets.com/support. Tickets are delivered by Airborne Express, and someone must be present to receive and sign for them.

Ray King also reports that Homer Gibson has done a remarkably good job in designing a new GIRA cap that hopefully can be made available to the entire membership.

If you plan to attend, please complete the Registration Form printed in this issue of the SPARK GAP and forward it to Ray King, 108 Great Hill Drive, Weymouth, MA 02191-1938. Include your check payable to GIRA Reunion to cover the optional reunion events in which you choose to participate.

Our Hospitality Suite at the hotel is Suite number 1007 on the ground floor next to a side exit where the buses for our reunion tours will load. This is the same suite we had at the 1997 reunion. The Hospitality Suite will be open more or less continuously beginning on Wednesday evening, August 9.




GIRA  -  LAS VEGAS -  2001


Progress on the Las Vegas reunion has been slow.  The dates, so far, are the same:  October 1st, 2nd, and 3rd 2001, but the location has changed to the “Imperial Palace” (Sam’s Town is too far out).  The hotel will not sign a contract until one year before the event and requires a $2500 deposit.  At this point it’s not clear that we will have a hospitality room.  We are still planning a “sit-down” dinner with music, but we don’t have a phone number to make reservations yet.  Other logistics problems include difficulty in determining what selection of activities to offer.  Tours to Hoover Dam and helicopter rides are available, but it’s too far in the future to nail down specific Las Vegas shows.  A GIRA contingent will visit Las Vegas in mid-July 2000 (after this issue goes to press) to firm-up details. Preliminary information indicates that Las Vegas will be more expensive, so save your nickels and dimes.  Perhaps we will get a report during the Boston convention this August.

Bob Mitchell is the event coordinator.  He can be contacted via e-mail ( bobw2csl@webzone.net )

snail-mail ( 21441 East 45th Street, Broken Arrow, OK 74014 )  or phone: (918) 355-3907





GIRA president Urban “Bud” Guntner reminds us that it’s time to consider a site for the 2002 convention. Traditionally convention sites are chosen two years in advance at the general business meeting. You may recall at the1997 gathering in Braintree, Galveston, Texas, had considerable support for the 1999 location but ultimately lost out to Branson after Dr. Sam’s persuasive support for the latter. City of Brotherly Love?  Hawaii?  Florida has been suggested a number of times. Jacksonville? St. Petersburg? Give it some thought and make your wishes known with some supporting data. It’s always an asset to have one or more GIRA members living in or near the locations under consideration.





JANUARY 1, 2000 - June 30, 2000




   Donations                                     $2,636.00

   Dues                                          $13,475.00

   Interest on Checking Account           $82.34


   TOTAL INCOME                        $16,180.34



   60th Anniversary Caps Deposit    $3,725.00

   Editor Gallups Islander                    $475.00

   Gallups Islander Mailing                  $457.55

   Gallups Islander Printing               $2164.00

   Franchise Fee                                   $25.00

   Internet Service                               $191.40

   Office Supplies                               $368.10

   Postage                                           $697.00

   Printing & Reproduction                  $110.80

   President Expense                         $113.37

   Region 9 Expense                            $50.00

   Sec/Treas Stipend                          $900.00

   Spark Gap Autumn Edition          $1,661.02

   Spark Gap Editor's Fee                  $400.00

   Spark Gap Spring Edition            $1,401.04

   Spark Gap Editor's Fee                  $400.00


   Total Expenses                          $13,139.28



   Total Income                              $16,180.34

   Total Expenses                          $13,139.28


   Net Income                                   $3,041.06



   Balance as of 1 Jan 2000          $16,042.31

   Net Income                                   $3,041.06


   Balance as of 30 June 2000      $19,083.37










     Bud began his career in radio in January 1941 with a copy of Ghirardi’s Radio Physics Course.  In April 1941 he was hired by Bendix Radio Division in the Inspection and Test Department.  Bendix was a major supplier of aircraft radio equipment.  In January 1944 he took leave from Bendix and enrolled in the U.S. Maritime Service.  After basic training at Sheepshead Bay, he was assigned to the USMS Radio Sshool at Gallups Island in Boston Harbor.  He graduated from that school in September 1944 and then received a Second-Class Radiotelegraph License.

     His first ship was the SS Pocket Canyon , a T-2 Tanker.  She operated in both the North Atlantic and South Pacific War Zones. In April 1945 she returned to the States (San Pedro), and Bud signed off and returned to the East Coast.  In May 1945 he shipped out on the SS Wallace M. Tyler, a Liberty Ship, which operated in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean.  He sailed on the Tyler until June 1946, at which time he upgraded his license to First Class and enrolled in the USMS Radar School at Sheepshead Bay.  He completed that course in September then decided to give up his life at sea.

     He returned to Bendix where he worked in the Engineering Technical Publications and Government

Sales departments until July 1971 when he joined ITT Mobile Radio as a Sales Representative for the

Maryland area.  In March 1973 he joined Motorola as an Account Executive and District Sales Manager

in the Mid-Atlantic area.  Bud retired from Motorola in February 1988 but stayed on as a consultant until

June, at which time he retired “for good”.

     In 1989 Bud joined the Gallups Island Radio Association (GIRA), which is an organization of graduates

of the Gallups Island Radio School.  He became president of GIRA in 1996 and he continues to hold that

office.  In 1990 he received his General Class amateur radio operators license (N3IAD) and a year later

he upgraded to Extra Class.  Bud is a member of the Veteran Wireless Operators Association (VWOA) and the Baltimore Amateur Radio Club, and he participates in the GIRA amateur radio nets.




The Marconi Memorial Medal of Achievement is awarded to

Urban A. Guntner,

President of the Gallups Island Radio Association

for preserving the traditions

of maritime radio in World War Two



GIRA Northern California Mini-Reunion

The Region 9 Northern California reunion was held at the Brookfields Restaurant in Sacramento CA on Wednesday at 1030, May 24, 2000.  After lunch the group visited the nearby McClellan AFB Aviation Museum. Located at Sacramento’s McClellan AFB, the museum is considered to have one of the finest collections of aircraft and aviation memorabilia in the U.S. West. In the Main Exhibit Center visitors see a number of displays including the 1943 L-2M Grasshopper, F-101B and T-28 instrument trainer, along with several aircraft engines. There are also exhibits of the famous Doolittle Tokyo raid, and “Birth of the Blues” which is a look at the evolution of the Air Force uniform. Some 32 aircraft that were a major part of the workload or that were assigned to flying units at McClellar are on display—all immaculately restored by museum volunteers. Ten vintage aircraft engines dating to WWI are also displayed.

For those not interested in the aircraft museum, a good second choice was Sacramento Old Town only ten miles distant. Old Town, located on the river front, is noted for is Rail Town Museum, History Museum, and many interesting shops.   Attendees were:


Bob Clough  (Elaine)


Thousand Oaks, CA    (K6RS)

Donald Fipps  (Eva)


Delano, California    (K6EDO)

Al Hadad  (Marian)


San Jose, CA    (AA6SB)

Jerry Holderman


Placerville, CA

Jim Jolly  (Rose)


Sacramento, CA    (W6RWI)

Bob Richelson


Penn Valley, CA

Harold Tobias


Lodi, CA

Walt Weiss  (Joyce)


Grass Valley, CA

Ed Wilder  (Dolores)


Crestline, CA

Les Addotto


Grass Valley, CA    (N6HRI)

Ken Blue


Grass Valley, CA    (W06H)

Bill Johnson (Jean)


Grass Valley, CA    (KJ6OJ)

George Pouwstra


Stockton, CA

Leon Stonekine


Placerville, CA

Arne Winters  (Cari)


Grass Valley, CA    (KA6JM)




Four of the past and present directors of Region 9.  Left to Right:

Jim Jolly (R-8), Ed Wilder (R-19) (present director), Al Hadad (R-13), and Bob Clough (R-7)

Picture was taken in the Jolly kitchen prior to the reunion




By Bill Devoe (W3PMS) R-19


     Bob Halvorson, (R-14) lives in Essex, CT and operates the 40-meter SSB net on Tuesdays and Thursdays from his hilltop home. His daughter who lives in far away Denver gave Bob a brand new Gateway computer so he could send and receive e-mail from family and friends, and browse the many Merchant Marine web sites.

     During a recent net session, Bob mentioned to Walt Miller (also R-14) that he was having trouble making the unit perform. He admitted that he was new to computer operation and the Internet. The next thing that happened was a landline from Walt to this writer suggesting that we both hop into Walt’s 1987 Chevrolet Station Wagon (Odometer reading 169,000 miles) and take turns driving the 200 miles to Essex to help Bob.

     Early (0600) the next morning, Walt pulled into my driveway and away we went. The route from Meadowbrook, PA to Essex, CT goes northeast through the New York City area, and we did run into some heavy traffic until reaching Connecticut’s I-95.

     The weather couldn’t have been finer. Clear and cool but bright sun all day long. We arrived a little after 11a.m. to be welcomed by Bob and his gracious wife, Jane. Before we could get to the computer, I had to show off my tiny DSW-30. It’s a single band 30-meter CW rig built from a kit. It measures 4”X4”X1” and puts out a walloping 2 watts. I keep a daily contact from Pennsylvania to Maine usually with R S T 599 reports. Bob and Walt were impressed with the frequency readout, which is in code (no dials or meters).

     Walt and I were able to show Bob many features of his new computer and coach him on how to get on the net, play chess, and listen to CD music while performing other tasks. There was a glitch in the e-mail area. The machine worked okay for browsing the web, but had trouble connecting to the server to receive e-mail. Walt sent a message to the Gateway Support Group from Bob’s machine and got the problem fixed.

     While this was going on, the time for the Thursday 40-meter phone net suddenly arrived. Bob asked if I would take it so he and Walt could continue with the computer. I was thrilled. Bob has excellent Collins equipment, which puts out a 500-watt signal that cannot be denied. The regular net check-ins were waiting, and it went very smoothly.

     Bob treated Walt and me to lunch at the Sea Lion restaurant in Essex, and then showed us a bit of the waterfront. This is yachting country.  Essex is just north of Old Saybrook at the mouth of the Connecticut River, and is a beautiful New England small town.

     After a few more hours at the computer we thought it best to hit the road again. I was very impressed with the landscape around the Halverson homes as well as the house itself.

     Our drive back to Pennsylvania was uneventful and easy. Although it was late when we got back to my house, I was able to show Walt my ham station, which is located in a basement workshop. It is enclosed in a large box for protection. The box lid opens on hinges whenever the station is in operation.

     The trip was all Walt’s idea and turned out remarkably well.  I thought you other GIRA’s might like to read about it.


And indeed we do. Good Show Bill and Walt!  That’s real GIRA brotherhood.





By Don E. Paulsen, R-92


     In September of 1944, as I was about to enter my senior year in high school, I decided to enlist in the United States Maritime Service instead.  I had turned seventeenth the previous June, and the Maritime Service would only accept candidates between 16 and 17 1/2. 1 was close to being too old by three months, and at 18 would be eligible for the draft.  My father signed the enlistment papers, then I, along with many others, was taken to the old Catalina terminal and put on the boat to Avalon.

     After landing, we were marched to the Atwater Hotel and issued uniforms.  We were housed at the Atwater for about two weeks then transferred to the Villas, a group of small cabins that each had about six bunks.  We ate at the Booz Brother's cafeteria near the waterfront.  After about two weeks in the villas we were transferred to the St. Catherine Hotel around the bend from the Pavilion.  There we were trained to wait on tables, to abandon ship, and how to swim under and through water that was ignited on the surface with gasoline.  We also got to fire a few rounds from the twenty millimeter gun down on the pier.

     One afternoon while I was playing baseball, a fellow approached me and said the Psychiatrist wanted to see me in his off ice.  I couldn't imagine what I had done.  He asked me to sit down and with a serious face asked me if I would like to go to Radio School in Boston.  To this day I do not know why I was singled out for the privilege.  I guess it was the result of tests taken earlier.  I said I would very much like to go to the school.



Don E. Paulsen (R-092) is third from left in third row.  He was the only one of his class to go to Gallups.

Photo taken October 1944


     After boot training I, along with about twenty others, was taken to the mainland and then transported to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles where we boarded the train to Boston.  The trip was uneventful except we had to change trains in Chicago.  I remember traveling through upstate New York and being impressed by what a beautiful state it is.  We arrived in Boston late in the evening.  It was mid-November and having never been out of Southern California in my life, I was struck by how cold it was: about 11 degrees F.  We were taken to the wharf, put on a ferry, and taken to Gallups Island.

     We were assigned to class R-92, which was composed mainly of youngsters under 17 1/2 and men over 35 because between these ages, men were draftable.  We were given, along with code practice and radio theory, several classes of radio procedure, such as how to fill out message forms, how to charge for a message, etc.  I remember one class on how to solder connections.  The instructor had his


…continued on page 7


Gallups Memories  …continued from page 6


head buried in the assembly when someone took a book and slammed it down hard on the table making a big bang and scaring the instructor half to death.  We all thought this was very funny but the instructor didn't appreciate our sense of humor.  There was a staff member by the name of Donovan, I believe.  I remember he was a master-at-arms or some such in the mess hall.  We used to kid him because of his extreme Boston accent.  It was his job to keep us under control and keep the horseplay down.  When we left the island after graduating he was probably the most remembered individual.

     Most of the time I stayed out of trouble but one day I was tabbed for extra duty for talking after lights out.  The first time it happened I was assigned to the officer's mess.  I found this to be enjoyable as I also was given my dinner and the food was very good.  The second time it happened, I was assigned with others to clear the ice off the parade grounds.  This was not an easy task as the clearing was done by the use of a very large and powerful fire hose that took three of us to hang onto.  If any one person let go, the hose would whip around dangerously.

     Another experience was when I was assigned the 2 A.M. fire watch, which entailed carrying a clock about six inches in diameter to several posts located in various places around the island.  It was cold, dark, and scary to be wandering around the island at night going into deserted buildings.  I didn't help that my classmates told me rumors of Germans subs landing in the area.  I had to climb steep stairways and punch the paper tape in the clock with the particular key at that station so that it could be verified that I was indeed at that location at that time.

     Every Saturday morning we had an inspection prior to being given liberty.  Our lockers were so full that we had to roll most of our clothes and suspend them on the locker door for inspection.  Occasionally some joker would reach over and trip the strings holding your clothes and they would fall all over the floor.  There was a panic to reinstall them before the inspection party arrived.  Also, you had to be careful not to leave your locker unlocked while showering because another joker would soak your dress blues and hang them out the window to freeze.

     One of the fellows got a box of chocolates and carelessly left it on his bunk for a few minutes.  When he returned naturally almost all of the chocolates were gone.  The next time he received a box of chocolates he cut off the bottom of a few selected pieces and filled them with shaving cream.  Needless to say, one bite of shaving cream covered with chocolate cured the thieving parties.

     The weekend liberties we were given in Boston were especially memorable.  We would board the ferry for the trip to the wharf, then scurry into town to find a place to stay for the night.  The USO Buddy club was usually filled because it was afternoon before we landed.  The next nearest place was the Jewish Welfare Board.  As I recall we could get a bunk and cream cheese, lox, and bagels for breakfast on Sunday morning, gratis.  We were really treated royally.

     Even though I was only seventeen, I attended the Old Howard Burlesque Theater in Scully square.  I guess with the uniform, etc. there was a lot of latitude given.  I really enjoyed the shows and I remember Sally Keith, a performer in the area.

     I recall walking along Tremont Street when we had a snowfall.  I had been in the snow before in the mountains of Southern California but never had seen the snow actually fall.  It was quite fun trying to catch the snowflakes.  It was very different than anything I had ever seen before.  In the Boston winter we had to wear, in addition to our regular uniforms, a sweater, gloves, a muffler, and a topcoat.  If we were to go to a movie, we had to start peeling off all this gear before being seated.  This was new to me and I still recall having to reverse all this when leaving.

     The Buddy club had a system where you could sign up for a dinner party at a private home.  When a list was being formed for a party of so many people, we gave our names then the host or hostess would take us to their home for dinner.  We got to meet many really nice people through this system and they were all very hospitable to young men in uniform.  Although I am of the Protestant faith, I was invited to a Catholic home in Medford for Christmas Eve.  So Christmas Eve of 1944 I, spent in a Catholic church with a very nice family, the Seche's.

     I was in Boston when the word came that President Roosevelt had died.  We were scheduled to go out to dinner at a home but when this occurred, it seemed everyone got very quiet and just went back to the island.  In April 1945, we finished our classes and were scheduled to take our FCC license exams in the State building in downtown Boston.  I recognize this building whenever I see a picture of the Boston skyline.  At the time, it was the tallest building in Boston.

     After graduation, I was given a choice of ports so I chose Wilmington, California.  The train trip to Los Angeles was interesting.  I was amazed how flat Nebraska is and when we stopped in Cheyenne, Wyoming, it was snowing (in early May).  We stopped in Salt Lake City for a few hours and I was astounded to see the station crowded with Japanese.  Apparently, they were from a local relocation camp.  We also stopped in Las Vegas, which in 1945 was very small and sparsely populated.  I reported to the Radio Officers Union in Wilmington and was assigned the second radio operator position on the Calvin Victory, a brand new ship that had not yet been on its maiden voyage.  I made only this one, but very memorable, trip to Okinawa.



By Don E. Paulsen, R-92


     My first and only ship was the brand new SS Calvin Victory, which I joined as second operator in Wilmington, California. The chief operator was Isaac Moffatt, a 21-year old from Kansas, who showed me around the ship and where I would bunk.  We shared a room adjacent to the radio room.  Also on board was a Navy armed guard radioman.  I was assigned the mid watch: noon to 4 PM and midnight to 4 AM.   At 17, I was the ship's youngest crewmember.

     The next day the ship was moved to a berth in San Pedro for a few days, then from there to Port Hueneme for loading.  We sailed late in the afternoon and arrived the next morning.  I stood my first watch that night. One of the crew had an epileptic seizure that night and was taken off the ship as soon as we arrived.

     When we arrived, we were told it would take two weeks to load the ship and they would call when she was ready to sail.  We learned much later the reason the ship was loaded at Hueneme was because 250 tons of ammunition could not be loaded in a populated port such as Wilmington.

     When they called, I packed my gear and returned to the ship.  We were not told of our destination or our cargo, but on the deck were army jeeps, trucks, and two very large bulldozers.

     One of the passengers aboard was a Navy doctor who gave the crew any necessary inoculations. Because I was a radio operator and needed my right arm, he gave me two shots in my left arm, which made the arm very sore.

     When we sailed, in addition to the sore arm, I was quite seasick.  Also, because we were in heavy fog, the foghorn, which was located just above our bunkroom, sounded day and night.  This did not make sleeping easy.  However, after a few days, the weather cleared, I got over my seasickness, and my arm improved.

     On day I had my first experience of really being at sea.  We were on our own with no other ships in sight and I went to the flying bridge to ask if I could steer the ship a while.  It was approved providing I stayed on course.  I was amazed at how well the ship handled.  I made a few easy turns, then put us back on course.

     The first indication of war activity was early one morning when a lookout spotted a periscope aft of our ship.  A sub surfaced, and our navy gun crew was alerted to man the 5 inch gun on the stern.  As the gun crew stood by, our captain got out the book of silhouettes to try to determine the sub's nationality. The closest we came was a British boat, but we didn't stay around to confirm it, as the captain ordered full speed ahead.  We knew we could outrun any sub at 14 knots.

     The Navy Commander (Doctor) was an avid opera fan. He would come by the radio shack every Saturday afternoon during my watch and ask me to tune in the Texaco Opera on the auxiliary receiver. I am not an opera fan, so I would read or mentally tune it out while monitoring the emergency frequency (500 kcs).

     Late one afternoon we passed a beautiful South Pacific island.  It had a large hill, a clean white beach, and was heavily wooded with palm trees.  There was a small thatched hut, and I assumed it was occupied, though I didn't see anyone.  I fantasized about diving over the side to maroon myself there and spend some time on that beautiful island.  I wondered what the captain would do when he found me missing.  We passed another island, but at such a distance we could only see the beach with binoculars.  The beach appeared to be littered with objects all the same color, and we concluded they were dead Japanese soldiers washed ashore from some torpedoed ship.

     One morning at about 0100 while on watch, I heard a loud bell, and a roaring noise from the bridge. It was the torpedo alarm system. As one of the newest ships, the Calvin Victory was equipped with microphones on each side of the bow underwater that were fed into an amplifier and to a set of lights and horns on the bridge. When the alarm sounded, and the helmsman got a green light indicating a torpedo was coming from the starboard, he turned the ship in that direction to present a slimmer target. He then got a red light, indicating something had crossed our bow.  No torpedo wake was seen, and one of the crew speculated that maybe a large fish or school of them had caused the system to respond, but again we left in a hurry and didn't investigate further.

…continued on page 9


Calvin VICTORY …continued from page 8


     A few days later a forward lookout spotted two floating mines. The captain ordered the ship slowed to about 2 knots while the gun crew tried to explode them.  The mines were only about 400 yards off the starboard beam.  We had a 3-inch gun forward, a 5-inch gun aft, and four 20 millimeters on each side, but the sea was a little rough which made sighting poor and the gun crews were unable to hit either mine.  The chief radio operator prepared a coded mine-sighting report and notified Guam.  The next day two destroyers passed us at full speed heading for the area where we spotted the mines.

     Occasionally we attempted to shoot down Japanese incendiary balloons.  The Japanese launched several hundred balloons, each with a timing device, which drifted on the jet stream to the United States with the intent of starting forest fires.  We would lie out on the deck with a pair of binoculars to spot the balloons.  They were white and easy to see.  The captain would then have the gun crew use the 5-inch gun to see if it was possible to hit them, but the shells exploded well below the balloon altitude.  I asked the Gunnery Officer if I could fire the gun, and he said okay, but he didn't tell me that the crew all had cotton in their ears.  I could not hear for about three days after.  Quite a few of the balloons did reach the United States, some as far east as Michigan.  Several people were killed in Oregon when they found a balloon and attempted to dismantle it.

     We stopped at Eniwetok atoll for about a week in mid June just after my 18th birthday. One day the Captain ordered one of the lifeboats lowered to go ashore for the mail, and I was permitted to go along. The U.S. Navy had bombed the island so few trees were standing. Its highest point was about 16 feet, so there wasn't much to see.  The atoll was crowded with ships of all kinds.

     We got underway for Ulithi Atoll to form-up a convoy inasmuch as Japanese submarines were a continuing threat. Halfway there we rendezvoused with a Liberty ship to exchange oil from them for some water.  While hove-to waiting for the Liberty ship, we had a chance to swim.  We were fully loaded so the ship was low in the water, and we had dropped a Jacobs ladder over the side to climb back up.  There were many large tuna swimming nearby, but they were harmless.  A lookout with a rifle was stationed on the flying bridge to scare-off any sharks, but none were seen.  When the Liberty ship came alongside, I went aboard to visit the radio shack.  The interior was mostly wood, and as the ship rolled it creaked like an old sailing vessel.

     At Ulithi, we had a two-week delay for a convoy of nine ships to form with a destroyer escort. Since we were carrying ammunition, we were placed in the middle position for maximum protection.  I had a minor dental problem and went ashore where an Army dentist with a hand-powered drill put in a temporary filling.  The island had not been bombed so the trees were still standing.  It was beautiful to see the trees and white sandy beaches.  While waiting at Ulithi we visited Mog Mog island to swim.  The water was warm and clear and you could see the bottom and all the fish very clearly to a depth of 25 to 30 ft.  I tried to dive to the bottom, but it was too deep.

     We finally got the convoy together and set sail for Okinawa.  While underway we had several lifeboat drills.  As second radio operator, it was my job to take the emergency radio transmitter, weighing about 40 pounds, and climb into the number one lifeboat.  The deck crew would lower the lifeboat with only me inside, this while we were underway at 14 knots.  We arrived at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on July 5, 1945.  As we entered the bay, the battleship Iowa was outbound under full power, an impressive sight. As we dropped anchor we heard many explosions, and when it got dark we saw shells flying through the air on the other side of a low hill.  At first we thought it was a leftover Fourth of July celebration, but later we learned that a Japanese Kamikaze had hit an ammunitions dump.

     Buckner Bay was not a deepwater port with piers, so we had to anchor and be unloaded by barges.  We were about half unloaded one evening about 2300 hours, when I heard a loud noise and felt the ship lurch.  One of the crew said the wind was up our anchor was dragging.  The Captain ordered the second anchor dropped. A weather report indicated that a typhoon was approaching so early next morning we joined a convoy to ride-out the storm in the East China Sea.  Again, since we still had most of the ammunition aboard, we were assigned the middle ship position of a nine-ship convoy. The storm


…continued on page 10



Calvin Victory  …continued from page 9


was rough with heavy rain, wind, and high seas. I again got sea sick, but with the aid of a bucket, managed to stand radio watch.  When off duty, I went on deck forward of the bridge, and hanging on the rail, rode the ship like a bucking bronco. I watched the other eight ships bobbing up and down.  I could see the propeller of the ship ahead of us come out of the water after each wave.  We had to ensure we did not collide with the ships fore and aft of us, as the speed varied for each ship.  After three days the storm subsided, and we returned to Buckner Bay to continue unloading.

One night, shortly after I had taken over the radio watch, there was an enemy plane sighting report.  "Condition Yellow"  meant enemy aircraft had been picked-up on radar leaving Japan and heading south toward Okinawa.  I ran to the bridge to sound the general quarters alarm. Everyone was out of the bunks manning their positions.  The Navy sent picket boats with 55 gallon oil drums to lay down a smoke screen among the ships.  A short while later “Condition Red” sounded, which meant enemy planes were nearing Buckner Bay, but we did not see any aircraft.  In the later part of the war, many of the Japanese suicide planes were being shot down so they usually came late at night flying low over the surface.  I got the 40 pound emergency radio transmitter ready in case we had to abandon ship.  This was July 22, 1945.  The official ship's log, which I obtained years later from the National Archives, stated that the USS Marathon was hit at that time. I heard the explosion, and saw the ship in flames and men jumping into the water.  The Department of Navy, History Branch reported that the attack was by a one man, suicide submarine, launched from one of 153 conventional Japanese submarines.  We sent two of our lifeboats to help pick up survivors. We finished unloading and departed Okinawa for the United States on July 26, 1945, sailing southeast.  On July 28 we passed close to the site where the cruiser USS Indianapolis would be sunk while enroute from Tinian to Guam.  The Indianapolis, which had delivered the atom bombs to Tinian, was torpedoed shortly after midnight on July 29 and had no time to send a distress signal.  I had taken the watch about half an hour earlier.  If the


crew of the Indianapolis had sent an SOS, I’m sure the Calvin Victory would have picked up the signal.  But no SOS was sent, and about 800 men perished.

     On August 6, I was on watch, listening to the Radio Japan broadcast from Hong Kong when they reported in plain English that the United States had apparently developed a new bomb.  That’s all they said.  I switched to the U.S. Navy broadcast where they reported that an atomic bomb, equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT, had been dropped on Hiroshima. I waited until hearing the astonishing figures a second time before informing the Captain. We got a coded message diverting us from San Francisco to Long Beach.  Realizing I would be losing my draft deferment now that the war was over, I declined when the captain asked if I wanted to sail again on the next voyage.

Thus ended my short career as a merchant marine radio officer.




To Alice


The pink mist drifted from the blue envelope and

   filled the room with its pungent, promising aroma. 

The warm letter found its way from Florida to my ship

   anchored off Tacloban on Leyte Gulf, the Philippines.

The powder covered my bunk, caressed my nostrils

   and seared my heart and memory forever.

In response, I composed a sonnet.

And when the mail boat pulled alongside,

   I mailed "To Alice" to Alice.

Alas years passed before I saw her,

   now with her second husband, at a reunion.

And still later, tugging from the past, a note arrived

   telling of the theft of her wallet in which she had

   kept the sonnet all those years.

"If you have a copy," I read through tears,

"Would you please send it to me?"

I did, and, oh yes, I did.


                  ----Chet Klingensmith  R-88





If you haven’t yet done so, make your reservation now for the GIRA Reunion 2000.

Call Sheraton Braintree at 1-800-325-3535




By  Albert G. Heimbach

After reading about the experiences of Jonathan W. Fulton in the winter of 1999 and the spring of 2000 issues of The Gallups Islander, I was inspired to write some of my own experiences for the benefit of my grandchildren and whomever might be interested.

I was also a member of Platoon R-84. My father signed my consent paper on July 5, 1944 to enter the U.S. Maritime Service. I wanted to enlist in the Navy, but my father suggested that I wait to get drafted. After hearing about the Maritime Service and that no one could enlist after age seventeen and a half, he consented to let me join. I was sent to St. Petersburg, Florida, for basic training on August 7, 1944. I recall getting the worst sunburn of my life stenciling my issued Maritime clothing out in the hot Florida sunshine.  (Since our retirements, my wife and I became snowbirds, residing in Bradenton, Florida, just south of St. Petersburg.)

While in basic training I saw a notice on the bulletin board seeking radio operator trainees. My application was accepted and I arrived at Gallups Island in September 1944.  A Pennsylvania resident, I was able to come home several times during training.  I received my TLT operator’s license on February 20, 1945. I departed Gallups Island March 9, 1945 to sign on the Liberty ship Joseph N. Nicollect on March 31, 1945 at Charleston, SC, as second operator. While crossing the Atlantic on May 8, 1945, I copied a message from COMINCH that reported how the U-boats were ordered to surface, and fly a large black or blue flag by day, and have navigational lights at night. Cease-fire had been ordered at 2201 GMT on May 8, 1945.  Our convoy escorts captured several U-boats on our voyage to Greece.

After we discharged our cargo we were ordered to Bari, Italy, to load ammunition and proceed to the Pacific war zone.  The Bari port was filled with sunken ships. On December 1943, eighteen allied ships including five Liberties were sunk by a German air raid. Then on April 9, 1945, thirteen ships were discharging at Bari when a docked vessel unloading bombs exploded, and two other ammunition ships caught fire.


The entire port was severely damaged, but it was operational again a month before we arrived.  While anchored in Bari our orders were changed, and we proceeded to North Africa for ballast and also brought some servicemen home. I signed off July 6, 1945 in Galveston, Texas. Then on August 4, 1945, I signed on the SS John P. Poe, another Liberty ship in New York bound for Belgium. In the English Channel we sighted several floating mines. I signed off in Boston on November 9, 1945.

On December 15, 1945, I signed on the Liberty ship SS Ethan Allen in Baltimore on a trip to France, and on the return leg we had carried servicemen. One of the holds sprang a leak and some of the lumber (dunnage) remained in the hold. As the ship rolled this debris would smash against the sides with great force and sounds.

Almost everyone on board, especially the servicemen passengers, fervently longed to be off that bucket of bolts. We put into an Azores port for repairs then proceeded without further incident to Norfolk where I signed off in late February 1946.

In early April 1946, I signed on the Liberty ship SS Daniel Willard in Philadelphia as chief operator en route to Holland and left her in Charleston, SC in June 1946. I had alerted my girlfriend Marie Treffinger to arrange for our marriage, and we were wed on June 30, 1946.

From August to September 1946 I made a final coastwise voyages on the SS Charles O’Connel ending my seagoing career in New York.

I am still married to the same sweet girl, Marie. We have two wonderful children and five lovely grandchildren.  We live in Pennsylvania and Florida and our e-mail address is agheim@worldnet.att.net and are receptive to anyone wanting to correspond.

Thank you,

Al and Marie Heimbach, R-84




Check out the GIRA home page:


and the Gallups Islanders home page:






After shuttling interminably between the Persian Gulf and Korea during that conflict, our tanker finally went into the Philippines with a partial load of AVGAS for Clark Field. The tank farm was in an isolated area distant from the Air Base. The nearest village lay several miles down a rutted, country lane also known as “the Death March Road.” It had changed little since the weary American prisoners were force-marched down it in the early weeks of WWII.

As I walked towards the compound gate, an American sergeant rushed out and asked, “going to town?”  At my affirmative answer, he continued, “just a minute! Let me get you some pesos.” He returned from a little building and thrust a hand full of Philippine pesos upon me. When I reached for my wallet, he said, “Nah! Just enjoy yourself.”

There were a few scattered, dilapidated shacks along the road, mostly tied or nailed together bamboo and unpainted boards. The best public establishment (a bar) overlooked the village square with a fountain in its center. We relaxed on the front patio sipping San Miguel beer and watching the village women bath in the fountain. Clad in muumuus with nothing underneath, the female villagers from prepubescent to old ladies scrubbed themselves. It was interesting but not awe-inspiring. Beer-logged and bored I left alone.

Walking back down Death March Road, I passed an old crone selling sweet drinks, bananas, and other fly-covered fruit and stale pastries. I handed her the remaining pesos, and she was as startled as I when the sergeant gave them to me.

Decades later when I told my tax accountant, Patrick Morrison, the story, he knew the name of the village and other details about the area. As an early draftee, he was sent over there without ever firing a rifle except as a teenager hunting deer. “I didn’t know how to present arms, or any of the other army baloney you were supposed to know,” he said.

     When the Japanese attacked, the Americans were a ragtag group, poorly equipped, abysmally trained, and incompetently led. As the Japanese invaders approached in their landing craft, they were sitting ducks, but the American soldiers were ordered to hold their fire until the attackers were on the beach. (Brilliant strategy!)

He said that General McArthur, an apotheosis by the press, visited the front only one time. He did shift the lines, which threw off the attackers for a day. There was a small mountain peak in the center of the front line that the American strategists neglected to fortify. That’s the very route the attackers used.

In a local counterattack charge, Patrick went down with a bullet in the knee. The medics had nothing to treat the wound except to sterilize it with alcohol, which burned and reddened the skin around the whole area. Somebody in charge saw the wound as an example that the Japanese were using chemical weapons. Patrick had been knocked out with drugs and couldn’t tell them the facts. He was surreptitiously shipped to Australia on an inter-island bum boat thus saving his life. After recuperating in the U.S. from a bullet wound, not chemical weapons, he was back in the Pacific theater in time for the re-invasion of the Philippines as in “I shall return.”

Each year Patrick promised that after the April 15 tax deadline when the avalanche of accounting subsided, he would come out and tell me his story. But he never did. His eyesight failed, and subsequently we lost contact. Soon after we lost contact forever.

So another good story was left untold, or at least, only partially told.

This should be a lesson to all of us. All you silent, ancient mariners out there, open up.  Nobody else can tell your stories adequately. Raconteurs are where you find them.



Death March Road, circa 1952




War Heroes Overlooked Far Too Long

By B. D. Hammer

Submitted by Nicholas Wynnick, R-012


     Monday (May 22,2000) marks Maritime Day—commemorating the day in 1819 that the Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, left its namesake Georgia homeport for Liverpool, England, and other parts of Europe.

     Yet 64 years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt established this holiday, 240,000 of America’s maritime sons (and a few daughters) still don’t receive their just honor and recognition from our government and citizenry. They are the forgotten heroes of World War II—the U.S. merchant mariners.

     All volunteers, these seafarers came from every vocation, level of education, ethnicity and faith. Some were teens, and some were senior citizens. Many were deemed unfit for military service. Yet the Merchant Marine traveled across the oceans of the world, often without proper protection, to every battlefront, every invasion of a beachhead that this nation called it to.

Such valor did not come without cost. The Merchant Marine suffered a higher per capita rate of casualties in WWII than any other U.S. service group.

     But unlike other service members, merchant mariners weren’t paid a cent when they went ashore on leave, were recovering in hospitals from wounds, saw their ships sunk or were taken as POWs. Also, they were responsible for their own food, clothing, housing, and transportation, and most of their routine medical and dental expenses.

     Merchant mariners were excluded from service clubs run by the USO and the Red Cross. If they were killed in action, their families received only half the death benefits that the families of the G.I.s received. Some merchant mariners who survived WWII were actually drafted into the Army for the Korean War and died in the infantry there.

To date, the American Battle Monuments Commission refuses to place the names of merchant mariners who were killed in action, who died from their war wounds or who are missing and presumed dead on the monuments it maintains here and overseas. The one Merchant Marine Memorial, built by private contributions at Battery Park, is threatened by the encroachments of a developer and the indifference of city, state, and federal agencies.

     President Clinton, in seeking to leave a legacy of his administration to the nation, does not have to look far. He could issue an executive order mitigating much of the wrong that merchant mariners have endured.

     How much would it cost this nation to issue a few honorable discharge certificates (many posthumously) to merchant mariners? How much to give out a few medals that their blood paid for long ago? How much to carve 12,000 names in U.S. government granite? Precious little when compared to the sacrifices that merchant mariners have made for this country.


Mr. Hammer is the executive director of the Battle of the Atlantic Historical Society.



This appeared on the Op Ed page of the New York Daily News 20 May, 2000. (It’s the) first I heard of the Battle of Atlantic Historical Society or Mr. B.D. Hammer. What do you know? I waited 45 years for Veteran recognition and we seem to have it.  Aside from monuments, what is missing?  I did see a monument for both Navy and Merchant Marine in Washington D.C.

73s, Nicholas Wynnick, R-012.





by Lawrence Kelsey

Reprinted from the VWOA Newsletter, Spring 2000

     With GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) installed aboard ship, the question arises as to whether or not the Radio Officer should continue to monitor the traditional  500 kc radiotelegraph watch frequency.  The Radio Officers themselves are much divided in their opinions on the matter which vary from those who say, “There's nothing on 500 kcs anymore” (who cease to monitor it), through those who point out that large numbers of vessels of foreign flags do not have GMDSS and may very well continue to send out (or receive) distress information on this frequency (who continue monitoring it).  There is even one person in the field who has taken the position that it is probably illegal to monitor 500 kcs when GMDSS is aboard since we are expected to use GMDSS exclusively from now on.  Yet another appears to spend eight hours a day monitoring the GMDSS apparatus itself--which hardly seems legally necessary in a system designated as automated.

     I decided to refer matters to the F.C.C. and expended well over three hours on the telephone in a quite unproductive attempt.  First off, I encountered a woman who said she didn't know very much about GMDSS, but who eventually sent me a paper that says GMDSS automates watchkeeping, and eliminates the need for manual watchkeeping on the Morse code frequency 500 kcs. This publicity release, which was itself undated, failed to mention implementation dates and lacked specific instructions, and as such I found it unacceptable as authorization to discontinue the 500 kcs watch.

     I got back on the F.C.C.'s information line a week or so later and had a conversation with a man who provided no information and eventually disappeared for unknown reasons after saying that he would get me some answers.  He, like all others I spoke to, was given my mailing address with the insistence that I wanted answers in writing.  Nothing has been provided except the single publicity release from which I quoted above.

     I spoke to another F.C.C. man about a week later.  This individual spent much time pursuing my question through Part 80 of the F.C.C. regulations and making quotations which I regarded as irrelevant. I kept saying, “Yes, I know that”, or “Yes, I read that myself” and “I am familiar with that”, and finally I remarked “That does NOT answer my question, which is—“ and I repeated my original question.  Finally I received a verbal statement from him, which was:  “There is nothing in Part 80 which relieves you of the necessity of maintaining a watch on 500 kcs.  My response was quick:  “Will you send me that in writing?” and he responded with, “I don't want to research it to that extent.”  This to me is an answer so equivocal as to be valueless and I decided to temporarily at least rely upon my own judgment.  I have subsequently heard that some F.C.C. men are verbally advising (under the table, that is) that in view of the fact that large numbers of vessels are still not GMDSS equipped, we should continue monitoring 500 kcs. This is the very same conclusion I reached independently earlier during the controversy.  I had made repeated telephone calls to the F.C.C. on this question and stayed on their line for about three hours in an effort to get something definite but never happened.

     Where is GMDSS headed in the future?  If international policy remains consistent then the maritime nations will probably stay with plans directing that distress and rescue information and calls for aid shall be directed to and received from shore based Rescue Coordination Centers.  In the light of late information on low earth orbiting satellite telephone systems, it would seem logical to expect that GMDSS as presently constituted will soon face obsolescence and an early decline, actively retaining only a few of its better components.  In view of its present status few would regret it passing.





*  On September 7-8, 1921 Atlantic City held its first beauty pageant wherein the “Golden Mermaid” trophy was presented to “the most beautiful girl in the United States.”  The winner, selected by the applause she generated, was sixteen-year old Margaret Gorman of Washington, D.C. She was blond, blue-eyed, five feet one inch tall with measurements of

30-25-32.  Imagine a 30-inch bust winning today.


*  In 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald agonized over the title for his book flirting with “Among Ash Heaps and Millionaires” and “Under the Red, White and Blue” and even “Trimalchio in West Egg” (Trimalchio was a showy party giver). But the good sense of his editor Max Perkins prevailed with “THE GREAT GATSBY”.  It received great revues but poor sales. Many copies of the 1925 second printing stilled collected dust in Scribner’s warehouse when Fitzgerald died in 1940.

But a few years later sales picked up and never diminished. Today three hundred thousand copies commonly sale annually with some claiming “The Great Gatsby” to be the best American novel of the century. And poor Scott died thinking it was a failure.



We all know that Manhattan is an island with the East River on one side and the Hudson on the other. Well, yeah, sort of. The East River isn’t a river at all but a 20-mile long, narrow strait. The Harlem River is also a strait, partially manmade. And at that juncture, the Hudson is an estuary.  Arguably the most beautiful river valley in the world, for the first 143 miles, the Hudson is the country’s only fjord with the water level near Albany only five feet higher than at New York. A bottle, with or without a note enclosed, launched at Albany would take days to reach New York after being affected by both flood and ebb tides.


*  The much heralded “burning of the bras” never happened. At a demonstration in Atlantic City, women threw bras, girdles, false eyelashes, etc. into a trash can for burning, but police prevented them from being set ablaze so it was only a “symbolic burning” but was a good try and perhaps had the same effect anyway.


*  Named for Isaac Cline, the weatherman on duty, “Isaac’s Storm” was the hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas  in 1900 killing up to 5000 people.


* Ray King reports his application for renewal of Coast Guard Radio Operator license cost $140 and the Merchant Marine counterpart an additional $72. Applicants must also prove that they’re drug free. Pretty steep if you need it only to hang on the wall.


* Cold War Recognition Certificate

Veterans may apply for a Cold War Recognition Certificate from the office of the Secretary of Defense. The certificate recognizes the service of those who were in the military or civilian defense service from Sept 2, 1945 to Dec 16, 1991.

Response may take up to six months.

DOD-214 and request letter should be sent to:

Cold War Recognition

4035 Ridge Tap Road

Fairfax,  VA, 22030-7445.


*  A newly announced Veterans Administration benefit makes all honorably discharged veterans eligible for pharmacy services. This service is available whether or not the veteran has service-connected disabilities.  This is not an HMO; you can keep your own doctor.  If you qualify, you pay as little as two dollars per co-payment for each 30-day supply of prescription drugs.  Must be honorably discharged and have a DOD-214.

Call your local Veterans Hospital for details  or the

VA Health Benefits Service Center toll-free number

1-877-222-VETS (8387)


* The “Merchant Marine Anchor Monument” was dedicated on June 14, 2000 in Sacramento, California.

The monument is located on Capital Avenue, across from the old Sacramento Parking Garage on the promenade  along the riverfront.


*  The mystery of the northern lights has finally been solved, thanks to NASA's Polar Spacecraft.

According to a Space.com article, scientists have finally put to rest a 50-year controversy over the source of the Earth's aurora, also known as northern and southern lights. The Polar Spacecraft discovered that the process of auroras is a "reconnection," or a union of solar and earthly magnetic fields that lets solar wind strike through sections of the Earth's magnetic field. This finding could be the key to understanding solar flares and other solar eruptions.


*  Until the second World War, some sections of London were among the most horrible slums in the world. Many Londoners considered the German air attacks to be a mixed blessing, for they wiped out some of the worst sections of the East End of the British Capital.


*  KILLER WAVES.  Oceanographers calculate that the maximum wind-driven wave is 198 feet which is more than most tankers could handle.


*  Trust in Allah, but tie your camel securely.


*  Dogs may bark and howl, but the caravan moves on.





Delmar Davis sent along this response to his letter and photos that appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of Spark Gap:

Dear Delmar:

Thank you for the postcard pictures of your beautiful baskets. I appreciated your bringing me up to date with a copy of the Spark Gap picture and the article dated May 22, 1945, depicting our U.S. Maritime Gallups Island’s swing band.

I missed the May 22, 1945, issue because by the time it came out I was on a Liberty Ship headed for the Philippines. That ship ended up going around the world and finally docking at Staten Island in late January 1946. Of course that voyage is another story.

At the age of seventeen I arrived for my so-called boot camp training on Catalina Island in the month of September 1944. I was in the Island Drum and Bugle Corps and played both bugle and the drums. I was requested to stay and become a bugler on the Island with the U.S.  Maritime Service. Not wanting to tell my children I spent the duration of the war on Catalina Island as a bugler I turned the request down and shipped out to the U.S. Maritime Radio Training School on Gallups Island.

During my stay on Catalina Island I had the good fortune to sample a short stay in all three tourist resorts: 1. The Village. 2. The Atwater. 3. The St. Catherine.

I remember that mountain on the Island that they made us climb for exercise early in the morning.

Thanks again for bringing me up to date on our band.

Best wishes and regards, Joe Gilmaker R-095.


While Mr. Gilmaker’s letter was to Delmer, it is in response to a story in the SPARK GAP and of general interest.  JJ


Editor, Spark Gap:

In the course of doing genealogy, I found out my father, Roy George Kabat, was stationed on Gallups Island during WWII.  I wonder if anyone remembers him.  He died in 1986.  I knew he was in the service but never knew until recently that he was in the Merchant Marine.  One bit of information I am searching for is when and where he and my mother were married. My dad ended up having a very interesting life in Hollywood.  If anyone knew him and would like to know more about his later life, I would be glad to share that.  Any information would be appreciated.  Thank you very much.

Robin Kabat Dickson



Robin Kabat Dickson

800 Profetta Lane

Gold Hill, OR 97525

Dear JJ,

As a member of class R-14, I am contemplating attending our 60th anniversary of Gallups Island Radio School.

I encourage the small number of members of

R-14 to attend this function. I have been to a number of the annual meetings, and found that few, if any, former classmates appeared.

I do not have a current roster with addresses. I would like to write to them to learn if they are planning to attend. I felt rather lonely at our last reunion. Please, if you can, send names and addresses to the above.

Thank you, Art Stanton, R-14


Art: Enclosed are 17 members of R-14 from the general membership list.  By all means contact them all and strongly urge that they attend the 60th anniversary of Gallups Island Radio School’s founding. Hope to see you all there.  JJ


Dear JJ:

The Autumn 1999 Issue of the SPARK GAP (Volume 10, No.3) was a fine issue, and the coverage of the Branson Reunion was excellent! The photographs were particularly good.  However, the list of attendees had an error. My wife and I were not included. Instead Charles and Esther Thomas (R112) were listed.  That issue must have been a surprise to them!

As far as I know I was the only Charles Thomas at the reunion. I am from R37 and my wife’s name is Phyllys.

I’ve enclosed my name tag, tickets from the Shoji Tabuchi Show, a copy of the GIRA worksheet, a copy of a letter from Buddy Diebold, and a copy of page 7 of the Autumn Issue of SPARK GAP, with the error highlighted.  Sorry to be so slow with this. I’ve been in and out of the hospital a couple of times this year (heart), but am doing OK now. Best regards, Charles R. Thomas, M0161.


Gee Charles, we’re so embarrassed for the goof. The copy of the worksheet you included clearly shows you were in R37, but unfortunately on our copy, it hadn’t been penciled in. Either a middle initial or your wife’s name would have clarified it. Only two choices and I pick the wrong one.  Glad that you could make the convention, and we hope your health has improved. If you can make Boston (Braintree)  in August, I promise you we will get it right. 73s.


Dear JJ,

Bob Heiland would like to hear from GIRA members who were at Gallups Island from January to June 1945.  His addresses (e-mail & snail-mail) are:


Bob Heiland

5719 Westchester Meadow Drive

St. Charles, MO 63304



Dear JJ:

     I enjoyed reading the wartime voyage stories in the Spring 2000 issue of Spark Gap, and thought you might like to receive the details of my one and only voyage during WWII on the SS Calvin Victory.

I graduated with class R-92 in April 1945 just two months short of my 18th birthday, and chose Wilmington, California as my port of departure because it was the closest to home.

     I am enclosing a picture of my class at the maritime service boot camp at Catalina Island plus a couple of pictures of myself before and after graduation from Gallups Island, both taken at my home in Inglewood, California.

     After completing the voyage, I received my draft notice and after the army physical, opted for the navy. I spent the next two years in navy aviation operation and maintenance schools. Thinking I would like to get actual flying experience I enlisted in the navy reserve for four years.  During January 1951 I was working at North American Aviation as a design draftsman on F86D interceptors when



Don E. Paulsen (R-92) aboard a PBM

circa 1951


the navy required my services. I spent the next two years as a radio-radar operator in VP46, a Martin Mariner PBM squadron. We were stationed in Japan and flew across Korea to radar-patrol the west coast of Korea every night looking for any invasion fleets that might be coming from China.  I have enclosed photos of a PBM and a picture of myself taken during this period. Perhaps some of the fellows might like to see the quarters we had on the upper deck of a PBM for radio and radar operation. It’s much smaller than on a victory ship.  I was able to operate the gear a lot more than in the Merchant Marine (due to wartime restrictions), and got to send at any time; however, the airplane was not quite as stable as the ship, so it was probably not as readable.

P.S. Am still using my typing skills that I learned at Gallups on this here computer machine.

Don Paulsen, R-92


Don submitted two articles about his memories of Gallups Island and adventures on the Calvin Victory which are printed in this issue.




PBM similar to ones Don E. Paulsen (R-92)  flew over Korea

during the Korean War





I just received a letter from Wilma, the wife of Lacy Williams R92, and our current Regional Director for Region 6. She informed me that her husband died of a massive heart attack on April 19, 2000. His sly witty humor always gave me great pleasure. In Branson, Wilma, Barth, Lacy, and I walked up to the mall from the hotel. Lacy needed a cane, and it was really a chore for him. But he never complained nor once asked to take a rest stop. He was a bright, compassionate human being, and we will miss him.

As you know at the reunions some couples seem to gravitate towards each other. We enjoy and relish each other’s company. My wife, Barb, and I gravitated towards Wilma and Lacy. Our repartee with them gave us much pleasure. We were looking forward to seeing them in Boston. Now we won’t ever see Lacy or Wilma again. As Omar Khayam said, “The moving finger writes…and then moves on” and so must we.

I am sending Lacy’s obituary written by Wilma. She used to write obituaries for their local paper. You might want to incorporate some of the information in the next Spark Gap. His best buddy mentioned in the article is also a GIRA member and was in platoon 92 the same as Lacy.

Respectfully, Gene Harp R91, Region 8 Director

Dear JJ,

The sympathy card and your note were so sweet. Yes, I do miss him terribly! We had one month short of 52 years!  He was the love of my life!

He so enjoyed the Merchant Marine reunion, receiving the SPARK GAP, sharing “tall tales” and the camaraderie of his fellow mariners. Eugene Harp , Region 8 Director sent the ship poem. So beautiful—I want to share it with you all.  As you know, Charlie Graham, R-92 lost his wife (my best girlfriend growing up in Denton TX) on April 3, 2000!  He was Lacy’s “Best Buddy.” So we are grieving together our great loss. Lacy was the “letter writer” to the Dallas Morning News. Thought you might want to share his reply to the ex-Navy gun crew guy who took a swipe at the Merchant Seaman concerning his pay.

The photo of Lacy on the SS Becket Hitch has his caption to me—“Pay no attention to that expression of deep concentration; it’s all a pose. I’m gnawing my lower lip in desperation wondering when in heck I’m gonna get home!”

P.S. Charles (Graham) provided Lacy the Radio Operator pay analysis. Those were his ships, not Lacy’s. But they received the same amounts—near enough anyway. Thought you might use them in conjunction with the DMN (Dallas Morning News) letter.  Wilma


Most things we would not want to last forever. But there are a few special ones wherein 52 years is nowhere near enough time.  JJ



I am standing on the seashore;

A ship at my side spreads her white sails

to the morning breeze and departs for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength

And I stand and watch her until at last she is only

a ribbon of white cloud where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.


Then someone at my side says, “There, she’s gone!”

“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight, that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and sail

as she was when she left my side,

and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of her destination.


Her diminished size is in me, not her.

And at the moment someone at my side says,

“There, she’s gone!”

There are other eyes watch her coming,

and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,

“There she comes!”


Author Unknown

Submitted by Eugene Harp , Region 8 Director



Old Salts, Tall Tales


Wednesday, December 31, 1997


You recently published a letter from an old ex-Navy gun crew member who took a passing swipe at the U.S. Merchant Marine in a letter on another subject (Cemetery scandal, Dec 14). He stated that a “lowly” deck hand made some $25,000 for six months at sea while he and his Navy buddies were paid peanuts for their services on the same ship.

I was a ship’s officer in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II and can assure you of two facts: One, I was paid better than a “lowly” deck hand and, two, I never received anything near that amount for six months at sea.  A merchant seaman also received nothing for time on shore between ships and not eligible for the 52 weeks of unemployment many other veterans received to help readjust to civilian life. Oddly enough, his pay also stopped the day his ship was sunk at sea. Some semen were torpedoed, spent years in prison camps with no pay, and had to “hitch-hike” their way home after the war because they were not combat veterans. In addition, no merchant seaman received years of free college, had his home purchase subsidized by a VA loan or was able to go to a veterans hospital for medical care.

This is not intended to be bitter since I was a volunteer (at 17) as was every single member of the U.S. Merchant Marine;  plus I have many fond memories of friends in the USN armed guard who went to sea and  kept the subs at bay during World War II while we civilians lolled in our elaborate quarters sipping champagne, nibbling caviar and poring over the Wall Street Journal. I will say though that you gun tub guys always were suckers for tall tales that the merchant crew told you. Some lowly deck hand probably still gets a chuckle remembering how big your eyes got when he was lying to you about how much money he was making.

I’ll buy you a drink when we get to Singapore, Mac!!!

Lacy Williams, Richardson, TX



Lacy (Buck) Williams wrote on the back of this photo, which he sent home to his wife, Wilma,  “Pay no attention to that expression of deep concentration; it’s all a pose. I’m gnawing my lower lip in desperation wondering when in heck I’m gonna get home!”




World War II United States Merchant Marine Radio Operator pay analysis  (Provided by Charles Graham via Lacy Williams)

Station or Ship


Pay Amount

# Mos

Per Mo

Gallups Island (In Training)

1 JAN 45  -  13 APR 45

$ 208.60


$ 60.76

SS C. S. Koolmotor

30 APR 45  -  14 May 45

$ 130.33



SS Bushy Run

1 JUN 45  -  18 MAR 46









                     War Bonus


$ 566.17


$ 50.09





$ 1.32






SS George Berkeley

29 APR 46  -  29 AUG 46






$ 947.83



                     War Bonus


$ 185.00


$ 46.25



$ 206.25








#         Single Radio Officer

##       Third Radio Officer

*          Figures taken from W-2

**         Figures taken from shipboard pay envelope





Leonard Lacy (Buck) Williams, 72, (R-93) of Richardson, Texas, died April 19, 2000, of a massive stroke in a Dallas Hospital.

Williams, Regional Director for GIRA Region 6, was a retired professor of electronics, physics, mathematics, and computer science. Born on May 18, 1927 in Malta, Texas, Williams graduated from Denton High School in 1944 (football, Boy Scouts, NTSU lifeguard).  He graduated from Gallups Island Radio School and was a Radio Officer for the Merchant Marine 1944-46. B.S. NTSU, 1952; M.S. SMU 1972; electronics engineer Chance Vaught Aircraft, and Collins Radio. Taught science courses Thomas Jefferson HS, Highland Park HS, Trinity University, San Antonio, DeVry Tech, Dallas, Colegio Karl C Parrish, Colombia, SA, Lakehill Prep.  Author of “Friendly Physics”.  Elected “Favorite Teacher” numerous times. Active in Jaycees, Scouts, YMCA, Indian Guides, and Democratic Mens Club. His interests included: politics, photography, puzzles, gardening, camping, and canoeing.  Lacy was a quick-witted, quiet, unassuming, unselfish, deeply-caring, individualist who was admired and loved.  Survivors include the love of his life, wife Wilma, marreid 52 years, daughter Connie, sons Don and Keith and families including five grandchildren.

“So long sailor!”



Dick Andren, R-16, passed away on March 28, 2000.  His health declined gradually over the past few years. He recovered quite well from a stroke last September, but after a fall in January, which fractured three vertebrae, his condition deteriorated rapidly.

The Andren home address is:

12600 W. Marion Lane #802E

Minnetonka, MN 55305.




John H. Kesler, 77, (R-19) of LaGrange, Georgia died April 18, 2000 at the LaGrange, Georgia Hospice.

Jack was born December 14, 1922, in Clarksville, GA, the son of the late John David and Lola Mae Nash Kesler. He was a veteran of WWII (Army and Merchant Marine) and had lived in LaGrange for 50 years. Kesler was a member of St. Peter’s Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus and a administrator of the Loyal Order of the Moose for 35 years. He was also a member of the LaGrange VFW Post, LaGrange Elks Club, and the Gallups Island Radio Association.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Catherine Lucile (Kit) Twickler Kesler, daughter, Nancy Jane Kesler of Jacksonville, FL, two sisters; Vy Allen of LaGrange, and Joann Gillis of Helote, TX, and brother Pat Kesler of Daleville, AL and a number of nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by two sons, John Holmes Kesler, Jr. and Lawrence David Kesler.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Kesler Memorial Scholarship Fund, St Peter’s Catholic Church, 200 Lafayette Parkway, LaGrange, Georgia, 30241.  Funeral services were at St. Peter’s Catholic Church with Father Larry Niese officiating and interment at Shadowlawn Cemetery.


Jack, who had already served with the U.S. Army in Panama, was platoon leader of my platoon,   R-19, at Gallups Island. I was able visit with Jack, Kit, and Nancy in Branson last autumn, the first time I’d seen him since March 1943.

While recovering from knee replacement surgery on March 31, Jack was diagnosed with lung cancer, which had already spread to his spine. With no improvement after nine radiation treatments, they were discontinued, and on April 17, he was moved to Hospice LaGrange, where he died peacefully in his sleep less than 24 hours later.  So long, good leader. -- JJ






at Sheraton Braintee Hotel, 37 Forbes Road, Braintree, MA 02184

Thursday, August 10, 2000 to Sunday, August 13, 2000



                      Member's Name:                                                                                                            


                      City:                                            State:                                       Zip:                             

                      Home Phone (include area code):                                            G.I. Platoon:                      

                      Amateur Call Sign, if any:                                          Arrival Date:                                    

                      Guest:                                                       Relationship:                                                 


REGISTRATION FEE                                                                       $10.00  x             persons  = $       

Optional Reunion Tours:


                     Thursday, August 10, 2000 (all day tours)


                                 1.      Plimouth Plantation                                $30.00 x             persons  = $        

                                 2.      Boston Tour                                           $25.00 x             persons  = $        


                     Friday,  August 11, 2000 (all day tours)


                                 1.      Boston, Lexington and Concord Tour       $30.00 x             persons  = $        

                                 2.      Boston Tour                                           $25.00 x             persons  = $        


                     Saturday,  August 12, 2000 (afternoon tours only)


                                 1.      Gallups Island                                        $15.00 x             persons  = $        

                                 2.      Kennedy Library Museum                       $20.00 x             persons  = $        

                                 3.      City of Quincy                                        $20.00 x             persons  = $        


                     Sunday,  August 13, 2000 (half day/morning)


                                 World’s End Walk                                           $10.00 x             persons  = $        


REUNION DINNER/DANCE (Saturday evening, August 12,2000),

Price includes tax and gratuities                                                        $32.00 x             persons  = $        


                                                                                                                     TOTAL:            $           

Dinner Selections (insert number):  Chicken                   Scrod                    


All tours include transportation from the hotel and return.  Bus departure times will be posted at the reunion.  Buses will be provided by Brush Hill Tours and are air-conditioned and toilet equipped.


Make hotel reservations directly by calling the hotel at 1-800-325-3535.  Identify yourself as GIRA.

Call by August 1, 2000.


Cancellation Policy: Cancellations must be in writing and received by August 1, 2000.

No refunds after August 1, 2000 unless there are exceptional circumstances.


Please make check payable to GIRA REUNION and mail THIS form with the check to:

GIRA REUNION, c/o Ray King, 108 Great Hill Drive, Weymouth, MA 02191-1938






Gremlins apparently got into the printing process of the Spring Spark Gap issue. Some copies, but not all, came out with page 19 being a repeat of page 9. We haven’t a clue as to why. Page 19 is herein repeated for those who missed it in the last issue.




By John JJ Ward

*  We all know that Charles “Sparky” Schultz, the creator of the comic strip PEANUTS died recently. Schultz reportedly hated the name “Peanuts” but the title was forced upon him by the publishers. But did you that Howard “Hank” Clark of R-019 came up with the very successful idea of exporting the comic strip in Japanese and myriad other languages?  It became universally popular. The nickname “Sparky” is a mystery, apparently having nothing to do with marine radio.


*  Seven million U.S. pennies are thrown away each day

(Good news for the copper industry). Some 46 per cent of Americans ignore them lying on the ground. Most people pausing to pick them up do so because they’re supposed to bring good luck.


*  Florida’s tallest terrain is Britton Hill at an elevation of 345 feet.  The highest “peaks” in five states fall below 1000 feet. The other four are Rhode Island, Delaware, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Arizona’s highest is Mt. Humphery north of Flagstaff at 12,623 feet.


*  The combination "ough" can be pronounced in nine different ways.  The following sentence contains them all:  "A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."


*  “Not worth a farthing” was a common expression in the early part of this century meaning of little value or worthless. A farthing was 1/25th of an English (UK) penny. Arizona once had mils which were 1/10th of a U.S. penny. At one time they would actually bought something.  In 1863 a law was passed to standardize the U.S. currency. Before that, banks could, and routinely did, issue their own currency.


*  The French fought relentlessly for the Prime Meridian to pass through Paris, and the meeting of nations to vote on where it should be, stubbornly abstained.


*  When Bertram Russell was imprisoned for opposing Britain’s entry into the first World War (imagine being arrested for opposing that madness), the warden asked him his religion preference. Russell answered “agnostic” and at the warden’s request, he spelled it. Then the warden remarked, “well whatever our religion, I guess we all still worship the same God.”  Russell said this remark kept him laughing and in good spirits throughout his first week of confinement.


*  The shortest sentence in English is “I am”,

and the longest sentence is “I do”.


Answers to Nautical Terms Quiz  (from page 15)

1. One minute of arc (latitude) on the equator or one minute of arc (longitude) on any meridian

2. Steam ship. Motor ship. Motor vessel.

3. League

4. Draft

5. Royal Mail Ship

6. Deckhead

7. Fathom

8. The front

9. Bulkhead

10. Underway

11. Compass

12. Barometer

13. Beaufort scale

14. Ship’s log

15. Helm

16. Port

17. Midships

18. No change. The ship rises with the tide.

19. Greenwich/suburb of London.

20. Alaska. What is often referred to as Midway Island in Pacific are Sand Island (44 population) and Eastern Island (unoccupied).

21. Alaska. The Aleutians (part of the state) cross the International Date Line making it the eastern-most and the westernmost state.


Dr Sam married Marjorie Buckley on April 9th.  This was a great occasion, and we wish all the best to the soon-to-be newlyweds.  Here is a short bio on Sam:  Dr. Samuel T. Hucke, R-015, M0303 was born and lived in Shepherd, Montana, until WWII. After Gallups, Hucke first shipped out from San Francisco on the SS Baldhill. Following WWII he flew out of Westover Field, MA to Europe with the Air Transport Command. He then entered the Univ. of Arkansas as a pre-med student and continued at the U of A’s medical school with a year in residency in Tulsa. He was drafted during the Korean War for 26 months as a doctor. Following Korea, Hucke was resident in general at the VA Teaching Hospital in Memphis.

He spent the rest of his career in the VA hospital in Fayetteville, retiring in 1986. He also retired from the Air Force reserve after 29 years.  Hucke lost his wife some years ago. He has three children, two of whom are doctors. The third, a Social Anthropologist, is married to a doctor. While in college he (Dr. Sam) worked as broadcast engineer and as radio officer in summers of ’47 and ’50.


Our best wishes to Dr. Sam and his bride Ms. Marjorie Buckley for many happy years together.





Andren, Richard




Baxter, Jack




Bischoff, H. A.




Black, Robert




Boissonneau, Joseph H




Boyd, Gerald D.




Briggs, Anthony


R-001 (A1)


Brown, Howard J.




Calvelage, Robert




Clark, Adrian E.




Currier, Arthur A.




Davie, George R.




Diamond, Ray




Dorval, Albert F Jr




Dunne, Patrick, Jr.




Fisher, James V., Sr.




Garaudy, Eugene J.




Glazer, Melvin H.




Hackenberger, Richard B.




Hunter, Walter W.




Hutchinson, Robert F.




Jeffers, Clarence G.




Jennings, Norman L.




Jones, James M.




Kesler, Jack




Langlois, Edward




Layeux, Philip T.




Marshall, George H., Sr




Masi, Charles R.




Newbold, Charles G.




Nocella, Salvatore




O’Sullivan, Cornelius J.




Pallazolla, Dominic




Purkiss, Frank E.




Reddick, Roy McGregor




Riedel, William


R-005 (B2)


Rule, David




Schrade, William




Scott, Stephen Russell




Sharkey, Richard




Sharpe, William A.




Simpson, George E.




Stallings, George C.




Travers, John L.




Watson, James A.




Williams, Glen F.




Williams, Lacy L.




Wortman, Carl K. R.




Zikmund, Floyd D.




Zollinger, George L.












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.



Break, break, break.

  On thy cold gray stones, O sea!

And I would that my tongue could utter

  The thoughts that arise in me.


O, well for the fisherman’s boy,

  That he shouts with his sister at play!

O, well for the sailor lad,

   That sings in his boat on the bay!




And the stately ships go on

  To their haven under the hill;

But O for the touch of a vanished hand,

  And the sound of a voice that is still!


Break, break, break

  At the foot of thy crags, O sea!

But the tender grace of a day that is dead

  Will never come back to me.


          Tennyson’s grief at death of Arthur H. Hallam