VOL 12  NO 3

Autumn 2001





Message from President       Page 2

Mid-Atlantic Mini-Reunion     Page 3

Region-9 Mini-Reunion          Page 6

Trip to Antarctica                 Page 8

Jassam                               Page 10

Rescue in Rosario                Page 11

MARU                                 Page 12

Poetry                                 Page 12

Maritime Nations & Ports      Page 13

Vacation Travel                    Page 14

Letters                                Page 15

Roster Corrections               Page 20

Registration Form                Page 21

Silent Keys                         Page 23





for the


see cover story for details



     Airborne and surface Sparks will be Atlanta bound for the 2001 GIRA reunion on August 9 - 11at Gwinnett Palace Hotel, 1775 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, Georgia 30136.  Make reservations by calling 1-800-228-9290 or speak directly with the Hotel at (770) 923-1775.

     Unfortunately Golden Cross is on restricted duty following recent major surgery, and we lost VP Raymond King, his designated backup. Therefore members planning to attend who haven’t already done so, should promptly complete the Registration form printed elsewhere in this publication and also in the Winter Spark Gap and forward to GIRA Secretary/Treasurer Homer N. Gibson at: P. O. Box 1235, Hermitage, PA 16148. Homer’s phone is: (724) 962-4213.

     Atlanta is the 11th largest metropolitan area in the United States, and its Hartsfield Airport is now the world’s busiest.  For those renting a car at the airport, take Interstate 85 north for 27 miles to exit 40, which is Pleasant Hill Road. The Hotel is only a quarter mile down the exit road on the right.

To take the bus, follow the signs from the airport baggage claim area to Ground Transportation and board AAA Airport Express #7 to Duluth-Gwinnett Place.

     Founded in 1837 and originally called Terminus (where its three railroad lines met) it was renamed Atlanta in 1845 and became the state capital in 1877. The Colony itself (later to become a state) was named Georgia by James Oglethorpe in 1732. Orglethorpe had to settle for a mountain to be named in his honor.

     Atlanta is now the home of many bureaus and organizations including CNN and CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). The internationally popular Coca Cola soft drink was developed in Atlanta in 1886 and now serves as the world-wide company headquarters.

     Consider visiting Stone Mountain (one of the GIRA tours), a 1,686-foot monolith that dwarfs Australia’s famous Ayer’s Rock (1143 feet).   Featuring the Battle of Atlanta, the Cyclorama is also a prime attraction with a three-dimensional effect. One of the many real-life size figures is a smiling Clark Gable. Atlanta Underground and myriad other attractions beckon. But perhaps the best of all is visiting and exchanging anecdotes and adventure stories with other Gallups Alumni.

     The Saturday night banquet will feature a delightful band playing not only WWII period tunes but also all-time popular favorites. And, of course, there will be a choice of classical and/or southern cuisine.






President Bud Guntner opened the meeting at 8:00 A. M.


Present at this meeting: Bud Guntner, Homer Gibson, Bill Yount, Bill Anderson, Bob Thornton, Ed Wilder, who served as proxy for JJ Ward, John Dziekan, who served as proxy for Gene Harp, William Fogleman and Lee Schultz, who served as proxy for Bill Wittkowski


After explaining that it takes about four months or so after an election for the installation of the officers and directors of the Association and there is not enough time for the current starting date of the first of the calendar year for the terms of offices to begin, Bud asked for a motion to change Article VI, Section 1 to read: "The starting date of the term of the Officers and Directors of the Association shall be during the month following the annual reunion”.

Motion made by Ed Wilder and seconded by John Dziekan.  Motion carried.


Bud discussed the fact that the By-Laws state that the election of the three officers of the Association shall be conducted at the annual reunion.  He then explained that we have tried to get nominations for the election of the three officers of the Association and since we have been unsuccessful he then asked for a motion to postpone the election and to allow the election of the three officers of the Association to be conducted by mail and voted on by the Regional Directors at the earliest time following this meeting, no more than thirty days following the reunion, as provided by Article VII, Section 3 of the By-Laws of the Association.  The Directors elect the three National officers.

Motion made by Bill Yount and seconded by Bill Anderson.  Motion carried.


Bud then discussed the fact that we have in the past, tried to set up the place for the reunions two years in advance, but since then, things have changed.  We are all getting older and are subject to changes in health, as we found out on this reunion, and hotels and tour groups do not like to make arrangements two years in advance.  The cancellation terms are getting tighter and tighter and we have to make sizable deposits, which we might not be able to get back, in case we are forced to cancel.  He then asked for a motion to select the place for our national reunions only one year in advance instead of the two years that we have been doing in the past.

Motion made by Bill Anderson and seconded by Lee Schultz.  Motion carried.


Bill Yount started a discussion concerning alternating the place of the reunions between the West coast and the East coast.  Bud explained that the Membership had voted to have the reunion in 2000 back in Boston, because that was the 60th anniversary of the school at Gallups Island.  During the discussion, Las Vegas came up and Bud gave an explanation of the events that led to the cancellation of the reunion that had been planned for Las Vegas for 2001 and how the reunion in Atlanta came about.  Bud mentioned that he had several letters proposing the location of our next reunion, such as, Oklahoma City, Atlantic City, Pittsburgh and San Diego.  After a short discussion on these locations, it was decided that the next reunion needed to be held on the West coast, since the past three had been held in the East.  Ed Wilder gave a report on the preliminary legwork that he had done on holding the reunion in 2002 in San Diego.  The Directors voted unanimously to hold the next reunion in San Diego.


The Secretary/Treasurer, Homer Gibson, made the suggestion that anyone interested in hosting a reunion in the future could do some preliminary legwork on their selected site without making any sort of commitments, and then present his findings at the next Director's meeting.  The Directors would then vote on the various sites proposed.  He also asked that all information that would be published in the "Spark Gap" be submitted to him before being submitted to JJ Ward for publication, so that he could make sure that all information that needs to be included is in fact included.  For instance, for the Atlanta reunion, there was no time allotted for our Director's Meeting or the General membership Meeting on Saturday morning.  Instead, there were two tours scheduled on the registration form in the Spark Gap, both starting at 9 A.M. on Saturday morning.  The only mention for the cancellation policy was a statement in bold print that "Individuals may cancel up to 24 hours prior to their arrival date".  This was meant for the canceling of hotel rooms, not the reunion as a whole.  A separate cancellation date should have been stated on the registration form pertaining to the reunion as a whole, since the contract with the Tour people stated that they wanted a 50% deposit by July 12th with final payment due 15 days prior to the starting date of the reunion (July 25th).  Also, a deadline date for submitting the registration form needs to be on the registration form.  The tour people want a final count for each tour, so that they can make their reservations and arrangements for the size of buses, etc.  Once they get that final count, that is what you pay for, regardless if you have that many people or not.  This is also true with the banquet meals with the hotel.  If the minimum number of people set for the buses is 35, you pay for 35 people, even if you only have 15 or 20.  When Homer Gibson "inherited" the Atlanta reunion, on or about July 10th, there were only 8 or 10 confirmed registrations in hand.  On July 11th the hotel taxed him a list of people who had made hotel reservations.  At that time there were only 20 rooms reserved by potential participants.  But the reunion registration forms were not yet in.  When these people were called to cocnfirm what they were planning as far as tours and banquet selections, some of them said that they thought that they could make those selections once they arrived at Atlanta. But it does not work that way.  Homer was still getting registrations and cancellations as late as August 10th.


Bud adjourned the meeting at 9 A. M.


A General Membership Meeting was held immediately following the Director's Meeting and all actions taken by the Directors in the Director's Meeting were ratified by the Membership.


Respectfully submitted

Homer N. Gibson





GIRA REUNION 2001               Atlanta, Georgia        August 9 - 11 2001


Adams, Al & Kay Ester                            R-68

Albers, Ralph & Birdie                                              R-9

Anderson, Bill & Marge                             R-72

Banks, William & Dixie                             R-117

Buckles, Nelson & Zelda                          R-7

Calderwood, David                                    R-1

Clifford, Ernest                                         R-59

Cruse, Tom                                             R-50

Deck, George & Mary                                              R-84

Devoe, Bill                                                              R-19

Dixon, Rion & Ann                                   R-17

Dziekan, John & Rose                                             R-108

Evans, Bill & Terry                                   R-113

Ferguson, Scotty & Evelyn Ventola           R-19

Geiselman, Pat & Barbara                        R-72

Gibson, Homer                                        R-51

Guntner, Bud & Arby                                R-72

Havens, Charles & Jessie                         R-77

Hucke, Sam & Marjorie                            R-15

Hudson, Robert & Cecelia                         R- ?

Jaworski, Bill                                           R-99

Jensen, Dennis, Steve & Jay                     R-50

Kauder, Eugene, Elizabeth, Rae Marie       R-106

Kilgore, Jack                                           R-63

Lonis, Maynard, Mary, Robert, Shelia        R-61

Marrs, Clyde & Barbara                            R-40

Mayhew, Robert & Nina Lombardo             R-61

Miller, Walter                                           R-14

Moore, Harrison & Martha                         Friend

Opalka, William & Lotte                            R-50

Ozbun, Paul & Dorothy                             R-65

Pearson, Everett                                      R-34

Peterson, Ed & Mary Ann                         R-77

Pollitt, Robert & June                                               R- 14

Schultz, Leland & Maxine                         R-15

Surina, John & Elaine                                              R-7

Thornton, Bob & Bess                                              R-57

Wilder, Edward & Delores                         R-19

Yount, William, Christine & Saundra          R-77








Tom Cruise and Birdie Albers





Homer Gibson,  Bud Guntner, Gene???, Harrison Moore



Stone Mountain




Evelyn Ventola, Scotty Ferguson, ??, Rion Dixon (??)







Bud Guntner, President, opens the meeting




Homer Gibson, Secretary/Treasurer, gives a report



A group shot of the general meeting


As usual, lots of sets up front









Walt Miller, Bud Guntner, Arby Guntner, Homer Gibson





Marge Anderson (far left), Bill Anderson (fourth from left), and others listen to a speaker



Bill Anderson leans over to listen to another member.




Birdie Albers (far right), Harrison Moore (2nd from right),

and others enjoy the evening















??  Bill Devoe



Birdie Albers (midldle), Marge Anderson (far left) sit with another spouse during














Harrison and Martha Moore

photo by Homer Gibson


Sam and Marjorie Hucke

photo by Homer Gibson


Bob and Bess Thornton

photo by Homer Gibson


Clyde and Barbara Marrs

photo by Homer Gibson


John and Rose Dziekan

photo by Homer Gibson


Jack Kilgore

photo by Homer Gibson





Bill Devoe with a “Home Brew” QRP rig

photo by Homer Gibson


Bill Evans exchanges ball cap for Santa’s cap

photo by Homer Gibson


Tom Cruise

photo by Homer Gibson


Bill Devoe

photo by Homer Gibson


Rion Dixon, Sam Hucke, Bud Guntner













Wise Advice


Norb Blei passed this on to me. You might want to print it out for the valuable phone numbers - should you ever need them.   Ray  Subject: FW: Identity Theft


We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed using a stolen identity. ie; name, address, Social Security Numbers, credit, etc.


To protect yourself, here is some critical information to limit the damage in case thihappens to you or someone you know. As everyone always advises, cancel your credit cards immediately, but the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know who to call. Keep those where you can find them easily


File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where it was

stolen; this proves to credit providers that you were diligent, and is a first

step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).


But here's what is perhaps most important:

Call the three national credit reporting organizations immediately to

place a fraud alert on your name and SS#.   The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.


Equifax 1-800 525-6285

Experian (formerly TRW) 1-800-301-7195

Trans Union 1-800-680-7289

The Social Security Administration also has a fraud line at 1-800-269-0271


























From: USMM <usmm@tdl.com>

To: usmm@tdl.com


Subject: HR 2442: Combat Merchant Mariners Veterans Benefits Act of 2001

Date: September 12, 2001 12:53 AM


HR 2442: Combat Merchant Mariners Veterans Benefits Act of 2001 was introduced in the House of Representatives July 10, 2001, by Representative Felix J. Grucci, Jr. of New York: "To provide veterans benefits to certain individuals who serve in the United States merchant marine during a period of war."


Please contact the Veteran's Aide of your Member of Congress and ask her/him to cosponsor HR 2442: Combat Merchant Mariners Veterans Benefits Act of 2001.  Mention that mariners served in heavily mined waters in Korea, were attacked by rockets and mines and killed in Vietnam, and braved fire in the Persian Gulf alongside the Army, Navy, and Marines.  Ask that you be kept informed about this Bill. It is important to follow-up and make sure that it is cosponsored. Give your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address.


You can contact your Member of Congress by phone or e-mail.  To find your Representative and Senators names, local contact phone numbers, and e-mail address.



Toll-free number to Washington:

You may also call this Toll-free number to U.S. Capitol Switchboard ---

1-877-762-8762, ask for your Representative by name.


Dan and Toni Horodysky





The text of HR 2442 as found on http://thomas.loc.gov :


Combat Merchant Mariners Veterans Benefits Act of 2001 (Introduced in the House) HR 2442 IH 107th CONGRESS, 1st Session


H. R. 2442

To provide veterans benefits to certain individuals who serve in the United States merchant marine during a period of war.




Mr. GRUCCI introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs




To provide veterans benefits to certain individuals who serve in the United States merchant marine during a period of war.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.  This Act may be cited as the ‘Combat Merchant

Mariners Veterans Benefits Act of 2001.’




       (a) IN GENERAL- Subject to subsection (b), the qualifying service of an individual in the United States merchant marine during a period of war for a total period equal to at least 12 months shall be considered to be active duty in determining the individual’s eligibility for veterans benefits under all laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.


       (b) QUALIFYING SERVICE- For purposes of this section, qualifying service is any of the following:


              (1) OCEAN, COASTAL, OR INTERCOASTAL VOYAGES - Service on a vessel of the United States on ocean, coastwise, or intercoastal voyages during a period of war in a combat zone of such war if such service is rendered to the Armed Forces in a capacity considered civilian employment or contractual service at the time the service is performed.


              (2) FORCIBLE DETENTION OR INTERNMENT - Any period of forcible detention or internment by an enemy government or hostile force as a result of hostile action against a vessel of the United States while the individual was performing service referred to in paragraph (1) on that vessel.


              (3) OTHER SERVICE - Any period of service in the War Shipping Administration, the United States Maritime Service, or a maritime training program conducted or recognized by the Armed Forces, except that not more than six months of such service may be included in calculating the period of service referred to in subsection (a).



The minimum active-duty service requirement of any law administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall apply in determining an individual's eligibility for veterans benefits under this Act.




The requirement of section 2(a) that the period of service referred to in that section be equal to at least 12 months shall not apply to an individual who is permanently disabled in the performance of the service referred to in such section while the vessel of the United States on which the individual is performing the service is subjected to hostile action.




The service referred to in section 2(a) may be verified by--

              (1) entries in a continuous discharge book;

              (2) a certificate of discharge to merchant seamen;

              (3) a certificate of substantially continuous service; or

              (4) any other documentation available from the Secretary

of Transportation or the head of any other Federal agency.




For purposes of this Act:


              (1) The term ‘individual in the United States merchant marine’ means any citizen or resident alien of the United States serving as a civilian or civil service member of the United States merchant marine.


              (2) The terms ‘period of war' and ‘Armed Forces’ have the meanings given those terms in section 101 of title 38, United States Code.


              (3) The term ‘combat zone’ means an area in which the Armed Forces are engaged in combat, as determined by the Secretary of Defense.


              (4) The term ‘vessel of the United States’ has the meaning given that term in section 2101(46) of title 46, United States Code.




Service referred to in section 2(a) that was performed before the date of the enactment of this Act shall be counted for purposes of this Act. An individual who performs such service before the date of the enactment of this Act may not be provided veterans benefits that accrue as a result of the enactment of this Act for any period before the date of the enactment of this Act.








It was the summer of 1951 and I was serving as Radio Officer and Purser on the USNS Mission Dolores with James W. Reed as Captain.  We were stuck on a shuttle run between the Persian Gulf and the Orient, supplying our armed forces with motor gasoline.


We were approaching Ulsan in Korea with a load of mogas from Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia. Channel fever was rampant since the crew had had no liberty in the Persian Gulf, and all hands were eagerly anticipating a bit of shore leave here.  However, a naval officer boarded as soon as we anchored, and gave us the sad news that there would be no liberty because there was fighting just over the hill.


Captain Reed told the naval officer that the only chance he had of keeping the crew aboard was to bring out a boat load or two of women and alcoholic beverages, otherwise the crew would take advantage of the many bum boats around and go ashore without permission. The navy officer agreed, and the ship was soon hosting many visiting Korean women.


This solved the liberty problem for a couple of days, but then the crew started going ashore anyway. Naturally, I felt obligated to go ashore myself, just to see what was going on.  The crew was gathered in a Korean version of a geisha house.  It lacked the cleanliness and decor of a Japanese geisha house, but had plenty of women and some horrible tasting alcoholic beverage.


The local army base let us eat in their mess halls at first. But things changed after a fight between crew members and soldiers in the local "geisha house."  The soldiers were soundly defeated and departed, but the establishment was a bit torn up as a result of the fight.


Mamasan went to the army and demanded restitution. They sent a young lieutenant to survey the damages. When he entered the house he was aghast at what he saw. Crew members were laying around in various stages of inebriation. He remarked to me "My God! Are they drinking that stuff?  It is killing our boys." I told him we did not have any casualties yet.


The army agreed to pay for damages, but to prevent further problems they banned us from the base, and the soldiers from the "geisha house."


This left us with an eating problem. Mamasan said that if we wanted to eat we would have to buy the food, so I went with her on a shopping trip. Some whaling ships had just arrived, and she told me that whale was excellent food, and that the delicacy was the lip. I purchased a length of lip, and we dragged it back to the house. It looked like a piano keyboard, and tasted much the way it looked.


Every couple of days I returned to the ship to assist at Captain Mast where the Captain would log the crew members who had missed their watches. They were assessed two days pay for every watch missed. I admit that it was a bit incongruous for me to be ashore with them, then officiate at their loggings, but life was never really meant to be equitable.


When departure time arrived, I was ready to go. It was one port where I never had a personal attachment with any one woman, just a series of one or two night stands with a minimum of emotional involvement. It makes farewells much less traumatic.









Via e-mail


It was a wonderful time at Atlanta.   Very pleased to have met many of you for the first time and your spouses.  Birdie, my xyl, enjoyed it all

too, especially the spouses.


Ralph Albers R9



Via e-mail




Hi:  Those of you who did not attend missed a good Reunion in the Atlanta area.

Attendance could have been better but there was a good group there.

John Surina and myself and our wives attended from R7 class.

Nelson Buckles R7



Via e-mail


Is there someone who is putting together memorabilia from Gallups? I came across a pristine invitation and envelope for the dance held at the Copley Plaza on April 14, 1945.  If someone would like to preserve it for posterity, I will be happy to mail it to him.

My best to you and many thanks for keeping the Gallups group alive.

John Pino


Gallups Islanders,

We have posted a Gallups Island on the Internet:


Please pass it on to all concerned.

If you have anything to contribute to the Gallups Island story, let us


Dan and Toni Horodysky





There are a number of GIRA members who served in US Army Transportation Corps vessels to gain sea time as required for peace time sailing after VJ day, or who opted to sail there instead of traditional merchant vessels.  I have discovered we are entitled to receive an Honorable Discharge form DD256A for time served before December 31, 1946. That's in addition to the Coast Guard discharges we got last year. I sent my sea time records on USAT vessels to:


Mr. Mark C. Dellbringge



Veterans Support Branch

Dept. of the Army

U.S. Army Reserve Personnel Command

1 Reserve Way

St. Louis, MO 63132-5200        


Include your Social Security Number as well


Jack McNulty R114




Thanks for the response re Ernie Torella. I have forgotten my class number

but we graduated the week after VJ day. My name is Fred W. Pratt 336 998 3516

or 540 728 2584 which I will be at most of the summer months. I do not have

my computer installed at the latter number. Thanks again


 From: Efpratt@cs.com





Dear GIRA Members,

I am not a member of GIRA, but perhaps members of GIRA can help me.

Just after America went to war with Japan, a young Japanese man joined the Japanese military.  I do not know which branch of service. He had lived either in the United States or an American territory, and spoke both English and Japanese.  He held an officer rank, and became an interpreter who helped interrogate American and Allied soldiers.  When the interrogations became too brutal it got to him.  Soon he was helping American and Allied soldiers to hide and then escape.  When the Japanese discovered this, they killed him. How many American and Allied soldiers did he help?  No one knows, but it’s more important for me to find out who this man was and where his family is now.  If anyone knows anything about this Japanese officer please contact me.


Dennis Hughes

P.O. Box 1633

Nokomis, Florida  34274



yet received a bill but I expect to pay a max of $2. per, a huge saving for me.

     I'm told the medicine usually comes by mail.  I'm also told they don't use brand name medicine, only generic.  Friends of mine were taking advantage of the service and I didn't believe them, thinking there must be a catch somewhere, but so far, everything is as expected.  I went through the process and got several hundred dollars worth of medicine for six or eight dollars.

Good luck to all,

Bud Rebedeau



Regarding VA medical benefits... I made a personal visit to the local VA clinic here in San Jose (could have gone to the VA hospital facility in Palo Alto). I brought along a copy of my DD 214 and asked to register. They helped fill out a form then took my photo. Out came a plastic VA "Veterans Universal Access Identification" card with my photo on it.  Now, if I want to see a VA doctor, I can make an appointment, pay  $52 bucks and see the doctor. If drugs are prescribed, the VA pharmacy will fill them for two bucks. The rest is what you've seen from others. I haven't used their services yet as I belong to a HMO (company paid). It's good to have in the event one travels and can use the VA for service. By the way, signing up and using the VA will not affect any membership in other medical plans, including Medicare.


Al Hadad, R-013



Does anyone remember an instructor by the name of Ernest Torella? Not sure about the spelling. Ran into him in another career and have lost touch. Best I recall he was from the Boston area. Would appreciate any info.






A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.

                                               Grace M. Hopper


The capital of Montana isn’t “M.”





Regarding VA medical benefits...

In 1988, I used a Form DD 2168 to apply for my Coast Guard Discharge Certificate.  The form was mailed to:


             Commandant (GMVP-1/12)

             United States Coast Guard

             Washington, DC 20593-0001


     To the best of my recollection, I only gave them the beginning and ending dates of my service---no ships or dates.  Apparently the Coast Guard had all my ship records since they provided me with my Honorable Discharge Certificate (executed and signed by the Coast Guard) and my DD-214 on which all my ships and dates were listed.

     In November, 1988, I also received a "United States Merchant Marine" "Certificate of Service" from the Maritime Administrator, Maritime Administration, U. S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh St., NW, Washington, DC 20590.  I think I must have received this because I had applied for and received the above documents.

I hope this is helpful.


C. T. Allen (R-056)




More VA Benefit Information


How to get discharge papers and other service documentation:  You need to write to the Commandant, US Coast Guard, Washington, DC and ask for information to qualify for a Coast Guard Discharge (DD214) for Merchant Marine Veterans of WWII.   You will probably need copies of your discharges from ships to include with your actual application.  If you don't have your actual discharges, you can probably get them if you know the names of your ships and dates of service.  If you know the names of your ships and approximate dates, you may be able to get copies of your discharges from the US Coast Guard, Washington, D.C.  If you were a union member you might get something from MEBA or ARA.  You don’t need 20 years of military service in order to qualify for VA medical benefits.

You can get VA information, including eligibility forms in the mail at the website  http://www.va.gov/


Editor’s note:  We received this message from Bob Mayhew (R-61) who sent it from M/V Green Cove,  Panama Canal,  25 February 2001


     I was assigned to the Motor Vessel Green Cove January 10th 2001 in Oakland California.  It ‘s a 12-deck car carrier—just like riding around on top of a 12-level parking garage.  It carries new cars from Japan to almost anyplace--mostly U.S.A. It is also available to the U.S. Military Sealift Command on the return voyage to Japan.  Before I joined her in Oakland it had partially loaded in San Diego, Port Hueneme and finished off in Oakland.   The military cargo was discharged in Naha, Okinawa; Pusan, Korea, and Yokohama.  We now have 3,860 Toyotas aboard, loaded in Toyohashi, Japan.  Discharge is scheduled for Jacksonville, Port Newark and Baltimore. We then proceed to Houston to start loading for the return trip for Military Sealift Command.  Our schedule as follows:


Houston, Texas                        3/11

Jacksonville, Fl                         3/16

Baltimore, Md                          3/19

Wilmington, De                        3/21

Port Newark, N.J.                     3/22

Savona, Italy                            4/02

Port Said (For Suez Canal)        4/07

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia                4/09

Muscat, Oman                         4/14

Dubai, Arab Emirates                4/15

Dammam, Saudi Arabia            4/16

Kuwait                                     4/17

Singapore                                4/27

Keelung, Taiwan                       5/02

Japan (To load)                         5/08


     They emphasized that this schedule was tentative and that ports could be canceled if there was no cargo for them, but that other ports might also be added.  I only hope that the Japan loading is for U.S. West Coast because the trip would be nearly two weeks shorter and by June I will have had enough.

     In addition to all this, I also have one more item.  I belong to the American Export Association which hasn't had a ship for nearly 25 years but still has nice reunions where I see a lot of old friends.  One of their events this year is a one-week cruise on the SS Independence on which I was one of six Radio Officers in 1956.  Even with the special rate, with associated costs it runs close to $3000, but I am going anyway.  Sailing is the last week in June.

Fraternally and 73,    Bob Mayhew (R-061)



Dear JJ,

     I lived in South Portland, Maine so got jobs in Portland and Searsport because guys from southern New England did not like traveling up there in the winter.

     I made a couple of relief trips on an old collier, the James Elwood Jones, which I caught in Searsport.  The last trip I made before I got off, we ran into a northeaster coming into Portland.  When we anchored in the harbor we looked more like an iceberg than a ship as we were encased in frozen spray.  The crew spent the day chipping ice so they could open the hatches when we went to the dock.  When she left I drove out to Two Lights to watch her go.  She got near the lightship and stopped and anchored.  From the paper the next day I learned that she lost the screw and rudder, and had to be towed to Boston for repairs.  The radio room was a little shack out on the boat deck.  To get a time tick to the mates, you turned the volume on the receiver up full blast and opened the door.  The mate opened the wheel house door and listened.  The transmitter was a real old timer with a slate front over an inch thick.

     I next got a Liberty in Searsport that had brought back a load of bombs from England.  This was January 1946.  We were at anchor where they would load several hundred tons of bombs on an LST, which would take them out to sea and dump them.  The last few days we were there we went to the dock to unload some block-buster bombs that had been saved.  Those were the bombs they used to try to penetrate the German submarine bunkers.  There was a bunker up the river from Bremerhaven, and some girls there told us that they evacuated the area around it and dropped some of those bombs on it to see if they could penetrate it.  It didn't look like much damage to me.  The tank farm near there where we pumped out our cargo was also all underground.

     While we were at the dock in Searsport in February, the bosun and I went into town to get a haircut at the barbershop there.  There were several old timers in there shooting the breeze, but no barber.  Since it was noon, we figured the barber was out to lunch. After half an hour I asked these old timers when the barber would be back.  They said about the end of March.  They said he was in Florida and would be back at the end of March, and if we wanted a haircut we would have

to go to Belfast.  The barber left the shop open while he was gone so they had a place to gather and talk and read the magazines.  Can you imagine someplace doing that in this day and age?  There would be noting left but the walls when he got back.

     The captain on that ship was a big guy whose name I think was Mountain.  When he was aboard ship he was Captain Bly and when he was ashore in a bar, he was Senator Claghorn (a character in Fred Allen's radio program.)  I think he would have given his right arm for a mate named Mr. Christian or Mr. Fletcher.

     We went from Searsport to New York and anchored off Staten Island.  You could just look at the sky and know that it was going to blow that night.  I copied the weather forecast and gave it to the captain so he would know what was coming.  They went off and left the young 3rd mate fresh from one of the maritime academies on watch.  It really started to blow about 10 PM.  The poor devil came to me and said we were dragging anchor and he did not  know what to do.  I got up to help if I could.  I suggested dropping the other anchor.  He said we would have to move forward to do that.  I said get the engineer up and start the engine.  We went down and the 2nd engineer was the night engineer and he was drunk in his bunk and just said the engine was disabled.  So I stayed up all night with him as we dragged across the harbor to the Brooklyn side.  Luckily we never hit anyone.

     The rest of the officers came back in the morning, and the poor 3rd mate got chewed out for letting the ship drag across the harbor.  They heaved up the anchor, but did not have enough way on the ship to control it, and we ended up slamming into another Liberty and destroying her accommodation ladder and one of her life rafts.  We ended up tying up to that ship until they got some tugs out to move us away.  We went to a dock the next day, and I happily got off to go home and catch a tanker.  That was my last Liberty.


Joe Silva




Make your reservation now for the 2001 GIRA reunion.

Call Gwinnett Place Hotel at 1-800-228-9290


SS Catalina

Save the historic SS Catalina.

Please take a moment to consider if you know of any individual or group that may be interested in making a large philanthropic donation so that future generations can experience and appreciate the beauty of this wonderful ship, and the age of steam. The Catalina is currently being raised, but without further funding she won't stay up.  The time is NOW for financial support!  For more info contact Phil Dockery (President, S.S. Catalina Preservation Association) at dpdockery@juno.com. or visit these websites:





San Mateo Victory

The San Mateo Victory is posted on the USMM.org site as a ship that participated in the Korean War.  I saw the ship laying up on the rocks high and dry in the Shimonoseki Straits, Japan in January 1950. The entire bottom of the ship was torn open, from stem to stern as they say. I even had a very good close-up photo but have long since either lost it or misplaced it.

I want to include a paragraph or short chapter on that grounding and the final disposition of the vessel. Anyone want to research?  $50 for a credible factual report on what caused the grounding.  $100 for a photo of her on the rocks. I believe my book will go into print this summer/fall so I need the information soon.

My sincere regards to all.

73 de Ray Maurstad (R92)





The SS John W Brown

To view photos of the S/S John W Brown on a recent trip to the Great Lakes via St Lawrence River, visit their website.



Checkout these Websites


GIRA website.


Password: USMM-GIRA


Merchant Marine website



This website should interest all Gallups Islanders!



Reunions of Veterans Organizations:



Gallops Island State Park website



Ham Radio Super Site



List of Ham call signs


type in your call sign, and see what happens.




An American AF pilot’s jet flamed out, and he had to eject over the vast regions of the western Pacific Ocean, but he came down in the water within a few yards of a U.S. Navy destroyer escort.

At another time the “luckiest” pilot bailed out at 17,000 feet and hit the ocean surface without serious injury.

But neither was quite as lucky as a skydiver who jumped with a group over Casa Grande (just south of Phoenix).  Neither the jumper’s main nor auxiliary chute opened properly  --he became sort of wrapped up in them-- and he hit the dirt runway and bounced several times.  While giving the fatality information to the Phoenix FAA, the pilot s uddenly exclaimed, “wait a minute! He’s getting up!”  The parachutist had a broken nose, but no other serious injuries.






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.O. Box 1235

Hermitage, Pennsylvania  16148

E-mailkb3aps@infonline.net     Phone:  724-962-4213     Fax: 724-962-0181








James R. Ferguson

2 Ryefield Drive  -  Unit 2

Old Orchard Beach, ME  04064-1411




James R. Ferguson

c/o Ventola  -  (Dec  to  April)

1 Graham Court

Bluffton, SC  29910-4435




Robert Field

1492 S. Calle de Maria

Palm Springs, CA. 92264-8589




Robert E. Fleming

137 Cottage Road

Shippenburg, PA  17257




Jay Johnson

16 McDowell Road

Middletown, CT  06457




Martin Roemer

189 forest Avenue

Paramus, NJ  07652




James R. Hildreth





Eldon B. Larson





Armand Lemma





Theodore K. Phelps





Charles Hieken





Wendell L. Leavitt





John S. Berst





Fred Peper





Ted Supplee





Wendell L. Leavitt





Jay Johnson





Sam Giampapa










Agar, George T.




Andren, Richard



March 28, 2000

Bischoff, H. A.



March 26, 2000

Brown, Howard J.



February 28, 2000

Clark, Adrian E.



April 19, 2000

Diamond, Ray



February  26, 2000

Farenga, Vincent



February  3, 2001

Farnum, Wesley



May 2001

Fogerty, Ed




Garaudy, Eugene J.



March 20, 2000

Gedeon, John H.



July 31, 2000

Goodwin, James W.



September 21, 2000

Guthrie, Glenn S.



February  2, 2001

Hull, Joseph R.




Kesler, Jack



April 18, 2000

King, Ray



May 26 2001

Layeux, Philip T.



February  24, 2000

Lemma, Schley D.



October 23, 2000

Masi, Charles R.



January 10, 2000

Meadowcroft, Bruce A.



May 31, 2000

Morrison, William A.



June 23, 2000

Natvig, Arthur G.



April 2000

Notaro, Sam



September 2000

Prock, Ralph D.




Proft, Conrad R. Jr



October 17, 2000

Rampy, C. W.


R-005 (B-2)

January 19, 2001

Sharpe, William A.



April 18, 2000

Simpson, George E.



February 13, 2000

Sutcliffe, Ray A.



October 24, 2000

Trotter. Robert W.



December 01, 2000

Uhrig, George J.



December 24, 2000

White, Arthur J.



February 28, 2000

Williams, Lacy L.



April 19, 2000










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


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.


Frank Henry (R-88) sent the following.

Part of this poem is inscribed on the U.S. Merchant Marine Memorial Monument at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy at the southern end of the Cape Cod Canal:



From "Child Harold" Canto IV

Lord Byron "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" 1818


There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is society, where none intrudes,

By the deep Sea, and music in its roar;

I love not Man the less, but Nature more,

From these our interviews, in which I steal

From all I may be, or have been before,

To mingle with the Universe, and feel

What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean - roll!

Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;

Man marks the earth with ruin - his control

Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain

The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain

A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,

When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,

He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,

Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown.


And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy

Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be

Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy

I wanton'd with thy breakers - they to me

Were a delight; and if the freshening sea

Made them a terror - 'twas a pleasing fear,

For I was, as it were, a child of thee,

And trusted to thy billows far and near,

And laid my hand upon thy mane - as I do here.