VOL 12  NO 2

Summer 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.




Elections and 2001 National Reunion

By Bud Guntner


     Ray King, our Vice President, became a Silent Key on May 26.  We were told that the reason for this sad event was lung cancer, resulting from asbestosis.  Ray was a very fine gentleman and he worked very hard for GIRA; he surely will be missed by all.

     As regards the election of Regional Directors, JJ Ward and his committee are preparing a list of the nominees for the ten regions.  The list will then be forwarded to Homer Gibson, who will send ballots to the membership.  The voting will be completed prior to the National Reunion where the results will be reported.

     The election of the National Officers will take place at the reunion.  The officers are elected by the Regional Directors and, for that reason, it's very important that the directors attend the reunion.  If, for some reason, a director is unable to attend, he should appoint an alternate --or proxy—to represent him.  The alternate will be able to nominate candidates for the national offices and to vote for the candidates for those offices.  He also will be able to represent the director in any other business that is transacted at the meetings of the directors and of the general membership.

     All the directors and members are encouraged to participate in the election of the officers.  They are also encouraged to seek office; however, please make sure that any candidates who are nominated will accept the office if they are elected.

     There are two important items that must be taken up at the reunion meetings in Atlanta: these are the sites for the 2002 and 2003 National Reunions.  You will recall that the reunion proposed to be held in Las Vegas in 2001 had to be canceled because of a conflict between GIRA and the agency (based in Branson) that was to coordinate the reunion.  Fortunately, Golden had done a lot of work on the Atlanta reunion (which was scheduled for 2002) and we were able to reschedule it for 2001.  So, please think about 2002 and 2003, and be prepared to present your suggestions at the Atlanta reunion.

We look forward to seeing y'all in Atlanta.

Best 73,






Raymond E. King, of Gallups Island class R103, died at his home in Weymouth, MA, May 26 after a short illness. King, an attorney for 45 years, was a Harvard Law School graduate and a senior partner with the law firm of Nixon, Peabody, LLP of Boston. He was a long-time member of, and held offices including the Vice-Presidency of the Gallups Island Radio Association wherein he organized several national reunions and frequently helped with the organization’s legal matters.

King served as radio officer during WWII and intermittently afterwards on a remarkable number of merchant ships, much of it as vacation relief duty to help finance his college and law school classes.

His hobbies included skiing, skating, sailing, motorcycling, piloting small aircraft and ballroom dancing. He was a licensed private pilot and member of the South Shore Flying Club, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and for 25 years served on the board of the Dimmock Community Health center.

King is survived by: wife, Jane Wilmore King, daughters Allison King, Jennifer King, and Robin King; Stepson Jack Nash, and stepdaughter Meredith Gilmore; four grandsons, nieces, and a nephew.

The Honorable John Pino, a former Gallups Island instructor said, “I was a Massachusetts Judge, and I know that Ray was highly regarded among his peers.”

So long good friend.


Mid-Atlantic Mini-Reunion

By Gip Bergey (R-72)


"YOU SURELY WERE A NOISY BUNCH!" So stated our attendant-waitress after the GIRA mini-reunion at Allentown's (PA) Comfort Suites facility this past April 18th. She did have a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye when she made that observation.   That should give you a pretty good over-view of our function.

There were 26 people that obviously enjoyed each other's company and then did justice to the buffet-luncheon.  There was a lot of chatter and lots to eat.  All the spontaneous evaluations of the event were positive.

Members attending, mostly with their spouses, (also a daughter and a son), as well as significant others were:  Jack Bandazian R69, Gip Bergey R72, Sal Briglia R78, Fred Burkins R53, Bill Devoe R19, John Dziekan R108, Bud Guntner R72, Al Heimbach R84, Maynard Lonis, R61, Walt Miller R14, Joe Ostroff R21, John Surina R7, and Melvin Sweger R52.

President Bud Guntner welcomed the group, and after a pause to remember Silent Keys, and others, made several announcements.  He asked us to strongly consider the 2001 Reunion to be held in Atlanta, August 9, 10, & 11.

Festivities began shortly before 11 a.m., then were pretty well concluded by 3 p.m.  Maynard's group had nearly a five hour trip home, so they were about the first to leave. Others also came a long distance, and planning their return was a concern.  Many of the group had never attended a GIRA function, so it was indeed a great way to update our activities since leaving the Island. Others, of course, had met before and were able to renew acquaintances.





Attendees of the Mid-Atlantic Mini-Reunion  18 April 2001 Allentown, PA

photo by M. Lonis






Bud Guntner (R-072) and Gip Bergey (R-072)

Photo by B. Devoe



Rose & John Dziekan R-(108)

Photo by B. Devoe



Walt & Viv Miller (R-014)

Photo by B. Devoe


Lorran & Jack Bandazian (R-069) and

John Dziekan (R-108)

Photo by B. Devoe


Helga & Bill Devoe (R-19)

photo by M. Lonis



Betty Lonis, Mary Alton & Maynard Lonis (R-061)

Photo by B. Devoe




                Sal Briglia (R-078), Bud Guntner (R-072),

                Gip Bergey (R-072)  Photo by B. Devoe



Doris & Fred Burkins (R-053)

Photo by B. Devoe


Arby Guntner and Fred Burkins (R-053)

Photo by B. Devoe



John Dziekan and Mel Sweger (R-108)

Photo by B. Devoe







Region-9 Mini-Reunion and Reagan Library Outing


The Region-9 mini-reunion in Simi Valley on 21 March 2001 was a success.  34 in all showed up, including XYLs.  We lunched outside in pretty weather on the first day of Spring.  The Reagan Library was very interesting.

We plan to submit San Diego as destination for the 2002 GIRA national reunion.  Photos by Monroe Willner (R-48) and Jim Jolly (R-08)

Attendees included:

James (Carl) Chambers R-01,  Bob & Elaine Clough (R-07),  Andy & Joan Draghi (Friend of GIRA),  Kirby & Eleanor Elton (R-40),  Pete Engel (R-102),  Don & Eva Fipps (R-100),  Paul & Ellen Gatts (R-71),  Joe & Betty Gilmaker (R-95),   Al & Marian Hadad (R-13), J im & Rose Jolly (R-08),  Everett Pearson (R-34),  Bob & Carolyn  Sherman (R-04),  Dr. Don & Judie Smith (R-87),  Jim & Connie Smith (R-19),  Ed & Dolores Wilder (R-19),  Archie Willis (R-112),  John Willner  (R-48)





Bob Clough (R-07), James Chambers (R-01)

photo - M Willner



Ray Peppard (R-100), Jim Jolly (R-08), Pete Engel

(R-102)  photo – M Willner



Paul Gatts (R-71) Jim Jolly (R-8) Peter Engle (R-102)

photo - J.Jolly



Joe Gilmaker (R-95) Ed Wilder (R-19), Bob Sherman (R-4)  photo - M Willner




Bob & Carolyn Sherman  R-04

photo - J.Jolly



Don & Judy Smith (R-87)

photo - J.Jolly



Kirby & Eleanor Elton (R-40) photo - J.Jolly



Ray & Aydan Peppard (R-100) photo - J.Jolly



More pretty XYLs photo - M Willner



Jim & Connie Smith (R-19), Joan & Andy Draghi

(friends of GIRA) photo - M Willner




Bob Mayhew R-61

     The day after Christmas 1999, the ARA Dispatcher called to offer me a job on the M/V Green Wave.  The ship was making its annual trip to Antarctica, and I accepted the job because this was one of the few places I had never been.  I joined the ship in Port Hueneme, California December 28.

     The big difference in this ship was port time.  Ships have evolved in recent years to the point where any port stay exceeding 6 to 10 hours is unusual.  The Green Wave, however, loaded everything the old-fashioned way, piece-by-piece.  The dock was crowded with construction equipment; piles of steel girders, frames and brackets all numbered for assembly in Antarctica.  There were bales of insulation, bundles of plywood, roofing, flooring and concrete panels with piping in place which I assumed was for radiant heat.  Parts of this equipment were labeled "McMurdo" and others "South Pole".  There was enough on the dock to build one extremely large warehouse, or two smaller ones.  This stuff was all loaded in the lower holds and took more than a week to stow.

     After the building equipment was finally loaded, there were about 50 trucks and nearly 400 twenty-foot (8X8X20) cargo containers to load.  It is my understanding that there are no journeyman mechanics for the trucks in Antarctica.  When one develops more than a minor problem it is pushed aside, a new one is brought into service and the one that failed is shipped back.  Loading proceeded at a steady pace and was finished January 11.

We finally sailed midday on January 12.  There was a full change of seasons (Temperate Winter, Tropical and Temperate Summer) between Port Hueneme and Lyttelton, New Zealand where we took on bunkers and a little more cargo.  We arrived in New Zealand January 29, having skipped January 28th when crossing the International Date Line.  Our stay there was a day-and-a-half.  I enjoyed Lyttelton, located about 20 miles from Christchurch on the South Island.  There I could eat good fish-and-chips and buy a decent supply of reading material.  Of course, it’s always better in an English-speaking country.

     We departed New Zealand late January 30th, still heading South.  Things were mostly uneventful except that the main Diesel Engine kept breaking down.  We would drift for several hours while the Engineers patched it up and then we’d start on our way again.  We had arranged to rendezvous with the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker about a day before the McMurdo base to escort us through the drift ice.  At about 3:00 AM I was awakened by the commotion of passing through the ice.  It was broad daylight, and I started to get up and take some pictures, but then decided the hour might be more reasonable on our Northbound trip so decided to wait and went back to sleep.  We arrived at McMurdo Base on February 10th.

     There is no dock at McMurdo—the ship ties up to a two-acre section of the original ice shelf.  Crew members who had made the trip several times told me that this area gets smaller every year.  All the heavy equipment involved in cargo handling travels over the ice, and I assume it is frozen to the sea bottom.  The cargo was unloaded by U.S. Navy Seabees, flown down for the occasion.

     We were furnished with heavy, hooded jumpsuits for shore trips, but it was still cold.  I was never aware of the temperature going above freezing, although it was summer.  The wind blew at 30 MPH or more constantly, which answered one of my questions from Port Hueneme--why are the roof girders so puny?  I now know that snow could not possibly build up on the roof because the wind would blow it all away.  I also had a problem sleeping in my room.  The air temperature would be 70 or more but the wind would push so much cold air into the void space under my built-in bunk that the mattress was constantly cold.  I ended up sleeping in my long johns which I wore all the time anyway.  I only made two trips ashore--once to buy postcards and again to mail them.  It was always great to get back aboard the ship.

     I saw no wildlife, although I was told that there were penguins around.  There were some places for sightseers to visit, but the uphill climb into the wind was too much for me.  A passenger ship came in while we were there.  It anchored about a half-mile out and ferried some passengers to a small patch of shelf ice across from the ship.  The passengers only got off the launch and walked a short distance before returning --just enough to say they had walked on Antarctica.

     As soon as the Seabees finished unloading the ship, they began loading again.  It seems that nothing is left in Antarctica, and the ship brought back as big a load as it took down.  A full year's accumulation of rubbish was loaded.  The 20-foot containers that had carried provisions and supplies now contained trash.

…continued on page 9





Before discharge in Antarctica.

Flat surface in foreground is ice, covered with gravel.



Everything on the dock is loaded on the bottom.



Portion of trucks in cargo



20-person life raft.  One person can launch,

or it will release if ship sinks.


Antarctica  …continued from page 8


The 50 odd containers that were chilled for food southbound were refrigerated again, and I didn't dare ask what they contained.  All this was taken to landfill at Aberdeen, Washington. The day after our departure, the grand exodus was supposed to start.  First the Seabees then the truck drivers, laborers and other staff.  Everyone not needed on the scientific base during the winter was to be flown out.  I believe the winter population of scientists and vital support staff is about 10 percent of summer population.

We departed Antarctica February 17th.  I was all set to get some good pictures of the ship following the Icebreaker through the drift ice, but there was no ice, no Icebreaker or any other activity.  The wind had blown all the drift ice elsewhere.  We did pass a large number of Icebergs and many smaller ones called growlers.  I saw one berg at about six miles distance, which appeared to be about two miles on each side and at least 300 feet high.  So much for excitement.

We arrived back in Lyttelton February 22nd, and I had the usual fish-and-chips and more reading material.  Left for Aberdeen February 23 and crossed the dateline February 24 --had 2/24 two days in a row. Arrived in Aberdeen March 11.  All rubbish was unloaded, and we back-loaded most of the empty containers.  Sailed from Aberdeen March 12 and arrived Port Hueneme for payoff March 15 after serving 79 days on the Green Wave.




By Jim Addison Hester


     It was in the fall of 1950, and the USNS Mission Dolores, with Captain J.W. Reed commanding, had made port in Bahrain again. I was busy thinking up a good excuse for going ashore. This was relatively simple for me in my capacity of Radio Officer and Purser, but was difficult for my friend Dennis O'Donnell who wanted to accompany me. He was a Fireman Water-tender on the ship and was not eligible for shore leave, so we were pondering a ruse to get him ashore with me.

     There were many British men working on the piers, and we noticed that they departed en masse through the gate. So thinking that they couldn't tell the difference between an American Irishman and a Limey if they were similarly clad, we procured some British togs for Dennis.  The ruse worked. Dennis went out with the Limeys, and I went out on "Ship's Business".

     As luck would have it, we met Jassam at the head of the pier. Jassam was, and is, a mystery.  He was a very homely Arab whom I had met before, but to this day I am not sure who he was or who he thought I was.  When I first met him, he addressed me as Sahib and kissed my hand. I did not really know how to react to this, but he obviously meant no harm and, in fact, acted as my guide and entertained me handsomely. He knew a few words of English, and knew just how to entertain a visitor.

     I introduced Dennis to Jassam, and he drove us to his abode. The sun was setting, and sunset is the best time of day in that desert land. The relief from the daytime heat is exhilarating.

     Jassam took us up to the roof where we were to relax and dine. Roofs are used in this manner because you can get a bit of refreshing breeze there.   After the meal, Jassam broke out the pipe and hashish, and was disappointed when neither Dennis nor I cared to puff on the stuff. We asked for whiskey, which is illegal there, but since

Jassam was determined to be a good host, he sent out to a smuggler to obtain a bottle. It was something called Four Roses and tasted horrible. I suspect that it was some imitation of the original whisky. However, it served its purpose. We were mellowed out by the time the dancing girls arrived. There were two of them, and after dancing they entertained Dennis and me personally. We separated on the roof somewhat for privacy's sake.

     My dancing girl and I were getting along famously, but after a while there was an outcry from Dennis's girl. She jumped up and started complaining loudly to Jassam, and then stormed off. I couldn't understand what the problem was, and Dennis wouldn't tell me, so I just carried on with my dancing girl.  Jassam left and later returned with a young boy whom he offered to Dennis. Dennis was indignant, and I had to calm him down. Since Dennis did not like the girl, Jassam assumed he wanted a boy.  So I began to suspect what happened between Dennis and the dancing girl.

     Poor Jassam seemed frustrated and took off with the boy and my dancing girl too. He returned later with two young black girls. They appeared to be about fourteen, and were identical twins. At first, one could be outraged at the thought of two young girls being forced into a life of prostitution, but on sober reflection, considering the fact that in superstitious Africa at that time identical twins were usually slaughtered at birth, one realizes that some Arab slave dealer saved their lives.

     One of the twins  immediately went to work on Dennis and the other on me. I at first tried to resist her advances both because of her tender years and because I was worn out from the dancing girl, but she was having no part of that. She was a real professional and forcefully aroused me again in a matter of minutes.

Now Jassam was happy. He had been a successful host. Dennis and I both thanked him profusely as he took us back to the pier.  "Ship's Business" had been successfully attended to.






     It was late 1947, and I was serving as Radio Officer on the SS Thomas W. Hyde, a Liberty ship, with T.E. Brown as Master. We were cruising up the Platte River in Argentina on our way to the Port of Rosario. Little did we suspect that our stay would be extended, that one of the crew would be found dead from unknown causes floating in the river, and that I would be the object of a brilliantly executed rescue by the British Consul.

     At that time British Consuls represented Americans in places where there was no American Consul, and although we had a consul in Buenos Aires, there was none in Rosario. This was very fortunate for me, because British Consuls were much more adept at handling bizarre situations than American Consuls. Our people seemed to think they should let U.S. citizens be imprisoned and then bargain for their release rather than prevent the imprisonment in the first place.

     Juan Peron was in firm control of Argentina then, and it was disgusting. Huge pictures of Juan and Evita were displayed on most of the main thoroughfares, and if you went to a cinema you had to endure half an hour of watching Juan and Evita feeding the poor or performing other gracious acts. It was propaganda at its worst. And any time there was an objection, Juan called out his "descamisados" (shirtless ones) to demonstrate in the streets.

     The labor unions were very powerful, with Juan's support, and the stevedores unloading our ship would strike every two or three days. This practice increase our cargo unloading time at least ten fold.  We had been in port so long that money was running short, and I started going to more economical places for dining, drinking, etc. One such place was a park not far from the docks. The park was equipped with tables and benches.  A take-out restaurant there served great Argentine beer and steaks at very reasonable prices. Naturally, this place was very popular with many of the local working people too.

     One evening my girl friend of the moment and I were there, and I had undoubtedly drank a few too many beers. I got into an argument with a German immigrant, undoubtedly a Nazi, of which there were many in Argentina at the time. I think I referred to Juan

Peron's regime as being similar to Adolph Hitler's, which infuriated some bystanders, but hit a chord of agreement with others. Soon there was a full-scale riot going on.

     Police arrived with a loud-mouth Lieutenant waving a sword.  We exchanged words, but my limited Spanish precluded much of a coherent discussion.  I managed to get whacked in the posterior with the broad side of the sword which was a bit painful but cut only superficially. Finally, a dignified gray-haired gentleman, who I later discovered was the British Consul, got between us and started screaming at the Lieutenant in Spanish, at the same time pushing me away.  A taxi inched slowly through the crowd and came to a stop behind me. Suddenly the back door of the cab flew open and I was dragged in. I started to resist, but then recognized that my girl friend was in the car. She made me lie on the floor of the cab as it slowly inched away. The last I heard of the argument was the Lieutenant screaming "Donde esta el norteamercano?" (where is the  northamerican?)

     The cab took me to my ship, and a doctor come to the ship to attend my posterior. The doctor spoke English and as he dressed my wound he told me,  "Many of us feel the same way you do, and sooner or later, we are going to do something about it. However, it is none of your business."  I heeded that advice for the rest of my stay in Rosario and later in Buenos Aires. And as the doctor prophesied, at a later time the Argentine Army Generals staged a coup, removed Juan Peron from power, and exiled him to Spain.



Jim Shekhdar, a 54-year old Englishman, landed on a coastal island off Queensland, Australia March 30, 2001 after rowing alone across the Pacific Ocean in 275 days.  On June 29, 2000, Shekhdar departed Ilo, Peru, in his 23-foot plywood boat to cross 10,000 miles of ocean to Australia unassisted. During the entire voyage he never slept more than 90 minutes at a time.  Shekhdar was harassed by a 12-foot shark and coped with up to  50-foot waves, but his closest call was a near-collision with a tanker. The expected five-month voyage actually required nine months wherein he lost 60 pounds.




By JJ Ward

     All Japanese merchant ships (and now warships) have the word Maru suffixed to their names. When I asked my friend Mont Flynn, who has degrees from two Japanese universities, what the word “Maru” means, he said that it doesn’t mean anything.  The next question was obvious. “If it doesn’t mean anything, why do they attach it to the names of their merchant ships?”

     Flynn checked all his Japanese language dictionaries to no avail and then called a Japanese University professor acquaintance. The professor didn’t know either, but emphasized that he was not familiar with nautical terms.

     I next sent a query to National Geographic Magazine’s “ASK US” which bills itself as “the Answer Place.” They responded with a form post card disclaimer that inasmuch as they get numerous questions they could answer only the ones used in their column (three in each issue).

     In his book Day of Deceit, about Pearl Harbor, author Robert B. Stinnett, writes that Maru derives from the word “circle” and is added to the names of merchant vessels, but not warships. It’s for good luck as they encounter the forces of nature in voyages to distant ports and return to happy homecoming, thus completing the circle.  In 1940 the SS Kyokuto Maru was a Japanese tanker that made many circles between U.S. ports and Japan carrying American gasoline before joining nine other tankers to support the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

     My Japanese-speaking friend Mont thinks this definition of Maru is probably correct, however, Stinnett (a Navy veteran from 1942 to 1946) strains credulity in so many places in his book that it undermines the reader’s confidence is many of his facts.  For example, he doesn’t understand the concept of the direction finder [referring to it as working like a radar instead of just obtaining a line of position (LOP)]. He went on to claim that our navy tracked the Japanese invasion fleet with “DF positions” as they steamed toward Hawaii.  (There’s no way that secretive fleet was breaking radio silence during their infamous approach).

     The book does make a good case that Washington was holding back information from General Short and Admiral Husband Kimmel.   Admiral Richardson was removed as commander of the Pacific Fleet when he strongly objected moving it from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, which he described as a “mouse trap.” He also pointed out that Pearl had neither the space nor support facilities for training.  Another admiral pointed that the Japanese actually did us a favor knocking out all those antiquated battleships while leaving the oil storage facilities virtually untouched.



          For the HMS Titanic’s Heroic Radioman

Phil Mione (R-77)


Whenever a chill breeze stirs within me,

I'm transported to distant places at sea,

Where great ships lie in eternal repose,

Whose victims are strewn like petals of rose.


Mostly, I imagine a solitary lad

From Titanic's list of tales so sad,

Whose radio pleas pierced the chill morn

One April day when rescue came at dawn;


Too late for most inside the huge ship's

Much touted interior, including one Jack Phillips.





                The Ship That Wasn't

                 Phil Mione (R-77)


She was a nifty craft of small dimension,

Facing mighty oceans with fearless stance,

Her crew youthful and so ready, just to mention


A thing or two of a ship unused to dance

On bounding mains or lakes or streams,

Will never travel to England or to France.


And if ever in my wildest dreams

I think of shipping on her for a spell,

I'd do best to stay on rivers or on streams.


And when I hear the bosun spin a tale,

I'm afraid he thinks he's really on a ship,

And all should shout, "We're on the SS Never Sail"




                         Submitted by JJ


A girl who weighed many an ounce

Used language I dare not pronounce.

For a fella, unkind

Pulled her chair from behind

He said just to see if she’d bounce.



Make your reservation now for the 2001 GIRA reunion.

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



By John JJ Ward


     As of April 2000 the World’s merchant ship fleets totaled 28,038 oceangoing vessels of 1,000 deadweight tons or more. This excludes ships operating exclusively in the Great Lakes or inland waterways as well as those owned by military forces.

     Far above all the others is the Republic of Panama leading the world with 4,577 registered ships totaling 158,541,000 deadweight tons (long tons of 2,240 pounds). Liberia is second with 1,520 ships and Malta third with total of 1,452 seagoing vessels. The Bahamas is fourth with 1,035 registered ships, followed by Greece, Cyprus, Singapore, Norway, China, and Japan making up the top ten. The United States is 11th with 468 ships, of which 282 are private and 186 government owned.  No data is available as to who actually owns the bulk of these vessels. It’s certainly not companies in the countries of registry.

     The foreign registry system began for the U.S. during the Civil War when the country began transferring its ships to the British flag to prevent their becoming victims of Confederate States raiders. After the end of hostilities, the U.S. kept many of them registered under British and other foreign flags. With its cheaper labor and less stringent operating regulations, the foreign registry system has grown exponentially ever since. Not only the U.S. but most of the major countries of the world are now doing it.


Europort in the Netherlands leads the world in tonnage, handling a whopping 40 percent of Europe’s total imports and exports.

The Port of South Louisiana is the busiest seaport in the U.S. Houston, Texas, is second followed by New York/New Jersey, New Orleans, La, Corpus Christi, Texas, Baton Rouge, La, and Port of Plaquemines, La is number seven. Valdez, Alaska, Beaumont, Texas, and Long Beach, CA complete the top ten.

Long Beach, CA, is the only West Coast port in the top ten unless Valdez, Alaska, which ships mostly oil, is counted as a west-coast port.

Lake Charles, La, is number eleven. Amazingly, Louisiana has five of the top eleven ports in the country.

Following the almost complete changeover from the traditional freighters with hatches to container ships, the old (narrow) city docks with their (now unneeded) warehouses became hopelessly outmoded. New, more spacious ports had to be constructed that encompass acres (or square miles) of space.


     America has never entered a war with a robust merchant fleet.  Fortunately there was usually time to bring out and repair the aging leftovers from the last conflict and frantically built new ones (mostly of old designs like the Liberty ships).  Even in the war of 1898, our first foreign conflict, there was a severe shortage of bottoms.

     Theodore Roosevelt’s famous Rough Riders, who trained in Florida, couldn’t ship their horses the short distance of 100 miles or so to Cuba, and consequently, had to charge up San Juan Hill afoot. What an embarrassment!  Even some of the ships available were barely seaworthy and a few were lost to those relatively calm seas inspiring such stories as Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat.”






By John JJ Ward

Recreational or pleasure travel in 2001 is expected to be approximately 655 million person trips, about the same as last several years.  The vast majority of vacationers (83 percent) travel by automobiles (car/truck/RV) with only 13 percent going by air. The average trip duration is 4.1 nights. Most, 51 percent, stay with friends and relatives while 40 percent stop at hotels, motels, and bed-and-breakfasts. About 25 percent are traveling for entertainment purposes and 15 percent for outdoor recreation to national parks, monuments and campgrounds. Unless travelers live near both the departure and destination airports, there’s no advantage of flying over driving of distances of up to 500 miles. And airline fares can be exorbitant on short flights especially to regional airports.

Top travel states in total tourist spending:

California with 67 billion dollars total.  Florida (54 billion), New York (34 billion), Texas (32 billion), Illinois (21 billion), Nevada (19 billion), New Jersey (15 billion), Pennsylvania (14 billion), Hawaii (14 billion), Georgia (14 billion)

The top ten world tourist destinations:

France, Spain, United States, Italy, China, UK (Britain), Canada, Mexico, Russia, Poland

World favorites (by travel agents)

Italy, Australia, Paris, Egypt, London

Travel agents U. S. favorites:

Alaska, California, Maine, Hawaii, Grand Canyon

Top travelers to U.S. by country

Canada (14.5 million), Mexico (10 million), Japan = 4 million), United Kingdom = 4.2 million), Germany (2 million), France (1 million), Brazil (665 thousand), Italy (626 thousand), Venezuela (555 thousand), Netherlands (530 thousand)

Of visitors to the U.S. destinations, the Brazilians are biggest spenders of  $4,140 each, the Dutch are second $3647 each, and Italians third $3046. Because of short duration, visitors from Mexico spend the least $385. followed by Canadians $440 each.

Average number of vacation days by country:

Italy (42 days),France (37 days), Germany (35 days), Brazil (34 days), United Kingdom (28 days), Canada (26 days), Korea (25 days), Japan (25 days), United States (13 days).




One of the joys of travel is savoring the delightful regional accents throughout the country. Regrettably, with instant communication to everywhere, they’re steadily diminishing. Recently Carolyn Thomsen, a former favorite neighbor, called the Atlanta office of the huge trucking firm that she works for from her Wisconsin office.  Noting excessive laughter in the background she asked, “What’s going on there? Why all the hilarity?  “We have you on the speaker phone, and everybody here is cracking up over your accent,” her Atlanta counterpart explained. On my first journey to what we called “the outside world” I thought everybody had an accent except, of course, we Appalachian hillbillies. Now I “know it.”  This is another good reason to attend the GIRA convention in Atlanta--to see who really has the best accents.







     Hey, Ya'll (as we say in Texas), this is a yelp for help.  Just after graduation with Gallups Class R-6 (Cl) in March, 1942 and before shipping out, I purchased a Vibroplex Lightening Bug telegraph key.  No, it was not the fancy chrome based one with the pretty red paddles, couldn’t afford that one, but rather the one with the black crackle base and black handles.  I, subsequently, carried this "bug" all over the world and used it whenever transmission was in order.  Thank the Lord, never for an SOS.

     After the war ended I came home, bug and all, and used the key in my ham set-up (call sigh W50LP) until I got stupid and loaned the key to the news department of the commercial radio station for which I worked.  This was back when it was considered impressive to open their newscasts with a Morse code sound, a-la Walter Winchell.  No original ideas here.  Now, it will come as no surprise to those of us who were employed for any length of time in the commercial radio business that, in many instances, there are those among the operational (as opposed to the technical) personnel who can, without effort at all, destroy an anvil.

… so went my prized bug.

     With the passing of the radio-telegraph age, I get all nostalgic with the desire to restore my bug to its former glory, but must locate the complete upper pivot assembly to do so.  I tried contacting the Vibroplex Corp., at the 476 Fore Street, Portland, Maine address a few years ago with no success.  Likewise, the phone number given me by the Portland operator turns out to be someone's fax number.  No reply there, either.

     So, if anyone knows what happened to Vibroplex and all their spare parts, or if someone has an upper pivot assembly for the Lightening Bug that they can part with, I would be greatly pleased to hear from you.  With much thanks for any help.


Coleman H. Barber

232 Lovera Blvd

San Antonio, Texas, 78212-1212


To the Gallups Island Radio Association,

Officers, Bus Guntner, Homer Gibson, editor JJ Ward

     Ray’s family and I want to thank you for the flowers and all the cards and calls sent and received during Ray’s illness and after his passing.  Your caring support will not be forgotten.

     From my window I can see the end of Gallups Island.  I will remember the good times we shared at many reunions and especially all the good friendships we made.  I’ve read the poem on the back page of the Spark Gap “Winter 2001” by Alfred Lord Tennyson.  How timely and how appropriate.

With sincere appreciation,

Jane King


Hi All:

Just wanted to inform the group that I have been awarded $10,000 bonus by the Canadian Vet Affairs Ministry for my one year service as an ordinary seaman. I served from Feb. 1940 to Feb. 1941. So far I have received $6,000, the rest to come later.  Yahoo!

Best 73

Al Hadad, R-13




The ship I served on in 1945 was the Thomas H. Barry, the sister cruise ship to the Morro Castle.  We shuttled troops to Europe and released POWs back from German prison camps.  I had just turned 17 and remember little of the details.  All my service records were lost when my mother's house was sold and I don't remember my class number but it seems to me to have been in the neighborhood of R-96 to R-98 arriving at Gallups Island during the latter part of 1944. The only member of the class that I recall was Lyman Dodge whose father owned a shoe store in Malden or Melrose.

I did spend a lot of time at Blintstrums (sp) Tavern down by the South Street RR Station in Boston. I also dated his daughter. I do recall the damndest things. That's what a life working in electronics can do to you.

I do have a photo of the Barry and I would be happy to scan it and send it to you.  It’s hanging on the wall over my desk directly below the USS Atlanta, the ship I served on in the Navy during 1945-46. Mel May





     Regarding VA medical benefits… The first thing you'll need (to get the free or $2.00 prescription drugs from the VA) is a discharge of some sort to establish you are a veteran.  I don't know how to get one for Merchant Seamen because I didn't need one.

     To make a long story bearable ,,,,After 'the war'  I was beating around the country and got a 1A while living in Los Angeles in '48. I took the piece of paper that said Merchant Seamen were “exempt from draft laws under public law 32”  because of our service at sea, to the draft board and was told it wasn't good for this, the Korean war.

     I was 4F during the war (bad eyes & heart murmur) so, in an effort to get rid of the 1A, I tried to enlist in the Air Force expecting to flunk the physical exam.  To no one's surprise except mine, I passed, enlisted for three years & Truman put on another so I had almost four years in the USAF plus the time in the Merchant Marine.  (All that to explain why I didn't use a Merchant Marine discharge).

     I took my Air Force discharge papers to the VA for the processing.  Everyone was cordial and friendly and helpful, not the rude civil servant attitude we've grown to expect.  I learned they have a “means test” for the service.  If you and spouse gross income is less than $28,000 annually, you don't pay anything. Gross income over $28,000 (no upper limit) and you're obligated to a co-pay of $2.00 per prescription and $50+ for a physical exam.  As part of the application, they copied my Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance card and the Medicare card.

     After the paperwork I got to a doctor.  He asked me why I was there and I told him it was to take advantage of the prescription benefit extended to veterans.  He explained that it wasn't a “prescription service” at all.  We couldn't just go there with a list of medicine we wanted and get them cheap.  I had to appoint the VA as my primary physician...did I want to do that?  I said okay.  He said I should  get a colonoscopy because I hadn't had one.  I agreed I needed one.

     He then asked for a list of the medicine I needed and told me to wait five minutes or so.  A male nurse came a few minutes later, gave me a sheet of paper with phone numbers and told me I'd get an appointment in the mail in about a month for a cardiac exam (go figure).   Then he told me to go to the pharmacy and get my medicines.  I did and got a ninety day supply with authorization for some refills.  I haven't

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









at Gwinnett Place Hotel, 1775 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, GA  30096

Thursday, August 9, 2001 to Saturday, August 11, 2001



                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                                              $15.00  x             persons  = $                


Room rate for single or double is $79.00, subject to applicable state and local taxes at time of check-in.

Attendees may include a full breakfast for two for $89.00 per night rate.

The rates of $79.00 and $89.00 will apply two days prior and two days after the event.


Optional Reunion Tours:


                Thursday, August 9, 2001


                1.             Peachtree Tour         $32.00 x             persons  = $                 

                2.             Carter Center, Stone Mountain Tour           $64.00 x             persons  = $                 


                Friday,  August 10, 2001


                1.             City Highlights Tour   $38.00 x             persons  = $                 

                2.             Sherman's March Tour              $30.00 x             persons  = $                 


                Saturday,  August 11, 2001


                1.             Mansions and Magnolias Tour   $62.00 x             persons  = $                 

                2.             City Highlights Tour   $38.00 x             persons  = $                 



REUNION DINNER/DANCE (Saturday evening, August 11, 2001),

Dinner Selections (insert number)   Chicken Piccata Napoli        $27.10 x             persons  = $                 

Price includes tax and gratuities      Southern Catfish Fillet         $29.60 x             persons  = $                 



                TOTAL:    $             


All tours include transportation from the hotel and return.  Bus departure times will be posted at the reunion.


Make hotel reservations by calling 1-800-228-9290, or speak directly with the hotel at (770) 923-1775.

Call by July 25, 2001 and identify yourself as GIRA.  Reservations for the event will be accepted after the cut-off date at GIRA’s rate as long as rooms are available.


Cancellation Policy: Individuals may cancel up to 24 hours prior to their arrival date.


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

GIRA REUNION, c/o Homer N. Gibson,  P.O. Box 1235, Hermitage, PA 16148.



















Intentionally Left Blank





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



Some creative ways for the final resting place of Cremains (which we’re informed are not ashes but ultra clean minerals) go beyond the traditional scattering into the ocean, onto favorite mountains, meadows, woodlands, or trout streams. However, you will need permission to scatter them on private property and most states have rules about how far offshore they must be.  Now you can have a cremains container shot into space for $5,300 or to the moon for $12,000. Dozens of former military and civilian have already chosen that route.  Another popular way is mixing them with concrete to make artificial reefs for protecting marine environments. Costs begin at $800 to be placed in blocks for small reefs up to $3,200 for the larger ones. Survivors receive memorial certificates indicating the exact position (latitude & Longitude) of the reef or breakwater. (Excerpted from Retired Officer Magazine)









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.