VOL 13  NO 2

 Summer 2002





San Diego                           Page 2

Farewell Dits & Dahs            Page 3

Tom Cruze                          Page 3

Mini-Reunion                       Page 4

Lusitania                             Page 6

Ulsan                                  Page 7

Treasurer’s Report                Page 8

Welcome Stowaways           Page 8

USSR Journalism                 Page 9

Flotsam & Jetsam                Page 12

Letters                                Page 13

Registration Form                Page 15

Roster Corrections               Page 17

Silent Keys                         Page 19






Make your reservation today!

Call  800-662-8899



The GIRA 2002 reunion is set for October 3 - 4 - 5 at the Holiday Inn Bayside located at 4875 North Harbor Drive. Those arriving on Interstate-8 can go to its end at Nimitz Boulevard, then to Harbor Drive and turn right. Interstate 5 intersects with I-8 just before it (I-8) ends at Nimitz Boulevard. The Bayside Inn overlooks San Diego Bay and Coronado and is convenient to the area’s many attractions.

Make your reservations directly with Holiday Inn Bayside Hotel at (800-662-8899). The first night must be confirmed with a major credit card. Rooms are $99 plus tax per night, this special rate applies for the three nights proceeding and following October 3-4-5.  There is adequate free parking, and for members traveling by air or rail, free pickup is provided at the San Diego Airport or the Amtrack station.


Send registration form with appropriate fees to Ed Wilder.

Phone: 909 338-4089

Mail: PO Box 4409, Crestline, CA 92325.


Registration and hospitality room will open at noon Thursday and we will provide snacks with soft, moderate, and hard beverages.

Thursday evening, the hotel will host an hour-long welcome cocktail party poolside.  On Friday night GIRA will feature a western BBQ with ribs and chicken for $27.  The Saturday night banquet offers choices of prime rib or roast breast of chicken rosemary at $33.

San Diego has a remarkable number of attractions including Sea World, Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, the Maritime Museum, and nearby Tijuana, Mexico.  Make your choice of tours with small groups or individually after arrival.




San Diego



     San Diego predates most New England settlements including Boston. It was first called San Migel in 1542 to be renamed San Diego de Alcala de Henares in 1602. It became a U.S. possession by conquest in 1846 and has been ours ever since. The Sante Fe railroad arrived there in 1884.

     San Diego has a salubrious climate; one of the world’s most pleasant.  And it remains one of the leading agricultural counties in the U.S. The San Diego metropolitan area has a population of 2 million, plus another two million in the county’s 14 incorporated cities and towns.

     Landlocked San Diego Bay is a natural deepwater harbor of 22 square miles.  The Scripps Institution of Oceanography was founded there in 1902.

     San Diego’s Zoological Garden, founded in 1922, has the largest animal collection in the world. The zoo occupies a 100-acre site in Balboa Park amid high mesas that are divided by deep canyons. It is ideal for hoofed stock paddocked on the mesas with the carnivores kept in bar-less grottoes in the canyons. The Zoological Gardens are landscaped by more than 2,500 species of exotic plants, many of which provide natural diets for various species. It is famous for breeding a colony of Koalas that thrive on eucalyptus tree leaves (their only food) that grow as abundantly here as in their native Australia.

In 1972 the San Diego Zoological Society opened the San Diego Animal Park situated on 1,800 acres in the San Pasqual Valley in the northern part of the city. Incompatible species are separated by a series of Moats.  A five-mile monorail system enables visitors to view the different animal species in complete comfort and safety.

     Rancho Santa Fe, a posh suburb north of San Diego, has the highest per capita income level in the U.S. and possibly the world: $113,000-plus per year. Revered because of its bucolic atmosphere and privacy, “The Ranch”, so-called by the locals, has no streetlights and no home mail delivery. The community’s golf course, tennis club and some 26 miles of hiking and equestrian trails are strictly for use by the town’s 5,000 inhabitants. The town’s fathers (and mothers) are unhappy to be publicized as super affluent by the Census Bureau. “Sometimes that kind of attention causes trouble,” director of Rancho Santa Fe’s Community Center, Pat Merino says.

     Like John Dziekan I plan to bring back a bottle of Pacific Ocean water which certainly won’t be missed. The Pacific Ocean encompasses 64,000,000 square miles, covering one third of the Earth’s surface. It is more than twice the volume of the Atlantic (second biggest ocean). The Pacific Ocean area exceeds that of the entire Land surface of the planet including Antarctic with Africa counted twice. The mean depth is 14,050 feet. That’s a lot of water, albeit salty!

     A delightful way to explore San Diego is by Old Town Trolley made available by Historic Tours of America that calls itself “the Nation’s storyteller.” You’ll ride in a vehicle that’s constructed to resemble an old-fashioned trolley equipped with a narrating tour director. If you remain on the trolley, the tour is two hours long. But you may get off at any or all of the eight stops for further exploring and catch the next trolley (on the same ticket). It operates from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in summer PDT and the fare is $24 whether you remain aboard or get off at one or all the stops. Interesting stops include: San Diego Harbor where the Star of India is berthed and cruises of the bay are available, and Seaport Village where a two-block walk brings you to the Kansas City Barbecue restaurant where the bar scene from movie “Top Gun” was filmed.  San Diego has some outstanding architectural features both historic and modern. Stop number four is the Mariott Hotel and Marina with the two high-rise elliptical shaped towers give the impression of two ships docked in the bay. Stop number five is at the Horton Plaza, gateway to the Gas Lamp District. The restored Spreckels Theatre that featured old stars like Will Rogers is nearby and so is the Grant Hotel, built by President Ulysses S. Grant’s son in 1912.  The last three stops are Coronado, the San Diego Zoo, and Balboa Park.




Submitted by Bob Richelson


   The veteran hand of 92-year old Dalton Bergstedt tapped out a classic message in Morse Code in mid-July 1999 at the former Mackay Radio station KFS at Half Moon Bay near San Francisco.  Bergstedt, the former manager of KFS, paid homage to Samuel B. Morse, the telegraph code inventor. Bergstedt sent with his vibroplex bug “What hath God wrought” just as Samuel Morse did 155 years before. “It’s like being home again,” Bergstedt said as he sat down at the telegraph key.

   Along with sending out its own parting messages, the KFS office also relayed one from the SS Jeremiah O’Brien which is docked 30 miles away in San Francisco. KFS forwarded the O’Brien message via E-mail.

   The International Marine Organization, a U.N. agency, mandated that commercial ships switch to new technology called the Global Marine Distress and Safety System by February 1, 2000.

Bergstedt recalled the time when radiotelegraph operators were called “Sparks” and were the only member of the crew the ship couldn’t sail without.

In 1931 aboard the SS San Mateo, Bergstedt copied an SOS from the SS Columbia that had run aground 40 miles away. The SS San Mateo rescued the 212 people aboard.

   Experts proclaim the most overrated invention in the past two centuries is nuclear energy, and the most underrated is Morse Code and the telegraph with the wireless forms that followed.  The telegraph made the most dramatic direct impact on people’s lives than any other invention.





William Manchester, “The Last Lion”  (on Churchill)






Tom L. Cruse, Jr. R-50, GIRA CM0033 of Alexandria, VA embarked for the Distant Shore May 15, 2002 after an extended illness. Tom Cruse was born in Lexington, KY, March 14, 1925. After Gallups Island and his Merchant Marine career, Tom had a sterling 24-year career in the U.S. Army retiring as a Master Sergeant at Fort Belvoir, VA.

Tom published the GIRA magazine SPARK GAP for almost a decade, finally having to give up the editing job due to steadily deteriorating eyesight.

For many years, Tom was a regular participant on the morning ( 75 meter ) GIRA amateur radio net.

Thanks to Bill DeVoe and Walt Miller picking him up in their vehicle, Tom was able to attend the 2001 GIRA convention in Atlanta where he received awards and honors for long-time GIRA service.   He is survived by wife, Shirley, three children and a number of grandchildren. He will be missed.

So long, good friend.

When his flag-draped coffin moved across the old capital, drawn by naval ratings, and bareheaded Londoners stood trembling in the cold, they mourned not only for him and all he had meant, but all they had been, and no longer were, and would never be again.







GIRA Mini-Reunion

By Charles (Gip) Bergey, R72.

    The mini-reunion for Region 2 was held at the Comfort Suites, Allentown, PA, on April 23, 2002.

There were 26 attendees – 14 members & their 12 guests.  The folks started gathering for the meeting at about 10:30 a.m., which then continued for about four hours.  George Cushman (R15) and his wife traveled the greatest distance, from Kennebunkport, Maine, with the closest being Bob Palmer (R58), coming from Allentown.

    Those attending were:  Ralph Albers (R009) & Birdie, Jack Bandazian (R69) & Lorraine C., Charles Bergey (R72) and Joyce, Fred Burkins (R53) & Doris, Arnold Claman (R16) & Mary Ellen L., George Cushman (R15) & Iris, John Dziekan (R108) & Rose, Tom Gibson (R17), Bud Guntner (R72) & Arby, Al Heimbach (R84) & Marie, Walt Miller (R14) & Viv, Bob Palmer (R58), Ed Pleuler (R003/A3) & Mildred, Mel Sweger (R52) & Arley.

    President Bud Guntner (R72) was introduced, and got things underway.  He brought us up to date with pertinent GIRA information, including the latest medical report about our Secretary-Treasurer Homer Gibson, who had undergone a multiple by-pass heart procedure less than two weeks before this gathering.  (Prognosis:  Good!)  He thanked Mel Sweger (R52) for his contribution of home-crafted  crosses, made of apple wood, which were made available to all hands.  Bud mentioned and promoted attendance for the coming San Diego reunion.  There was a drawing for various door prizes, which included a GIRA shirt, hats, “The U.S Merchant Marine At War” booklet, and several items of amateur radio equipment (donated by Bud Guntner), and a custom to-be-specially-made wood sign (donated by Ed Pleuler (R003/A3).  Ed also presented to Bud, in recognition of his many years as President of GIRA, a beautiful radio call sign shadow plaque, “N3IAD”.  Ed also displayed a plaque of Bill Devoe’s recently issued new ham radio call sign, “AA3YR”.

    All of this activity generated recollection of sailing-related wartime stories, from WW2 to the recent Desert Storm War [Ralph Albers (R009)].  A number of members stood up and told of their experiences that included buzz-bomb attacks, convoy mishap excitement, just missing hitting a floating mine, and more.  And still more.  It was just great hearing all those experiences, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.  And all of this was extemporaneous!  The stories did continue throughout the meal, and much afterward, with lots of table-hopping.

    The buffet luncheon was excellent and plentiful, and many compliments were heard.  There was much nostalgia, reminiscing, fellowship, and the renewal of acquaintances.  It was all there.  By all accounts, it indeed was a very good day.



Clockwise, around the table, starting at far left:

Joyce Bergey, Gip Bergey (R-072), Bud Guntner (R-072), George Cushman (R-015), Iris Cushman, Vivian Miller, Walt Miller (R-014)



Left to right:  George Cushman (R-015), Iris Cushman,

Vivian Miller, Walt Miller (R-014)






Rose Dziekan and Bud Guntner (R-072)



Al Heimbach (R-084) and Bud Guntner (R-072)


Photos on this and the following page were taken by Ralph Albers at the mini-reunion in Allentown, Pennsylvania on April 23, 2002








At right, Ed Pleuler (R-003) and Walt Miller (R-014) display a new call-sign plaque (AA3YR) Ed made for Bill DeVoe.  Bill (R-019) had made reservations for the reunion but was unable to attend.





Rear: Al Heimbach (R-084),  Marie Heimbach

Front: Mary Ellen Leonard, Arnold Claman (R-016)




Ed Pleuler (R-003) and Millie Pleuler





   Two new books about the WWI SS Lusitania re-ignite an old controversy. “Lusitania: Saga and Myth” by David Ramsay and “Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy” by Diana Preston examine the enigma of its sinking.  The British, who wanted America in the war, appeared far less disturbed about its sinking than the Germans who wanted the U.S. to remain neutral.

   At 30 thousand gross tons the Cunard liner Lusitania had seven passenger decks but was 100 feet shorter than the White Star Line’s Titanic that weighed 46 thousand gross tons.  Of the Titanic’s 2,228 compliment, 1,523 died (68 %) while of the 1,962 people (including 128 Americans) on board the Lusitania, 1,198 (61 %) perished.

   The Lusitania had made exactly 100 North Atlantic crossings before being sunk. The British provided no escort in the Irish Channel through known u-boat activity.  Captain Turner did not zig-zag but proceeded at reduced speed on a straight course while taking a four-point bearing (certainly unneeded). Underseeboot Captain Schweiger later testified, “she could not have steered a more perfect course if she had deliberately tried to give us a dead shot.”  Schweiger was not received well in Berlin.

   While underway, the Lusitania used 1,000 tons of coal per day.  Firemen worked 21-minute shifts. There were an unusually large number of children on board the Lusitania: 39 girls, 51 boys, and 39 infants.  Of the 129 total, ninety-four died, including 35 babies. The babies were especially vulnerable and died quickly in the 52-degree water.

   A single torpedo hit the liner broadside, and was followed by a secondary explosion, probably the boilers. The ship sank within 18 minutes, listing quickly and severely so lifeboats couldn’t be launched efficiently from either side.

   Both books contain piquant trivia and scandal. Lusitania’s Captain Turner seemed remarkably cavalier about the loss remarking “ah well, that’s the fortunes of war.”  Admiral Lord Charles Berisford, who had a passion for riding to the hounds, had a hunting scene tattooed across his buttocks with the fox disappearing into the cleft. One proposed British stratagem for combating subs was to train seagulls to defecate on their periscopes. (even if they could be so trained, they would have needed a pretty good “bomb sight”). Second class passage for the Lusitania’s last voyage had been reduced from 75 dollars to 30 dollars. Passengers who tore off clothes did far worse in the cold water than those who stayed dressed.

Card sharks plied the passenger liners of that era back and forth.  First class passengers tended to dress gaudily.  Jennie Jerome, Winston Churchill’s American mother, discretely took lovers and was a neglectful mother until her son showed journalistic prowess. And whatever one thinks of his politics, Sir Winston was indeed a prolific writer. He handily won the Nobel Prize for literature. Despite his reputation for being a world class drinker and smoking cigars relentlessly, he wrote far more than Hemmingway, Stienbeck, and Sinclair Lewis (all Nobel Prize winners) combined. The term “Churchill Syndrome” applies to those who do everything wrong but live interminably. Churchill died at age 90. His last words were reportedly, “I’m so bored with it all.”



by Jim Addison Hester


     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.

     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.

     Mama-san 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 exclaimed to me "My God! Are they drinking that stuff?

     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. Mama-san 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. I never had a personal attachment to the place.  It made the farewells much less traumatic.



Wise Advice About Identity Theft


We've all heard horror stories about fraud committed by using stolen identity. If your credit cards are ever stolen or if you suspect your identity is stolen, Cancel your credit cards immediately and call the following Credit Organizations to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security Number.


Equifax 1-800 525-6285

Experian 1-800-301-7195

Trans Union 1-800-680-7289

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






Treasurer’s Report

January 1, 2002 through June 30, 2002



By Donald Shaffer (purser)




2002 Mini-Reunion Region 2

Bank Interest           

Donations  2002

Dues  2002


Lapel Pins

Polo Shirts


Total Income




60th Polo Shirts

Bank Service Charges

Franchise Fee

Internet Service

Office Supplies


President Expense

Printing & Reproduction

Sec/Treas Stipend

Spark Gap

Spark Gap Editor's Fee



Total Expense


Net Income


Balance as of Dec. 31, 2001


Balance as of June 30, 2002


Respectfully submitted

Homer Gibson, Sec/Treas












































Shortly after the end of WWII I was on a Liberty ship with a load of wheat for Odessa, USSR. Odessa was a bleak city with great numbers of girls (factory workers) but little else. There were hordes of prisoners in barbwire enclosures without shelter from the elements. There was no charge for riding the streetcars, but the place had little else to offer. When you were headed for a restricted area a soldier would point a gun at you and motion you to head in a different direction.

Guards searched the ship several times a day for potential stowaways. Despite all this vigilance, two young men managed to hide under coiled ropes (lines). They had been sent to Russia by parents from the losing side of the Spanish Civil War in 1937.

The captain kept quiet about their presence anticipating endless red tape with their arrest and probably being returned to our WWII ally.

We took up a generous collection for them, fashioned a tiny raft of life jackets and a supply of food and water, sailed as close to the shore as possible and dropped them off at night.

Some years later Russia repatriated most of their comrades to Spain.  Dissatisfied with Spain’s fascist government under General Franco, many migrated to Cuba where the Castro regime took over to become a Russian ally. Some of us just can’t win.









Join the Holiday Inn “Priority Club” by dialing 1-800-272-9273.  Free membership in the Priority Club provides benefits for all future visits to Holiday Inns.


Beautiful Navy Blue Polo Shirt

Embroidered With 60th Anniversary Logo

Price  $22.00  (including shipping)

Also the GIRA Ball Cap for $10.00

Send Check Payable to GIRA

Mail to:


P.O. Box 1235

Hermitage, Pa  16148





In 1956 when I was flying to Europe and points east as FRO on TWA Constellations, we normally got a week off between trips in summer, and two weeks or so during off-season winter months. Winter weather in the Nation’s Capital area where I lived was far from inspiring. After 15 days of rain, sleet, and gray skies there were increasing reports of suicides and domestic conflicts. Obviously I needed something stimulating to fill these vacant gloomy days. These were vigorous economic years (boom times) and fulltime jobs offers were plentiful, but flying off for a week or so at a time, didn’t look well on a resume. Finally, however, an employment agency called to offer me a few days assignment with the Soviet Embassy. The position had, they assured me, been cleared with the U. S. State Department. But one government agency didn’t necessarily trust the other and the State Department was especially suspect. Hiring locals for routine work is common by all embassies worldwide.

I reported to the Soviet Embassy annex, a three story, former residence, to be greeted by a stern-faced MKVD agent who referred me to Mr. Hedrick, an American who had worked with the Russians since our allied times of WWII.

During the Cold War the U.S. and the Soviet Union had made a cultural exchange agreement wherein each was to publish a magazine in the other’s country showcasing their lifestyles. Ours was called AMERIKA and theirs, simply USSR. My job was to mail copies of USSR to libraries, colleges and universities, and individuals, seeking subscriptions. USSR didn’t sell well (at that time periodicals were mostly sold in street corner kiosks) and they returned bundles of soot covered issues that I added to growing piles in the basement.

The USSR magazine shared office space with the daily Soviet press releases supervised by Madam


Butorva, a former Red Army Captain.  Her assistant, Mr. Stepson, was a tall, immaculately dressed black man that I assumed was a rabid communist.  However, Stepson proved to be the very opposite. All the Russians spoke flawless, American style English. Every afternoon Madam Butrova and Stepson took turns proofreading the long and horrendously boring daily news releases. They went on interminably about the Soviet’s five-year plans, percentage of production increases over the previous year, why they prohibited most western music and literature, and the superiority of their socialist system over our capitalist counterpart in general.

On my first trip to the post office with another long-time American employee Brown, a car with two men in pinstripe business suits wearing sunglasses (on a cloudy, gloomy day) pulled alongside and boxed us in. “They’re looking you over,” Brown explained. It then occurred to me that here I was working for the Soviet embassy and flying off to Europe and north Africa twice monthly or so. Of course it might appear that I was a courier, and of course, the intelligence services gave little credence to a clearance from the State Department whom few held in high regard.

Equipped with a huge British umbrella, I walked the mile or so distance between the USSR Embassy Annex and the Temporary (it remained in use for decades) Navy Building (where the suburban bus stopped) rain or shine. It was mostly the former.  What shortened the trek significantly was walking about half the way with a fashion-model pretty girl named Laura who’s personality matched her good looks.

One afternoon, a few weeks after I’d been working for USSR, two men approached me from behind, taking up position on either side, and one asked, “Can we walk along with you, John?”

I had no idea if they were Russian or Americans. “How do you know my name?” I gulped.

His answer was a bit disconcerting. “We know more about you than you know about yourself.“


…continued on page 9



USSR   …continued from page 8


After appealing to my patriotism, they then began asking me questions about the half dozen or so

other American employees there.

They only grinned but made no comment when I remarked,  “Mr. Hedrick says you have the place bugged throughout, and that you should already

know.”  Often after making some caustic remark, Hedrick would yell, ‘how do you like that, J. Edgar? I know you’re listening!’  “He claims you prevent him from getting a job anywhere else after working there.”

“We don’t do such things,” the agent on my left shot back vehemently.

Approaching the bus stop, they said, “We’ll be in touch,” and faded away. I was a little shaken but also annoyed that they’d caused me to miss rendezvousing with Laura.

A popular USSR Magazine cover photograph featured a pretty blond lady in a hard hat posing in front of a dam construction project. She was a model, of course, but her picture inspired several letters from American male readers wanting more information on such Russian “workers.” It was one of my duties to respond to these and other questions.

The MKVD man, whom Stepson jokingly called “Ivan,” often went out in the evening for dinner but without ever taking his wife who worked there as a janitor. When Stepson asked why he never took his spouse, Ivan said, “cost too much money.”

Bums showed up at the annex door frequently with all sorts of schemes but invariably seeking handouts. Hedrick complained about also having to act as the bouncer dealing with them.

For several days I noticed a lot of excited, rapid talk in Russian. A short time later, one of their most sophisticated and dapper members was expelled for espionage. They, of coursed, kicked out an American

from our embassy in Moscow.  The ejected man’s replacement, dressed in shabby Russian garb, approached me to inquire,  “Where do the big

American execs buy their clothes?”  Brown and I took him down town to the Woodward and Lathrop department store.

The French Embassy was just across a narrow street or alley from the Soviet Annex. They looked out their windows at us, and we reciprocated, especially at a gorgeous red head that we dubbed Brigitte Bardot, who on occasion would flash us an iceberg-melting smile.

Mr. Kobikoff, one of their journalists, came down occasionally to talk with me about his former foreign assignments. He especially liked Budapest explaining that it was two cities: Buda was on east side of the Danube and Pest, the newer section, on the west or left bank. Mr. Kobikoff was polite, soft spoken, and carefully avoided politics or the criticism of anything American.

One morning a hefty Russian girl, wearing a gaudy red dress, came down to ask me to show her how to use the postage machine. “What a pretty dress,” I blurted, and immediately felt guilty because it was anything but. “Oh, thank you. I made it myself,” she said, blushing profusely. It was like she’d never had a compliment before in her entire life. Afterwards she was my friend forever.

One day Ivan came in to announce that he was being returned to Moscow. “It’s colder than hell over there,” Stepson joked. “Yeah! That’s what stopped Napoleon and Hitler.” Ivan agreed. He was taking back a second hand Ford with a stick shift. “Too cold for automatic,” he said. The Russians loved corn flakes and he was also returning with cases of them.

Ivan’s replacement was more formal and his English only moderate. “Just give us a little time,” Stepson joked. “They’ll be transferring him back before the year is out.”

Over a period of time, the employment agency had sent several men to replace me, but none worked out. Finally Mr. Hedrick gave up on them and told me to come down whenever I could, that they would always have something for me to do.


…continued on page 10



USSR   …continued from page 9


Then came the Hungarian revolt and its over-kill, crushing by the Soviet Armor. Checks for subscriptions to USSR Magazine would arrive with penned notes such as, “Take this to kill more Hungarians with!” On my very next trip to Paris, my return flight was sent on to Munich to bring back the first load of Hungarian refugees to McGuire AFB in NJ. Hungary was never mentioned at the Embassy. After that, USSR Magazine sold even more poorly.


I got frequent mild criticism from TWA management for using CW circuits instead of phone (voice) to which charge I’d respond, “if voice is better, then you don’t need me.” The CW circuits were less busy and the CW operators, in shaky status themselves, were especially cooperative. I often got HF direction finder fixes largely for something to do. Once a Greek operator suggested that I take the other LOP cautiously, because it came from an Egyptian radioman. Tel Aviv was “LUD.” Everybody knew that LUD was Tel Aviv in Israel, but it saved face all around.

Facing strong winter headwinds, all the westbound flights one night had to stop in Iceland for fuel. The northern lights were highly active and all the radio-teletype circuits were down so nobody could get a clearance from the dispatch center in Shannon. I contacted them on CW from the aircraft on the ground and we departed, leaving dozens of American and foreign carriers waiting for hours on the ground.

Flying the Atlantic and beyond and working in between for a magazine, albeit a Soviet propaganda organ, was my idea of an idyllic combination. In the meantime I became adept at spotting the FBI (febees to the Russians) tails. They might as well have worn uniforms. Later, I became aware that I was no longer being shadowed. I felt letdown, insulted.

For years there were rumors that TWA’s radio officers would be dispensed with. Then the summer came when there were no such rumors; the ax fell. But never mind, times were booming.

The day I gave my notice to the USSR magazine, the girl with the red dress came by to give me a bear hug. Mr. Kobikoff came down to say good bye and invited me to visit them (at the embassy) socially. Madam Butrova actually wiped tears from her eyes. Even the MKVD doorman bid me an emotional adieu. Impulsively, I went by the French Embassy next door to say goodbye. The beautiful red head was even prettier up close, she offered her tiny right hand, but the left one glistened with a two or three karat diamond. She was an American working for the French just as I had been for the Russians.

The Russian ambassador, recalled to Moscow after years in Washington, reportedly committed suicide.

On the long walk down to the Temporary Navy Building bus stop, I was startled when a car stopped to offer me a ride. “This is my husband, Laura indicated the indifferent driver. We’re moving back to Pennsylvania,” she said. “I may be pregnant.” It wasn’t one of my better days.

While awaiting my pickup date for a job in Honolulu, I shipped out as a relief RO on a coastwise tanker to Texas. The skipper was the last one I’d sailed with before joining Panagra in South America and other shore misadventures. He delightedly pointed out how much better off (financially) I’d have been by staying with him in the first place, a point impossible to refute.

Back home I got a call from the CIA. The lady said that they’d like to interview me but wouldn’t be able say what I’d be doing or where I’d be stationed, that if I was interested to come down for a conference. Hawaii sounded better than an unknown. It, Hawaii, was okay but not great. I still have lingering regrets for not going down for the CIA interview. But the unknown is always the most intriguing.




ONLY $20.00 A YEAR

Payable to GIRA

Mail to:

Homer Gibson

P.O. Box 1235

Hermitage, Pa  16148







*  Captain Henry Hudson, sailing for the Dutch, made four voyages in search of the non-existent Northwest Passage. He discovered both the Hudson River and the Hudson Bay which were subsequently named in his honor. On his fourth trip of exploration to the arctic, his mutinous crew set him adrift in a small boat and Captain Hudson was never seen again.


*  Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s former wife petitioned a California court for $320,000 per month to care for their 3-year old daughter, the largest child support request in the state’s history and likely, world history. In filed documents, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian lists among monthly expenses for daughter Kira, $436 for the care of Kira’s bunny and other (unspecified) pets.


*  Winter Olympic entrepreneurs in Salt Lake City ordered 400,000 hotdogs for game participants and fans. They were sold out in five days. Few things are as popular as the tasty hotdog for people on the go.


*  Newly formed companies in Newfoundland have begun harvesting icebergs for the “super pure” water. These enterprises are in conflict with groups that take tourists out to photograph and see the bergs up close. Promoters claim that the snow that formed the glaciers from which the bergs calved, fell from unpolluted skies more than 10,000 years ago. They also claim that beer and vodka made from iceberg water is hangover-proof (highly unlikely), and customers will gladly pay a few more cents per bottle for it.


*  The officers’ club bar at the former Bluie West-1 AFB (BW1) in Narsarsuaq, Greenland advertised that their drinks were made with million-year old ice. When the bartenders needed more ice they merely went out the back door to a glacier a hundred feet away and chipped off a bucket of ancient ice. However, their drinks were not hangover proof.


*  The Isle of Jersey, including Corbiere lighthouse, in the Channel Islands was the only British soil occupied by German troops during WWII.

*  GIRA members are certainly familiar with the “Grave Yard” shift beginning at midnight and usually ending four to eight hours later. The term derived from a practice in the last century wherein grave robbers raided cemeteries to supply medical schools with cadavers. Guards were hired to prevent thefts of the recently buried during the most likely periods from near midnight to the wee hours. Hence the grave yard shift.


*  Springfield remains the most popular name for American communities. More than 60 cities and neighborhoods in the U.S. are called “Springfield.” While Springfield, MA, remains the biggest, Springfield, MO, almost overtook it in the last census and will almost certainly exceed it in 2010.


*  “If Karl, instead of writing incessantly about Capital, had made a lot of it, things would have been much better. Karl Marx’s mother


*  Civil War General Joseph Hooker (a rare clean shaven officer of that era) was early known as “Fighting Joe” but a severe defeat at the hands Confederate General Lee took much of the fight out of him. After the Federal disaster at Fredericksburg brought on General A.E. Burnside’s resignation, Hooker succeeded him as commander of the Army of the Potomac. From that point he seemed to have a much greater taste for the female camp followers than warfare. The ladies of the night became known as Hooker’s girls and the term “hooker” has been in our lexicon ever since.



Sir Samuel Cunard, born 1778 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, laid plans to establish a mail service between England and North America operating steamers from Liverpool to Halifax and thence to Boston.

He emigrated to England in 1838 and the following year with two British partners, Sir George Burns from Scotland and David MacIver of Liverpool, formed  “The British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company”, generally known as the Cunard Line. Cunard became a Baronet in 1859.





Dear Editor:

   I always deem it a privilege to ask GIRA for support of an event or a concern pertaining to the Civilian Conservation Corps. Many CCC men went on to serve in the Maritime Service as requested when war clouds were gathering. This may be the last opportunity I will have the privilege to do so (seek your help). Time and attrition relentlessly nibbles away at our organizations’ members and resources.

   Several years ago I was asked by the Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni Association to inquire about a statue called the “sinking ship” to be placed on Gallups Island by the City of Boston honoring the Merchant Men completing the Radio Telegraph and Cooks and Bakers trained on that site.  After making inquires to several city organizations along with help from the press, we agreed upon a location. The late Commandant’s widow and several Merchant Mariners took over the project to move the statue to a more convenient site. This statue exclusively honors Merchant Seamen.

   The purpose of this letter is to seek assistance for a statue to honor the Civilian Conservation Corps members many of whom answered the call to serve as Merchant Marine radio officers and Cooks & Bakers.

   I have written much about Gallups Island at the request of a former Civilian Conservation Corps member. Through him I became acquainted with the history and bravery from letters of at least fifty survivors of sinking ships. Some were captured after their ships were sunk, others survived days in lifeboats, and of course, many made the extreme sacrifice. These letters, unedited and preserved as received, can be found in a library at Hinesdale, Massachusetts.

   Your most professional publication, SPARK GAP, can make a significant contribution by informing GIRA members about “what, where, and when” the project to commemorate the Civilian Conservation Corps stands.

I do not know how many honorably discharged members of the Civilian Conservation Corps went on


directly to the Merchant Service, however, the number is clearly substantial. I’m informed that the first ten Gallups Island classes contained a high percentage of former CCC members.

   Our CCC members are steadily dwindling due to the vicissitudes of time so prompt action is obviously essential. The CCC, and Gallups Island Radio School were among many programs vital to producing the “Greatest Generation” and victory in WWII.

   I urge GIRA members to join in the program of two organizations here in Massachusetts in our quest to erect a CCC Worker Statue honoring the Corps on the same property that was formerly a CCC camp. The action date is scheduled for Labor Day, September 2, 2002. Although September is not far away, there will likely be fewer of us then than now.  So let’s do it now and not leave it to Ken Burns or a counterpart, to tell our story 40 years hence.

   Tom Brokaw failed to give the CCC or the Merchant Marine one smidgen of ink in his otherwise good , but not great, book, THE GREATEST GENERATION. You may recall it was largely due to the efforts of one man to gain Veterans Status for Merchant Mariners, but alas, it came too late for any of the benefits provided for others.

   Note: Currently, there are bills filed in the Massachusetts Legislature to commemorate the Civilian Conservation Corps each March 31. Our 70th birthday will be March 31, 2003. The Bill S409 is scheduled for prompt action. Also Commemorative Legislation is up for Congressional consideration as Resolution S207. Supporting letters to your Senators and Representatives will help to speed up the usually molasses-slow process.  Sincerely, GIRA friend:

Francis J. Derwin,



Francis J. Derwin, President

Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni, Chapter 60

80 Clay Street

Quincy, Massachusetts, 02170-2727







   For more information contact Brother Derwin via the Snail or E-mail addresses listed above. The Civil Conservation Corps (widely known as the three Cs) was an early New Deal program lasting from 1933 to 1942 enlisting the Nation’s young men in a symbiotic enterprise. A total of three million, mostly teenagers, (as many as 300,000 at a time) planted trees, dammed trout streams, and built and maintained forest roads. Many of the young men sent to Western States, stayed on (remarking that they had nothing to return to). It proved to be an unexpected bonus by providing diversity to the gene pool. Some acquired skills, including radio, but more importantly, gained confidence that almost anything was possible. They went on to become part of Brokow’s Greatest Generation. I was in school during this period so never had the CCC experience, but many of my classmates who dropped out of school got a second chance there. Viva the triple Cs.


Dear JJ:

   Congratulations on another excellent issue of SPARK GAP, Volume 13, No. 1. We welcome and enjoy every edition. It’s a big job and very much appreciated.

   We were sorry not to attend the Atlanta reunion.  Know it was fine and fun. The pictures are really great. We are enjoying seeing faces of all the friends.   Enclosed is a letter we believe will be of interest. Please use it as you wish—copy or paraphrase.

   Rose and I purchased several copies of  “We Came From All Over, We Went Everywhere: This was Gallups Island”,  and have given one to the Library of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, DC.  It is a wonderful source of historical Americana and a rich resource for genealogists. Hope that you will visit there someday—perhaps you already have.

   We’re looking forward very much to seeing you at the San Diego annual GIRA reunion. Hope this finds you two dear people in best of health, and we also hope your summer will be a most happy one.

   With Kindest regards and love, Jim and Rose.



Thanks so much, Jim and Rose. It’s always a treat to hear from you and even better to meet you in person. Many thanks for sending a copy of our Gallups Island book to the DAR. I haven’t visited the DAR library in Washington. (I lived in the area for a number of years, and it seems we never take time to visit local treasures).   A good friend of ours is a DAR member and we met a number of other members at her husband’s birthday party.  Also there were members of a group called the Society of the Cincinnati, composed of hereditary first born males—it was named for the Roman Citizen-soldier Lucius Quincitus Cininnatus. Gen. George Washington was the Society’s first president. Cincinnati, Ohio, was named in honor of the Society in 1790.

The DAR letter of acknowledgement appears elsewhere in this SPARK GAP issue.

We too look forward to the annual GIRA reunion in San Diego and visiting with you and Rose along with all the other dear GIRA friends.

Although I thought of them often, I never expected to see any of my Gallups Island comrades again, but GIRA changed all of that. It was a virtual rebirth when I got a notification of our organization.



Hi All:

Our AMMV chapter member Leon Wortman has written a most interesting story of his experience as a "Sparks" and simultaneously an OSS agent during WWII.  The book is just now being released, entitled "To Catch a Shadow", a Wartime Tale of Espionage and Intrigue from Africa to North Russia. Leon allowed us to publish three chapters in our Silicon Valley Mariners newsletter and we enjoyed them.  For those of you who have access to the web, the book may be ordered online from Amazon, BooksAMillion, etc. for $16 to $20 a copy. It is in paperback. 330 pages.

I recommend it.

Al Hadad, R-013






Holiday Inn Bayside, 4875 Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92106

OCTOBER 3, 4, 5, 2002




                Member's Name ________________________________________________________


                Address _______________________________________________________________


                City ___________________________________          State ___________  Zip __________


                Home Phone (include area code) _________________ GI Platoon ________________


                Amateur call sign, if any ______________  Arrival Date ________________________


                Guest _____________________________ Relationship ________________________


                Schedule of Events: Thursday Registration in Hospitality Suite on 5th floor - - Opens at NOON

                Thursday  evening - One hour complimentary Welcome Reception at poolside

                Friday evening - Western Bar-B-Q - Chicken & Ribs at poolside (casual Western attire)

                Saturday morning -    8:00 AM Directors Meeting  9:00 AM General Membership Meeting


REGISTRATION FEE:                                                             $20.00 x _______ persons  =  __________


Friday Night Western Bar-B-Q                                                  $27.00 x _______ persons  =  __________


REUNION DINNER/DANCE (SATURDAY EVENING)  $33.00 x _______ persons  =  __________

Choice of: Prime Rib or Roast Chicken Breast Rosemary


(insert number): Chicken __________ Prime Rib  __________                                   TOTAL $ __________


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


Ed Wilder

P. 0. Box 4409

Crestline, CA 92325-4409


Deadline for submitting this reservation form is August 15, 2002.


CANCELLATION POLICY:  Cancellations must be in writing and received by September 1, 2002.

No refunds after September 1, unless there are exceptional circumstances. This policy has nothing to do with the hotel reservations.  You are dealing directly with the hotel for hotel room accommodations.


There are so many things to do in San Diego!  All sightseeing attractions can be selected after arrival,


Make your hotel reservations directly with the hotel by calling 1-800-662-8899.

Identify yourself as a Member of GIRA to get the special room rate of $99.00 plus tax for Single or Double.

First night guarantee with credit card.  This special rate is good three days prior and three days after the reunion.

Hotel Reservations must be made before August 15, 2002, in order to get the special room rates.





















This Page Intentionally Blank

(Back of Form)




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



Homer Gibson Secretary/Treasurer

P.O. Box 1235

Hermitage, Pennsylvania  16148

E-mail:  kb3aps@infonline.net     Phone:  724-962-4213     Fax: 724-962-0181


Albers, Ralph




Anderson, Francis D.




Anderson, Robert W.

1466 The Hideout

Lake Ariel, Pa  18436


5-15 thru 9-2

Around, Herman




Backalenick, William

537 Mohave Circle

Shelton, CT  06484-2847



Barber, Coleman H.




Berger, Robert L.




Bergey, Charles K.




Berggren, Robert L.




Blue, Kenneth D.

14233 Tim Burr Ln

Grass Valley, CA  95945



Brown, Maewin




Buzzell, Lee




Byron, Robert J.




Calhoun, James A.




Cantrell, Wm. E. Jr.




Carlson, Harry L.

962 Aspen Trail

Decatur, IL  62526



4-10 thru 10-15

Cash, Raymond

8329 Lambert St

Victor, NY  14564-9224



Charlton, Douglas C.




Clifford, Ernest





Corcoran, Desmond P.




Danker, Albert C. Sr.




Darland, Dallas, F.

5600 Pioneers Blvd apt 302

Lincoln, NE  68506-5177



Davies, David R.




Dorsey, Bernard A.




Doxsee, Henry




Dreher, Dal W.




Durciansky, Martin C.

6056 Huntington Woods Dr

Naples, FL  34112-2915



Fay, Irving W. Jr.

11789 E. Terra Dr.

Scottsdale, Az 85259-5995



Gale, Gerald V.




Grinna, Marlin G.

2395 Siewers Spring Rd

Decorah, IA  52101


4-1 thru 12-31

Grinna, Marlin G.

1313 Suburban Way

Crowersville, MD  21032


12-31 thru 4-1

Guntner, Urban A.

123 Furlong Way

Red Lion, PA  17356-8777



Halverson, Robert. L.

150 Quebec Ct

Denver, CO  80230-6817



Hansen, Cullen            




Harm, Richard




Haronian, Nazaret H.

9331 Footer Rd  apt C

Baton Rouge, LA   70811





Heffernan John H.       




Hepting, Floyd




Herr, Bernard L.

11 Martins Run  apt D101

Media, PA  10463-1061



Issokoson, Samuel B.




Johnson, Kenneth A.   

12809 Melrose Street

Overland Park, KS 66213-3455



Johnson, Elmer T.

P.O. Box 54

Ascutney, VT  05030-0054



Kauder, Eugene




Kinkel, James A.

4140 Stampede Dr.

Castle Rock, CO  80104



Long, James E. Col.




Maczali, George J.




Madson, William B.




Marsala, Larry V. Jr.

629 Hurtsbourne Rd

Rochester, NY  14609-5510


5-15 thru 10-25

Maurstad, Raymond




McConeghey, John H.




Meltzer, Irving

87 Waterford Dr

Delray Beach, FL  33446-1502



Morris, Ronald C.




Neppl, Aloysius, N

Rosewood Manor

Estherville, IA  51334



Nielsen, Harold R.




Novak, Joseph F.




Oliver, Lewis L.




Opalka, William H.




Orr, John W.




Owens, Lawrence T.

5962 Bourne Road

Theodore, AL  36582-1741



Palmer, John E.




Palmer, Robert D.

800 Hausman Rd  apt 493

Allentown, PA   18104-8477



Phelps, Robert R.




Pollin, William M.D.



5-1 thru 10-30

Prusas, Joseph

265 Cedar Pt

Galax, VA  24333



Roemer, Martin

189 Forest Avenue

Paramus, NJ  07652



Runmark, Don




Simpson, Thomas T.





Smith, Arnold J.

General Delivery

Brant Rock,  MA  02020



Stephen, Glenn A.




Sullivan, Ralph J.




Supplee, Ted H.




Troy, Junn Wing




Tutt, Roy W.

738 Leisure World

Mesa, AZ  85206-2479



Varnum, Donald F.

14100 E. Tamiami Trl  146

Naples, FL  34114-8451



Varnum, Donald F.

28 Calvin Hamblin Rd

Narstons Mills, MA  02648-1522








Besch, Gordon, Dr




Bunday, Edwin C.




Coats, David W.




Curtis, Roy A.




Cruse, Tom L.




Doering, Kenneth




Farenga, Vincent




Farnum, Wesley



May 2001

Fielding, Warren




Fisher, Saul E.




Geller, Joseph




Graber, Joseph E.




Guthrie, Glenn S.




Hartmann, Frederick D.



10/ 31/2001

Holley, Edward L.




Jinks, Marcus O.




King, Ray




Lewis, Robert E.




Mason, Charles


R-001 (A1)

April 2001

McAllister, George




Rampy, C. W.


R-005 (B-2)


Schuur, Charles W.




Smith, Samuel R.




Stickney, Richard A.




Uyrus, Theodore













PERMIT # 201



Post Office Box 83

Black Canyon City, AZ 85324


John JJ Ward, Editor

49220 North 26 Avenue

New River, AZ 85087-8080

(623) 465-9256



Urban A. “Bud” Guntner, President

123 Furlong Way

Red Lion, Pennsylvania 17356-8777

(717) 246-6067


Robert E. Thorton, Vice President

3003 Castlewood

Houston, Texas  77025

(713) 665-1276


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.


By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ eastward to the sea

There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, an’ I know she thinks o’ me;

For the wind is in the palm-trees, an’ the temple-bells, they say:

“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!”


Come you back to Mandalay, where the old flotilla lay:

Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay?

On the road to Mandalay, where the flyin’ fishes play,

An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!


Ship me somewheres east of Suez where the best is like the worst,

Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments, an’ a man can raise a thirst;

For the temple-bells are callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be --

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the Sea


On the road to Mandalay, where the old flotilla lay,

With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!

Oh, the road to Mandalay where the flying fishes play

And the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!


Rudyard Kipling