VOL 13  NO 1

 Winter 2002





New Vice President              Page 2

Treasurer’s Report                Page 3

Mini-Reunion Planned           Page 3

Directors Meeting                 Page 4

GIRA Reunion Attendees      Page 5

Photos                                Page 6

More About Maru                 Page 14

My First Trip                        Page 15

America’s Presidents           Page 16

Letters                                Page 17

Roster Corrections               Page 20

Silent Keys                         Page 23




Robert Thornton

GIRA Vice President




After visiting and pondering the attributes of a number of good GIRA Convention hosts, we finally settled on The Holiday Inn Bayside at 4875 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92106.

There are four (4) Holiday Inns in San Diego, along with at least 40 other hotel/motel sites with facilities large enough for our convention requirements. But the Holiday Inn Bayside has a number of advantages pertinent to GIRA preferences. First, it is convenient for drivers on I-8 west that feeds onto Nimitz, which ends at Harbor Drive. Very importantly, there is adequate free parking.  For members traveling by air or rail, there is free pickup at the San Diego Airport or the Amtrack station.

As former seafarers, most of us prefer ocean views rather than being landlocked. So we will be located across the street from the NTC America’s Cup Harbor. All guest rooms have coffee makers, small refrigerators, irons and ironing boards, hair dryers, complimentary newspapers, and reasonable restaurants located on the premises with many others nearby.

Our large hospitality room(s) overlooks the bay. GIRA will furnish water, beer, wine, and spirits or you are certainly free to bring your own favorite refreshments inasmuch as there are no cartage fees.

The hotel will provide a complimentary hour-long incoming reception poolside on Thursday evening—more information on this later.

Convention dates are October 3-4-5 with rooms for $99.00 single or double occupancy. These special rates are available for both the three days prior to and following the reunion.

Registration forms and additional information will follow in the next issue of the SPARK GAP. You must make your own room reservations with the first night guarantee by a major credit card.

Presently 50 rooms in close proximity are blocked for our use. It’s important to call early (why not now) to join “The Priority Club” by dialing 1-800-272-9273.  Free membership in the Priority Club provides benefits for all future visits to Holiday Inns.

Specific tours are pending for San Diego’s many attractions: Sea World is only 5 minutes away, then there’s Balboa Park, the World Class San Diego Zoo, Tijuana, Mexico, Star of India sailing ship, Maritime Museum, ad infinitum. Send your preference and

any questions to Ed Wilder:

Winter phone 760 251-1075. Mail: 9780 Vista Del Valle, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240.

Summer phone 909 338-4089. Mail: PO Box 4409, Crestline, CA 92325.


Let’s make it our best convention ever.

73’s Ed Wilder, R19.




Robert E. Thornton, R-57 of Houston, Texas, was elected as GIRA vice-president to replace Raymond King who became a silent key last summer.  A brief BIO follows.

     Raymond Thornton was born May 13, 1924, at Malone, in the Texas Hill Country. Thornton attended the Lott, Texas public schools through the eighth grade when the Thornton family moved to Lexington, Texas, where he completed high school in May 1941 and met his future wife, Bess of 57 years.  After high school Thornton attended John Tarleton Junior College in Stephensville, Texas in his quest for an Electrical Engineering degree.

     After the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, many students left to enlist in the armed services, but Engineering students were requested to stay in school.  A short time thereafter, the Navy come on campus and gave tests to large number of male students in a search of candidates for special naval programs.  Engineering students scored well, of course, and a group, including Thornton, were invited to Dallas to take physical examinations and perhaps join the Navy.  Out of this group, one young man was accepted for training.  Thornton was turned down for a minor physical defect.  The Navy didn’t need very many seventeen-year old officers.  Later that year, the Army came on campus to recruit for the Army Reserves, promising that they wouldn’t call up anyone until end of the semester. The Army ruled that Thornton’s physical condition (inherited) would likely eliminate the possibility of his acceptance. Disappointed, he decided to stay in school and work toward a degree.

     In May1943, Thornton received an Associate Engineering degree.  In June, he encountered a high school friend who suggested that the Merchant Marine would take in almost anyone. In Dallas the next day, Thornton was accepted and two days later was on a train to St. Petersburg, Florida, for six weeks in basic training. After taking the radio exam—to keep a friend company—he was accepted after passing with a perfect score and ended up at Huntington, Long Island for basic radio training.  From Huntington Thornton went to Gallups Island, then from there to the FCC license, and then a ship, the SS Joseph Pultizer, where he was second radio operator. His Gallups friend, Burt Dykes, was the third operator.  In February 1944 the Pulitzer loaded in New York for a convoy to Cardiff, Wales.  From there they helped in the organization for the invasion of Europe.  After unloading bombs in Liverpool, they were sent to Oban, Scotland to await the invasion.  In September, after three months shuttling cargo across the channel, they returned to New York where he signed off the ship.

     In addition to the SS Joseph Pulitzer, Thornton sailed on five other ships: The SS Chester to Cuba; the MV Cape Pembroke to India by the way of the Mediterranean; the SS Fort Pit to the Philippines with visits to Leyete and Manila; the SS Andrew A. Humpreys; and the SS John Ringling to France.

     While on the SS Andrew A. Humpreys, Thornton met a young purser who informed him he was eligible for a release and return home to civilian life. After the trip to France, his certificate for release to civilian life was ready.   In May 1946, Thornton was back in Southern Methodist University for a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. But in 1948 the Truman recession was on, and no recruiters come except for Humble Oil and Refining.  They were not looking for Engineers, but rather ex-servicemen with radar experience.  After two months of interviews, Thornton landed a job as an electrical draftsman and has stayed in Electrical Engineering ever since.  Thornton has been in the Engineering field in Houston for the last 53 years.  He started his own practice in 1979 that worked out well. After selling the business to a friend in 1996, he worked for his former company for four years, then retired.

Thornton describes his family:

First daughter, Paula Bess born in 1946.  Second daughter, Norma Amy born in 1950.  Norma has given us two grand daughters, Amy and Barbara.  Amy has presented us with a great grand daughter now two and a half years old.  Beloved Bess and I love to travel and have tried to make all the GIRA conventions since 1990.  It has been great fun.  I am presently a Vice President of the USMMV WWII (Lane Victory Group), a member of the AMMV WWII, Lone Star Chapter, a member of the Project Liberty Ship group.  In 1995, 1996 and 1998 the Texas Chapter of the USMMWWII hosted reunions for merchant marine veterans.  It was great fun and the guys seemed to appreciate it.

Welcome aboard to Robert E. Thornton, GIRA Vice President.




Treasurer's Report

Income and Expenses

January 1, 2001 - December 31, 2001





Beautiful Navy Blue Polo Shirt

Embroidered With 60th Anniversary Logo





2001 Reunion

Bank Interest




Lapel Pins                              

Mini Reunion Region 1 & 2

Polo Shirts

Transfer to close old account


Total income














Price  $22.00  (including shipping)


Sizes Small, Medium, Large, X-Large


These shirts are embroidered,


and are very good quality


You can still get the Ball Cap for $10.00



Limited Time Offer


Polo shirts

Atlanta Reunion 2001

Bank service charge 

Editor Fee Gallups Islander

Franchise fee

Gallups Islander Mailing

Gallups Islander Printing

Internet service


Office supplies


President expense

Printing & reproduction

Region 2 expense

Region 9 expense

Region 5 expense

Reunion 2002 Deposit

Sec/Treasure Stipend

Spark Gap Printing & Mailing

Spark Gap Editor Fee



Total expense



























Get your order in right away !


Send Check Payable to GIRA


Mail to:



P.O. Box 1235

Hermitage, Pa  16148




Region 2 Mini-Reunion planned


Preliminary Plans are to meet at the

Comfort Suites in Allentown Pennsylvania

on April 23, 2002.  For details contact:

Gip Bergey  610-865-0839


or Homer Gibson  724-962-4213


Total Income

Total Expense

Net Income







Balance as of  Jan. 1, 2001      

Net income


Balance as of Dec. 31, 2001










God is good, but you should never dance in a small boat.


Respectfully submitted by Homer Gibson, Sec/Treas






     President Bud Guntner opened the meeting at 8:00 A. M.  Present at this meeting: Bud Guntner, Homer Gibson, Bill Yount, Bill Anderson, Bob Thornton, Ed Wilder, who served as proxy for JJ Ward, John Dziekan, who served as proxy for Gene Harp, William Fogleman and Lee Schultz, who served as proxy for Bill Wittkowski

     Bud explained that it takes about four months following an election for the installation of the officers and directors of the Association and there is not enough time for the current starting date of the first of the calendar year for the terms of offices to begin. He then asked for a motion to change Article VI, Section 1 to read: "The starting date of the term of the Officers and Directors of the Association shall be during the month following the annual reunion.” The motion made by Ed Wilder and seconded by John Dziekan.  Motion carried.

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

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

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

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

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

     The Secretary/Treasurer, Homer Gibson, made the suggestion that anyone interested in hosting a reunion in the future could do some preliminary legwork on their selected site without making any sort of commitments, and then present his findings at the next Director's meeting.  The Directors would then vote on the various sites proposed.  He also asked that all information that would be published in the "Spark Gap" be submitted to him before being submitted to JJ Ward for publication, so that he could make sure that all information that needs to be included is in fact included.  For instance, for the Atlanta reunion, there was no time allotted for our Director's Meeting or the General membership Meeting on Saturday morning.  Instead, there were two tours scheduled on the registration form in the Spark Gap, both starting at 9 A.M. on Saturday morning.  The only mention for the cancellation policy was a statement in bold print that "Individuals may cancel up to 24 hours prior to their arrival date". This was meant for the canceling of hotel rooms, not the reunion as a whole.  A separate cancellation date should have been stated on the registration regarding the reunion as a whole, since the contract with the Tour people stated they wanted a 50% deposit by July 12th with final payment due 15 days prior to the starting date of the reunion (July 25th).


…continued on page 5



…continued from page 4


Also, a deadline date for submitting the registration needs to be on the registration form. The tour people want a final count for each tour, so that they can make their reservations and arrangements for the size of buses, etc.  Once they get that final count, that is what you pay for, regardless if you have that many people or not.  This is also true with the banquet meals at the hotel.  If the minimum number of people set for the buses is 35, you pay for 35 people, even if you only have 15 or 20.  When Homer Gibson "inherited" the Atlanta reunion, on or about July 10th, there were only 8 or 10 confirmed registrations in hand.  On July 11th the hotel taxed him a list of people who had made hotel reservations.  At that time there were only 20 rooms reserved by potential participants.  But the reunion registration forms were not yet in.  When these people were called to confirm what they were planning as far as tours and banquet selections, some of them said that they thought that they could make those selections once they arrived at Atlanta. But it does not work that way.  Homer was still getting registrations and cancellations as late as August 10th.

Bud adjourned the meeting at 9 A. M.   A General Membership Meeting was held immediately following the Director's Meeting and all actions taken by the Directors in the Director's Meeting were ratified by the Membership.


Respectfully submitted

Homer N. Gibson




GIRA REUNION 2001 ATTENDEES  Atlanta, Georgia   August 9 - 11 2001


Adams, Al & Kay Ester                            R-68

Albers, Ralph & Birdie                              R-9

Anderson, Bill & Marge                             R-72

Banks, William & Dixie                             R-117

Buckles, Nelson & Zelda                          R-7

Calderwood, David                                    R-1

Clifford, Ernest                                         R-59

Cruse, Tom                                             R-50

Deck, George & Mary                               R-84

Devoe, Bill                                               R-19

Dixon, Rion & Ann                                   R-17

Dziekan, John & Rose                              R-108

Evans, Bill & Terry                                   R-113

Ferguson, Scotty & Evelyn Ventola           R-19

Geiselman, Pat & Barbara                        R-72

Gibson, Homer                                        R-51

Guntner, Bud & Arby                                R-72

Havens, Charles & Jessie                         R-77

Hucke, Sam & Marjorie                            R-15

Hudson, Robert & Cecelia                         R- ?

Jaworski, Bill                                           R-99

Jensen, Dennis, Steve & Jay                     R-50

Kauder, Eugene, Elizabeth, Rae Marie       R-106

Kilgore, Jack                                           R-63

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

Marrs, Clyde & Barbara                            R-40

Mayhew, Robert & Nina Lombardo             R-61

Miller, Walter                                           R-14

Moore, Harrison & Martha                         Friend

Opalka, William & Lotte                            R-50

Ozbun, Paul & Dorothy                             R-65

Pearson, Everett                                      R-34

Peterson, Ed & Mary Ann                         R-77

Pollitt, Robert & June                                               R- 14

Schultz, Leland & Maxine                         R-15

Surina, John & Elaine                               R-7

Thornton, Bob & Bess                              R-57

Wilder, Edward & Delores                         R-19

Yount, William, Christine & Saundra          R-77




Ed Wilder and Bill DeVoe

(Photo by John Dziekan)


Bess Thornton and Arby Gunter

(Photo by John Dziekan)


Group shot in front of Stone Mountain

(Photo by Ralph Albers)


Evelyn Ventola & Scotty Ferguson on the left.

Ed Peterson on the right.

Is that David Calderwood in the middle?

(Photo by Ralph Albers)


At the General Meeting

(Photo by John Dziekan)


Homer Gibson, Bud Guntner, Pat Geiselman, and Harrison Moore

(Photo by Ralph Albers)




Bud Guntner, President, opens the meeting

(Photo by Ralph Albers)



Homer Gibson, Secretary/Treasurer, gives a report

(Photo by Ralph Albers)


A group shot of the general meeting

(Photo by John Dziekan)


As usual, lots of seats up front

(Photo by John Dziekan)


Lotte Opalka, Birdie Albers, Marge Anderson

(Photo by Ralph Albers)


Tom Cruse and Bill DeVoe

(Photo by Ralph Albers)





Charles Havens

(Photo by Bill DeVoe)


Robert Mayhew

(Photo by Bill DeVoe)


Unable to identify this handsome guy

(Photo by Ralph Albers)



Barbara and Pat Geiselman

(Photo by Bill DeVoe)



Zelda and Nelson Buckles

(Photo by Bill DeVoe)



Ralph Albers and Bill Anderson

(Photo by Bill DeVoe)



Evelyn Ventola and Scott Ferguson R-19

(Photo by Bill DeVoe)







Standing are Tom Cruse and Bill DeVoe

Seated are Walter Miller, Bud & Arby Guntner, Homer Gibson, Nelson & Zelda Buckles, Rion & Ann Dixon



Rose Dziekan, William & Dixie Banks, John & Mary Adams, Mary & Edward Peterson, Bess & Robert Thornton



Photos by John Dziekan





Standing are Paul & Dorothy Ozbun

Seated are Mary, Robert, Ryan, and Maynard Lonis, Bill & Terry Evans, Robert & Cecilia Hudson



Standing are Leland and Maxine Schultz

Seated are Evelyn Ventola, Dolores & Ed Wilder, William & Lotte Opalka, Sam & Marjorie Hucke


Photos by John Dziekan




Standing are Ralph Albers and Robert Mahew.

Seated are Nina Lombardo, June & Robert Pollitt, Bill Jaworski, David Calderwood, Martha & Harrison Moore, Birdie Albers.



Marge Anderson, Barbara & Pat Geiselman



Bill Anderson, William Yount, Charles and Jessie Havens, Christine Yount, Saundra Yount


Photos by John Dziekan





Harrison and Martha Moore


Sam and Marjorie Hucke


Bob and Bess Thornton


Clyde and Barbara Marrs


John and Rose Dziekan


Rion Dixon, Sam Hucke, Bud Guntner


Photos by Homer Gibson





Bill DeVoe with a “Home Brew” QRP rig



Bill Evans exchanges ball cap for Santa’s cap



Tom Cruse



Bill DeVoe



Jack Kilgore



photos by Homer Gibson






*  The fastest Transatlantic crossing by a regular commercial liner was 3 days, 10 hours, and 40 minutes made by the SS United States on its maiden voyage July-7, 1952 from New York to Le Harve, France with an average speed of 35.39 knots. The United States was decommissioned in 1969, and is now anchored in Philadelphia.

*  The fastest Transatlantic flight between New York and London ( 3,461.53 miles) was 1 hour, 54 minutes, and 56.4 seconds averaging 1,806.96 MPH on September 1, 1974 by an SR-71 (Blackbird). After flying top-secret missions for 25 years, the SR-71 was decommissioned in 1990.

*  The world’s largest cruise liner is The Voyager of the Seas measuring 1,020 feet long and 157.5 feet wide. It weighs 144,000 tons, has a crew of 1181, and a capacity for 3,114 passengers. The Voyager of the Seas has a golf course, an ice skating rink, a wedding chapel, and a 1.350 seat theater.

*  Too much of a good thing? The record longest kiss occurred on April 5, 1999 when Karmit Tzubera and Dror Orpaz kissed for 30 hours and 45 minutes to win a kissing contest held in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, Israel.  There was no follow-up to learn if the two ever kissed each other again.

*  More than 140,000 tons of gold have been found on earth so far. Melted into a block, it would be one fifth the size of the Washington Monument. Forty thousand miners rushed to Sutters Mill, California, in 1849. They averaged about $250 each. With plundered gold from the New World, Spain launched four armadas against England. All failed. The quest of alchemists to make gold was also a total failure, however, their caldrons of chemical mixtures led to modern chemistry.

*  Nature is amoral, not  immoral. It was here eons before we arrived, didn’t know we were coming, and doesn’t give a damn about us. Stephen Jay Gold, Harvard Paleontologist.

*  The word “set” has the most definitions (87) in the Oxford English dictionary, but “run” has 137 in Webster’s American.

*  Carl Wieman, U of Colorado physics professor who won the 2001 Nobel Prize for discovery of new matter form remarked on his difficulty chatting with President Bush at a White House reception. “He wanted to talk about the Colorado—Texas football game. I guess I wasn’t that interested.”

*  Brachyplatystoma filamentosum are cat fish.



ERRATA: In the summer 2001 issue of SPARK GAP the story about suffixing “Maru” to names of Japanese merchant ships, the phrase “and now warships” should have read “but not warships.”


Thanks to Nicholas B. Wynnick R-12 for forwarding a copy of a 1976 letter from the Japanese Embassy in Washington explaining the custom. It responds to a query from Manzanillo, Mexico.

The following  is excerpted from that epistle:

The custom of using the term “maru” at the end of ships’ names is long standing, excepting those belonging to the government or other public agencies. It is prescribed by the Japanese Shipping Law, but is not compulsory.

The term “maru” means a circle implying that a thing is round without any dents or protrusions—an expression of perfection. In former times ”maru” was used at the end of a boy’s name. It was also used on swords, armor, and some famous musical instruments. It’s unclear when the term “maru” was first used for ship’s names, but most carried the term in the 17th to 19th century.

One legend postulates that the military leader, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, ruling Japan in the late 16th century, built a huge ship that he named “Nippon Maru’ thus starting the custom.

“I received the enclosed from the horse’s mouth. The P.B. meter on envelope is 13 cents first class mail and hard to read date is Dec. 28, 1976. Evidently they get many queries on this. Take your pick. My Nephew’s Japanese wife says it means circle or perfect. Nice to see you young fellows wanting to learn. 73. Nick Wynnick, R-12.”


When the Nation’s founders were struggling over the form and function of our government, Benjamin Franklin suggested that all sessions of Congress begin with a prayer. James Madison replied, “I don’t think we should ask for foreign aid at this point.”





By Norbert J. Kucala


I graduated from Gallups Island with R-22 in May 1943 to await a ship assignment in New York. I believe we went on a training ship for a week or so of orientation.

Apparently at that time there was a ‘flood’ of radio officers in NY. With the supply exceeding demand I spent four months on the WSA shipping list for an assignment. My turn came through the ROU for a Waterman Liberty ship as 2nd radioman to get the required 6-months experience.

We sailed in a late October convoy for Liverpool, England, to encounter a Wolf Pack a few days out. As a youngster of 21, I got a thrill of our escorts’ depth charges sending up great geysers.

While passing north of Ireland we were subjected to another submarine attack. A story in the ROU paper told of a radio operator getting a medal for diving into the dark, cold water to save someone.

Liverpool was blacked-out and had just been subjected to its 500th air raid. It was different, but we had a good time just the same.

In late November of 1943, we departed for the return leg to the States. All went well until we encountered a fierce gale northwest of the Azores. At noon the third mate remarked jokingly, “you know these Liberties have been known to crack up amid-ships.”  An hour or so later there was a loud cracking sound that some likened to a torpedo hitting. As I emerged from the radio room, the purser said dolefully, “the third mate was right.”  From the flying bridge when, between waves, we could see the tops of the masts of the convoy, I joked, “look at all the periscopes.”

But the joking was over when the main deck cracked all the across, between the housing and number three hold, then half-way down the port side between decks and forward of number three hatch, on down the starboard side to the ‘tween decks. When we hove to, it was so rough we couldn’t communicate our distress to the Commodore by blinker, so we used the radio to transmit: “Ship breaking up, amid-ships.”  We had been under radio silence, but their “roger” ( ._. ) was a great comfort. My assignment was with the emergency transmitter, but I took a look at those seas, and said to myself, “I don’t want to get off this ship.”

The chief engineer, who had 30-years of sea-time, said he had never seen rougher seas in the Atlantic. We began a two-knot or so course for the Azores some 500 miles southeast. That night, around midnight, the winds accelerated to almost hurricane force, and we just hung on, riding the trough. I sat between the Coke machine and bulkhead, facing aft, watching that damned lantern swing back and forth. Everyone slept, fitfully if at all, fully clothed with life jackets on.  As green as I was, I felt sorry for the kids in the gun crew.  During the night our escorting tug signaled he couldn’t cope with such slow speed in these seas, and left us. We limped into Horta, Azores, two days later under clearing skies. Our luck had held out.

After a couple of days we were sent to In Ponta Delgado on San Miguel Island where it required seven weeks for workers, with hand tools, and makeshift equipment, to patch us up.  As a neutral, the Portugal owned islands could not service war ships, so the gun crews had to use our IDs to get ashore.  Had they known we had gun crews, we could have been interred.

When the skipper permitted booze aboard for a few days some comic situations developed. The bos’n (boatswain) shared his story: “You know my wife is Catholic and is raising our four kids that way, but I’m not much of a religious person, but back there, I even prayed. I said, ‘ please God, take this son-uv-a-bitch in.’

I told the third mate that the Bosun had said that he wouldn’t take ten thousand to go through that experience again. The Third Mate shot back, “I wouldn’t take a million…er, well unless I knew I could make it again.”

We departed from the Azores in February 1944 returning to Hoboken, New Jersey, where they tore all the Portuguese repairs away, put new plates on with double “belly-bands” from bow to stern, and reloaded the ship within two weeks.

Then we departed for a seven month voyage on that Liberty, the SS Phineas Banning which resulted in many interesting situations, but none quite as nerve-wracking as that North Atlantic crossing.


No two voyages are ever remotely the same, and conversely, no two days of the same voyage are ever identical.




                                                                                                       By JJ

Four states have produced 53.4 % (23 our of 43) of U.S. presidents. Virginia leads with eight (8), Ohio is second with seven (7), and New York and Massachusetts are tied for third with four (4) each.

Half were sons of farmers, and six were born in log cabins. All but nine attended college and thirty were college graduates.

Nine presidents didn’t complete their terms: Four were assassinated, four died of natural causes in office, and one resigned.

More than half had been members of the armed services. Eleven were former Army generals, but none were Navy admirals.

All (43) were Christian. Forty-two (42) were Protestant, and one, Kennedy, Catholic. Jefferson and Lincoln expressed no preference for denomination.

George Washington was the only president elected unanimously (all 69 electoral votes) and was only one for whom a state was named. Washington did not attend college.

John Adams lived longer than any other president (90 years) and was the first to live in the White House (only partially finished). Adams and Jefferson died on the same day (July 4, 1826).

Thomas Jefferson introduced the custom of shaking hands. Previously gentlemen bowed to each other in greeting.

Abraham Lincoln was the tallest president (at least 6’ 4” and 180 pounds). James Madison was the shortest at 5 feet 4 inches and weighing 100 lbs. Lincoln had a high pitched voice. Madison’s was lower.

Ronald Reagan was the oldest (69) president to take office. Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest (42) succeeding McKinley (assassinated), however, JFK was the youngest (46) to be elected.

Teddy Roosevelt’s wife and mother died on the same day.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (elected 4 times) served the longest (12 years), and William Henry Harrison (second oldest to take office at 68) served the shortest (32 days) after giving the longest inaugural address (1 hour 40 minutes), he contacted pneumonia.

Herbert Hoover had the longest retirement (31 years) dying at age 90. Polk’s retirement (3 months) was the shortest (3 months).

President Grant’s correct name was Hiram Ulysses Grant, but it was inadvertently changed to Ulysses Simpson Grant when he enrolled at West Point. Grant sought a third term but failed to get nominated. On a post-retirement trip around the world Grant met Queen Victoria, and was the first person allowed to shake hands with a Japanese emperor. The Viceroy of China gave him an 8-hour, 70-course dinner. A heavy drinker, Grant also smoked 20 cigars a day, which, almost certainly,  killed him. While suffering from throat cancer, he wrote arguably the most successful autobiography of any president. Having Mark Twain as his editor certainly helped.

Chester A. Arthur (known as “elegant Arthur”) changed clothes for each daily event. He reportedly owned 80 pairs of pants.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was the poorest president. Johnson never attended a single day of school.

Taft was the first president of the 48 states (Arizona and New Mexico entered the Union in 1912).  Easily the heaviest at 332 pounds, Taft got stuck in the White House bath tub which he replaced with a record big one. He was the first president to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with wife beside him 13 years later. JFK and wife Jacqueline are the only other two buried there.

Grover Cleveland was only president to serve nonconsecutive terms. He vetoed 413 bills, twice as many as all the previous presidents combined. He was the only one to be married in the White House at age 49 to a 21-year old bride, daughter of a close, deceased, friend. His first child nicknamed “Baby Ruth” had a candy bar named after her. His second child, Esther, was the only baby to be born in the White House.

Lincoln’s son, Willie, was only person to die in the White House.

Andrew Johnson and Clinton were the only presidents impeached. Both were acquitted on close votes.

Lyndon Johnson was the only president to take the oath of office on an airplane. With no Bible available, he placed his hand on the World Almanac.

Gerald R. Ford, Jr. was the only president not elected either for president of vice-president. Ford was a Junior twice. He was born Leslie King, Jr., but when he was two years old, his parents divorced. His mother subsequently married Gerald R. Ford who adopted young Leslie and renamed him, Gerald R. Ford, Jr.

George Washington lost his natural teeth early. He experimented with false teeth made of ivory, silver, cows’ teeth, and other things, but contrary to legend, wood was never tried.






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

Ralph Albers R-9




You missed a good reunion if you didn't attend the Atlanta reunion.  The crowd wasn't too big but we all had a good time.  John Surina and I and our wives attended from R7 class.

Nelson Buckles R7



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

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

John Pino


Gallups Islanders,

We have posted Gallups Island on the Internet:


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

Dan and Toni Horodysky



My father, George Reekie, was brought up in Dundee, Scotland. He was born here in the US but moved back there with his Scottish parents in 1937. Being of dual citizenship he decided to join the US Merchant Marine in 1943 and made about twenty crossings until the end of the war. After reading my sister's notes I saw he was at Gallups in the radio course on VE Day! I can't say he ever served as a radioman in the Merchant Marines but he later worked at Tropical Radio & Western Union. He left the MM in 1947 and returned in the 70 & 80's for a few years for Sabine. Today he is legally blind and awaiting some visual equipment to help him read. He resides in Norwell, Mass.

Craig Reekie



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


Mr. Mark C. Dellbringge



Veterans Support Branch

Dept. of the Army

U.S. Army Reserve Personnel Command

1 Reserve Way

St. Louis, MO 63132-5200        


Include your Social Security Number as well

Jack McNulty R114




Thanks for the response re Ernie Torella. I have forgotten my class number but we graduated the week after VJ day. My name is Fred W. Pratt 336 998 3516

or 540 728 2584 which I will be at most of the summer months. I do not have  my computer installed at the latter number. Thanks again





I wrote one of the chapters in the newly published book,  “Theaters of War:  We Remember”.   It’s an epic narrative written by the veterans who witnessed the events of WWII.  Bob Dole wrote the forward to the book.  Proceeds from sales of the book will be donated to the National World War II Memorial.  To order your copy, contact  Glendale Industries

192 Paris Ave – Northvale, NJ 07647-2016

Tel  201-767-0233  800-653-5515  Fax  201-767-3323

Best Wishes,

Phil Mione





Via E-Mail



I was in Class R-9 at Gallups at the time.  I joined in Oct. 1941!   I was returning up the hill from the Rec. Hall at the end of the Island when some guy came running down the hill. We were about at the old burial ground.  He shouted "The Japs Bombed Pearl Harbor."   What a chain of events started for all of us from then.

Ralph Albers (R-9)



I had attended Sunday School in Bradenton, FL, and went with my friend, Robert Thomas, to his home.

The radio made the announcement of Pearl Harbor. Robert's half-brother, Tony Waldrup, was home on leave from the Navy Flight School in Florida. He was upstairs shaving, and came down the stairs three at a time to listen to the radio.  When he heard the broadcast, he rushed back up the stairs, packed, and returned to Pensacola.  Six months later he was killed in the Pacific.  Robert became a signalman on the USS Wasp.  I became a Radio Officer on the SS Fort Fetterman.  We probably passed one another in the Pacific and never knew it.  I am moved and in awe that I am a survivor.

Chet Klingensmith (R-88)



On Dec. 7,1941, I had just entered high school and was listening to a ball game on the radio when news came about Pearl Harbor. Four years later I went to Sheeps-head Bay and then Gallups Island and graduated R-106 July '45.  Got on Skagway Victory at Seattle, Washington in August '45 and sailed just a few days before the end of Japan. Voyage was eight months and we came back from with same cargo.  To make a long story short, I have sailed continuously for over 55 years, and served in the Korean war and Vietnam (5 yrs of carrying ammo), and am still at it. I claim to be the GIRA grad with the most seatime. Can anyone top me? I have many stories to tell but that will have to wait for another day. I went from CW, SSB, sitor, satellite and now GMDSS, shipboard e-mail even.

Eugene Kauder R-106




Thanks for reminding me of that fateful day in December, '41.

To go back a bit.... I signed off the tank ship SS Beaconlight as an ordinary Feb. 24, '41 after a full year of service. Went to live with my Dad in Chicago and began attending the American Television Labs school to get my phone license and a job in the fledgling industry.

I was visiting a young lady going to college in Appleton, WI on Dec. 5-6 '41. On the way back to Chicago on the bus the passengers were listening to a radio (a Zenith all band with the antenna suctioned to the window) when we heard the news about the attack.  Next day my friends Jimmy Nohelty and Bob Schnep and I went downtown with the objective of enlisting in the Navy. Well, I couldn't pass the eye test. But my pals did. Jimmy became an Armed Guard and Bob was accepted in the Marines.

Sad to say, Jimmy was in a  convoy to Murmansk, torpedoed, spent 15 minutes in the 29 degree water and did survive until 1948 when he crossed the bar due to blood clot in the brain. Also, sad, was the news that Bob was a KIA in Guadalcanal.

I dropped by the USMS office in the Monadnock Bldg. to sign up and get my A.B. ticket. Almost got turned down there too because of eye sight. But, since I showed proof that I had sailed for a year they waived the eye sight. Hooray!!

Arrived at Hoffman Island in Feb. 1. There were only about five of us .. not enough to have a class, so we were given the task of marching the recruits (apprentice seamen.. we were S1C) to and from the various classes.... boat handling, gunnery, machine gun, etc. To say the least, a very boring situation.

One day in mid March, a notice appeared announcing openings at the radio school in Gallups. Voila!!! That’s for me I said! Took a simple test.. Identify the difference between the Morse characters A and N. I passed!

Arrived at Gallups with a few others and became part of R-14, later to R-13 and graduated Nov. 13, '42. Sailed for the rest of the war safely.

I must say that attending Gallups set my lifetime course as I remained in the communications field until retirement in 1985.

Best 73

Al Hadad, R-13



Dear GIRA Members,

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

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

Dennis Hughes

P.O. Box 1633

Nokomis, Florida  34274




Well, finally, I had my appointment with the Veterans Administration. I got more than I expected.  They are going to fill all my prescriptions for about  $5 each.  Got a complete physical and x-rays for no charge.  Got a card entitling me to all services of VA, often with no or small fees, at any VA office anywhere.  I am entitled to consultation and checkup when I feel I need them.  This has no effect on my present Medicare and private supplemental insurance.

I discussed the program with my VA doctor.

He said the Government does not publicize the program because the private health providers would protest.  I hope that those of you who have received your Coast Guard DD214 take advantage of this program, now that you are a real veteran.

Check your eligibility and go for it if you can qualify.  Call your local VA office for details.

My thanks to Al Hadad for calling my attention to this several months ago.


Ralph Albers


From an "Ann Landers" column circa 24 Nov 2001


Dear Ann Landers:  Last Veterans Day, you printed a letter from a merchant marine who served in World War II.  He said, 'No one remembers us. I didn't ask much then, and I'm not asking much now. I just think somebody could stand up and say, "you did a good job. Thanks." It doesn't have to be on Veterans Day. Any day will do.'

Please let my fellow merchant mariners know that there is an inspiring memorial to all American veterans of the naval and maritime services.  It’s not in Washington itself but just across the Potomac River from the Jefferson Memorial.  The memorial proclaims: “To the strong souls and ready valor of those men of the United States who in the Navy, the Merchant Marine and other paths of Activity upon the waters of the world, have given life or still offer it in the performance of heroic deeds, this monument is dedicated by a grateful people.” 

----J. B. Burke, Va.




In the early 1930s, John D. Rockefeller would give a dime to everyone he encountered.  Will Rogers beat him to the punch by offering John D. Rockefeller a dime, which he accepted.   If he or a decedent were giving the same amount (purchasing power) today, it would require a Sacajawea dollar, a quarter, a nickel, and three pennies.  A $3000 salary in 1933 had the same purchasing power that  $40,000 has today.



ONLY $20.00 A YEAR

Payable to GIRA


Mail to:

Homer Gibson

P.O. Box 1235

Hermitage, Pa  16148



2002 is a palindrome year (reads the same forward and backward).  Lucky?  Why Not!  The last palindrome year was 1991.  The next won’t occur until 2112





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





E-MAIL  or Comments


Aakhus, Orval

4555 S Mission  Lot 138

Tucson, AZ  85746


(October to March)


Allgaier, Robert S.





Baker, Edward

213 Aquidneck Street

New Bedford, MA  2744




Barneke, Wallace

1450 Palisade Ave  APT 6G

Fort Lee, NJ  07024-5227




Blue, Kenneth D.





Brach, Robert S.

552 Lost Valley Rd

Kerrville, TX  78028




Brucker, John V.

246 TePee Road

McMurray, PA  15317




Buckles, Nelson





Bultema, Larry

401 Swan Drive

Dyer, IN  46311




Busick, William G.

649 W Walnut Ave

El Segundo, CA  90245-2063




Calderwood, David L.





Canaday, Louis L.





Carpernelli, Carmine

563 RT 917

Scenery Hill, PA 15630




Christman, Ralph E.

601 N Madison St  APT A-6

Fortville, IN  46040




Claman,  Arnold Y.





Clausen, James W.

2940 Ward Ct

Lakewood, CO  80215-6528




Cone, Garnie D.





Conner, Paul Herbert

240 Duke Drive

Sequin, WA  98382




Cooley, Robert H.

1100 Penn Center Blvd  APT 509

Pittsburg, PA  15235




Copeland, Nathan J.





Danker, Albert G. Sr





Davies, David R.

8509 E. Davies Place

Centennial, CO  80112




Davis, Delmar D.

13174 US Highway 54

Macks Creek, MO  65786-9701




DeVoe, Bill





Diehl, Harold

3429 West Echo Lane

Phoenix, AZ  85051-5969




Deck, George





Elton, Kirby J.





Fitzsimmons, John J.





Fleming, Edwin J.

5776E Greenspointe Way

Littleton, CO  80130-3359




Fleming, Robert





Fulmer Fred R.

10302 S Del Rico

Yuma, AZ  85367-7372


(December to April)


Gonzales, Vinnie

MCG&RC Room 209

Royersford, PA  19468




Halvorson, Robert

Lagacy @ Lowry 150 Quebec Ct

Denver, CO  80230




Hanson, Harold O.





Continued on next page


Roster Correction Sheet …continued from previous page

Herr, Bernard L.

11 Martins Run APT D101

Media, PA  19063-1057



Hudson, Robert




Hyson, Waren C.

2315 York Drive

Sarasota, FL  34238



Jangord, Arnold O.

12015 Marine Drive

Marysville, WA  98271



French, Dewey A.




Garret, Edward E.



Cancelled E-Mail

Gilmaker, Joe




Graber, Joseph E.

490 Cooper Landing Rd

Cherry Hill, NJ  08002



Hamms, Eugene F.

14680 Buena Woods Way

Grass Valley, CA  95945



Handkins, Karl H.




Hanson, Harold O.




Harm, Richard




Hartman, Frederick D.

6102 93rd Circle E.

Bradenton, FL  34202



Helburg, Al

2180 S Flying Heart LA

Tucson, AZ  85713


(October to April)

Hetzler, Frank

Drevarvagen 6   610 55

Stigtomta  Sweden



Holden, Stan




Hornung, Gerard T.





Huston, Kenneth R.




Jackson, Charles K.




Jennings, Stanley N.




Jones, James C.

803 Holly Hill Dr

Tupelo, MS  38801-2331



Jordan, DeLoss O.

1034 W. Huntington Dr  12

Arcadia, CA  91007



Keene, J. Ovid




Kelley, Charles C.

17 George St

Greenfield. MA  01301



Klay, Robert G.




Klingensmith, Chet




Kowalski, Henry




Kuzyk, Harry S.

897 Mayville Rd

Bethel, ME  04217-4614



Lewis, Elbert N.

1540 High School Dr

DeRidder, LA  70634-2900



Locke, Robert

910 Coburg Village Way

Rexford, NY  12148-1466



Lorraine, William R.




Mahaffey, Dale E.

4492 Buckinghorse TR

Pinetop, AZ  85935


(Summer Address)

Maynard, Kenneth W.

915 NW 20th Terrace

Gainesville, FL  32603



Maurstad, Raymond B.




McConeghey, John H.




McDonald, Charles




McNulty, John T.

3883 Turtle Creek Blvd  2006

Dallas, TX  75219-4456



McPhee, Hugh

6504 13th Avenue DR W

Bradenton, FL  34209-4519



Meltzer, Irving

87 Waterford “D”

Delray Beach,  FL  33446


(October to April)

Moffitt, Leonard E.

106 Crescent Rd

Ocean City, NJ  08226



Munyan, Charles R.

2527 Helena LN

Everett, WA  98206-3428



Continued on next page



Roster Correction Sheet …continued from previous page

McCord, Richard D.

101 E. McNab Rd  APT 424

Pompano Beach, FL  33060


(November to May)

Minto, Oren

9350 Golfcrest Circle

Davison, MI  48423


April to January

Neave, John W.

10257 Calypso

Manassas, VA  20110-593



O’Brien, Thomas J.





O’Leary, Charles J.

45 Keezer Road

Bristol, NH  03222-4516



Olson, William E.

322 Aoloa St  #1602

Kailua, HI  96734



Parker, Charles E.  MD




Rea, Harry

136 Loizos Drive NW

Ft Walton Beach, FL  32548



Reid, Percy V.




Rudat, Walter




Sanderson, Melvin

34804 Big McDonald LN

Dent, MN  56528-9752



Seigler, William C.

1253 Suwanee Road

Daytona Beach,  FL  32114



Sheddan, Arthur A.




Sorum, Keith M.




Slabotsky, Kent




Sloan, John W.




Tschaekofske, Alfred

233 Midway

Prescott, AZ  86305



Waldrop, Donald

1624 Plata Pico Drivve

Las Vegas, NV  89128



Warmack, Frank S.

2917 Crossgate Rd

St Louis, MO  63129



Welch, John E.



541-488-2552 (FAX)

Whitehouse, Howard E.

165 Guava Circle

Bradenton, FL  34207


(November to May)

Whitehouse, Howard E.

P.O. Box 2

Piseco, NY  12139


(June to September)

Willner, Monroe J.





Winebarger, Ross F.




Woodworth, Frederick

3836 Hamilton Way

Emerald Hills, CA  94062-3409



Wright, Wyit E.




Yoder, Richard

607 E Ridge Village Drive

Miami, FL  33157-9113






Buzzell, Lee (R-60)

2209 Olympia Drive

Bettendorf, IA  52722




Sandel, Robert

3806 Galicia Rd

Jacksonville, FL  32217




Stern, Joel

787 Prince William Lane

Westerville, OH  43081




Yascavage, Albert J.

P.O. Box 215

Hunlock Creek, PA  18621




Zellner, Fred L. (R38)

309 Tanglewood Drive

Fredericksburg, TX  78624










Bunday, Edwin C.



August 27, 2001

Doering, Kenneth



April  8, 2001

Farenga, Vincent



February  3, 2001

Farnum, Wesley



May 2001

Geraldi, Harry R.




Graber, Joseph E.



August 15, 2001

Guthrie, Glenn S.



February  2, 2001

Hammond, Carl L.




Hartmann, Frederick D.



October 31, 2001

Holley, Edward L.



August 27, 2001

King, Ray



May 26 2001

Mason, Charles


R-001 (A1)

April 2001

Prock Ralph D.




Rampy, C. W.


R-005 (B-2)

January 19, 2001

Smith, Samuel Raymond



Dec. 10, 2001

Stickney, Richard A.



March 23, 2001

Woglom, William H.


















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

527 Windwood Road

Baltimore, MD 21212-2108

(410) 377-5316


Robert E. Thornton, 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.



Of all the airs the wind can blow

I dearly like the West,

For there the bonnie lassie lives,

The lassie I love best.

There’s wild woods grow, and rivers flow,

And many a hill between;

But day and night my fancy’s flight

Is ever with my Jean.


I see her in the dewy flowers,

I see her sweet and fair:

I hear her in the tuneful birds,

I hear her charm the air.

There’s not a bonnie flower that springs

By fountain, shaw or green;

There’s not a bonnie bird that sings,

But minds me of my Jean.

Robert Burns