|by Don Gentry
16 December 2003
Say goodbye to 2003
OK, so it's not Thanksgiving again but it's that time of year to look back and reflect on all that's gone before our eyes.
Looking back, I'm thankful that the most inhuman human since Hitler has been caught and rightly embarrassed realistically and culturally in the eyes of those that feared him. Perhaps Osama for New Years?
I'm thankful for Gumba and John Wynn in Groton who have accomplished feats that are truly awesome and humanly meaningful. Groton Base has a huge membership, a really cool clubhouse, and a locale rich in submarine history. How could they lose? Well, they don't rest on their geographical laurels, they work their asses off and the fruits of their labor are continually self-evident.
I'm thankful for Sid Harrison who maintains the USSVI website in grand fashion. I'll apologize to Sid for this as he is the consummate behind-the-scenes player and does not seek the spotlight. This task I assure you, is huge. Sid also maintains one of the finest and most informative websites on the net (his personal site that is). "Sid's Navy Days" / "Green Board" has long been a staple of mine.
I'm thankful for Ric Hedman who for years has tirelessly assembled what is unquestionably the finest documented pictorial history of our pre-WWII submarine history. He's done this for some time now and if you think his enthusiasm has faded, think again.
I'm thankful for Jim Christley who has become one of our foremost historians and is one who generously shares his knowledge with us all.
I'm thankful for Robert "Dex" Armstrong who has documented, most colorfully, our experiences from the white hat point of view. Not since watching an old Errol Flynn movie have I been tempted to use the term "swashbuckler" but his stories reflect that attitude. Yes, Dex is colorful and controversial, but so what... would he be Dex if he wasn't??
I'm thankful for Ray Stone's "After Battery" stories including authors including Dex (above) and some tear-jerking heartfelt stories by Mike Hemming and others.
I'm thankful for Ron "Warshot" Smith's effort to continue to produce his book "Torpedoman." How many books have you read that are written by a WWII Submariner who was an enlisted man? If you haven't read Ron's book, do so.
I'm thankful for Tommy Cox who is one who provides a connection for many of us. His submarine songs hit home and are timeless. Tom has endured great hardships this past year and the support from his shipmates, I'm sure, was most warmly received.
I'm thankful for the eventual Razorback's return to the US. I can't begin to list all that played a key role in this effort. I must admit that I'm disappointed that she won't "steam back" under her own power but getting her back is job one. She could be made operable here (hint, hint).
I'm thankful for Bob Harrison, even though he is no longer with us, he continues to inspire me.
I'm thankful for Ron Martini and Ray Stone who provide an excellent service to keep us bubbleheads in communication with one another. Ron started the BBS "craze" as far as I know and others followed, including me. There's no sense in starting another BBS unless it has a purpose. The one on this site was intended to focus on submarine issues only and by and large, it has. Ron's has strong submarine content but has more variety. His board has done very well this last year (thanks Myron Howard for keeping the gears lubed). Ray has provided a BBS for those who want to unwind after "a night on the beach" and have little tolerance for "rules." All great stuff, and when mixed, hopefully a good balance. There are numerous other boards, some generic, some special purpose (USSVI bases, museum boats, boat specific, and so on.
I'm thankful for Bob McManus who writes (in the "big rag") about submariners, veterans and the cause in general. These article help keep veteran's issues on the various governmental tables and in the forefront. We need even more to ensure our vets get good hospital/health care.
I'm thankful to Joe Most who started the submariner's "BASH" some years back even though I haven't been able to attend one (I'm in the opposite corner of the US)
I'm thankful for Gary and Sue McLaughlin for the Bash at the Ranch two summers ago now where I met more submarine sailors from these boards and elsewhere than I'll likely ever meet again.
I'm NOT thankful for the disgusting display of substandard flesh by Ric Hedman and Dave Stoops during our "performance" at the Bash. If there's ever another Bash, I'll find "ladies" suitable to my stature!
I'm thankful for Corny Cornelison and Ken "Pig" Henry who are the stewards of the Archerfish website and crew list. Their attention to detail and dedication to an accurate Archerfish crewlist are outstanding. A past joint effort at paying tribute to Joe Enright was most enjoyable.
While I regret that I never met him, I'm thankful for Ben Bastura. A champion of champions of submarine history and preservation. Ben passed this year and his artifacts are now - at last report - in St. Marys Submarine Museum. I don't expect that we will ever have another "Ben."
--- on a more local and personal note...
I'm thankful for Pat Householder, our local grand poobah who has worked miracles with Seattle Base, USSVI. Along with past Cdr Cliff Nutter, VC Bob Opple, and Sect. Charlie Ryan, our meetings have had some of the cream of crop as speakers. (Pat is also USSVI Natl Sect)
I'm thankful for Doc Gardner, Charlie Ryan, Pat (above), Bill Linne, Roy Ator, Ray Stone, John Fulton, Gary McLaughlin, Phil Ward, AJ Hix, Tim Spoon, Ed Novak and many others (SINCERE apologies for omitting your name) who helped me thru a tough medical issue this year. Dave Goodson provided the "play by play" and thanks Dave!
Along that same line, I'm thankful for Corabelle and Dakota Slim for generously sending me a "Sturgis" Tshirt and several newspapers from the big 100th Anniversary Harley Davidson event that I missed due to heart surgery. (Had the shirt on yesterday Cora... thanks!)
I'm thankful that we have a submarine to play on here in Seattle. OK, it's Russian, old, crappy, poorly designed and maintained, and COB'd by a crazy ex forward ICman, er, SINS tech (Dave Goodson). I haven't gone back to docenting since surgery but plan to do so after the holidays.
Speaking of docenting, I'm thankful for Bob Vanderway who is the subvet I've spent so many Sunday afternoons with. We're usually busy with a gaggle of tourists, but if you have to be stuck on an old, rusty, crappy, Ruskie pig boat on a cold, rainy, Seattle Sunday afternoon, there are few men better to BS with than Bob Vanderway.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from Sharon and Me to you and yours!!
Don gentry is the owner/operator/webmaster of SubmarineSailor.com