Return to Remembering Ron Smith
The Seawolf Memorial
At site of USS TEXAS Memorial
(This write-up was contributed by Ron Smith for the USSVI Memorials website - TEXAS section - ca. 2002)   Images copies and original commentary are also retained on the archived legacy USSVI website.

Also included on this page are images of the 1963 Dallas meeting, Out of which grew the idea of forming the USSVI  >>>  CLICK
Sid Harrison USSVI Webmaster - 2000-2004
The story of the USS Seawolf SS-197 memorial.

Early on the  U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II established as one of their objectives the building of a memorial to each of the 52 boats lost during the war. Each state picked one with two left over so a couple of states got two. Texas got the SEAWOLF SS-197.

In 1963 after a banner National Convention in Dallas, (the one that Adm. Lockwood attended),  the state group started a downhill slide in membership and interest. 

As the State Commander I thought it might get some renewed interest if we undertook to build the memorial we had accepted and were obligated to do. I 'ran it up the flagpole' and garnered some support. We ran a contest for the best design for the monument. My sons drawing was chosen. A simple rectangle base with a Torpedo on top.

We started talking it up in local papers in Dallas with the help of Navy PR support, namely LTCMDR Jack Raskopf. Jack became one of my best friends while working tirelessly for the cause. The next step was to find a location. Several were mentioned, Dealy Plaza in Dallas, the State Capital in Austin and the San Jacinto Battleground State Park just east of Houston. 

Nothing had been allowed on this site since 1919 when the Masonic Order built some columns across the road north of the great obelisk that rises out of the Texas coastal plains, higher than the Washinton Monument, that commemorates the Texas victory against the Mexican Army in 1836. The Battleship TEXAS was also allowed to park there after WWII.

The Dallas Chapter had grown due to the publicity we were getting but the Houston Chapter had grown even more. They promised that they would get donations and free labor to build it at the San Jacinto Battleground State Park. No small task considering that only two other structures had been allowed there in it's entire history. As fate would have it we had some really strong members.

We tried in vain to get into John Connaly who was Governor of Texas and had recently been the Secretary of the Navy under LBJ. Ford Motor Company owned Philco at that time and each state was a separate entity in the sale of Philco products. One of our members, Bill Rogers, was VP of Philco of Texas. Bill contacted the Ford lobbyist in the LBJ administration in Washington, DC. Within a week I got a call from Mike Meyers, Governor Connaly's Adm. Assistant that the governor would like to meet with us. A time was agreed on and Bill Rogers, Joe Sanger and I flew to Austin to keep the appointment. We were met at the airport by Doug Nichols our state Sec/Treas who lived in Austin.

One of my favorite memories of this was the four of us being ushered into the governor's office with our knees shaking, until--- THERE ON THE WALL BEHIND JOHN CONNALY'S DESK WAS A HUGE SET OF DOLPHINS.------ We knew we had it made then.

We told the governor that we wanted to build this memorial to the USS SEAWOLF SS-197 at the San Jacinto Battleground State park. He picked up the phone and told his secretary to get the Head of the Texas Park system into his office. He came in less than five minutes. Connaly said," Give these men whatever they want". We all shook hands, thanked them and left. 

Within two weeks, with some letters and phone calls back and forth and a trip to the Battleground to pick the site, we had a letter from the State of Texas Deeding us one and 1/4 acres " In perpetuity for the location of a memorial to the USS SEAWOLF".   Led by Paul Stolpman, Houston Chapter President, the memorial was built with donated material and labor from companies around Houston. We dedicated it in 1967 with a crowd estimated at over 500 people.

The Seawolf Memorial still stands there, just off the starboard bow of the Battleship TEXAS proudly telling the history, accomplishments, and tragic loss of SEAWOLF  forever etched in Bronze. One must walk past it to get to the Battleship TEXAS.

There is no way to estimate the thousands and thousands of people that have visited this memorial. Each Memorial Day, U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II hold a service there, and now we are joined by our younger brothers from U.S. Submarines Veterans, Inc. as we honor all submarines and submariners "STILL ON PATROL".

Ron Smith TMM2/C SS

Battlefield Park, San Jacinto Battleground
Inscribed on a bronze plaque in front of the historic Battleship USS TEXAS,
Vice Admiral Lockwood wrote about the fifty-two submarines that are still on patrol: 
"I can assure you that they went down fighting and that their brothers who survived them took a Grim Toll of our savage enemy." 

Battlefield Park, San Jacinto Battleground
Return to Seawolf write-up
The Birth of USSVI, as recalled by Ron "Warshot" Smith
Posted to USSVI 3 October 2002
Images and text transferred to USSVI National website by Myron Howard
Copy archived here by Sid Harrison - Former USSVI National Webmaster 2000-2004
The Birth of USSVI
Dallas, Texas
August 1963

There have been US Submarine Veterans of WWII who felt that full membership in the organization should be open to "non WWII veterans" since the early days of the organization. They felt that opening full membership to "non WWII veterans" would be necessary in order to accomplish the long term recognition of the efforts of those who were WWII veterans and especially those shipmates who were on Eternal Patrol.

At the National Convention of US Submarine Veterans of WWII at Dallas, Texas in August, 1963, an attempt to open full membership in the organization to "non WWII veterans" was made. That attempt was defeated by 2 votes. It was then that Joe Negri announced that he was going to start USSVI.

The following  are photos of some folks with ADM Lockwood and his wife in Dallas for that convention.

Also, there are a couple of clippings from the Dallas Morning News that you may find of interest.  (Shown HERE)

In the American Airline Lounge at Love Field in Dallas. 
Seated are, left to right, Phyllis Lockwood, Bob Burell, Ron Smith, and Charlie Cook. 
Ron says his CRS kicked in and he can't recall the others.

In the American Airline Lounge at Love Field in Dallas.
Left to right, Bob Burell, Joe Negri, Ron Smith, and two guys from California. 
Ron says they were the State Commander and State Sec/Treas. He just can't remember their names.

Left to right, Joe and Shirley Sanger, ADM and Phyllis Lockwood, and Ron and Georgianna Smith