Saturday, February 26, 2011

March-April Issue of The Dolphin Brotherhood Posted

The March-April 2011 issue of The Dolphin Brotherhood has been posted on the Seattle Base website.

This issue has a nice Commander's Corner reviewing some of last year's events and a look to the upcoming events for 2011, an introduction to the Western District 4 Traveling Dolphins program, along with the usual base news, upcoming events, and other submarine related articles.

Hardcopies should go out in the mail shortly. I hope you all enjoy it.

As always, don't forget to check back here for base news updates and other articles. You can find old issues of the newsletter at: Dolphin Brotherhood Archives, which is also a link on the right-side of the blog.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Eternal Patrol: Glenn Sparrow

It is with a great deal of sadness that I have to report that one of our shipmates, Glenn Sparrow, departed on Eternal Patrol Sunday 20 February 2011 due to complications following heart surgery.

Glenn joined the Navy during World War II and ended up doing shipboard engineering and repairs, even though his degree was in civil engineering. Eventually Lt. Glenn Sparrow made his way to the Pacific and the island of Guam, where he helped construct Submarine Rest Camps and Repair Facilities. He also spent a time repairing ships, engines, and guns. Many will recall his interesting presentation on this work at a base meeting in March 2008.
Glenn Sparrow (center) speaking with
Horton Smith and Jay Davis in 2008
Plans are being made for services and we will get that information as soon as possible.

Keith Watson
Commander Seattle Base USSVI

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Notes from the February Meeting

Here are a few items of interest from our February meeting.

In addition to these items, be sure to review the previously posted information on Social Security and your military service.

Traveling Dolphins
Western District 4 Commander John Mansfield shared information about a new program in our district called The Traveling Dolphins. It is established to encourage visits to other bases within our district and here is how it works:
South Sound Base Commander David Richards
with the Traveling Dolphins
The Traveling Dolphins plaque will be held by a base until they are "captured" by another base. The Traveling Dolphins can be captured by your base by having at least three members from your base attend a meeting of the base that currently holds the Traveling Dolphins (note that at least one of the three members of the capturing base must be an elected officer of your base). Then you get to take the Traveling Dolphins to your base meetings, keeping the plaque until captured by another base. John mentioned that he was going to add that the capturing base members had to tell one of their best sea stories in order to complete the mission, but he would leave that up to the visiting members.

John noted that it would be a good idea to alert the base holding the dolphins of your base’s intention to attend the meeting. In the event two or more bases send participants to capture the dolphins; the base with the most number of members will take the plaque home. In case of a tie, there will be a coin flip to determine who takes the plaque home. Also, as a primary member of South Sound Base, the WD4 Commander will count as one participant for the base in seeking to capture the Traveling Dolphins from bases other than his own.

Thanks and a hearty "Bravo Zulu" go out to Mike Robb, carver extraordinaire, for the excellent job of making the Traveling Dolphins. Everyone have fun, get out and attend meetings of other bases and share the camaraderie within our organization.

South Sound Base currently holds the Traveling Dolphins. But John shared that there is a rumor that members from Yakima Base are planning on attending the next South Sound Base meeting.

Visit to Blueback
John Mansfield is organizing a day trip down to visit the USS Blueback at OMSI in Portland OR on February 26. If you are interested in going along, contact John ASAP by e-mail ( or phone (360-569-0507).

Upcoming Event Dates
Base Commander Keith Watson shared the dates for some upcoming events. Be sure to mark them on your calendar:
  • May 21 - Armed Forces Day Parade, Bremerton WA
  • June 10-13 - Smokey Point Rest Stop Event, Steve Shelton will have sign-ups at upcoming meetings
  • July 4 - Independence Day Parade, Kirkland WA
  • August 20 - Tolling of the Boats Ceremony, Kirkland WA
  • September 5 - Labor Day Parade, Black Diamond WA
  • November 12 - Veterans Day Parade, Auburn WA

2011 Base Booster Fund
Pat Householder in heading up the new Base Booster Fund and wanted to pass along the following message.
Make a $10.00 donation or more and get your name listed in each month’s issue of The Dolphin Brotherhood for the year. The booster donations go into the general fund to offset the costs of newsletter production, mailing and other base expenses.

Make your donations to Jim Harper, Treasurer, (that guy at the meetings with the green eyeshade…). Be sure he knows it is your gift for the Base Booster Fund. We've collected $110 dollars so far.

February Program
Don Ulmer presented an interesting program about rescue of a B-29 crew off the coast of Japan by USS Springer (SS-414) during World War II.
Storyteller Don Ulmer
Don spun the tale of how on July 26, 1945 the B-29, nicknamed 'Dyna-Might', was on a bombing mission from the base at Tinian to Japan when it was damaged by Japanese aircraft. The damage forced the bomber crew to bail out, but only 8 of the 13 (12 crewmen plus a reporter-passenger) got out of the plane. One crewman, having heard that Japanese pilots would shoot at Americans in their parachutes, delayed opening his parachute and ended up landing about 2 miles away from the rest of the crew. Unfortunately, the radio operator wasn't able to get off a 'Mayday' message before bailing out and the crew didn't think they had much of a chance of being rescued. Luckily for the crew, an air-sea rescue plane spotted the bomber as it was going down and let USS Springer know about the crew.

Springer moved into the area and pulled the 7 crewmen aboard and started the search for the 8th crewman. This was a risky move, since Springer was only about 10 miles from Japan at the time. They found the last crewman, who had lost his life-raft, as he was about ready to give up.

After the story, Don showed a film (in color!) that Springer's crew took during the rescue. Don also showed us the bottle of wine that the rescued crewmen presented to Springer's CO during one of the Springer reunions.
The wine from the rescued crewmen
A close-up of the wine bottle showing the photo
and names of the rescued crew
It was a fascinating story about the little known, but important, role American submarines played in the rescue of downed airmen. Thanks to Don for sharing the story with us.

Be sure to check back for meeting announcements and other information.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Social Security Special Extra Earnings for Military Service

At last night's meeting, base member Joe Berry informed us about Social Security credits for military service.

I went to the Social Security Administration website, gathered the basic information, and have posted it below. You can read more detailed information about this on the Social Security Administration website in the Electronic Fact Sheet or download the PDF version (you can print out either of these versions). If you have questions about this, you can visit your local Social Security office, go to the website, or call them toll free at 1-800-772-1213.

Military Service and Social Security

Earnings for active duty military service or active duty training have been covered under Social Security since 1957. Social Security has covered inactive duty service in the armed forces reserves (such as weekend drills) since 1988. If you served in the military before 1957, you did not pay Social Security taxes, but the Social Security Administration gave you special credit for some of your service.

Your Social Security benefit depends on your earnings, averaged over your working lifetime. Generally, the higher your earnings, the higher your Social Security benefit. Under certain circumstances, special earnings can be credited to your military pay record for Social Security purposes. The extra earnings are for periods of active duty or active duty for training. These extra earnings may help you qualify for Social Security or increase the amount of your Social Security benefit.

If you served in the military from 1940 through 1956, including attendance at a service academy, you did not pay Social Security taxes. However, your Social Security record may be credited with $160 a month in earnings for military service from September 16, 1940, through December 31, 1956, under the following circumstances:
  • You were honorably discharged after 90 or more days of service, or you were released because of a disability or injury received in the line of duty; or
  • You are still on active duty; or
  • You are applying for survivors benefits and the veteran died while on active duty.
You cannot receive credit for these special earnings if you are already receiving a federal benefit based on the same years of service. There is one exception: If you were on active duty after 1956, you can still get the special earnings for 1951 through 1956, even if you’re receiving a military retirement based on service during that period.

If you served in the military after 1956, you paid Social Security taxes on those earnings. Since 1988, inactive duty service in the Armed Forces reserves (such as weekend drills) has also been covered by Social Security.

Under certain circumstances, special extra earnings for periods of active duty from 1957 through 2001 can also be credited to your Social Security earnings record for benefit purposes.
Special extra earnings credits are granted for periods of active duty or active duty for training. Special extra earnings credits are not granted for inactive duty training.
  • From 1957 through 1967, The Social Security Administration will add the extra credits to your record when you apply for Social Security benefits.
  • From 1968 through 2001, you do not need to do anything to receive these extra credits. The credits were automatically added to your record.
  • After 2001, there are no special extra earnings credits for military service.
The information that follows explains how you can get credit for special extra earnings and applies only to active duty military service earnings from 1957 through 2001.
  • From 1957 through 1977, you are credited with $300 in additional earnings for each calendar quarter in which you received active duty basic pay.
  • From 1978 through 2001, For every $300 in active duty basic pay, you are credited with an additional $100 in earnings up to a maximum of $1,200 a year. If you enlisted after September 7, 1980, and didn’t complete at least 24 months of active duty or your full tour, you may not be able to receive the additional earnings. Check with Social Security for details.
These extra earnings credits are added to your earnings record when you apply for Social Security benefits; but they are not automatic, you must ask for them when you apply for Social Security benefits. When you apply for Social Security benefits, you will be asked for proof of your military service (DD Form 214) or information about your reserve or National Guard service.

NOTE: In all cases, the additional earnings are credited to the earnings that are averaged over your working lifetime, not directly to your monthly benefit amount.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February Meeting Reminder


This is just a reminder that our next Seattle Base meeting is this coming Wednesday, February 16th. Pre-meeting social time starts at 6 PM and the business meeting starts at 7PM.

We meet at the Lake Washington VFW post 2995 Hall, located at 4330 148th Ave. Redmond, WA. 98052.

Don't forget to invite along your wife or that special lady in your life.

The program for the meeting is a presentation by Don Ulmer on the USS Springer (SS-414).
Springer's 'Trophy Board' painted on the conning tower
(image from
We look forward to seeing you there!

Keith Watson
Commander, Seattle USSVI Base

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Once I was a Navyman

Thanks to base member John Bush for passing this along this essay. The essay was originally written in 1958 and every few years it makes the rounds through e-mail and various boards and websites and it is always worth a read. For a little more information on how this essay came about, click here.

Here is John’s message to me followed by the essay:

"I was never on surface craft (targets) but I can certainly relate to this. Diesel boats spent most of their time on the surface but we didn't have the formalities and regulations of the "surface skimmer" Navy. We didn't have bugles and bands and the like, but the rest of this applies. I really loved sunrise and sunset at sea. Some spectacular color displays........"

Once I was a Navyman
by E.A.H Hughes, FTCM(SS) USN (Retired) - Copyright 6/6/1958

I like the Navy. I like standing on deck during a long voyage with sea spray in my face and ocean winds whipping in from everywhere - the feel of the giant steel ship beneath me, its engines driving against the sea is almost beyond understanding. Its immense power makes the Navyman feel so insignificant but yet proud to be a small part of this ship, a small part of her mission.

I like the Navy. I like the sound of taps over the ships announcing system, the ringing of the ships bell, the foghorns and strong laughter of Navy men at work.

I like the ships of the Navy - nervous darting destroyers, sleek proud cruisers, majestic battleships, steady solid carriers and silent hidden submarines.

I like the workhorse tugboats with their proud Indian names: IROQUOIS, APACHE, KIAWAH and SIOUX - each stealthy powerful tug safely guiding the warships to safe deep waters from all harbors.

I like the historic names of other proud Navy Ships: MIDWAY, HORNET, PRINCETON, SEA WOLF and WASP. The SHENANDOAH, HUNLEY, CONSTITUTION, MISSOURI, IOWA and MANCHESTER, as well as THE SULLIVAN'S, ENTERPRISE, TECUMSEH AND NAUTILUS - all majestic ships of the line. Each ship commanding the respect of any adversary.

I like the bounce of Navy music and the tempo of a Navy Band, "Liberty Whites" and the spice scent of a foreign port. I like shipmates I've sailed with, worked with, served with or have known: The Gunners Mate from the Iowa cornfields; a Sonarman from the Colorado mountain country; a pal from Cairo, Alabama; an Italian from near Boston; some boogie boarders of California; and of course a drawling friendly Oklahoma lad that hailed from Muskogee; and a very congenial Engineman from the Tennessee hills.

From all parts of the land they came - farms of the Midwest, small towns of New England - the red clay area and small towns of the South - the mountain and high prairie towns of the West - the beachfront towns of the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf. All are American; all are comrades in arms. All are men of the sea and all are men of honor.

I like the adventure in my heart when the ship puts out to sea, and I like the electric thrill of sailing home again, with the waving hands of welcome from family and friends waiting on shore. The extended time at sea drags; the going is rough on occasion. But there's the companionship of robust Navy laughter, the devil-may-care philosophy of the sea. This helps the Navyman. The remembrances of past shipmates fill the mind and restore the memory with images of other ships, other ports, and other voyages long past. Some memories are good, some are not so good but all are etched in the mind of the Navyman, and most will be there forever.

After a day of work, there is the serenity of the sea at dusk. As white caps dance on the ocean waves, the sunset creates flaming clouds that float in folds over the horizon - as if painted there by a master. The darkness follows soon and is mysterious. The ship's wake in darkness has a hypnotic effect, with foamy white froth and luminescence that forms never ending patterns in the turbulent waters. I like the lights of the ship in darkness - the masthead lights, the red and green sidelights and stern lights. They cut through the night and appear like a mirror of stars in darkness. There are rough stormy nights, and calm, quiet, still nights where the quiet of the mid-watch allows the ghosts of all the Sailors of the world to stand with you. They are abundant and unreachable, but ever apparent. And there is always the aroma of fresh coffee from the galley.

I like the legends of the Navy and the Navymen that created those legends. I like the proud names of Navy Heroes: Halsey, Nimitz, Perry, Farragut, McCain, Rickover and John Paul Jones. A man can find much in the Navy - comrades in arms, pride in his country. A man can find himself and can revel in this experience.

In years to come, when the Sailor is home from the sea, he will still recall with fondness the ocean spray on his face when the sea is angry. There will come a faint aroma of fresh paint in his nostrils, the echo of hearty laughter of the seafaring men who once were close companions. Now landlocked, he will grow wistful of his Navy days, when the seas were the largest part of him and a new port of call was always just over the horizon.

Recalling those days and times, he will stand taller and say: "ONCE I WAS A NAVYMAN!"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Early Announcement for February Meeting

Our February meeting, on Wednesday February 16, will be Ladies Night! We are putting the meeting notice up early so you can be sure to figure out a way to bring your wife or the lady in your life to the meeting (you can say it is for Valentine's Day).
For our program, Don Ulmer will be giving a special presentation about the USS Springer (SS-414).
USS Springer in 1944 (US Navy photo)

Springer earned 3 Battle Stars during World War II. The story Don will tell occurred during the war and he has film from the event. This true story has a special ending and there will be an artifact from that story at the meeting.

Don Ulmer, as most of you know, is a well known novelist. He qualified on the USS Clamagore (SS-343), as a white hat, in 1949 and returned to her in 1967 as her Commanding Officer. He served 31 years in the U.S. Navy! Thank you for your service Don.

I think we are going to have quite a night. See you there!

Keith Watson
Commander Seattle Base USSVI