Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Eternal Patrol: Eugene Wilkinson

Vice Admiral (Ret.) Eugene P. Wilkinson, the first commanding officer of the U.S. Navy's first nuclear-powered submarine, went on Eternal Patrol on July 11, 2013.
Wilkinson received his commission in 1940 and reported to the heavy cruiser USS Louisville for his first tour of duty.

He graduated from the Naval Submarine School in Groton in March 1942. During World War II, he participated in eight submarine war patrols in USS Darter (SS-227) and command of three diesel submarines; Volador (SS-490), Sea Robin (SS-407), and Wahoo (SS-565). Most notably, he served as the first commanding officer of both the first nuclear powered submarine, USS Nautilus (SSN 571), and the first nuclear powered cruiser USS Long Beach (CGN 9).

Wilkinson commanded Nautilus, which was commissioned in 1954 as the world's first nuclear-powered ship. On Jan. 17, 1955, he ordered all lines cast off and signaled the message, "Underway on nuclear power."

Wilkinson was instrumental in the early development of Navy nuclear propulsion. In the late 1940s, he served in a variety of nuclear billets at the Oak Ridge and Argonne National Laboratories and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. He also served as director of the submarine warfare division from 1963 to 1966. In November 1966, Wilkinson was assigned as Chief of Staff, Headquarters, U.S. Forces, Japan; and "for exceptionally meritorious service..." in that capacity, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He assumed command of Submarine Flotilla Two in June 1969; and in February 1970, he became Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet with additional duty as Submarine Operations Advisor for Polaris Operations Atlantic Command and Supreme Allied Command, Atlantic; Commander Submarines Allied Command and Commander Submarine Force, Western Atlantic Area. In April 1972, he was named Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Submarine Warfare.

Following his retirement in 1974, Vice Admiral Wilkinson continued to advance nuclear power by serving as the first president and CEO of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.

Wilkinson was married to the former Miss Janice Thuli of San Diego, California who passed away in December of 2000. Wilkinson is survived by his four children, four grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.

Sailor Rest Your Oar

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July Meeting Notes

We began the July meeting with the Tolling of the Boats for July, birthday wishes for our members, introductions, and officer reports. Then we moved right into the meeting business.

Old and New Business:
Smokey Point Rest Stop Event - The Smokey Point was at the southbound rest stop June 28 - July 1. We had a good time at the event, although we were a little thin on volunteers during some times. After expenses, it looks like we will make around $700 from donations for the event. Bravo Zulu to Steve and all the volunteers for their efforts on this event.

Seattle Base at the Museum of Flight - The Seattle Base float and several volunteers will be in the parking lot for the Museum of Flight's Need for Speed Weekend on August 3 - 4. We will be talking to visitors about the World War II Submarine Lifeguard League and USSVI. In addition, base member Capt. Don Ulmer will be giving a presentation on the rescue of the aircrew of a B-29 by USS Springer (SS - 414), with film from the actual rescue, and sharing his own connection with the event. Don's presentation will be in the Museum's Quonset Hut theater on the first floor of the Personal Courage Wing at 10:30 AM, 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday.
Here is a little preview of what we will be talking about:

Tolling the Boats Ceremony - The Tolling the Boats ceremony and picnic are set for August 17 at Kirkland Marina Park Pavilion (25 Lakeshore Plaza Drive, Kirkland WA 98033). The picnic will start around 11:00 AM and the ceremony will start around 1:30. An email has gone out asking for a head count for the picnic. If you've received the email, be sure to respond. If you haven't gotten the email, please contact our POC Karl 'Dutch' Krompholz by email (Kkrompholz@hotmail.com) or phone (253-631-5736). The Tolling ceremony is an important part of our organization's creed and we hope to see you there.

August Meeting - Because of all the events going on throughout August, we decided cancel the monthly meeting scheduled for August 21. The next Base meeting will be on September 18th.

Cabela's Weekend #2 - On weekend of August 24 - 25, we will set up the Seattle Base float in the parking lot of Cabela's Tulalip store (9810 Quil Ceda Blvd Tulalip WA 98271). We will be there both days from 10 AM to 4 PM and will need volunteers to help out. If you are interested in attending, please contact Doug Abramson (see the newsletter for Doug's Phone number) or you can just show up. For this event all participants get the employee discount for purchases as well as free lunch at the store deli.

Black Diamond Labor Day Parade - We are planning on participating in the Black Diamond Labor Day parade on Monday, September 2. We will provide more information about the parade as we get closer to the event.

July Program: 
For our July program, we watched a short video of the first female Submarine Qualified Diving Officer LT(SS) Britta Christianson of USS Ohio speaking at a recent Bremerton Base meeting. It was interesting to hear about her background as a Naval Flight Officer, surface supply officer (including time as a boarding party office off Somalia and a side trip to Afghanistan) and qualifying on USS Ohio. You can watch the video below (if the embedded version doesn't work, you can find the video on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/F-eWM-OEKLs). Thanks to Bremerton Base member Gary Kaiser who videoed the talk.


Good of the Order:
The Holland Club Committee sent a certificate of appreciation to Seattle Base for our donation of $208.00 to the committee.

Barnes & Noble has added a page with Don Ulmer's books to their website. For those of you that have read Don's books, he would appreciate it if you would go to the page and post a few reviews. He also has a new book available in his submarine series called Skagerrak, copies of which quickly sold out at the July meeting. 

Binnacle List: 
  • Gene Posel is still recovering from a torn back muscle. 
  • Don Ulmer is recovering from shoulder surgery. 
  • Art Thompson is on the mend from foot surgery. 

We hope to see you at the next meeting.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July Meeting Reminder

The next Seattle Base meeting is this coming Wednesday, July 17.

We will meet at VFW Post #2995 (4330 148th Ave N.E., Redmond WA 98052). Social hour starts at 6 PM with business meeting at 7PM. Don't forget to review the previous meeting minutes, you can find them here on the blog or on the Seattle Base website, just click the Minutes button on the left.

Seattle Base float display at the 2012 Tolling the Boats ceremony
We will be discussing upcoming events at the Museum of Flight, the Tolling of Boats ceremony, and the August Cabelas event. We have been a busy group this summer and had good times at the different events (Cabelas, Smokey Point, and the Kirkland parade). Everyone's participation is greatly appreciated.

We hope to see you at the meeting.

Doug Abramson,
USSVI Seattle Base

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More Photos from July 4, 2013

We've gotten a few more photos from Seattle Base members of the Independence Day Parades from Kirkland and Roundup, MT.

First, Base member Joe Doyle had the following message and photos to share from the Kirkland parade:

The Submarine Veteran’s (float, marchers, and riders) were the highlight of the parade for many watchers. I was very proud as the crowd around me erupted in applause and cheers.

Here are ten photos from the sidewalk perspective.

Pride Runs Deep!
Joe Doyle

Next, Base member Bob Morris wanted to share some photos from near Roundup, Montana (Bob says it is about 48 miles north of Billings). He was part of the Honor Guard, with a jarhead leading the group which was "kinda like being back in boot camp." He also helped out with the flags at the rodeo after the parade.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Independence Day Parade Photos

It was a cloudy and cool day for the Kirkland Independence Day Parade. Even with the cloudy weather, there was a good-sized crowd on the streets of Kirkland. We also had a good turnout of submarine veterans, including the Silent Service Motorcycle Club (SSMC), and their families. As usual, the city of Kirkland did a nice job with the parade and all the festivities for celebrating Independence Day.

Here are a few photos from before the parade.

Seattle Base Float ready for the parade
All Veterans group photo in front of Kirkland's Heritage Hall
Keith Watson signing in for the parade
The Silent Service Motorcycle Club prepared for the parade
SubVets (L to R) Dick Gonzales, Bob Haslan, Schell Harmon, Pierre Breneau, Ralph Sterley, Dave Schueler, Pat Householder, Jay Davis and Bob Opple in the front
John Roberts, U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, Ken Board, Bob Opple, Tim Floresch and Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride
Marilynn Birdsall and Diane Giese
Submarine Veterans group photo in front of the Seattle Base float
Teri Robertson and WWII SubVet Robbie Robertson
Seattle Base special guest Eileen Warren, widow of a WWII Submariner
And then it was time for the parade ...
USSVI Banner leads the way
SubVets with the 'Freedom is not Free' banner
Gary Lynn (son of a SubVet), Ralph Sterley, Keith Watson, and Bill Giese
Jim Harper towing the Seattle Base float
Doug Gilman and Schell Harmon on the float
Dick Gonzales and Linda Shelton at the float's stern
WWII Veterans and guest ride in style
The SSMC following the float
Tim Floresch and Patti Lynn 
Seattle Base Commander Doug Abramson brings up the rear in his vintage truck
It was great parade and we really enjoyed it. We are looking forward to next year's parade and hope you will join us.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Kirkland Independence Day Parade Reminder

The Kirkland Independence Day Parade is just a few days away.

Cliff Nutter carries the flag at the 2012 parade
The City of Kirkland goes all out for veterans and always has treats, a pizza lunch and boutonnieres for all military members and veterans in the parade. In addition to the Seattle Base float and members, WWII Subvets and members of the Silent Service Motorcycle club, including the Snorkel Schnauzer, will all be there.

We will muster near Heritage Hall, the large white two-story building on the north side of the street, at the corner of Central Way and Market Street. The float will be in place before 10:15 and all members should be in place by 10:30. If you run into problems at any street barricades, just tell the police that you are marching in the parade.

DIRECTIONS: To get there, you take Exit 18 off of Hwy 405, head west toward Kirkland. This road turns into Central Street. Follow Central until you reach Market and turn right to find parking at Heritage Park. You'll pass Heritage Hall while looking for parking.
The Children’s Parade starts at 11:30, followed by the main parade at noon.

We hope to see you there.