ALL CREWS REUNION 2000
SS-244, SSK-244, AGSS-244, SSN-684
APRIL 28 & 29, 2000 in
evening: Separate dinners for the WWII and SSK/AGSS Crews at
Guido's Seaside Inn & Restaurant. Dinner was excellent. Everyone got a
chance to get reacquainted and tell their story of the Cavalla, whether it
was hunting the Russkies or torpedoing the Japanese.
After dinner group photographs were taken and all
crews retreated to the hospitality suites to talk, reminisce, and leaf
through the Cavalla scrapbooks.
morning: The tolling of the boats ceremony was held at
Seawolf park, alongside the USS Cavalla and USS Stewart. WWII Cavalla vet
Jim Rankin started the ceremony with the posting of the colors by the
Houston Chapter of the Navy League Sea Cadets. The national anthem was
performed by the Rumble Seat Four barbershop quartet; the tenor, John
Harlan, is a submarine veteran who served on the USS PIPER, SS-409. CHF
treasurer Jeff Morris sang his stirring Cavalla song.
Richard "Cavalla Doc" Beeghley presented all
the Cavalla Plankowners with a special gift on behalf of the Cavalla Bilge
Rats and volunteers--a plank made from the teak decking on Cavalla removed
during the restoration. He also presented a hand crafted plaque
honoring the two reunion organizers, Jim Rankin and Bill Friedman.
Next up, Jim Rankin thanked the media for covering the
event. He introduced the main speaker, Ron Smith, WWII subvet who served
aboard USS Seal SS-183. Ron gave the audience a vivid description of the
life, work, and sacrifice involved for submariners during the war. Many of
his close friends perished in the effort to halt Japanese aggression.
With Cavalla WWII vet Louis Roybal tolling the bell,
Cavalla COB John McMichael then read the names of the 52 lost boats, the
two lost nuclear boats, and Cavalla shipmates who have passed away. Taps
was performed by Sparky Koerner, the Director of the Music Department at
College of the Mainland in Texas City.
Volunteer Ken Anderson captured the ceremony on video
and Christine Hopkins (Public Relations Manager of the Park Board) conducted videoed interviews with many
crewmembers at their stations.
evening: Shuttle buses provided by the Galveston Park Board
began transporting reunion members from Guido's to the Strand downtown for
the big gala event. The Houston Chapter of the Navy League, the
Galveston Park Board and the Cavalla Historical Foundation honored
the Cavalla Veterans and the 100th Anniversary of the Submarine Service
with a gala at the Tremont House Davidson Ballroom.
The Tremont House and Renee Adame's staff went all out
to make the tribute to the Cavalla vets special and they succeeded. The
event was the swankiest veteran's reunion I know of. The walls were
bedecked with photos of Cavalla and her crews, the tables had sailor caps
and assorted Cavalla pictures, plus a unique SS or SSK
centerpiece. The staff people who helped with the gala are Christy
Mitchell (made the display boards), Laura Holt (put together the Cavalla
The welcome and opening remarks were delivered by
Marshall Cloyd, President I of the Houston Council of the Navy
League. Bill Friedman delivered the Pledge of Allegiance and the
Invocation was spoken by Jim Rankin.
Bill and Jim then led an introduction of SS, SSK, AGSS,
and SSN crew members. Thanks was given to Al Lansdowne for handling the
ship's store and Margita Euler for her unceasing efforts to get
Cavalla recognized as a National Landmark. Renee Adame was recognized and
gave a few words about the Park Board's commitment to the Cavalla
Capt. Zeke Zellmer, Lt. j.g. aboard the first five
Cavalla war patrols, spoke about the human side of life aboard Cavalla
during the war. He described the training and antics of the crew,
Cavalla's first casualty, and her triumph in the Philippine Sea.
Capt. Zeb Alford gave some remarks about his time
aboard Cavalla as XO in the late fifties. He outlined the standards set by
the WWII Silent Service and the successes of the Cold War Cavalla.
Dinner was served as the Manny Green & his
Orchestra played big band music.
After dinner, a special awards presentation was given
by Jim Flanders. Jim had brought a number of Cross pens, turned from the
Cavalla's decking, with the name of each WWII Cavalla vet inscribed.
Dancing and camaraderie continued on through the night.
Cavalla's first All Crews reunion was a resounding success!
Bill Friedman SSK-244 Jim Rankin SS-244