The Newsletter of the USS SLATER's Volunteers
By Timothy C. Rizzuto, Executive Director
Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
Phone (518) 431-1943, Fax 432-1123
The month of March is the month we have to put everything back together for opening day and do the big clean-up. The pattern of decent weather has continued all month long. Doug Tanner's trailer project is winding down for the season. Working with Earl Herchenroder, Tim Benner, Dave Mardon, Gene Jackey, and Tommy Moore, they have the main supports replaced and the skirting completed on the west and south sides of the trailer. They also replaced a lot of the T-111 siding and molding on the south end, and are now buttoning up the job and doing the touch up painting so we will be ready for the tourist season. Earl enlisted the help of his twin brother Karl to get the south end of the trailer painted, so it's all coming together.
Opening day preparations have continued, as Boats Haggart's right hand man, Walt Stuart, is back from Florida. Together, they have all the guns uncovered and the canvas covers folded. The anchor buoys and name board are back in place, and the decks got their first washdown of the season. They helped Doug's crew stow the lumber around the trailer, and helped get the paint float ready for launch. Cathy Wheat has worked her way through the whole ship, cleaning and dusting, and is now setting up the berthing, stateroom, and wardroom displays. Bill Holt has been restoring our cutaway depth charge. Kevin Sage was back aboard, painting all the decks forward. He will also do the depth charge racks and the landing force equipment locker, under gun three. Down at Scarano's Boatyard, Rocky has been sanding away on the whaleboat. He enlisted Thomas Scian's help one day, but most of the woodwork is done and the boat is coming together nicely for the 2016 season.
Up in the radio room, Jerry Jones, Joe Breyer, and Mike Wyles don't seem to be able to connect with each other, but are doing a great job connecting with the outside world of HAM operators. Jerry has been working on the TCS antenna. He got all the insulators and copper tubing all polished and clear coated. He's mounted all the insulators and almost completed the antenna run. Both Mike and Joe have been onboard, making radio contacts with other HAM operators, and sending out USS SLATER QSL Cards. It's nice to hear actual radio reception coming out of the radio shack on Saturdays.
Gary Sheedy continues to progress back in the steering engine room. The project has now grown to also encompass the shipfitter shop, the aft officer's stateroom, laundry, chemical warfare stowage space, and the adjacent passageway. One would think that by now there would be nothing left to chip, but Gary continues to find nooks and crannies that need more attention. Chippers Ron Prest, Ron Mazure and Bill Wetterau continue to stay at it, knowing that one day it has to end. Meanwhile, Gary has begun the process of removing and refinishing all the laundry equipment.
Down in the engine rooms, Karl Herchenroder, Gary Lubrano. Mike Dingmon, and Ken Myrick have started a general field day of B-3 and B-4. This is in preparation for repainting main engines three and four, and repainting the deckplates. They spent a lot of time sorting, surveying, and organizing their collection of pipefittings that has cluttered up all their workbenches for years. They also spent a lot of time in B-3, re-bolting the angle supports for the deck plates. The welds were broken in several places, so they did mechanical repairs, rather than risk welding so close to the bilges.
They got a real assist from Mike Berson over at Interstate Batteries. It seems that the three 36-volt batteries used to start the emergency diesel generator in B-4 weren't taking a charge. They weren't sure if they needed to be replaced or not. Mike volunteered to check out the batteries and recharge them. He determined that our batteries were in fine shape and returned them to the ship in A-1 condition.
Ever alert Ed Zajkowski was responsible for another significant donation this month. He spotted an E-bay auction of shipboard officer's stateroom furniture that had been salvaged from the jeep carrier USS KADASHAN BAY CVE-76 in 1959. It did not receive any bids on the first auction, and Ed suggested that we contact the seller to see if he'd consider a donation. The furniture included two officer's stateroom built-in bunks that we are missing on SLATER with the chest of drawers, safe, medicine cabinet and sink included. The owner, Bob Bateman was more than happy to donate the furniture to us so we could give it a good home. Danny Statile, Bill Wetterau and Gary Sheedy made the run over to Rhode Island to pick it up using Dave Mardon's trailer. Everything is presently in storage at Hal Hatfield's shop awaiting installation next winter.
This month we hosted our Guide Refresher Lunch on the 12th. We caught up with most of our tour guides, and prepared for our 19th season! Our maintenance crew, education crew, staff, and guests enjoyed a delicious lunch provided by Top Shelf Catering. Top Shelf is our caterer for the overnight program this season. They will provide the meals that we will serve to scouts, sea cadets, church groups, and other organized groups, as they stay overnight on the ship. The groups will be accompanied by our returning interns: James Braun, Claire Burgon, Vince Knuth, Julianne Madsen, Eric Morgenson, Jon Palmer, and Andrew Smith.
Part of the day was devoted to preparing our volunteers for scheduled speaking engagements. Grant Hack, Jim Kuba, Bob Herbst, Will Trevor, and Alan Fox already have presentations scheduled for this season! That same day, March 12, we had visitors from Massachusetts. Victor Pion and his family came aboard, and filmed Vic's stories of his time on the USS CARLSON DE-9. Once the video is put together and edited, we will add it to the oral histories on our website. Which can be viewed through this link www.ussslater.org/collections/oralhistoryproject.html.
On March 19, Shanna made her way to Shaker High School for the University of Scouting (Pow Wow). We took this opportunity to inform scout leaders of SLATER's group tours and the overnight program. We are always surprised when Albany residents don't know we are here. We've all heard many stories about Scouts going to Massachusetts to attend overnight programs at Battleship Cove, not realizing there was a Navy Ship in their own backyard!
Our local Scottish Rite Masonic Lodge held their rehearsal for their "Four Chaplains" commemoration. The event is scheduled for April and is organized by RADM Marty Leukhardt, USN (ret). The ceremony honors four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel, when the troop ship SS DORCHESTER was sunk on February 3, 1943. The rehearsal was a chance to check out our sound effects, and make sure everybody knew their lines for the upcoming event. Our thanks as always to Jerry Jones, for providing the sound set up for the rehearsal.
The upcoming Trim But Deadly article on the French destroyer escort FNV SENEGALAIS continues to grow remarkably, beyond what we will be able to publish. Thanks to the efforts of Chris Wright, Ed Zajkowski, and Shanna Hopson, all kinds of new material has been unearthed from the National Archives. The most recent find by Chris, was a series of photos documenting the damage taken in North Africa, and the repair work at the Charleston Naval shipyard. We truly feel we are reaching our full potential as a research organization, thanks to their efforts.
There's a new book out by local author Nick Pignatelli. "The Politics of Murder" follows fictional Albany private investigator Rick Patterson as he uncovers a plot to murder the Governor, while trying to rescue a kidnapping victim. The reason we're mentioning this is because SLATER has a role to play and a good part of the action takes place on the ship. The book is available on Amazon for $9.99 and Kindle for $3.99. Visit the website at www.nickpignatelli.com. Gary Sheedy would really like to know why anyone would place a bomb in his magnificently-restored reefer space.
Don't forget that there is still time to sign up for one of our spring work weeks. The Michigan Chapter DESA workweek is scheduled for May 1-6. The Michigan coordinator is Ron Zarem, and he can be emailed at email@example.com. You don't have to be a member of the Michigan Chapter to participate. The USS HUSE Reunion Association work week is May 15-20. Again, the event is open to anyone willing to work. The coordinator for that event is George Amandola, and he can be reached at Gamand@aol.com. Our fall workweek is October 2-7. The coordinator for that event is Dick Walker, and he can be reached at CascadeWalker@cs.com. Pre-registration and submitting a volunteer application to firstname.lastname@example.org is required. The form is available online at http://www.ussslater.org/participate/files/VolunteerApplicationForm.doc. You don't have to commit to the whole week. Coming for a day or two, you can still make an important contribution.
We always enjoy it when we can play host to ships that actually move, because it makes us feel like we're really part of the Hudson River maritime community. We had that opportunity twice this month. Bill Siebert talked the skipper of the Vane Brothers tugboat RED HOOK, Joe Branin, and deckhand Ben Hammer, into laying alongside on a Saturday morning. That was so they could join us for Doug Tanner's famed fried eggs, pancakes, and sausage breakfast. The tug crew took the tour of SLATER, and we got to see what a new, clean, working tug looks like on the inside. Then, on March 30, we got a call from the USCGC HAWSER to lay alongside for the night. The crew hooked up to our new power line, and enjoyed an Albany liberty. It's always nice when we can be of service to the Coasties.
Finally, we can't thank you donors and winter fund supporters enough. During the four months we were closed we spent just over $100,000 in operating expenses. During that same period, we received over $140,000 in memberships and donations, and that's not counting donations to the endowment fund or "Windy" Rogers' generous $100,000 donation. In other words, thanks to your generosity, we are able to operate in the black even when we are closed to the public. Proving once again, we couldn't do it without you--all of you. Thank you.