Archive for the ‘Memorial Ceremony’ Category

The Deck Logs and a Memorial Service for a Flier Man

Memorial Ceremony, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Nov 09 2010

The National Memorial Service for the crew of USS Flier might have been back in August, but there are services still happening around the country every day to honor men lost during WWII, and one of the men from USS Flier, electrician’s Mate, Thomas “Sonny” Bohn, will be honored at 11 am on Thursday, November 11 (that’s Veteran’s Day for those paying attention) at the Memorial Shrine in Easton PA.

There were a LARGE number of Flier families originating in that area, so if you can make it, go, and then introduce yourself to Donna Musselman and Terry Bohn, niece and nephew of Thomas Bohn.  All her life, Donna grew up with the photo of her lost uncle displayed at her grandmother’s house, but little could she find out about his loss, until recently.

She, along with her cousin Terry, decided to give her uncle the burial and memorial service he couldn’t have in 1944.  As a veteran who died in military service, he was entitled to a military marker (there’s something I enjoy sending my tax money in to support!) but she still had to raise enough money to purchase the base and pay for the stone erection fees on an existing grave (his parent’s).

She contacted her local news channels and in a few days, not only had her community given enough to pay for the marker’s placement, but also an indetifying tag linking him to his brother (another military veteran buried in the same graveyard) and also found a scholarship in her uncle’s name at his alma mater.

It’s nice to know that even when the world seems to be going crazy (then and now) people still like to draw together as a community to honor those who gave their all so the rest of us could live in peace and freedom.

Thomas "Sonny" Bohn, and the memorial marker being dedicated at the memorial service on Thursday. Rest your Oar, Sailor. And Thank You.

So if you can make it, 11 am, Memorial Shrine, Easton PA.

And below, you’ll see the deck logs for today.  <YAWN>  Actually, I’m sorry to say, most of November is a yawn.  But there are little nuggets that peek through, and when they get REALLY boring, we’ll just talk about other things, like what does a submarine look like inside and out?  How could these men escape a damaged and sunken sub? How can divers and ROVs be used for shipwreck exploration?

The deck log reveals why the Navy is both brillant and annoying. On 7 Novmeber 1944, the only things that happened on Flier was the crew had roll call to make sure they were all there (they were), then they charged the batteries twice during the day and at the end of the day, told the OOD (Officer of the Deck) all about it. I'm sure he was enthralled. And that's what happened, but thanks to Naval paperwork requirements we KNOW that's all that happened (worth official note, that is.)

On 8 November even less happened. They took attendance and stayed moored at the dock all day.

Today, 9 November, they at least took on Battery water. THis is significant, because it indicates that Flier is getting ready to leave to transit to Pearl and real patrol. Battery water had to be purified. Any chemicals at all could cause a problem. At sea (where water trucks are not plentiful) Flier carried filters to make seawater into fresh water, but there was a catch: any salt that got past the filter, if it came into contact with the battery during the daily washings, could react explosively and destroy a submarine. There are a number of submarines whose fates are completely unknown, even from the Japanese records, and a battery explosion is one very likely scenario for their fate. A battery explosion DID happen on USS BONEFISH in 1988, killing 3 men and forcing the submarine into early decommissioning and scrapping.

A fascinating first person account of the USS Bonefish fire.

Women on Submarines and Today’s Deck Log

And now for something completely different..., Memorial Ceremony, The Exhibit, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Oct 26 2010

One of the things that most submariners I’ve met have stressed is the fact that they are all one brotherhood.  Granted, the diesel vets enjoy yanking the chains of the nuc vets every so often  “You think it’s rough?  Back in my day…”

But it’s now official: the brotherhood is about to include some sisters whose names don’t begin with “USS”.  The four boats who will carry the teams of women have been chosen, and the women themselves are currently in training.  Their identities are being withheld for now, most likely to allow them to concentrate on their training which would be a lot harder with journalists constantly taking photos and yelling questions every time they dared walk outside.

During the Flier Memorial, I enjoyed talking to two high ranking submariners both of whom are enthusiastic about the prospect of women serving on submarines.  Integrating officers will be easier to accomplish than enlisted, and indeed, right now the Navy has not announced when or if they will integrate the enlisted ranks of the submarine corp (I’m all for all-women crews, an idea floated back in 2007, allows women to serve and eliminates the need for retro-fitting the submarines themselves to accommodate integrated crew–and save us taxpayers about $100 million per sub retrofit)

For more on the subject, see my previous posts about the history of women serving in the military, and women on submarines worldwide as well as this article, released just a few days ago.  (I do try to be fair to both sides, and I myself am on the fence:  I hate, as a woman, being told I cannot do something because I am a woman, but on the other hand, if it ain’t broke…)

USS Flier today is still somewhere off the coast of New England and has no administrative remarks today  (had to use a mimeographed page…)

Finally, I have an announcement and a request.

The announcement is I’m hearing from people who  missed the memorial ceremony and are disappointed that they couldn’t get there.  Well, I put the footage at the end of the Memorial Page on this site, so you don’t have to go looking for it in the backlogs of the blog any longer.

The request: As we’re getting ready to design the exhibit, we’re looking for items that will help bring these men to life for a new generation that’s four generations removed from WWII.  If your Flier family member sent home letters or photos from their time in the Pacific theater, would you consider allowing us to use them for the exhibit or research?  I cannot promise that everything donated will be used, but the more we have to use, the better we will be able to bring these men to life.

The beauty about what we do means that we don’t even need original letters or photos–the information and images of these items will be good enough for what we’re doing.  If you want to send originals for me to scan and I will send the originals back once they’ve been digitized(one family is already choosing this option) or scanning the items yourselves and sending me jpgs or tifs (another family is doing this).  If, of course, your family would be comfortable with donating the letters, we will keep them for future researchers.  These items will help bring these men out of the shadows and making them more than photos on a wall, but men who had girlfriends, wives, dreams, cars, jokes, senses of adventure and fear, and men who did what they felt were right.

If this is something you think you or your family would be interested in, please contact me at ussflierproject@gmail.com  Thank you.

Flier Memorial Film!

Memorial Ceremony | Posted by Rebekah
Sep 23 2010

For those who were not able to come to the Memorial Service and those who want to relive it or share it with friends or relations, I’m proud to anounce the whole Memorial Ceremony was posted on YouTube yesterday by the people who did the recordings.

Part 1 of 5  (The intro is rather long, the service starts around the 50 second mark)

Part 2 of 5

Part 3 of 5  (  The rest of the Keynote speach plus the Flier Roll Call begins here)

Part 4 of 5  (The rest of the Flier Roll Call)

Part 5 of 5  (The closing, the 21-gun salute, Taps, benediction, running of the Silversides’s engines)

Quick Post: Footage of the Memorial Service

Memorial Ceremony | Posted by Rebekah
Aug 31 2010

I’m just posting quickly here (I’ll post the daily Flier story later, working on it now) to say that there was footage taken of the Flier Memorial Service, and that it arrived at the museum yesterday.

It may or may not be posted to YouTube at some point, and the museum is looking at offering it through the musuem gift shop (between the purchase and shipping prices, we’re afraid we cannot send everyone a disc on their own) soon.

So for those of you who could not make it to the ceremony, or those who want to see it again or show it to relatives who couldn’t make it, it will hopefully be available soon.  I will keep you up to date on any more developments.

Dive Detectives does NOT air next week

Memorial Ceremony | Posted by Rebekah
Aug 17 2010

I noticed a spike in the number of people were looking for the Dive Detectives  air date frantically in my search terms stats box, and I think I might have discovered why:  if you were looking for articles about the Memorial Service of USS Flier there were three printed.  One said that the Dive Detectives Submarine Graveyard Episode will air next week.

That article, however, was written for a Canadian newspaper, not an American one.  If, however, you know someone who lives in Canada and want to visit…

The American debut of the Dive Detectives is still unscheduled.  And YAP Films and Mike and Warren Fletcher,  if any of you read this, contact me at ussflierproject@gmail.com when it does find an air date.  My hits double each time I announce a Dive Detectives update, so I know that those who are looking for the air date hit this site frequently.  We’ll all make sure that it has high viewership once we know when to watch (and afterwards, buy the episode)

If you are looking for the article about the USS Flier Memorial Service, there were three that I found:

Grand Haven Tribune’s Article

Muskegon Chronicle’s Article

The Canadian Article (I even got interviewed for this one!)

Finally a great little clip of Jim Alls discussing his lost shipmates

If you hear of any others, let me know.

USS Flier, USS Redfin and the Memorial Ceremony

Memorial Ceremony, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Aug 05 2010

Well, today, USS Flier is on her way to the war.  Not much else to say about that, at least, not today.

Meanwhile, USS Redfin is in the training stage for her fourth patrol.  They took a break on August 4 to award several commendations earned by Redfin’s Captain and her crew (even if some months late).  Cmdr. Austin was awarded a Navy Cross for “extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy.”  Ens. Eugene Helz was awarded the Silver Star for heroism for being the volunteer leader of a landing party on an enemy held coast.  Kenneth Herrington was also awarded a Silver Star for his part in that rescue.

That’s all for sixty-six years ago.  Today, we have news about the Memorial Service.  The Navy has announced the Keynote Speaker she is sending, as well as another official guest.

The Keynote Speaker is Rear Admiral Michael J. Yurina, Deputy Director of the Submarine Security and Technology Submarine Warfare Division.  According to his Navy bio, he’s done just about everything in the Submarine Force, serving on nucs (the diesels were REALLY rare by the time he graduated the Academy in 1978), a Submarine Tender, and many shore stations, culminating with several command posts.  In addition, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Naval Architecture, plus a Master’s in Public Administration and A Master’s of Science in National Resource Strategy.

The Navy is also sending Command Master Chief Kirk Saunders, and if my search is correct, he is the Command Master Chief of Submarine Squadron Eleven based out of San Diego, California.

It’s only a week left!

Here’s a link to Flier’s webpage showing photos of both men.

What do you do in Muskegon anyway?

Memorial Ceremony, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Jul 29 2010

I thought since the Flier Memorial services are on a Thursday and Friday, some of you might want to know what you can do around Muskegon other than hang at the museum (which is fine by us!)  A lot of visitors to the Museum have often asked me “What do you do around here anyway?”  Well, despite what the teenage locals will tell you, there’s quite a lot to do around Muskegon, especially in the summertime.  Following are some of my favorites.

There’s Michigan’s Adventure, the amusement park that’s half rollercoasters and half water park.  They’re constantly updating every year, and it’s amazing.  There’s the Summer Luge Track (If I remember correctly it’s the only one in the country, or it’s one of two), Muskegon State Park if your inclination is for hiking and swimming (You can hike beach, dunes, transition dunes and woodland all in the same area, or visit the Blockhouse, a replica of an 1812 lookout tower that guarded Muskegon during the War of 1812.  Hike far enough, and you can photograph the Silversides from her starboard side.). You can swim at Pere Marquette Beach, have a meal and  Ice Cream at RuthAnn’s.  (Ruth Ann’s Flirts with the boundary of the state park so you have gorgeous scenery to eat in. ) Visit the Muskegon Farmer’s Market on Thursday or Saturday for everything from fresh produce to candles, doughnuts, cheese, pet accessories, Amish or Mennonite items, handmade furniture, live plants, and other things.  My favorite Cheese Lady is there.   What’s there is different every time, and the place is very large.  If you lean towards Art, there is the Muskegon Art Museum which will be featuring the Regional Juried Art Exhibition.  During the Flier weekend, Muskegon will be hosting the Unity Christian Music Festival.  On $10/day and you have the opportunity to hear several bands that day for the price.  (If you’re near enough, Muskegon also hosts an Irish Music Festival, a Summer Celebration Festival, among MANY others.  Living there was often like getting a free concert every weekend as the music drifted across the lake.)

This is some of the places you'd have to drive to.

As mentioned earlier, there’s also the Hackley and Hume homes, built when Muskegon was a booming logging, sawmill and transport town.  During this time, Muskegon had more millionaires per capita than any other town in the WORLD.  (And that was back when being a millionaire was a BIG deal.)  This is why, when you look in the  several block radius around the Hackley Hume homes (two of the most beautiful and fanciful homes I’ve ever seen) there are so many gorgeous homes with multiple floors, porches, overhangs, turrets, and beautiful hand-carved details.  These men believed in philanthropy and helping the town so they also built many things for the people, such as the Hackley Public Library.  It looks like a castle, and has stained glass windows of many famous writers and authors.  It also has a precise replica of the Book of Kells, the famous seventh century hand-drawn book discovered in Ireland, with beautiful illuminations and knotwork.  Only a few exact replicas were ever made, and they cost thousands of dollars a piece.  The Muskegon Irish-American Society undertook a fundraiser to bring one of these replicas to the Muskegon Library.  It’s the only one on permanent display in a library in North America.  They turn one page a week.  It’s  a gorgeous building to visit.

This is the stuff near the hotels. Most of it is within walking distance.

There the Frauenthal, which is one of those theaters built in that era where they had real box seats in the sides of the walls and gilded carvings surrounding the stage.  Believe it or not, the Glenn Miller Orchestra will be performing on Saturday, August 14, at the Frauenthal.  (Glenn Miller, for those who don’t know, was a huge WWII era performer.  The men of the Flier, Redfin and Robalo probably listened to his records and certainly danced to it.)  There’s Hackley Park, a memorial for the Civil War era soldiers from Muskegon.

There’s the LST-393 Museum, dedicated to the Landing Ship Tank Ships, workhorses of the military in WWII.  Strange thing about those ships, despite the fact that hundreds of them served during WWII, only TWO still exist, one in Muskegon.  After WWII, they were sold to freighting companies all over the world.  They served, and most were eventually scrapped, scuttled, or abandoned, if they weren’t lost at sea.   The 393 was sold to a company in Muskegon who turned it into Highway 16, a ferry linking Muskegon and Milwaukee (much like the Lake Express Ferry today.)  After she was retired, she was moored in Muskegon and more or less forgotten, just like many of her sisters.  Unlike her sisters however, when her identity was discovered, she was not too far gone to restore, thanks to the fresh water of the Great Lakes in which she had traveled since 1946.  Her bow doors were re-opened (they’re the front door to the museum), and she has bee re-done from bow to stern.  If you’re interested in more Naval History in the European Theater, she’s a good stop.

I love Muskegon, in case you haven’t realized, and still miss it, years after my husband and I had to leave for our work.  I hope you do too during your time there for the Memorial.

And sixty-six years ago today, Flier is still in the drydock.  She will be until tomorrow.  She is scheduled to leave on 2 August, and has double exercises with the submarine Muskallunge between now and then, plus night training, and satisfactory completion of her sound test.  The men would be hard pressed to finish everything in time.

USS Flier, reporting for duty

Memorial Ceremony, The Book, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Jul 25 2010

Well, two days ago, the Flier’s men reported for duty.  Flier had been worked over through the past two weeks under the command of a Relief Commanding Officer, whose name is not recorded (whoever he was, he had been reassigned out of Australia by the investigation  in September).  Following the refit, a Training and Fire Control Officer, Captain George Patterson, was assigned to Flier to run training runs and practice firing  drills.  These were customarily done for two reasons.  One, there were often new crewmemebers onboard a departing submarine.  As much as one-third of the crew could be new and these new men and the established crew needed a chance to work together and mesh in less-stressful circumstances.  This also gave the CO and XO an opportunity to observe the crew and get rid of men who showed signs of high nervousness and stress, indicators that they would not be able to thrive or be an asset the 50-80 day patrol.    Flier carried, according to the investigation following her loss, thirteen new crewmen. One was a new ensign, Philip Mayer, and the rest were enlisted.  I do not have an exhaustive list of the new men, but I know that Fireman Elton Brubaker and Fireman Donald See were assigned to Flier at Fremantle.

The second reason was to allow the homeported training officer a chance to watch the submarine’s CO, XO and crew in action, and report back to HQ.  If a CO in particular showed signs of being too passive, too abusive, or otherwise ineffectual, he would have to be removed from command, likely on the next time the submarine came into port.  (If a CO was so abusive it was unlivable, then the crew would more than likely have reported the CO long before now, and his removal would have been already been assessed and or completed before the crew reported back aboard.)

Today, Flier was in the waters west of Perth, running her engines at high speeds, low speed, diving, surfacing, testing her engines and props and hull.  This test was primarily to listen to the submarine, and see how she sounded.  A Diesel submarine, properly shaped and running, is almost undetectable underwater (this is still true, a modern diesel sub is quieter than a nuclear submarine), but slight variations in the propellers, a dent or bulge in the hull, worn bearings, misaligned struts, could cause bubbling or swishing noises that a surface ship could use to find a submerged sub.

And Flier proved why these tests were necessary.  Her starboard prop was very loud, so Flier turned to head back for Perth to see what the trouble was.

On the book front, the proof was mailed overnight air mail to me via UPS.  Alas, mailing something via overnight mail at noon on Friday means it turns into three-day mail, and will be delivered on Monday.  Using the tracking number, I discovered that the book is in fact, at the UPS depot here in my town, and a part of me is sorely tempted to break in, find my package, and leave a note.

I’m fairly certain that will get me arrested though, so I’m resisting!

On the Memorial front, we have some rather funny news.  Turns out, there is a change of command at the submarine base in San Diego on…yup, Friday August 13, 2010.  So a speaker hasn’t been secured just yet, as quite a few people were scheduled to be there.  But the Navy, who is the one who sends someone to these National Naval Memorial Services, assured us that they will be sending an excellent speaker.  In the meantime, even without a speaker, details of that weekend are coming together to help us honor these men and their memories.

More Exhibit things

Lost Subs, Memorial Ceremony, The Exhibit | Posted by Rebekah
Jul 21 2010

Well, one day closer to the memorial weekend, and if you need a hotel and haven’t gotten around to it yet, you might want to move.  In addition to the Holiday Inn, the museum also has some rooms at Shoreline Inn across the street. Depending on the room, both hotels have views of Muskegon Lake, and are within walking distance of the Frauenthal Theater, the Hackley and Hume Homes, Hackley Park, and LST-393 Museum (for another taste of WWII Naval History, this time, the European Theater!) plus a number of small independent stores and restaurants.   (Walking distance here being defined as within a mile)  My favorite food store in the whole world is only about a mile and a half away from those hotels too. Be careful if you visit, it’s ADDICTING.

I understand that the episode of Dive Detectives is beautiful and haunting,or at least, so I’m told.  The staff at the museum decided to run the movie completely through their system so they could get a replacement copy in time if there was a problem or glitch, and wouldn’t you know it, none of them seemed to have anything else to do while the test was running!  Some of you don’t know this, but I’m an independent contractor for the museum, and actually live about five hours away by car, so I haven’t seen it yet either!   AAArrghh!  But they said it was a beautiful film, very well done, so hopefully, we’ll all like it.

Here you see the scale depths of the five submarine wrecks discovered since 2005, as well as an overhead silhouette of a WWII-era submarine done to the same scale. (The triangles representing the wrecks are not to scale, but the depths are) All of these wrecks with the exception of the Grunion were explored using human divers.

One of the biggest problems they had in filming was the depth of the Flier herself.  Of the five submarines discovered since 2005, Flier is the deepest except for the Grunion.  She is, in fact, at the very edges to human endurance using SCUBA gear underwater.  For every dive aboard the Flier, which was three hours long, the divers were only able to take ten minutes on the Flier herself, so while they apparently did an amazing job filming, they were still limited to short takes and quick passes, since they had to document as quickly as they could.  If permission is granted later for a more thorough survey of the submarine, it would likely be done by ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) since they don’t have to take the precautions human divers do.

That being said, it is still, apparently, amazing.  If we weren’t down to one car now, I’d be half tempted to drive the 10-hour round trip to see it!

I’m finishing up the memorial booklet now.  I ended up doing the covers, Flier’s Story pages and the Flier’s crew page.  I finished everything except for the crew page, which is in the final stages right now.  (It’s really difficult to fit 79 men on two pages!) I hope everyone likes it, but you now know who to blame if you don’t!

As soon as this is done, I have to update some pages and work on the permanent exhibit layout.  Whew!  This is so going to be worth it!

Exhibit update and Dive Detectives

Memorial Ceremony, The Book | Posted by Rebekah
Jul 17 2010

Well, the book has been submitted to the publishers, and I’ll get a proof back in five days.

It’s called Surviving the Flier.  It’s 294 pages long, with lots of maps and photos. Most books these days do the whole, half the books, a bunch of glossy pages with photos, and the other half of the book.  Personally, that drives me nuts, since that interrupts the flow of the words and the photos cover the entire span of the story, without consideration of where you are in the story.  This publisher won’t do that, so the photos are placed where they are actually relevant, as well as the maps.   Thanks to the Official Navy Photos of Flier (of which there are far too few) and the Jacobson and Liddell families, there are more photos in this book than the average, some which haven’t been seen before.  I hope you all like it.  I’m rather proud of it, and as an artist, I’m usually the most critical of my own work.

The temporary exhibit is well on its way, and will be in the same general area as the future permanent exhibit.  The area used to be our library, but that was purged of all non-reference books, and moved into another area of the museum.  The walls were painted black and we’re working on lighting and displays.  We’ll have some authentic artifacts on display this time, though what we’ll have permanently on display will partially depend on sensitivity of the artifacts to light.  Give me a few days now that the book is done (and once I finish the memorial booklet) and I’ll see what I can post about the exhibits.

The “Submarine Graveyard” episode of Dive Detectives  has been delivered, and is on site in preparation for the memorial weekend.  It will be showing in our 72-seat theater which has really comfortable seats and a fantastic sound system.

Anyway, it’s late, and after chasing my kiddos around on four hours of sleep a night for most of the week, I need to head for bed.  The good news is, I should be more regular updating the blog from now on, especially updating some of the pages.

Good night all, I can’t wait to meet many of you!