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USS Bergall SS 320
Click here for the home page for the USS Bergall SSN 667
The September 2-5, 2003 reunion in Reno, Nv. was a hit!
|Tom Atienza||Vi||'46-'47, MoMM3||Ted Ansink||Claire||'69-'73, IC2|
|Mike Brood||son of Arlie||Don Basham||'70-'75, RM1|
|DuWayne Brood||evil older brother||Dick Fiske||'69-'71, FTGC|
|Nishan Derderian||Ruby Ann||CRT, '44-'45||John Lynn||Pat||'68-'70, EM1|
|Norm Dineen||June||'54-'57, YN3||Sam McConnell||Anne||'70-'75, ICC|
|Warren "Moose" Grossetta||Margaret||'54-'56, CDR[||John Mosticone||Barb||68-71, EM2|
|Sid Hoialmen||Nathan and Jessica||'44-'45, RM1||Pat Murphy||'69-'72, SK3|
|Chuck Kennedy||Dorothy||'44, EM2||Reid Smith||76-81, CDR|
|Abe Kern||'54-'55, EN3||Michael Sobkowski||Lucinda||'72-'77, FTG1|
|Bob Lewis||'45, S1(TM)|
|Bob Peterson||Kaye||'49-'51, ET2|
|Tony Porazzo||Carol||'45-'46, EM3|
|Don Small||Rose Mary||'44-'45, RT2|
|Warren Valero||Trudy||'46-'48, MoMM3|
|Robert "Sam" Wasson||47-49/51-52, SC3|
|Carl Weber||Marge||'45, RM3|
|Paul Weddle||Mrs. Weddle||'45, F1|
|M.D. "Willie" Wilson||Gloria Wilson||
Here's the first pictures from the reunion courtesy of Don Basham, Abe Kern, Dick Fiske, Bob Peterson and associate member Mike Brood.
Come on guys... send in your stories of your time at Reno and let's get more than one view on this nice outing!
Although the turnout was a bit lower than originally anticipated, the ones that were able to make it were treated to some extraordinary treats. We were reminded that Tom Kimmel would give a dinner speech at the banquet on Thursday on the dishonor this nation laid down in blaming Admiral Husband Kimmel for not protecting the Navy fleet and Hawaiian Islands from the Japanese sneak attack on December 7, 1941. As the grandson of the Admiral and the son of the USS Bergall's commissioning executive officer and later commanding officer, he made a great presentation with supporting documentation.
To add to the excitement of the reunion, the Mike Sobkowski, through his Marine aviator son, had made arrangements for the Bergall crew to tour the "Top Gun" facilities down the road at Fallon, NV. and set it up for a Friday run that had quite a few excited. What a deal... a bunch of "Bottom Gun" specialists seeing how the other half lives!
My older brother decided that he wanted to go to a reunion for his dad's boat and the one in Reno was close to his Utah home so he made up his mind. Knowing that his brother, Mike, probably couldn't make it for several reasons, he made special arrangements so Mike could join him. DuWayne is a skimmer, having served two tours in the Viet Nam theater and on the USS Biddle and USS Pharris. As a skimmer, he probably figured he needed my protection... what a pussy!
Stepping into the hotel, guests were greeted by this beautiful work dedicated to the Pony Express.
Of course, everything from reservations, dinner and the elevators could only be found by crossing through the casino. If you couldn't find something, the conclusion was easy, cross the casino and you'll find it.
After asking for the Bergall Hospitality suite at the desk and getting settled in, DuWayne and Mike decided that even with one heck of a jump, they weren't going to hit the pool if they jumped from their room... even Abe's shot hides the 150 feet horizontal leap involved.
So we went down to see if there was anybody in the hospitality suite.
Stepping off on the sixth floor, it was only a short stagger to suite 650 where the fun was said to be happening.
Taking a quick scan around, I was delighted to see Don Small again. Behind him is Barb Mosticone, Gloria and "Willie" Wilson in discussion with Sam Wasson. Sam served two tours on the diesel as a cook, from 46-49 and 51-52. At the bar we see Abe Kern and Tony Porazzo talking to their ole skipper, Warren "Moose" Grossetta and then Chuck Kennedy who put out the great effort to secure the rooms and dinner arrangements for the outing.
We found Jessica Link, the grand daughter of plankie and radioman Sid Hoialmen had arrived and Sid and Don Small getting together after about 58 years. Sid was also wanting to get with Nishan Derderian. Sid would leave after a while and darned if Nishan wouldn't show up. After a bit Nishan would leave to visit other friends and... yep... Sid would reappear asking if Nishan was going to make it to the reunion! We were starting to wonder if we were going to have to EB green tape one of them so they could get together.
Dick Fiske grabbed a nice family shot of the Hoialmen group... grandson Nathan, Jessica and Sid. Sid had gotten a few phone calls a few months ago and even received a mailing of pictures, the boat's history and even some of the stories some other guys had posted and I guess he got excited about getting to a reunion. One of our researchers sure made his day with the gift when he opened his mail box... It paid dividends since he and two of his grandkids made it to the reunion and had one hell of a time.
Continuing the scan, we see Tony grabbing a drink as Chuck and Don Basham supervise. At the table was Dick Fiske, Pat Murphy, John Mosticone and Ted Ansink.
Abe Kern, Tony Porazzo and Moose talk about either the new digital cameras or who has the biggest... cup.
Here's a nicer shot from Abe.
Here we see Sam Wasson (from the back) and "Willie" Wilson talking as Moose pours Abe a cold one.
Now what makes me think that Moose was the one that told the punch line on that joke?
With Sam Wasson and Chuck behind the bar, Tony and Abe greet Norm Dineen and his wife, June.
Here's DuWayne and I with the battle flag in the background. Damn, he's getting older. At least he doesn't pound on me anymore... as much.
In the first picture, we can see that Sid's grand daughter is wearing some fancy silver jewelry. It turns out that on the way to or from the patrol areas during the war, Sid decided to hammer, saw and file some Australian coins and "liberated" some high tensile spring material from the boat's spares and carefully joined the coins into a bracelet, necklace or in one case, fashioned a lighter. He was bored and there was TOO much time on the way to the patrol area and he had to have something to occupy his time and his mind. You can see the domed coins that he hammered, the other coins he cut out the details on and the matching necklace. He also grabbed a big brass nut from the engineering, reamed it out to size, drilled two holes to support a salvaged flint wheel and wick from a Zippo and mounted them in the nut, split and dome-hammered a large coin for side covers and assembled himself a rather unique lighter! Considering he had a small drill and a jeweler's file... he did some mighty fine work!
In these shots you can see the fine detail that Sid carefully gave to these fine pieces.
Sid and Jessica listen as Nishan tries to pull up another memory of their times.
Trying to make a point, Radar (Nishan) works on his story.
Nathan and I really got a kick out of hearing more of those little details of the patrols that never got written down. Nishan recalled that, early on, the enemy was using 300 pound depth charges and those would basically bounce off the thick hull of the Balao class... then they came out with the 600 pounders and those really got the guy's attention! Nishan remembered that they were once ordered to locate an enemy shore radar unit so the Army Air Corp could bomb the darned thing.
On the other side of the room Anne and Sam "Mac" McConnell talked with Ted Ansink. The subject came up about the diesel boat using it's fire extinguishers to cool down beer and Mac brought up a story of their O2 generators on the nuke. "One time we were coming in and "Hockey Puck" was on watch when we had an O2 generator blow. We had hydroxide all over the boat. With high pressure behind it, it went "Woosh" and went throughout the atmosphere. All of this fog and material was all over the operations compartment. I was heading up the Damage Control Team and we got it all squared away, got it isolated and then started cleanup. It took longer to clean than to fix the original problem but no one got hurt. We're sitting there wiping our brow and having a cup of coffee and trying to figure what happened when the engineer walked up to the "A" division officer and said, "Would you please sign this, Sir?". The division officer looked at the paper being offered and said, "You got to be kidding me, right?" It was a notice that if you didn't do a certain thing the O2 generators would blow and the engineer forgot to give it to the division officer immediately and wanted to get a signoff. He was joking, of course, and took the heat for it though."
Mac brought up the question if the diesel went below crush depth and Abe Kern threw in, "I was responsible for one of those. I jammed the stern planes at full dive. They told us to switch to hand power and I switched to emergency power! Under emergency power you had a small 8 inch wheel to control planes but it was running on full 1,100 pounds pressure, so I cranked in a little dive. Well, under emergency power this "little" change was full dive and we headed down! We had a junior officer as the dive officer and he couldn't get control of the dive when "Moose" came on the deck. We have this steep angle and he asks what's going on. The junior officer said, "We're having an internal crisis, the crew needs a hand... and 'you're it'!" After everything settled down he called me over and asked me what happened (he knew what happened!) and I told him... verbatim... you know, you take an order, you repeat the order, do the action and report back. I did all that stuff but I did the wrong system! The skipper (LCDR Koonhardt) said, "I'm sending you to stern planes position. The fact that you didn't lie (I don't know why he gave me credit, it was sure as hell obvious what happened!), from now on you are battle stations stern planesman." And I was battle stations stern plane until I left the boat. He figured I would never do THAT again. Later on when I went to college I wrote a paper on that... most managers, that don't know what they are doing anyway, would have fired the guy but he knew what happened and he assigned me the job knowing it would never happen again. He had to answer for that and had to put it in the log anytime the boat went below test and I think we ended about 490. Test depth was 412."
Mac said that they did away with some of the ballast systems that the older boats had like the safety tank. He added that he was on a different boat up in the Atlantic at periscope depth and they lost depth control. "I'm not sure how deep we ran but you couldn't see the depth detector... it was digital and the numbers were just wizzing through. The skipper walked in and said, "I have command. Blow forward ballast. Do you think you can recover this now?", and walked on back to his room. That was a good skipper!"
Mac remembered when they would hold "trim drills" on the boat when there was a new dive officer. He said it was easy on the new boats... there was more room so you could get a BUNCH of guys running back and forth upsetting the trim. You could hear the officer in control fighting to hold trim. Abe said on the diesel it was a favorite trick as well and it worked so great because it didn't take too much to offset the trim and make the officer start pumping ballast one direction just as the guys would head in the other. I think it was an "unwritten code" to drive new officers absolutely nuts. It was like cheating though... it normally didn't take much for the crew to band together and scheme something "as a treat" for young officer.
Mac asked who was responsible for the boat getting a load of the crabs that bounced across every damn bunk. Amid general laughter, Don Basham said that it wasn't crabs, it was sand fleas. Mac said that the time he was thinking of, it was crabs alright, and they were everywhere. But in a different episode the sand fleas WAS horrendous as well. It turns out that it was all tied to Don bringing on "those darned conch shells". It came out that inside those shells that Don brought was an amazing assortment of sea life that he didn't know about, mostly a whole boat worth of sand fleas. In addition to the fleas was the lovely smell of dead ocean critters inside the shell fermenting and spreading their "glorious" smell throughout the boat.
I guess Mac and Ted had an ongoing battle with Mac bitching about Ted's hair length while on the boat. Mac recalled, "You got PAID to get a haircut." And Ted came back saying, "I had a picture out of the regulation manual showing you COULD wear your hair at "that" length!" They both laughed (now!) and Ted said, "We fought so much about that! You should have seen me when I left the boat and reported to Separation. They figured out that I was getting out but I had about three weeks so I had to work up there. I mopped floors and stuff, but it didn't bother me... I was getting out. But then, I wasn't getting my hair cut either. I was going through a tube of Brylcream a week! Under the hat, it was sooo funny. I heard that the base CO was going down to Separations when the guys were getting their discharge and if they needed a haircut he'd hold their paper until they got it cut. So I just waited until 1pm on my last day to go get my papers. I had all my hair tucked up in my hat and hadn't greased it down or anything. I got all done, got my papers and just took my hat off!" Mac said, "The guy didn't change right up to the end! Ted just didn't ride her at the 'right time'. If he was aboard when short hair went back in style I would have made him wear long hair!" Ted laughed and added that, "We just had such a good crew that worked. In any emergency you could trust your life to any one of the guys. I remember laying in my bunk and heard, 'Fire in the MR2!' and you know they're going to be locking water-tight hatches on ya. I'm back two compartments and I look down and I'm still in my underwear!" Mac recalled that once, in HIS underwear, he had come out of his bed and gone up to the diving officer, grabbed him by his lapel and lifted him up and shoved him back to the deck. Why? The diving officer had shut down the exhaust valve on the LP Blower while it was running and "the damn thing must have cycled a foot on those sound mounts" and Mac was up in the Chief's quarters, right above it and knew exactly what it was and who had done it. He recounted another event with that officer when he caught Seer's ass in the sail by recycling the radar mast. Seer was the Conning Officer and was sitting up on the back of the sail (like they liked to do, but the radar mast IS right there.)! It just happened that the radar mast was "Red Tagged" so it wouldn't be cycled up or down. Well the other guy must have been bored and decided to hit the button anyway and cycled it, the mast cycled and caught the Conn Officer's ass and he couldn't get up. What a guy!
Mac remembered that, back at port, one of the Chiefs had a girlfriend living with him and then found out that she was cheating on him. This really pissed him off and he threw her out. When a few of the other Chiefs found out what he did they beat HIM up... it seems they were benefiting by her loose ways! Oh, was this the Navy my dad told me about? Yep! That's the one!!!
Training in the escape tower came up and as Abe was talking about using the different equipment, Tony Porazzo came over. Abe look over and said, "Now here's a guy that almost didn't make it." Tony said that they cram a bunch of guys in the lower compartment, flood the room enough to open the hatch to the base of the tower and shove you out. The problem was that the "big" guys were up front and "little Tony" was shoved to the rear where the compartment slopes down and as they flooded down he was fighting to stay above the waterline!
DuWayne and Bob Peterson traded a few stories of their respective Navy days!
Bill Newman paid a visit and shared some stories with Mac, Ted and Pat.
Same group with Don Small at the bar...
Nishan finally got in synch with Sid and shared a quiet moment to remember a few patrol events! These "old farts" would get into a talk about who spotted the enemy first and the whole room would quiet as they listened to guys talking about the "hot" war and those moments before they attacked the enemy or after they took a pounding from the depth charges! It was always a chase of who could "see" the enemy first, the radioman or the radar! It was never nice to have it be the lookout up in the shears! That's too close!
The Hoialmen's grab a moment with Carl Weber as Dick Fiske and Don Small decided the right mix for a Bloody Mary. Too bad Carol Polermo missed this one, she could have settled this quick!
Having settled the deep dilemma, Dick heads for a stool and Don Basham grabs a moment with Sid.
Enjoying the mayhem quietly from the side (for the moment) was Pat, John and Ted.
With wife, Anne, and Barb Mosticone at his side, Mac is on top of the world! Barb insisted she required matching twinkling US Flags pins... Dick Fiske graciously obliged. We always knew we could count on Dick!
Don Basham must have been quick to catch Barb on her way... the lady was definitely on the go for the week! Having brought a trailer out, her and John took their time, stopping many places and taking their time and were even planning a return trip up by Yellowstone and then heading east for home. A leisurely run out and back... sure sounded like fun!
A 667 contingent at the suite... Dick Fiske, Don Basham, Sam McConnell, (seated) Pat Murphy, John Mosticone and Ted Ansink. With these guys around, fun is automatic!
Here's our battle flag and a beautiful floral arrangement sent by Carol Polermo, our adopted sister, who couldn't make it on this rare occasion.
The bouquet was truly nice and added a woman's touch to the gathering of these hooligans!
Anne, DuWayne, Mike, Tony, Abe and Chuck look over the book of Bergall stuff that Mike has collected and pictures that he made available to the crew.
Nathan joined the group and found the price of the pictures pretty reasonable...
To add to the "fun"... Warren Valero brought a Klaxon fixed with the proper gear to make the Surface and/or Dive alarm ring throughout the room (and a few adjoining rooms as well.). The neighbors must have been real tickled that we had one and it startled more than one as it would be "lit off". It sure as heck wasn't the only one at the convention though, since you could hear a random dive alarm sound on several floors as you went to visit a friend! The hotel must have loved it!
Warren also found an old poem in his dad's things and shared it with us... how very unique that the words ring so true after these many years and in light of our recent times.
Just today we chanced to meet
Down upon a crowded street;
And I wondered whence he came,
What was once his nation's name.
So I asked him, "Tell me true,
Are you Pole or Russian Jew,
English, Scotch, Italian, Russian,
Belgian, Spanish, Swiss, Morovian,
Dutch or Greek or Scandinavian.
Then he raised his head on high
and gave to me this reply,
"What I was is naught to me,
in this land of liberty.
In my soul as man to man,
I'm just an American."
John Mosticone and Pat Murphy listen as Mac tells of another daring deed that their guys were involved in. "Fitzgerald, was a typical red neck. He had recently gotten married to Kate, who already had a child, and Fitgerald decided to take them to Mystic. While they were there they went to a duck feeding "zoo" and had the great idea to take two. He grabbed two ducks by the neck and started running for the car but Kate beat him to the car and got inside and locked the doors and he got arrested by the ranger for grabbing those ducks! He's the only guy I know that picked up an O2 generator cell and carried it by himself. He was a "hockey puck", that's what we called him, a short and stocky hockey puck!" Ted asked if they didn't steal the XO's door and Mac said that they sure did and they stole Doc Ballen's (sp?) rack! The doc was ALWAYS in his bunk so it was appropriate. Granger went to the doc and asked him to check out his arm because it hurt when he raised it. The doc blew him off but he complained that it hurt when he raised it... In classic form the doc told him to take two aspirins and don't raise it. Mac recalled another event where the doc was needed... Jon Blomberg and I were just outboard of the number two main condenser of the O2 analyzer and we were coming out of Norfolk. We were in about stage 7 or 8 seas and we couldn't dive until we got the O2 analyzer fixed. I was the only one on board checked out on it so I was down there with Blomberg getting it up and running. It has a removable, heavy, explosion-proof covers on it and it was rusted shut and we couldn't get it off. We are rolling in the heavy seas and it's about 130 degrees in there and I turned away. When I turned back around Blomberg was prying on the panel and it popped free and hit me right in the mouth and chipped my tooth and left a raw nerve hanging out. I was the engineering watch supervisor so I couldn't leave so I called the doc and said "Doc, you need to get back here, I need you right now!". As he came through into the engine room by the surge tank he stopped and I told him I need some help. He asked what's wrong and I pointed to my tooth and told him that the damn thing was killing me and I can't even smile. He said, "Well, you dumb ass, don't smile." I swung at him and missed but the imprint of my fist was in that surge tank when they decommissioned the boat!" I spent 11 days with that nerve exposed. They were waiting for me at the pier when we came in to give me a root canal. I went home with Anne after that and, getting ready for bed, I turned the light out Anne leaned over to kiss me and hit that tooth, cracked it and the next morning my face was swollen like a ball so after all of that they had to go back in and take out the tooth!
Claire Ansink had missed her flight and was delayed on arrival but Ted was sure glad to make the drive to get her when she finally arrived. Claire, DuWayne and Don Basham listen to war tales from the WWII guys.
Sid and his grand daughter talk as Ted and his wife, Claire review details of the many lies the other guys have thrown out about poor Ted. Sid's grand son, Nathan, is at the back of the table catching part of another tale.
Don Basham makes a point as Barb and John Mosticone take a break on the couch.
"Willie" Wilson and his wife, Gloria take a turn in the corner.
Tom Atienza had a real surprise for Mike and DuWayne when he came in with an envelope of pictures from his and our dad's time on the boat. He had a nice one of the skipper (Lt-Cmdr. Thomas Kimmel) that he wanted Tom's son to get and he had a couple of our dad that were pretty classic of dad's style. Although it looks like dad is "packing heat", he's standing in front of the gang plank and under his right elbow is a drop light designed to draw drunk Bergallians like moths to a flame. This was overhaul in Pearl, 1946. Trying to have an hour or two to review the pictures was rather rough in the middle of everything going on around the center of the hospitality suite so Tom agreed to loan them to Mike and Mike would scan them into a computer and get with Tom later to get all the names and details and then put them on CDs and make them available to others that may want them. It looks like Mike owes Tom a lunch soon!
Don Basham, Rose Mary Small and Dick Fiske talk as Don Small pours a wee dram of... clear water?
In a gathering quite a few years in coming, Sid Hoialmen, Nishan Derderian and Don Small take a second for the camera. Don Small started off as a radioman under Sid and traded rate to radar so he could play with electronic parts. So, through the Bergall's war patrols, in the control room, at the center of the action, shoulder to shoulder, was Nishan, Don and Sid!
Another snap of the same moment as Nishan's wife, Ruby Ann, rejoins the group!
Bob Peterson managed some great close-up shots, here's our association's illustrious leader, Don Basham.
Here's our association's secretary, Abe Kern.
Here's our west coast archivist and the guy that championed getting everything arranged for the reunion, Chuck Kennedy. We thought he needed just one more patch.
Here's our association's founder, Carl Weber.
Here's Don Small.
Here's Pat Murphy.
Here's Norm Dineen.
Here's "Willie" Wilson and his lovely wife, Gloria.
Here's Robert "Sam" Wasson.
Dick Fiske and Pat Murphy found a moment to wander out and grab some golf... 667 plankies at the 15th Tee at Lake Ridge CC.
Who else, but our Dick, could arrange for such attention at a convention of 4,000 submariners? He found a representative of the Fort Worth contingent who was trying to secure one of the national conventions. Dick was eager to help.
Didn't get enough? Heck, that only got us through a couple days...
Click HERE to go on to Thursday!
The next reunion is in September of 2004 and in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Click here for the home page for the
USS Bergall SS 320
Click here for the home page for the USS Bergall SSN 667