Catching Up with the Commanderies

Florida First Coast

During the First Coast Commandery’s 2009 Pearl Harbor Commemoration, companions heard from Mr. Randy Slocum about his recent visits presenting USO performers to our armed forces serving in combat zones.

First Coast Commander Captain John O’Neil, USN (Ret.) thanks Bernadette and Randy Slocum.

Monterey Bay

The 68th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway Dining Out will be held at the Naval Postgraduate School on Saturday, June 5th.  the event is chaired by the school President’s Student Council in coordination with the Monterey Bay Commandery of the Naval Order, and the Monterey Peninsula Council of the Navy League.  Over the years, this event has grown with greater participation within the local military and civilian organizations on the Monterey Peninsula.  VADM Daniel Oliver, USN (Ret.), President of the Naval Postgraduate School will host the event with Senator John McCain (invited) as the guest speaker reflecting upon the life of John Sidney “Slew” McCain, USN and his influence on the June Battle of Midway.  Of the many honored guests will be Mrs. Mary Snopowski, wife of deceased Captain Edward L. Snopowski, USN.  As an Ensign, Snopowski served on Midway Island at the time of the battle.  After the war, the family moved to Monterey when Captain Snopowski attended and taught at NPS.   

San Francisco

In January Captain Kris Carlock, USN (Ret.), relieved Captain Sandy Lockwood, USN (Ret.), as Commander of the San Francisco Commandery.  During the first monthly meeting she presented the State of the Commandery presentation, designated Captain Tom Snyder, USN (Ret.), as Junior NROTC Award Committee Chair and reiterated the Mission of the Naval Order.  There was also a discussion on the planning of the 2010 Naval Order Congress being hosted by the San Francisco Commandery in Sparks, Nevada in October 2010.  Every present was anxious to get to work to make this our best Congress ever. 

The February monthly luncheon of the San Francisco Commandery featured a talk by USS Indianapolis survivor Adolfo Celaya, a firman aboard the heavy cruiser during the transport of the atomic bomb from San Francisco to Tinian Island for loading aboard B-29s and delivering to Japan.  He spoke about what he believed to be the secrets of his survival.  He was young and athletic and kept a medal of St. Anthony, given to him by his mother, in his mouth, helping to keep him from ingesting sea water.  His vivid recall of those four days in the water, clinging to a life raft, left the Navy veterans in attendance stunned and feeling privileged to listen to his first hand account.  After being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea, Indianapolis sank in 12 minutes.  Of the 1,196 men aboard, approximately 300 went down with the ship.  After floating for days in shark-infested waters with few lifeboats, and most with no food or water, only 316 of the nearly 900 survivors of the initial attack were rescued.

Inspired by the efforts of the First Coast Commandery and Captain John O’Neil’s challenge, companions of the San Francisco Commandery voted to match the First Coast contribution of $500 for the Normandy foundation, from their general fund and then raised an additional $750 by passing the basket.

Captain Lee Steele and students from the Jacksonville University NROTC Unit with Captain O’Neil.

RADM George Huchting, Frances Wyncoop, and Gloria and Mike McGrath.

Raleigh

The Raleigh Commandery had a successful Pearl Harbor Day Dinner on December 6th with spouses.  Next year’s plans for the event include extending invitations to local Pearl Harbor veterans and a midshipman essay competition.  The Commandery is making plans for its Midway commemoration in June.

Captain Kris Carlock presents a Certificate of Appreciation to former Fireman Adolpho Celaya, USS Indianapolis survivor at their February monthly meeting.

From left, CDR Brian Klock, USN (Ret.), CDR James Sterling, USN (Ret.), CAPT Carter Conlin, USN (Ret.), CAPT David Burr, USN (Ret.), Honorable Gordon R. England, and CAPT Greg Streeter, USN (Ret.)

From left, CAPT Carter Conlin, USN, (Ret.), CDR Brian Klock, USN (Ret.), and Mr. Don Kehn

Marine Corps League, McLemore Detachment renders honors at the annual remembrance of the sinking of USS Houston (CA 30), held March 6th at the USS Houston Monument in Sam Houston Park.

Texas

The Texas Commandery held its annual banquet and 24th Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Leadership Award Presentation on Saturday, February 13th, at the Houston Racquet Club.  Nimitz committee chairman and past Naval Order Commander General, Captain Carter Conlin, USN (Ret.), presented the Nimitz award to Companion Gordon R. England, 29th Deputy Secretary of Defense, 72nd and 73rd Secretary of the Navy, and the first Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.  Mr. England also received the Admiral Dewey Award in 2006 for his achievements and distinguished service to our country.  Prior to joining the federal government, Mr. England held various senior executive positions with General Dynamics Fort Worth Aircraft (now Lockeed) and General Dynamics land systems company and General Dynamics corporate information and systems technology.  Mr. England has served in a variety of civic, charitable and government organizations, has been recognized for numerous professional and service contributions and is currently president if E6 Partners, a firm specializing in international business.

At the conclusion of Mr. England’s remarks, CDR Klock presented him with a certificate appointing him an Admiral in the Texas Navy.  We were pleased that Commander General Greg Streeter could attend and speak to the Commandery about his outlook for the Naval Order and plans for the future.

On March 6th, the Texas Commandery participated in the annual remembrance of the sinking of  USS Houston (CA 30), March 1, 1942, during the Battle of the Sunda Strait.  Four survivors of the battle were present: Marvin Sizemore, David Flynn, Clarence Schilperoort, and Basil Bunyard.  Guest speakers from Great Britain, Australia, and the Netherlands honored the memory of their armed forces’ sacrifices and CDR Brian Klock, USN (Ret.), Commander of the Texas Commandery, spoke about the sinking of Houston and US naval actions during the early stages of the Pacific War.  At the conclusion of the program, wreaths were laid by USS Houston (CA 30) Survivors Association and Next Generations, the Naval Order, participating countries and other military and civilian organizations.  The Houston Brass Band played the Navy Hymn and Captain Carter B. Conlin, USN (Ret.), recited the words.  The USS Houston Monument in Sam Houston Park, Houston, Texas was dedicated November 11, 1995 and was a project of the Texas Commandery.