Fall 2014 Newsletter


Hello Friends,

For those of you that did not receive the paper copy, the Fall 2014 USS Franklin Museum Association newsletter was delivered a few weeks back.  I am posting the electronic version at the link here:  Franklin Newsletter Fall 2014.  We did announce that the 2015 reunion will be held in Milwaukee Wisconsin the weekend of July 17,18, and 19th 2015.  I will post more information as it becomes available.


Darren Hamm

Welcome to www.ussfranklin.org


Welcome to www.ussfranklin.org.  I invite you to leave USS Franklin comments below. I am also looking for people interested in contributing to this site.  Please contact me at franklin@ussfranklin.org with any information you may have.

Update Feb 2013, I have set up a “Forum” tab as a more appropriate place to leave comments for everybody to see.

The forum is here: http://www.ussfranklin.org/?page_id=393

Thank You.

USS Franklin Store


Just in time for the gift buying season, you will notice that a link has been added to the top of the website for the USS Franklin Store.  The link is located just below the banner photo at the top of the page.  We currently have items with the two designs you see here posted for sale on Cafe Press.  20 percent of the proceeds will go to offsetting the costs of the upcoming Milwaukee Wi and future reunions.  Put a USS Franklin Tee or Mug under your tree this year!uss_franklin_1_tshirt



Obituary, Berdel Edwin Winke

MARCH 30, 1925 – NOVEMBER 6, 2014
Berdel Edwin (Del) Winke, 89 years old, was born March 30, 1925 in San Diego, California to Dorothy Marie (Berdel) Winke and Edwin Holter Winke. He was preceded in death by both parents.
Berdel is survived by his wife of fifty years, Dorothy Candlish Winke and three daughters, Rena Cecelia Childs-Weatherford and her husband Keith Weatherford of Modesto, Kara Lynn-Marie Winke of Vancouver, WA and Laura Louise Morgan of Mukilteo, WA. Three grandchildren, Laura Lynn Childs and Paul Matthew Childs of Modesto and Jade Elise Morgan of Mukilteo,  WA. Five great grandchildren, Willow Paige Sedore, Tristen Wade Scott, Eric Richard Scott, Raelyn Marie Scott and Joeb Matthew Childs, all of Modesto.
Berdel graduated from Hoover High School in San Diego in January of 1944 and immediately joined the Marine Corps. He served as gunner and mechanic with the Marine 3rd Air Wing in the South Pacific. He was stationed in Hawaii and aboard the air craft carriers USS Hancock  and USS Franklin.
After discharge in 1946 he went to college for two years and then to work for Electrical Supplies Distributors in San Diego until 1964. He then worked with Bryant Electric as a manufactures representative, until moving to Modesto in 1966 to operate Winke’s Liquors in Ceres and Sav-On  Liquors on Paradise Road in Modesto. In 1978 the family moved to Vancouver, WA. where Del worked for Consolidated Electrical Distributors of Portland, OR. Later he was the manager of  the CED Vancouver store. After his retirement in 1990, he and Dorothy moved back to Modesto.  Berdel had a mischievous sense of humor, a quick wit and a nickname for just about everyone.  He treasured his friends and kept in touch with his high school chums till they passed. He called  favored ex co-workers on their birthdays even after twenty five years of retirement. Del had the pleasure of attending his 70th high school reunion in September.
His interests included camping, hunting, fishing, bowling, soft ball and traveling. Berdel  particularly enjoyed twice touring in Alaska and the Yukon and a three week stay in Washington  D.C. visiting all the museums and the World War 11 Memorial. Several trips with a 5th Wheel  trailer covered most of the states west of the Mississippi, he was especially fond of the red rock country of the Southwest.
Berdel was a former member of the Modesto Elks Lodge and SIRS.
As per his wishes, there will not be a funeral, a ‘celebration of life’ will be held at a later date..  Remembrances may be made to the American

or donor’s favorite charity.
– See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/modestobee/obituary.aspx?n=berdel-edwin-winke&pid=173092413&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.jVmAXtmH.dpuf

Read more here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/modestobee/obituary.aspx?n=berdel-edwin-winke&pid=173092413&eid=sp_ommatch#storylink=cpy

Obituary, Ridgley Radney

Ridgley Dexter Radney, age 93, passed away on November 1, 2014, at his home in Dickinson, Texas. He was born October 21, 1921 in Roswell, New Mexico and graduated from Gladewater High School in 1939. He attended Kilgore Junior College for several years after high school completing his basic studies.
After World War II broke out, Ridgley joined the Navy in 1941 and entered flight school in Corpus Christi, Texas where he earned his wings. Just after this, he would marry the love of his life, JoAnn Carlton. With the war effort requiring his presence, he was then assigned to the carriers U.S.S. Franklin and later the U.S.S. Yorktown to fly the SBD Douglas Dauntless dive-bomber as a part of Bombing Squadron Five (VB-5) in the Pacific. He would earn the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal and two Air Medals for his heroic achievements as a pilot. He was discharged from the Navy as Lieutenant Commander in July 1947. Over the next 50 years, he and JoAnn would very much enjoy their association with other retired military personnel at the “Squadron Reunions” held all across the United States.
Ridge, as he was called by his friends, would reenter college after the war at Southern Methodist University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Radio Television. He finished his training at the New York School of Broadcasting where he learned the practical aspects of television direction and production. After graduation, he was hired by WFAA in Dallas as a television director. He would later accept the position of Production Manager at KPRC in Houston and later still the same position at KHFI in Austin. It was during these time periods that he and JoAnn would raise their family as loving parents. Ridge had a special place in his heart for his family and enjoyed activities together such as sports, carpentry, traveling and church. He had a love for coaching little league football where he used motivation and hard work as a coaching technique to develop an almost undefeated record. He had a special love for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and loved to talk about them with anyone that would listen. He was a member of the Clear Lake Masonic Lodge No. 1417 and was very proud of his association with this service organization and its members who befriended him in the later years of life. He was very active in the Methodist Church as a church trustee, stewardship committees, usher and various mission projects. His relationship with our savior Jesus Christ was a close one which gave him a great deal of joy and comfort during his lifetime and in his final days. His family will remember him as a loving husband, father and grandfather who had a kind and gentle soul with a good sense of humor and a joy for helping others.
Ridge is survived by JoAnn, his loving wife of 67 years; by his brother, Hugh Radney and his wife Keechie Radney; by his son, Larry Radney and his wife Lou Radney; his grandchildren, Travis Radney, Erin Radney and her husband, Ben Gaete; Derek Radney and his wife, Sally; Kenneth Priesmeyer and Logan Shannon; his great-grandchildren, Evelyn Radney, Calvin Radney, Owen Gaete and Rhett Gaete. He is preceded in death by his parents; James Pearson Radney and Lola White Radney; by his son, James Radney; by his daughter, Kelly Radney.
The Radney family wishes to extend their gratitude to pastors, Tony McCollum and Paula Kirby, many members of Seabrook United Methodist church and caregivers, AnnMarie and Jeri for all their prayers and support.
A Life Celebration Visitation will be held on Sunday, November 9, 2014 at Crowder Funeral Home, 111 E. Medical Center Blvd, Webster, Texas. A private family burial service will be held in Austin on Veteran’s Day November 11, 2014.
Any desired donations can be made to the Building Fund at Seabrook United Methodist Church, 3300 Lakeside Drive, Seabrook, Texas 77586. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?n=ridgley-radney&pid=173065108&fhid=2698&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.tZg9H11K.dpuf

Obituary, Chris Bargas

Bargas, Chris
Chris Bargas, age 94, of Trumbull, passed away peacefully Sunday, October 19, 2014, at his home with his loving family by his side. He was the beloved husband of 76 years of Rose (Cordone) Bargas. Chris was born in Lowell, MA on December 22, 1919, son of the late Athanasios and Lemonia (Kiourkas) Bargas, and three years later he returned with his mother and brother to their native Greece where he spent his formative years. Chris came back to Bridgeport in 1929, where he left school to work during the great depression. He married Rose and as a young adult worked as a hammer operator for Heppenstall Steel in Bridgeport before he enlisted in the US Navy and served in WWII. Chris served with distinction as a 40mm anti-aircraft gunner on the Aircraft Carrier USS Franklin in the South Pacific. He returned with honor in 1945 with 7 battle stars and a purple heart. Upon his return he opened Midway Luncheonette with his wife in Bridgeport. In 1954 he opened Capitol Realty Co. and worked as a real estate broker. He began a construction and development company that grew beyond Fairfield county to include New Haven county, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Florida, and real estate holdings in Puerto Rico. He was an original investor in the Claridge Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, and the producer of the 1961 feature film, Antigone. Over the years, Chris developed miles of roads, thousands of homes and condominiums, as well as building three golf courses, including Hillandale Country Club in Trumbull, Oronoque Village in Stratford, and Whitney Farms Golf Course in Monroe. He loved the creative process of developing land from scratch, and working with everyone involved to realize his vision. He was also a devoted family man who loved to spend time with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family and close friends. He is the beloved father of Thomas Bargas and his wife Pamela George and James Bargas and his wife Gertrud Leuwer. He is the cherished grandfather of Lisa Bargas, Jamie Bargas, and Jill Bargas-Gold and her husband Bruce, Chris B. Bargas and his wife Jennifer Condren, Stephanie Bargas, and Elke Bargas, and great-grandfather of Jack and William Fitzmaurice, Eleni Alexandra Gold, Amelia Rose and James William Bargas. He also leaves a sister-in-law, Antoinette Caselli, several nieces and nephews, and his closest of friends, James Cormier. Chris was predeceased by his brother John Bargas. Friends may greet the family at the Riverview Funeral Home, 390 River Road, Shelton, on Wednesday from 4 to 8 PM. On Thursday, friends are invited directly to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 4070 Park Ave, Bridgeport for a Funeral Mass at 10:30 AM. Burial will follow at Nichols Farm Burial Ground in Trumbull. Memorial contributions can be made to Folds of Honor, 5800 N. Patriot Drive, Owasso, OK 74055 or through the funeral director. Offer condolences online at www.riverviewfh.com. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/ctpost/obituary.aspx?n=chris-bargas&pid=172869519&fhid=13053&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.btnvervF.dpuf

Obituary, Robert A. Ladewig

Robert A. Ladewig. Age 90 of Park Ridge. Navy Veteran WWII. Beloved husband of Tina & the late Shirley. Loving father of Steven (Chris) & Richard Ladewig, Joe, Nick (Valerie) & Chuck (Patricia) Vanella. Devoted grandfather of Brittany Megan & Lindsay Ladewig, Caitlin, Kelsey, Emily, Tess, Mia & Charley Vanella. Funeral Monday, October 20, 10 a.m. from Ryan-Parke Funeral Home, 120 S. Northwest Hwy., Park Ridge proceeding to Morton Grove Community Church, 8944 Austin Ave., Morton Grove. Service 11 a.m. Interment Private. Visitation at the funeral home, Sunday 3-9 p.m. Funeral Information www.ryan-parke.com – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/chicagotribune/obituary.aspx?n=robert-ladewig&pid=172863874&fhid=4352#sthash.9phrHenj.dpuf

Obituary, Harry George Smeltzer

Harry Smeltzer 2Harry Smeltzer 1

Harry George Smeltzer died Sept. 20, 2014, at VAMC, Prescott. He was born March 23, 1923, in Manor, Pa., to Harry and Madelyn Smeltzer

Harry served in the U.S. Navy during World War II on the USS Franklin CV-13. The ship was attacked by Japanese kamikazes on March 19, 1945, losing over 900 crew members. Harry was wounded and awarded a Purple Heart. He is the Arizona representative for the WWII Monument in Washington, D.C.

June 26, 1949, Harry married Gertrude Mary Hickey. They spent most of their life in Michigan City, Ind. retiring to Prescott, Ariz., in 2000.

He is survived by his wife; children, Carolyn, Mary (Charlie), Jim; two sisters, Marilyn and Gerry.

The family extends their greatest appreciation and thanks to the VAMC in Prescott for taking care of Harry in his final years.

Visitation is from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, followed by a Memorial Mass at the VA Chapel, 500 N. Highway 89, with full military honors at the Prescott National Cemetery at 11 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you simply help a veteran whenever possible.

You are invited to log onto ruffnerwakelin.com to sign Harry’s guestbook and share a memory with the family.

Information provided by survivors.

March 23, 1923 – September 20, 2014
USS Franklin CV 13 Proud plank owner, “Big Ben the Ship that Would Not Die”
Purple Heart Recipient, Representative for the state of Arizona for the WW 2 Monument and Steeler Fan

Born in Pennsylvania to Harry George and Madelyn on March 23, 1923. He grew up in Irwin Pennsylvania with his two sisters, Marilyn and Gerry. He served in the US Navy on the USS Franklin CV 13 during WW ll. He honored his shipmates’ everyday and was proud to be of service to his country. He had many stories of the Franklin and shared them with the fellow VA patients and staff as well as the government and his family.

He married Gertrude Mary Hickey Smeltzer on June 26th, 1949. They were married for 65 years. They have three children, Carolyn, Jimmy and Mary (Charles Buckner). For his children he said he wanted them to have respect for the country and be responsible. He said he achieved that with all three. He was, besides his family, very sincere about other three importantaspects of his life, Pennsylvania, the Pittsburg Steelers and the USS Franklin, CV 13.

His favorite song was: Allegheny Moon

Composer: Al Hoffman / Dick Manning

Allegheny Moon, I need your light
To help me find romance tonight
So shine … shine … shine

Allegheny Moon, your silver beams
Can lead the way to golden dreams
So shine … shine … shine

High among the stars, so bright above
The magic of your lamp of love
Can make him mine

Allegheny Moon, it’s up to you
Please see what you can do
For me … and for my one and only love

(Shine … shine … shine on tonight)
(Shine … shine … shine)

High among the stars, so bright above
The magic of your lamp of love
Can make him mine

Allegheny Moon, it’s up to you
Please see what you can do
For me, and for my one and only love

For me, and for my one and only love
(Shine … shine … shine on tonight)
His favorite Team the Steelers:

His favorite Ship was of course, the Franklin:He was extremely proud and honored to be the selected the veteran of WW11 to represent Arizona at the WW11 Monument. He was quoted in the book Inferno, There were two huge explosions and from time to time a rocket would fly…I was not afraid…though I prayed. “I prayed let me see my next birthday,” which was just three days away. I didn’t think I had three hours—let alone three days.”

The Supreme Commander called them home to sail the crystal sea,
Where they will steer with steady hand thought out eternity.
No longer will the high sea roll,
The skies will be clear and every day will be a day of happiness and cheer,
No storm shall cross their valiant prow and calm will be the sea,
In that bright place where all is well and kindly is the breeze,
They are at peace with our shipmates who have gone before.

Obituary, Richard B. Ferris

Richard B. Ferris

Mason, MI

Richard B. Ferris, 92, of Mason, Michigan, passed away September 25, 2014. He was born on May 4, 1922 in Eaton Rapids, Michigan to the late Jay and Violet (Hertzberg) Ferris. He graduated from Eaton Rapids High School. Richard proudly served in the US Navy during WWII on the USS Franklin. A life-long resident of Aurelius Twp. and Mason, he was the former Assistant Postmaster at the Mason Post Office and a Scoutmaster for over 20 years. He enjoyed photography, stamp collecting, and coin collecting in his spare time. He was known for his bright iris beds and was a master gardener. Richard also loved travelling with Elder Hostel.

Richard was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Dorothy. Surviving to cherish his memory are his children, Elaine J. Ferris, Dewayne J. (Kaye) Ferris, Gary R. (Linda) Ferris, and David A. Ferris; grandchildren, Jessica, Timothy, Lesley, Heather, Stephanie, Kenneth, Raylene, Patrick, and Joelynn; and great-grandchildren, Aubrey, Madison, Katelyn, Zoe, Dante, and Dominic.

Memorial Services were held Thursday, October 2, 2014. For those desiring, memorial contributions may be made to: First United Methodist Church of Mason Camping Scholarships, 201 E. Ash Street, Mason, MI 48854; or Alzheimer’s Association, Michigan Great Lakes,

564 South Main Street, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

The family is being served by the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, Mason Chapel. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.grbdmason.com

Published in Lansing State Journal from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5, 2014

Obituary, Edward Slagle

Edward, of Mason, formerly of Montgomery, Ohio, Brooksville, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio, passed peacefully on September 6 from natural causes at the age of 92. He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Lois Shannon, and survived by his children Laura, Tom and Jim, daughter-in-law JoAnn, grandchildren Leah and Paul, and great grandchildren McKinzie and Landon, all of whom visited his bedside during his final challenge. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Slovenian-American parents, Ed served on the USS Franklin aircraft carrier during WWII. He married his Collinwood High School sweetheart Lois while on shore leave. After the war, Ed toured with the Ray Anthony Orchestra and other big bands before settling down to raise a family in South Euclid, Ohio. He earned a mechanical engineering degree at Case Tech and worked for many years at Picker X-Ray and Liebel-Flarsheim. His career as a musician (saxophone and clarinet) brought joy to thousands, and most especially Eddie. In the 1950s he played weekly on the “Polka Varieties” live television program in Cleveland. He was inducted into the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame in 2006. Moving to Southwestern Ohio in the early 1970s, he played with a variety of bands, including Maple Knoll and Jack Carr bands. Ed loved golf and boating, his family and his music. In “retirement”, Lois and Ed founded SS Specialties, a drafting-instruments company that they could manage from both Ohio and Florida, where they had a second home. Ed was a lifetime member of the musician’s union. Ed’s fulfilling life, kindness and buoyant spirit will be celebrated in private memorial services. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Ed was a member of the VFW band in Mason.

Published in The Cincinnati Enquirer on Sept. 21, 2014 – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/cincinnati/obituary.aspx?n=edward-slagle&pid=172519516&fhid=17229&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.LCBxMDg9.dpuf

Obituary, Jess Rand

December 25, 1925 – September 12, 2014 Jess Rand, born in the Bronx, NY. Graduate of Dewitt Clinton High School. Studied journalism at Columbia University. At age 16, began his musical career with Irving Berlin in NY. His career was put on hold to enlist in the US Navy/1943-1946 where he served in the Pacific (Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Philippines Liberation). Served on USS Franklin CV-13. Honorably discharged as Signalman, PO 2nd class. After the War, he became close confidant and press agent for Sammy Davis Jr and personal manager to Sam Cooke. Rand represented great stars including Lee Marvin, Mel Torme, Glen Campbell, Judy Collins, Bobbie Gentry, The Lettermen, Mort Sahl and Dick Gautier. In 1961, produced The Plunderers with Jeff Chandler. He created a 90-minute episode of “Sam Cooke Phenomenon”/debut show for the Westinghouse Broadcasting TV Network. Continued working as Personal Manager until 1991/co-founder and served as President of Conference of Personal Managers West until he moved to Montecito, CA in 1986 with wife Bonnie Rand. Next to his family, Rand’s greatest love was music. Rand is survived by Bonnie Rand, loving wife of 60 yrs, son, Jonathan, daughter, Amy, 4 grandchildren and great grand-child.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Sept. 17 to Sept. 21, 2014
– See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/latimes/obituary.aspx?n=jess-rand&pid=172487241&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.BQB1lEUm.dpuf