Pittsburg Post-Gazette USS Franklin headlines from 70 years ago this week

Seventy years ago this week, a front-page picture presented Post-Gazette readers with proof that the world was truly off kilter. Even today, the image remains a shocking reminder of the apocalyptic nature of a war that, by 1945, had enveloped the globe for more than five years.

Seventy years ago this week, a front-page picture presented Post-Gazette readers with proof that the world was truly off kilter. Even today, the image remains a shocking reminder of the apocalyptic nature of a war that, by 1945, had enveloped the globe for more than five years.

 

The link to the full article is here:

http://newsinteractive.post-gazette.com/thedigs/2015/05/20/the-roar-of-the-fire-was-like-thunder-and-on-the-flight-deck-and-hangar-decks-were-the-dead/

USS Franklin Connection found at South Carolina Duncan Park Memorial

 

University of South Carolina Upstate Library Dean Frieda Davison has written a book about all of the men listed on the Duncan Park memorial. Davison, who spent eight years of research to tell the story of every single veteran for the book, stands at the Veteran’s Pointe Memorial Park war memorial at Duncan Park in Spartanburg on Friday.

University of South Carolina Upstate Library Dean Frieda Davison has written a book about all of the men listed on the Duncan Park memorial. Davison, who spent eight years of research to tell the story of every single veteran for the book, stands at the Veteran’s Pointe Memorial Park war memorial at Duncan Park in Spartanburg on Friday.

The link to the article is here:

http://www.goupstate.com/article/20150523/ARTICLES/150529879?p=1&tc=pg

Inscribed bricks offered at the USS Franklin Memorial in Stuart Florida

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You may recall the USS Franklin’s own Sam Rhodes efforts to establish a USS Franklin Memorial in Stuart Florida published in an article on this site in November 2013.  See the article below.

USS Franklin plaques to be dedicated in Memorial Park in Stuart Florida on Veterans Day.

Mr. Ed Maxwell of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1041 in Stuart Florida reports that their Memorial Brick Program is open to any and all veterans and is installing customized bricks in the Stuart Veterans Memorial Park.  Bricks can be customized for $25 and $75 dollars.  Make sure you mention your USS Franklin connection so the bricks can be located accordingly in the park.  Click the image of the brick below for an application.

Harry Smeltzer Brick USS Franklin Memorial Stuart Florida

 

You can also get a brick application at the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1041 website here:

http://www.vva1041.org/#!about2/c1et

 

Spring / Summer 2015 Newsletter and Milwaukee reunion registration

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Hello Franklin Friends!

The Spring / Summer 2015 USS Franklin Museum Association Newsletter has been sent to the paper printer and should reach everybody in a week or so.  I am also publishing the documents online for your immediate consumption!  Please click on the links below for the newsletter and registration documents.

Franklin Newsletter Spring 2015

USS Franklin Reunion 2015 Registration

Please forward a link to this webpage to your friends and family so they can access the documents as well.

http://www.ussfranklin.org/?p=889

The Fall 2015 newsletter will be the last paper newsletter distributed via the postal service in favor of email distribution like this.  We realize many of our readers are not on the web.  If you would like to continue to get a paper newsletter, please contact Louise Mast at louise.mast@ussfranklin.org.

Please join our email list if you would would like to be notified when the newsletter and other important updates are posted to www.ussfranklin.org.  You can join the Franklin email list at the link here http://www.ussfranklin.org/?page_id=809.

Best Wishes,
Darren Hamm
www.ussfranklin.org webmaster
USS Franklin Museum Association board member

Salem man recalls escape from flaming USS Franklin

The Statesman Journal has just posted a story about Franklin Crewmember Albert Cole of Salem Oregon.

The link is here:

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/opinion/columnists/capi-lynn/2015/03/07/salem-man-recalls-escaping-flaming-uss-franklin/24571377/

Update 25 MARCH 2015- a followup story is posted here:

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/opinion/columnists/capi-lynn/2015/03/25/wwii-vets-reunited-years/70414010/

Milwaukee 2015 Reunion Update!

The pins have arrived!

2015 Milwaukee Pin

In the  Franklin Newsletter Fall 2014 we announced that the 2015 Franklin Reunion will be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 16-19.  I see that some of you have already made reservations at the Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield Hotel (262) 364-1100  Make sure you mention the “USS Franklin Room Block” to get the special $109.00/ night room rate.  You can also reserve a room by following the link: https://www.starwoodmeeting.com/Book/ussfranklin

Weekend activities include exploring the Milwaukee lake shore.

Milwaukee Art Museum and War memorial

We will be mailing out the registration form in the spring newsletter.  We will also be posting it to this site so check back often.

We are looking forward to seeing you all in July!

 

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.

Thanks,

Darren Hamm

Rear Admiral Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains remarks for USS Franklin 70th reunion. Delivered July 19, 2014 at the USS Franklin Reunion.

140718-IG780-N-035 NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) - Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains, speaks at the Franklin Society's dinner and dance as part of the group's annual reunion. The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13) during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

140718-IG780-N-035
NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) – Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains, speaks at the Franklin Society’s dinner and dance as part of the group’s annual reunion. The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13) during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

Honoring the Legacy of the Franklin and her Crew 70 years Later

Good evening, Shipmates, Marines and family members. I am deeply honored to be with you at the 70th anniversary of the commissioning of the great aircraft carrier USS Franklin, affectionately nicknamed “Big Ben” a ship whose story is well known to our Nation and our Navy and is interwoven into the history of the Navy Chaplain Corps.

Each year, for the past 70 years you’ve gathered to honor service to our Nation- your own service and that of your loved ones and comrades at such a critical time during World War II. But in particular, you’ve gathered as a crew and family to reflect on the courageous actions taken before daybreak, March 19, 1945, in the waters of Kobe Harbor.

It was a harrowing day where more than 800 lives were lost and nearly 300 wounded, and yet many survived as they fought to save each other and to save Big Ben herself.

There is something powerful behind this ritual of coming together for fellowship and camaraderie, to remember and reflect, to share stories (some of which may be true!) and ultimately to show support to your Shipmates these many years later. Just as you did yesterday during a Memorial Service held aboard the USS Wisconsin. This gathering together is a profound testament to the power of our relationships. Relationships that bring joy and meaning to our lives, but also sustainment in the years following the wrenching experience of combat. For it is these very bonds which bring healing, healing to the body and the mind and finally the heart.

These bonds of Shipmates, forged in harm’s way, are inevitably deepened by the magnitude and intensity of combat experience. Those inseparable bonds have endured time and distance. They are strengthened by your shared devotion to your country, to your ship and to your Shipmates.

This tradition of gathering together also speaks to the personal connection we feel to our ship, our home. It’s almost part of our identity as Sailors- it’s in our DNA. And what a rich and historic legacy of service Big Ben has having served in several campaigns in the Pacific, earning four battle stars with her 3,500 crewmen and 100 aircraft.

So I am pleased to see with us tonight, multiple generations of family members who continue to honor their own family members’ legacy of service during such a critical time in our history.

Among the crew members of FRANKLIN were the ship’s two chaplains, Chaplain Joseph T. O’Callahan, known as “Father Joe” and Chaplain Grimes W. Gatlin, the Protestant chaplain. Both of them held services on the hangar deck the day before the attack, and they were preparing for a burial at sea that morning.

Chaplain O’Callahan and Chaplain Gatlin were spiritual leaders trusted by their people. They’d always been engaged in the lives and welfare of the crew. In their own ways, they brought a message of hope and most importantly, they brought the presence of God—a presence desperately needed on the terrible morning of March 19.
In the course of the attack, the ship was engulfed in flames fed by the five bombers, 14 torpedo bombers and 12 fighters on the flight and hangar decks that were carrying 36,000 gallons of gas and 30 tons of bombs and rockets between them.
Throughout the chaos, the crew remained calm and never gave up the ship. Chaplain O’Callahan manned a fire hose and organized fire fighters to lay water on the bombs so they would not explode. He worked with crew members throwing hot ammunition overboard to prevent a potentially fatal explosion. He sought to comfort the wounded and to administer last rights to the dying, while Chaplain Gatlin ministered to those badly burned in the attacks.
One of those Sailors to whom Father Joe O’Callahan gave last rites was Robert C. Blanchard who had been overcome by smoke inhalation. Many of you know well the iconic WWII photograph of Father Joe bending over Robert. What was not publicly known until recently was the fact that Robert went on to live to be 90 and passed away this past April.
FRANKLIN’S CO, Captain Leslie E. Gehres, said this about Chaplain O’Callahan’s actions to save the ship and care for the crew: “His courage was sustained, tested by time, enduring, faithful to the end.” These words applied to countless others present that morning.
While sustaining catastrophic damage, heroic damage control measures saved the ship. Thanks to that courageous and incredibly resilient spirit, you were able to save Big Ben. As you well know, no ship in history had ever suffered such losses and remained afloat.
As the Plan of the Day for March 21st put it so well after the attack and recovery efforts: “Big Ben Bombed, Battered, Bruised and Bent But Not Broken.” Those words reflect the valor and tenacity demonstrated that fateful day, and it speaks to your generation of Sailors and Marines who answered the call to serve our great Nation. That’s something for which all family members present tonight have reason to be justifiably proud.
This tenacious and resilient spirit carried you not only through the attack, but also through the 5-week, 12,000 mile cruise back home to New York Harbor. Once safely docked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 234 men received Letters of Commendation, nearly 300 of the wounded crew members were presented with Purple Hearts. 115 men were recipients of the Bronze Star. Chaplain Grimes W. Gatlin was among 22 of Franklin’s men to be awarded the Silver Star.
The Navy Cross went to 19 of Franklin’s men, including the captain.

For actions above and beyond the call of duty that day, Lt.j.g. Donald A. Gary was awareded the Congressional Medal of Honor, as as Chaplain Joseph O’Callahan, the 1st military chaplain to receive that award. He remains one of only two Navy chaplains to receive this award.

On that fateful day, more than 800 of your fellow Sailors and Marines gave their lives and nearly 300 were wounded from the attack, together accounting for 1/3 of your Shipmates.
In the Christian scriptures, John 15:13 reminds us that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” his Shipmates.
Thank you for your invitation to join you here tonight as you gather to reflect on your service to our Nation, to our Navy, and to each other aboard the Franklin and to honor the tremendous sacrifices and legacy of your fellow crew members who perished that fateful day.
Regardless of the paths your lives have taken through the years since that day, you can always stand proud of your service to your ship and to your Shipmates.
May God continue to bless you and your families.

Article on USS Franklin Reunion 2014

Eleven of the remaining USS Franklin Crew at the 2014 Reunion Dinner Dance

Eleven of the remaining USS Franklin Crew at the 2014 Reunion Dinner Dance

Hello Friends.

We just wrapped up another successful USS Franklin Reunion and we must admit we were very sad to return to work after such a great weekend with the Franklin Family. We had a wonderful time with our extended family and got to know some crew members (and their wives) that we had not had the privilege of speaking with before now.

MC3 Shane Jackson, from Navy Public Affairs Support Element – East, has captured some of this experience in a very nice article about the reunion, particularly the relationships we’ve built over the years. Please take the time to read this article by clicking on the link below. Hoping all made it home safe and looking forward to next year’s reunion (any volunteers?)!

Yours,
Darren and Susan Hamm

http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=82337

140718-IG780-N-080 NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) – Bill Albrecht, a surviving member of aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13), reads the names of the most recently deceased survivors of Franklin on board battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64). The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard Franklin during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

140718-IG780-N-080
NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) – Bill Albrecht, a surviving member of aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13), reads the names of the most recently deceased survivors of Franklin on board battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64). The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard Franklin during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

140718-IG780-N-073 NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) - Bernard Groenewald, left, a surviving member of aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13), and Ron Williams, sponsor of the 2014 Franklin Reunion, read the names of the most recently deceased survivors of Franklin on board battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64). The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard Franklin during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

140718-IG780-N-073
NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) – Bernard Groenewald, left, a surviving member of aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13), and Ron Williams, sponsor of the 2014 Franklin Reunion, read the names of the most recently deceased survivors of Franklin on board battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64). The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard Franklin during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

140718-IG780-N-035 NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) - Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains, speaks at the Franklin Society's dinner and dance as part of the group's annual reunion. The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13) during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

140718-IG780-N-035
NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) – Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains, speaks at the Franklin Society’s dinner and dance as part of the group’s annual reunion. The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13) during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

140718-IG780-N-032 NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) - Capt. James Denley, a Navy chaplain, speaks at the annual Franklin Society reunion on board battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64). The Franklin Society annually honors the men who served aboard aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13) during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

140718-IG780-N-032
NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) – Capt. James Denley, a Navy chaplain, speaks at the annual Franklin Society reunion on board battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64). The Franklin Society annually honors the men who served aboard aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13) during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

140718-IG780-N-023 NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) - The surviving members of aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13) pose for a group photo at their annual reunion on board battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64). The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard Franklin during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

140718-IG780-N-023
NORFOLK, Va. (July 18, 2014) – The surviving members of aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV 13) pose for a group photo at their annual reunion on board battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64). The annual meeting of the Franklin Society honors the men who served aboard Franklin during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)