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

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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)

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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

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

Reunion Speaker , Rear Admiral Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Chaplains United States Navy.

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The speaker for the 2014 USS Franklin Reunion Saturday night July 19th, will be Rear Admiral Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Chaplains for the United States Navy. Admiral Tidds biography can be found on the United States Navys website here: http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=523

I look forward to seeing everybody in Norfolk very soon!

Admiral Mark L Tidd

Father O’Callahan to be honored March 18 the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester MA

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Father Joseph Timothy O'Callahan "Father Joe"

Father Joseph Timothy O’Callahan “Father Joe”

 

Hello Friends,

Jim Delehaunty, the chair of the O’Callahan Society sent the following message:

On March 18 the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester MA will observe the anniversary of the passing of Fr O’Callahan, professor of mathematics and philosophy, US Navy chaplain, Jesuit priest and Medal of Honor recipient for his heroism on board USS Franklin in March 1945.

More information is available at the Holy Cross website here:

http://news.holycross.edu/blog/2014/03/13/college-community-remembers-rev-joseph-t-ocallahan-s-j/

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

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Shipmate Sam Rhodes stands in front of the monument that he has worked for tirelessly to memorialize the fallen crew of the USS Franklin.

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The dedication of the plaques will take place on Veterans Day, November 11, 2013 at Memorial Park in Stuart Florida.

The local paper has written an article on Sam and his efforts in the following link: https://www.tcpalm.com/news/2013/mar/14/eve-samples-wwii-veteran-wants-public-memorial/

To donate to this memorial, please make check payable to “USS Franklin Memorial Plaques,” and send to Samuel Rhodes, 1867 N.E. Ridge Ave., Jensen Beach, FL 34957

2014 Reunion Update- July 17 thru 20 2014

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Hello,

I received some exciting news from Ron Williams this weekend.  The 2014 USS Franklin Reunion venue has been selected!  The 2014 reunion will be at:

Sheraton Norfolk Waterside 777 Waterside Drive Norfolk, VA 23510

757-622-6664

http://www.sheratonnorfolkwaterside.com/

The dates will be July 17-20.  The room rate is $99/night single and double occupancy plus tax. The February mailing of the news letter will have more details.

In the mean time you can contact the even host, Ron Williams, at ron.williams@ussfranklin.org for more information. Ron and family are hosting the reunion in honor of their father, Franklin crew member Jim Lyons.

 

USS Franklin Reunion in the News! 5/17/2013

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The USS Franklin reunion in Charleston South Carolina has made the local and national news.  NBC’s Brian Williams reports in the story below.

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/51922643/

MSNBC story is here:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/51922965/displaymode/1283/for/facebookvideo

The local Charleston NBC news is here:

http://www.counton2.com/story/22281164/vets-from-world-war-ii-carrier-hold-final-reunion?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8891626

Local ABC Coverage:

http://www.abcnews4.com/video?clipId=8892132&autostart=true

http://www.abcnews4.com/story/22278424/vets-from-world-war-ii-carrier-hold-final-reunion

http://www.abcnews4.com/video?clipId=8889422&autostart=true

 

USS Guam Website.

Mark Morrison, Owner/Administrator of the USS Guam (CB-2) Website www.ussguam.info reports that after having previously run the website www.ussguam.com many years ago, the website is now again in operation with the new name (.info).
The USS Guam accompanied the injured USS Franklin after the March 19, 1945 Attack.
From the Website www.ussguam.info:
March 19, 1945.
Guam’s battle debut continues with five kamikaze attacks on the carriers. During this attack and continued air attacks during that day, a suicide plane crashed into Intrepid’s aft flight deck, and then plunged into the sea. Enterprise suffered a bomb hit near the island superstructure. Despite the damage, both Intrepid and Enterterprise continued to operate. The aircraft carrier Franklin(CV-13) was victim to two bomb hits, and Wasp (CV-7) received bomb hits as well. Guam managed to destroy four of the enemy planes.Guam is assigned to Task Unit 58.2.9, a salvage unit ordered to escort the damaged Franklin from the combat area. This unit was composed of cruisers Guam, Alaska, Pittsburgh and Santa Fe (CL-60) and three destroyer divisions.
If you have any interesting USS Guam information, please feel free to forward it to Mark at  info@ussguam.info.