Update: 14 November 2023
Herald changes focus to electronic delivery
This is the newsletter of and for shipmates who served aboard USS Harry E. Hubbard (DD-748). It was a Sumner class destroyer commissioned July 22 1944, decommissioned after WWII, recommissioned and decommissioned in 1949, recommissioned again in 1950 for the Korean War, decommissioned the last time in 1969 and subsequently scrapped. The Hubbard Herald logo above was copied from the shipboard newspaper of World War II. Readership consists of those who served in the ship at any time during its active and reserve career and the widows, relatives and friends of those who manned and sailed the ship. It is edited by Richard E. Oliver, who came aboard as a newly commissioned Ensign in 1968. All material herein was written by the editor except as noted.
At the annual business meeting held Saturday October 14 2023 the last day of the Orlando reunion, the shipmates present took note of the declining treasury and decided to shift the Hubbard publication to electronic instead of the twice-yearly postal mailing. The main focus now will be on the Herald posted on the website and on shipmates and friends getting the info via the website or email.
Once a year the Herald will be mailed to those who request a printed copy. In addition we will ask for donations for the printed version and to maintain the website. The cost of postage has increased to 66 cents and is expected to go up further. A number of people this past mailing indicated they did not receive the mailed copy and this also made us question our delivery methods. There were 490 newsletters mailed and 16 more were re-mailed due to address problems, changes or reported non-receipt. With so much of one’s daily mail being junk it is easy to see how our newsletter might get lost in the shuffle.
Shipmate Vern Fairchild (MEG3 55-57) volunteered to lead the project to update and expand our email contact list. Those with active email addresses will be sent a version of the newsletter and its updates. This has been attempted in the past with limited success. Vern’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org If you provide us with your email address we will email you a copy of the newsletter and its updates as they become available and make sure you stay connected.
This on-line version will be updated as information becomes known about the upcoming reunion. This will be indicated by a change in the date shown at the top of this posting. This version is dated 30 October 2023. If you are a shipmate or family member reading this version on the website please send an email or text to the newsletter editor and let me know. My name is Dick Oliver and the email address is easy to remember. It is email@example.com For text use telephone number 727 363-3059. Your name will then be removed from the mailing list for printed copies.
I will be out of the country on a world cruise the first part of 2024. Donations in support of the newsletter and website may be mailed to the assistant treasurer Doug Leland, 121 Williams Way, Strafford MO 65757-9106 during the period January to May 2024 when I am away. After May 2024 checks may be sent to me, the treasurer, Richard E. Oliver, 199 Dali Blvd PH-3, St. Petersburg FL 33701-3993. Checks may be made payable to USS Harry E. Hubbard (DD-748) Reunion Association.
New Orleans selected for 2024 reunion, September 22-26, hotel pending
As at all previous reunions the shipmates present at the annual meeting voted on where to hold the next reunion. Many of us were worried that there would not be another one. Twenty shipmates attending this year represented a new low in attendance. In 2022 there were 25 shipmates attending the San Diego reunion, Sixteen of the twenty shipmates in Orlando in 2023 had also attended the San Diego reunion. We need new people attending if we are to continue to hold reunions.
The shipmates present approved the proposal by Jim Kelly (CDR, LTjg 66-68) to hold the 2024 reunion in New Orleans. The dates selected are 22-26 September. This is Sunday to Thursday, a change suggested by several attendees. The plan includes visiting the WWII Museum and a riverboat excursion. New Orleans is noted for its food, music and historic sites. Several hotels are under consideration and will be announced here as soon as known.
Twenty shipmates and 31 guests enjoy the Jose hospitality
Ed Jose (MSCM, TN 67-69) and his wife Elisa (Ely) were hosts for the Orlando reunion 11-15 October 2023 Two of their three sons, Edwin and Eugene, also pitched in. Gene drove the van the Joses rented to shuttle our attendees to and from the airport. Edwin played trumpet for the memorial service and sang and was disc jockey for the banquet. His father accompanied him on bass guitar for several songs.
At the banquet Saturday Doug Leland, Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee, presented me with a plaque for years of service as treasurer (since January 2006) and newsletter editor (since June 2001).
And such a banquet! Ed and Ely used their catering skills to prepare a lavish feast of both American and traditional Filipino dishes. Young people from the Filipino Association at the University of Central Florida presented a program of native dancing.
The reunion activities started with a rainy Wednesday. The first tour, to the Silver Springs State Park, got off to a bad start when the glass-bottom boat ride portion of the tour was canceled due to windy conditions. The springs were clear and bubbly. We did eat lunch on the grounds but not in the pavilion we had rented. After that we visited the Lakeridge winery for a wine tasting.
That evening most of us had dinner at the reunion hotel, Drury, where the Kickback at 5:30 features three free drinks (for adults) and a buffet of finger food and heavy snacks (for all). Plus the hotel has free popcorn, coffee and soft drinks daily. It was said to be the first military reunion that the Drury chain had ever hosted and it was a learning experience on both ends. For most of our group the Drury Hotel experience was a new and pleasant one.
Friday two-thirds of the attendees loaded the bus early for the drive to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. The early departure paid off as they arrived in time to see the launch of a Space-X rocket up close. Traffic coming back was the usual Orlando mess but the group arrived back in time for Kickback.
Let me say in this space every destroyer group planning a reunion should consider the benefits of a Drury Hotel stay. Other hotels we looked at in Orlando were charging for parking but not Drury. Also I loved their spacious L-shaped swimming pool with indoor-outdoor areas and a generous five-foot depth. Breakfast is included and the evening Kickback is enough food for dinner for most people. With drinks in the hotel no need to drive and drink going out for dinner.
Saturday we were off to Kissimmee (pronounced Kis-sim-me) for the Bataan-Correigidor Memorial where we held our own Hubbard memorial service. Edwin Jose played taps on trumpet, Jim Kelly read the names and Otto Brock manned the bell for our memorial service After that the bus toured downtown Orlando and the adjacent community of Winter Park. (Winter Park is not to be confused with two other nearby communities, Winter Haven and Winter Garden). Like many towns in central Florida each has a lake in or near the center or sometimes more than one lake. The Joses had prepared a box lunch for each person but we got back early so we ate them in the hotel rather than on the bus.
I did not take notes for the business meeting and am writing from memory. The meeting started with the financial report and after that we discussed ways to save money on the newsletter, our main expense. I told the shipmates that any loss on the Orlando reunion was mostly my fault as I had insisted on pricing the tours and events low and offering a no-questions-asked money-back refund policy. This was based on my experience hosting four reunions, that shipmates are reluctant to sign up because they never know how their health will be down the road. Then, after they have waited until the last moment, they’ve misplaced the registration form or something else happens and they do not attend. I was concerned too that price might be keeping some people away. We chose the Drury hotel for its added benefits (breakfast and dinner, free drinks, free parking) as well as its comparatively low price for the Orlando area. We saved money by not having to stock a hospitality room with booze and snacks and thus did not charge a registration/hospitality fee as we usually do. Besides that a number of shipmates have cut back on drinking alcohol (and lost weight in the process). We did pay for and use a meeting room, for which we paid $100 plus tax per day. There we had shirts and hats on display for sale ($548 in receipts) and a table for Silent Auction ($388 in receipts). We also saved money by not having to pay for an expensive meal in the hotel that usually is not all that great. Drury Hotels generally do not have banquet dining rooms or a la carte meals. They do have $5 desert specials available at Kickback and they looked delicious.
The main concern of the attendees and the board was the increasing cost of the newsletter. One suggestion was to reduce the size by eliminating the history portion and focus on the reunion. The point is well taken. In the old days there was a spiral notebook in which shipmates wrote their name and address if they wanted to be notified of the next reunion. Gradually prospective attendees were added as they were identified in shipmate searches. In pre-internet times this was often by telephoning people in distant cities with the same last name as the shipmate we were looking for, hoping for a lucky strike or a relative. One of our now deceased shipmates, J. T. Hill, digitized the mailing list and purchased a label machine, a track printer that used rolls of labels. Shipmates set up websites and through that means were contacted by new shipmates. Others were found through the searches by Al Eisenbraun (SH3 63-67). I had turned the reunion mailing into a newsletter that promoted the reunion and reunion attendance. But, we kept getting further away from our purpose, to promote the annual reunion. We are returning to that focus. We have spent a total of $1410.91 on the last two newsletters. We are down to about 500 per mailing, or close to a dollar and a half per copy to print and mail.
So, keep watching this website (www.dd748.org) space for updates. Keep us advised of your email address so we can send you updates in that manner. In the next postal mailing we will ask the recipients if they want to keep getting a mailed copy. Let us know your desires. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my mailing address is Richard E. Oliver, 199 Dali Blvd PH-3, St. Petersburg FL 33701-3993 Also note that our website and email versions are in color and at eleven pages are longer than the black and white 8-page version we mail.
Attendees at reunion 20 shipmates 49 total including guests. Where two ranks or rates are shown, the first is a later one and the second is the one on board HEH. Ed Blanchard (LTjg 64-67), Otto Brock (FT2 56-57) and Charlene Brock and son Raymond D. Brock, Bob Chavez (SFP3 66-69) and Patty Chavez and daughter Regina Chavez and granddaughter Angelica Chavez, Vern Fairchild (MEG3 55-57) and guest Donna Allen, John Fried (SN, 59-61) and Susan Fried, John Grimmke (FTG3 65-67) and Pam Grimmke, host & hostess Ed Jose (MSCM TN, 67-69) and Elisa Jose and sons Eugene Jose and Edwin Jose, Jim Kelly (Cdr LTjg, 66-68) and Beverlee Bickmore, Doug Leland (MM1, MM2 66-69) and Dorothy LeLand and son Chuck Leland, Dave Majeski (SK1 SN, 67-68) and Renae Majeski and daughter Erica Majeski, Leo Richard (Dick) Martin (BM2 68-69) and Mary Martin, Russ Miller (LT, LTjg, 65-67) and Sherry Miller, Dick Oliver (LT, Ens 68-69) and Natalie Oliver and guests Tom & Marie O’Day, Tom Ornazian (MM3, 68-69), Gary Padgett (RD2, 63-66) and Celia Padgett, Hank Schleider (MM2 67-69) and Carlene Schleider, Jim Sharits (EM2 64-68) and guests Nita Davis and Jim’s sister Annie Sharits, Jim “Ace” Stromberg (MM2 66-69) and guest Lisa Sanders, Kent Ward (EM2 63-67) and Beth Ward, George Young (MM3, 62-66) and Cherry Young and Cherry’s son Lee Gordon and guest Lori Kibler.
Hubbard shipmates in photo at memorial service
Front row: Vern Fairchild seated, Otto Brock black sweater, John Fried in shorts, Jim Kelly, Russ Miller in suspenders, Dave Majeski with cane; 2nd row Ed Jose, Gary Padgett, Jim Stromberg in red, Dick Martin, Bob Chavez; 3rd row John Grimmke, Dick Oliver, Tom Ornazian, Ed Blanchard in vest; back row Hank Schleider, Doug Leland, George Young. Not in picture: Jim Sharits, Kent Ward.
Our departed shipmates remembered on the Memorial Pages
On this website you will find a list of our departed shipmates with some information on where they lived and when they served on the Hubbard. Al Eisenbraun adds them as we discover them. He operates a Facebook page and that is both a source and provider of info. Al also coordinates flowers for shipmate funerals and get-well and condolence cards. You can reach him at Alvin Eisenbraun email <Alvin.email@example.com>, by phone (360) 572-0075 or by mail: 5002 75th Ave NE, Marysville WA 98270-8814. He also manages and funds our website. If you can help, please contact him.
Truth be told, we are losing shipmates faster than we are finding them. FN Frederick Melvin (Fred) Alexis died Sept. 12, 2023. He was born 8/2/37. He came aboard Hubbard from boot camp in 1959 and left as a fireman later that year. He served in four destroyers and was a MM2 at the end of his four years. He lived in LaGrande Oregon.
We often discover a shipmate is deceased after the mail is returned to us. Then we start looking. Sometimes the shipmates died several years previously. Our shipmates are in touch with each other. We are glad to aid the process in any way we can. But it is sometimes the shipmates that bring the sad news. Such is the case with RD3 Raymond Clarence (Ray) Rexroat (65-67), whose death was reported by shipmate Ron Hansen (ETR2 64-66). Ray died October 6 2023. If we had learned in time he would have been remembered at our memorial service in Orlando along with the twenty shipmates whose names were read in the ceremony. Each deceased shipmate has his name printed in the newsletter, is entered on our memorial page website and is remembered at the annual ceremony at the reunion, a practice we have continued since the early days of our association.
As we work at confirming our mailing and email addresses we are learning of additional deceased shipmates. QM3 James W. Bowman died 9/13/23 in Cedar Falls Iowa. He was born 10/19/1931. He came aboard 2/4/52 from USS Evansville PF-70 and stayed to the expiration of his enlistment 6/13/1954. We have just learned of the death of shipmate RD2 Jon R. Marshall 10/25/23 in Orland Park Illinois. Jon came aboard from the Reserve Center in Aurora Illinois 8/11/61 and served until completion of active duty 7/23/62. LT Charles M. Dallas died May 5 2022 in Cherry Hill New Jersey at age 95. He was born 11/25/1926. He was a Naval architect and was engineering officer aboard ship 12/6/56 to 7/10/58. He was later promoted to LCDR.
Three shipmates were left off the Kissimmee memorial list October 2023 due to error on my part. BT1 John Edward (Jack) Kelly was aboard 6/8/56 to mid-1959. He was born 8/27/1933 and died 6/13/2021 in Fairfield California. RM3 Zale Kay Wood was aboard 1957-58. He was born 8/25/1937 and died 3/7/2023 in Zillah Washington. We also learned belatedly that deceased shipmate RD1 Richard H. Wright (1951-54) had a cousin aboard at the same time. This was GM3 Joe Tom Wright. He was born 12/15/1930 and died 6/1/1956 in a car wreck shortly after leaving the Navy. Both are buried in the family cemetery in Floresville Texas.
Notes from various shipmates
I had a nice conversation with John Bangerter (RM2, 50-53) about the Republic of Korea Marines that were embarked on the first Hubbard Korean Conflict cruise in 1951. He was actually on one of the motor whaleboats that towed the ROK boat ashore. He related the story of a near miss with a floating mine on one trip going toward land on a mission.
It also turned out that John had never received a copy of the Hubbard cruisebook (The Hubbard’s Far Eastern Forays). Al Eisenbraun made John a copy and John reimbursed him for the postage and photocopying. Hopefully Al’s eye problem will get resolved soon so try not to make too many requests of him even though he is an amazing storehouse of info.
At the business meeting Jim Kelly indicated that his grandson would be helping with the website, along with Al’s grandson Branden, who is also a computer major, soon to graduate from my alma mater, the University of Washington. The monthly website expense has gone from $5 per month December 2021 to $15.31 September 2023. Computer geeks in our community are welcome to offer advice and help. Our website was crafted a long time ago and it does need updating to run more smoothly and efficiently. Contributions to help fund the website would be welcome.
Some more info from Al, who keeps track of a lot of shipmates. Mike Noonan (ETR3 66-69) was in an accident in which his truck was demolished. He has two cracked vertebrae in his neck. Mary Linn Hoffmann (widow of RADm Roy Hoffmann - a LT aboard 50-52 as Weapons Officer) has had pneumonia. Al sends out cards to those who are ill. At our reunion we learned that Diana Stanton is recovering from back surgery. She usually attends with Dennis Ditsch (ICC IC2 68-69). Dennis stayed home to assist with her recovery.
Dennis was a last minute cancelation but he had been keeping me updated. Also forced to cancel was Phyllis Crim, who was unable to get enough time off from work. She is the widow of Jesse James (Jimmy) Crim, EM3 66-69. I had a call from Ernie Moore (ET1 50-51) wanting to know when the reunion was going to be. Apparently he never received the newsletter. By the time he got the info it was too late for him to make arrangements flying from New Jersey. He has been a frequent attendee at recent reunions and actually has a granddaughter working in the Orlando area. Jimmy Loy (SFP3 68-69) was another shipmate that had to cancel at the last minute. My wife’s sister and her husband, Lowell and Freda Dexter, had planned to attend but Lowell’s surgery was slow healing.
Angelica Chavez flew in Saturday from New York in time for the banquet with her mother Regina and grandparents Bob and Patty.
Along with the donation by George Swift ((BT2 61-62) was the information that he was born 5 May 1940 Fort Mills on the Corregidor peninsula. He and his family were evacuated to the States before the fighting began. George is active in Vietnam Veterans organization providing meals for the homeless and was unable to get away to attend the reunion. I had told him I was writing a magazine article about the Asiatic Fleet four-stack destroyers at the start of WWII, who were based in Manila. It was among my many projects that pile up and overlap as my wife pushes me toward more vacations and less time on the computer.
Al tells me he is working on a new hat design. I bought one of the new yellow Hubbard polo shirts. We also have red and black. Before we only had the white polo shirts with blue striping and letters and the dark blue t-shirt.
This note in an email from Ron Hansen (ETR2 64-66): “Well we lost another good man from our OI Hubbard Division. I called yesterday to see how Ray Rexroat was doing as the last time I talked to him he was really struggling after his extensive surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN. I left a message and just a short time ago Linda Rexroat called me and informed me that Ray passed away on Oct 6. I wish I would have called before the Hubbard reunion this past week, than his name would have been added to the memorial service. My wife and I had did two cruises with Ray and Linda and had some good times on both and especially the one with Tom and Diane Connolly also with us before the Newport RI reunion.” Al Eisenbraun tells me that he and Rex reported to Hubbard at the same time, highlined to Hubbard from an oiler in the Tonkin Gulf November 1965.
Thanks to attendees Donna Allen, Vern Fairchild, Jim Kelly, Dick Martin, Russ Miller, Jim Sharits and George Young for donations and to Julian Dove (GM3 51-55), Jimmy Loy (SFP3 68-69), George Swift (BT2 61-62) and Jim Nordin (PC3, SN 65-66) for mailed donations. We have enough money to continue for another year.
Hubbard Lives - Sorta, Kinda (by Shane Hayes, SK3, 68-69)
As one of the last sailors aboard Hubbard before it was scrapped, I’ve often wondered about the details after she was decommissioned Oct. 17, 1969. During those days, it was strange watching various spaces become empty. There was a large dumpster on the pier where office furniture and chairs were discarded. Who knew so much furniture was hiding aboard? The snipes (plus any available personnel) had a priority to clean up every speck of oil and grease possible from the bilges and engineering spaces. The “scuttlebutt” said that cleaning up the oil and grease meant that Hubbard was going to be used for target practice (as became the fate of seven other Sumner-class destroyers).
In a twist of irony; the asbestos that put all crew members at risk for developing mesothelioma (internal organ cancer) – by EPA ruling, disqualified Hubbard from being used for target practice and becoming an environmental hazard. As an efficient fire-retardant material, asbestos covered Hubbard from bow to stern – in boiler rooms, engine rooms, mess hall, sleeping quarters to ammunition storage rooms.
I hung out in the supply office (just past midships on the inside passageway). Getting rid of the “leftovers” from the ship’s store included the case of M&M’s stowed on the top shelf in the office. After staring at the M&M’s for weeks, I made a command decision to start handing out packets of the treat to other sailors still on board as they traveled past. Unfortunately, I consumed enough to never look at another M&M for years!
When foreign navy personnel visited, the “sea story” swore Hubbard was going to be sold to a South American country, China or Korea. (29 other retired Sumner class destroyers were ultimately sold to other navies.) Even the best scuttlebutt couldn’t predict, as one of DESRON 13’s finest, Hubbard would eventually be scrapped, (like 12 others.)
Dismantling Guidelines - My final departure from Hubbard included leave to get married in Washington and orders to the USS Mullany DD528 (by 1971, the oldest destroyer on active duty in the fleet). Way above my pay grade, the Department of Defense started a bidding process that was ultimately won by Zidell Explorations in Portland, OR for $80,596.66 in July 1970. The shipyard in Long Beach would have been responsible for removing all armament and sensitive equipment from Hubbard before she was towed (or possibly steamed) to Portland. With scrap steel price’s at $44.24 lb in 1970, a single ton of steel would give Zidell back their purchase price.
The main factors that impact a warship's lifespan of 30 to 40 years include, but are not limited to: 1) The ship's hull integrity becomes "brittle" because of the continuous battering they get at sea. 2) Development and build-up of rust over time. 3) Normal wear-and-tear on the vessel's equipment or onboard equipment becomes obsolete. This is undoubtedly the case for frontline naval vessels as military tech advances.
Hubbard displayed all these characteristics, plus her boiler and engineering problems. Considering the Navy retired all Sumner-class destroyers in the early 1970’s, nothing was going to save Hubbard.
Ship Breaking Process - Techniques for ship breaking include dry docking, beaching and/or dismantling in the water. Beaching is cheaper than dry dock recycling. If the destroyer was in the water during scrapping, care had to be taken to maintain lateral & longitudinal equilibrium. A tricky ballast ballet to balance out weight, avoiding capsizing.
Types of Material - Shreddable steel is called Number 2, it’s thinner steel like you’d find in ventilation ducts, AA gunshields, stanchions, internal fixtures, lockers, and so on. It’s easier to meltdown in this form. Non-ferrous metals are infinitely more valuable prompting shipbreakers to remove them as soon as possible. Brass was widely used in WWII, used in magazines and gun turrets because brass doesn’t spark. Bronze was used for propellers. Galley equipment was stainless steel. Copper was the most valuable metal of all, found mainly in wiring, but also motor windings, transformers, and electric bus bars. Dunnage was the last category. It was simply a byproduct of a scrapped WWII warship: wood, canvas, glass, Bakelite (an early plastic), rope, firebrick, life vests, rubber, mineral wool, tar, and so on. Dunnage is worse than worthless to a shipbreaker. They had to either incinerate it or pay somebody to truck it to a dump.
The Zidell Companies included a ship construction company. Another branch, specialized in using steel recovered from Zidell's shipbreaking business to build new barges. Plus recover industrial valves from its shipbreaking operations and resell them. Zidell dismantled a total of 336 ships, while manufacturing 277 barges. Today, its tube forging business is one of the world's largest manufacturers of carbon steel welding fittings. Tube fittings are used in structural design, where a strong physical integrity is a must.
Hubbard Lives (Sorta, Kinda?) - Realizing Zidell’s vast capabilities, part of Hubbard may have become a barge? After dismantling the superstructure, just cut off the “pointy end” of the ship and you’re reasonably close to a ready-made barge. Certainly, the various metals could have been reforged into one of the ships Zidell built? Who knows how many steel tube fittings (part of a $2.6 Billion industry) are living in the residential, commercal or industrial world from a piece of Hubbard you touched so many years ago? If you’re really that nostalgic, you could own your very own water tight door for only $60. The picture of watertight doors is from a late 60’s ad by Zidell company.