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January 30, 2015

Dear Shipmates,


Nine months to go and need to begin planning for our 2015 Reunion in Reno, Nevada. Dates and plans will be posted on the web page as soon as they are learned. Here's hoping that y'all will be able to attend. As an added incentive, room rates are in the range of $25.00 a night (that's right, $25!!!)




We have received the sad news of the passing of a shipmate and mineman that many of us were acquainted with.


Pat Parks, widow of Don Parks recently relayed the following obit:


SUMMERVILLE - Donald "Don" Raymond Parks, lost his battle with Cancer and entered into eternal rest on January 15, 2015. Don was born in South Edmeston, NY on February 14, 1935 to Blanche and Frank Parks, both deceased. He is survived by his loving wife, Patricia "Pat" of Summerville; daughter, Donna (Troy) DuBois of Ladson and stepdaughter, Sonya (Allen) Glass, of Moncks Corner; three granddaughters: Gracie, Tess and Nikki. He was one of six children: brothers, Frank Parks (deceased) and Jack Parks of Pittsfield, NY; sisters, Millie (Dean) Stowell of St. Augustine, FL, Gerry (Wayne) Felker of Okeechobee, FL and Pat Smith (deceased). There are numerous nieces and nephews. Don joined the Navy in 1952 and retired in 1971 as Mineman (MN) 1st Class. Among his tours of duty were: Naval Station Bainebridge, MD; Naval Gun Factory, Washington, DC; USS Intrepid, USS Midway, USS Jupiter, Naval Mine Warfare Station, Yorktown, VA, Naval Net Depot, Meleville, RI, UWD Key West, FL, USS Valley Forge, NAS Brunswick, ME, NOF Yokosuka, Japan, and Naval Mine Warfare School, Charleston, SC. He also retired from Kraft Foods (Sealtest) in 1991. Don was a life member of VFW Post 3142 (North Charleston) for over 40 years and served as Commander for several terms. He was All American Post 3142 Commander and All American VFW District One Commander (1990-91). He was a Charter member of MOC (Military Order of the Cooties) Pup Tent 11, Dixie Dogs, North Charleston and served as Seam Squirrel for over 12 years. He recently transferred to Pup Tent 1 (Beaufort, SC). He was also a member of Hammerton Lodge No. 332 AFM, Omar Temple AAONMS, American Legion Post 1000 (Sequoit, NY), and Fleet Reserve Branch 269 (Goose Creek, SC). Memorial Service to be held at VFW Post 3142, 3555 Dorchester Rd., Sunday, at 2pm, January 18, 2015. All Cooties are encouraged to dress as such. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Veterans Hospital, Volunteer Services, Veterans Assistance Program, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, 109 Bee Street, Charleston, SC 29401. Arrangements by J. Henry Stuhr Inc., Northwoods Chapel.


A note of condolence can be sent to:

Pat Parks
581 Myers Road
             Summerville, SC 29483-8800  

 News from good friend, Toby Horn heralds a new arrival in the Horn household. He writes:



"I am pleased to announce that I am a new grandpa (again) with the birth of Franklin Rush Horn, produced and directed by my son Wade and daughter (in-law) Karen on 25 January at 3:30AM.  He was born a little early, but without any problems.  The name 'Franklin' is from Karen's Dad, and the name Rush is Karen's Mom's maiden name.  Mom and baby are now at home and doing well.  They are electing to call him 'Rush".  I have already taught him not to cry, how to stand up in a hammock, and how to throw a cast-net for bait fish.  Today we were going start on making him a hockey player, but can't find the right size skates.  'Guess that will have to wait awhile.  Anyhow, the Horn name lives on!  Proud Grandpa Toby"


Pictures to follow




A recent letter from Ron's long-time friend and companion, Pat Saunders provides news about that is not at all encouraging. She writes:



Pat Saunders & Ron Gentry  


Most of you know that from March to August Mr. Ron had fallen several times but the last time was the big one on August 13th.  The next day I took him to the ER he was in such pain and they took X-Rays and CT Scan and sent him home with pain pills.  A week later he was back at the local ER and thanks to his son Buck and Ron's youngest daughter who had gotten an X-Ray done on Ron's back the day before at the VA Clinic it showed Ron had broken his back in several places.  He had also had a culture taken with the E.N.T doctor on a growth on the left side of his neck that I had been telling him to have checked since April, and the result on that was cancer.  The VA X-Ray had shown Ron's back broken in several sections but not having a Nero-Surgeon at this hospital they transferred him to hospital he had his last back surgery in almost three years ago in Orlando.


They tried to do an non-invasive surgery on Aug. 23 with some kind of glue substance but that didn't work so they scheduled major surgery for two days later, the 25th.  It was a success and five days later he was sent to our local Rehab Center here in DeBary.  He was an entire month at the Rehab Center, then home where his son Buck quit his job to take care of him until complete recovery but that was not to be as Ron continued to get worse.  At first Ron would come here for dinner at night and watch TV but one night he was trying to stand up with the walker and his legs gave way and he and the walker came tumbling over the side of chair with me trying to hold him up.  We both fell resulting in a torn meniscus of my left knee and the last time we could be alone together.  Buck had gone to get us dinner and saved the day but it scared the heck out of me.


While Ron was at Rehab Center they made an appointment to have a local Oncologist check Ron's neck out and make appointments to have chemo then radiation treatments.  Ron managed to stay at home for about 40 days and have two chemo treatments but every day became worse and worse mentally and physically.  November 14th his son was giving him a shower and Ron fainted in the shower twice.  Even though at this point Ron weighed less than 200 pounds he was complete dead weight.  Ron's oldest daughter was with here at the time too and even she had to help get Ron out of the shower.  Buck then called me and it was definite Ron needed to get to the hospital.  He was checked out in the ER with extremely low blood pressure, dehydrated and unable to urinate also and due to the Parkinson's he had a great deal of trouble swallowing so coughed a great deal so they admitted him.  On November 17u he was again transferred to the DeBary Rehab Center where he still is today.


While Ron was at home he had gone to the VA Hospital to have a port put in his neck for the cancer treatments and a feeding tube in his stomach which turned out to be very helpful as the hospital started feeding him through the stomach tube which he is still on 2 months later,that and the catheter.

The latest result is from Hospice just last week where they evaluated Ron while his son Buck and daughter Roxanne were there.  Ron has a time period of two more months before he passes and that to move him to any other facility or even home could be fatal . Ron's state of mind is really no longer with him and as his Parkinson's is in stage four and motor skill related he now has no use of his lower extremity . He asks every day to go home but Hospice has advised us all that he really does not know where HOME is and at least at the Rehab Center he knows the staff and it is 24/7 care so this is where our Mr. Ron will remain until his kids want him to be at the end but Hospice will be there at that time for Ron and the rest of us.


Our 16 years together has been filled with many interesting conversations, laughs, exotic trips, and as long as I those have memories he will be with me always . He is a wonderful man in many people's eyes and thank you all for the holiday greetings and best wishes.  May you all have a happy, healthy wonderful New Year.


Pat Saunders - Ron's friend and companion.


PS - He is being treated for pneumonia so it doesn't look promising.  Myself and the Gentry children wish to express our gratitude for the cards and best wishes for Mr. Ron.  I just wanted to say thank you for him as well.  It did bring a spark of a smile to his face.  We pray he goes peacefully and I will let you know when it happens.


Cards of concern can be sent to Ron at:

Ronald E. Gentry, LCDR (US Navy, Ret.)

              56 S. Shell Road, DeBary, FL 32713-2871            


To make quicker contact, cards and letters can be directed to Pat at:

Pat Saunders

66 Magnolia Drive, DeBary, FL  32713-2822




Cecil Martin sends the following correction:




"The photo of Casey is not with Grandma Martin but with the mother, Earcell Pugh, of Fallen Hero SSGT Kenneth Pugh. Casey found her through her internet research and was very pleased to present her with the uniform shirt."


Apologies for the mis-identification. --Ed.




We didn't have a good deal of luck in identifying Bobby ("Big Belly Bob") Briggs. Better luck on the next MYSTERY MINEMAN.



Who can identify this mineman?




If you know the identity of this mineman who is receiving the Man-of-the-Month award, 

write me back.