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May 13, 2015

Dear Shipmates,


If you didn't receive a MINEMAN NEWS in the month of April, there is a reason: There wasn't one! Because I rely on news from AOM members and friends, there was a "news drought," as bad as the California water drought. Please keep the news coming and I'll be happy to pass it on to the folks receiving this newsletter.




Sadly, we report the passing of our companion, Joe Spoon. Joe retired in the South Carolina Low Country and was an attendee at AOM reunions. This is the way we remember Joe. His obituary notice appears below.



CHARLESTON - Joe Edward Spoon went to his reward in Heaven May 11, 2015. Joe was a retired Navy Veteran Chief, born to William and Ella Spoon January 1, 1938 in Morristown, TN. He leaves behind his brother Roy Spoon, three children, Patrick Spoon, Bonnie Antley (Steve), Su Lin Spoon Timberman (John) and five grandchildren. A visitation will be on Thursday, May 14, 2015, at 2:00 PM with a memorial service immediately following at 3:00 PM at Simplicity Lowcountry Cremation & Burial Services, 7475 Peppermill Parkway, Suite E, North Charleston, SC.


The complete obituary can be found here.


Please sign his Guest Book here.


Published in Charleston Post & Courier on May 13, 2015 



Minemen familiar with Mine Force Staff may remember Capt Richard L. "Dick" Owens. Ron Swart and RADM John Pearson , both familiar with Dick and his career, passed on the sad news of his death. His biography is indeed an illustrious one. It reads:




Captain Owens enlisted in the Navy from his hometown of Branchville, New Jersey in 1956.


After completing basic training, he steadily advanced through all enlisted ratings, culminating in his selection and promotion to Chief Petty Officer and subsequent appointment as a Warrant Officer (WO-1) in January 1966. He was commissioned an Ensign in July 1968 and promoted to Captain in October 1990 During his varied and challenging career. Captain Owens served in over twenty four duty stations, at sea and ashore, including five commands three at sea and two ashore.


Captain Owens' sea duty included tours as Staff Signalman of COMDESRON TWENTY SIX during the Cuban Missile crisis. USS DAMATO (DD 871). where he was the shorebase Navy Liaison Officer during the Dominican Republic civil war; Quartermaster and Signalman on both the USS TABBERER (DE 418) andUSS SPRINGFIELD (CLG 7);two tours on the USS NORTHAMPTON (CC 1); Fust Lieutenant aboard the USS ALBANY (CG 10), the USS MAUNA LOA (AE 3). and the USS LASALLE (LPD 14); First Lieutenant and Operations Officer on USS PONCE (LPD 15), Executive Officer on the USS RECOVERY (ARS 43); and Commanding Officer of the USS RECLAIMER (ARS 42) He also served as Commander, SERVICE SQUADRON EIGHT. Commander, MINE COUNTERMEASURES GROUP THREE. and Staff Officer. COMSERVGRUTWO and COMSERVRON FOUR


Captain Owens' shore assignments included duty as Harbor Master and Port Services Officer at Naval Station, Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines; Operations Officer at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Head, Small Craft Facility at Naval Station Annapolis, Maryland, Commanding Officer of Naval Magazine. Guam; Executive Officer of Naval Weapons Station. Seal Beach, California, Commanding Officer of Naval Weapons Station, Concord, California; Deputy and Chief of Staff of Mine Warfare Command; and Director, Operational Logistics Directorate. Naval Ordnance Center, Indian Head, Maryland.


Captain Owens' personal decorations include the Legion Of Merit with four gold stars; Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars; Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal. He was also awarded the Combat Action Ribbon; Meritorious Unit Commendation with bronze star. Battle Efficiency Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal with bronze star; Navy Expeditionary Medal with bronze star. National Defense service Medal with bronze star; Southwest Asia Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Ribbon, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with bronze star, and the Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon with three bronze stars.


The son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Jack Owens, Captain Owens is married to the former Tracie Rene Kuchark of Broadalbin, New York. The Ceremonial Burial will be held on 16 May 2015 (Armed Forces Day) at St Basil's Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery, Union Mills Rd, Broadalbin, New York at l:00 PM-everyone welcome. Captain Owens wife, Tracie Kuchark Owens, would like to invite family/friends/and guests to a gathering in celebration of his life immediately following at the American Legion 337, 19 North

Main Street, Broadalbin, New York.






Folks my age are uncomfortable discussing our health and age-related problems with those of our fellow minemen. A close friend and companion, Phil Beckwith graduated with me from Mineman 'A' School in Yorktown. We both served at a Harbor Defense Unit and later, at NOF Yokosuka, Azuma Island. We have been close buddies ever since. Just recently, Phil disclosed to me, and other close friends, that his mortality has become a really serious issue. Phil tends to be a private person and doesn't want his health issues made public. Only God knows what lies in store for Phil but I know he would appreciate a card or a call. I also urge all those who read this to pray for Phil. He may be reached at: 3002 Colter Drive, Riverton, WY 82501-9293 and by phone at: (903) 740-0868. His e-mail is:





Our friend and fellow Mineman, Cole Chapman, is making a fantastic recovery from what could have been a life-ending motorcycle accident. He and fellow Mineman-wife, Rachel Chapman, MNC, have been struggling to stay ahead of their financial burdens imposed by this accident. Their two young daughters have been an inspiration to this difficult healing process. As fellow Minemen, we need to step up and help these folks who have had to find handicap-accessible housing. Rachel, attached to the Navy base in San Diego, has had to relocate 100 miles away in order to find that appropriate handicapped-accessible housing. The GoFundMe web site  has been helpful in supplying about 25% of their needs. 




Minemen take care of their own! This is our opportunity to help out. A few bucks, or a lot more may make the difference. It goes without saying that anything will go a long way to helping this family. Follow their journey from tragedy to victory in our newsletters: March 15  and March 23 -- and on their Facebook page.




Mystery Mineman: LCDR Harold Elston is shown here presenting the achievement medal to MN1 Fred A. Letor


 Now, let's see if you know this handsome young Mineman who faithfully attends most AOM Reunions and is shown here re-enlisting. Does anyone know him?



Please let me know if you can identify this Mineman.


All Minemen should be aware of our illustrious history. Beginning during the Revolutionary War, Minemen have been active in protecting our nation against any and all threats. MINEMAN NEWS will be featuring bits and pieces of our heritage, with names, dates, places, ships, shore stations and events that formed a culture of critical national defense. Any and all of those serving in the Mine Force should be proud of having had the opportunity to serve in a branch of the US Navy that has always been there to defend out nation's security.