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December 18, 2014

Dear Shipmates,


We wish all readers of the newsletter and their families a very Merry Christmas, one that will blessed and rewarding and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.




Don Decrona has supplied details that were missing when the July 17th edition of Mineman News was published. We offer our condolences to the widow of Stephen J. Scharschan  over his passing, nearly a year ago.


Steve and Helen Scharschan

CWO-4 Stephen Joseph Scharschan, born Dec. 27, 1923, New York City, was the son of John Scharschan who was born in Poland and Anna Scharschan, who was born in Hungary. "Steve" enlisted in the U.S. Navy on13 December 1943. He served on board the USS Nerius (AS-17) as a Torpedoman 2nd Class. He made CWO-4 rank on 1 July 1958, the rank at which he retired on 1 February 1986. Since retirement he graduated from the San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Accounting, worked for General Dynamics as an engineer on the Cruise Missile and as a Financial Analyst for the Computer Systems.  


Scharschan was married to his first wife, Mary (1919 - 1972), who, upon her death, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He subsequently married HelenD. Sargeant, who survived him.


Stephen's wife gave the following account of his last days:  "A sad Christmas this year without my Steve. He celebrated with me and some of the children his 90th birthday on 27 December 2013 and passed away New Years Eve, 31 December 2013.


It took six months to schedule his interment at Arlington National Cemetery, VA. He had full military honors. Absolutely beautiful! Navy Honor Guardsmen; Navy Band; 21 Gun Salute and a "fly over." He had it all." He lies in Arlington next to his first wife, Mary, at Section 53, Site 2133. He is remembered in Find-a-Grave at this site.




Every once in a while, an AOM member comes up with a brilliant idea. This year, Toby Horn came up with one that tops all those that preceded it. The design of an official AOM flag was a pure stroke of genius!  In an effort to get all hands on board to support this symbol of our existence, Toby writes:



"At the reunion this year, the AOM adopted a "battle flag" to represent our association and symbolize what we are and the places where we've served - and to provide a means where a member can add their own touch of recognition.


"The flag is simply a huge "Bravo" flag which many of us worked under for many years of our lives as we worked on mines or other explosive devices.  Flying the flag meant that explosives were present, therefore Minemen were present - hence the idea of having the flag for our reunion events because - yup - Minemen are present.


"The initials 'AOM' are emblazoned on the flag and the pole will be embellished with 'campaign' streamers to represent a member's favorite place of duty.  The first one was provided to show the Naval Schools of Mine Warfare, Yorktown - where so many of our old timers got their start.  Other streamers can be purchased and donated by any member to represent his or her favorite place of duty.  This also offers the opportunity for the next of kin of any deceased member to recognize a place in the history of their loved ones as echoed in past sea stories.

"The rules are simple.  You can choose any color scheme of streamer and letters that you want, but the name on the streamer must be a legitimate place of duty where the member served in a mine capacity.  Streamers are priced according to the number of letters included in the name, and are made by a specialty flag shop in Charleston, SC called Carolina Flag and Banner.  These are professionally made, folks, so they aren't cheap.  You can contact Jason Brooke at or call 800-544-8535 for info, pricing and ordering.

 "We think it is great to start this new tradition where a member can have a streamer made and present it to the AOM, along with associated sea story, during the next reunion dinner meeting.  Incidentally, a streamer of choice is awarded as a door prize at the reunion dinner."


While Toby didn't state the cost of the streamers, they will probably cost in the neighborhood of $60-$70, a small price to pay to recognize the stations where can still recall  some of our fondest memories.


It might be a mark of wisdom for two or more minemen to split the cost of a streamer so that their designated duty station could be represented. If you are as proud as I am for having had the opportunity to serve in the Mine Force, imagine what a feeling of honor it will be to see our national and service colors paraded forward, followed by the AOM banner, flying streamers  that we dedicated, for all to see. 






The last issue of MINEMAN NEWS provided a photo of MNSN John Loonam while Serving at Point Loma. Good guess by Dick Schommer.


 This issue of MINEMAN NEWS  has a new mystery mineman. Can anyone tell us who this gentleman is?