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March 4, 2014

 

TRAGIC LOSS  WITHIN AOM RANKS-
LEO R. SMITH TAKEN IN BIZARRE ACCIDENT  

 

 

LYNN HAVEN - The Florida Highway Patrol has released a few more details about an incident that left a Lynn Haven man dead Sunday.

 

Bay County Sheriff's deputies were called to the Shoreline Circle Boat Ramp shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday where they found a 2007 Chevrolet truck completely submerged in the water. Sometime later they found the body of Leo Ronald Smith, 65, in the water near the truck.

 

"Smith is currently believed to have been the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle at the time it entered the water," the news release states.

Troopers and deputies are awaiting autopsy results and an official determination into what caused the death of a 65-year-old man whose body was discovered early Sunday morning, a trooper said Monday.

 

Bay County S he riff's Deputies responded to the Shoreline Circle Boat Ramp at about 7 a.m. Sunday after someone reported a vehicle in the water nearly submerged. The BCSO dive team recovered the vehicle and discovered the body of Leo Ronald Smith, of Lynn Haven, in the water nearby.

Lt. Rick Warden with the Florida Highway Patrol said it's not yet clear if Smith's death was suicide, homicide or accidental, but he said he was not aware of any evidence of foul play.

 

"Right now everything's pending," Warden said.

 

Investigators believe Smith was the driver and sole occupant of the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado when it went into the water. The incident is under investigation. [Panama City News Herald - Monday, March 3, 2014 at 20:35 PM.]

 

Leo Ronald Smith, a resident of Lynn Haven, Florida, was born on October 14, 1948 and passed away on Sunday, June 16, 2013.

 

Panama City TV station WJHG has breaking news and a video report. News on funeral arrangements and objects of condolence will be reported as they are learned.

 

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UNTIMELY DEATH OF TOM OLDER REPORTED

 

Another untimely death occurred within our ranks. Al Bauer has reported the passing of Tom Older. He was in AMN 9-63 {Mineman A school} He got orders to Long Beach but volunteered to go to Subic. He left Subic and went to Hawaii in 1965 where he completed his service and returning to his home in upstate New York. Tom's obituary was reported as follows:

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS [NY] - Neal Thomas "Tom" Older, 68, passed away Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012, with his loving wife of 48 years, Natalie, and daughter, Kathy, by his side at Saratoga Hospital. Born Jan. 17, 1944, in Saratoga Springs, he was the son of Enid Older and the late Elliot Older. Tom grew up in Middle Grove and graduated from Ballston Spa High School. After graduation, Tom joined the Navy and was a "mine man" during the Vietnam War. He met his wife, Natalie, while stationed in Subic Bay. After being honorably discharged from the Navy, he joined the Saratoga Springs Police Department. Tom proudly served the Saratoga Springs Police Department as senior investigator. One of his greatest accomplishments was piloting the first Juvenile Aid Division in New York and serving as director. He retired after serving 30 years. Tom enjoyed many outdoor activities and wrote an outdoors column for The Saratogian. He is also survived by his siblings, Jim Older, Evamae Jones, Nancy Burke and Cliff Older. Tom's family would like to extend special thanks and appreciation to his caregivers and staff at Saratoga Hospital ICU.A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, at St. Clement's. Family and friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, at Tunison Funeral Home, 105 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.Interment will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 6, at Gerald B.H. Solomon-Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville. Donations may be made in Tom's memory to the Saratoga Hospital Foundation, 231 Church St., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. To leave a special message for the family online, visit www.tunisonfuneralhome.com. - See more at LEGACY

 


 

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SENIOR CHIEF MINEMAN LEN SILUK PASSES AWAY

 

 Another sad notice to report is the passing of AOM member, Len Siluk. Len's son, Rick, reports that his father, MNCS Len Siluk passed away on 17 January, 2014, after a bout with cancer. He was 83 years of age.  He was interred at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery with full Military Honors.  Rick and his sisters expressed the depth of pride they had in their father.   Over the years, even at his advanced age, he always talked about re-enlisting in the Navy. It was a life that he always enjoyed, and missed terribly after retirement. 

 

  Further details are lacking at this time but will be passed on when they are learned.

 

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EMPLOYMENT AVAILABLE FOR FORMER MINEMEN

 

 

Ron Swart has learned that employment opportunities exist for former minemen

There is an early inquiry from a reputable company for Enlisted Minemen and USN/USMC/USAF Officers with a mining background who may be interested in future contractor employment as the next generation mine starts to mature, known as the Advanced Underwater Weapon System or AUWS.  Of particular interest are those folks with experience in operational planning, minefield planning,  'weaponeering', mine deployment, and weapon interface with various delivery platforms.   

 

This is an initial poll to gauge interest from the mines community.  To start, those expressing interest can drop me a brief email and I'll forward them to the original requester. Ron Swart 

  

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2014 REUNION NEWS

  

October may seem like a long ways away but we need to getting our planning started soon. Dick Schommer has pretty well finalized the site details. Visit the AOM web page  for a copy of the HOTEL RESERVATION form. You will also need to fill out a REUNION RESERVATION form if you plan on attending. This form allows provision for submitting AOM annual dues, Reunion fees, dinner selections, etc. For all reunion information, see the latest DASHPOT or check this web site frequently.

 


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PCBs & MINES  QUESTION ANSWERED--AGAIN

 

 

  Several minemen have posed questions relating to the toxicity of the anti-fouling compound used on anchor cables, both of which are linked from the web site.. This was explored in depth at http://www.hartshorn.us/Navy/navy-environment.htm

 

Mike Thoma posed this question:

 

I read this posting with great interest. I think it would be a good thing, if someone where to start or keep a record of some of the strange things that Minemen were exposed to in various places at various times. I do not know of any specific PCB's in the MK57. But, I clearly remember the runny yellow paint, we used to use to touch up the inside of the cases. I was supposed to be something special that kept condensation from forming. It was real bad and even with the best respirators, you where way inside the case and they would get overwhelmed. I heard there was a case of one Mineman claiming, he and a friend got some form of cancer from it. I don't know about that. But, that paint was bad. One thing I remember is the massive amounts of regular red lead and plain old OD paint, we sprayed. In Mac, where we had the British barracks there were continuous on demand hot water showers. Many days I spend a full twenty minutes or more coughing up OD phlem after painting all day. I'd use the hot shower to loosen up everything and then cough it out. This was after using all the protective gear we had. I knew it wasn't good for me. But I was too young to think about, what it might do 30 years later. God only knows how much old paint I ground off and breathed in too. Finally in the 60/70 and early 80's a lot of electromagnetically gear had PCB's in them. Who knows what was in each different one.       

Ron Swart responded with an answer a little more comprehensive than has been reported on the web page:

 

Mike,  I caught your question on the AOM website and I can attempt to provide you with some insight on 'how we got here' in the Mineman Rate today.  If I don't answer your exact question, please let me know.  Here are my observations.   Our rate's primary duties have always involved maintaining and deploying the mines in the Navy stockpile.   As you pointed out, there were points in our history, most notably during the Korean War, where Minemen were cast in the role of mine sweep sailors and that carried on for several years after the end of that war. Forward to the end of the Cold War and the political 'peace dividend'.  The Navy was downsizing rapidly and that included the closure and combining of several mine shops, removal of mine systems from active service accompanied by a severe reduction in funding, little or no mine delivery training and next to zero support for mining as a warfare area by senior leadership (both political and military).  As we reached a new low point for the Mineman rate for all these reasons, there were a series of 'evaluations and studies' from the manpower side of the Navy to consider eliminating the rate altogether, or at a minimum, combine it with one of the other ordnance rates: GM/TM/AO and so forth.  During this same timeframe, Desert Storm One demonstrated that our MCM capabilities had atrophied and enemy mines took a toll on our surface fleet.  One of the key lessons learned was that our aging mine sweepers needed much more attention.  One of the key takeaways was that the Sailors in critical MW rates assigned to the MSO/MCM class ships, would do one tour and return to Big Navy, never to return.  Mine Warfare was not on their rating exam and there were no promotion opportunities if they re-toured.  Hard won (but often one tour) MW expertise walked off the brow like water through a leaky bucket.  The Navy had an unsustainable MCM manpower situation and, coincidentally, Minemen who had been trained to do this mission long ago in their past, were being threatened with extinction.  Minemen were technically competent, electrical-mechanical trained and had no sea duty (only CONUS shore to OUTUS shore).  In theory, they seemed to be a perfect fit: a electro-mechanical/technical rate with a sound understanding of how mines work and a rate in need of a sea-going platform... MN could learn to hunt and sweep for mines, replacing the OS, ST, GM and BM rates afloat, whose combined expertise was critical to rebuilding a viable MCM force.  They would roll ashore to mine shops and back to sea in MCM Ships.  It was great in theory, but poorly executed by leadership when the need for warm bodies afloat overrode the necessary technical training needed for success once they reported to their new jobs afloat.  Ship's frequently increased pressure to 'fill the billet with a warm Sailor' with vague promises to send these Sailors to school at the earliest opportunity, if only the detailer would skip the schoolhouse orders.  Needless to say, there was a lot of OJT going on and the first generation of MN who took these sea billets worked very hard to catch up to their sea-going counterparts.  The mineman rate went from less than 500 Sailors to somewhere around 900 in a couple years.  I'm not sure where the number stands today with the decommissioning of the MHC class and the incoming LCS Mission Module Crews and such. 

 

The net result was:  

 

1. Mine shops emptied to fill sea billets and the few Sailors that came ashore as replacements, often as not, were new MN that had changed from other rates and had a difficult time replacing years of Mineman expertise. 

 

2. Many MN retired or left the service rather than go to sea.  

 

3.  MN reporting to MCM/MHC ships with little or no training were poorly equipped to stand in for the OS/ST/BM with years of sea duty, technical experience and training.  

 

4.  We had female MN and there were no female billets afloat, placing these MN at a disadvantage when going up for rate. To address this, some MHC Class ships underwent changes to accommodate females.  This is still a struggle.  

 

5.  Training on 'mines' was appreciably reduced in the schoolhouse to little more than a mine shop show-n-tell, the expectation being that mine maintenance and assembly could be learned OJT with no problem. Unfortunately, the senior expertise in mines was now afloat. 

 

 6.  Our significant Navy Reserve augment capability was severely reduced, but they are still the 'corporate knowledge' when they come aboard a mine shop. 

 

Today, mine maintenance and assembly expertise is significantly below what it was through the 60's, 70's and 80's.  COMOMAG is still a command, but due to changes in their chain of command and responsibility, they no longer control the mine shops... but they are trying their best to uphold maintenance and assembly quality standards in the remaining 5 mine shops.  The Navy focus today is still on the MCM skill sets and I don't see a reduction in this emphasis ahead as we face adversary anti-access/area denial capabilities.  It may be that MN will no longer be tasked with these duties as new, unmanned MCM systems are introduced. Will the services create new ratings and MOS for unmanned system maintenance and operation as they reach the fleet?  There is an uptick in interest throughout the Navy leadership and especially the undersea warfare community on developing new mining capabilities that can be brought to the fight.   Will MN work these systems?  Will MN still be a Navy rate in the future?  I can't say.  A lot will depend upon Navy leadership who will eventually decide how well the MN skill set supports any new mine systems and capabilities. 

 

I hope this provides some insight regarding the questions you had.  I've added some of the AOM and fleet leadership to this email, to make sure they have an opportunity to chime in or correct anything I may have gotten wrong. 

 

All the best, 

Ron Swart, USN (Ret)

 

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In connection with this, Don Jones has provided contact information for those with questions concerning AGENT ORANGE:

 

http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/index.asp

 

http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp

 

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SENIOR DISCOUNTS 

 

Ron Glasen has passed on some information that will potentially save seniors and military folks a bunch of money. Many retailers, restaurants, travel sites, groceries and other establishments offer substantial discounts to seniors. Many offer the same discount to those who are current or retired military. Check this page.

 

 

 

 

Respectfully submitted, 

  

Derick S. Hartshorn

Communications Coordinator

 

 

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