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June 18, 2014

Dear Shipmates,


Four months and counting until the AOM Reunion. Check the latest details at the Reunion web site.






 Our Granddaughter Casey, playing in the Oklahoma City Hall of Fame tournament after winning in Ft. Worth. If they do well (I think in the top 8) they will have a berth in the ASA 14U (14 and Under) Nationals in San Diego at the end of July. The Bombers are from Pearland, just south of Houston. 'For the fallen' has our military member who gave his life and city and state with camo sleeves. All are different names.  


Some of our youngsters give me hope for the future!! --Cecil




Kathleen Maddocks sends this:


Ross had a knee replacement at the VA hospital in Boston on the 15th of May. The surgery went well but he was in a lot of pain. He had it done at the VA in West Roxbury, Mass. Ross was discharged on the 19th of May he has physical therapy three times a week at home.


Friends and shipmates may send a card or call Ross at:


                                               Ross Maddocks

                                               PO, Box 582

                                               Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538                                                                                         Phone# 207-633-4431                                                              




Mineman (MN), the one true "renaissance rate" in the Navy. For years, Minemen have been in the shadow of the predominant surface rates and even threatened with the possibility of force-conversion and disbandment. Commonly known for their multi-faceted abilities to perform the duties of multiple rates at sea, such as STG, OS, QM, GM, BM, and ETs, Minemen can now add another bullet to their resume... Missile Defense. Minemen are now part of the Vertical Launch System Quick Response Team or "VLS QRT" for short, at Navy Munitions Command (NMC) CONUS West Division Unit Seal Beach, California.





NMC Unit Seal Beach was directed to stand up a VLS QRT in May 2012. Originally 10 members, including Minemen and Gunners Mates were hand selected to establish the inaugural program for NMC CONUS West Division. The team completed the required courses and certification, each member dedicating over 300 hours to Online, Containerized Explosives, Tomahawk Receipt Inspection, and Ordnance Handling courses, along with each member logging over one-thousand hours of On the Job Training loading and off-loading various VLS-operational war ships. The team was certified by NAVSEA and deemed operationally capable.  The team has grown in size to over twenty members all of which have been certified and ready to deploy at a moment's notice.


In January 2014, NMC Unit Seal Beach's VLS QRT was tasked to provide its handling expertise to load an SM-3 Missile into Pacific Missile Range Facility's AEGIS ASHORE  Launcher in Kauai, HI in May 2014. This was to be the first live load/launch of an SM-3 for the Missile Defense Agency Aegis Ashore (MDA/AA) program in support of the presidentially mandated European Phase Adaptive Approach for the Ballistic Missile Defense of Europe.  An entire VLS QRT "mobile" Standard Operating Procedure was created by team members and approved by both Unit Seal Beach and PMRF specifically for this event.  Mr. Steve Reith with MDA/AA stated "The SOP your team developed and executed will be the baseline for all further loading of launchers supporting the Aegis Ashore project."


A small team consisting of the Safety Officer and Rigger-in-charge traveled to the Missile Range Facility in April 2014 to tour the facilities and get a firm grasp of the tasking prior to the team's arrival only a few short weeks later.

Fast forward to 12 MAY 2014: a hand-picked team of 6 members led by Mineman Senior Chief Shane Caver, and Mineman First Classes Duncan Ellson and Jeremy Frick boarded a plane, tools and publications in hand, and departed for Kauai, HI. Upon the team's arrival the timeline of events started immediately. Multiple conferences and administrative reviews with Pacific Missile Range Facility, Missile Defense Agency, AEGIS ASHORE, Lockheed Martin, and SM-3 Fleet Liaisons took place in the following days leading up to the load.  Tours of the facilities, Ordnance Handling Equipment Inspections, and regular step-by-step walk through of all procedures were a normal occurrence during the week.


15 MAY 2014: The sky is still dark as the team arrives on-site at 0500 to begin its Foreign Object Debris (FOD) walk down. Pre-use checks begin on all Ordnance Handling Equipment and tools are inventoried for the final time prior to load. The missile arrives from the magazine around 0630 and the QRT begins their Receipt Inspection under the close eye of the SM-3 Liaisons and Missile Defense Agency. Once the photo-ops and interviews have concluded the QRT begins their loading procedures. Handling the 9.6 Million Dollar missile meticulously and fluidly, the team loads the AEGIS ASHORE Based Launcher at 0721. Umbilical connections are made, missile communication is established, and the team departs the launcher by 0800.


Unit Seal Beach VLQ QRT, composed entirely of Minemen had just established a new facet of "renaissance" capabilities which had never been demonstrated by this small underappreciated rate. The team departed Pacific Missile Range Facility on 16 May having proven themselves consummate professionals with a return invite for the next MDA/AA event at PMRF in the summer of 2015. 


[Article and photos courtesy of LT Stephanie Cowart]






A fellow Mineman and compatriot has experienced a rather tragic family situation. Ed Szczutkowski <> has shared with me the details that he has chosen not to share publicly. Nevertheless, the situation is giving grief to the family in ways that I know has laid the family low. I know that you would like to express your condolences and stand behind him in unspoken ways. He has asked that cards of concern be sent to his son-in-law, Jeff Davis <> at 15 Larchwood, Irvine, CA 92602. 


I'm sure that we have all had times in our life where we needed friends and family to stand behind us, even when they didn't know the whole story of our struggle. The details of this sad incident are not as important as knowing that friends and fellow Minemen and their families support Ed and Jeff with thoughts and prayers, as well as cards and e-mails. 




Respectfully submitted.


Derick S. Hartshorn
Communications Coordinator