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May 2004

CAPT. John Alexander Williamson

CAPT. John Alexander Williamson passed Away on May 2, 2004 at the age of 86. In May of 1944 CAPT. Williamson was the XO of USS England DE-635 and had the con for many of the runs against the six submarines that USS England sank in just 12 days. He was Commanding Officer of the ship during the Battle of Okinawa when she was hit by a kamikaze Val and taken out of the war. Before joining USS England as an instructor in Florida, Williamson developed the "Williamson Turn" still used to bring a ship back on its own wake after a man fell overboard.

Williamson Turn

He was very involved in automobile dealerships and other related businesses were his professionalism continued his success. He served on the boards of numerous civic and charitable organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Alabama, IMPACT Family Counseling, the King's Ranch, Rotary International District Leadership, Re-Entry Ministries, SAV-America Ministries, and Cornerstone Schools of Alabama. A prolific fundraiser, Williamson frequently chaired charitable events.

CAPT. John Alexander Williamson epitomized all that is good in America, being very well respected and professional and he is one of the true heroes. He will be very much missed. His obituary is available here: obituary.

In lieu of flowers the family has asked for donations to either of the following:

Impact Family Counseling

Telephone 205-916-0123
FAX 205-916-0878

631 Beacon Pkwy West
Suite 112
Birmingham Alabama 35209

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Alabama

Telephone: 205-744-3070.

P.O. Box 10391
Birmingham, Alabama 35202

Please be generous in your gifts to these organizations that meant so very much to CAPT. Williamson.


National World War II Memorial

It is fitting that this Memorial Day weekend the National World War II Memorial will be dedicated in Washington. "The World War II Memorial is the first national memorial dedicated to all who served during the Second World War. The memorial, established by the American Battle Monuments Commission, honors all military veterans of the war, the citizens on the home front, the nation at large, and the high moral purpose and idealism that motivated the nation's call to arms."

For our own thread of history, this monument may represent the sacrifices made by our fathers, past commanders, family, coworkers, friends, and most importantly for us, the officers and crew of USS England DE-635.

The memorial is also running a WWII registry to forever remember those who served. If you are or know of a World War II veteran, please ask them to contribute their information.

Information about the National World War II Memorial can be found at http://www.wwiimemorial.com/

Yearly Command History Reports

Thanks to shipmate John Yancy we have acquired the yearly command reports for USS England. This includes all years from 1960 to decommissioning except that of 1966, which is missing. These reports give a fairly detailed account of the ships movements and goings on. These are now available on line on the USS England History Page.

These are large files, with some in the very large category. We need to convert these to text at some point to make them easier to download. A volunteer would be helpful in this area (hint, hint).

Where is 1966? John is going to continue his search. If you can help, speak up.


Reunion 2005

We now head into June and our third reunion is just a year away! More effort will be put into the event. Our reunion will be in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2005, though the exact dates are still undetermined. This will be our first foray to the East Coast and this should make for an interesting and fun reunion. Start planning now so you'll be ready for the reunion!!

The reunions usually run from Thursday to Sunday morning with an informal gathering Thursday evening, an event with entertainment on Friday evening and a semi-formal banquet on Saturday evening. There is a departing breakfast and memorial service Sunday morning. There will be tours of local attractions both Friday and Saturday possibly including USS Yorktown at Patriot's Point (http://www.patriotspoint.org/).

You can help with planning by speaking up! What would you like to do at this reunion? Who would you like to hear from (speeches) on Saturday evening? What type of entertainment would you like Friday night? What tours would be interesting for you? Please speak up with any ideas you have! A great place to discuss these items is in the USS England Forums.

NOTICE!
The USS England Forum was retired on 02/03/07.

Southern California Mini Reunion!

In the past these have been a lot of fun. We need to have one of these again very soon! These are very informal events. We meet at a local establishment and tell sea stories! This has been done in San Diego and twice in Brea. It might be advantageous to have on in the San Diego area again (since we've a large population of shipmates there). We could include a tour of USS Midway in the plans! This event is proposed for August, a great time to head to temperate San Diego if you live in the hot areas of Southern California, or if you just want to get away if you live anyplace else!

We'll need a little help to pull this off. We need a venue, a restaurant with a bar (emphasis on bar), near USS Midway. We can also include other events, even a hotel for over night. Lets make this happen!!!! Please step up and volunteer. Call Dennis O'Brien at 714-961-6840.

When Will There Be An England in the US Navy?

On May 4, 2004, Secretary of the Navy Gordon England released the names of five new destroyers. Among these are USS Gridley (DDG-101), USS Truxton (DDG-103) and USS Sterett (DDG-104), names you'll surely recognize from the DLG/CG's with whom USS England shares so much! The efforts of the officers and crews of the former ships has paid off well! Congratulations to STERETT, GRIDLEY and TRUXTIN!

USS Gridley is named in honor of Capt. Charles V. Gridley, U.S. Navy, (1844-1898), who commanded the cruiser Olympia at the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Despite being terminally ill, Gridley insisted on retaining command of the Olympia as war loomed with Spain. Admiral Dewey's simple phrase permitting him to open fire at Manila Bay, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley," remains a famous moment in American naval tradition. During his voyage home, Gridley died in Kobe, Japan, less than a month after the victory at Manila Bay and relinquishing command of the Olympia. Three previous ships have been named in honor of Gridley: Destroyer No. 92, DD 380 and DLG 21, later CG 21.

USS Truxtin is named in honor of Commodore Thomas Truxtun (1755-1822) who embarked upon a seafaring career at age 12. At age 16, he was pressed into service in the Royal Navy. By the time he was 20, he had risen to command of Andrew Caldwell, bringing large quantities of gunpowder into Philadelphia in 1775. He signed on as a lieutenant onboard the Congress, the first privateer to be fitted out for service against Great Britain, and in 1776-77 participated in the capture of many prizes. Successively, he commanded Independence, Commerce and St. James. At a dinner in Truxtun's honor, George Washington declared his services had been worth those of a regiment. When the United States Navy was organized, he was selected as one of its first six captains on June 4, 1798. He was assigned command of the Constellation, one of the new frigates, and he put to sea immediately to prosecute the undeclared naval war with revolutionary France. On Feb. 9, 1799, Truxtun scored the first of his two most famous victories. After an hour's fight, Constellation battered the French warship L'Insurgente into submission in one of the most illustrious battles of the Quasi-War with France. Truxtun retired from the Navy as a commodore and has had three previous ships carry his name: DD 14, DD 229 and CGN-35.

USS Sterett is named in honor of Andrew Sterett (1760-1807), appointed lieutenant in the United States Navy in 1798 and assigned to Constellation as Third Lieutenant. During the quasi-war with France, he served with Capt. Thomas Truxton onboard Constellation, capturing the French frigate L'Insurgente in 1799. By 1800, he had risen to first lieutenant. He was soon given command of the schooner Enterprise. In June 1801, he sailed Enterprise from Baltimore to serve with the Mediterranean Squadron and captured a 14-gun Tripolitan cruiser and her 80-man crew during the Barbary Wars. Sterett continued his Navy career until he resigned his commission in 1805. Three previous ships have carried this name: DD 27, DD 407 and CG 31.

Though this is wonderful news, one has to wonder about USS England. Remember, in 1944 Chief of Naval Operation Admiral E. J. King stated, "There'll always be an ENGLAND in the United States Navy." USS England DE-635 has just sunk six enemy submarines in just twelve days, directly impacting the war in the Pacific, in a war in which Ens. John C. England had died in the open round at Pearl Harbor. It is now more important than ever that we make ourselves known and ask for ENGLAND to return to the seas defending our proud and great nation.

Send your letter today to:

The Honorable Gordon England
Secretary of the Navy
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20350-1000

USS Midway Opens

USS Midway CV41, the San Diego Aircraft Museum's centerpiece, will open to the public on June 7, 2004. After many years of hard work the ship will be available for tours.

USS Midway was constructed by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. She was the lead ship of three 45,000-ton Midway class CVBs. Midway's keel was laid on October 27, 1943. Midway was the largest warship in the world for the first decade of her service. She served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets for over four decades! She has seen it all from the technology of WWII to the modern era. She was decommissioned in 1992.

USS Midway will be open 7 days a week starting with Midway Magic Launch Week June 7 - 11, 2004. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regular admission prices will apply: $13 adults, $10 seniors (62+), military ID, college ID, $7 youth (6-17), Free under 6, active duty in uniform.

They are also in need of volunteers to assist with all aspects of the ship and tours. For more information please see http://www.midway.org/.


England, Midway and Navasota