Category Archives: Information

Virginia Beach 2021 Reunion – A Recap

Our family of Conserver crew members and their guests gathered at the Wyndham

Virginia Beach Oceanfront hotel to celebrate Conserver’s eight annual reunion, held April 28 through May 2, 2021. A total of 54 attended — 28 crew members and 26 guests. COVID 19 concerns likely contributed to the smaller attendance. Once again, our hats off and a hearty BZ to our reunion committee: Renee Weaver, this year’s reunion host, Dale and Thayes Hower, Romondo Davis and Keith “Doc” Hansen and any and all who worked behind the scenes to make this reunion another resounding success.

Conserver reunions have established a tradition of being kind of free wheeling. Other than established hospitality room hours, a business meeting, and our banquet, attendees and guests were free to tailor their time to socializing with shipmates new and old and enjoying Virginia’s coastal attractions. This has worked out well for each of our previous reunions and Virginia Beach was certainly no exception.

Nauticus and the USS Wisconsin BB-64

Our first “scheduled” event on April 30th was a group tour of the Nauticus and USS Wisconsin BB-64 museum complex in Norfolk. Our reunion host Renee Weaver, organized the event.

The tour was free thanks to a very generous contribution from LTJG Dave Blake, former Conserver EMO, Diving Officer and Operations Officer. Thirty two shipmates and guests enjoyed an in depth guided tour of the topside areas of the battleship. I think I can speak for all when I say that I haven’t climbed that many ship’s ladders in a number of years. After the guided tour we were free to explore the available interior spaces of the ship and visit the adjacent Nauticus naval museum.

Business meeting

Prior to the finale (our banquet), the group’s business meeting, conducted by Romondo Davis, was held in the hospitality room. The main purpose of this meeting was to reach a consensus on where our next two reunions would be held. Nashville, TN was selected as the 2022 reunion location after an on line vote conducted after the cancelled 2019 Napa reunion. Bremerton, WA, Sacramento, CA and Phoenix, AZ, were selected by those in attendance at the meeting as choices for the 2023 reunion. Look for a future online vote to determine which one of these three cities will be the 2023 location.

Memorializing those who have crossed the bar

A memorial table was set up in the hospitality room to recognize those members of the Conserver family who have passed on since the 2019 Branson reunion. Photographs of each lost shipmate were displayed on the table, accompanied by their obituaries.

The Banquet

Our “grand finale” has traditionally been the Saturday evening awards banquet, after which a meal is served followed by various members of our family being recognized.

Romondo Davis was our very capable Master of Ceremonies.

After welcoming all to the reunion, Romondo thanked our host Renee Weaver for her hard work in selecting the hotel, organizing the hotel catering, hospitality rooms and Nauticus tour. He also thanked Renee and her daughter Brittany Meadows for the amazing hand made cloth welcome bags and RS-39 face masks that they loving crafted for everyone in attendance. The best welcome bags we’ve ever had. Thayes Hower presented Renee and Brittany with flowers and thank gifts.

Dale Hower remembered and memorialized the shipmates who have passed since our Branson reunion. Fair winds and following seas.

  • Jess Ashlock
  • Buzz Costa
  • Arnold Kitchen
  • Tim Oman
  • Pat Shea
  • Kevin Weaver

Dale Hower presented recognition award plaques to the following shipmates:Perfect Attendance: Lee Samuelson – he’s attended all eight reunions!

Attendance at their fifth reunion:

  • Dale Geldert
  • Pete Westbay
  • Greg Haines
  • Romondo Davis

First attendance at a reunion:

  • Daniel Orr
  • Sergio Cartaya
  • Bob Preece
  • Don Hatch
  • Jim Davenport
  • Chris Rogers
  • Jim Taylor

Oldest attending the reunion: Allen Eckert

Youngest attending the reunion: Fred Stevens

Traveled farthest to the reunion(two awards were given, these two shipmates live within 1/4 mile of each near Poulsbo, WA):

  • Ben Lokey
  • Jim Davenport

Served earliest: Dale Geldert (63-64)

Served latest: Fred Stevens (90-92)

Keith (Doc) Hansen sold tickets for the 50/50 raffle and invited Grace Sheehan to draw the winning ticket. The lucky winner of one half of the $835 collected was Greg Haines. Greg donated his $418 share to the reunion fund. The remaining $417 went into the fund.

Romondo Davis reviewed the storytelling “rules” and opened the reunion to any and all who wanted to tell a Conserver tall tale. The tellers and the believers all enjoyed themselves. We won’t relate to you any of the great stories we heard, but some will undoubtedly be re-told in Nashville. Come and contribute one!

With that, we adjourned to the hospitality room to learn who the silent auction high bidders were. 64 total items were contributed by shipmates and their guests and every single item sold. The auction contributed a record breaking $2025.

The top five money makers were Shehanna Adams’ T-shirts and metal signs ($495), Brittany Meadow’s memorial quilt made to honor Kevin Weaver ($300), Dale Hower’s ship’s wheel shelf ($160), RS-39 Alumni wall hanging ($151) and the USS Conserver rocker ($150).

The numerous auction item contributions and generosity of those who bid on them play an enormous part in sustaining the reunion fund. Bravo Zulu to all who contributed and all who purchased the items.

Each reunion, as treasurer, I’m frequently handed cash contributions for the fund and overpayments for auction items. These contributions added nearly $900 to the fund.

We hope to see you all in Nashville in 2022! Stay tuned for more information.

In Memoriam – Kevin C. Weaver 1952 – 2019

Shipmate Kevin Weaver played a major role in planning and executing Conserver reunions since 2014. He passed away unexpectedly on July 9, 2019. In his memory, Kevin’s wife Renee has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the USS Conserver Reunion Fund to be used to help defray expenses at our 2020 reunion in Napa, California in April (date to be determined). 

The Reunion Committee has provided this webpage to enable you to make a donation to this memorial fund. 

Please give what you can, no amount is too small. Your donation is a great way to honor Kevin, by helping to ensure a more successful reunion.

The Donate button below can be used by anyone who wishes to pay using a credit card or their PayPal account. For those who wish to pay by check, make it payable to the “USS Conserver Reunion Fund” and add “Kevin Weaver Memorial Fund” to the memo field. Send the check to:

Dale Hower, Treasurer
USS Conserver Reunion Committee
10407 Santana Street
Santee, CA 92071

Phone: 619-449-4499





Branson 2019 Reunion – A Recap

Conservermen and their guests converged on the Radisson Hotel in Branson, MO to celebrate Conserver’s seventh annual reunion, held April 24 to 28, 2019. A total of 78 attended — 41 crew members and 37 guests. If you didn’t attend, I can safely say that you missed a good one! You might want to start plans to attend our 2020 reunion in Napa!

Once again, our hats off and a hearty BZ to our reunion committee: Kevin and Renee Weaver, Dale and Thayes Hower, Romondo Davis and Keith “Doc” Hansen, Jeff Beer (photographer), and those who worked behind the scenes to make this reunion a resounding success!

The Crew!

Folks started arriving in Branson as early as April 19th. Those of us who got in early met for dinner at Landry’s Seafood House on the evening of April 23. Thirty-eight crew members and their guests enjoyed a great meal and an evening of fellowship and renewing old friendships.

Lunch on Showboat Branson Belle

The Branson Belle Underway

Our first “scheduled” event on April 24th was a lunch and show cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle. Themed after the majestic showboats of the 1800s, the Showboat Branson Belle takes guests on a two-hour cruise across the waters of Table Rock Lake. Launched in 1994, she is 278 feet long with a beam of 78 feet and can accommodate 700 passengers.

Main salon and dining room
The showboat “crew”

Branson set some records: 15 first time attendees and a total attendance of 78 (41 crew members and 37 guests), which matched our Charleston reunion. Fund raising highs were posted in both the 50/50 raffle and the silent auction. Other gratifying highlights were the number of new attendees, six of whom were from the recommissioning crew, and the joy of seeing Shehanna Adams learn more about her father, the late LT Ned Culhane. Ned served on Conserver, and Shehanna was able to meet crew members he served with.

We enjoyed a daily breakfast buffet, compliments of our host hotel, The Radisson. From there, most of us gathered in our hospitality room, which gave us the opportunity to rekindle old friendships and create new ones. The hospitality room also contained the silent auction items, which were on display and open for bids. Bids were closed after the banquet. Our past reunions have established a “tradition” of being kind of free wheeling. Other than established meeting room hours, a business meeting, and our banquet, attendees and guests were free to tailor their time to enjoying both the reunion and the entertainment offered by Branson. This has worked out well for each of our previous reunions and Branson was certainly no exception. 

Business meeting

Prior to the finale (our banquet), the group’s business meeting, conducted by Kevin Weaver, was held in the hospitality room. The main purpose of this meeting was to reach a consensus on where our next two reunions would be held. We all agreed that Napa, California would be the location of our 2020 reunion and, after some discussion, Norfolk, Virginia was tentatively scheduled for 2021. Napa was chosen because that is where Conserver was “born”, and the attendees will dedicate a park bench in Shipyard Acres Park. The park lies across the Napa river where the shipyard was. Unfortunately, it was razed about a year ago. 

Memorializing passed members of the Conserver family

Before adjourning the business meeting, we memorialized the memory of Ron Gitschier, whose first ship was Conserver (1983 – 1986). Ron’s wife Sandi, daughter Linda, and Grandson Jasper attended. Ron’s CO, John Ackerman, and his Leading PO, Lee Samuelson, presented a cased ensign engraved in honor of Ron’s service on Conserver and his career in the U.S. Navy. RIP Ron, you left us too soon and will be missed by all. 

Sandy, Jasper, and Linda

A memorial table was set up in the hospitality room to recognize those members of the Conserver family who have passed on. A photograph of each deceased person was placed on the table, accompanied by a sympathy card attendees were welcome to sign. In addition to Ron Gitschier, we recognized the following Conserver family members:

  • Mrs. Mary Anne Weegar, wife of former Commanding Officer, Carl Weegar
  • Sue Sykes, wife of Roy Sykes MM3(DV) 73-75
  • Brett Parker, who served on Conserver as a QM2(SW) 90-93
  • Look for a memorial table at future reunions.

The Banquet

Our “grand finale” has traditionally been an awards banquet, at which a meal is served followed by various members of our family being recognized. After the awards, we open the dais to any crew member who would like to tell a “sea story” or two. This year, we opened it up to guests, specifically wives and sweethearts, in order to add a new point-of-view to the stories from the guys. Storytellers were limited to three minutes and, surprisingly, no one exceeded his or her time on the microphone!

Shipmates Dale Cloutier and Jake Donaldson

Our master of ceremony, Romondo Davis, opened the festivities with a recording of ex Florida State Senator Richard “Dick” Renick. Dick is, as far as we know, the oldest living crew member (86) who has attended Conserver reunions. The good Senator served on Conserver in 1947 – 1949. Health problems prevented his coming to Branson, so he told his story to Romondo, who recorded it for all who hadn’t heard how Seaman Apprentice Renick reported to the good ship USS Conserver.

John Ackerman led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance, which was followed by Thayes Hower, who spoke about being a Navy wife. She presented a prayer shawl to Terry Ackerman in recognition of her long and successful battle with cancer and her contribution to Conserver as its CO’s wife, and the contributions of all Navy wives. Terry then said grace and our meal was served buffet style. 

Romondo Davis and Dale Hower remembered and memorialized those passed Conserver family members: Mary Anne Weegar, Sue Sykes (wife of Roy Sykes), and Brett Parker. 

Dale Hower presented recognition awards to the following Conservermen:

Perfect Attendance

  • Lee Samuelson

Attendance at five reunions

  • Dale Cloutier
  • Bob Carmichael
  • Jeff Washburn

First reunion attendance

  • Jeff Beer
  • Dan Davidson – Recomm crew
  • Tim Burkhart – Recomm crew
  • Ben Lokey – Recomm crew
  • Mike Filkins – Recomm crew
  • Kelly Kilgore – Recomm crew
  • Anthony “Jake” Donaldson – Recomm crew
  • Larry Hecht
  • Vince Carlton
  • Ed Jones
  • Donald Jackson
  • Clarence LeGrand
  • Arnold Kitchen
  • Martin Wolfe
  • Jess Ashlock – A “walk-in” who happened to be in Branson.

Oldest and youngest attending the reunion

  • John Ackerman (81)
  • Kelly Kilgore

 Traveled farthest to the reunion

  • Craig Johnson – from Custer, WA

Served earliest

  • Buzz Costa (57–58)

Served latest

  • Jeff Washburn (89-91)

Romondo reviewed the storytelling “rules” and opened the reunion to any and all who wanted to tell a Conserver Tale! Needless to say, a good time was had by all; the tellers and the believers! We won’t relate to you any of the great stories we heard, but they will undoubtedly be re-told in Napa. Come and contribute one!

A “no shit” story for sure!

With that, we adjourned to the hospitality room to find out who the silent auction high bidders were. The auction contributed $1,332 to the reunion fund. By the way, we had a 50-50 raffle which brought $780. The lucky winner was Anne Marie Cloutier who took home $390. The same amount was placed in the reunion fund. 

See you all in NAPA in 2020! Stay tuned for more information.

The 2019 Reunion was a Huge Success

Shipmates of the USS Conserver gathered in Branson, MO for the 2019 reunion
Photo by Jeff Beer

In the words of Dale Hower, Treasurer of the USS Reunion Committee:

Each reunion gets better. Branson set some records: 15 first time attendees, total attendance 78 (41 crew members and 37 guests) which matched the previous totals of the Charleston reunion, and fund raising highs in both the 50/50 raffle and the silent auction.

For me the highlights were the number of new attendees (6 of whom were from the recommissioning crew) and the joy of seeing Shehanna Adams learn more about her father, the late LT Ned Culhane and meeting crew members he served with.

A comprehensive recap will be posted here soon.

What’s New on the USS Conserver Website

One new page and one updated page can be found here on the USS Conserver Website.

Scale Model of the USS Conserver

USS Conserver Model sampleShipmate Jim Richardson has been working on getting a 26″ model of the ship made that we can display at our reunions. Please take a look at the Ship Model page and consider buying a plank. We need to raise $2,000.

USS Conserver Ship’s Store

USS Conserver Challenge CoinWe have a great collection of products in our Ship’s Store including a ship’s patch, a challenge coin, a cap and a variety of shirts with “USS Conserver ARS-39” and a profile of the ship embroidered on them. Visit theShip’s Store page to browse the selection of quality products. A portion of the proceeds go to the USS Conserver 2015 Reunion fund.

If you prefer to mail a check instead of using Paypal or a credit card to pay for your plank or items, you can mail a check or money order made out to USS Conserver Reunion Committee to:

    Dale Hower
    10407 Santana Street
    Santee, CA 92071-5017

Unofficial 1972 Westpac cruise log

I kept this log on my first Westpac cruise. The last several dates who question marks because I left the ship in Subic to fly home on leave.

Month Date Time Entry
April
22
1000 Left Pearl Harbor for Guam
May
5
0700 Arrived Guam
 
7
0800 Left Guam for Subic Bay
 
12
1330 Arrived Subic Bay
 
26
1600 Left Subic for Mindoro Straits job
 
27
0900 On station – Mindoro Straits
 
28
1900 Underway for Subic
 
30
0800 Arrived Subic Bay
June
8
1510 Underway for Danang
 
9
2100 Changed course for burning ship – V/M Galinda
 
10
1600 Arrived on scene V/M Galinda – 10 dead, 38 rescued by ?
 
11
0200 Left Galinda for Danang
 
13
0830 Anchored Danang Harbor
 
30
0800 Left Danang for Triton Island for salvage job on beached ship
July
1
2200 Arrived Triton Island – Falcon Lady
 
3
1700 Left Triton Island – Reclaimer pulled her off
 
6
1000 Arrived Kaoshiung, Taiwan
 
10
0800 Left Kaoshiung for Hong Kong
 
10-13
  Rode out Typhoon Susan.
 
14
1600 Moored to buoy in Hong Kong Harbor
 
18
0800 Left Hong Kong for Subic Bay
 
20
0800 Arrived Subic Bay
August
3
0900 Left Subic Bay for Danang
 
4
2340 Class "C" fire on #4 Main Engine – no casualties
 
6
0800 Anchored off Tan My – LST aground up river
 
7
0900 Second LST ran aground
 
10
1600 Both LSTs are free
 
1900 Underway for Danang
 
11
0800 Anchored Danang
 
26
1130

Left Danang for Gulf of Tonkin to take USS Lang DE-1060 under tow.

 
2200 Arrived at Lang – underway under own power. Followed her to
Subic.
 
29
0830 Arrived Subic Bay
September
1
0800 Left Subic Bay for Singapore
 
6
0900 Arrived Singapore
 
14
0800 Left Singapore for Bangkok via equator
 
15
1800 Crossed equator going south
 
16
1000 Crossed equator going north
 
18
1300 Arrived Bangkok – anchored in river
 
23
0900 Left Bangkok for Danang
 
27
0800 Arrived Danang
October
1
1800 Underway for Kaoshiung
 
5
2000 150 miles away from Kaoshiung, rerouted to Subic Bay
 
7
1740 Arrived Subic Bay
 
23
0800
Left Subic Bay for Midway
 
?
  Arrived Midway after riding heavy seas
 
?
  Underway for Pearl Harbor
November
12
1000 Arrived Pearl Harbor