Post-Event Blog 2018



The annual NOUS Northwest Pearl Harbor Remembrance dinner was held on 7 December at Arnie’s Restaurant in Mukilteo, WA.  At the same time, CAPT John C. Laible relieved CAPT Joe R. Valenta as Commander of NOUS Northwest. 

“I am ready to relieve you Sir!”

A large turnout of 23 companions and spouses attended this festive event located with a great view of the waterfront and the Clinton Ferry departing Mukilteo.  A perfect setting for a maritime history organization!

Below are photo’s taken during the evening.  Additional ones will be added during the next few days.

Those in attendance included: Cindy & Joe Valenta; Jennifer Valenta & Brad Aungst (Joe’s guests); Cricket & John Laible; Nancy & Harry Stengele; Kathy & George Dart (John’s guests); Carol & Floyd Kershner; Claire & Dick Griffin; Kathleen & Dave Todd; Solon & Phyllis Webb; Roxane & Dan Withers; John Gerten; Curt Maier and Janine Whitaker.




For those of us who were fortunate to attend today’s brunch at Naval Station Everett, we  heard a truly outstanding presentation organized by Commandery Historian Floyd Kershner and presented by our guest speaker (and prospective member!) Neal Zimmers.

Neal spoke on the time of US maritime history around the Spanish-American  War of 1898, including (1) the decayed (and subsequently rising) state of the US Navy fleet post-Civil War and (2) the importance of the Battle of Guantanamo for the US Marine Corps in establishing itself as a unique fighting force.

Guest speaker Neal Zimmers

As a comparison and as measured between 1887 and 1941, the force levels for the US Navy rose significantly for three major wars, including the Spanish-American War (122%), World War I (132%) and World War II (109%).  While the base for the Spanish-American War’s up-scale was much smaller, the percentage increase of 122% was still extremely significant, particularly given that American shipbuilding was just becoming independent of other nation’s vessel construction.  Neal also guided us through the various vessel designs that were developed during this time in Naval history including the USS Katahdin, an innovative “ram ship”.

USS Katahdin, a Steel Armored Ram from 1896 to 1909.

(Photo from Naval History and Heritage Command website, at

And that was only a sampling of the vessel information provided by Neal!

Since today (10 November)  is the US Marine Corps’ 243rd birthday, it was timely that Neal also described how the Corps established a unique reputation at Guantanamo in 1898, when they demonstrated a distinct capability of what the Marines could accomplish in battle.  That legacy that would carry them throughout the next century and beyond.  As described by the US National Archives:

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Guantanamo Marine Corps officers 1st Lt. Herbert L. Draper, Lt. Col. Robert W. Huntington (commander of the First Marine Battalion), and Capt. Charles L. McCawley. (NARA, 20M-514827)

“On April 16, 1898, five days before war began between the United States and Spain, in preparation for what he believed was an inevitable conflict, Secretary of the Navy John D. Long ordered the commandant of the Marine Corps, Charles Heywood, to organize one battalion of marines for expeditionary duty with the North Atlantic Squadron. By war’s end, the First Marine Battalion could boast they had fought in the first land battle in Cuba and had been the first to raise the American flag on the island. They could also claim that of the six marines killed in action in the Spanish-American War, five were from their unit. The battalion yielded one Medal of Honor recipient, and two of the unit’s officers would later serve as commandants of the Marine Corps.  The First Marine Battalion’s action in the Caribbean and its favorable press coverage gave the American public and the U.S. Navy a glimpse of the Marine Corps of the future.”

(Quote and photo above from Prologue magazine article by Trevor K. Plante, Spring 1998, Vol. 30, No. 1, National Archives, titled “’New Glory to Its Already Gallant Record’ The First Marine Battalion in the Spanish-American War” at website

So many thanks to Neal for a well-spent Navy-Marine Corps history brunch!

A few photo’s from today’s event are provided below:

At the Lombardi’s staging area:  (l-r) Companions John Gerten, Gil Beyer, Joe Valenta, Curt Maier and Harry Stengele.


New companion Doug Bachmann introduces himself, having transferred up from the San Francisco Commandery.  Welcome Doug!


Commander Joe Valenta addresses the group of 12 attendees at today’s brunch.

Next stop:  7 December at Arnie’s in Mukilteo.  Be sure to RSVP to Harry Stengele!



Kudos to companion Floyd Kershner for a fantastic event at the Puget Sound Naval Museum on 21 July.  Also many thanks to Dan Withers and Chuck Flowers for their superb talks about the history of ships protecting Seattle and the Northwest Coast

After the fine slide show, we toured the Museum, followed by lunch at Anthony’s, which overlooks the Bremerton waterfront.   At the meeting we welcomed 5 new members-to-be, with applications in process from Dan, Chuck, Jim Rodgers, Janine Whitiker as well as one completed application hand delivered from CDR Rick Wilson (who lives in Bremerton) before the meeting started.

Included among the 15 attending were John and Cricket Laible; Floyd and Carol Kershner; Janine Whitiker; Dave and Kathleen Todd; Dick and Claire Griffin;  John Gerten; Dan and Roxane Withers; Chuck Flowers; Rick and Francis Wilson; and our NOUS Northwest Commander, Joe Valenta.

Check out some great photos below from the event:

IMG_1398IMG_1399Above (left to right), Dave and Kathleen Todd,  Francis and Rick Wilson.

IMG_1406Above:  Presenter Dan Withers describes his slide presentation.

IMG_1404Above:  Chuck Flowers makes a point with his slide presentation.


NOUS Northwest Commander Joe Valenta, with full attention of his audience!

IMG_1407Companions Floyd Kershner (l) and John Laible (r), with Maggie Mae in hand, tour the museum.




NOUS Northwest companions, family, and friends met together at the All-American Restaurant, Naval Station Everett, to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.

We first assembled at the parking lot at nearby Lombardi’s for carpooling onto the base:


At the restaurant, we all enjoyed the made-to-order omelettes and other menu options available.  Following brunch, our Commander, Joe Valenta invited everyone to introduce themselves which was led off by companion and former Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Tom Hayward  (below left) seated with Chuck Davis (center) and companion Bill Boardman (right).  Chuck officially turned in his NOUS application during today’s meeting!


All agreed that the “best-dressed award for the day” would go to companion LTJG Alex Sallander (USN) who looked sharp in his summer whites, below.  Alex also earned a compliment from Adm Hayward after recounting his days as CNO when he picked out the dinstinctive uniform’s durable (and comfortable) material against much institutional resistance!


Pictured below and after our meal, Joe led us in a discussion of future commandery activities, including a cyber discussion group, a tour of Puget Sound Naval Museum, etc.  Joe followed his opening session with a presentation of The Battle of the Coral Sea.


Joe was followed by companion Solon Webb (below) who discussed “Breaking of the Midway Code.”  The brunch was then concluded with a video of the Battle of Midway.


Additional photos of the day are provided below.




Terminal Two at the Port of Portland was the site for commissioning the Navy vessel of the city’s namesake:  USS Portland (LPD 27).


Attending the commissioning were (front row above, left to right) Companions Solon Webb, Mark Thompson and Bill Boardman.  (Not available for the photo was David Todd, USS Portland Commissioning Committee Treasurer.)  Also attending was Tom Collier, (back row above, right) who also attended our brunch at Naval Station, Everett on 14 April.

Check out Navy Live at Portland Commissioning to enjoy a complete video replay of the festivities.  There, you can see   “Bonnie Amos, wife of the 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, retired Gen. James F. Amos, serv(ing) as the ship’s sponsor. In a time-honored Navy tradition, she (gave) the order to ‘man our ship and bring her to life!'”



On 14 April, NOUS Northwest companions gathered for brunch at the All American Restaurant at Naval Station Everett.  Following a great meal of the restaurant’s specialty, omelettes, the group settled down as shown in the photos below for a session of almost 2 1/2 hours of engaging maritime history.

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The principal theme of the day was “The Doolittle Raid on Tokyo”, presented by Companion CAPT Joe Valenta (USN-Ret.).

Joe set the stage by presenting a timeline to give attendees a sense of sequential actions taken by the US Navy (and Army Air Force in the case of the Doolittle Raid) within only six months following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.  Below is a slide which Joe used for this orientation-in-time

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Joe initially described the Doolittle Raid as follows:  On Dec 21, 1941 President Roosevelt gathered in his study with his advisors: US Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, Army General George C. Marshall, and Lt. General Henry H. Arnold to review the grim situation in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.  The President concluded that nothing short of bombing Tokyo would lift the American spirits, turn the tide of Japanese victories, and show the enemy that we could strike their homeland and win the war!  Less that 4 months later Colonel Jimmy Doolittle would lead that American effort and the amazing events that followed on April 18, 1942…  Joe continued to describe how a foolish idea turned into a mission that also became the subject of a movie, MGM’s “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” starring Van Johnson, Spencer Tracy and Robert Mitchum.  The amazing fact is that the movie was released in November 1944, two and a half years after the raid and nine months before the war ended in the Pacific.  We watched excerpts of “Thirty Seconds” as part of the day’s presentation.  During the movie, we also concluded that some “very real footage” must have been provided by Navy photography from the actual day of the raid.

Below is one such photograph of the launch phase, “An Army Air Force B-25B bomber takes off from Hornet at the start of the raid.” (Official Navy photo, 80-G-41196 courtesy of the National Archives.)


In addition to Joe’s presentation on the Doolittle Raid, attendees were given an outstanding overview by Commandery Historian Floyd Kershner on Naval Ship Design:  Tumblehome vs. Flared Hulls.  Floyd’s extensive understanding of vessel characteristics as well as their historical employment added an extra dimension to his presentation.  Note:  A more complete overview of Floyd’s discussion can be found as a blog entry on the home page of this website.

After the final presentation, the group continued to mill about the dining hall, discussing the day’s events.  See photo below.  This was indeed a very informative and worthwhile time spent.

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So why not plan on attending the next brunch on 23 June when we will continue our annual tradition of commemorating the Battle of Midway.




NOUS Northwest companions met for dinner at Arnie’s Restaurant in Mukilteo, WA on Friday, 30 March in recognition of the commandery’s Vietnam Veterans.  This event coincided with the national “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day”  described in the home page blog.

During the evening we had the opportunity to hear many recollections of companions’ service spent while on duty in Vietnam as shown below:


Prospective companion TMC John Gerten, (USN-Ret.), USS Stoddard, (DD-566); USS King (DLG-10).  (See additional photo at the end of this post.)


Dick Griffin, US Naval Liaison to Republic of Vietnam Navy Vessel, RVNS Doan Ngoc Tang (HQ-228)


David Todd, USS Knox (DE-FF 1052)


Joe Valenta, USS Oklahoma City (CLG-5)

Solon Webb, not pictured, also recounted his two vessels in Vietnam service, USS Persistent, (MSO-491) and USS Molala, (ATF-106)

During the evening, we also heard from others present about their respective military service and family legacies to the Naval Order.

Mark Thompson provided a great summary of items that can be ordered from the NOUS national Ships Store, which can be accessed through THIS LINK.

Finally, Curt Maier, gave a very positive membership report with numerous prospective members showing interest in joining NOUS Northwest.  Below is a photo of John Gerten (at left) submitting his application form to Curt during the meeting!

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Overall it was a very enjoyable evening at Arnies as the commandery gave recognition to our Vietnam Veterans:  “Welcome Home.”