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It has been a busy few months, and I have been remiss in keeping you up to date on the news that comes our way. It's hard enough keeping up with the good news, let alone getting lost in thought about shipmates from a long time ago that have crossed the bar and are no longer with us. Every shipmate that rests his oar reminds each of us that our days our numbered, and, like getting underway, there’s not a moment to lose.

It is my duty to report the passing of CDR(SS) Kurt M. Trautman 1945 – 2018 and SDC(SS) Manuel (Manny) C. Chavez 1938 – 2018.

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As I’m sure you have heard, or at least wondered about, privacy concerns and  commercial use of personal data are becoming a big concern on Facebook. Some of us have known about the vulnerabilities for many years, which is one of the reasons that none of the ‘good stuff’ regarding the USS William H. Bates (SSN 680) and her crew gets posted on Facebook.

While we are always alert to security and classified information issues that could compromise today’s submariners, (not today, ISIS!) not to mention the promises we made back in the day, there are lots of photos and stories that are best not made public for the sake of our spouses, family, and friends, not to mention our own personal and business reputations.

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The REGROUPEX 20 Planning Survey has been active for over two weeks, and already we have had over 50 of you chime in with your opinions and wishes for the next reunion. For those of you that have submitted your responses, Bravo Zulu, and I thank you. Making decisions in a vacuum is a challenge, so I appreciate that you have taken the time to share your thoughts.

For those of you that have not yet taken the survey, I again ask you to set aside about 15 minutes, log into the website using the link below, and offer your input. This task is hard enough without trying to guess at what you want to see in your next reunion. The time you invest to take the survey goes a long way in influencing our next three or four reunions, so if you want your voice to count, this is your chance!

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Veterans Day…

You called. You called for aid, for someone to stand in the gap. You called in war, because the enemy was at the gates. You called in peace, because the price of peace is eternal vigilance. You called because there was no alternative…

We answered. We all had our reasons, but we answered the call. We put on the uniform. We kissed our wives and sweethearts goodbye, and walked across the brow to take up life on a 5500 ton, 300 foot long, nuclear-powered submarine. Most of those days we had no idea when, or if, we would return. Often we didn’t know where we were going until the hatches were closed and sealed, the boat was submerged, and we were well underway into our next mission. But we answered.

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Terry Fessner and I were talking the other day, and Terry suggested that sharing our current enrollment on the website might help put some perspective on our efforts to identify every sailor who ever sailed on the Bates, and how much work we have to do to get them connected through the organization.

So I put together a tool to pull the numbers out of the database, and I’m working on a module where that will stay current automatically so you can check it whenever you log into the site.

In the meantime, here are the numbers as of 03 SEP 2018.

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Four months into the Master Sailing List Research project and I have gained a whole new appreciation for those few, those precious few, that wore the crossed quills or the quill and logbook. Yeoman and Personnelman, (back in the day, now Personnel Specialists) held the boat together with the glue of administration and clerical responsibilities.

I didn’t give them as much credit as deserved back in the early eighties, but I was yet to get lost in Personnel Diaries and Distribution Reports. Let me tell you something. Find a shipmate that worked in the Ship’s Office, and thank him. You scarcely can imagine what he was up against, and I’m not just talking about an angry XO! But that’s not what this little missive is about.

I wanted to let you in on two items: 1) the Personnel Reports that have been processed and added to the website for your viewing and researching pleasure, and 2) the acquisition of our first Deck Log, the October 1974 UNCLASSIFIED Deck Log - Remarks Section.

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Memorial Day.

A day of remembrance, a day to honor those who died in military service to their country, a day of remembering…

I’m a veteran. I served in our Navy’s Submarine Force during the Cold War. I’m not ashamed to say I’m proud of that fact, because it helped make me who I am, and I appreciate the honor when someone says, “Thank you for your service!”

But today is not my day.

It’s true I held the line, side by side, with my brothers in arms during the Cold War. It’s true we had a fast ship, as our naval forebear Commodore John Paul Jones once asked for, and true to his standard, we sailed her in harm’s way. It’s true we stared into the face of death in those moments of sheer terror, surviving only by our character, our force of will, our iron professionalism, and the everlasting grace of the Almighty God. It’s also true that most of those stories can never be told, save late at night, in the small and exclusive audience of those that earned that right by being there.

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Current Watchsection

Fund Sailing List Research!

Help fund SSN–680.org research and recover Personnel Diaries and Quarterly Muster Reports from the National Archives, helping us in our goal to identify every sailor that sailed on the USS William H. Bates (SSN 680) and add them to the Master Sailing List.

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© 2019 Brad Williamson
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USS William H. Bates (SSN 680) Association
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Permission is granted for not-for-profit reproduction of text and images under the condition that all attribution as to owner and source is included,
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U.S. Naval Institute News

20 MAR 2019

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