<![CDATA[Project USS STRONG DD 467 - Project 467 History Blog]]>Tue, 17 Apr 2018 18:35:33 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Sussex Life, article featuring David Mearns]]>Tue, 17 Apr 2018 23:26:10 GMThttp://projectuss-strongdd467.com/project-467-history-blog/sussex-life-article-featuring-david-mearnsClick on the images to read the article. Another great one!
<![CDATA[Effort in mid-March by the RV PETREL to locate STRONG]]>Mon, 16 Apr 2018 15:28:06 GMThttp://projectuss-strongdd467.com/project-467-history-blog/effort-in-mid-march-by-the-rv-petrel-to-locate-strongI had hoped by this time to have some amazing news to share with you and am happy that I've now been given permission to share what I have. As life happens, there have been a couple of curve balls thrown and things didn’t work out the way I’d hoped – yet. Even with curve balls, sometimes the guy gets on base. I feel like we're halfway between third and Home. There is an upside to the story and real reason to hope for the happy ending. Let me explain.

A few weeks ago I told you all that David Mearns had introduced me to Paul Mayer, a crew member of the RV PETREL, one of the ships owned by Paul Allen and Vulcan Inc. PETREL has recently been in the news for discovering the USS INDIANAPOLIS, the USS LEXINGTON and most recently the USS JUNEAU. They have been in Papua New Guinea, the Coral Sea and the Solomon Islands. Paul notified me recently that they would be headed toward the Kula Gulf with two targets in mind – USS HELENA and USS STRONG. If there was time, he might even go for the trifecta and try to find the IJN NIIZUKI, the Japanese vessel that threw the torpedo taking down STRONG. Needless to say I was over the moon with excitement about this. These folks have a tremendous history of finding these WW2 wrecks, reporting them in a respectful manner and honoring the families. To finally see the light of day cast on STRONG was very emotional for me, as it would give us as a group the chance to properly memorialize the site in the future. For obvious reasons I had to keep this confidential. No need to excite the families until I had good news, and no desire to disappoint them if things didn’t work out.

So for the first curve ball. The crew hit the Kula Gulf back in 2012 with data provided by David Mearns and did a preliminary sweep, which did not reveal a viable target. When they pulled into the gulf in mid-March, they were informed that they now needed permits to do any type of survey. This was new as of April 2017 for anyone doing any type of survey work, archaeological or otherwise in the Solomon Islands. The problem was that the surveys are only reviewed 4 times a year and the next date for review wasn’t until April 30th. This falls several days after the ship is due back in port for resupply and for the crew to get a break. Paul assured me that they might have a way around the red tape and to keep my fingers crossed. He would keep me informed. It was during this waiting time that they discovered the wreck of USS JUNEAU, which was a bonus for the families and for the memory of the five Sullivan brothers. If you follow them on Facebook (RV PETREL), there are some amazing images and video. You can Google the story to see several versions of the history for this ill fated ship, or also go to www.paulallen.com. ;

Then, I got the news I’d been anticipating. The permits had been approved and they were headed back to the Kula Gulf. Per orders from the boss, they first had to attempt to locate HELENA. Once this was accomplished, they could move on STRONG. Luckily, they located HELENA quickly as they already had a good read on her possible location. Paul emailed me again with news that they were headed to the Kula Gulf, would be there in a couple of hours and he would send me timely updates for when they arrived, when they put the AUV named Remus into the water, how long the survey would take and everything connected. It was a sleepless night for sure. Next curveball, the data Remus pulled in did not show a viable target, just as before in the survey from 2015. Next step was to use the multi-beam echo sounder (MBES), which is affixed to the ship. The MBES sends out a swath of signals bouncing off the sea floor and any objects or geological features present, sending back a 3D image. To see how this works, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fAAxEIFeLU

Unfortunately for us, the MBES also did not produce any viable targets. I was a bit crushed to get the news, but then so was Paul in the delivery. These guys have invested their time, energy and at great cost so the not finding it was a blow to them as well. I can never adequately thank them for their efforts on our behalf. There’s not enough bottles of wine or boxes of Buffalo Trace bourbon balls in the world for that. So, the disappointment set in pretty hard for me and for them.

Next question was, if the ship wasn’t in the areas defined by the Navy reports and witness accounts, where is it? The upside of this effort was the data gathered showing where the ship was not. Paul has indicated to me that they are also not giving up. He cannot at this time guarantee a time period when they will be back in the area to further pursue this, but is willing to continue the working relationship, sharing of information and even to meeting in person when he’s back stateside. He lives just a state away from me and a short drive down I-75, so we plan to make that happen. This indicates to me that this is not over by a long shot. We just have to keep batting until we make it to home plate.

Another option however, is another group that’s expressed an interest in locating the wreck and field testing some new equipment on the wreck site. This seems to be a very definite thing that’s in the planning stages and something I can’t discuss further at this point. Paul Mayer is friends with a person involved in this effort and they have been sharing information. If it turns out that these folks get back to the Kula Gulf before PETREL has a chance to, then I will make the effort to get in touch with them and see that the STRONG families are informed. I prefer that PETREL be the ones, as they have worked so closely with David Mearns in this effort. David also worked with this other group, but not on the same level. It remains to be seen what happens. David’s book The Shipwreck Hunter will be released in the US soon. In the book he lists the top 5 ships he would like to see found, and this past year two of them have been located. He’s moving STRONG to the top of his list and will cover that in any publicity for the book. This is a good thing and could push for further surveys.

So it’s a not so good news, good news situation – not bad. Just have to wait a bit longer for the main event. It will be worth it.


<![CDATA[A little catching up......]]>Sun, 15 Apr 2018 23:35:53 GMThttp://projectuss-strongdd467.com/project-467-history-blog/a-little-catching-upPaul Allen and the Vulcan Inc. folks have had a very productive year. Most recently they announced the find of the USS HELENA CL-50, one of the light cruisers that accompanied STRONG as part of  Desron 21 during the engagements in the Kula Gulf in July of 1943. HELENA went down on July 6th, just 25 hours after STRONG. To read about this and see articles on all the ships recently located by the RV PETREL and its crew, see: ​https://www.paulallen.com/category/conservation-exploration/

In other news, the date and hotel location for the 2018 STRONG Association Reunion has been announced. The dates are Tuesday September 4th through Saturday September 9th. The hotel is the Best Western Plus just northeast of the Baltimore airport and 30 minutes from Annapolis. Our Wednesday trip will be to the US Naval Academy. Friday will be a tour of downtown Annapolis and a 40 minute river cruise. As soon as I have other details on the agenda and when to make reservations I'll post them and send a note around to you all. Looks like there are good public transportation options there and I look forward to a possible trip into D.C. to visit the WW2 Memorial. 

And, just in case there is anyone in the Los Angeles area who might be working on scripting The Castaway's War (had some website hits from that town), feel free to contact me for back stories and information. Haven't heard much since the film was optioned, but just so someone knows I'm open to help out in any way I can. Just sayin'. 

<![CDATA[David Mearns article in The Times Literary Supplement]]>Tue, 10 Apr 2018 20:50:41 GMThttp://projectuss-strongdd467.com/project-467-history-blog/david-mearns-article-in-the-times-literary-supplement
<![CDATA[Wreck of the USS Lexington CV-2]]>Sun, 18 Mar 2018 20:54:03 GMThttp://projectuss-strongdd467.com/project-467-history-blog/wreck-of-the-uss-lexington-cv-2If you follow Paul Allen and his world-wide fleet of ships that go seeking lost shipwrecks, then you've already heard about the recent find of the USS Lexington CV-2, an aircraft carrier lost during the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8th of 1942. If you haven't yet caught up to the news, then you can follow the images and some video here on Paul Allen's website: https://www.paulallen.com/uss-lexington-wreck-located-rv-petrel/

Facebook is a great place to keep up with the actions of the RV Petrel. Click on the ship name to visit the page and see the latest images released. They will continue to offer these intriguing images of ships long lost. Save the page to keep up with their work.


<![CDATA[History of the website and wonderful developments......]]>Fri, 02 Mar 2018 19:34:19 GMThttp://projectuss-strongdd467.com/project-467-history-blog/history-of-the-website-and-wonderful-developmentsPicture
When I started this website and blog nearly 6 years ago I had no idea how far it would reach. It’s been amazing to see how many people not only visit the site that are related to family members of STRONG, but others as well. I’ve been visited by students, researchers, historians, and more. One of these visits by Stephen Harding in 2013 led to the writing of The Castaway’s War, published and released in 2016 and if all goes well it will be a movie in the next 2-5 years. Hollywood takes a while, but I remain patient (and indebted to Steve!). My commitment to the site and to STRONG also helped me maintain a great working relationship over nearly 6 years now with David Mearns, the shipwreck hunter. News on his upcoming US book publication of The Shipwreck Hunter is forthcoming, as is an article on David in Military History Magazine’s next edition. I’ll let you know when that will be released.

It’s also led to reuniting of families who have not communicated in years, mysteries solved and questions answered and has helped other people contact me who I may never have heard of before, such as Bill Brown. Bill was a naval radio operator working out of the tunnels on Guadalcanal with Acorn Red One. He was the operator who received the distress call as it came into headquarters the night STRONG was bombed. I still shake my head over that one, and that Bill was so willing to tell his story. There is a blog about this from November 9th, 2014. Just one of the many meaningful and poignant stories I’ve collected, and they keep coming.

One really neat aspect of my website host is I can track the IP addresses. I can see where in the world these people are, and it has been global. As an example of some of the places I’ve gotten hits: all 50 states, including Puerto Rico, France, the Ukraine, Russia, China (yeah, I wonder about the last three), Poland, Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Oman, Djibuti, United Arab Emirates, all over the UK (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales), Asia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Japan, India, Iraq and Afghanistan, Iceland, Sweden, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Spain, Portugal – I could go on. This is exciting and humbling and I hope has been helpful to people seeking research information on their loved ones or on WW2 history in general. Aside from tracking the location of the hits I can collect statistics. January this year I had 26,261 hits, the most ever. It shows the reach of the website is widening and I couldn’t be happier.

The next mission is to keep STRONG families informed of the actions of the RV Petrel in the South Pacific. I currently am in contact with nearly 100 family members of these men – children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and more. As information on the possibility of another survey of the Kula Gulf comes available, this website will be the method of informing everyone. For now we wish the crew of the RV Petrel much luck and safety in their current mission and keep our fingers crossed that there will be time left in the scheduled time at sea to visit the gulf and do a sweep for STRONG and HELENA.

Stay tuned!


<![CDATA[Great news, contact with Petrel crew!]]>Fri, 16 Feb 2018 13:01:39 GMThttp://projectuss-strongdd467.com/project-467-history-blog/great-news-contact-with-petrel-crewPicture
​Today was a huge breakthrough in the development of this project. Thanks to David Mearns, shipwreck hunter extraordinaire, I am now in direct contact with a key crew member of the RV Petrel research ship, submarine and ROV pilot Paul Mayer. The Petrel is one of the many ships in the arsenal of Paul Allen and his Vulcan, Inc. company. It's the most recently acquired and has been fitted out for the work of searching the sea bottom for lost WWII shipwrecks and other projects as required. In the search for Strong, this is the most likely vessel. Paul Mayer and the group performed a preliminary search in the Kula Gulf in 2015, but the equipment they had on hand didn't reveal the ships location. They have a superior scanner now and plan to try to use it at some time this year. Future projects will take them close to the area and the plan is to swoop in and do a quick scan. Once found, they will notify me and we will see what transpires from there. He is aware of what I'm trying to accomplish for my uncle Billy and for the family members of the Strong. 

Being able to have some time with a professional in his position was amazing and I understand how rare it is to have such an opportunity. These guys work long hours at what they do, even though there is fun and triumph in the work. There are times when things break down or go wrong. Most of this gets edited out of any broadcasts, but the mishaps always add a human dimension to the stories they tell of the loss of the ships and their men. Paul tells me there is another research team also interested in searching for Strong this year. This group has manned submersibles to test run and want to dive the Strong wreck for practice. The Kula Gulf is a small enclosed area, nicely contained and good for this type of exercise. The wreck of the Strong provides them with a good test subject free from large ship traffic. Paul is friends with these folks and will advise them that I would like to be notified if and when they get to work. I'm withholding the name of this group for now, but they have also worked with David in the past. So if we are successful in this the 75th anniversary of the sinking of Strong, in getting her found - David is the man to thank for helping me put all the pieces together either way. And I might just owe him a nice bottle of some good Kentucky bourbon and a lot more.  

Same to you Paul, for giving me access to your expertise and knowledge!  To see Paul and his cohort Rob Kraft and the team at work, check out the live shot video of the USS Indianapolis wreck: https://www.paulallen.com/watch-live-tour-uss-indianapolis-wreck/

I'm completely humbled and amazed that this has gotten this far. Beyond expectations, so I guess I need to set up some new ones!

<![CDATA[Presentation of papers on ESMERALDA in New Orleans by David Mearns and expedition team]]>Sun, 14 Jan 2018 23:33:03 GMThttp://projectuss-strongdd467.com/project-467-history-blog/presentation-of-papers-on-esmeralda-in-new-orleans-by-david-mearns-and-expedition-teamBack in March of 2016 I posted a couple of blogs about the location of part of Vasco da Gama’s fleet off the coast of Oman by David Mearns of Blue Water Recoveries, LTD working for the Ministry of Heritage and Culture. Da Gama’s uncles, Vicente and Bras Sodre were responsible for the fleet. The ships found were the ESMERALDA and SAO PEDRO, both Portuguese naus. Naus were 3 or 4 masted sailing ships developed during the 14th and 15th centuries. They were used primarily to sail the African coasts before branching out to India and the Americas. Both were lost in a violent storm in May 1503 at Al Hallaniyah island with much loss of life including Vicente. In the first week of January (3rd-6th) after the new year David and the archaeological team from the expedition attended the Society for Historical Archaeology Conference in New Orleans. A paper detailing the history of the fleet, the process of the expedition and the artifacts found was presented by David and his team and can be downloaded and read on the website at this link: http://esmeraldashipwreck.com/archaeology/

Not only can you read the paper, but there are some amazing video links at the bottom of the page. Watch how they move huge heavy boulders from the site under water. Hear and see David as the Omani military helicopter delivers a new air compressor to the group.  He takes a pretty good pelting from rocks and sand trying to video the event!

For more videos of other parts of the expedition, follow this link: http://esmeraldashipwreck.com/videos/

To me, it’s fun and fascinating to watch them work underwater, to see the equipment they use and to make some amazing discoveries of rare artifacts. Many of the videos are narrated by David and his excitement in the work is palatable. Personally, I’d love to be on the deck of the ship hunkered over a screen pulling out artifacts and working on a little sorting and cataloging. I have some experience with this being my degree is in anthropology and archaeology (hint, hint). Just sayin’.  :o)
While David was in New Orleans he had the pleasure of a couple of meetings with Kevin Wheeler, son of Lt. Jg. Virgil Wheeler, a gunnery officer on STRONG. My husband Greg and I met Kevin in December and were able to help set this up. Anytime we meet a new family member it reinforces what we’re trying to do here. We’re honored to add Kevin to the STRONG family, and to have helped him meet David.

If we do manage to get to STRONG one day, David will be the guy.  Our goal this year, the 75th anniversary of the sinking of STRONG is to be more pugnacious in pursuing some funding and sponsorship of the expedition. Anyone with ideas or connections to philanthropic organizations who might want to help out, let me know.  We have some ideas and connections that may be helpful, but any new input is welcome. Perhaps when David comes over to promote his book The Shipwreck Hunter in mid-summer, we can make some good connections.

Enjoy the videos and reading about this amazing expedition!


Map below from ESMERALDA expedition website.
Photo of Portuguese nau from Wikipedia.

<![CDATA[National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana]]>Sun, 17 Dec 2017 23:42:43 GMThttp://projectuss-strongdd467.com/project-467-history-blog/national-wwii-museum-in-new-orleans-louisiana Sometimes it takes a while to get your thoughts together. It's easy to get distracted by other things once you are back from a memorable vacation, too. With that said let me just say New Orleans was eye opening. We arrived December 4th to 78 sunny degrees and took a long stroll through the French Quarter. A lovely lunch at Pere Antoine's and dessert at Cafe du Monde topped off the first day there. The next day we visited the reason we even went.
The National WWII Museum (https://www.nationalww2museum.org/) takes up several city blocks off of Magazine Street a stone's throw from the Mississippi River.  Doors opened here in June of 2000 and in 17 short years the facility has grown like proverbial weeds. Now, it's the #2 museum in the country and #2 in the world. It clearly earns every accolade. The exhibits are built in the quality of Hollywood sets and are so completely realistic you feel as if you're there. It would take days to view all the film reels and movie clips they have secreted in walls, panes of glass, projected on table tops and inside suitcases. Reading all the storyboards from the various exhibits inside the multiple buildings would be many more days. Inside the entrance above your head hangs a C-47 Skytrain airplane. A Howitzer and Higgins boat are underneath. A passenger train provides space to introduce you to a solider, sailor or other person from the WW2 era and to follow their history throughout the exhibit. There is a 4D film presentation produced by actor Tom Hanks, "Beyond All Boundaries". You will experience the sensation of bomb blasts, snow falling from above and the movement of bomber planes in action as you watch the engrossing film.
Active exhibits include: the D-Day Invasion of Normandy; Arsenal of Democracy; the John E. Kushner Restoration Pavillion where the PT 305 Higgins boat was fully restored; BB's Stage Door Canteen where the Victory Belles perform; Ralph
E. Crump Merchant Marine Gallery; US Freedom Pavillion: The Boeing Center; the USS Tang Submarine Exhibit; the Road to Berlin and the Road to Tokyo. We spent two days there, even attended the Pearl Harbor Day ceremony. Needless to say we
need to go back as we missed a few things. The museum is constantly adding on and currently building a new exhibit space. A canopy will cover the entire complex and protect visitors from the sun and inclimate weather. Across the street they have broken ground for a hotel complex that will open in May of 2019. As soon as I'm able, I'm booking a room!
If you have artifacts, oral histories or any documents/photos from your man or woman who served in any capacity during WW2, the museum would love to take donations of original items or copies for their archives. The person to contact to discuss any donations is Toni Kiser at toni.kiser@nationalww2museum.com. Toni is also available to help with any research. At present, I've given her some STRONG documents for their archives, as they had none. I plan on giving her more in the future. Many of you have shared information with me that includes documents and photos. If I may have your permission to share this with the museum, please let me know.
By the end of the week it was 40 degrees with rain. They even had to de-ice our wings on Friday as we were heading home! In spite of the dramatic weather change I wouldn't have missed this trip for anything and can't wait to go back. If you plan on heading to New Orleans and need recommendations about the museum or places to stay, pop me a note. And remember, Kevin Wheeler is ready to be your host and meet any and all STRONG family members who come to visit. Contact him at kwheeler@taggartmorton.com.

<![CDATA[Honor for a friend, a ship named for Robert Goldman]]>Sat, 02 Dec 2017 22:17:14 GMThttp://projectuss-strongdd467.com/project-467-history-blog/honor-for-a-friend-a-ship-named-for-robert-goldmanPicture
Hi families,

On Monday we're off to New Orleans, mainly to visit the National World War 2 Museum. I've long wanted to visit and now seems the right time. I'll be meeting with a person on the curatorial staff and doing a bit of recon work at the museum, checking out how a researcher gets access to their collections and artifacts. Should be very moving and lots to learn at the #2 museum in the world! We'll also be meeting for the first time the son of Lt. Jg. Virgil Wheeler, a gunnery officer on STRONG. Kevin, we're so looking forward to meeting you!

A friend has had a particular honor bestowed upon his family and it's something I feel needs sharing. I've known Yale Goldman for many years now, as we both also have a hobby dealing with amber, a natural and semi-precious stone. As Yale travels to the Dominican Republic to replenish his amber stock from time to time, it was he I enlisted to help me track down the daughter of Captain Wellings a few years ago (hello Anne!), and this he did excellently. I had no idea though, of Yale's WW2 history regarding his own father, Robert Goldman. Robert was a pharmacist's mate with the Coast Guard on the LST 66 and involved in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines on November 12th of 1944. Though severely injured, he managed to tend to his fellow wounded and dying after the ship took a kamikaze hit. In his honor, the Navy recently notified the family that a ship is to be named in his honor. How could I not share this wonderful and touching story? To read about Robert and his bravery, visit this link: http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2017/07/tlbl-robert-goldman-lst-66-kamikaze-crash/

Yale lost his Dad years ago and is sad he's not around to realize what's happening. My feeling is, he knows.