Recently people have been joining me on my Sunday Walks in Downtown Albany. Typically, I walk in Albany when I'm scheduled as a tour guide on the USS Slater. A slide show and a map are detailed at this blog entry. I plan on walking on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. You can contact me at:

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

5/29/2009 - Battle under Orion

This evening, all of the USS Slater volunteers had an opportunity to view the American Premiere of the Japanese movie "Battle Under Orion". Last year, in August, many of the Battle Scenes were filmed aboard the Slater. This was also the last day of the annual reunion of the original USS Slater crew, so a handful of many of WWII sailors who served on the Slater had an opportunity to see the movie as well. Also in attendance were Albany's Mayor Jerry Jennings and few local dignitaries, and the American cast, Extras and Film Crew. The Albany Times Union did a bit earlier in the week, "Now Showing: USS Slater" by Paul Grondahl.

I enjoyed the movie, but when it comes to movies about WWII I'm easy to please. The best surprise of the evening was that my wife's reaction. Typically she avoids films with subtitles. And the only way I get her to see a war movie is if I commit to see chick flick. I was pleasantly surprised when she liked it (and I didn't have use a chick flick credit).

We sat behind a group of film extras. It was interesting seeing their reactions as they appeared on screen. Another surprise was seeing the USS Slater's Educational Coordinator, Eric Rivet, all dressed up in a suit and a tie (I hardly recognized him). One problem I saw, Tim had the USS Slater too bright and shiny. On film it looked like the USS Slater was just put in commission.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

5/25/2009 - Memorial Day

Another beautiful day, and a very fine Memorial Day Ceremony. CBS News provided great press coverage (I hope they keep the link active).

I kept myself quite busy until about three PM. I gave three tours and my voice was starting to give out near the end. Since we had a Quarterdeck Watch for part of the day, when I brought a tour group aboard I had someone to salute to and request permission to come aboard from. It added a nice touch.

Immediately following the Memorial Day ceremony we had a huge group (perhaps 50+ visitors). We divided the group up by age, and I took the older group. Large groups of mixed age are tough for a tour guide. But, if you have a large group in one age you can manage the task fairly easy by focusing on the needs of the group. Kids love to touch things and interact with stuff, they enjoy a manning the 40mm, and taking turns on the helm. Older visitors take a little longer on ladders, and love listening to a good sea story.

Older visitors often have immediate family members who are WWII Vets. In one group I had had a WWII veteran accompanied by his family. He was a Marine Amtrak Driver. Immediately following the Japanese Surrender, he was also part of the occupation force and was at Nagasaki in 1945. Whenever I have a WWII Marine in my tour group I try to include a few comments about the DEs that were converted to Fast Transports (APD). These ships operated with Marine Units and Navy Underwater Demolition Teams. I also knew that several Destroyer Escorts visited Nagasaki immediately following the Japanese Surrender (USS Reeves, DE-156/APD-52USS Barr, DE-576/APD-39). These Ships served as Station Ships for the Strategic Bombing Survey Team.

Sometime when I give tours I like to check the date in WWII (May 25th). This Memorial Day has particular relevance to one Destroyer Escort - The USS Bates (DE-68/APD-47). From the wikipedia entry - "...At 1115 on 25 May, while patrolling 2 miles south of Ie Shima, Okinawa, Bates was attacked by three Japanese planes. The first plane dropped a bomb, scoring a near miss which ruptured the starboard hull of the ship, and then crashed into the starboard side of the fantail. The second plane, almost simultaneously, made a suicide hit on the pilothouse. Shortly thereafter, the third plane made a bombing run scoring a near miss amidships, portside, rupturing the hull. At 1145 the commanding officer ordered Bates abandoned. Twenty-one of her crew were either dead or missing from the attacks. During the afternoon, the tug US Cree was able to get a line aboard and towed Bates to Ie Shima anchorage. At 1923 on 25 May 1945, the still burning Bates capsized and sank in 20 fathoms of water."

One final Note - During a break another Slater Guide (Dick Walker) mentioned that there was a sunken WWI U-Boat in Lake Michigan. True Story - UC -97, here's the link!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

5/19/2009 Tech Valley IMA

I returned from my vacation and gave an after hours tour to a Professional Group - Tech Valley Institute of Management Accountants. While my non-paying job is a DE Docent (a Destroyer Escort Tour Guide), my paying job is as an Accountant. I've been a member of the local IMA Chapter for about 20 years. The Official IMA tour group was 20 members, but we expanded the tour with 5 or 6 people hanging round on the pier. The weather was fantastic. And, in my opinion the tour went great. I think Tim should promote more professional group tours. Instead of starting during the day, professional groups typically have to start after work (at 4-5).

A regular Slater tour starts with a short video about WWII, U-Boats and Destroyer Escorts. For the IMA group we aired a new video profiling the USS Slater as a museum in Albany, and volunteer activities. This video profiles the museum and the educational outreach. This was the 1st time I saw this video and I was impressed. It was a professional job done by the local public TV Station (WMHT). The Video noted that the USS Slater restoration effort involved over a million dollars in donations and 250,000 volunteer hours. What it didn't note (and I think it should have) was the number of annual visitors (approximately 20,000); the number of veteran group reunions (I'm guessing at 20); and the number of memorial services and military ceremonies hosted (probably 10).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

5/2/2009 - Busy Day

It was a busy day. I managed to give three tours in approximately four hours. The Michigan DE sailors were also aboard, to start they annual reunion/work week. The weather was nice. It was slightly overcast and relatively cool.

On the 1st tour I had a well informed WWII enthusiast who bombarded me with questions. I hope I passed the test? I really did enjoy it. It keeps you on your toes. One of the questions, was how many decks the Slater Had? I had to form a mental image - and came up with seven decks (detailed in the uploaded image below). On the USS Slater web site you can click on the deck image and see details (USS Slater Deck Index).

In between tours I had a discussion about the drives for the 40mm gun mounts with a Fire Control Tech from the Michigan Reunion Group. I was under the impression that the drives were amplidyne (all electric). It turns out that the Slater has electro-hydraulic mounts. Onboard there's excellent documentation about the mounts so it was quite easy to check out the details. Regarding the 40mm there's also a great deal of information available on the web: