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:

More on the USS SLATER (

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!

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