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ASSOCIATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS

29 May 2014


George Shepke

Secretary





1455 90th Avenue, Lot A5

Vero Beach, FL  32966-7512

 

Bob Mathis

President





3201 Kaliste Saloom, Box 283

Lafayette, LA   70508

 


Robin Johnson

Treasurer





3701 Hazelcrest Dr, 

East Moline, IL 61244-9665


Dick Carter

Director




2375 E. Tropicana Avenue, #218

Las Vegas, NV  89119-6564



USS Block Island

Association



Chuck Silvola

Vice President





W1937 Tuleta Hill Rd

Markesan, WI 53946-86542

 

Bill MacInnes

Editor, CHIPS





6650 Richard Street

San Diego, CA   92115

 


Jack Sprague

Webmaster

Director




16024 Baywood Ln

Eden Prairie, MN  55346



USS Block Island

Association



Association History

The USS Block Island Association was formed as a non-profit organization in 1963. A small group of CVE 21 and CVE 106 crew members laid the real "keel" of the Association by adopting a set of bylaws that made the commissioning a reality in their effort to perpetuate the history of the USS Block Island aircraft carriers and supporting destroyers. 

In December 1944, the commissioning ceremony of CVE 106 was attended by many dignitaries, in part because history was being made. It was not just the launching of the second carrier of the same name, but also the first fighting ship that was to be almost completely manned by the surviving crew of its predecessor. In his presentation to the ships crew and to their commitment to taking the helm of their new ship, Captain Hughes made this commitment and obligation to the entire crew:

              


"We have a more solemn obligation (over and above the task for which the ship was designed and constructed),

for on us has fallen a very singular and solemn heritage - that to perpetuate the name USS Block Island. That is

indeed a big responsibility and one I know we shall accept with a determination that will not let us fail!" 


The crew held to this obligation with much pride and to this day, by way of the USS Block Island Association, has continued to "perpetuate" that history long after the Block Island CVE 21 went to its final rest on the ocean bottom and CVE 106 was stricken in 1957 from Naval records. Many of the survivors of the sinking of CVE 21 maintained personal contact with shipmates and also with crew members of the four destroyer escorts that were operating in the task group. The sinking and subsequent rescue created a comradeship between the survivors and the crews of the DEs. Some of these survivors would meet from time to time to renew friendships, make new friendships and share stories of that common disaster. Over a few years the group grew and the idea came up that an association should be formed that could bring all of their shipmates together at an annual reunion. Today, one of the major activities of the Association is the annual reunion on a date close to May 29th (which was the date of the sinking of CVE 21). In 1964 and 1966 through 1981, regional reunions were held throughout the USA. The last regional reunion was held 1983 after which the Association voted to recognize only the annual national reunion.

The Association included both the Aircraft Carriers CVE 21 and CVE 106 because the majority of the survivors of  CVE 21 also served on CVE 106. Within three years over 500 sailors, marines and airmen had joined the Association. The bylaws as originally drafted included "all personnel who served on, over, or in the company of the two Aircraft Carriers". Little did the drafters of those original bylaws know that over 20,000 Navy and Marine personnel met the conditions. Their thought was that maybe as many as 2,000 personnel would be involved but Navy records show that number was less than 10% of those that qualified for membership.

Public records now show that as great a number as 85% of the qualified personnel are deceased. To maintain the Association the remaining members are looking to the sons, daughters and other relatives of qualifying personnel to continue in their footsteps. The contributions and sacrifices that the Association's sailors and marines made for their country should never be forgotten. As of September 1, 2006 (over 62 years since the sinking of CVE 21)  the Association has 269 registered members with 228 of those members having served on either ship in WWII. The Association has 125 life members who are the known widows of deceased members and 69 members who are relatives of the men who served. The Association also has 41 members who served on CVE 106 during the Korean Campaign after WWII.



In 2007 a special ceremony was held for the members of the USS Block Island as they were honored by the residents of Block Island, RI. The photo at left shows shipmates surrounding the ship’s bell of the CVE 106 at its permanent home in the museum on the island.