U.S.S. COLORADO ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, Inc.
The U.S.S. Colorado Alumni Association was organized in Kansas City Missouri in 1984 and incorporated in the State of Missouri that year. Prior to that time shipmates reunited in various parts of the country with Budd Bratton and Tommy Rollins heading a reunion committee. Our association was made up over 800 members and associate members and was incorporated in the State of Colorado where many ship artifacts are located. The ship’s bell and ship’s wheel are at the University of Colorado and many items are in the Colorado Historical Museum. Additional items are in the Frank Weber museum in Oregon. Frank’s address is PO Box 1154, Scappoose, OR 97056-1154, Phone 503-543-7825. The museum includes a large collection of Navy memorabilia with emphasis on the U.S.S. Colorado and a model of the ship created by Bill Daemke.
Our shipmate, Wendel Sager, obtained blueprints of our ship and his son-in-law, Dave Runkle, constructed a waterline model one meter scale, which Wendel then donated to the association so all the shipmates could share the memory. This model has been donated to the University Memorial Center at Boulder, Colorado and is now displayed with the ship’s bell and wheel in the Veterans Lounge. The Director of the University Memorial Center, Carlos Garcia, is an honorary member of our association.
The “Sunday Flag” of the USS Colorado is a 9 ft by 17 ft Ceremonial flag with 48 stars. It was flown on special occasions such as during change of command or when an Admiral was on board. It was flown when the ship was at anchor or in port on Sundays. It was flown during memorial services at Tinian and Leyte, and during burial at sea at Lingayen. It was flown VJ day during signing of the surrender document and when entering San Francisco for welcome home after the war. It was flown in Seattle during Navy Week 1945 and during decommissioning in January 1947. The flag was purchased by Carl Nordstrom III at Todd Shipyards in Seattle when the ship was scrapped in 1959. He gave the flag to Philip F. Spaulding, a noted Seattle naval architect. In July 2004, Mr. Spaulding donated the flag to our association. The flag was officially transferred to University Memorial Center during the Veterans Day ceremony November 11, 2004, with shipmate Isidore Gefroh representing our association.
In 1995 we began rotating sites of national reunions to three regions of the country so that everyone would have a better opportunity to attend. The number of members in each region was roughly equal and the director from each region served on the board. Until 2006 each director handled the oversight of a national reunion in his region once every three years. The Directors were Harvey Madsen, Eastern Region; Ken Jones, Central Region; and Al DeZonia, Western Region.
A Memorial Service was held each year on Memorial Day at the Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. Texas shipmates hosted a mini-reunion that weekend in Fredericksburg.
Mini-reunions have been held in many areas of the country including Missouri, Arizona, Washington, California, Oregon, Virginia, Minnesota, Nevada, Iowa, Colorado, and Florida. Although a mini-reunion is held whenever two or three shipmates get together, on some occasions as many as 140 have attended.
Shipmates and associate members are kept informed of reunions and other activities through The Colorado Lookout which was edited for years by Les Pierce and wife, MaryJo. MaryJo died in 2012. The current editors of our newsletter are Frank Weber & Steven Leek. It is published twice a year and includes sea stories, history, and humor. See Contact Page.
Leon & Tula Shook served as chaplain to the association encouraging those who are ill or bereaved. At the time of our decommissioning our officers were Clyde Amonett, Ingemar Carlson, Charlie Ripper and Ken & Dorothy Jones. Staff included Harry Patch, ByLaws, and Norris Hermsmeyer who served as our Corporate Agent.
We cannot begin to acknowledge all the shipmates and their wives who have contributed to the life of this association by
- organizing and planning reunions and mini-reunions
- serving as officers, directors, chairmen, and staff
- finding other shipmates and compiling addresses
- contributing to memorial funds
- donating door prizes–often beautifully hand-crafted
- keeping in touch and encouraging other members
They are all important to the association. They are very appreciated while living, and long remembered when they leave us. Although wives are not included in our deceased list, to paraphrase one of our shipmates “we held them in our arms for years and now we hold them in our hearts forever”.
No history of the association would be complete without mentioning the contributions of Chris Barker, Forrest Hogg, and Andy Andresen. Chris was instrumental in our incorporation and in obtaining non-profit IRS status and mailing permit. He served as the first Secretary-Treasurer and Lookout Editor, and authored two books about our beloved ship. Although others have written about their experiences aboard, Chris compiled official records, photos, and personal stories from many sources into Tomorrow May Never Come and Teakwood Decks. Chris died in 1992 just before the Omaha reunion which he had planned.
Forrest Hogg computerized all the records–all the individual mailing lists and financial records. Without them we could not have kept in touch with the hundreds of members. He became Secretary-Treasurer after Chris Barker. Forrest resigned due to health problems in 1993, but continued to advise us until his death in 2000.
Andy Andresen served as Secretary-Treasurer from 1993 to 2005. He died on May 8, 2005. During his tenure he coordinated many national reunions and mini-reunions as well as working to establish memorials to our ship and shipmates in several cities. With his son and grandson he developed our official website.
In 2013 we voted to decommission the association but to continue on an informal basis until the new submarine, USS Colorado (SSN788), is commissioned. Ken & Dorothy Jones will serve as contact & keep track of members, Frank Weber & Steven Leek will publish The Loookout , and Joyce Andresen will update the website. An impressive decommissioning ceremony was held on April 12, 2014 in Seattle.