MAY 2017

Alan Cutcher, President

The clock is ticking down
towards our next Ship’s Reunion
in Pittsburgh, PA, September 13
– 17. I hope you have marked
the date on your calendar. Now Hear This!
Included in this newsletter is a Please remit your 2017
report on our Mini-Reunion association dues by
which was held in the March 31. Thank You!
Annapolis, MD area on April 26
– 29. The Mini-Reunion is mainly The 2017 reunion will be
a working session for our Board of Directors to discuss issues held in Pittsburgh PA.
affecting the Association and finalize plans for our Reunion. Dates are 9/13 to 9/17.
The Mini-Reunions are open to all members who would like
to attend. We would like to get input from our members to Shipmates!
help with our planning. This year Billy Pinyan attended our
board meeting and enjoyed it very much. Information on our
association founder Hal
One of the items we mentioned at last year’s Reunion in
Gross and the history of
Buffalo and at our Mini-Reunion this year is the possibility of
the USS John W Weeks
joining up with the Tin Can Sailors Association in hosting our
Association can be
annual reunions. We have asked two of our members who
found on our website.
live in the area to attend the next reunion of the Tin Can
Sailors scheduled for August 20-24 in Valley Forge, PA to see
if it is something we might want to consider joining up with in
the future. The Tin Can Sailors Association already includes a number of individual Tin Can
Reunions in their events. They provide separate Hospitality Rooms for each ship and other
benefits making it worthwhile for our exploring it as an option. The members will report
back their findings at our Business Meeting in Pittsburgh.

Work also continues on developing our Ship’s Museum at the John W. Weeks State Park in
Lancaster, NH. Each year I make a trip to the Museum to deliver items that our members
have donated to the Museum as well as new display items we have gathered. This year I

will be presenting a large framed photo of all the Captains who served on the Weeks. We
also have one of our members who is donating two display cabinets to the Museum.
Photos and details should be in our next newsletter.

Remember, if you have any items from the Weeks that you would like to donate to the
Museum you can mail them to me directly or bring them to the Reunion and I will deliver
them for you.

I will also be discussing with the Museum Manager the possibility of them adding a special
historical event featuring the USS John W. Weeks. They currently host a number of events
and I would like to work with them to develop a special educational program for our ship.
I will keep you posted on this.

Another project I have been working on is a special display for our Hospitality Room on
Bruce Biggar. As I am sure you remember, Bruce was killed in action aboard the John W.
Weeks on almost the last day of WWII. I have been working with local historical groups
and the high school he attended. I have invited his cousins to attend our banquet at the
Reunion. They are also trying to gather information on Bruce. More information on Bruce
will be in our next Newsletter.

The Museum is currently open on weekends and will be open all week starting in mid-June.
The wall we donated to the Museum has been redesigned into two paneled walls to
match the rest of the woodwork in the Museum. They hope to have it installed before the
season opening. They have discovered a problem with the flooring that will require them
to replace some of it.

Remember if you visit the Museum, you need only to show your USS John W. Weeks
membership card for free admission.

I plan on again holding a short auction after the banquet to raise funds for our Museum.
This year I will make sure all T-shirts are Extra Large (XL) for our growing membership. If you
have something you would like to donate you can mail it to me directly or bring to the

As your President I am blessed to have a Board of Directors who are dedicated to your
Association. They work year around for your Association.

Try to attend the Reunion if you can. I guarantee you will enjoy yourself and especially the
fellowship with your fellow crew members.


“Officers and their Ladies, enlisted men and their wives” is a phrase we used to see on
military invitations.

Both are an integral part of the Weeks Association and the success of the reunions. Not to
say a shipmate can’t attend a reunion solo, several do, but the chances are a female
companion will immediately bond with all the other women in attendance and feel very


This year’s Weeks association mini reunion was held in the Annapolis/Eastern Shore area of
Maryland. We had 15 attendees including hosts Ray and Harriett Goodmuth. Dates were
April 26 thru the 30th. Wednesday evening everyone met at the Goodmuth house located
in Centreville for a welcome dinner to which many in the group contributed delicious food
and drink items.

The weather gods were good to us as we enjoyed 5 days of fine spring weather. Although
there were no scheduled tours everyone took advantage of the area to visit the city of
Annapolis, the US Naval academy and the many points of interest both historic and scenic
on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Also enjoyed at fine local restaurants were the many culinary
delights of Maryland’s offering of tasty local seafood.

The board meeting was held on Thursday April 27. Discussed were matters pertaining to the
upcoming reunion in Pittsburgh, bylaw amendments and other items of importance to the
association. Friday we all came together for a dinner at the Fisherman’s Inn located at Kent
Narrows on the Eastern Shore. Saturday evening we gathered once more at the Goodmuth
residence for a light dinner and fond farewells. We look forward to seeing everyone again
at the fall reunion.


The Department of Defense has made a policy change effective on Veterans Day,
November 11, 2017. The change will allow some 16 million honorably discharged veterans
to shop online for discounted products through the military exchange system. Most sales
through the military exchanges are free of state and local taxes. The benefit of shopping
at commissaries is not changing to include all veterans. And, because the new benefit is
limited to online shopping, traffic in exchange stores should not be impacted.

The shopping privileges will exclude purchasing uniforms, alcohol and tobacco products.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service has seen declining sales in recent years.

Adding millions of new veterans, particularly those who served before the military draft
ended in 1973, will be challenging.


Last July 4, the Great Lakes Naval Museum was officially renamed the National Museum of
the American Sailor.

Retired Rear Admiral Samuel Cox speaking at the dedication stated “the National
Museum will stand as a place for sailors, navy families and proud Americans to learn more
about the Navy that serves them by using the history and experience of our sailors as the
basis for its exhibits

The Museum currently features exhibits on life in Navy Boot Camp, naval uniforms and
traditions, the history of Naval Station Great Lakes, the role of diversity in the Navy and the
role of women in the navy. In the next two years, the museum will expand its exhibits to
include American sailors in the past and today, and others.


Ray Goodmuth did some research on the USS Ault and USS Borie on when the Weeks
joined DESRON2 for a friend and sailor who served on the USS Pierce. It started out as a
trivia question that he phoned to Ray. While Ray had a knowledge of the Weeks entry into
the Black Sea, he was not aware of her diversionary tactic to free up the USS Ault to
pursue their mission to gather intelligence on Russia. HOW ‘BOUT THAT! Read on.

On March 9, 1960, the USS Ault in company with the USS John W Weeks transited the
Bosporus and the two became the first U.S. warships to enter the Black Sea since 1945.

Her Black Sea entry was, in part, a secret radio probing mission for which she was fitted
with radio eavesdropping gear manned by civilian technicians. As they entered the Black
Sea, Ault and John W Weeks were followed by a Russian trawler but all three ships soon
stopped when John W Weeks faked a breakdown by hoisting a breakdown flag. The ships
sat for some time while Ault was building superheat in her boilers; suddenly, Ault got
underway at maximum speed toward Russia leaving the trawler far behind. The trip’s
mission was kept secret from the crew until she started moving at which point the Captain
announced that they were heading to Russia. He also indicated there were American
fighters circling just outside the Black Sea, and if they got into trouble, the planes could go

supersonic and assist in minutes. The Ault headed north, approaching Russia, and then
turned around to rejoin the Weeks and depart the Black Sea.

Past President Len adds, “I was aboard at that time. Some large containers with electronic
equipment were loaded on board. They were placed on the torpedo deck.”

Jerry Wester adds, “A medicine bottle filled with “Black Sea Water” was on a plaque on
the mess decks. The scuttlebutt I heard was that it was accidently broken one time so they
replaced it with a new bottle filled from THE scuttlebutt. . . . I should have given it a taste
test to see if that was true.”

Now this is one interesting story. Thanks to Ray for the research and to Len and Jerry for
their contributions to this story.


OCTOBER 24, 1946

The posthumous awarding of the Silver Star Medal to Bruce O. Biggar, Seaman First Class,
was announced in Washington this week by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal.

Seaman Biggar was killed August 10, 1945 on the eve of victory over our enemies in the
South Pacific according to word received by his father, Harvey Howard Biggar, who was
then living in the Berwyn Hotel. The Biggar family formerly lived in Riverside where Bruce
attended Brookfield-Riverside High School. Mr. Biggar is well known to "Wake of the News"
fans, a Tribune column, for his contributions always signed "Biggar of Riverside."

The young Seaman earned his recently awarded citation which was presented to his
father while aboard the destroyer USS John W. Weeks. During an enemy suicide attack, he
was mortally wounded. Despite wounds, the citation reads, he stayed at his battle station to
help extinguish fires in the ammunition room. By refusing medical attention and disregarding
his own safety, he protected his ship and shipmates from disaster.

"He gallantly gave his life for his Country," ends the citation which all too soon has been
forgotten except in homes where such messages and acknowledgements of heroism
create a deeper appreciation of the freedom which future generations will inherit.




In a city full of surprises, friendly people and three rivers

We will be meeting in one of the most unique cities in America, with many good time
venues. Most of them are located within sight of our hotel. The Sheraton Hotel Station
Square is on the banks of the Monongahela River directly across from downtown.
Pittsburgh is a beautiful city, just wait and see.

With the hotel shuttle’s three mile range, it will take you to most venues that you would
want to visit.

I know a Steeler fan from Indiana that went to a football game in Pittsburgh and he told
me “I was driving on the Parkway West, entered the Fort Pitt Tunnel and exited onto the
Fort Pitt Bridge. At that point, I just wanted to stop the car. The view of downtown
Pittsburgh was fantastic. I just wanted to take in the view.” Locals refer to this as “entering
through the front door”.

The reunion will follow our traditional format for the most part. Wednesday we arrive, meet
and greet like always in the Hospitality Room. Thursday and Friday will be a combination of
tours and free time.

Details will be in the July newsletter that will be devoted to reunion information only.

Some of my Pittsburgh friends are helping me put together a free time activity guide so
you can enjoy Pittsburgh. You may want to see a show in the Cultural District or take in the
Symphony or maybe you’re just looking to try some authentic Pittsburgh ethnic restaurants
and shops in the area known as the Strip District. Other options are going downtown or
riding the incline cars up to restaurants on Mt. Washington. There you can enjoy dinner,
drinks or just visit the observation platforms. The view is spectacular both day and night.
Seniors with Medicare Cards ride free. No charge hop-on/hop-off bus and subway services
are available until 7 pm in downtown and the Northside.

Here are some places of interest close to Pittsburgh and may even be along your way.

The NFL Hall of fame in Canton, Ohio; the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in Cleveland; Falling
Water in Mill Run, Pa., a unique house built by Frank Lloyd Wright; and the Flight 93
Memorial in Stoystown, Pa. Lynn and I are looking forward to seeing you in Pittsburgh,
September 13 – 17, 2017.

Phil Varner

To the wives and female friends of the USS John W Weeks Assn.

Here’s a little perspective of my experiences at the Weeks reunion.

This will be my 4th year attending Weeks Reunions. Like many of you, I thought, “Nobody
will be talking to me so should I stay home and let him go or should I just go and watch him
have fun with his old buddies?” I chose the last option except the part of just watching. It
turned out to be just the opposite. We were both welcomed immediately by everyone.
Phil knew seven buddies from his time on board the ship. I was included in most of the
conversations along with their wives. It didn’t take long to meet and make friends with
guys and their wives from different eras.

Many of us keep in touch throughout the year through email, Facebook, phone calls and
the annual Mini Reunions. Now I too look forward to the reunion and the many different
cities we visit.

Of course, you will listen to many funny sea tales but listen closely because each year they
get more embellished.

Please come and enjoy catching up with friends you know plus the new friends you will
make. Come and enjoy the city of Pittsburgh and the good food at various restaurants
and the banquet.

If this will be your first reunion or one of many that you have attended, I can’t wait to meet
you or see you again in Pittsburgh, PA Sept. 13 to Sept 17, 2017.

Lynn Varner, Wife of Phil Varner BT3 (62-66)


Our President, Alan Cutcher, suffered a mild stroke while overwintering in Savannah. He is
now recuperating at home. The doctors are expecting a full recovery from the effects of
the stroke in time. Alan promises that he will be at the reunion in Pittsburgh in September.
Notes can be sent to the email address on the last page of this newsletter or sent to his
home at 1118 Lincoln Avenue, Port Huron, MI 48060.

Dave Kurtz, Vice President, Newsletter Co-Editor and Asst. Chaplain, has had
asymptomatic Multiple Myeloma (often called bone cancer) for two years. His disease has
now moved to Stage 1. Fortunately for Dave, despite being 72 years old, he has qualified
for stem cell transplantation which he will be starting in early June. Transplantation and
recuperation will be a minimum of three months but like Alan, Dave plans on being in
Pittsburgh in September. Notes can be sent to the email on the last page of this newsletter
or sent to his home at 654 Garfield Drive, Elizabethtown, PA 17022.

Both Alan and Dave would welcome your prayers.


BT Keith Martin; served aboard the Weeks Mid-60’s; DOD 2007

LTJG William Gillespie; DOD September 22, 2013

SN Daniel Mangine; served aboard the Weeks 1959-62; DOD March 26, 2016

William Newton; DOD February 13, 2017

Carl Porter; DOD February 14, 2017

James Howdyshell; DOD February 15, 2017

SN George Baker; served aboard the Weeks 1968-71

Bruce Kollinger






Telephone No's ________________________________________________

Email ___________________________________________

Amount Enclosed ___________________________________








USS John W Weeks
1118 Lincoln Ave.
Port Huron, MI 48060

We are on the WEB!

Alan Cutcher - (810) 984-4670

Vice President & Assistant Chaplain:
Dave Kurtz - (717) 366-4610
(Dave is currently on sabbatical)

Jerry Wester - (651) 483-4252
2590 N. Sylvan Street Little Canada, MN 55117

Kathy Michaels - (757) 898-1650

Bob Michaels - (757) 898-1650
Phil Varner - (856) 464-1727
Ray Goodmuth - (410) 758-6596
Director Emeritus - Earl Thomas (301) 987-6347

John W. Weeks Museum Contact:
Rachel Bruce - 1-603-788-4004

Newsletter Editors:
Dave Kurtz & Ray Goodmuth

Web Master:
Len Budzynski