Foundation News Letter


March 2012                                              Vol. 1  Issue1                                                                                                                                

            Welcome to the first issue of The “Frisco” News, the newsletter of the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation, with updates on the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation and the annual Memorial Ceremony at Lands End, memories of USS San Francisco (CA-38) and our “Frisco” shipmates, and history of the ships named for the City by the Bay.

            While extensive history and information is available on our website www.usssanfrancisco.org, not everyone embraces the internet, and the “Frisco” News is another way to keep in touch with our “Frisco” veterans, family and friends. Let us know which subjects are most important to you and how we can make the Newsletter informative, relevant and fun.

            Established in 2005, the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation is dedicated to preserving the history of the storied WWII heavy cruiser, and the organizing of the  annual Memorial Ceremony the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, dedicated to the 100 sailors and 7 Marines killed in action during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal 12/13 November 1942.  By way of introduction, here is the official mission of the Foundation:

The Mission of the Foundation

 a. To build and maintain  a membership list of all men who had  served on the USS San Francisco (CA-38)  during World War II , together with their relatives, and others who support the memories of  the history of American men and women fighting for victory, liberty and freedom.   
 b. To  honor those members of the United States Marine Corps, Navy, Army , Air Force  , Coast Guard  and  Merchant Marine, together with all men from other countries who gave their lives for Victory and our Freedom.                                 
c.   To conduct a Military Memorial Service each year on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in San Francisco at  the USS San Francisco Memorial Park.                   
d. To establish and maintain a Web Site of an archive of     Historical materials and public information for the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation. To facilitate the historical research of World War II in the Pacific, and to provide material to schools, colleges and universities to enhance their efforts of education  
To promote a Historical Center in the memory of Admirals Callaghan and Scott.

Presidents Message                                        
by Chief Johnny Johnson

            Hello my shipmates, Men of War. We fought the enemy often. We rode the waves of all the Seas of the Pacific, sometimes over and over again in  the same water -- always salty, and yes, with sharks handy and waiting.

            The “Frisco” was a ship of luck. It seemed that God was protecting her always. At Pearl we escaped with luck -- and no damage. The “Frisco” was the first ship that the first Japanese pilots saw as they approached that December the 7th, 1941.  Standing on the fantail, stern out, I waved at the first flyer in their long line of flying destruction thinking they were our airplanes.

            Under a fresh coat of red deck primer, we were docked for minor repairs. With luck, we were of no interest to the enemy pilots, not worthy of a bomb or torpedo. But remember, just three days earlier, on Friday the 4th, the “Frisco” was scheduled to be in dry dock, but the battleship Pennsylvania pulled rank, so she was in the dry dock that morning of the 7th, instead of us. She received the heavy bombardment that would have been for the sweet “Frisco”.

            This was our first taste of good luck, when God adopted the “Frisco” and gave her the ring of good luck for the entire war. How lucky we were, you and I!

New Officer

            Shipmates, please join me in welcoming LCDR Arthur W. Curtis, USCG (Ret) as our new Secretary and Treasurer. LCDR Curtis is a 36 year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. He joined the Coast Guard in November 1960 as a Seaman Recruit (E-1).  After Boot Camp and Advanced Training at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, he advanced steadily through the enlisted ranks, achieving the rank of Master Chief Boatswain Mate (E-9) in 1980.  Shortly thereafter, he received a Direct Commission as a Lieutenant, Junior Grade (O-2), and was immediately assigned as the Commanding Officer of USCG Reserve Unit Station Bodega Bay.  He subsequently held seven other reserve unit Training Officer, Executive Officer and Commanding Officer billets at Northern and Central California USCG units.

            LCDR Curtis is a native and lifelong resident of San Francisco. He retired from his civilian occupation with the San Francisco Municipal Railway in February 1999 with over 37 years of service.  His last assignment, for 23 years, was as the Chief Transit Control Inspector, overseeing the day-to-day field operations of The City's transit system.

            In retirement, his primary volunteer occupation is as Executive Secretary of the California Department of the Reserve Officer's Association of the U.S.  He is also active in several other veteran and military service organizations.  A long time member of the Naval Order of the U.S., and friend of Chief Johnny Johnson and LTC John Stevens, he is proud to accept the position of Secretary/Treasurer of the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation.

President: Chief Johnny Johnson, USN
Vice President: LtCol.John Stevens, USMC
Secretary/Treasurer: Lt.CDR. Art Curtis, USCGR

Manager: Mr. Gary Prater


CA Sen.

Leland Y.




J. Michael




Thomas F.

Brown III



Douglas M (Doug)

Moore Jr.



Stanley E. (Stan)

Ellexson Jr.



Martin B.




Robert L. (Bob)



  M. Kristine (Kris) Carlock USN


Peter R.




Donald F.


USMC (Funding Mgr.)


Mrs. Christina M.       


Regent DAR       


John D.




John G.(Jack)



WO 2




CDR Robert E. (Bob) Lando USN

Website Developer

Ms.Sandra Melander

Memorial Services

            A crowd of nearly 500 people attended the Memorial Service on May 22, 2011, when Captain Stanley Ellexson was the once again the master of ceremonies. Author James Hornfischer was the keynote speaker, and BM1 Joseph V. Whitt, introduced by Sgt Vince Rios, occupied the Chair of Honor. Cheryl Whitt Rios, Registar General, Dames of the Court of Honor, DAR, placed a wreath in Honor of BM1 Whitt. Carla S. Scott also placed a wreath honoring Cpl Clifford Spencer USMC Deceased. QM2 Vidal Estrada  and John Ward conducted the traditional bell ceremony for shipmates and Marines lost at sea. ED Fulwider, USMC, served as Chaplain.

            Remarks were made by California State Senator Leland Yee, Ph.D., and Captain Dennis Murphy USN (Ret).

            Also participating in the ceremony were the Knights of Columbus and the Arkansas Sea Scout Division. The Daughters of the American Revolution, Presidio Chapter, under the leadership of  Mrs. Christina Ramos, Regent, served Home-made Cakes and Cookies and complimentary Peet’s Coffee.

Other News

            Lands End, where the USS San Francisco Monument and Memorial is located, has been newly designated, “USS San Francisco Memorial Park”.

           The 2013 Annual Memorial Day Ceremony will begin at noon on Sunday, 26 May 2013, at USS San Francisco Memorial Park. Details will be made available in the first quarter of 2013.


The Norwegian Ceremony May14 2011

            Peter Hope and I were present for this Celebration of the Norwegian Independence day May 17 2011.Together, Peter and I stood on the floor of The USS San Francisco Memorial, waiting for the appearance of the Norwegian group, scheduled for 2:00 PM or 2:30. Patiently we waited, not aware of the activity of this pending event. Suddenly a drum begins sounding from the hills off to the east. The drummer set a motion louder and commanding. We were about to witness a Fairy Tale Scene, a Pied Piper. The drumming was a steady musical, marching rhythm. Looking up to this area in the hills it became obvious that many people were following the drummer and his music. After a few additional minutes, the scene begins to become real. People following the Piper around curves in the hills as they slowly descended by walking behind the Drummer to the next lower level, not yet half down from the hills. A magic story unfolded before my eyes, as they finally began to approach the parking lot, my blood pressure increased. The Drummer’s timing, always on schedule, mathematically, and louder -- commanding. The Drummer marched to his beat. The flock, a gaggle of humans. A string of walkers following the magic music man, around the forward parking area, the San Francisco Monument, to me and Peter, 50 or 60 beautiful humans, the ladies and children dressed in the native Nordics design, colorful, Norwegian.
 It was The Norwegian Seaman’s Church of San Francisco that had enjoyed a church picnic in the hills with nature. Their minister, Pastier Haakon Soedal, was the drummer bringing his church family to us to celebrate this day of 100 years of Norwegian Independence from Sweden, The Council General of Norway spoke in a Norwegian language. Flowers were placed at our Monument. A MOST COULORFUL DAY –A PLEASANT SURPRISE.
Chief Johnny Johnson (US Navy Ret.)

Australian Visit

            In September, the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation and the San Francisco Commandery, Naval Order of the United States, were honored to host the Australian Minister of Defense, Mr. Stephen Smith at a wreath laying ceremony at Lands End, San Francisco. Others in attendance were the Australian Chief of Defense Force, General David Hurley; Australian Defense Secretary, Duncan Lewis; Australian Defense Attaché, Major General Tim Cowan and from the United States, Admiral Robert F. Willard, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command; Lieutenant General Selva (Joint Staff ) and a senior member of the State Department, Assistant Secretary Andrew Shapiro. Mr. Smith’s remarks centered on Australia’s deep appreciation of the USS San Francisco (CA-38)) and her crew at the Australia/United States Treaty’s 60th anniversary. The event was well attended by members of the Memorial Foundation, the Naval Order and the active duty Navy and Marine Corps in the Bay Area. The Foundation is honored to have members that are still with us from the WWII days of the USS San Francisco (CA-38)’s involvement - through the attack on Pearl Harbor and the battle at Guadalcanal.


Friday January 27, 2012, was a historic day at the Naval Base Point Loma, in San
Diego, CA at Submarine Squadron 11, known as ComSubRon Defensor Pacts 11,
commanded by Captain Rich Correll. This squadron of submarines based in San
Diego consists of 6 Los Angeles class submarines: The USS San Francisco (SSN-711),
USS Topeka (SSN-754),USS Asheville (SSN-758), USS Jefferson City (SSN-759), USS Hampton (SSN-767) and the USS Albuquerque (SSN-706); three Torpedo Retrievers -
TWR’s: Devil Ray 6, Swamp Fox 821, Narwhal 842 and the Navy’s only floating dry-dock, Arco, ARDM 5.

That day Foundation historian John Garvey turned a half of a century old and celebrated his 50th Birthday, with US Navy veteran and Foundation President, Chief Johnny Johnson, the Pearl Harbor survivor who served on the USS San Francisco (CA-38) heavy cruiser for the duration of World War II, and that day both participated on an observation ride on the USS San Francisco (SSN -711) submarine. They journeyed with fellow Naval Order companion Mr. Mark Flegel, who was instrumental in arranging the outing with the Navy League.

Our Foundation members were with a group of approximately 20 guests of Commander Erik Severseike, his executive officer Mike Marthaler; Chief of Boat, Master Chief Chris Clausing; HMC  Shepard and the rest of the crew of the USS San Francisco (SSN-711). This Los Angeles class fast attack billion dollar submarine now has the bow of the USS Honolulu (SSN-718), after the (SSN-711)’s seamount collision of January 8, 2005, off Guam. The fully operation sub will be part of the fleet until 2015, and then she will be the USS San Francisco MTS 711, amoored training ship, for navy recruits, minus the bow which will be salvaged. She went into service in 1979, and will continue to serve the United States for many years as new recruits gain valuable experience with her technological state of the art interior, and nuclear component.

Both Foundation members were treated to a full briefing and tour of the ship, which included lunch with Captain Severseike, dives, turns, ascents, periscope usage of the San Diego coastline and they were harnessed in and climbed to the conning tower while the ship was in the open ocean, off the San Diego Coast. They toured the attack center, engine room, reactor compartment, crew mess, berthing, wardroom, machinery room, torpedo room and supply. That day the ship went down to approximately 600 feet during the 8 hour voyage. Its mission includes anti­submarine warfare, anti-surface ship strike, special and mine warfare, surveillance and intelligence monitoring.
The motto of the (CA-38) was “one ship,” and that tradition carries forward to today and all men onboard the (SSN-711) were a friendly cohesive team of true patriots, that still are our constant first line of defense; as Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz correctly pointed out after World War II, with his poignant hand written letter, from the San Francisco Federal Office Building, on the significant contributions of submariners in America’s Second world war, especially with Japan in the Pacific Theatre.

God bless the crew of the USS San Francisco (SSN-711), and may God continue to Bless America.
More News

            The USS San Francisco Cruiser (CA-38) Society held its final meeting in 2011 before closing its doors. We hope our shipmates and all members of the USS San Francisco Society will become members and supporters of the    USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation.

            The National Park Service has rehabilitated the parking area at the Memorial, designating parking spaces, planting flowers and adding restroom facilities. The USS San Francisco Memorial Park is now the staging area for veterans shuttling to and from the V.A. hospital at nearby Fort Miley, while their parking lot is being re-surfaced.

            The National Park Service is building a new visitors’ center on Geary Blvd. between the Monument and the world famous Cliff House. The Foundation will have space in the visitors’ center for an historical display. The new center is expected to be completed in April 2012.

The reworked parking area and Visitor’s Center is being funded by a grant of $5,000,000 from the Goldman Foundation.

            The San Francisco Memorial Foundation is supporting the newly formed Admiral Callaghan Society at St. Ignatius High School, Callaghan’s alma mater.

Admiral Callahan’s Medal of Honor Citation

Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan, USN
Medal of Honor
Commander Task Group 67.4
Flagship USS San Francisco (USS SAN FRANCISCO)
Killed in Action 13 November 1942
Naval Battle of Guadalcanal

Citation: For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty during action against enemy Japanese forces off Savo Island on the night of 12-13 November 1942. Although out-balanced in strength and numbers by a desperate and determined enemy, Rear Admiral Callaghan, with ingenious tactical skill and superb coordination of the units under his command, led his forces into battle against tremendous odds, thereby contributing decisively to the rout of a powerful invasion fleet, and to the consequent frustration of a formidable Japanese offensive. While faithfully directing close-range operations in the face of furious bombardment by superior enemy fire power, he was killed on the bridge of his flagship. His courageous initiative, inspiring leadership, and judicious foresight in a crisis of grave responsibility were in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the defense of his country.


            Our principal event, held on Sunday of each Memorial Day Weekend, is a costly affair. We need to pay for the chairs, sound system, signage, event insurance and program printing. This averages about $6,000 a year. We depend on regular contributions for the event from the San Francisco Naval Order and our Foundation Officers and Directors, but the remainder must be raised each year.

            Departed shipmate Eugene Kochan constructed a detailed wooden model of the USS San Francisco (CA-38), and his son Mark Kochan, of Medford, Oregon, is donating the model to the Foundation. In order to display it at the new visitors’ center, it will require its own display case, which will cost approximately $1,000.

             Gary Prater, our Executive Director, works for us all year long without compensation. Thank you, Gary! But while our ongoing expenses for office supplies, bank charges, website maintenance, printing and postage are modest, they still add up over the course of a year.

            About 35 oral histories of USS San Francisco (CA-38) veterans have been recorded by our Historian, John Garvey. When funds become available, these histories will to be edited and uploaded to our website. This may cost an average of $1,000 each.

            Preservation of the USS San Francisco (CA-38) Memorial itself is an expense. Constructed of the ship’s original battle-damaged bridge section, concrete, and granite and bronze plaques surrounding a flagpole, the monument has been exposed to the elements since its installation in 1950. Time and the maritime environment have taken their toll. We need to both restore the monument and build an enclosure to protect it from future deterioration. This important work will require substantial funding, and we have established a building reserve fund as a first step.

How can I help?

            Become a member! Dues are only $25.00 a year. Give a membership to your son, daughter or grandchild. Spread the legacy!

            Become a founding member of the Blue Gun Crew, a group supporting the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation, by donating $500. Member’s names will be listed in perpetuity on the USS San Francisco (CA-38)’s website. Members can divide their donation into five equal $100 payments.

            For those who shop online, IGive is an easy way to give a percentage of your purchase price to the Foundation, at no cost to you! Just go to IGive.org and complete a one-time registration naming the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation as your charity.

            Members can also decide to give a small fixed amount to the Foundation on a monthly basis. See below.

            Keep the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation legacy alive. Name the Foundation in your will or trust

            Purchase a USS San Francisco (CA-38) cap or U.S. Navy lighted obelisk. Caps are $25 and obelisks are $35. Add $5 shipping and handling per item.  Both items can be purchased on our website or via mail order to our office, and both benefit the Foundation.

Contact Us

Chief Johnny Johnson/President


(415) 264-3339

John Stevens/Director


(415) 921-1933

John Garvey/Historian


(925) 285-1255

Art Curtis /Treasurer


(415) 334-0263

Sandy Melander/Webmaster


(573) 590-2152


Meaning of a Flag Draped Coffin

All Americans should be given this lesson.  Those who think that America is an arrogant nation should really reconsider that thought.  Our founding fathers used GOD's word and teachings to  establish our Great Nation and I think it's high time Americans get re-educated about this Nation's history.
Pass it along and be proud of the country we live in and even more proud of those who serve to protect our 'GOD GIVEN' rights and freedoms.

I hope you take the time to read this.... To understand what the flag draped coffin really means... Here is how to understand the flag that laid upon it and is surrendered to so many widows and widowers.

Do you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun  salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776?


Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America Flag 13 times?  You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!

The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.

The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.

The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.

The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens
Trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, 'Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.'

The 6th fold is for where people's hearts lie.  It is with their heart that they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect  their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic.

The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.

The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers.  For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.

The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

he 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their nations motto, 'In God We Trust..'


After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.

There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning.

In the future, you'll see flags folded and now you will know why.

Share this with the children you love and all others who love what is referred  to, the symbol of ' Liberty and Freedom.'






star The son of Charles A. Welsh Jr., recently published a book, "Treasures from the Attic". Charles A. Welsh Jr. served on the USS San Francisco from 1944-1945.

The USS San Francisco is featured on the front cover. The book's Web site is: http://outskirtspress.com/treasuresfromtheattic

Konley Kelly created this beautiful masterpiece of the USS San Francisco, and has some other artwork of  famous battleships that stayed in the Atlantic Ocean (thank goodness).  This was a 3D modeling project vs. a scale model piece.  Mr. Kelly has considered building the Frisco in 3D...

If you would like to contact Konley Kelley you can reach him at the cell phone number or the Web site below. We would like to thank Mr. Kelley for his support of the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation.

Konley Kelley
214-995-5184 (cell)



** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE **Pearl Harbor may become a national monument, a designation that
establishes the Navy base as an area of importance for protection and conservation.
President Bush, in a memo to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne on
Thursday, said there are areas beyond the USS Arizona Memorial, including
Ford Island, that should be recognized by the designation of a national monument. The Arizona Memorial is a national park under the supervision of the National Park
"While the USS Arizona Memorial serves as the final resting place for many of that battleship's brave crew members who lost their lives on Dec. 7, 1941, other objects of historic and scientific interest in the area of Pearl Harbor and other sites in the Pacific remain outside this Memorial," the president said. There were 1.5 million visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial last year, making it the second most visited attraction in Hawaii after Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Bush, who can make the designation without congressional approval, also asked officials to assess whether other landmarks and sites across the Pacific that are associated with World War II should be given recognition and protection.

Wendell HardyMore News!!!

Wendell HardyBack to Home

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