Updates


After another period of neglect, I have returned to the website to make some additions. Recently, I acquired some photos of another Sarsi crewman, Charles Bert. These photos were part of a collection which was apparently abandoned by the family they represented. It was a documentary of a family history from the 1920s through the 1950s, including Navy and Air Corps personnel photos. It is sad that family history such as this is just cast out.

Fortunately, the photos were found by a lady who took the time to try to research them and located the Sarsi website. She was gracious enough to allow me to scan the Sarsi photos for inclusion here.

Sadly, I've witnessed several WWII Sarsi crewmen leave this life since I began the website project. I am not aware of any remaining WWII era men. If there are some, I hope I hear from them soon.

In the remainder of this year, I will do more "housekeeping" and make more additions to this site.

Tom Wilbeck, 26 Nov 2013


After a long period of neglect, I have added a section to this website. I'd collected some photos of crewmen depicting them in years after their service on USS Sarsi. We must remember that most Sarsi crewmen fit the description of "citizen soldier", as they came from civilian life and soon returned. Most seem to have been enriched in some way by their experiences in the Navy. I hope this website celebrates that.

Tom Wilbeck, 4 Feb 2012


First, I must express my appreciation for all the folks that have helped me put this website together.  They have helped me with information, photos, documents, and their friendship.  I am saddened by the fact that several of these individuals have passed on since this project was begun, but I take solace in the fact that they were able to tell their story in some way before going.

I am proud that I recently was able to meet two Sarsi crewmen in person.  Mr. Morris Underwood was a member of the commissioning crew and is alive and well in Kansas.  Mr. Clyde Lowry, aboard in 1949 and 1950, lives nearby.  I had enjoyable visits with both of these fine men.

I was also able to revisit a Sarsi Survivor, Mr. Herschel McCoy.  His personal story is told in a newspaper article that will appear in the "Sinking of the Sarsi" section on this website.  I have also added some new photos in the '50s section and some new documents.

I really look forward to the coming year of building this site.  Time will tell what new material will appear!

Tom Wilbeck, 4 Aug 2010


Well, a new year has dawned and I have two new friends among the Sarsi crew. One looked me up after seeing this website, and the other I found. They have both been of assistance in identifying faces in photos, and the first one kindly furnished a few new photos. As a result, I've been able to add some names to photo captions. There are now many of the photos back on the site that were on it prior to the redesign of about two years ago. I have also added an additional column to the Enlisted Personnel Roster. Because so many Sarsi crewmen have passed away since I began this project, I felt it necessary to begin to track the known death dates. I only have a few, but it is a start.

Tom Wilbeck, 24 Jan 2010


The past year has been interesting. I've struck up some new acquaintances. Among them are a Sarsi Plankowner, a niece of one of Sarsi's casualties, some daughters of former Sarsi crewmen, and a former crewman from the ship that transferred Sarsi's survivors from Korea to Sasebo, Japan. I've also been in contact with many of the folks whom I've met over the last ten years of building and maintaining this website. Yes, that's right, it has been ten years! I still find this just as rewarding now as I did then.

I have added some new subsections under "Operations" and "The Sinking...", some new crew photos, many new documents, and restored some photos that were not re-posted in the redesign of two years ago. I hope you enjoy this new material. As always, I welcome any comment, suggestion or criticism about the site.

Tom Wilbeck, 22 Dec 2009


After an intial "redesign" of this section, by placing all the updates on one page, I have again "redesigned" it. Now the updates are in order of newest to oldest...the reader won't have to wade through material already read in order to see what it new.


Once again, I have changed the format of this website. In order to incorporate the new material that I had obtained from the National Archives I needed to have a more logical order to the site. I have organized the material into "Engineering", "Personnel", and "Operations" sections. This should allow more intuitive access to the new material, as well as the existing material.

The Engineering section is intended to have all the documents and diagrams associated with the structure of the ship. The Personnel section has the crew photos, arranged by era; lists of crew and officers; and other documents relating to crewmen. The Operations section will have narratives of events from Sarsi's operational history. More material will be added to these sections as it is available.

I have also obtained some interesting new documents from the personal effects of Moid Raymer. Mr. Raymer was a yeoman aboard Sarsi for a short period of 1951. He had been a WWII Navy Reservist who was recalled for the Korean conflict. Mr. Raymer passed away a couple of years ago and left his documents in the care of his friend and business partner. I contacted the friend and was given access to the documents, several of which are now contained on this site.

Keep watching this site. As I obtain additional items they will will be incorporated here.

Tom Wilbeck, 31 Dec 2007


I am pretty excited. In October, I went to the National Archives at College Park, MD to research the documents pertaining to USS Sarsi. I found Muster Rolls, Personnel Diaries, Deck Logs and engineering drawings. I have extracted crew information from the rolls and diaries to construct a new section to replace the old "crewroster" section. It is entitled "Personnel". I was stunned to see how many men served on the ship from 1944 to her sinking in 1952. I hope I have found them all...perhaps not yet.

In time I will post some interesting facts and incidents of Sarsi's history found in the Deck Logs and from personal accounts I have collected over the past few years. I also will add more engineering drawings to give a clearer idea of how the ship was arranged and constructed. I have discovered that many of the photo identifications are incorrect and they will be corrected. I have more photos to add that have been collected from several sources. All in all, the next year will be a busy one for the USS Sarsi website.

I must relate one particular experience I had while at the Archives. As I reached the end of the last box of Deck Logs from 1952, I noted that they were no longer in the bound, ledger book-like form that I had become accustomed to seeing. Beginning in 1952, the daily forms were stapled together by month... January through July. When I reached the August logs, they were in a bound book that was much more like a notebook. When I opened it, I found handwritten notes, rather than the typed, signed entries that should have been there. The pages were a slightly wrinkled and stained, and some pages were stapled together near the back of the book. The staples were a little rusty.

A note, stapled to the blank pages at the end of the book, told that this was the logbook that was recovered from the Sarsi wreckage by the salvage and demolition crews. It suddenly dawned on me that this book had probably not been handled or viewed by many people, and had come from Sarsi's final resting place. I also realized that I have personally met at least one of the men who made the written notes.

It would be a gross understatement to say I was in awe. I consider it a profound privlege to have handled that book. It is an experience I will never forget.

Tom Wilbeck, 14 Nov 2007


I am saddened to say that we have lost many Sarsi crewmen during the past several years. I feel honored to have made the acquaintance of so many of them before their passing. It makes me even more committed to keeping the story of the Sarsi alive. Also let me take this opportunity to say "Thank You" to those who have contributed material and moral support to this project. It would not be here without it. I especially want to thank the Sarsi Survivors Association for their support "above and beyond". Their generosity made the new domain "uss-sarsi.org" and much additional webspace possible.

I am still on the search for additional names for the crew roster. I obtained many of the names presently contained there from other crewmen, notes on photos, the few documents I possessed, and obituaries. I plan a trip to the National Archives soon to research the logs and rolls of the USS Sarsi to obtain more information and verify other items. I am quite excited about the prospect of seeing about all the official unclassified information that exists regarding the ship. I certainly hope I am not disappointed.

Once again, I appeal to anyone that has information about the Sarsi or any member of the Sarsi crew to contact me. This will continue to be the most complete source of information on the USS Sarsi.

Tom Wilbeck, 29 Sep 2007


In the past five years, I have been amazed at the number of people I have met as a result of my building this website. I regularly hear from wives, sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, and the crewmen themselves. There are a great many "plank-owners" of the Sarsi still living and I count several of them as my friends. I have heard a good many of their stories. They are all either hair-raising or humorous. The times they tell about might have been dull routine but the stories never are. I am appreciative of each and every one.

Since part of my reason for establishing this site was to memorialize the ship and men, I feel that it like a museum and I am the curator entrusted by these people to maintain the collection. I consider it a sacred trust. I am very satisfied at the interest the site has generated, and I appreciate the effort and sacrifice of those who have contributed documents, information, photos and, most of all, their interest and moral support.

I look forward to many more years of accumulating and displaying Sarsi related items. I also look forward to meeting many more crew and family in the future.

If you have any Sarsi related material that you think might add to the site, please contact me using the "Comments to the Skipper" link on the main page. I am most flexible in working with submitters to make sure that it is a "win" situation for everyone. This is, after all the foremost place to learn about the short but interesting history of the USS Sarsi and her crew.

Tom Wilbeck, 24 Feb 2006


The past year is almost a blur. I began the USS Sarsi Website in September of 1999 with the encouragement of George Cornell and Kenny Vining, two former Sarsi crewmen. They had both supplied me with a good deal of information and photographs, as well. Through them, I learned the story of the sinking of the Sarsi and where I could contact other Sarsi crew members. I began to receive letters, e-mails, and photos from others, including family members of former crewmen.

To learn more about the Fleet Tug and their role in the Navy, I joined the National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors (NAFTS) as an Associate Member. This organization provides a forum where tug sailors can tell their stories, socialize and generate good will. Since the fleet tug, as they knew it, doesn't really exist any longer, their numbers are diminishing with time. The elder members are from slighly before the second World War and the newest members are from the '70s and early '80s. In recent years, ATFs were manned largely by civilian crews. Through NAFTS, I made new friends of other tuggers and the NAFTS webmasters, Rich Tetrault and Tom Thomas. They have provided valuable assistance in the way of information and photos for this website.

The highlight of this odyssey has been the recent trip to San Diego to attend the NAFTS 2000 reunion. I was privileged to meet several former Sarsi crewmen and their wives. I was welcomed by them almost as if I had served aboard the Sarsi myself. While I certainly don't deserve the status of one who "did his time" aboard Sarsi, I was flattered by the cordiality extended me by these people. They also made me realize how important it is to them to have their story told. Especially since the life of the Sarsi was only eight years, from launching to sinking. Because of what I have done for them with this website, and what they have done for me in letting me share their experience, we have a kinship that probably none of us could accurately describe.

In doing all of this, my original goal of learning more about my father was met. I now know much more about the things he experienced and the places he went. Now I know another part of what made him the man he was. A quiet unassuming man, who could repair just about anything and weld circles around a lot of good welders. A father who loved his family so much that he would die for them. I just wish he could be here to share this with me. We could've had a swell time.

Where will all of this go? I really have no idea. I intend to keep this website up and add images or information periodically. A lot of if depends on what I can scavenge and extort from others. Some proposed new sections will try to detail some specific area of life aboard the Sarsi. Anyone who has ideas about what might fit is encouraged to speak up.

Tom Wilbeck, 1 Nov 2000


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