Why I created this site

My "Pop", Tom Wilbeck, Sr., was killed in an on-the-job accident in 1964. I was ten years old and was not old enough to hear the stories that sailors eventually tell. Because of the hurt a young boy feels when he loses a loved parent, he sometimes blocks memories that would be painful. I did just that. In the years that followed, Mom was remarried and I got on with the business of growing up.

Now in my 40's, I yearn to know and remember my father. I found that by talking to people that knew him, I could bring back fleeting glimpses of his past...my past. By learning about places he was, situations he encountered and things he did, I could feel I knew much more about him.

One of the parts of his life I wanted to know more about, was his stint in the US Navy. To the best of my knowledge, he enlisted in about 1949. I don't know where he took his basic training, but he trained as a welder and salvage diver at Bayonne, NJ. I believe he went aboard the USS Sarsi in late '50 or early '51. He left the ship to return to civilian life in '52, a few months before she was sunk.

Other than a small photo album, I didn't have much to go on. Mom had the album tucked away and I didn't have access to it for many years. I began to search the internet last year to find any reference I could find to the Sarsi. At long last, I found a listing on a Korean War site. A former crewmember had posted a message regarding the sinking. I suspected he might have served with my father, so I fired off an e-mail to him.

Not only did he remember my father, he said he had pictures of him! I was excited by the prospect of seeing pictures of my "Pop" that I didn't know existed. This wonderful man sent me copies of the photos. In further correspondance with him, I learned more about the ship, the sinking, and the men who served aboard her. It caused me to research the Fleet Tug to a greater degree. I have a great appreciation for the men who served on these obscure but valuable vessels.

With that in mind, I created this "cyberspace" monument to the ships, the men, the memories, and my "Pop".
Tom Wilbeck, 1999

The skipper of the USS Sarsi webpage My Pop at San Diego, 1947
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Copyright © 1999, 2000, Tom Wilbeck