Last night History Colorado hosted “An Evening with Historians, Scholars and Veterans” focusing on the history of the previous USS Colorado’s. The evening led off with a social hour where guests were able to view artifacts from previous USS Colorado’s. Afterwards there was a panel discussion. On the panel were Keith Schrum, Senior Curator of History Colorado as the Historian, Candice Green, M.Ed., as the Scholar and World War II veterans Ken Jones and Andy Palenchar. Steffan Tubbs of KOA Radio was the emcee and moderator for the panel discussion.
85 attendees listened as our honored veterans amazed us with the stories they told. Andy Palenchar enlisted in the navy in 1943 at the age of 17. He soon found himself in the submarine service on USS Finback (SS 230) on war patrols in the Pacific. During the 9th war patrol he was the sailor who hoisted LTJG George H. W. Bush aboard Finback after the future President had been shot down in the Pacific. Andy left the Navy after the war but later joined the Army reserves. He was activated for the Korean conflict and remained on active duty serving in Korea and Vietnam. He retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1978.
Ken Jones joined the Navy in 1944 when he just turned 17. He was assigned to USS Colorado (BB 45). He told an eloquent and compelling story of life aboard that ship during the war in the Pacific. He described how the idealism of his youth quickly met the realities of war as he saw his shipmates injured and killed in Japanese attacks. USS Colorado was moored next to USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the surrender of Japan and he was able to view the proceedings from a vantage point 300 yards away.
Ken, his wife Dorothy and daughter traveled from Texas specifically to participate in this event.
As an educator, Candice Green has developed lesson plans about the history of previous USS Colorado’s. She described those and the efforts to get those into classrooms here in Colorado. Candice comes from a strong Navy and military family and is highly passionate about this history and conveying it to the current generation of students so that this history is not lost.
Keith Schrum described his role in preserving history as being a “people historian” who seeks to document the everyday life of people and how the great events of history affected their lives. He thought it especially important to preserve the memories of the Greatest Generation as their number dwindle. There are many items being offered to the Center as they pass on and that it is difficult to make choices since they are not able to take everything.
Steffan did a great job of moderating the panel and involving the audience. He brought out comments from Ken’s wife, Dorothy and Andy’s daughter, Sandie. Steffan is a strong military supporter. He is currently developing a documentary about PTSD for release on Veteran’s Day. The picture will be entitled “Acronym, The Cross-generational Battle With PTSD”. He currently has a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project. Please consider donating to his efforts.
Also in attendance was George Lundeen, a sculptor from Loveland who has been commissioned by the USS Colorado (BB 45) Alumni Association to create an appropriate bell for the new submarine. He is a nationally recognized sculptor who has been commissioned to sculpt portraits and interpretive works alike for universities, municipalities, foundations, and corporations. He was introduced to the project through a mutual friend of Committee Member Norris Hermsmeyer, Jack Thomson. His website is at www.lundeensculpture.com
On display were a number of artifacts from previous USS Colorado’s. Naval Reserve Center Denver (NOSC) generously donated two shadow boxes with BB 45 memorabilia that normally hang in their Quarterdeck. Also on display were a number of items from the Center’s archives. A model of SSN 788 was loaned by model maker and retired US Navy Master Chief, Jon Sorenson.
It was a truly great evening that all will certainly remember!