In February of 1996 my mother, Dorothy, succumbed to Parkinson's Disease after 6 years of suffering from it's humilities. She was dedicated to her family, my Father Edwin, seven sons, and two Daughters. Everything we have learned about the wonders of life we owe to her. Mother, I think you would have liked the internet, especially this website, to you with love, your eldest son, Jerry.
On May 6, 2002, My father left this life to rejoin my mother. To him I owe my curiosity for things mechanical and technical. I cherish his encouragement, even when I couldn't fix something, or couldn't put it back together. I miss you and love you, Your eldest son, Jerry.
In 1966, at Nuclear Power School, Mare Island, CA, a 22 year old sailor named Jerry Uffelman, met and became fast friends with a 19 year old sailor named Denny Knapp. They would study together, and console each other about the difficult time they were having in school. Since Jerry was from Sacramento, Denny would frequently come home with him on long weekends. Denny soon became a beloved member of Jerry's family.
After completing Nuclear Power School both sailors were ordered to attend Naval Reactor Training School in Idaho. Denny, Jerry, Jerry Foster and one other sailor got an apartment together. It just so happens that Jerry was born in Idaho, and had family there also. Denny would meet some more of Jerry's family and again be welcome.
Jerry and Denny were then separated, with Denny getting a Sub on the Atlantic coast, and Jerry the Pacific 3 months later. They did see each other when Jerry was attending Submarine School in New London, CT. That was the last time though.
A short time after their last meeting, Jerry was at sea on USS Queenfish (SSN651). He had just received a letter from Denny, so after getting off watch and eating chow. Jerry decided to write a letter to Denny.
Now prior to this point Jerry, and others, had noticed that
the Officers had been acting very glum. This continued for a couple
of days, and no one knew why, until the news copied from UPI News
Service was posted. It said that a US submarine was missing.
Jerry finished his letter and proceeded to address it:
In 1969 ETCS Richard "Dick" Dietz came aboard the SSN651 to replace Chief Wagnon a tall slender, good natured guy. Dick was just the opposite, short stocky and looked like a marine drill sergeant, everyone was leery of this replacement. It didn't take long to find these features hid a dry wit, huge smile, kind heart and an innate sense of fairness. Dick later became Chief of The Boat, the first nuclear trained person in the navy to do so. Dick was a stern disciplinarian, who seldom raised his voice, and cowered to no one, he was also a mediator, a friend, and an all around good guy. Dick was well liked and respected from the captain on down.
In 1996 I received a phone message at work, from a D. Dietz. This had people
looking at me warily, as the president of our college at the time was named
Dietz too, and was quite a tyrant. Of course it was Dick, who managed to find
me, some how, to inform me of a joint 393/651 reunion in San Diego. Dick later
became a staunch supporter of the website and chat room. Shortly after the
first reunion we learned Dick had a rare form of Lymphoma. Dick continued
to compile a list of shipmates that started at 275 names and had grown to over
1000 names. he helped plan our second reunion, where he looked like the Dick
Dietz we knew and loved. Shortly after the second reunion things got worse, new chemo's,
regain strength, change chemo's again, more steroids.. Dick could no longer keep
up the fight, though his humor never waned. He even counseled me when I was
diagnosed with Prostate cancer. Dick rested his oars, and was buried at
Arlington May 10, 2000. Dick you have left a big void in our lives, but we will
always have you in our hearts. Shirley, his widow then passed away less than a year after Dick. We shall miss her humor, and kinship with all of us. To the both of you, and Richard, your son, you will always be part of the crew.
To my Mom & Dad, my dear friends, Denny, Dick and Shirley,
I dedicate this page to you, and all of our submarine
brethren, who have made their final voyage. Sailors rest your oars.
Be with them always night and day, in quiet depths or roaring spray.
O hear us when we cry to Thee, for those in peril on the sea."
(From the Navy Hymn - "Eternal Father".)
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