The USS Rankin Association is a nonprofit Pennsylvania corporation chartered in 2006. In accordance with an IRS determination letter dated March 17, 2006, we are a veterans organization exempt from paying Federal income taxes under section 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code. Under the same section, contributions to the Assocation can be treated as charitable contributions on contributors' Federal income tax returns. We operate under Bylaws approved on April 17, 2006. You can CLICK HERE to see the Bylaws, which can be downloaded as a PDF file.
The USS Rankin Association was inspired by the activities of the five men shown below, all of whom were junior officers aboard the Rankin in the early 1960s. They became our initial Commissioning Board. With the adoption of our Bylaws, the Commissioning Board was replaced by an eight-member Executive Board composed of the five founders plus Jill Breslau, Jim McCourt, and Jan Smits. Further information is available in the Bylaws.
A major goal of the Association is to foster connectedness and comradeship among all persons ever associated with the USS Rankin, either as a warship or as a fishing and diving reef. So far, we have been extremely successful in pursuing that goal.
Our priorities with respect to it are:
To identify and connect with all people who ever served aboard the Rankin, as ship's company, embarked Marines, evacuees, passengers, etc.
To identify and connect with family members of those who served aboard and are deceased.
To identify and connect with all those who are connected to the ship in any way—through designing her, building her, being involved with her as a fishing and diving reef, or anything else you can think of.
To have successful reunions as often as the membership desires.
The people most closely involved in the Association are Lou "Skip" Sander, John Feeley, Bob Reynolds, Jack Raso, and George Berninger. In 2001, Skip and John reconnected through their listings on www.classmates.com. In late 2002, Skip and Bob reconnected the same way.
In early 2003, Skip, John, and Bob began three-way communications via email. On February 23, they decided to contact others who had served on the Rankin with them. To get things started, Skip dug out a photo taken in February, 1963, exactly 40 years previously. It showed 27 of the Rankin's officers, from Captain John S. Leidel to Ensign Jack L. Raso, who had just reported aboard. Luckily, LTJG Sander had written all the names on the back of the 8 x 10 print. Though he was not in the photo himself—he was standing watch on the quarterdeck—he had somehow kept it, through forty years of moving, working, family expansion, and attic- and cellar-cleanouts!
Skip scanned the photo and emailed it to John and Bob. Within a few days, they had contacted Jack and George, and the effort was underway.
Somewhere they set a goal of reconnecting with all the officers in the photo, though they hadn't seen any of them in decades. All hands knew that their goal was an ambitious and probably impossible one, but they regarded it as a challenge that was worthy of their effort.
Three weeks later, thanks to the skill and diligence of five Rankin-trained men, and with a bow to the miracle of the Internet, they had, incredibly, achieved their goal of reaching everyone!
At 9:02 PM on Tuesday, March 11, 2003, James R. Knight, USMC, called Skip on the telephone. The last missing officer had been found, and the San Juan 28 were reunited.
Following that memorable event, the group continued looking for other friends who had served aboard, as well as friends of friends and anyone else associated with the ship. They located complete rosters of all shipmates, kept in the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. They worked to retrieve the rosters, and by the summer of 2004, they had compiled a list of all 3,864 men who had served aboard the ship from 1945-1971. Joined by Jill Breslau, daugher of 1952 Engineering Officer Max Breslau, they waged an intense campaign to find as many former shipmates as they could. By late 2004, they had located 1,200 living former shipmates.
In the fall of 2004, the group held a reunion in the Rankin's former homeport of Norfolk, Virginia. It was one of the most successful Navy reunions ever, drawing about 300 people, including 152 former shipmates and a similar number of guests.
The 2005 reunion was held from September 29-October 2 in San Diego, California.
The 2006 reunion was held from September 21-24 in Washington, DC.
The 2007 reunion was held from November 1-4 in New London, Connecticut.
The 2008 reunion was held from October 30-November 2 in Stuart, Florida.
The 2009 reunion was held from September 17-20, in Norfolk, Virginia.
The 2010 reunion was held from September 23-26 in Branson, Missouri
The 2011 reunion was held from October 6-9 in Charleston, South Carolina
The 2012 reunion was held from September 13-16 in New Orleans, Louisiana
In the future, the group will continue to look for additional shipmates, and to foster comradeship and connectedness among those who have already been found.
Our Shareholders are former shipmates who have contributed at least $100 to our organization, to be used for purposes above and beyond our day-to-day operations. The shareholder program was instituted to accumulate a $10,000 "rainy day fund" to support the Association in times of serious financial difficulty. This goal has been reached, and as of March 31, 2009, the recruitment of new shareholders was discontinued. Our shareholders include: