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FRA Awards and Recognition

FRA has established five committees to manage our awards programs and select winners for branch and individual recognition. FRA branches and shipmates can participate in activities to make them more competitive for awards presented by the Americanism-Patriotism; Public Relations; Hospitals, Welfare and Rehabilitation; Youth Activities; and Membership and Retention Committees. Involvement in community service and outreach undertakings engages shipmates in our organization, which is a key factor in membership retention. Participation in such events also helps advance the image of the FRA and strengthens recruiting efforts.

Each branch should submit a report to its respective regional convention, outlining activities covered by each of these committees. The information in the reports will be reviewed at the regional level and the shipmates and branches receiving first place honors will be forwarded to the national committees to be considered for national awards. Remember: Branches and individuals cannot be recognized if they do not make their efforts known at the regional level.

The Americanism-Patriotism Committee honors our nation’s flag, observes service-related national holidays, encourages shipmates’ participation in civic and patriotic programs, and oversees FRA’s Americanism Essay Contest (see page 28). In addition to recognizing outstanding work by branches in each membership group, the committee also announces three annual awards at FRA’s national convention. The Walter D. “Step” Rowell Award is presented to the branch with the best overall Americanism-Patriotism report; the Leonard D. “Swede” Nelson Award is presented to a Shipmate of the Year for outstanding American-Patriotism efforts, and the Robert E. Doherty Award is presented to a Shipmate nominated for national recognition and deemed deserving of special recognition in this field.

The Hospitals, Welfare and Rehabilitation (HWR) Committee’s mission is to foster and maintain good relations between the FRA and hospitals, rehab centers and welfare agencies. At the branch level, this committee keeps in touch with shipmates who are ill or in need of assistance, which is very important in maintaining the spirit of camaraderie. Committee members may also investigate incidents involving the needs of shipments for financial and social assistance, including requests for disaster relief or situations where shipmates and their dependents are not receiving their lawful benefits. At the national level, this committee reviews nomination packets and recognizes those branches that have rendered outstanding service in the HWR arena.

The Public Relations Committee recognizes exemplary public relations efforts for the FRA and considers the quality and consistency of branch newsletters and webpages, submission of articles to local news outlets, letters to the editor about veterans’ concerns and other ways shipmates and branches promote the FRA in their local communities. They recognize branch efforts and also name a Shipmate of the Year who exhibits outstanding public relations efforts.

The Youth Activities Committee acknowledges various methods by which branches serve the youth in their communities, such as involvement with or sponsorship of scout troops, sports teams, NJROTC units, Young Marines, Sea Cadets, and Soap Box Derby competitions. A Shipmate of the Year is recognized for his/her individual dedication to youth activities.

The Membership and Retention Committee recognizes branches and shipmates who demonstrate the greatest success in recruiting new FRA members and retaining current shipmates within the organization. Branches who sustain or increase their current membership base receive the FRA 100% Award. The Charles E. Lofgren Award is presented annually to the branch and individual shipmate in each Membership Group that has recruited the greatest number of members during the membership year (April 1 through March 31). The branch with the highest percentile increase in membership receives the Abraham M. Rosenberg Membership Award. A shipmate who exhibits a positive public attitude as it affects the membership and retention of members in the Association can be nominated for the Frank J. McPherson Memorial Award. Nominations for the McPherson Award should be submitted to the regional Membership and Retention Chairman no later than June 30 for review and consideration. Regional nominations must be submitted to the Penny Collins, chairman of the National Committee for Membership and Retention, at least seven days prior to the convening of the national convention.

Recognizing the efforts of individual shipmates and branches is an excellent way of promoting great work that improves recruiting and retention throughout the Association.

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Penny Collins is FRA’s Director of Membership Development and a member of FRA Branch 24 in Annapolis, Md. She can be reached at

History & Heritage

The Battle of Midway

A Shipmate Survives the Sinking of the USS Yorktown: Part 2

By Keith Kaider

After leaving Pearl Harbor, the Yorktown battle-cruised the Coral Seas. For the most part, this cruise was several weeks of monotony. Frequent General Quarters found Duane in either the Radio Direct Finder room or Main Radio. One of his favorite pastimes was lying on the flight deck at night looking at the stars. Since it was always hot in the berthing spaces, many of the crew would take their mattresses up to sleep in the steel netting between the flight deck catwalk and hull. Duane recalls his good friend who was a baker striker, “His name was Jack Sheldon and he would give us a loaf of freshly baked bread some nights. We would eat it with pork and beans and it was really delicious.” The days wore on much the same. Even the various raids made by the Yorktown and Lexington planes had little impact on Duane’s normal routine. It was the Battle of the Coral Sea that initiated him into war.

He recounts, “My battle station was Main Radio. Of course all ports and hatches were dogged down. I believe the battle would be easier to endure if you could only see what was going on rather than picturing it in your mind. The ship was making flank speed and the rudder was being swung from port to starboard as fast as the helmsman could react. This made it very difficult to maintain our operating position in Radio Central. The vibration from flank speed was shaking everything. The noise from the gunfire was deafening and relentless. The bomb hit we took was just aft of the Radio Room, and it exploded several decks below. This gave us quite a jolt as well as some smoke. I had a friend that was killed in the repair party where the bomb exploded.”

“When the battle was over, I saw the USS Lexington slip under, and my heartfelt sympathy went out to the crew. Once we observed smoke over the horizon and found out that it was the sinking of the USS Neosho. She had refueled us and taken our mail.”

The Yorktown proceeded back to Pearl Harbor for repairs. During this time, Duane remembers, “Some of us in ‘K’ Division took up a collection and someone bought a record player for the compartment. The song that everyone was crazy about at the time was ‘Moonlight Cocktail’. It is still a favorite of mine.”

The Yorktown left Pearl Harbor before all repairs could be completed. Sailing to Midway, the crew was apprehensive; they suspected that something big was coming given their premature departure from Pearl.

Part 3 of Shipmate Robertson’s story will be featured in next month’s issue of FRA Today.

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