2014-08-28 / Front Page

Former Saratoga Crew Members Bid Farewell

By Jack Kelly


Lt. Colonel Michael Pine and Colonel Robert Edenbach present the last shell fired in the Saratoga’s 19-gun salute to Monty Gomez of Middletown, a member of the Saratoga’s commissioning crew in 1957. Lt. Colonel Michael Pine and Colonel Robert Edenbach present the last shell fired in the Saratoga’s 19-gun salute to Monty Gomez of Middletown, a member of the Saratoga’s commissioning crew in 1957. Former crew members, family members and veterans held a poignant ceremony at Fort Adams recently as the USS Saratoga began cruising to her final destination: a recycling shipyard in Texas.

Members of American Legion Post 18 of Portsmouth held up large letters spelling “Fair Winds Sara” as the ship, pulled and guided by tugboats, slipped past on her way out of Narragansett Bay. Colonel Robert Edenbach and Lt. Colonel Michael Pine of the Newport Artillery Company provided a 19-gun salute and former crew members were invited to pull the lanyard on the 75 mm World War ll howitzer being employed to salute the passing. Pine represented the Fort Adams Trust in recognizing this event.


Members of Post #18 and Saratoga members hold sign letters spelling “Fair Winds Sara.” (Photos by Jack Kelly) Members of Post #18 and Saratoga members hold sign letters spelling “Fair Winds Sara.” (Photos by Jack Kelly) Darryl Fern of Pennsylvania, an electrical technician on the Saratoga from 1982-1984, said, “No one can understand, unless they served in the Navy, what a ship means to the crew. It was our home, a big piece of our lives and we will never forget service on our ships. There are so many memories of friends and shipmates. It was a special time, probably one of the best times of our lives.”

Fern traveled hundreds of miles from his home to join fellow shipmates and friends in watching “Sara” take her last cruise. There were a number of former sailors in the crowd that had timed vacations or travel plans to coincide with the final movement of the Saratoga.

For Monty Gomez of Middletown, it was a bittersweet day. He was a member of the Saratoga’s commissioning crew in 1957 and is a “plank owner” in naval terms. Edenbach and Pine presented the last shell from the gun salute to Gomez as a keepsake of this special occasion. “I will polish this up and put it in a very special place on the mantel”, Gomez announced.

For many present, the Saratoga represented their youth, full of vigor and wanderlust. Watching her being towed out was a sad sight indeed. “She’s a lot like me now, beat up and sagging, but still with us. I am glad I saw this, even though it hurts,” said one former crewman as he stood by the seawall watching “Lady Sara” pass.

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