In 1972, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, authorized recognition of October 13 as the Navy's Birthday. It is intended as an internal activity for members of active forces and reserves, as well as retirees, dependents, and friends. Since 1972, each Chief of Naval Operations has encouraged a Navy-wide celebration of this occasion "to enhance a greater appreciation of our Navy heritage, and to provide a positive influence towards pride and professionalism in the Naval Service."
The Capital Area Chief Petty Officers Association will conduct a ceremony aboard the USS SLATER beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, October 13 to celebrate the Navy's Birthday. To mark this occasion, the Association is honoring USS SLATER volunteer Gary Sheedy as their Volunteer of the Year.
Gary Sheedy, of Albany, New York, enlisted in the Navy in 1967. He was sent to Great Lakes Electrician School and attained the rank of Electrician 2nd Class. He was then assigned to an Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for 2 years. His duties included electrical work relating to ship dehumidification. While there, he participated as an extra during the filming of the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!. Late in 1969, Gary was sent to Danang, Viet Nam for a 4-month tour of duty. In May 1970, he was ordered to report to USS SATYR, a repair landing craft. For 7 months, Gary performed repair work on Patrol River Boats along the Mekong River. Following his discharge, Gary married and returned to Albany. He and his wife, Sharon, have been married over 40 years and have two sons.
Gary has been volunteering for USS SLATER since 1998 and has single-handedly restored the refrigeration spaces of the ship. Museum Executive Director Tim Rizzuto commented, "SLATER's refrigeration machinery, or reefer space, is probably the most pristine and accurately-restored space on any historic naval ship."
USS SLATER is located on the Hudson River in Downtown Albany. Public hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The ship will be open Monday, October 13 following the Navy Birthday Celebration. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children.
USS SLATER will be open through November 30 this year, but closed on Thanksgiving Day. Call 518-431-1943 for more information or visit the website at www.ussslater.org.