Beerchaser Wonderings and Wanderings…

Courtesy of the Oregon State Bar

Lawyers and Drinking

I was delighted that the November edition of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin which has a circulation of about 12,000 Oregon lawyers included multiple mentions of both Thebeerchaser blog and the Benedictine Brewery in Mount Angel.

Talented author and lawyer, Jennie Bricker, who writes at Brick Work Writing & Editing LLC, did a great job in her article entitled “I’ll Drink to That – The Power and Peril of Alcohol’s Connection to the Legal Profession.”   Check it out at the link below. (It starts on Page 28):  https://www.osbar.org/bulletin/issues/2019/2019November/index.html

A New IPA?  Don’t Count On It!!

The Benedictine Beers on tap in Mount Angel

I have been involved in the wonderful Benedictine Brewery and St. Michael Taproom since its inception in 2018 – one of three monk-owned and operated breweries in the US.

Fr. Martin – our Head Brewer has become an incredibly skilled brewer and there are nine of his beers on tap.  Benedictine beers draw accolades throughout the region.

The flagship beer is Black Habit – described as a “Belgian dark strong ale,” has been widely acclaimed for its rich flavor.  And don’t forget Mea Culpa Pale Ale.

I have been lobbying him to brew his first IPA and even have suggested the name and slogan.  (He hasn’t returned my calls about this…. and I don’t expect to hear anytime soon!)

Quid Pro Quo IPA – Real Beer Flavor for a Favor *1

Image courtesy of the talented and creative Pam Williams

*1 Not available in Alabama, Greenland, Kyiv or Kharkiv

West Point and Veterans’ Day

Ambassador William Taylor

The impressive career and sterling character of a primary witness in the Impeachment InquiryAmbassador William Taylor who graduated from the US Military Academy in 1970 made me reminisce about my late brother, Garry, who also graduated from West Point (Class of1972) and served with distinction during his six-years in the Third Armored Cavalry.

While at West Point, Garry was in both the Glee Club and a quintet-combo called “The Headliners,” which resulted in appearances on national television and at the White House as can be seen by the photo with President Nixon in 1971 below.

(Garry is the tall cadet to the immediate left of Nixon.)

Garry with the Headliners at the Nixon White House in 1971

And here’s a belated toast to all of our veterans, among whom are several who were previous Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter and were decorated for heroism for their service in the Viet Nam War.   Cheers to Jud Blakely, Doug Bomarito and Steve Lawrence.

Captain Don Wilburn

And two, who made the ultimate sacrifice – my best friend in high school, Garry Kestler, USMC in 1967 and my late father’s best friend and SAE Fraternity brother, Captain Donald E. Wilburn (after whom I’m named) and was a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World Watr II.

Amy, Amy, Amy

Those of us who were fans of the Mike and Amy Show are shaking our collective heads at the decision Entercom Broadcasting to discontinue the show after the two have been popular morning personalities on KWJJ The Wolf.

After canceling their show in 2012 – only to bring them back two years later, Entercom is making the same move as just announced after the duo has been together on KWJJ for a total of 18 years.

See the announcement from Amy below – and those involved in the non-profit world, get ready for what will be a win for your non-profit auction when Amy Faust finishes her training.

Amy (on the right) with three other members of the Faust clan – Charlie, Jack and Alice at a 2017 Beerchasing and a happy Beerchasing crew

And if you have any doubts as to why this talented and great-hearted lady will succeed in her endeavors, check out why she was named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter in 2017:

https://thebeerchaser.com/…/amy-faust-beerchaser-of-the-qu…/

“I’m quite excited to announce the (possibly surprising) fact that in a few weeks I will be traveling to Clear Lake, Iowa, for 8 days to attend the World Wide College of Auctioneering and get certified to be a benefit auctioneer…. please join me on Instagram at my brand new account @amytheauctioneer “

PS:  I received the following e-mail from Amy on 11/18 when I asked how her training was going:

“Greetings from Clear Lake, Iowa! I can’t even begin to tell you how strange and amazing this experience is.  But I’m learning a ton and i will be ready to roll out my new skills very soon……Cheers from Bennigan’s, where I have eaten every single meal since Friday!”  

(At least she’s hasn’t become a regular at The Olive Garden….!)

More Amy…..

And to demonstrate why I will appreciate the dry sense of humor of this lady, check out this from their Facebook page in 2018.

The Beerchaser’s Pet Peeves

At least I’ve only been around for 71 of these!!

As a guy who recently entered his seventh decade, I can say there are pros and cons about being older. An advantage reinforced each time one reads the obituaries is that at least there is less peer pressure.

And one has to get used to the fact that when you ask friends how they are doing, they spend way too much time telling you – typically including accounts on various parts of the human anatomy in their narratives.

Those on-line drop down menus that ask for birth date require too many “Page Downs” on the keyboard to reach the correct year.  But I find, that some things annoy me a lot more than they used to including the following:

Leaf Blowers – in the fall, Boomer kids used to spend a lot of time and earn their allowances by raking leaves and hauling them to the spare lot or other repository.

Nowdays, one hears the irritating scream of leaf blowers each day. Whether it’s my lawn service or people in the burbs, the habit of blowing the leaves either into the street or whisking them off their sidewalk into the street where they clog the gutters or just blow into the next yard is annoying.

I guess in some respects its analogous to Portland shipping its garbage to Eastern Oregon and not thinking twice about it.

That’s my shovel after the lawn service “finished.”

Poop Bags

We have two wonderful grandpuppies – Sullivan, a great little Havanese who visits us from Seattle and Wesley Walter, a wonderful Golden Retriever who comes for walks from NE Portland.

Wesley Walter and Sullivan on a recent visit

In both cases, we use poop bags to take care of their “dispatches” when we take walks. Now while I hate it when dog walkers let their canines do their duty and just leave it in my yard, even more egregious are the heathens who  do the following:

They self-righteously pick up the poop in a plastic bag but then leave the &*#*% bag along the sidewalk or parking strip where unless it is picked up by some good citizen, will set there for the next 250 years rather than decomposing naturally.

Yeah Right! Thanks for being a great environmentalist…..

Pharmaceutical Commercials – while the US is one of I believe, only two countries that allow these corporate behemoths to advertise their prescription medications on the air, the ads are ubiquitous   It may be comforting to some that the advertised pill may allay the symptoms of psoriasis notwithstanding the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, internal bleeding, memory loss and lower libido etc.

I also marvel at the over-the-counter ads for Prevagen – an over-the-counter dietary supplement pill which is supposed to help your memory.  In bold tones, the announcer lauds the benefits of this medication that is comprised of “ingredients originally found in jelly fish….”  

Why is this an advantage? Who has ever interacted with a smart jelly fish?  Do jelly fish have better memories than carp?  Why would you want to emulate any creature with no central nervous or respiratory systems, lives only a few years and has its mouth and anus in the same body cavity (at least that’s what is appears from the diagram below):

Medicine with ingredients originally found in jellyfish!!???

And how smart were the hundreds of jelly fish that washed up on the Oregon coast in January near Haystack Rock?  Did they show the same intellectual acumen as lemmings in following the leader to their ultimate demise?

Spelling Bees – now I may get attacked on this one, but it just floors me when I see the results of the latest Scripps National Spelling Bee – one with a 94-year history – and a story which states, “Spelling Experts say Tougher Words are Still Out There.”   In the 2019 Bee, eight kids ended sharing the championship “…because they were simply too accomplished to stumble over any of the words Scripps threw out.”

The labyrinthine path to becoming a spelling bee champion….

One has to give credit to the parents who I assume drill their little prodigies who are eighth grade and below (now usually with professional coaches) for hours on such words as “auslaut”, “aiguillette” and “erysipelas” – words that even my Google spellcheck does not recognize.  One has to ask, however,  “Of what practical use is all the time spent trying to accomplish this Augean task??” (I looked up the definition, but couldn’t use spell check to write the word.)

Would it not be better for them to be out on the playground, interacting with peers or just reading a good book?   Of course, I guess, some of you might ask, “Of what redeeming value is a blog in which the author writes about his exploits at 350+ bars, breweries and taverns?”

Metrics – these statistical indicators have become pervasive in all areas of our lives, and are now a staple for sports coaches and general managers. I think it was baseball that first relied on detailed statistical analysis of hitters rather than the gut instinct of famous Major League Baseball managers such as Tommy Lasorda, Casey Stengel, Connie Mack and my favorite Birdie Tebbetts, skipper of the Cincinnati Reds when I lived there from 1952 – 1959.

Birdie Tebbetts – notable Major League catcher and manager

But has it gone too far? I was struck by a recent Oregonian article entitled, “Blazers put Shot Tracking Into Practice.”   A company called Noah Basketball has developed cameras, sensors and software to provide over half of the NBA teams, major college programs and even high school basketball teams with data and “real-time feedback” on every shot they take.

It tracks “…the arc, depth, location and accuracy of each shot on a laptop.”

Perfect arc, depth and velocity

Sports has become more of a business, but does this kind of tool, take some of the joy and spontaneity out of the game?   Maybe the next step is to provide players with electronically edited comments in interviews after the game so the clause, “I just played my own game,” is replaced with more elevated prose……

“Well the radius of gyration and velocity of my shot was within the standard deviation laid out by Coach.”

Brewery Dynamics

Since this is a blog primarily about bars and breweries, I should end with a short section on the dynamic nature of the brewing industry especially in Oregon. One recent statistic I read stated that there are now more breweries than colleges in the US and that competition has resulted in some rather shocking casualties with some notable brewing firms.

There are too many closings in the last two years to list them all, but a number of noted breweries with Oregon roots are gone but not forgotten – also true of some fabled pubs and bars.  The good news is that new ones seem to pop up almost simultaneously.  The following does not purport to be all-inclusive, but just gives an idea.

Closings

Burnside Brewing Closes its Doors

Lompoc Tavern (NW) and Brewery (N) – Widmer’s Pub (N) – O’Neill Irish Pub (SE) – Burnside Brewing (E) – Bridgeport Brewing (E) – Alameda Brewing (SE) and Brewpub (NE) – Portland Brewing Taproom (NW) – Columbia River Brewing (NE) – Rock Bottom Pub (Downtown) – Henry’s Tavern (Pearl) – Seven Brides Brewing (Silverton) –  Laurelwood Brewing Pubs (Sellwood and PDX) – Riverbend Brewing Brewpub (Bend) – Coalition Brewing (SE) bought by Gorges Beer and reopened.

Openings

Benedictine Brewery and St. Michael Taproom – owned and operated by monks

Level Beer Co. (Multnomah Village) – Breakside Brewing Taphouse (3rd location Slabtown) – Hopworks Urban Brewing Pub (2nd location PDX)  – Ruse Brewing (SE) – Benedictine Brewing (Mount Angel) – Mt. Hood Brewing Taphouse (2nd location – Tilikum Crossing) – Backwoods Brewing (2nd location Pearl District)

And Finally re. Lagunitas Brewing 

I read an October Willamette Week article which stated, in part:

“After three years of providing free event space for local non-profits, California-based, now Heineken-owned brewery Lagunitas abruptly shuttered its Community Taproom in Northeast Portland this week, sending dozens of charities scrambling to relocate fundraisers.”

As were many Portland residents, I was outraged and on 10/31 e-mailed Lagunitas the following without really expecting a response:

“You can do better….Your decision to discontinue the Community Room in NE Portland without any prior notice, thereby leaving a number of non-profits in a real dilemma, is uncalled for, unnecessary and shows disregard for your loyal customers. This is not indicative of the Oregon Brewing Community and this move will be remembered.  How do you justify the manner in which this decision was handled?”

At least the Brewery Communications Dept. responded two days later:

“Thanks for reaching out and for your feedback.  We recognize that the closing of the Community Room was sudden, and truly wish that we could have given more notice to the community and those organizations who had previously scheduled events.

There were a wide variety of factors that lead us to make this incredibly difficult decision. We let the Portland non-profit community know as soon as we could, but also understand that for many organizations, it wasn’t soon enough.

We’re currently working with those organizations that had an event scheduled, and are providing beer donations for them at alternative locations.  We also look forward to continuing to support the incredible work that local Portland non-profits are doing in the future.  Thanks again for your feedback.”

I’ll try to let you know in future posts whether the intent to help in the future becomes a reality.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving

Beerchaser Miscellany – Early Summer Edition

 

Taking in the Exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society – Barley, Barrels, Bottles and Brews

Approaching Watering Hole # 300

Those of you who follow Thebeerchaser blog might remember that at the end of 2018, my count of bars, breweries and taverns reviewed since I started this retirement hobby in August, 2011 was at 287 – 111 were in the Portland area and the remaining 176 in Europe, numerous parts of the US and throughout Oregon ranging from the beautiful Oregon Coast to Central and Eastern Oregon.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/01/17/hey-have-you-seen-thebeerchaser-during-the-last-seven-years/

The Gemini – Bar # 288 – on Thebeerchaser’s Journey..

Since the beginning of 2019, I’ve added four more Oregon establishments – the Gemini Bar and Grill, Old Town Brewing, the Bantam Tavern and Beachcrest Brewing and eight bars/breweries on our weeklong trip to Phoenix for a grand total of 299.

And after ruminating on what an appropriate watering hole would be to celebrate reaching the 300 mark, I settled on a Portland establishment – one which I initially visited in my early professional career on a regular basis, returned with some friends who are Beerchasing regulars in 2018 and made my customary second visit a few weeks ago with one of the most loyal Beerchasers – Dennis B. Ferguson.

Denny Ferguson with  Kathy Peterson, the owner of The Dockside in 2017.  (See below)

I will be posting the review of that bar when I return from a road trip to Montana in the near future – six days solo starting with two nights in Yaak, Montana – home of the Dirty Shame Saloon.  Then with my wife, Janet, for the second leg of the journey.

I originally talked to owner, John Runkel, three years ago after an Idaho bartender at the Moose Saloon in Coeur d’aline told me that she had worked there and my blog should include a review of the Dirty Shame.

509th Airborne Infantry Logo

John and his partner, Ray Falzone, who are both former paratroopers in the Army’s 509 Airborne Infantry, bought the bar out of foreclosure in 2013.  John, who is a great guy and a true patriot, stated at the time:

“When we came up here, we had to pull bullet slugs out of the wall…One of the owners used to shoot pool balls off the table with his .357, you know.” (Daily Inter Lake, June 8, 2013)

I wrote up the following post at that time and made a vow to ultimately visit Yaak and meet John personally.

https://thebeerchaser.com/tag/john-runkle-owner-of-the-dirty-shame-saloon/

It turns out that he is also the owner of the Yaak River Lodge and I will be staying in the Wolf Room at that hostelry for two nights so I can spend adequate time checking out the bar and interviewing him.

Yaak River Lodge – a shuttle to the Dirty Shame…!

Then on to stays in Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston before picking up my wonderful spouse who is flying into Billings. and is allowing me to make this trip – with the proviso that I reflect, read and get some exercise besides forays into the many historic bars and the new breweries in those and surrounding Montana bergs.

It will be a challenge to keep that pledge because I have spent hours pouring through the fascinating two books by Montana author Joan MelcherWatering Hole – A User’s Guide to Montana Bars (1980) and Montana Watering Holes – The Big Sky’s Best Bars (2009).   The latter was of significant benefit on our 2016 trip to Montana and Wyoming.

It is not surprising that the Dirty Shame is featured in both volumes – which chronicles the tales of many historic bars throughout the Big Sky.  She’s a great writer but I think I will definitely disagree with Joan’s initial statement in her 2009 book:

“I guess someone had to do it.  Someone bought the Dirty Shame and gave it a good cleaning.  More than that, they cleaned up its lifestyle – so much so that many locals won’t step foot in it anymore…..

What I learn is that the Dirty Shame died a raucous death and has been reborn as a law-abiding establishment that is really more of a coffeehouse….The Dirty Shame is dead.  Long live the Dirty Shame.” (Page 54 and 59)

My challenge to Joan’s assertion is based, in part, because times have changed in ten years – especially in Yaak!  Joan’s quote above was after a female stockbroker (Gloria – a sweet smiling non-drinker) who moved from New York’s Wall Street came to Yaak. She and her husband bought the bar in 2007 and cleaned it up – they even had some book readings and a lot of dances. They sold it after a few years to a former Episcopal priest who eventually failed financially trying to operate the bar.

Owner John Runkel and Cora

And yes, “Long live the Dirty Shame!”    I think the evidence will show when I visit that it is absolutely no Starbucks type of place.

For example, I submit the text message I got from John Runkel with the following link to a December, 2017 story in the Daily Missoulian entitled:   “Troy Man Charged Following Saturday Night Incident at Yaak’s Dirty Shame Saloon.

As John stated in his text:

 “Don, you will see an article where a guy went nuts in the Dirty Shame with an AR-15 and you will also see the video of me bear spraying him and his brother trying to fight their way back into the bar and another video embedded in that article showing him running around the parking lot trying to shoot me through the window and then almost shooting his brother in the head. 

It was a crazy night. The Dirty Shame is truly still the Wild Wild West!”

So coffee house or wilderness dive bar full of adventure?  Stay tuned for the verdict!

After Billings, we will drive to North and South Dakota to see the three National Parks and Mount Rushmore National Monument besides the Crazy Horse Memorial and the notable Custer State Park.   Then home while listening to audio books on the 1,200 mile drive back to Oregon.  Now I just need to get the gun rack installed on our Prius before I start the trip.

The Oregon Historical Society Beer Exhibit

Janet with David and Kate Dickson

The Oregon Historical Society is a treasure conveniently located in the Park Blocks in the heart of downtown Portland.   And Kerry Tymchuk, the Executive Director since 2011, has made amazing strides to both make OHS financially viable and a showpiece – a change because it had struggled in the prior years.

We joined our friends, Kate and David Dickson, primarily to see the exhibit  “Beer – Barley, Barrels, Bottles and Brews – A Century of Oregon Beer” (ends on June 9th)

“The history of beer in Oregon and the passion Oregonians hold for beer and brewing extends back over two hundred years. This exhibition connects these moments in history, from the Lewis and Clark Expedition to early pioneer hop growers, from the nineteenth century European immigrants who established Oregon’s first breweries to the craft brewery revolution centered here today.” 

The exhibit is fascinating and does a remarkable job chronicling Oregon’s rich brewing history.  

For example, I learned that in the 1870’s the average US adult drank over 10 gallons of beer annually, which increased to 26 in the 1900’s, due in part to German immigration and the introduction of German lager.

Statistics vary, but at least in 2015, according to an article in USA Today, annual US consumption was 28 gallons with North Dakota, the highest per capita state for beer drinkers at 44 according to Beer Marketer’s Insight. (It should be noted that this statistic is not why Janet and I are traveling to North Dakota – it’s to see Teddy Roosevelt National Park….!)

I was also pleased that Oregon State University’s Fermentation Science Program was recognized.  In fact, Cascade Hops were developed in the 1960’s at OSU as part of a USDA breeding program.

The richness of OHS was demonstrated because supplementing the beer exhibit was another current exhibit – “Ladies and Gentlemen – The Beatles” (through November 19th) and the absolute highlight of the day for us – the permanent exhibit Experience Oregon – with multi-media displays and artifacts that will take your breath away.

Make a point of visiting – better yet joining OHS and while you’re there, say hello to Terry.

This native of Reedsport, educated at Willamette University and then Willamette U’s School of Law, absolutely radiates enthusiasm for his organization and a passion for history.

Kerry Tymchuk on the right

He was named 2018 Statesman of the Year by Oregon Business and Industries and also honored by the Portland Business Journal as the Most Admired Non-profit Executive in Portland.

And given OHS’s great location, plan to raise a mug afterwards at one of the many nearby establishments.  

We were rewarded with a terrific happy-hour food and beverage afterwards at the new (May 2018) Xport Bar and Lounge on the roof of the 16-story Porter Hotel with stunning views of downtown high-rises and the Willamette River.

A “Trek” Worth Making – and you don’t  have to Go to the South Pole to get There

The Dockside (reviewed by Thebeerchaser in 2018) is a remarkable Portland watering hole in North Portland owned by Kathy and Terry Peterson since 1986 – a bar with great character and regulars plus friendly staff.

It’s also known for its incredible breakfasts – most notably the hashbrowns:

“I know only one joint in Portland that consistently serves hash browns like you’ll find at any decent Waffle House. I’m not telling you where it is…You can’t have my hash browns.”  (Aaron Mesh – Willamette Week 11/28/2018)

From Thebeerchaser’s 2017 visit

It has now gained another distinction.  As stated in a 2/15/19 Willamette Week article entitled “31 Reasons to Love Portland,” it was singled out by endurance athlete and adventurer, Colin O’Brady.

On December 26, 2018, he completed the first unsupported and unaided solo crossing of Antarctica in 54 days.  It was a 932 journey – that’s an average of over 17 miles per day through the freezing ice and snow!

“I’d walk 932 miles for The Dockside’s hashbrowns..”

And The Dockside is his favorite:

“I live across the street from the greatest landmark in all of Portland – the Dockside….You have this old Portland relic combined with New Portland development.  They were like, ‘No, we’re not knocking down The Dockside to build condos, we can have both.'”

 

And Finally – To Dramatic for Words!!

On Memorial Day, I was going through my late brother, Garry’s files and found the picture at the end of this post.  Garry was a 1972 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and after graduation, one of his early duty posts was with the Armored Cavalry – that’s the Tank Corps – in Schweinfurt Germany.

My wonderful and talented brother had a rich and dry sense of humor which was demonstrated in our family’s Army vs. Navy rivalry since both my youngest brother, Rick and I were in NROTC and received our commissions in the latter.  (The picture below was a Christmas present Garry gave to me in 1970…)

From the West Point lingerie shop…

While at West Point, he had some remarkable experiences as a member of the West Point Glee Club, singing at various events, appearing on national television and even a gig at the White House in 1972, where his five-member combo – The Headliners got to pose with President Richard Nixon.

Garry (just to the left of Nixon) with the Headliners in 1972

Garry talked about some of the tank exercises they had in Germany and how the iron behemoth’s chewed up the fields and even roads as they maneuvered.   But this picture takes the cake – I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t one from his platoon, but maybe he kept it just to demonstrate the power and size of this weapon!  (I used this picture once before in the review of the Tanker Bar in Portland, but it is too good not to repeat.)

Hey Soldier – Haven’t you heard the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me….!”

Cheers and Stay Tuned for the 300th Beerchaser Bar

Retired Navy Captain Rick Williams — Beerchaser-of-the Quarter

Rick Middie_0001

Each quarter Thebeerchaser recognizes an individual or group that in his opinion has made a contribution to humanity.  Said “honoree” may or may not have anything to do with beer or bars other than enjoying an occasional microbrew (or PBR) in a favorite watering hole.

Captain Jud Blakely, USMC

Captain Jud Blakely, USMC

Several of the past recipients have been selected, so to speak, for their distinguished military accomplishments – Jud Blakely – USMC – and Doug Bomarito – US Navy — and Steve Lawrence (now Mayor of The Dalles, Oregon) – US Army – all recipients of the Bronze Star with Combat V for service in Viet Nam.  In fact, Lawrence received both a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for heroism in combat. (Click on the links above to see the posts.)

Bronze Stars awarded to Steve Lawrence

Bronze and Silver Stars awarded to Steve Lawrence

The new Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, had a diverse and distinguished Navy career, before retiring in 2000 and “homesteading” in Redland, Oregon.  He also happens to be Thebeerchaser’s youngest brother.  The narrative below is his story:

Rick as a naïve and idealist 4th class or freshman midshipman

Rick as a naïve and idealistic 4th class or freshman midshipman

Captain Rick Williams stood on the bridge of the Third Fleet Command Ship USS CORONADO on a sunny day in June, 1997, as she steamed up the Willamette with four other Navy ships for the Portland Rose Festival. Rick thought about his time spent in Corvallis as a Class of 1974 OSU NROTC Midshipman – where he graduated with a degree in Construction Engineering Management in June 1975 – and the mentors who had guided him along the way.  OSU was where he was commissioned by Captain Chuck Dimon, his Professor of Naval Science, and sent to his first sea tour.

200_ Change of Command Ceremony in San Diego

With family receiving his first Legion of Merit Award from Vice Admiral Herb Brown, Commander of the US Navy Third Fleet in 1997

 

Fast forward to July 2000 — Rick was at his change of command and retirement ceremony at Submarine Base – Point Loma, where the same Captain Chuck Dimon granted him permission to come ashore after 25 years, including 21 years of continuous sea duty and 17 cross-country moves.

Although an additional tour at the Pentagon carried the potential of Flag rank, he and his wife, Mary Jean, agreed that their two young boys deserved some stability rather than being uprooted every few years.  So Rick retired and his family took root on several acres in rural Redland, near Oregon City where he graduated from high school.

Since retirement, Rick has worked at Tektronix for three years, and now Leidos, a defense contractor for over 12 years. He consulted as Chief Technology Officer of Oregon Iron Works, helped industry and Oregon State University develop wave energy and continues to work with the military on wave energy test centers.  In 2014, the Oregon Wave Energy Trust renamed its annual Ocean Energy Leadership Award in his honor. He was the inaugural recipient of the award in 2012.

Brothers Garry and Don Williams

Brothers Garry and Don Williams

Rick’s NROTC scholarship and future Navy career may have been preordained because of the family military roots of his two older brothers.

Don, in the OSU Class of 1970, received his commission as a surface line officer, while his brother Garry, US Military Academy at West Point Class of 1972, served as an Armored Cavalry officer.

His brother-in-law, Dave Booher, also served as a sonarman on two Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines for five nuclear deterrent patrols and was aboard the diesel boat USS Dogfish (which is older than the Beerchaser, having been launched in 1944) before he left the Navy.  Dave’s naval service was not significant except by his own admission, “I saved Democracy from the USSR during the Cold War…..”  It should be noted that he also redefined the meaning of the term, “Lost the Bubble,” while serving on those patrols.

Don (2nd from left) his senior year with then Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird in Wash. DC

Don (2nd from left) his senior year with then Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird in Wash. DC

Garry (3rd from left) and the West Point Glees Club at the White House with President Nixon in 1971

Garry (3rd from left) and the West Point Glee Club at the White House with President Nixon in 1971

Indeed, Thanksgiving holidays at the Williams’ household would see the loser of the Army vs. Navy game bet make payment on the outcome.

Hard hat

“Hard hat” Diver

Rick’s career would be viewed by most Navy detailers as an anomaly, or… ”No, you can’t do that…!”  His motivation evolved from his 2nd Class (sophomore) Midshipman tour of Submarine Base – Point Loma in 1972, where he learned of the Navy’s Sea Lab and Deep Submergence Systems Project.

That inspired a year’s leave of absence from NROTC to study ocean engineering at OSU in 1973, Navy scuba diver qualification as a 1st Class Midshipman and summer cruise on a salvage ship in 1974.

Note:  While Rick was a whiz at math and science, his comprehension of world geography was lacking.  While on this 1/C cruise and in port in Singapore, he awoke me with a phone call at 3 AM.

He wanted to borrow $50 for what he characterized as “an investment in the future” – to buy a watch.  Although he maintains that he paid it back (…and he did give me the watch as a gift), it is still carried as an Accounts Receivable on Thebeerchaser’s personal balance sheet (… just to keep messing with him for the 3am phone call).

After graduation and commissioning in 1975, he was off to Naval School Diving and Salvage as a “hardhat” diver, followed by Surface Warfare School.

Note:  Rick maintains that he can still swim 500 yards in 12.5 minutes (using only combat side-stroke or breast-stroke), do 50 push-ups in two minutes, 50 sit-ups in two minutes, six pull-ups in two minutes and then a 1.5 mile run in 12.5 minutes (after a ten-minute rest period) – required to qualify as a diver.  No bet has been placed……

Underwater dives during ____

Underwater dives from the SEA CLIFF

In his first sea tour on the Navy’s newest ocean engineering platform, submarine rescue ship USS PIGEON (ASR 21), he served as Communications Officer, Damage Control Assistant, Acting Engineer, and Operations Officer, and qualified as a Deep Sea (HeO2) Diving Officer and Surface Warfare Officer .

During this tour, he attended Naval School Deep Diving Systems for saturation diving training as a Navy Aquanaut.   At the graduation, where he was elected class honor man, he met Submarine Development Group One Commodore Chuck Larson, who became a four-star Admiral as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC) and then Commandant of the Naval Academy. Larson urged him to go into submarines.

He had to volunteer for nuclear power to get to submarines, however, Rick wanted to become a Navy Hydronaut and command a deep submergence vehicle. So, the Commodore’s plan was for Rick to “flunk” the interview with Admiral Hyman Rickover, go to sub school, and stay in SubDevGru One.

769px-USS_Seawolf_(SSN-575)

USS SEAWOLF

But, after an unusual interview and an unplanned outcome (the Admiral selected him), it was off to Nuclear Power School in Orlando where he was again class honor man, then Nuclear Prototype Training in Idaho and Submarine Warfare School in Groton.

He served two deployments on the USS SEAWOLF (SSN 575) – the oldest operational fast-attack sub in the world. Rick qualified in Submarines and as a Nuclear Propulsion Engineer.

After this five-year detour, he took command of the Deep Submergence Vehicle SEA CLIFF (DSV 4), an “inner space ship” built for deep ocean recovery with a crew of fourteen special projects submariners including three officers.   Rick served almost 3 years during the SEA CLIFF’s conversion from a 6,500 feet steel-sphere and aluminum frame vehicle, to titanium rated for 20,000 feet – an extraordinary and accelerated nine-month project – and the deep ocean operations that followed.

USS Sea Cliff Operations in the Pacific

USS Sea Cliff surfacing after operations in the Pacific

He then served as Engineer on the newest Trident Ballistic Missile Submarine USS ALABAMA (SSBN 731 Gold Crew) during four strategic deterrent patrols, as Executive Officer on the USS CAVALLA (SSN 684) and on the USS OLYMPIA (SSN 717).

After graduation from the Command Course, Rick became CO or skipper of the USS SPADEFISH (SSN 668)Note: Knowing what I knew about my youngest brother’s college escapades, this promotion made me acutely aware that this same kid now had responsibility for a nuclear reactor.    2015-09-22 19.53.04

His final fleet billet was Third Fleet Submarine Warfare Officer, embarked on the USS CORONADO in San Diego.  So what were the highlights of this amazing military career?

Rickover Interview in ‘79 – While Rick would not describe it as a “highlight,” one of the most memorable incidents was his interview with the irascible Admiral Hyman Rickover, known as the Father of the Nuclear Navy, who served for 63 years.

Admiral Rickover - Father of the Nuclear Navy.

Admiral Hyman Rickover – Father of the Nuclear Navy.

“The Admiral sat behind a large gray, dented, desk (“LGDD” in Navy terms). He   started by berating me for being an athlete in college (Rick was Captain of the OSU Ski Racing Team) and then castigated me for dropping a typing class at OSU.  He was critical of my Navy career path and did not want “late” entries to his Program.

He told me several things about my service history that were… well, just wrong. So, after several unsuccessful attempts at correcting the record (and given that I was supposed to flunk the interview anyway), I told him ‘Your paperwork is wrong, Sir.’”

The 5-minute interview ended with the Admiral screaming at his Executive Assistant and yelling at Rick, “Get out of here!”   Rick was extremely surprised that Rickover selected him for the Program.   Note:  Thebeerchaser thinks that most men would be crotchety if they had to go through life with the first name “Hyman.”  He was probably making up for the abuse he took from schoolmates on the playground…..

DSV SEA CLIFF Dives in ’84-85 – After post-conversion sea trials to 15,000 feet, SEA CLIFF successfully recovered the downed CH-53E helicopter — a crash that had the Rapid Deployment Force grounded around the globe — in a six-month effort off the Pacific Coast. Rick and his crew then completed other deep ocean operations and SEA CLIFF’s initial dive to 20,000 feet in the Middle American Trench off Guatemala.

Underwater shot of the Sea Cliff

Underwater shot of the Sea Cliff

Problems with this cup if you order a Starbucks Tall Coffee

Problems with this cup if you order a Starbucks Tall Coffee

The “squashed cup” you see in the picture was a full size coffee cup tied to a line outside the vehicle and shows the effects of the pressure at 20K.

Press coverage of record dive.

Press coverage of record dive.

One thought-provoking moment occurred at 19,700 feet under water when the SEA CLIFF’s high pressure air gauge, which was supposed to register 3,000 psi, pegged off-scale.

USS Sea Cliff

USS Sea Cliff

In spite of the “sea water intrusion event” (or flooding of the high pressure air system) and after verifying depth control, the crew successfully completed the test dive.

As a result of the 20K dive, SEA CLIFF was designated by the Secretary of the Navy as America’s Flagship for America’s Year of the Ocean and Rick was elected as a Fellow in the prestigious Explorers Club, the international society which is headquartered in New York City. 

USS SPADEFISH Adventures in ’92-93 – Rick led two under-ice expeditions to the North Pole during his command of SPADEFISH. She surfaced through the ice “about a dozen times” and visited Tromso, Norway.

Sequence of pictures surfacing at the North Pole in the Spadefish

Sequence of pictures surfacing at the North Pole in the SPADEFISH

The trips were also “Freedom of Navigation Exercises” to assert US rights of passage in international waters — as the Russians were trying to assert territorial rights in the Arctic Ocean – a situation which is still a critical defense issue today.

USS Spadefish Battle Flag

Original USS SPADEFISH Battle Flag in WW II

SPADEFISH was the Squadron Six Tactical Top Performer in 1994.

USS SPADEWISH

USS SPADEFISH

 

 

Third Fleet in ’94-98 – While on sea duty, Rick earned his MBA at San Diego State.  His thesis project led to the reorganization of Third Fleet as a Sea Based Joint Task Force and he became Assistant Chief of Staff for Command and Control.

He was led the design team and was the Fleet Manager for the conversion of the flagship into the prototype Joint Command Ship of the Future and created the Sea Based Battle Laboratory to accelerate capabilities into the Fleet.  This led to one of his Legion of Merit awards.

Certificate for CORONADO after the conversion

Certificate for CORONADO after the conversion

The USS CORONADO in Seattle Harbor

The USS CORONADO in Seattle Harbor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick was selected as an Acquisition Professional.  His next tour was at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command as Deputy Director, Advanced Concepts, working on Fleet Battle Experiments.

From a naïve 4th Class Midshipman taking naval history courses in the NROTC Quonset hut and participating in weekly drills, Rick Williams fully utilized the knowledge and skills he acquired at OSU and in numerous Navy schools.   He rose through the ranks to Captain with two Legions of Merit in a diverse Navy career and post retirement work as a consultant.  he still wonders, however, why Admiral Rickover chewed him out over dropping a typing class…!

Rick's Wedding in 1986 - Three Navy Guys (Dave, Rick and Don), a minister and an Army Guy (Garry)

Rick’s Wedding in 1987 – Three Navy Guys (Dave, Rick and Don), a minister and an Army Guy (Garry)

The Williams clan in the '60's including sister, Lynne, Duane and Frannie

The Williams clan in the ’60’s including sister, Lynne, Duane and Frannie