||Dear Friends and Supporters,
Lately I've received a lot of inquires as to my personal reasons for dedicating the past two and a half years of my life to saving the Big U. Whereas I have refrained from inflicting long and convoluted personal explanations as to why I'm so dedicated to the cause, I do feel a short exploration into my interest in the great ship is warranted.
We all know the obvious: the SS United States is the most unique of all vessels ever made. She is an engineering wonder of the world, and still the undefeated speed champion--holding for almost 50 years a record top speed west bound on the North Atlantic.
However, my personal reasons are far more poetic. I'm a third generation Marine. Both my grandfather and father were graduates of the Marine Corps Sea School, San Diego. They both served on ships in the Pacific. Grandpa was in the crows nest of the Tennessee when Pearl Harbor was attacked and later at Iwo Jima when the flag was raised on top Mt. Suribachi. He was one of the most highly decorated Marines of WWII and later served as Provost Marshall of what was then Formosa (now Taiwan). Grandpa was the only Westover to see combat as a Marine. Dad served four years without a single military incident.
When I joined the Marines, the Sea School had been closed and I never went aboard a Navy ship! As a boy I used to build models of great ships with the help of my dad. We built many together, but the one that stands out most in my memory is the SS United States. With delicate precision Dad and I painted the hull and super structure of the ship. The SS US model was the only one I had ever built that was cut off at the waterline. Dad explained to me that this was because the ship was "top secret" a notion that obsessed me. In fact, until just last week, I had never seen a model with the entire hull of the SS US. The full hull model I finally got to see was the former president of United States Lines, General Franklin's 5ft model. What a ship. Her keel looks like the underbelly of a speed boat. No wonder it was classified.
Dad died almost five years ago from a sudden heart attack. He was 58. Sometimes when I wander the decks of the Big U I feel as if he's with me. Guiding me through this battle to save the greatest ship in the world. I know it sounds a bit melodramatic, but it's true.
Robert Hudson Westover