KYC Honors Defenders of Liberty
By Doug Desaulniers
On Veteran’s Day 2018, Keyport Yacht Club honored and celebrated twenty-nine (29) Veterans. 29 Defenders of Liberty.
The membership and their invited guests were treated to a program of living history from those who have served our country. The celebration began with a welcome and thank you to the Veterans and attendees. The introduction was followed by an amazing assortment of appetizers.
The main event of the program was a presentation from Jerry Feola, a United States Navy veteran who served on the USS Intrepid and serves as a volunteer tour guide at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New Yok City.
While serving on Intrepid, Jerry acted as a correspondent, a photo journalist, to record the adventure he was about to undertake. Jerry captured his experience on Intrepid through film. His photographs tell a vivid story of serving on a 41,000-ton ship that happened to also be an aircraft carrier deployed half way around the world.
Jerry’s story is a personal one. For over 40 years, he believed he had sent a Naval Aviator to his death because of a decision he dutifully made. Recently, while contributing personal memorabilia to the Museum, Jerry learned that the aviator was not killed, but shot down, held as a POW for several years and released. The aviator is still alive today. The story demonstrated the price, and the reward, of serving the United States.
Evening Colors were celebrated after Jerry’s inspiring presentation.
After a patriotic BBQ dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken, KYC Member Arthur Femenella shared his perspective of serving in the United States Army during the Viet Nam War. Art read poems he wrote while in Vietnam, including one titled Just An Ordinary Day. The poem captured the normalcy and absurdity of war.
Desert and a recognition of Jerry, Art, and the other veterans followed.
Special recognition was given to the current and former KYC flag officers who served, the oldest veteran, the longest serving veteran, and the youngest veteran.
It was announced that the proceeds from the event, including the sale of the commemorative paper weights would be donated to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
On December 19, KYC Rear Commodore John Keegan and member Doug Desaulniers traveled to New York to present the check to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. The check, for $1,100, represented the proceeds from KYC’s Veteran’s Day celebration, Honoring Defenders of Liberty.
As we approached the Intrepid, we were awestruck that an aircraft carrier is docked at 44th Street in New York City. It is a massive ship docked next to a massive city. The Intrepid name is on the front of the ship, should someone confuse her for another aircraft carrier docked in NYC.
Upon arriving at the Intrepid, we were warmly greeted by Jerry Feola, who gave the inspiring presentation at the Veteran’s Day celebration, his wife, Arlene, and Zach Fisher and Alice Stryker from the Intrepid Museum’s Individual Giving Department. We also met Susan Marenoff-Zausner, President of the Museum and Beverly Heimberg, Director of Volunteers and Tour Guides.
After the introductions, Jerry led us on a guided tour of the Museum. It began with him pointing out some of the memorabilia he has contributed to the Museum, including the helmet he wore while flying on Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) aircraft on the Intrepid during the Vietnam War.
The size of Intrepid is impressive. Looking at the docking lines as you approach, her size becomes apparent. We remarked how heavy the lines must be to handle, especially when wet. To help put her size in perspective, they display one of the four 16-ft propellers that drive the Intrepid at 32 knots.
Jerry, Alice and Zack guided us through the aircraft hangers, crew berths, helm and many other areas of the ship. We viewed an exhibit depicting a Japanese Kamikaze attack in WW II in which 69 sailors lost their life.
The Intrepid is a museum, and as such, they acquire and restore aircraft to be included in their collection. In a building erected on the flight deck, we met the men and women responsible for overseeing the restoration of the aircraft. Their craftmanship is second to none.
As the Museum name implies, Intrepid played a significant role in the US space program. Intrepid served as the primary recovery vessel for NASA’s first piloted Gemini mission, Gemini 3. This was the first space mission in which two men flew. On the starboard side of Intrepid is a re-enactment of the recovery of the Gemini 3 capsule.
One of the many impressive exhibits on board Intrepid is the pavilion that houses the Enterprise, the 1977 experimental prototype for orbital space shuttles.
It was an opportunity to get up close and see the famed heat resistant tiles.
After a tour of the flight deck, we returned to the aircraft hangar and presented the check.
Left to right, Doug Desaulniers, Arlene Feola, Alice Stryker, Rear Commodore John Keegan, Jerry Feola
We were honored to present the check in front of the pavilion marking 2018 as the 75th year since Intrepid’s commissioning. At the presentation, we were informed that one of the Museum Trustees would be matching the donation.
The experience with the staff and volunteers, their enthusiasm for the Museum and their desire to make it a place of history, fascination and fun ensured us that the KYC donation will be put to very good use.
Thank you to all the KYC members who paid tribute to our veterans and who so graciously contributed to supporting the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Another wonderful example of the spirit that makes KYC “the best on the bay”.
And Thank You to our veterans, the Defenders of Liberty.