HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Mighty Midget goes home

Care for Kids charity drive gets major boost by ancient society

Bundit Uengrangsri brings Jazz and the classics to Pattaya

Brasseria La Luna opens with an Italian flourish

BCCT goes walking

Mighty Midget goes home

Royal Thai Navy bids fond farewell to the HTMS Nakha (LCS 102)

PM reporters
It was a heartrending yet proud day for the Royal Thai Navy when on Tuesday May 22, in an elaborate ceremony of pomp and purpose, the HTMS Nakha (the former LCS 102) was handed back to the United States of America.
The event culminates ten years of lobbying and requests by the National Association of LCS (L) 1-130 in the United States to bring the historical ship back home to be immortalized in the museum at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo City.
In a plea for the return of the ship, a veteran wrote to the US Secretary of the US Navy, “There are still tens of thousands of World War II Navy and Marine veterans who would appreciate greatly the preservation of the last LCS as a means of memorializing their service in the Pacific campaign and preserving an important piece of amphibious warfare history… Bring her back to the United States”.
The HTMS Nakha has a long and illustrious history. She was built at the Commercial Iron Works in Portland, Oregon. Her keel was laid on March 13, 1945, and she was commissioned in 1945. The LCS-102 served gallantly in the Pacific during the Second World War.
The LCS’ were shallow draft gunboats designed and built to provide a high rate of firepower for Marines going ashore. A spokesman said, “In the early years of World War II, the US Navy and Marine Corps discovered that they needed more close-in gunfire support to protect their troops as they went ashore in amphibious landings. With typical American ingenuity, a new small gunboat was designed and quickly moved into production. The result was the LCS (L), which stood for Landing Craft Support Ship (Large).
“This newly designed ship had more firepower per ton than a battleship and it was capable of going all the way into the beach and providing close-in fire support for our troops going ashore.”
He went on to say, “The US Navy built 130 of them, outfitted with 20mm and 40mm guns as well as rocket launchers for beach bombardment. They were rushed into service in 1944 and 1945. These ships and their brave crews help save the lives of countless soldiers and Marines by providing heavy close in firepower to support amphibious landings in New Guinea, Borneo, Iwo Jima, the Philippines and Okinawa. Thus they came to be known as the Mighty Midgets.”
During the course of the war, twenty six were sunk or badly damaged in combat operations.
Another veteran said, “These ships, like so many others, received little notice when the history books were written because aircraft carriers, battleships and cruisers took most of the glory. However, sailors aboard the LCS’ served bravely and well. Their participation in World War II needs to be preserved as a part of our navy’s history.”
After WW II, in the 1950s the United States Navy transferred the LCS 102, along with fifty two sister ships to the newly formed Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force where she was named Himawari. When she was later deemed surplus to requirements, the US asked for the ship to be returned. Under a reciprocal agreement between the USA and Thailand, after an overhaul, she was presented to the Royal Thai Navy in August 1966 at Sattahip Naval Base. Admiral Jaroon Chalermtrien, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Navy at that time was on hand to receive her. His Majesty the King bestowed the name HTMS Nakha to the new addition to the Royal Thai fleet.
During her 41 years of service with the Royal Thai Navy the HTMS Nakha sailed under 25 fleet commanders. The 387 ton full load HTMS Nakha essentially retained her World war II configuration and is armed with one 76.2 mm single fire Mk 26 dual-purpose gun mount forward, two twin 40mm Mk 1 Mod. 2 antiaircraft mountings, four single 20mm guns and two .50 caliber machine guns.
Finally after years of battling political waters and a sea of red tape, the day finally arrived for the official handover from the Royal Thai Navy back to America, so that the Nakha, as she will continue to be called, can serve as a testament to the ageing veterans and their families of the crucial role she has played over the last 62 years.
The HTMS Nakha was decommissioned last October and work had begun to de-arm the fighting ship. Said one veteran who supervised the de-armament process, “It was a somber moment for the Thai sailors; they had lived and worked on this ship for over 40 years. It was very difficult and heartbreaking for them to remove her claws. They did not want to harm her.”
On May 22, Admiral Sathiraphan Kaeyanon, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Navy, represented Thailand in the signing over of the vessel. The US Embassy, represented by Capt Walter B Watson Jr, US Naval Attaché and Dr William J Mason, representing the National Association of USS LCS (L) 1-130 were on hand to receive the vessel.
Admiral Sathiraphan said that it had been a long time, 40 years, since the HTMS Nakha was commissioned under the Royal Thai Fleet. The officers that were assigned to her are very attached to her, and when they knew the ship was going to be returned to America they were grateful that they had played their part in taking good care of her.
“This is the first ship of the United States of America to be taken care of by the Royal Thai Navy,” he said proudly.
The Thai commander-in-chief said that in a way, it was a loss for the Royal Thai Navy to return the Nakha to the US. She has served us with honor and distinction. We are sorry to see her leave us, but we are happy and proud in the knowledge that even though she will be kept in a museum, she will bear the Thai name Nakha forever.
Six months ago, National Air Cargo, an American cargo company based out of Buffalo, New York, was approached by the National Association of LCS 1-130 to see if they could help with the project. The President of the company, Mr. Chris Alf then, who has for a its motto “The Weight of the World on our Shoulders” sent his emissaries in South East Asia to research the project and come up with a solution to help these WWII veterans make their dream come a reality. It is thanks to him and his SEA team that this will become a reality.
The ship will be towed to Hong Kong to be loaded onto a special transport cargo ship for her final voyage home.
So ends the final chapter for the last remaining Mighty Midget.

The following day H.E. Ralph L Boyce, US Ambassador to Thailand presided over a reception to celebrate the event at the Pattaya Marriott Resort and Spa. Organized by Robert Gregory Brooks, president of the Navy League of the United States, Thailand Chapter, the occasion also gave an opportunity to recognize and thank both military and civilian members of the community for their support of the US military peacetime activities in Thailand, especially along the Eastern Seaboard.

Dr. William Mason, Admiral Sattirapan Kenyanon and Capt Walter B Watson Jr. sign the official transfer papers.

Royal Thai Navy crew on the deck of the HTMS Nakha.

Admiral Sattirapan Kenyanon presents a picture of the Nakha to Dr. William Mason.

Military formation to honor the custody transfer of HTMS Nakha.

Admiral Satirapan Kenyanon presents a picture to Capt Walter B Watson Jr.

Commander Peesutsak, directing renovation efforts before the handover. Notice the gun muzzle is open.

Royal Thai Navy sailors lower the Thai flag from the stern of the HTMS Nakha during the handover ceremonies.

Ladies on board the lady of the sea. (l-r) Zeny Amantavivadhana, Janice Mason and Luly Romero.

HTMS Nakha undergoing restoration of underwater hull at the Prachulachomklao Royal Thai Navy Dockyard.

Dr. William Mason who served on the LCS during WW II poses with the demilitarized gun.

LCS L 102 in Kyushu harbor circa 1945.

Bobby Brooks, President Navy League of the United States in Thailand inducts Ambassador Ralph (Skip) Boyce as an honorary member of the Navy League.

Dr. William Mason thanks John Weir, Vice President, Global Development, National Air Cargo.

(l-r) Luisa and Javier Fabra, Spanish Assistant Naval Attaché, Janice and Dr. William Mason, Luly and John Romero, Business Development Manager, National Air Cargo.

John Romero with Ambassador Boyce and John Weir, National Air Cargo, Vice President for Global Development.

Ambassador Boyce presents awards of recognition to Zeny Amantavivadhana, National Air Cargo-Thailand, and Admiral Sombat Augsornsri, COS Royal Thai Fleet.

Somsak Tangruengsri, General Manager, Pattaya Marriott Resort, with Premruedee Jittiwuttikarn and Chaiwat Charoensuk, Director of TAT, surrounded by Pattaya personalities.

Peter Thorand (2nd right) stands proudly with the ‘Lone Sailor’ flanked by Captain Walter Bruce Watson, (left) with Somsak Tangruengsri (2nd right) who also received an award and Ambassador Ralph Boyce.

Captain Walter Watson presents awards to Hans Schaad, John Shioscet and Andy Wenger for their support of US Navy activities.

Watch this fascinating story on PMTV
on Saturday June 2, 2007

Care for Kids charity drive gets major boost by ancient society

Lodge Pattaya West Winds are Platinum Sponsors

Paul Strachan
Freemasons have had a long association with supporting the community and there are thousands examples of projects, buildings and monuments that have been aided or created with the help of the Brethren.

Bro. James Soutar elucidates the historical significance of an ornate Masonic apron.
This ancient and revered fraternal society like many organizations is changing its stance on what it allows non-members to be aware of.
Lifting the veil of secrecy to display quite frankly nothing more than a group of humanitarians whom share a common goal and dedication to society.
Lodge Pattaya West Winds has, for a number of years been supporting local institutions and needy causes with money being raised and then divided between the different projects. As with the joint Harmony evening earlier this year, Lodge Pattaya West Winds invited a few non brethren including myself for an evening of fine dining at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort with the intention, over the course of the evening to try and raise 100,000 Baht specifically for the Jesters Care for Kids charity drive, enabling amongst other, support for children at the Fountain of Life here in Pattaya.

John Collingbourne masterfully conducts the auction.
This was a mark of departure for the lodge to nominate a charity before the money was raised and in a way a bold statement by pre-empting the final count by way of inviting the charity chairman of Jesters Care For Kids, Lewis ‘Woody’ Underwood.
Through the Lodges brethren and acquaintances a number of items had been donated to enable a raffle and an auction.
Amongst which were dinners and fitness membership at the Dusit Resort hotel Pattaya, bottles of single malt whisky as part of the raffle and up for auction were three beautiful framed watercolours hand painted by one of Lodge Pattaya West Winds brethren.
Jan Olav also donated two Thai coins that were quite unique as they were the first pressings of which never actually made it into circulation.

RWM Mike Johnston presents a cheque for 100,000 baht to Woody as sponsorship of the Jesters Care 4 Kids charity drive.
At the end of the raffle and subsequent auction which was masterfully conducted by John Collingbourne, a rough tally was being made when one of the members re-donated one of the prized coins back to the lectern so that it could go under the hammer again.
A fellow Scotsman John Hamilton & and his lovely wife bid top dollar or baht rather for the exclusive coin.
At the final count 138,000 baht was raised on the evening and Right Worshipful Master Mike Johnston proudly handed over a cheque to Lewis ‘Woody’ Underwood for 100,000 Baht.

Woody and Middy enjoy the proceedings at the Masonic harmony.
I managed to have a word with RWM Mike Johnston for PMTV where he told me that he had known ‘Woody’ for many years and that he felt it was time that the Lodge Pattaya West Winds gave its whole hearted support to what is one of the most important and worthy charities operating in the area.
In a separate interview ‘Woody’ said that he felt very honored to be invited to tonight’s fundraiser and that for him it was also his first insight into the world of Freemasonary, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
He finished by saying that the money raised tonight would go towards this year’s charity drive, which is now in its 10th year and will provide scholarships for the children at the Fountain of Life.
Looking back on the evening it struck me that through working together, every member of society or societies in this case can make a difference – or to appropriate a line from the Jesters website (www.care4kids.info) “It takes so little to make such a big difference’.

Bro. David Garred holds up the two paintings that were up for auction.

Auctions are a serious business Leighton seems to be thinking as, Angela Fowles, Chris Moore and Kancharid Disabaedya pay attention to the auctioneer.

Mr. & Mrs. John Hamilton show off their prized coin that they successfully bid for.

Brethren of the lodge admire the prized coin donated by Bro. Jan Olav Aamlid for the fundraiser.

Bundit Uengrangsri brings Jazz and the classics to Pattaya

Proceeds will be donated to the father ray Foundation

Mary and Bundit Uengrangsri, Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn, Sutthikorn Jianpaitoon, Managing Director of Alangkarn and Suwanthep Malhotra, Executive Director of Pattaya Mail Publishing Co., Ltd.) announce the Classics meet Jazz @ Pattaya” event.

Vimolrat Singnikorn
Sunday June 3 will see internationally famous conductor Bundit Uengrangsri stage a concert of classical and jazz music at the Alangkarn Theater.

Mary Ungrangsee
Classics meet Jazz @ Pattaya, which will also feature jazz singer Mary Uengrangsri, was announced on May 17 by Mayor Niran Wattanasartsathorn, Alangkarn managing director Sutthikorn Jianpaitoon, and Suwanthep Malhotra, executive director of Pattaya Mail Publishing Co Ltd.
Bundit, along with more than 100 musicians from Seoul and professional jazz singers including Mary Uengrangsri, has been on tour around America for three years, appearing at more than 400 concerts.
Amongst the Thai performers appearing at Alangkarn will be guitarist Ekkachai Jienkul and pianist Tharin Supornprakorn. A highlight of the evening will be a performance of music composed by His Majesty the King.
Sutthikorn said that Alangkarn is being used as the venue because a large number of fans of both classical and jazz music would attend, and therefore the location had to have both space and flexibility.

Ekachai Jearakul
Suwanthep said that Pattaya Mail Publishing is pleased to be helping support such a significant musical event, the first of its kind in Pattaya.
“We will be promoting the event in the Pattaya Mail newspaper, Pattaya Blatt, Chiang Mai Mail newspaper, and on cable TV with Pattaya Mail On TV. Our policy is to support activities that enhance people’s lives, and that will help to make Pattaya a strong society,” said Suwanthep.
To purchase concert tickets for 1,000 baht and 1,500 baht please contact Alangkarn in Pattaya at tel 038 256 007, or on the 5th floor of the Twin Tower Hotel in Bangkok at tel 0 2216 1869 ext 104. Tickets are also available at the Major Ticketing Call Center at tel 0 2515 5555, Paragorn Cineplex, Esparana Cineplex, Major Rachayotin, or Major Ekamai.
Income raised at this event will be presented to three foundations for disabled people, namely the Redemptorist Vocational School for the Disabled, the Redemptorist Blind School in Pattaya, and the Children Social Welfare of Pattaya Orphanage.

Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Korea.

Brasseria La Luna opens with an Italian flourish

Revered monk poured holy water to bless the newly opened restaurant.

Tiziana makes a food offering to the monks after the religious ceremonies.

Wanwadee Wongwan
Brasseria La Luna opened its doors on May 17 with a grand party staged by owner and general manager Signora Tiziana Carta and relatives, friends and the press attending to toast the good fortune of Pattaya’s newest restaurant.
Located on Third Road, next to Sugar Home, near the North Pattaya Intersection, La Luna serves authentic Italian food, care of Tiziana who is Italian.
Tiziana said that she has experience of working with Italian restaurants, but this is the first time she has owned her own. She had come to Pattaya with her family, and fallen in love with the city. This led to the idea of opening an Italian restaurant.
With a cool and easy décor, and plenty of attractive greenery outside, La Luna will certainly attract the Western tourists to Pattaya, expatriates residents along with the fast-growing number of Thai people who love this vibrant cuisine.
The restaurant is offering a casual fine dining, pizzeria with real wood-fire oven or you can dine by the pool surrounded by tropical garden, with plenty of parking space.
Brasseria La Luna is open every day from 7:00am to 11:00pm. For reservations call 038 489 329.

Mama Spiga Bruna, executive chef Adriana Carta, Rudy Declercq and Tiziana Carta.

Tony Malhotra congratulates the Carta family (Tiziana, Rudy Declercq and daughter Ilana) on behalf of Pattaya Mail.

Many friends attended the party to wish the new enterprise all the success.

BCCT goes walking

By Dr. Iain Corness
If you imagine that the headline means that the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) members have taken up physical exercise, you may be partly correct, but not in the way you imagine. Last week’s BCCT networking evening was held in Kilkenny’s Irish Pub, which is set in Walking Street. By the time cars were parked and the pub approached on foot, many were definitely hanging out for those first drinks, sponsored by Martello Realty and the Siam Gazette.

Noochin Noisena, (left) and John Seymour, (right) from the Northern Thai Realty with Stuart Daly, (centre), Pattaya Realty.
With ‘realty’ being the apparent theme of the evening, many of the operators in the property market were present, including John Seymour, director of the oldest real estate company in Pattaya, Northern Thai, and John Sheehan, MD of Bang Saray Development, Richard Gray of Rosegate Building Consultants and Craig Banks being a Paragon as usual.
With the Walking Street venue, Stuart Simmons probably moved on afterwards to see if he could sell his very useful product – the Hide-a-Bed - to some of the bars, who I am sure could find a use for it! Other members may not have had such noble thoughts.
It was interesting to find that despite the doomsayers, some sections of Thailand’s business world are still forging ahead. Simon Matthews, the GM of Manpower proud to speak on all the new offices his company has had to open all over the country in response to personnel needs.
One of the principal sponsors was Phil Alexander of Martello Realty, who spoke on Pattaya Mail TV on his new luxury villa development in Bang Saray, with some prime waterfront properties in the 75 million baht region. Phil said that he was very confident on the top end of the market, and in fact had plans for further developments.
The other sponsor was Alan Verstein, now the MD of Siam Gazette, which covers the Bangkok Trader and Thailand Homes and Condos. He is another positive thinker as far as the real estate industry is concerned, to publish a monthly magazine which is devoted to the property market.
Despite problems with the physical size of the venue, all the members seemed to enjoy themselves and were seen wandering off into the night after the networking evening finished to the calls of “Hello sexy man! Sit down please!”

Jitra Wongjuan, AA Insurance Brokers, Graeme Foster, Bechtel International, Inc. and Stuart Edwards, Construction of Engineering & Energy Services of Trafalgar International Ltd.

Stuart Simmons, The Hide-a-Bed Company, Peter Smith, AA Insurance Brokers and Dr. Iain Corness.

Rohan Scheggetman and Wim Scheggetman, of Saraan Lifestyle Development and Barry J Hayles from Eastern Seaboard Properties Management.

Masatake Yamaguchi and Jate Sopitpongstorn, Horseshoe Point, Phil Alexander, Martello Realty and Alan S. Verstein, Siam Gazette Co., Ltd.

The ladies gathered together and had a swell time too.

John Botting, Kaewta Verstein and Alan S. Verstein, Siam Gazette Co., Ltd.

Simon Matthews, of Manpower and James Howard, Milan Crosse Creative Ltd.

Graham Watkins, Foster Wheeler International Corporation, Gornragan Phankhum, Moody International (Thailand) Ltd. and Michael Berger, Moby Elite.

Alain Deurwaerder, Katoen Natie (Thailand) Ltd. and Jack Kelly, Grant Thornton.

Jan Van Houtven, The Lakes at Phoenix and Tony Malhotra, Pattaya Mail.