Mighty Midget goes home
Royal Thai Navy bids fond farewell to the HTMS Nakha (LCS 102)
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
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
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
Dr. William Mason, Admiral
Sattirapan Kenyanon and Capt Walter B Watson Jr. sign the official
Royal Thai Navy crew on
the deck of the HTMS Nakha.
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.
directing renovation efforts before the handover. Notice the gun muzzle
Royal Thai Navy sailors
lower the Thai flag from the stern of the HTMS Nakha during the handover
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
Dr. William Mason who
served on the LCS during WW II poses with the demilitarized gun.
LCS L 102 in Kyushu harbor
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
Ambassador Boyce presents
awards of recognition to Zeny Amantavivadhana, National Air
Cargo-Thailand, and Admiral Sombat Augsornsri, COS Royal Thai Fleet.
General Manager, Pattaya Marriott Resort, with Premruedee Jittiwuttikarn
and Chaiwat Charoensuk, Director of TAT, surrounded by Pattaya
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 Saturday June 2, 2007
Care for Kids charity drive gets major boost by ancient society
Lodge Pattaya West Winds are Platinum Sponsors
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.
James Soutar elucidates the historical significance of an ornate Masonic
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Sunday June 3 will see internationally famous conductor Bundit
Uengrangsri stage a concert of classical and jazz music at the Alangkarn
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.
Suwanthep said that Pattaya Mail Publishing is pleased to be helping
support such a significant musical event, the first of its kind in
“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.
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.
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
Located on Third Road, next to Sugar Home, near the North Pattaya
Intersection, La Luna serves authentic Italian food, care of Tiziana who
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.
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.
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
Stuart Simmons, The
Hide-a-Bed Company, Peter Smith, AA Insurance Brokers and Dr. Iain
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.