From The Evening Bulletin, Philadelphia, Friday, December 20, 1968
By Joseph J. McMahon, of the Bulletin Staff
Navy Hauls Down Ensign
on Veteran Oiler Salamonie
A venerable nursemaid of the Navy's Atlantic and Pacific fleets was retired yesterday with honors and some tears at the Philadelphia Naval Base. At exactly 2:10 P.M. Captain Carl Seiberlich, 47, a native of Jenkintown, read the orders from the Chief of Naval Operations, which decommissioned the U.S.S. Salamonie, AO-26. The Salamonie refueled more than 9,000 ships at sea, more than any other oiler in history. "Anyone who has sailed in a Navy ship can recall being refueled sometime by the Salamonie," Seiberlich said. "She was most at home with an aircraft carrier to port and a guided missile cruiser to starboard and the seas like mountains," he added.
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Thomas Keske, MM2, USS Salamonie, 1964-1968, had the most time served aboard the USS Salamonie at the time of her decom-
missioning. He was given the honor of being the last enlisted man to leave her decks on that day,
20 December 1968.
When she was retired to mothballs yesterday, the ship owned the record of the vessel in longest continuous, commissioned service in the Navy. Twenty- seven years to be exact. The Salamonie was built for Esso in 1936 (1aunched 18 September 1940) and commissioned by the Navy 28 April 1941. She was named for a quiet little river in Indiana. She displaces 26,000 tons and is 555 feet long.
There was no band playing when the old girl went on social security in the back bay at the Navy Yard. A few chairs on deck were occupied by the skipper's mother, Mrs. H. D. Seiberlich, of the Kenilworth Apartments and a dozen friends from Jenkintown. A dark low sky hung over the long gray ship. She was hemmed in by old carriers and destroyers. Workmen building two new submarines right beside her, didn't even look at her.
It seemed almost indecent to let the gallant old lady slip into the graveyard without some fanfare. "Haul down the colors" commanded the skipper. His voice rang out loud and clear over the noise from the submarines. About half of the crew of 250 stood on the deck and gave the last salute. All eyes were raised to the colors. Some of the older men were crying.
Captain Seiberlich, 25 years in Navy aircraft and ships, will take command of the carrier USS Hornet on May 1, at Long Beach, Calif.