These WWII Submarine Veterans shared a belief in the need of an organization open to all submarine qualified shipmates, from the very beginning of the Submarine Service through to the present and into the future - not limited to just those who served so ably in the second World War.
"They wanted to make it known that those lost on Submarines, in the line of duty for their country, will never be forgotten."
In Groton Connecticut, the 'Submarine Capital of the World', the above group started contacting past shipmates. Favorable responses came from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and many more from Connecticut.
In 1963 members from CT, MA, NJ, NY and PA held several meetings in Groton, CT, Paramus, NJ and Orange, NJ to firm up plans for what was to become the U.S. SUBMARINE VETERANS INC. The final meeting was held on 12 October, 1963 in Orange, NJ and the United States Veterans was born.
The organization was officially chartered and incorporated in the State of Connecticut, the filing being recorded on May 22, 1964. The shipmates listed on the charter are DJ (Joe) Negri, Joe Marion, Ken O Walkington. The members who did the ground work in starting the organization were as follows: Dick Higman, Dusty May, Joe Webb, Mike Drucker, Robert 'Bob' Link, Wes Aldag, Tom Rowan, Joe Burgress, Warren Gannon, Joe Conrad and 'Wop' Lapadozza in addition to the three named on the charter.
The Groton base started immediately and held meetings at the K of C in Groton. The attendance at these meetings was between 60-75 members. Joe Negri was elected the first state commander and Dick Higman was the first base commander. About a year later it was determined that they needed their own building and it was voted to sell raffle tickets (1000 tickets at $10 each) for a gold Cadillac to raise the money for the down payment on the present home at 40 School Street.
The base building on School Street became a reality in 1966. Due to the fact that the Groton USSVI/Base was incorporated within the state of Connecticut and they had their own building, it was voted that Groton become the National Headquarters of USSVI. In 2000, the National Headquarters was shifted to Silverdale WA Trivia: What former head of the FBI was the lawyer/submariner who signed the incorporation papers? L. Patrick Gray
As of 2021 the organization has over 165 chapters (called bases) throughout the nation, and in excess of 11,000 members.
Note: The history of USSVI since 1966 is undergoing research. Should you be able to help, please contact the USSVI HISTORIAN.
In particular we need American Submariner magazines from 1994 back to its inception. Also any other newsletters from bases or National that relate to events/conventions/base formation from 1966 to the present. All materials will be promptly returned to sender.
A card written by Joe Negri, a WWII USS Tautog SS-199 crewmember and founding member of USSVI, is displayed at the USSVI Groton Base. Image and text from P. Wayne Ellis (TAUTOG)
Note: The history of USSVI since 1966 is undergoing research. Should you be able to help, please contact the USSVI HISTORIAN Ron Martini @ email@example.com