Obstacles Bold R Dash participants faced last year.
On May 18 and 19 is the Bold R Dash at Misquamicut Beach! Bold R Dash is Rhode Island’s own challenging 5k military style mile obstacle course race. It will test endurance, strength and coordination. 3,000 participants will compete in a course entirely in the sand of Misquamicut Beach and Westerly Town Beach. Two hundred volunteers are needed to monitor obstacles, run registration, and to serve as parking lot attendants. This event will raise a minimum of $5,000 for the Chamber’s Bring Back the Beach campaign to benefit recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
Please call Donna Greene at 401.596.7761.
Mitchell College President Mary Ellen Jukoski, Ed.D. with alumnus William Pennoyer of Westerly, RI, whose memory of Mitchell’s tribute to the Thresher in the aftermath of the accident in 1963 inspired the college’s memorial event.
by Susan Cornell
While conducting deep-dive tests, the nuclear-powered submarine USS Thresher (SSN-593) sank on April 10, 1963, resulting in the loss of all 129 on board. Shortly thereafter, on the lawn overlooking the water, the Mitchell College community held a ceremony in the lost submariners’ honor.
Fifty years later, Mitchell hosted a memorial program on the anniversary of the exact moment of the sinking. The college’s 50th Anniversary Thresher Memorial honored the military personnel and civilians on board, as well as the community’s long connection to the Submarine Service.
Rich Cheatham, Veterans’ Admissions Counselor at Mitchell College as well as a submarine veteran, took the lead in coordinating the memorial program.
Cheatham explained that Mitchell College President Mary Ellen Jukoski received a letter from a 1963 alum who recalled the ceremony held in the same timeframe as the sinking of the Thresher. “The question he asked was what were we doing this year to remember it. That got everyone thinking,” Cheatham said.
Cheatham communicated with sub vets in Groton, who he said have been “outstanding, giving guidance in shaping the program and the items that we need to include in a program.”
The event included the presentation of colors, tolling of the bells 129 times with the name of each soul lost at sea announced in between, taps by a SubVet bugler, invocation and benediction by a SubVet chaplain, and the laying of a wreath on the Thames River.
Dr. Jeffrey Turner, a professor at Mitchell College, donated a Thresher artifact for the memorial. In his words, it was “an original cigarette lighter, complete with the USS Thresher’s name and logo engraved on its outer surface. It is over 50 years old and deemed priceless by several independent appraisers. I would like to offer it to this program as a commemorative gesture. Perhaps it can be placed with the wreath and returned to the sea, where it belongs. The submariner who carried it remains unknown.
“God rest the ship and the sailors we lost on that tragic day.”
Dr. Turner’s request was fulfilled as the lighter was returned to sea with the laying of the wreath.
David Cornell, a resident of Mystic, was one of those impacted by the tragedy. Cornell said, “In 1959 I went to Portsmouth Shipyard to help outfit the USS Seadragon (SSN-584), which is where I met a fellow submariner who became a good friend, Robert Gaynor. Prior to the Seadragon leaving for Pearl Harbor via the North Pole, Robert was transferred to the USS Thresher.”
He explained, “Because of the scarcity of nuclear-power-trained personnel I was kept on board and Bob went in my place. Think about it: I could have not been here today. I think about it a lot.
“You can say I owe my life to the captain of the USS Seadragon for keeping me on board.”
by Susan Cornell
Joey Bomster stands next to his boat Patty Jo, built in 1988
After filling up the gas tank and picking up a pound of fresh Placopecten magellanicus, or New England sea scallops, for dinner, a little light went off in my head—oh no, the kid’s college tuition for next semester is on the to-do list. Wow, it’s hard to believe that what I shelled out for fuel and food can lead to that connection!
The cost becomes clear when you talk to the local fishermen in the supply line, though.
Joe Bomster of Stonington’s Bomster Scallops admits, “It’s getting to the point where they’re cutting us back so much that the price is going to go so high that we’re afraid people are going to stop buying scallops.”
Bomster and his two brothers have been fishing all of their adult lives. Their father was a fisherman and their grandfather was a fisherman. “Nobody in our family has ever done anything else, so when you put us out of fishing, you really put us out.”
Joe believes that if he was allowed to fish 100 days a year, the price of scallops would be about half of what it is currently, or $7 to $8 a pound.
They had their boat, the Patty Jo, built in 1988. For the first few years he and his brother fished aboard her 255 days a year.
“There was no regulation on how long you could fish. We made money to pay our mortgages,” he said, adding, “Now we have two boats the same size; each boat fishes about 70 days a year. So with two boats we can only fish 140 days.”
“It has nothing to do with the fishermen; it has everything to do with regulations and the amount of pounds we can catch. Like everything else, if you have a shortage of it, the price goes up…like gas and everything else,” he explains.
In addition to existing regulations, new regulations went into effect March 1 and more have been proposed.
Bomster says, “The message that has to be sent to politicians now is that we need less of everything. My business is commercial fishing but this is the same with all businesses. It’s an overregulating, overbearing government. We don’t need more regulation—we need more areas to fish.”
Some areas have been closed for 12 years, which does not make sense because a scallop only lives to be about 6 years old. “So, you have many generations that lived the full term of life and died. That’s like telling a farmer to grow their corn and then just let it die and let the bugs eat it. What good would that do? That’s basically what they’re doing to our fishery,” he says.
The good news, the academics tell us, is that the scallops are there. “UMass Dartmouth estimates that hundreds of millions of pounds of scallops are just dying out there without being harvested,” Joe explains.
Regulations also mean fewer jobs in the fishing industry. Bomster sums it up: “Wasn’t this country founded on freedom? Enough is enough.“