A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNDERHILL MEMORIAL COMMITTEE
The first meeting of the U. S. S. Underhill Memorial Committee was held at Carvel Hall Hotel, Annapolis, Maryland on 24 July 1947. There were 66 survivors, 90 next of kin with additional friends and relatives making a total 210. Carvel Hall Hotel was also the setting for several motion pictures that were made in the late 1930’s. These were films pertaning to life at the Naval Academy.
Mr. Alexander Morrison of Williamson, N.Y. was the man who conceived the idea of the Committee and laid the groundwork for the first meeting. His son Richard Morrison was the senior radio technician on the Underhill and had been killed when the ship was sunk.
Everyone was convinced a permanent memorial was the goal. As a result much of the first meeting was a discussion of what kind of Memorial would be appropriate and how to handle the financing. At this meeting it was also decided that future yearly Memorial services would be held on the 24 of July and at 15:15 hours.
The following officers were elected: Committee on Arrangements:
Alexander Morrison, Honorary Chairman Alexander Morrison
Michael Mraz, President Joseph E. Simon
Harry Pierce, Vice President Michael Mraz
Bernard Baldwin, Treasurer
Joseph W. McRenney, Secretary
In subsequent years Memorial Services were held, discussions took place and money was raised. Finally in 1954 the dedication of the permanent memorial took place. The Memorial consists of a wooden organ case that encloses the main organ. It was constructed by the Moeller Company who said, " it is the most elaborate organ case they have done". The following inscription appears on the case: IN MEMORY OF THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE USS UNDERHILL (DE 682) 24 JULY 1945--- THIS ORGAN CASE GIVEN BY THE UNDERHILLMEMORIAL ASSOCIATION 24 JULY 1954.
Another very important person in the early years was Mrs. Isabelle Hogus. Her son Richard Hogus EM 2/c was lost when the ship was sunk.
We have continued to have our yearly Memorial Services at the Naval Academy. There have been a few missed years in the past, but for the last 10 years we have had uninterrupted services. During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the leadership consisted of Ruth Dace, wife of CBM Stanley Dace, Paul Adams EM 2/c and Rodger Crum EM 1/c. The present leadership is in the very capable hands of Ruth Dace and Paula Ponas, whose uncle Edward Walter Ponas S1/c was lost in the sinking of the Underhill.
On 24 July 1997, through the efforts of Paula Ponas, a permanent monument was erected and a tree planted in Arlington National Cemetery. The monument is inscribed with the following: In memory of those who sacrificed their lives on the USS UNDERHILL (DE682) Sunk July 24, 1945--- 112 crewmen lost Dedicated July 24 1997 by Shipmates, Family and Friends
In the past we have been told by, Commander Albert J. Slomovich, Chaplain USN, that we are the only ship that is permitted to have its yearly Memorial Service at the Academy’s Main Chapel.