USS Virginia Base Wardroom
On a submarine, the Wardroom is a part of “Officer Country” - which is what the enlisted crew call the officers’ quarters. The Wardroom is the area within Officer Country where the officers eat, study, do paperwork, socialize, and have meetings.
So, it's fitting that this would be the area of our Base website where we list those Base members who have stepped forward to serve as officers in our organization. We'll describe their positions within the Base, whether thay are elected or appointed, and make space for each of them to post a brief bio, photo and comments of their choosing - along with their contact information.
WARDROOM OF USS VIRGINIA (SSN-774)
GROTON, Conn. - Chinah Helmandollar, Miss Virginia USA (2010), enjoys the hospitality of the wardroom aboard USS Virginia (SSN 774), along with the officers, after completing a full tour of the boat, June 16, 2010. Standing from left to right: Lieutenant junior grade Brian Higgins, Supply Officer; Lieutenant Keith Turnbull, Quality Assurance Officer; Lieutenant Commander Thomas O’Donnell, Engineer; Chinah Helmandollar, Miss Virginia USA; Commander Tim Salter, Commanding Officer; Lt. Cmdr. Wes Bringham, Executive Officer; Lt. Scott Stewart, Combat Systems Officer; and Lt. Travis Burden, Damage Control Assistant.
Our Base wardroom doesn't include Miss Virginia (or even the Virginia officers pictured above), but we are nonetheless just as proud of our Base officers as Captain Salter was of his wardroom. (This photo, by the way, was taken aboard Virginia just FIVE WEEKS before our Base visit to the boat on July 23, 2010 - Click here if you haven't yet visited our web page that features that visit).
USS Virginia Base Officers
|Click on the officer's name to go directly to his section of this web page|
|Officer Position Title||Encumbent||Elected or Appointed||Date of Office|
|Past Commanders||Kenn McDermott|
John (Herby) Ortiz
John (Herby) Ortiz
|Membership Chair||Joesph Rodrigues||Appointed||2022|
& Assistant Webmaster
|Ways & Means Chair|
& 50/50 Coordinator
& Inducting Official
About Base Commander John Williams
John Williams enlisted in the Navy on the 120-day delayed entry program in 1968 and reported to boot camp at Great Lakes in September of 1968.
After boot camp he attended machinists mate “A” school at Great Lakes. After “A” school he reported to the USS Fiske in Rhode Island for sea time prior to nuclear power school.
John attended nuclear power school at Bainbridge Maryland in September of 1969. After Bainbridge John went to prototype (S1C) at Windsor Locks Connecticut and graduated in October of 1970.
John then attended sub school at New London Connecticut during October and November of 1970.
After completion of sub school, he was assigned to the USS Ray in Portsmouth Virginia December of 1970. John qualified in submarines in January of 1972 and was discharged from the Navy in September of 1974.
After being discharged he commenced working for Bordon Chemical, Smith Douglass division where he was a maintenance foreman and then a mobile maintance supervisor from Oct 1974 to July 1980.
In September of 1980 he accepted a position with Virginia Electric and Power Company (now Dominion Energy Company) in the operations department at the Surry Nuclear Power Station. He transferred to North Anna Nuclear Power Station in July 1981. John obtained a Reactor Operator License from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate the North Anna Reactors in August of 1982. He operated the units and performed various projects until 1993 when he accepted a position as Administrative procedure writer at Dominion’s Corporate Office at Innsbrook. John transferred back to North Anna Power as Operations Lead Procedure Writer in January 1995. A few years later John was promoted to Operations Department Procedure’s Coordinator and retired from Dominion (VEPCO) in June of 2011.
John joined the US Submarine Veterans of World War II Tidewater Chapter as an associate member in 1977 and became a life member of the chapter in 2010.
John joined the USSVI (Hampton Roads Base) in 2000. John is a plank owner of the USS Virginia Base, which was started by Jack Winn (First Base Commander) in 2002.
John’s Awards and Ribbons include:
National Defense Service
Navy Expeditionary Ribbon
John (Herby) Ortiz
About Base Secretary Bill Anderson
Bill outside with his Boomer hat on
Per ARTCILE VIII, Section 3 of our Base By-Laws, the USS Virginia Base SECRETARY is responsible to:
a. Keep the minutes of all USS Virginia Base regularly scheduled meetings and meetings of the Board of Directors.b. Answer and keep a record of all USS Virginia Base correspondence.c. Serve as Newsletter Chairman.d. Maintain the Membership Roll of the USS Virginia Base.e. Serve on the Board of Directors.f. Conduct USS Virginia Base Elections.g. Prepare a "turn over" package for the relief, containing all information and correspondence relative to the office.
Additionally, Bill - along with his son Curtis and wife Sandi - initiated and continue to coordinate the Base's annual submarine display at the three-day Field Day of the Past event in Rockville, Virginia. Not only have many people learned about the U.S. Navy Submarine Service and USS Virginia Base from this event - we've also recruited numerous members as a result.
You can contact Bill by sending an e-mail to him at email@example.com
Bill joined USSVI and USS Virginia Base in 2009 and was elected Base Secretary in 2013.
Bill Anderson is the son of career Navy Engineman William and Lucy Anderson. True to being a Navy brat he was born in the US Naval Hospital, Bremerton, Washington, when his father was being transferred from Great Lakes Training Center, Chicago, Ilinois to a fleet tug home ported at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Spending most of his first nine years in Hawaii, his family was transferred to a small Naval Base on the coast of Washington State. There they bought a small farm and his father did his twilight tour aboard a minesweeper, checking sampans off the coast of Vietnam in 1967 & 1968. Upon retiring in November of 1968 he became a salmon charter boat skipper, with Bill as his deck hand. During this time Bill grew to love the sea and decided to follow his father's footsteps and join the Navy when he graduated from High School.
They worked the charter boats until William was diagnosed with cancer in 1972 and had to surrender his skippers license. Bill worked his last summer with a different skipper, while his father took correspondence courses in locksmithing.
Ten days after graduating from Hoquiam High School, Bill enlisted into the U. S. Navy and went to Recruit Training Command, San Diego, California - then on to Submarine School, New London, Connecticut, followed by A and C schools in Dam Neck, Virginia.
Bill's first boat was the USS Tecumseh (SSBN-628), home ported Charleston, South Carolina, on which he completed six patrols and took her through a shipyard period in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. At that time he met and married the love of his life, Sandi, who had two daughters, Rae-Lyn and Holli. Later his "little" boy Curtis came along, who is now an Associate member of USS Virginia Base.
After the shipyard period "T-Cup" was transferred back to Charleston and Bill made two more patrols. At this point his enlistment was about to expire and it was decided that getting married and changing careers at about the same time was not a good idea. Bill therefore re-enlisted for four years, getting shore duty at the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific at the Submarine Base, Bangor, Washington (SWFPAC).
Just prior to arriving at SWFPAC, Bill's father's health took a turn for the worst and he became paralyzed from the waist down. It was agreed that after Bill's enlistment he would return home and help his Dad with the locksmith business.
Bill returned to sea duty aboard the USS Kamehameha (SSBN-642) out of New London, Connecticut and made two patrols prior to returning home in October 1984 where he began to learn the locksmith trade. However, his father's health deteriorated further with more cancer and he passed away the following March.
Going from NQP to CO in eight months was tough. A few years later the economy of coastal Washington State took a hard downturn and Bill made the decision to leave, taking a locksmithing position with what is now Dominion Lock and Security in Mechanicsville, Virginia - a job he has held since 1992.
About Base Treasurer Chris Knaggs
Chris at home getting ready for a USSVB meeting
Per ARTICLE VIII, Section 4 of our Base By-Laws, the TREASURER is responsible to:
a. Accept, and keep a record of, all monies and USS Virginia Base assets.
b. Disburse such monies as may be approved by a majority vote of the members.
c. Assure the Tax Exempt status of the USS Virginia Base.
d. Keep complete and accurate financial reports.
e. Submit the USS Virginia Base "Control Report" and membership monies to the National Office, copy of the National Membership Chairman, as required.
f. Prepare a "turn over" package for USS Virginia Base, containing all information and correspondence relative to the office.You can contact Chris by sending an email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris joined USSVI in 2015. Born in Detroit, Michigan he graduated from high school in 1970 with no specific plans but to stay out of the Army. A low draft number drove him to the Navy recruiter where he was sent to Great Lakes Naval Training Center for basic and then onto the USS Fresno (LST 1182) in San Diego working in the Deck division (Chris on the Fresno's sound powered phones in the photo on the right). The Fresno did three deployments to Vietnam though for most of it Chris’s view of that country was only a green smudge on the horizon.
After two years Chris applied for the Navy ROTC program and soon found himself at the University of Michigan. During that time he completed army jump school for no particular reason other than the fact the Navy had quotas to burn.
After graduation Chris went to Navy flight school in Pensacola and then onto the USS Midway (CV-41). With Vietnam ending the Navy had thousands of more pilots than needed so he transferred into the Navy Supply Corps. From there his association with the US submarine Force began with tours on the William H. Bates (SSN 680) (Chris in the Bates' Radio Shack in the photo on the right) and the USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN 633). He earned his dolphins on the Pulaski, also serving as an underway officer-of-the-deck and Command Duty Officer. (Chris at the Pulaski scope in photo on the left)
Succeeding afloat tours over the next 26 years included The USS Sperry (AS-12) and USS Frank Cable (AS-40). In addition, he did two years in Australia on exchange duty with the Royal Australian Navy serving on the HMAS Onslow (SS-60) in Sydney and then at their equivalent of our Pentagon in Canberra.
Joining the Supply Corps means good shore duty and Chris had excellent places to work, most in association with the submarine force, but in some non-traditional Navy locations. He was the Director of the Fleet Ballistic Missile Management Staff in Charleston South Carolina, and a couple years later he found himself in Albuquerque, New Mexico as Director of Nuclear Materiel for the Defense Nuclear Agency. Then a year in Harrisburg as the Director of Trident Materiel followed by transfer to a traditional Navy port in Omaha, Nebraska as the Director of Logistics (J4) and stockpile management for the United States Strategic Command. The tours got rougher as he re-entered the submarine force more directly as Director of Supply and Shore Installation Management (J41) for the U.S. Pacific Submarine Force in Hawaii. Four years in Hawaii ended with Chris finishing as Commanding Officer of the Fleet and Industrial Supply Center after two years in command.
Unable to completely avoid the Army, Chris’s last job prior to retirement was as the CIO of the Army’s Military Traffic Management Command in Alexandria, Virginia.
After retiring he immediately went to work for the Defense Logistics Agency in Richmond, Virginia as a weapons system manager for the F-18, C-5, and EA6B aircrafts. Then two more years as Director of Demand Planning.
Chris moved to Fort Lee Virginia and the Defense Contract Management Agency as Director of Continuous Process Improvement. He retired from civilian federal service at that point and began working in the private sector as an educator.
Being in the Navy for over 30 years meant good opportunities for training and schools. After milking the Navy for his degree at Michigan Chris got Master’s Degrees from the Naval Post Graduate School, Naval War College and Salve Regina College. He also completed a Doctorate in Business and Statistics from Trident University, but had to let the G.I. Bill cover some of that. He is a certified Professional Logistician and Certified Lean-Six Sigma Master Black Belt.
Chris is married to Dee who he met in Richmond in 1978. They have two children Patrick and Brianna, one of whom is an engineer and the other working on that degree. (Chris & Dee in the photo on the left attending the premier of the movie "Pearl Harbor). They have five cats but that is not Chris’s fault. The Knaggs keep busy traveling, working at the SPCA, Virginia War Memorial and many other volunteer activities in the Richmond area.
About Membership Chair
Base Membership Chairman
About Base Storekeeper & Assistant Webmaster Bob Kutzenberger
Bob standing in front of just a few of the antique pistols in his collection
Per USSVI, USS Virginia Base and common fiduciary standards and practices, the BASE STOREKEEPER is responsible to:
a. Maintain an accurate inventory of all Base Ship's Store items, their cost to the Base and their sale price to members and others purchasing Ship's Store items.
b. Maintain sufficient cash on hand to handle Ship's Store sales and inventory restocking.
c. Coordinate routinely with the BASE TREASURER to ensure that all Ship's Store funds are properly accounted for in the Base Treasury.
d. Assist the USS Virginia Base Commander as may be requested.
e. Preside over meetings in the USS Virginia Base Commander's and Vice Commander's absence if requested.
c. Serve on the Board of Directors.
f. Prepare a "turn over" package for his relief, containing all information and correspondence relative to the office.
You may contact Bob by sending an e-mail to him at email@example.com
Bob joined USSVI and USS Virginia Base in 2010 and has been Base Storekeeper since 2011. He and his wife Meg reside in Maidens, VA (Goochland County). He has a son, Alan, from a previous marriage. Bob is an avid firearms collector, with emphasis on the historical period of 1800 through the late 1890's. He acquired his first muzzle loader at the age of 18 and can now be found puttering around with his collection of old handguns and long guns. He most recently constructed a fully functional one-third scale 1841 6-Pounder. cannon from scratch.
Bob was born and grew up in rural South Texas and attended Alan Military Academy in Bryan, TX where he graduated in 1961. After an additional year at AMA, he joined the Navy in October, 1962 and volunteered for the Navy Polaris Electronics Program. He attended boot camp at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, CA where he was the company Educational Petty Officer and was nominated as Company Honor Man. After boot camp, he attended ET A School at Treasure Island, San Francisco, and from there was ordered to Submarine School in New London, CT. Bob received orders out of Sub School to the USS Grouper, AGSS-214, the oldest submarine in the Navy at that time. Needless to say, the Grouper was a far cry from a Polaris Sub, and the tragic loss of the Thresher in 1963 had resulted in a lack of billets in the Polaris program until the nuke subs could be re-outfitted. Bob's disappointment was short lived however, as he discovered the Grouper had just completed a ship yard overhaul and outfitting and was in excellent shape. As an AGSS, the Grouper had been modified to carry engineers/scientists to study the effects of underwater sound propagation, and most of Bob's time on the Grouper was spent operating out of Bermuda and other locations throughout the Caribbean. It was very interesting work, and Bob qualified SS on the Grouper in June, 1964. She was a good old boat!
Bob received orders for further electronics training at Damn Neck, VA in the late Fall of 1964, and upon graduation was assigned the job code of SINS Tech. However, assignment to a Polaris boat was delayed yet again, and he was ordered to report to the USS Sennet SS-408 out of Charleston, SC. The Sennet had experienced a fire in their Loran set, and the boat did not have an ET and needed the Loran for an upcoming deployment. Bob was only on the Senate for several weeks, and upon repairing the burned-out Loran set (The cook had put
the fire out with an ansul fire extinguisher from the galley!... What a mess!), he received orders for the Henry Clay SSBN-625 Gold stationed in Charleston, SC and operating out of Rota, Spain. Going from one of the oldest boats in the Navy to one of the newest was quite an adjustment. Personnel shortages of certain rates were prevalent at that time and Bob found himself assigned to stand watches in the Sonar Shack while on patrol. He qualified as a Sonar Supervisor, and after two patrols in Sonar and qualifying SS on the Clay, he was finally released to work and stand watches in the Navigation Center. Home at last!
After four patrols out of Rota, Spain, the Clay was moved north to Holy Loch, Scotland and Bob made three patrols out of there on the Clay until the Fall of 1968 when the boat was ordered back to Charleston for overhaul. By that time, Bob was an E-6 short-timer, and was eager to get through separations and on into civilian life. But not until one last trip on the Henry Clay! Before going into the yards, the boat had to go out for a resin dump, and Bob ended up on the list to take the boat out. Should not have taken more than a day at most, but bad weather complicated things and the boat rolled around in heavy seas for two and a half days before everything could be done. It was a horrible experience, with no AC, only power from the diesel, and about 30 shipmates on board to handle everything. Thank goodness the coffee machine didn't crap out!
After separations, Bob went to work at General Dynamics Corporation in Rochester, NY as a Technical Writer on the F-111 fighter/bomber test program. GD closed down operations there in the late Fall of 1970, and Bob was transferred to Stromberg-Carlson Corporation, a sister division of GD. From there, Bob worked himself through various positions in Customer Support, Sales Engineering, and Marketing, before being transferred to Stromberg's Telephone Apparatus division in Charlottesville, VA in the Spring of 1974. Bob worked in the telecommunications industry for the next 25 years, his last nine years with Sprint Corporation as a National Account Manager for AT&T. He retired in the Fall of 1999, and has been enjoying retirement ever since!
About Ways & Means Chair & 50/50 Coordinator Al Ptasznik
About Nominating Committee Chair & Inducting Official Thurman Register
Thurman at the ready for a USSVB meeting
Per ARTICLE XII - ELECTION OF OFFICERS
Section 1: The Commander, Vice-Commander, Secretary, and Treasurer will be elected by a majority vote of the members in good standing at the regular meeting held in the month of December.
Section 2: A nominating committee will be appointed in the month of October to solicit nominations and will present the slate of nominees to the membership at the December meeting.
Section 3: Additional nominations may be made by any member on the floor of the December meeting prior to the election.
Section 4: Any vacancy in office shall be filled by USS Virginia Base Commander appointment, with approval of the Board of Directors, to complete an unfulfilled term.
Thurman serves as a Base Officer, which includes being on the Board of Directors. He solicits members annually to fill the elected officer positions and performs the above duties at the December meetings. Immediately following the completion of voting Thurman conducts the official installation of the officers elected.
You can contact Thurman by sending an e-mail to Thurman@tbrinc.com
Thurman joined the USS Virginia Base after attending the first meeting held at a Chesterfield Fire Station on Polo road, where Roger Warden hosted the meeting and Jack Winn presided. He is a Life Member of USSVI and proud to be a Plank Owner of USS Virginia Base. He qualified for the Holland Club in 2011. He is also a life member of the Fleet Reserve Association.
Thurman began his military career while attending high school in Richmond, VA. He joined the Virginia Air National Guard at Byrd Field, Sandston VA. The VANG was transitioning at the time to Jet aircraft. The first jet equipment was the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak fighter-bomber. After boot camp at Lackland AFB TX, Thurman was assigned to the aircraft instrument shop. Later attending Aircraft Instrument Repair school at Chanute AFB, IL., he received a commendation from Major General Sheppard Crump as an Honor Graduate. Thurman received an Honorable discharge from the Air Guard as an A/2C and enlisted in the US Navy.
Thurman was able to enlist as an E3 and 3-1/2 years of service, but “skipping” boot camp was not an option. So off he went to San Diego for boot camp #2. After San Diego Thurman was transferred to Treasure Island, CA for ETR “A” school followed by SS Radar school. Next was New London for Sub school. From New London he was assigned to the USS Grampus SS-523, Guppy II Snorkel. The Grampus’ home port was Norfolk, VA D&S piers and was part of Task Group Alpha. The Grampus was his qual boat. The Grampus entered the Philadelphia Navy Yards and while the boat was still at the yards Thurman was transferred to Bainbridge MD for Nuclear Power School.
Unfortunately his submarine days were cut short because of medical reasons in late 1963 and his last navy days were spent in and out of Bethesda Naval Hospital. He received a Certificate of Retirement from the USN in 1968.
Thurman and his wife Carolyne live in the Varina section of Henrico County VA. They are proud of their 2 sons, 6 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. They enjoy each day, having their sons and 3 of their grandchildren as neighbors. Thurman is a member and Past Master of Varina Masonic Lodge 272 A.F. & A.M., Past District Deputy Grand Master, and a 32° Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction Mason. He remains active in the community through his support of multiple charitable endeavors.
About Past Base Commander Kenn McDermott
Kenn standing in front of his "I Love Me" wall at home
Kenn served as the Base Commander and Webmaster from 2008 through to 2019 and continued to serve as the Base Webmaster until 2021. Additionally, he stepped forward to fill the vacant slot of Base Vice Commander beginning in 2020. Kenn coordinates all Holland Club arrangements and inductions, and assists with communications among members.
You can contact Kenn by sending an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kenn joined USSVI and USS Virginia Base in 2003 and right away volunteered to acquire a domain name for a Base web site and build the site. He has continued to serve as Base Webmaster until 2021 while also serving as Vice Commander for several years and as the Base Commander during the period 2008-2019.
Kenn enlisted in the U. S. Navy immediately after graduating from High School in 1959 at age 17 - with the express purpose in mind of joining the submarine service. He submitted a special request chit for subs while in boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Illinois and then again while in Radioman "A" School in Norfolk, Virginia, and then again while on a special one-year tour of shore duty at NAVCOMMSTA Newport, Rhode Island. When he submitted his special request chit at Newport for subs he was sent out to Goat Island to undergo a pressure test in the decompression chamber they had there on the island. He had made RM3 while at Newport and must have passed the pressure test because when his one-year tour was completed he received orders to report directly to the USS Entemedor (SS-340) at State Pier in New London, Connecticut. Although he was ordered to go up to the Sub Base to complete two emergency ascents in the escape training tank, he never attended sub school. Kenn therefore considers his three months aboard Entemedor (a GUPPY IIA boat built at Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut) to be his 'sub school' because he was transferred to USS Bang (SS-385) after three months and had to start his qualifications all over again. Although the Bang was also a GUPPY IIA boat, it had been built at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, New Hampshire, and was considered to be significantly different from an EB boat to warrant a new qualification program. Kenn qualified in submarines aboard the Bang in March of 1962, making his final walk-through with the Engineer while the boat was visiting Rotterdam, Holland.
Kenn put the USS John C. Calhoun (SSBN-630) in commission and served on that boat for five years. Reporting aboard in December of 1963 as an RM1(SS) Kenn made the first sea trial (and that exciting first dive and first excursion to test depth), DASO for the missile test firing and seven deterrent patrols. After three patrols Kenn made Chief and completed four more patrols as the Leading Radioman. While aboard he also served as the ship's Qualification Chief Petty Officer for one year.
Kenn served for a year and a half as an instructor in the Instructor Training Branch of the U. S. Submarine School New London, Groton, Connecticut beginning in the fall of 1968 before making Warrant Officer (W-1) in June of 1970. He then transferred to COMSUBLANT staff in Norfolk, Virginia where he served as a Communications Watch Officer for three and a half years. While at COMSUBLANT Kenn made Chief Warrant Officer (CWO-2) and then Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) under the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program. NOTE: Kenn skipped Ensign courtesey of then CNO Elmo Zumwalt who ruled that those new LDO's who had been promoted from the Warrant Officer ranks would not have to pass through Ensign! Thanks Zoomy!
After serving three years as the Assistant Communications Officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CVA-59), where he made Lieutenant. Kenn was transferred back to COMSUBLANT staff where he served as the Base Consolidated Telecommunications (BCT) Message Center Officer until his retirement from the U. S. Navy as a Lieutenant (O3-E) on August 1, 1979.
Immediately after retiring from the USN Kenn, his wife Della, two daughters (Connie & Vicki), two cats and a dog piled into a 27' Itasca Class A Motorhome and began a three-year, 35 state, Maine to Key West to California travel odyssey throughout our great United States of America.
After traveling and working part time jobs while building their new home in Buckingham County, Virginia - Kenn began working in Facilities Management at the University of Virginia. Having served in various positions as a Medical Center Project Manager, Division Manager and Professional Services Contract Administrator - Kenn retired after 28 years as the Facilities Planning & Construction Admin & IT Manager on May 4, 2012.
Kenn & Della have attended a number of USSVI National, Regional and District conferences and events - including the Commissioning of the USS North Carolina (SSN-777), where this picture of Kenn was snapped:
Kenn at the Co-Pilot station aboard the USS North Carolina (SSN-777) on the occasion of her commissioning in Wilmington, North Carolina on May 3, 2008.
About Past Base Commander John (Herby) Ortiz
Past Base Commander
John (Herby) Ortiz
(12/2019 to 7/2020)