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Jerry L. Weltzin Recalls Serving in USS Jason (AR 8)

On Wednesday 31 August, 2011, NHF member Thomas Ostrom, along with Kenneth A. Thamert, Joseph Connell, and James Graham interviewed Jerry L. Weltzin, a proud U.S. Navy veteran and retired IBM employee.


USS Jason (AR-8) underway in the Pacific Ocean

Sharing a background of military service (highlighted below), the enthusiastic interrogators elicited information and stories from former ETR1 (lst Class Electronics Technician, Radar) Jerry Weltzin, who served on active duty in the Navy from 1962 to 1967 and later left the service to marry a kindred spirit and fellow IBM employee, Linda Chlan, a former U.S. Air Force enlisted electronics specialist who worked on B-52 electronics.

Weltzin came prepared for his interview with a plethora of USN service documents that chronicled duty stations, assignments, and awards. The electronics technician trained at Great Lakes U.S. Navy Training Center in Illinois; earned his E2 rating in 1964; and served on the USS Jason (AR 8), a repair ship that plied the West Coast and then coastal Vietnam.

Built during World War II, Jason was a mere two decades old when a young Weltzin reported aboard.  Jason departed San Diego 4 January 1965 and arrived Yokosuka on the 25th. After operations in Japan and at Okinawa, she reached Subic Bay 6 March and served ships of the 7th Fleet until heading home 31 August.  It was his time during this deployment in the 530-foot Jason that sparked many recollections.  Following the transit from Subic Bay in the Philippines, to coastal Vietnam, the skilled, 1,000 plus crew serviced naval patrol boats; refueled and repaired structures and electronic equipment on naval vessels; operated as a hospital ship; and provided ship and boat services for machinery, welding, electrical shops, transportation, equipment, supplies, fuel and ordnance. The Jason also housed a USMC detachment, and served as a flagship. Petty Officer Weltzin’s duties included being transferred to other ships, making house calls to repair faulty equipment or working on equipment brought over to his repair shops within the “floating shipyard” that was Jason.

While she didn’t have the appearance of a combatant, small arms, four-5” and eight-40mm guns provided limited offensive and defensive armament capability.   Weltzin recalled how AR 8 weathered dangerous typhoons with its heavy gear and equipment, 30-ft. draft, and 75-ft. beam.  The ship dimensions enabled the ship to remain functional when heavy seas reached the 2nd deck and threatened gun mounts.

Following his tour in Jason,  Weltzin received orders to NAVCOMSTA Adak, Alaska where he had access to highly classified technical information; was the lead petty officer on station; maintained radio frequency technology for submarines and other USN vessels, and was flown by helicopter to various USN vessels, including aircraft carriers; and climbed to dangerous, windblown heights to repair communications antenna in Aleutian Islands storms and winds; and driving a snow cat vehicle to check and repair tower navigation lights.

Weltzin, an Indiana farm boy and high school athlete, attended technical schools, and later, in his naval career, learned about cryptography, and maintained sonar, radar, and microwave systems. Weltzin applied his many skills to sail boats, scuba diving, and instruction; and performed shipboard law enforcement duties as Master at Arms.

Weltzin left active duty and joined the Naval Reserve, where he “earned ETR1 status in the USNR teaching basic electronics while attending Valparaiso University,” and matriculating into his IBM career.

Jerry Weltzin is just one example of the many skilled, dedicated, patriotic men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have served and are serving in a myriad of essential support capacities. Their sacrifices and service in defense of the United States must not be forgotten.


Thomas Ostrom served in the USCGR from 1961 to 1967. He is the author of four books on Coast Guard history, the most recent: “The United States Coast Guard in World War II: A History of Domestic and Overseas Actions,” and “The United States Coast Guard in National Defense: From World War I to the Present” (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers). The books cover significant coordinated USN and USCG missions. Ostrom lives in Rochester, MN.

Kenneth A. Thamert, a Rochester business proprietor, was a U.S. Army corporal in Korea (1954-1955). Ken now serves in leadership capacities in the local Korean War Veterans Club, and Scott Hosier World War II Roundtable.

Captain Joseph Connell, an IBM retiree, was a Vietnam helicopter pilot in the U.S. Air Force 38th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron (1960-1966). Joe is also knowledgeable about the U.S. Coast Guard role in Vietnam at sea, on river patrol, and in SAR helicopter rescue missions. Joe is active in veteran’s affairs and has escorted WW2 veterans to the World War Two Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. on several Southeast Minnesota Honor Flights.

Dr. James Graham, a retired Mayo Clinic podiatrist, served on the home front as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Hospital Medical Corps (1966-1970). Dr. Graham earned an expert marksman medal with the M-16 rifle. Graham also acquired an Air Force spouse: Airman 3/C Patricia June Stephens Graham, who later applied her skills in civilian life. They are especially proud of their son, Chief Petty Officer Brendan Graham (USN). CPO Graham presently serves out of Guam on the nuclear submarine USS Houston (SSN 713).

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  1. Kaare Hostland

    The USS Jason AR-8 Probably the Best US Navy Crew Ever,
    PM3 Hostland

  2. Darrell Singleton

    I received orders to the USS Jason AR 8 in December 1970 after completing an eleven month tour at Camp Tien Sha in Danang. At the time the Jason was moored in San Diego and word has it that it had been there for quite a long time. While waiting to get checked aboard I was assigned to temporary duty which was basically standing deck watches and working parties. It was approximately two and a half to three months later that I was sitting in the personnel office waiting to speak to the personnel officer about being assigned to a division on board. While waiting I was reading an All Hands magazine. I noticed an article stating the the Navy was looking for people to serve in Viet Nam. The requirements were either a restricted rate or a second tour. Not being of a restricted rate I volunteered for a second tour that day. In just a couple days after that I met with the captain of the Jason who while signing me aboard also signed me off with orders to Coronado where I attended POW training and SERE School at Warner Springs. Afterwards I received orders to NSA Saigon where I was stationed on the YRBM -16 at Chau Doc and Tan Chau which turned out to be much better duty than that on the Jason. I served twenty seven months total in Viet Nam, part of it while on the USS St. Francis River LSMR 525, then in Security at Camp Tien Sha in Danang, then to the YRBM -16 on the Bassac River and finally at Binh Thuy. I got a nine month early out after leaving Binh Thuy after President Nixon issued troop reductions in Viet Nam.

  3. Kevin Charles Skinner

    I was on Jason 1976 to 1980 . I was a mm3 in A gang ,also ran evaporators. We where first ship to get women and the movie Macgarther was filmed on boar. My friends were David Arenson and Scott Mier in A gang they both were from Aberdine South Dakota. I was on duty when sailor fell out cargo hatch hit the camel by pier. I was on fire party and we pulled his body out of the sea . The divers from our ship found him and tied to rope.

    • Syndi Pompa

      My brother was on the Jason latter part of his tour, late 1970’s. He was a Machinist Mate also, Lionel Pompa. Wonder if you knew him?

  4. I served on the USS Jason AR-8 from October 1964 to December 1965. I served on the Boat Deck as an Engineman Striker where we took care of the Admiral and COs Gigs, Officers boat, 32ft Liberty launch, Motor Whale Boat, and 2 Mike boats. I cut my Engineman career on those 6-71 Engines and moved on to Main Propulsion Diesel and Gas Turbine Engines in my 28-year career. You mentioned the typhoon we were in leaving Ologopoo where we were in heavy seas and water was washing over the boat deck and flooding out the Motor Whale Boat. I and EN3 Grumitt were 20-24 lifeboat watch when the Boatswain came out and secured our watch and was angry that we were even out in our little parts shed of the Port Crane. I remember we were in 40 to 60 ft seas and winds from 125 gusting to 150 mph. I think the USS Bonhomme Richards CVA31 was with us and 2 tin cans that you could only see their masts weaving back and forth. The WestPac Cruise of 1965 was a great cruise for me and the friends I met during my 14 months aboard Jason my first ship after Bootcamp was a great experience to start my Navy career. We were Shipmates and I always look to see if there will be a Ships Reunion so I could attend and meet up again with old shipmates. I’m a God Father to one of our Shipmates son, he was assigned to the A-Divison weld shop and his name is Al Meza, I also run into DC1 Pappy Hayes at the Navy Exchange.

    • My father was on the USS Jason from 1964 to 1966? Stephen Carver Jones. Born July 1946. He was discharged from the Navy in July 1967 ordered to Corpus Christi Naval base where he was working on IBM type computers. He met my mom and they dated for a few months. Then he went on home to San Antonio, not knowing my mom was pregnant. I’m looking for anyone who has information to his possible exposure to agent orange while on the Jason. Call me please by text. 864-631-3938

  5. Sandra Jones Reiter

    My father was on the USS Jason from 1964 to 1966? Stephen Carver Jones. Born July 1946. He was discharged from the Navy in July 1967 ordered to Corpus Christi Naval base where he was working on IBM type computers. He met my mom and they dated for a few months. Then he went on home to San Antonio, not knowing my mom was pregnant. I’m looking for anyone who has information to his possible exposure to agent orange while on the Jason. Call me please by text. 864-631-3938

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