Louis 'Skip' Sander
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These ships and units have been important parts of Lou's life:
United States Navy
Lou spent eight of his formative years in the Navy—four as a NROTC midshipman at Duke University, and four as an Ensign and Lieutenant, junior grade in the fleet. His earliest Navy memories are from when he was five or six years old. The WWII aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) was in New York City and open for public visitation. Little Skipper's parents took him to visit the ship. According to records of the ship's movement, this was probably between 10/17/45-10/31/45 or 1/18/46-2/17/47 (the family was living in New Jersey at the time).

The Navy next came up when Lou was a junior in high school, probably in 1955 or 1956. He heard about the Navy ROTC program, where in return for four years of service as an officer, qualified students could get full scholarships at one of about fifty colleges and universities. These were very competitive scholarships, both academically and physically. Lou remembers that he almost failed the dental exam, but a kindly Navy dentist let him contort his lower jaw so that two teeth just barely touched, which allowed him to pass the physical. His primary motivation in seeking this scholarship was financial; he didn't have any sort of burning interest in becoming a Naval officer, but it seemed to be a decent sort of thing to be, at least for four years.

In September, 1957, Lou became a Midshipman, USNR, and began his studies at Duke University. The NROTC program required its students to take one Naval Science course per semester and to participate in two drill sessions every week. The drill sessions involved marching around a parade ground for an hour or so, carrying a rifle that was kept in an on-campus armory.

The program also involved "cruises" for six to eight weeks every summer.

Lou's first cruise was aboard USS Canberra (CAG-2), to Northern Europe during the summer of 1958.

His second cruise involved three weeks at U. S. Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, VA, and three weeks at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, TX, during the summer of 1959. The idea was for midshipmen to get exposure to the Marine Corps and Naval Aviation, respectively. During the Little Creek session, Lou participated in a mock amphibious landing from USS York County (LST-1175).

His third and final cruise was aboard USS Conway (DDE-507) during the summer of 1960. This was a somewhat abbreviated cruise, with visits to New York City and Quebec, Canada.

Upon graduation in June, 1961, Lou was commissioned as Ensign, United States Navy. He began his career with two years aboard USS Rankin (AKA-103), where he was Electronics Material Officer. The ship made repeated visits to the Caribbean during his time aboard, including involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Lou left the Rankin in June, 1963, and reported for duty at Beach Jumper Unit TWO in Little Creek. During the summer of 1964, he made a Mediterranean Cruise aboard USS Waller (DDE-466), with a week or so of temporary duty aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42). Shown below are a picture of the Waller and a summary of important events during the cruise.

The material below was retrieved on November 6, 2013, from the Deck Logs of USS Waller (DDE-466) in the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

7/16/64, 0915Q – Lou boards USS WALLER (DDE-466) in Norfolk as Officer in Charge of a Beach Jumper detachment. Other officers aboard at the time included R. D. Sante (CO),  A. M. Hunt (XO), D. C. Christian, R. B. Dunham, L. J. Fetner, E. J. Haugland, M. B. Ison, R. F. Melampy, and R. J. White. Accompanying Lou as men of the Beach Jumper Detachment were W. L. "Pete" Domingue and W. D. Gloyd.  

7/27/64 – WALLER transits the Straits of Gibraltar

8/1/64 – Anchored in Golfo Di Palmas, Sardinia (no visits ashore).

8/4/64 - 8/13/64 – Anchored off San Remo, Italy

8/19/64 – LTJG Sander transferred by helo to USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42). Lou stayed aboard the FDR for several days, observing life aboard a carrier, including flight operations of jet and propeller-driven planes. The logs are not clear about when he returned to the Waller. While aboard the FDR, Lou participated in swim call, briefly swimming in the Mediterranean close to 35° 32' N, 32° 14 E

9/2/64 - 9/15/64 – Moored in Naples, Italy

9/18/64 - 9/19/64 – Moored at Messina, Sicily, next to USS Boston (CAG-1). Got underway with USS Boston (CAG-1).

9/22/64 - 9/23/64 – Anchored off Izmir, Turkey. Lou remembers being the Shore Patrol officer in this very exotic port. Got underway with USS Douglas H. Fox (DD-779)

10/3/64 - 10/10/64 – Moored in Naples, Italy

10/17/64 - 10/21/64 – Moored in Valencia, Spain

10/22/64 – WALLER transits the Straits of Gibraltar

11/9/64 – WALLER moors in Norfolk, 116 days after Lou reported aboard.

Other ships mentioned in the log of this cruise were USS Chukawan (AO-100), USS R. L. Wilson (DD-849), USS Nitro (AE-23), USS Forrestal (CVA-59), USS MacDonough (DDG-39), USS Leahy (DLG-16), and USS Sellers (DDG-11).

Lou left the Beach Jumper Unit in April, 1965, to attend graduate school at the University of Chicago. This was his last formal association with the United States Navy.

Thirty-eight years later, in 2003, he was involved in forming The USS Rankin Association, a reunion group for the USS Rankin. In 2009, he was the founder of The Alliance of Military Reunions, a membership organization for the military reunion community.