We Honor Him
Above is a framed letter sent to the Syfrett family on the occasion of Rev, Harold’s Memorial Service. Below is a copy of the letter. You can also see his obituary in our In Memoriam section of the website.
Dear Reverend Harold Syfrett’s family,
Rev. Harold in the Rev. Harold Syfrett Chapel aboard the USS Yorktown
As our Association Chaplain for more than four decades Rev. Harold touched so many of our hearts. From his days as a young Yorktown sailor, Rev. Harold’s calling was to become a dedicated servant of the Lord. He joyfully gave his life to leading souls to God through the power of prayer. Rev. Harold did this for us thousands of times aboard the Fighting Lady. He would step to the podium, arrange his notes and – “He Prayed For Us.”
To the Syfrett family, God bless you and thank you for sharing this kind, gentle and beautiful man with us,
Chairman and CEO/USS Yorktown CV10 Association, Inc.
USS Yorktown Association News Bulletin about the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act signed into law June 25, 2019
Since the signing into law of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (referred further here as the “Blue Water Law”) on June 25, 2019, your Yorktown Association leadership has been busy trying to determine as best we can what this law may mean to those of you who are USS Yorktown CVS-10 Vietnam War Veterans, or descendants of deceased USS Yorktown CVS-10 Vietnam War Veterans.
In simple terms, the Veterans Administration (VA) asks three primary questions when determining eligibility for benefit claims relating to this Blue Water Law.
Unfortunately, although the questions are fairly straight forward and simple, the answers you sometimes need to provide the VA can be quite complex and difficult.
These are three primary questions the Veterans Administration (VA) will ask a USS Yorktown Vietnam era veteran relating to the Blue Water Law:
( 1)Are you a Vietnam War Veteran, as defined by the VA? This question is typically answered by submitting a DD214 along with your application to the VA. If you don’t have a DD214, you will have to seek assistance and guidance from the VA or other related government agencies.
(2)Do you have any of the ailments that are spelled out by the Act? This question also requires significant direct interaction and involvement between you and the VA, which can be quite complex and involved.
Concerning questions (1) and (2) above, the Yorktown Association can not help you with either.
- Did the ship which you served on during the Vietnam War operate within the territorial waters of Vietnam as defined by the Act. This is a question that the Association leadership has been researching since the Blue Water Navy Act became law.
According to information we have to date is that the Yorktown did operate within the 12 nautical mile boundaries of the territorial waters of Vietnam as defined by the Act within the time frame as specified by the Act.
Our current findings are that there are two Deck Log reports documenting that the Yorktown operated in the above mentioned Vietnam territorial waters. The official source for these Deck Log reports is the National Archives. Ref. (2) below.
At this time, to the best of our knowledge the National Archives has complete USS Yorktown CVS 10 Deck Log information for the years 1966 and 1968, but so far has not released any information relating to the Deck Logs covering operations off of Vietnam for Yorktown’s deployment in 1965.
There are a variety of sources for ship position reports relating to the the Blue Water Navy Law available on the internet. For our purposes, we will only use the Deck Logs referenced above as the sole source of our information.
From the text of the Blue Water Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, Sec. 116A;
Determination of offshore
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, for purposes of this section, the Secretary shall treat a location as being offshore of Vietnam if the location is not more than 12 nautical miles seaward of a line commencing on the southwestern demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia and intersecting the following points:
|Points Geographic Names||Latitude |
|At Hon Nhan Island, Tho Chu Archipelago Kien Giang Province||9°15.0′||103°27.0′|
|At Hon Da Island southeast of Hon Khoai Island Minh Hai Province||8°22.8′||104°52.4′|
|At Tai Lon Islet, Con Dao Islet in Con Dao-Vung Toa Special Sector||8°37.8′||106°37.5′|
|At Bong Lai Islet, Con Dao Islet||8°38.9′||106°40.3′|
|At Bay Canh Islet, Con Dao Islet||8°39.7′||106°42.1′|
|At Hon Hai Islet (Phu Qui group of islands) Thuan Hai Province||9°58.0′||109°5.0′|
|At Hon Doi Islet, Thuan Hai Province||12°39.0′||109°28.0′|
|At Dai Lanh point, Phu Khanh Province||12°53.8′||109°27.2′|
|At Ong Can Islet, Phu Khanh Province||13°54.0′||109°21.0′|
|At Ly Son Islet, Nghia Binh Province||15°23.1′||109° 9.0′|
|At Con Co Island, Binh Tri Thien Province||17°10.0′||107°20.6|
As you can see from the above Deck Logs, the USS Yorktown CVS 10 was inside of Vietnam territorial waters (as described by this law) on February 26, 1966 (position 16° 52’N 107° 45’E), and May 25, 1968 (position 16° 38’N 107° 51’E).
USS Yorktown Association, Inc.
Ref: (1) Blue Water Vietnam Veterans Act of 019
(2) National Archives website
After several months of preparation and planning, the 2019 USS Yorktown Crew Reunion is over after just a few days. The Yorktown Association hosted over 300 guests for a three-day event with about 120 of those guests being Yorktown veterans.
The 71st Yorktown Reunion centered around the theme of the Apollo 8 splashdown that the Fighting Lady assisted with during recovery.
The event kicked off on Thursday with a symposium of “Yorktown Stories” told by Yorktown Association board member Chris Cooke, Ed Sarkisian, and Barbara Flanagan. The event was emceed by former Association Board Chairman Ron Meacham.
The first Yorktown Dinner on Thursday hosted more than 300 crew members and their loved ones. They joined together to enjoy a time of fellowship and hear journalist Mark Bloom’s account of the Apollo 8 story. Bloom was a lifelong journalist, writing for Reuters and the New York Daily during Apollo missions 8, 11, and 13 along with the Gemini missions as well. He recalled the surprise earthrise, the astronauts “magical” reading of the first ten verses of Genesis on Christmas Day 1968, and how special it was to hear the Yorktown crew’s excitement of meeting the astronauts when they came aboard the ship after splashdown.
Moving into Friday, the more than 200 people attended the Yorktown Memorial Service remembering those crew members who have lost their lives. Yorktown Association Board Chairman Dean Peterson led the service, introducing speakers such as former Yorktown Chaplain Dean Veltman, and those who were performing or speaking during the ceremony.
Two families spread their loved one’s ashes off the ship and into the Charleston Harbor as a last goodbye. Those families also threw a memorial wreath into the water in honor of them. Two other wreaths were thrown by Peterson and Meacham to remember the Yorktowners who passed in previous years.
Red and white carnations were given out at the end of the ceremony for those who attended to memorialize their previously lost loved ones who served as well.
After the memorial service, the annual silent and live auction were held during lunch on board the Yorktown. Items such as model ships and planes, various books, and much more were up for grabs.
Saturday brought rain to the Lowcountry but it didn’t stop hundreds of people from showing up to the “Crew Meet and Greet” event. Over 40 Yorktown crew members took their seats on the ship and signed their names and told their stories for almost four hours. This is the biggest turnout the meet and greet has ever had! There was something truly special in the air as kids and adults both got to hear about the antics those crew members got into while serving.
To keep everyone entertained while they were on board, the Yorktown Association partnered with the NASA SC Space Grant Group from the College of Charleston to hold an afternoon event based around the Apollo 8 splashdown.
Six different activity stations ranging from space-based crafts, a table of rocks from the moon and Mars, Yorktown veterans who were on board when the capsule was retrieved, and a “what do you weigh on the planets” were the talk of the ship.
Thank you to our Space Grant partners, we couldn’t have done that event without you! It was amazing to see how excited everyone was to put the Apollo 8 components into real terms.
The 71st Yorktown Reunion wrapped up with a Farewell Dinner Saturday evening where the nostalgia between the crew members could truly be felt the whole night. Awards were presented by former Yorktown Association Board Chairman Ron Meacham to several dedicated veterans or their remaining family members. He also presented a Lifetime Achievement award to our Senior Museum Curator David Clark for his 40 years of service and dedication.
John Wukovits, well-known author and popular historian, was the key speaker for the night. He presented his knowledge on WWII, reminding everyone just how important these men who fought for our country on board the Yorktown are.
The evening finished with hundreds of pictures taken and stories told.
Many of the veterans say they look forward to this event every year and can’t wait to see what’s in store for the 72nd Yorktown Reunion in October 2020.