Valdez DE-1096 - History

Valdez DE-1096 - History

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(DE-1096: dp. 3,963 (f.); 1. 438'; b. 47', dr. 25's. 27+ k.; cpl. 245; a. 1 5", 1 ASROC/Standard missile In., 1 Sea Sparrow in., 4 15.5" ASW tt.; cl.Knox)

Valdez (DE-1096) was laid down on 30 June 1972 at Oswego, La., by the Avondale Shipyard, launched on 24 March 1973; sponsored by Mrs. Manuelita Valdez, the mother of Hospitalman Third Class Valdez, and commissioned on 27 July 1974 at Charleston, S.C. Comdr. Joe D. Peden in command.

Valdez spent the following three months in Charleston fitting out and completing final trials. She departed Charleston on 27 October, bound for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, whence she operated for the next seven weeks. Upon completion of her shakedown cruise, she returned to Charleston for a month of leave and upkeep followed by inspections and preparations for post-shakedown availability. That availability began on 25 February 1975 and ended on 11 April. At that juncture, she began normal operations out of Charleston and, later, participated in Exercise "Solid Shield," an amphibious landing and convoy protection exercise conducted during the last week in May and the first week in June near Morehead City, N.C. On 6 June, the ocean escort returned to Charleston and resumed the normal routine until 18 August. During that period, she was reclassified a frigate and redesignated FF-1096 on 30 June 1975.

On 18 August, the frigate steamed out of Charleston for her first overseas deployment. She changed operational control to the 6th Fleet upon arrival at Rota Spain, on the 29th. From there, the frigate moved into and across the Mediterranean Sea to Egypt. She transited the Suez Canal on 5 September and the next day reported for duty with the Middle East Force at Djibouti in the French Territory of the Afars and Issas. During her tour of duty with the Middle East Force, Valdez participated in bilateral exercises with units of the naval forces of France, Iran, Abu Dhabi and Pakistan as well as of the Air Force of Kuwait. She also embarked officers of the Saudi Arabian Navy for training and participated in the multinational CENTO exercise codenamed MidLink-75. Ports of call included Bandar Abbas, Iran, Bahrain, Kuwait; Sharjah and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates Karachi, Pakistan; Assab, Ethiopia; Victoria in the Seychelles; and Jidda, Saudi Arabia.

On 31 January 1976, Valdez retransited the Suez Canal on her way home. She recrossed the Mediterranean Sea and arrived back in Rota on 5 February where she remained until the 8th. Between 11 and 14 February, she visited Brest, France, where she participated in a gun salute symbolic of the first salute ever fired to the flag of the independent United States. From there, she set course—via the Azores and Bermuda— to return to Charleston. Valdez reentered her home port on 25 February.

After leave and upkeep, she resumed normal 2d Fleet operations out of Charleston. That duty lasted until September when she began preparations for another 6th Fleet deployment.

On 4 October, she stood out of Charleston and arrived in Rota 10 days later. On the 16th, Valdez reentered the Mediterranean. The ship spent the remainder of the year and the initial months of 1977 engaged in operations with the 6th Fleet. Valdez returned to Charleston on 21 April and commenced 30 days of leave and upkeep.

Following a summer devoted to operations off the east coast, the fleet frigate began preparations for another overseas period, this time a deployment to the North Atlantic. She departed Charleston on 27 September to join a NATO task group for Exercise "Combined Effort." During the next two months, Valdez engaged in other NATO exercises at sea interspersed with port visits. Her ports of call included Lisbon, Portugal, Portsmouth, England, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Bremerhaven, Germany, and Cherbourg, France. Valdez returned to Charleston on 2 December and remained there into the new year.

The ship got underway on 16 January 1978 for a three-month good will cruise to West Africa and South America. Countries on her agenda consisted of Morocco Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Togo, Ivory Coast, Nigeria Senegal, and Brazil. Valdez returned to Charleston on 18 April. A month of repairs and leave followed. The summer was spent conducting operations out of her home port. On 12 September, Valdez departed Charleston for Boston where she commenced a regular overhaul on 15 September at the Bethlehem Steel shipyard. The ship remained there into 1979.

There are 3,000 census records available for the last name De Valdes. Like a window into their day-to-day life, De Valdes census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 642 immigration records available for the last name De Valdes. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

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There are 3,000 census records available for the last name De Valdes. Like a window into their day-to-day life, De Valdes census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 642 immigration records available for the last name De Valdes. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name De Valdes. For the veterans among your De Valdes ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

The climate is relatively mild, which is attributed to the marine currents in and weather generated by the Pacific Ocean. Its distinguishing characteristics are the incomparable rugged beauty of its natural mountain ringed setting and its extremely high average annual snowfall of 360 inches (30 feet) the most of any community at sea level in North America. Valdez's economy is based on oil, tourism, commercial fishing, shipping / transportation and city and state government. Among small communities Valdez is quite unique in the vast amenities it offers for a town of its size. Valdez offers a quality of life rivaled by few. It has the comfort of a small town, with many of the advantages of a larger community.

The city was founded just prior to the turn of the 20th century as a gateway to the All-American Route to interior gold and copper fields. Incorporated since 1901, the community's first hundred years have been marked by a number of significant events the most notable of which are the 1964 Alaska Earthquake, being chosen as the terminus of the trans-Alaska Pipeline and the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

Knox-Class Frigates in the 1970s (Part II)

As discussed in the previous post in this series, my detailer informed me in 1971 that my next assignment would be as Officer in Charge of something called a Fleet Introduction Team (FIT) at the Avondale Shipyard where USS Blakely (DE 1072), my previous ship, was built. The FIT team’s purpose was to guide the nucleus crews of the remaining 14 Knox-class frigates under construction at the shipyard through the pre-commissioning process. The detailer gave me a contact at OPNAV in Washington that could provide me with more information on the assignment. The OPNAV contact said he would mail me a copy of my new charter. In the process, he informed me that when they had set up the working group that established the FIT team, they had specified that the Officer in Charge would get command of the last ship in the program. There was no way that I could turn that down. So my family and I set out from Charleston, South Carolina, to New Orleans, Louisiana.

First, a bit of geography. We were headquarted at the Naval Support Activity (NSA) on the West Bank of the Mississippi River across the river from downtown New Orleans. The ships were built at Avondale Shipyard in Westwego, upriver from the city on the West Bank. It was about a twenty-minute drive from the NSA to the shipyard. Since I would be spending the majority of my time at the NSA, it was obviously to our advantage to live nearby. So, we rented a two story house in Algiers, only about a mile from the NSA. It was a very convenient location and I was usually able to come home for lunch.

As mentioned in the previous article, the Knox-class constituted the largest single U.S. naval shipbuilding program since World War II. The ships were intended to serve as convoy escorts originally referred to as Destroyer Escorts (DE). In 1975, the ships were re-designated as Frigates (FF). The ships were the subject of a considerable amount of controversy because of their single screws and single 5-inch guns. But they became very effective anti-submarine warfare platforms with the addition of passive towed array sonars and helicopters. Forty-six ships of the class were scheduled. The first ship of the class, USS Knox (DE 1052), entered service in 1969. The ships were built at Todd & Lockheed Shipyards in Seattle, WA, Todd Shipyard in San Pedro, CA, and Avondale Shipyards, LA. My previous ship, USS Blakely (DE 1072), was the fifth ship of the class. For economy, the Navy decided to build the last fifteen ships of the class (DE 1078 through 1097) at Avondale. The last ship in the series, DE 1097, was scheduled for delivery in 1974. At the time I took over the FIT Team in 1971, it was not yet named.

I was scheduled for briefings In Washington, Newport, and San Diego prior to reporting for my new FIT team assignment. It was my first visit to the Pentagon during my career where I was given a copy of my OPNAV (issued by the Chief of Naval Operations) charter. It said to organize a team of about 30 officers and men at the shipyard. Our assignment was to provide continuity, liaison, on-site training, administrative, and supply support to the nucleus crews of the Knox-class ships under construction at Avondale.

Our immediate boss would be the Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Force Atlantic (COMCRUDESLANT) in Newport, Rhode Island. On paper, I reported to a rear admiral. But in practice, I actually reported to the new construction program officer, a lieutenant commander in the engineering section of that staff. I must confess that being in charge of my own operation with my nearest boss in Newport sounded pretty attractive to me. My title was officer-in-charge, but I would essentially function as a commanding officer.

I found out that the team was already in place and functioning, headed by the prospective commanding officer (PCO) of USS Cook (DE 1083), then under construction. The plan was for him to turn the operation over to me after I reported in. We had an extension office right next to the building ways at Avondale Shipyards where we conducted our waterfront operations. That was where the bulk of the FIT team consisting of about 15 senior enlisted ratings would operate under the direction of our engineering and weapons officers. Their job was to conduct one-on-one training on Knox-class ship operations with the ships nucleus crewmembers.

Avondale had a unique production line method. They built five ships at a time, side by side. Their construction climaxed with a sideways launch into the Mississippi River, accompanied by a giant splash. As a ship was launched, the others would be moved to the next position and a new one would be started. Each ship took about one year from keel-laying to launch. It would be another ten or eleven months to complete and deliver the ships to the navy.

The first step upon arrival in New Orleans in the summer of 1971 was to call upon the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, 8 th Naval District (SUPSHIP 8). He oversaw construction of the ships and administered the shipbuilding contract with Avondale. His immediate boss was the Ship Acquisition Program Manager (SHAPM) also a captain based at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Washington.

About two weeks after the arrival of the PCO, it would be time for builder’s trial. This was a three-day operation involving getting underway for the first time, steaming down the Mississippi River out to the Gulf of Mexico (about 50 miles), putting the ship through its paces, and then returning to port. The ship was operated entirely by the shipyard’s trial crew. We were just along as observers. I functioned as the COMCRUDESLANT representative and wrote up a report upon completion of the trial. I found it a great learning experience and I figured that it would be good preparation for command of the last ship. But there would be some bumps in the road before that would happen.

About a month later, it was time for the acceptance trial when the SUPSHIPS would present the ship to the Board of Inspection & Survey (INSURV). The agenda was essentially a repeat of the builder’s trial. But this time, the ship would be observed by the INSURV inspectors who wrote up discrepancies that had to be adjudicated by the SHAPM before the ship could be delivered. In a worst case scenario, the INSURV Board might reject the ship entirely and require a retrial. So there was a lot riding on the outcome.

Our first acceptance trial would be aboard the USS McCandless (DE 1084) in December 1971. We assembled in the wardroom waiting for the President of the Board of Inspection and Survey (PRESINSURV) and his team of inspectors to arrive. I was aware that PRESINSURV was Rear Admiral J.D. Bulkeley, “P.T. Boat Bulkeley,” who as a young lieutenant had evacuated General MacArthur from the Philippines during World War II and earned a Congressional Medal of Honor for his wartime heroism. He was quite well known in the navy and was nearly as much of a national icon as Admiral Rickover. It was the first time that I had ever met him. All of us were quite intimidated by him at the time. But for me at least, that was all to change about ten years later when he became my boss during my last five years on active duty. The McCandless acceptance trial did not go very well. Upon completion of the acceptance trial, RADM Bulkeley rejected the ship and called for a retrial. I was not displeased because the ship did have some significant deficiencies.

On the home front, life in New Orleans was like living in another country. Things were very different down there. We arrived right in the middle of a political campaign and there were signs all over the place. The politicians all seemed to have names like Bubba, Taddy, and Speedy. However, Mardi Gras proved to be a lot of fun. We attended a number of parades in downtown New Orleans and a couple of them went right by our house. I can still remember my wife diving to catch beads that were being thrown down from the floats. We accumulated quite a collection. The navy provided us with season tickets to the New Orleans Saints who were not very good back then. But we were only paying what was effectively a dollar per game including free transportation to Tulane Stadium. The most prominent player on the Saints at the time was Archie Manning.

The job itself was going quite well. My three principal assistants, LCDR Dave Klinkhammer (engineering), LCDR Bill Riddell (supply), and CWO John Sheirling (weapons), were a great help. After a couple of ships crews had gone through our program, we had our act together pretty well and our program was becoming a big hit. It was obvious to everybody that a FIT Team was the way to go. Prior to our arrival, the ships crews had to figure out for themselves what to do and there had been a good deal of floundering around. By contrast, we had things pretty well laid out for them when they arrived. The PCOs were showing their appreciation by a steady stream of letters of appreciation to my boss as they departed.

I mentioned earlier that when I took the assignment, I was told that it was intended to lead to the command of the last Knox-class ship to come off the building ways. Before being assigned to the command of a naval vessel, they required an officer to be selected by a formal screening board composed of a group of senior officers in Washington, DC. The 1972 board convened in February, and I discovered that I had failed selection. This was definitely a significant career setback and it would be the precursor of a running soap opera that would last for the next two years.

That spring, I was visited by my titular boss, Rear Admiral Thomas Wechsler, COMCRUDESLANT from Newport R I. He expressed strong support for my program and indicated that he would attempt to use his influence to assist me on the next go around.

I was enjoying the assignment. It had little direction from the outside and it was nice to have my bosses many miles away in Newport. But I was quite fastidious when it came to keeping them informed by telephone. I got to spend quite a bit of time on the ships and I went out on all of the sea trials where I acted as the COMCRUDESLANT representative. I got into all areas on the ships. As I went along, I was becoming the navy’s reigning expert on the Knox-class ships. I only hoped that it would eventually lead somewhere career-wise.

We ended up supporting the nucleus crew of the last fourteen ships of the class that entered service between 1971 and 1974. Bear in mind that all of these ships were originally designated as destroyer escorts (DE) and were re-designated by CNO as frigates (FF) in 1975. These included:

  • USS McCandless (DE 1074)
  • USS Donald B. Beary (DE 1075)
  • USS Brewton (DE 1076)
  • USS Kirk (DE 1077)
  • USS Barbey (DE 1088)
  • USS Jesse L. Brown (DE 1089)
  • USS Ainsworth (DE 1090)
  • USS Miller (DE 1091)
  • USS Thomas C. Hart (DE 1092)
  • USS Capodanno (DE 1093)
  • USS Pharris (DE 1094)
  • USS Truett (DE 1095)
  • USS Valdez (DE 1096)
  • USS Moinester (DE 1097)

Some dramatic things were about to happen on the job. As previously mentioned, I was normally assigned as the COMCRUDESLANT representative on the builders and acceptance trials and one of my assignments was to write a message to my boss summarizing the results of the trial. On three successive trials, we experienced ruptured boiler tubes. On two of these occasions, I was in the fire room next to the boilers when this occurred. Although nobody was injured, this was a serious situation. I did not like to be standing next to a 1200 psi boiler when parts started breaking, so I made a comment in my summary report that this was the third occurrence and something needed to be done. The results proved to be rather dramatic as a board of investigation from NAVSEA promptly arrived in town to look at the situation. Within a week, SUPSHIPS had been fired. I certainly did not intend anything like this to happen. Despite some initial difficulties with him, things had pretty well settled out by then and I did not bear any ill will toward him.

By now we were up to DE 1093 and it was the tenth ship to go through our FIT program. We had received letters of appreciation from just about every PCO that had passed through over the previous two years. But the future was still a bit uncertain because I failed selection for command again in 1973.

By December 1972, the last ship of the class, DE 1097, acquired a name (USS Moinester), but a PCO had not been named for it. We decided to attend the launching which took place in May 1973. But we had to leave before the ceremony when we found out that my sons had an altercation that resulted in a window being punched out in our house. Fortunately, neither was hurt. But we missed the launching. So 1973 came to a close. There was a lot of uncertainty with what 1974 would bring. Stay tuned. If this sounds like a soap opera, it came close to being one.

In January 1974, I received a letter from BUPERS. Much to my relief, it informed me that I had been screened for command. In April, I received my official orders as the PCO of the USS Moinester (DE 1097). The ship was due for commissioning in November. Its home port would be Norfolk, Virginia.

Robert W. Moinester (NAVSOURCE)

The USS Moinester (DE 1097) was named for Lieutenant jg Robert W. Moinester, a naval officer killed at age 24 in 1968 in Hue, South Vietnam during the Tet offensive by the North Vietnamese forces. After an investigation, I discovered that he was from Lynbrook, Long Island, New York. His mother, Gertrude, was the ships sponsor having broken the traditional bottle across the bow when the ship was launched in May of 1973.

Obviously, my first action would be to contact Robert’s parents, Gertrude and Bob Moinester. When I asked them who they would like for a commissioning ceremony speaker, they mentioned their local congressman. I asked them if they would like New York Senator James Buckley instead and they said that would be even better if I could pull it off. When I contacted the Navy Bureau of Public Affairs, the reply was in the affirmative. We were all delighted. I was required to attend a 3 week PCO course in Newport. So my family and I decided to go ahead and make the move to the Norfolk area, where the ship would be homeported.

I had to be back in New Orleans in June 1974, when the nucleus crew would be reporting. It consisted of six officers and 27 enlisted personnel. They would be trained by my FIT team, which would then be disbanded. The balance crew consisting of about 220 personnel would be assembled in July by the prospective executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Ted Fijak at the Naval Station in Norfolk.

The builders and acceptance trials both went very well. Before you knew it, the ship was ready for delivery. We sailed from Avondale on 14 October 1974. The ship was operated by the shipyard’s crew during the trip to Norfolk. In order to keep crew costs down by minimizing underway time, the builder normally made the delivery trip at 25 knots. This had backfired on USS Blakely when the ship ran down a sailboat. Fortunately, we arrived at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, without incident on 17 October where we would undergo a three-month fitting-out availability (FOA), the balance crew would be reporting, and the commissioning ceremony would be held in November. On arrival, the SUPSHIP representative gave me a Form DD 250 to sign. It was the receipt for material which was “One Destroyer Escort.” It was all in my hands now. I still have the form posted on the wall in my home.

The commissioning ceremony was held on 2 November 1974 at a pier downstream from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. There are some days in a person’s life when everything goes wrong. But there are also days where everything goes right. This was one of these days.

The commissioning went beautifully. My boss, RADM Wentworth, read the Navy Department orders and declared us to be in commission at which point we hoisted the ensign, jack, and commissioning pennant, I read my orders and assumed command of the ship. The crew then went aboard. Senator Buckley gave his speech. I then turned the podium over to the ship’s sponsor, Gertrude Moinester, and she made a very nice speech in which she declared that she considered herself to be “the mother of the ship.” The ceremony had to be considered successful in all respects and everyone enjoyed themselves very much. It had been an absolutely great day and it symbolized for me personally the motto found on our ship’s crest (designed by the wife of one of my FIT Team members) “The Sea is My Life.”

USS Moinester (DE 1097) (NAVSOURCE)

  • The ships had large, 26-ton bow mounted sonar domes that were 20 ft. in diameter and protruded out laterally and ahead of the stem of the ship. It was absolutely vital that these not be dented or scraped in any manner, particularly in later years when these domes were back-fitted with acoustically transparent rubber “windows” that made the domes even more “tender”.
  • Each ship had only a single screw and rudder. While they responded well to ahead bells because of the propeller discharge against the rudder, they had very poor response to astern bells and the stern would invariably fall off to port.
  • For the above reasons port side landings and starboard side landings had to be approached very differently.
  • The ships had an unusual anchor configuration. They had an 8000 lb. “keel anchor” that dropped unseen from the centerline keel behind the sonar dome. There was also a 4000 lb. “lightweight Danforth style anchor” that was mounted near the bow on the port side of the main deck forecastle.
  • Because the sonar dome was leading the way anywhere the ship transited, increasing the navigational draft of the ship to at least 25 feet. I always required that any channel we passed through had a minimum depth of water of 30 feet.

The most significant decision that had to be made when entering or leaving port was what use to make of the tugs. That all depended totally upon the circumstances. In general, it was necessary to use pilot and tugs whenever we were unfamiliar with the port and in the case of our home port of Norfolk, there were cross currents in the Elizabeth River. In Norfolk, we normally landed bow out and starboard side to while making use of a docking pilot and one or two tugs. We found it useful to drop the port bow anchor on the way into the pier. This allowed us to get underway without assistance by using the anchor to pull the bow out from the pier. Our first underway period took place in January 1975. After a few days of around the clock steaming pier side in order to get the “feel of the ship” we proceeded up the York River to the Naval Weapons Station at Yorktown, VA for our initial weapons loadout. The evolution went quite smoothly. From there, it was off for a very intensive two-month period that included a Weapons System Accuracy Test (WSAT) at Port Everglades, Fla, shakedown training at the American Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO), naval gunfire support qualification at Vieques, and a port visit to Port Au Prince, Haiti. Our shakedown training included a wide variety of exercises. We found that we could we could accomplish most of our daily getting underway and landing evolutions which were mostly starboard side to, with assistance from a pusher boat without needing a pilot or tugs.

Our most memorable experience during this period occurred when we were conducting gunnery exercises with an aircraft towing a target far behind it on a wire. We were heading due east off the south coast of Cuba. All live firing was to be to the south away from the island. After the “cease fire” call at the end of one firing run, the MK 68 gun director officer stated that he had a round still loaded in the gun barrel. This was a fairly common occurrence in the rapid fire, automatically loaded guns, and he requested permission to clear the barrel by firing through the muzzle in a safe direction. However as was standard routine up to that point at GTMO, the director continued to track the aircraft to the north on its way home. When I gave permission to fire that one round, the gun suddenly swung around to the north to align with the director and launched a 5” shell in the general direction of the Cuban mainland. My officer of the deck reported a splash in the water well short of land and I breathed a sigh of relief. I then proceeded to go stark raving mad and began screaming at the director officer and the weapons officer (then LT Charles T. Creekman). It turned out that the gunners mate in the gun mount had closed a switch that caused the gun to align with the director before firing the gun, the normal process when firing at a target but NOT when clearing the barrel! Fortunately, no harm had been done and I calmed down. GTMO changed the exercise procedures for future such firing exercises.

We finished our Operational Readiness Examination at the end of Shakedown Training with an overall grade of 91 out of 100: an “excellent” rating which aptly described our first sustained operational period. We returned home in late March 1975. In April we passed our first Operational Propulsion Plant Examination (OPPE).

In May 1975, we entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a three-month post-shakedown availability (PSA). On completion of PSA, the major event was the installation of the AN/SQR 18 Tactical Towed Array System (TACTAS). This gave us a passive sonar capability by way of a long cable fitted with numerous hydrophones and attached to our SQR 35 variable depth sonar towed body or “fish” – which permitted us to stream the array up to 600 feet deep for best acoustic performance. The towed array’s purpose was to detect submarines at long ranges by listening for the broadband and discrete tonal frequencies emitted by the submarines propulsion system.

In August we formed a new anti-submarine warfare (ASW) squadron (DESRON 10) with the following members:

  • USS Moinester (FF1097) – Flagship – With TACTAS and helo
  • USS Connole (FF 1056) – with TACTAS and helo
  • USS Voge (FF 1047)- with ASW Tactical Data System (ASWTDS) and helo
  • USS Koelsch (FF 1049) – with ASWTDS and helo
  • USS McCloy (FF 1038) – with SQR 15 TASS (towed array sonar system), a critical angle towed array, much longer than our TACTAS but not as easily maneuverable as our array.

Each ship, with the exception of McCloy, was fitted with a LAMPS Mk. 1 Seasprite (SH-2) helicopter along with an appropriate aviation support detachment. The helicopters were an essential part of the ASW team. On occasion, we conducted ASW exercises in company with a P-3 ASW aircraft and US submarines (SSN) in direct support.

From that point on in the succeeding months leading up to deployment, our primary function was the technical and operational evaluation of our new equipment and conduct of ASW exercises. Our first stop was at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) range, which was located in the Bahamas. The tests went quite well and we were ready for more exercises.

When I entered the navy in 1956 a big concern was that the Soviets had developed submarines that could outrun our destroyers and destroyer escorts. It soon became obvious that this problem could be overcome through the use of passive sonar detection and tracking. If a submarine tried to go fast to evade, it would light up the ocean and our helicopter would easily keep up with it. At the time this was a significant development in ASW.

As we were now the flagship of the ASW Squadron we had to provide accommodations for our squadron commander, Captain Don Cannell, COMDESRON 10 and his staff. The next few months remained very busy as they included more ASW exercises, an operational evaluation (OPEVAL), a nuclear weapons acceptance inspection (NWAI), our second successful OPPE, naval gunfire support (NGFS) qualifications, and a variety of other activities as we completed a Caribbean exercise (CARIBBEX 2-76) as our final evolution before deployment .

In April 1976, the ASW Squadron deployed to the Mediterranean as a group where we would serve as a unit of the Sixth Fleet. After INCHOP at Rota, Spain we conducted another ASW exercise and then had our first tender availability in Naples, Italy in May. From there we proceeded to the Ionian Sea for more ASW exercises with the USS America carrier task group before mooring in June in Brindisi, Italy.

I was due for rotation in June. My relief, Commander Haig Alemian, arrived by helicopter and the change of command took place at sea on 23 June 1976 after which I was transferred ashore by helicopter. From there I went up to Rome, where I met my family for a tour of Europe.

CDR Alemian actually grew up in the next town to me in Massachusetts. He made a very good impression on everybody. Tragically, he was killed about a year later while still in command of Moinester during the ship’s second deployment in a car crash outside Naples en route to a planning meeting for an upcoming exercise.

This concludes my personal experiences with USS Moinester. However, I still had plenty of connections to the Knox-class ships including the conduct of numerous inspections as a member of the Propulsion Examining Board between 1996 and 1999. When you added up the Knox-class ships that I had either served on or conducted inspections aboard it came out to 25 of the 46-ship class. I was very happy with the performance of all of the people I served with during that period.

In 1991, Moinester was re-designated as a training frigate (FFT) and assigned to reserve training duties in Norfolk. All of the Knox-class frigates were decommissioned between 1991 and 1994. Thirty of the ships were sold or transferred to foreign navies. Moinester is apparently still in service in the Egyptian navy as the frigate Rashid (F966) and USS Jesse Brown (FF 1089) is still serving as the frigate Domyat (F961). Both ships have been in service for over 40 years.

Note that Moinester was the last conventionally-powered combatant ship to enter service in the US Navy powered by oil-fired boilers and steam turbines. All subsequent surface combatants have been powered by gas turbines. The Knox-class frigates were succeeded by the 71 ships of the Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG 7)-class, the first of which entered service in 1977. All ships of this class have now been decommissioned, although 24 are still serving in foreign navies. We hope to follow this posting with one dealing with the Perry class ships.

Avondale shipyard has been closed since 2015 due to lack of business and it is listed for sale on the market.

As can be seen in the following illustration from a 1980s Navy Times feature, Moinester continued to be a leader in all phases of ASW development and was the recipient of numerous awards over the years.

George W. Stewart is a retired US Navy Captain. He is a 1956 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. During his 30-year naval career, he held two ship commands and served a total of 8 years on naval material inspection boards, during which he conducted trials and inspections aboard over 200 naval vessels. Since his retirement from active naval service in 1986 he has been employed in the ship design industry where he has specialized in the development of concept designs of propulsion and powering systems, some of which have entered active service. He currently holds the title of Chief Marine Engineer at Marine Design Dynamics.

Phillip Valdes Navy History

The USS Valdez (FF-1096) is the forty-fifth Knox-class frigate and was built by Avondale Shipyard, Westwego, Louisiana, and originally assigned as a Knox-class destroyer escort (DE-1096). She was propelled by one Westinghouse steam turbine with a total of 35,000 shp. Keel laid 30 June 1972 launched 24 March 1973 sponsored by Mrs Manuelita Valdez (mother of Hospitalman Valdez) and commissioned at Charleston, South Carolina 27 July 1974, CDR Joe D. Peden in command. Decommissioned 16 December 1991 after seventeen years and four months in active, in commission and struck from the Navy Register on 11 January 1995. Valdez is currently assigned to the Security Assistance program, for cash sale and was taken to Charleston, South Carolina for conversion and transfer to Taiwan.

USS Valdez was leased to Taiwan 29 April 1998 and renamed Yi Yang (FF-939). The ship was commissioned 18 October 1999 and is still in service.

USS Valdez (FF-1096)

The USS "Valdez" (FF-1096) is the forty-fifth Sclass|Knox|frigate and was built by Avondale Shipyard, Westwego, Louisiana , and originally assigned as a "Knox"-class destroyer escort (DE-1096). She was propelled by one Westinghouse steam turbine with a total of 35,000 shp. Keel laid 30 June 1972 launched 24 March 1973 sponsored by Mrs Manuelita Valdez (mother of Hospitalman Valdez) and commissioned at Charleston, South Carolina 27 July 1974, CDR Joe D. Peden in command. Decommissioned 16 December 1991 after seventeen years and four months in active, in commission and struck from the Navy Register on 11 January 1995. "Valdez" is currently assigned to the Security Assistance program, for cash sale and was taken to Charleston, South Carolina for conversion and transfer to Taiwan.

USS "Valdez" was leased to Taiwan 29 April 1998 and renamed "Yi Yang" (FF-939). The ship was commissioned 18 October 1999 and is still in service.

With a complement of 245, the "Valdez" is named in honor of Hospitalman Phil Isadore Valdez. Born on 13 April 1946 in Dixon, New Mexico . He graduated from Espanola High School, Espanola, New Mexico . On 1 November 1965 he reported to Recruit Training and then attended Naval Hospital Corps Schools San Diego, California . He was assigned to Naval Hospital Key West, Florida and then on 19 December 1966 transferred to the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force in the Republic of Vietnam , near Danang .

Hospitalman Valdez was killed in action on 29 January 1967 while serving as corpsman with the Third Platoon when that unit was flown in by helicopter to provide support for the embattled Company H, Second Battalion. Upon landing Valdez’ unit came under heavy sniper fire, and several Marines were wounded. Valdez sprang into action running across open land to an injured Marine while being raked by enemy fire. After helping the first Marine to cover and treating his wounds, Valdez returned to the open and rushed to the aid of a second Marine. Positioning himself as to protect the wounded Marine Valdez was mortally wounded by enemy sniper fire. As a result of his exceptional courage he was posthumously advanced in rank to Petty Officer Third Class and awarded the Navy Cross .

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

External links

* [ Naval Vessel Registry - FF1096]
* [ DANFS - Valdez]
* [ Navsource images]

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Look at other dictionaries:

USS Valdez (DE-1096) — USS Valedz (DE/FF 1096) Geschichte Typ Fregatte Kiellegung 30. Juni 1972 … Deutsch Wikipedia

USS Valdez (FF-1096) — USS Valedz (DE/FF 1096) Geschichte Typ Fregatte Kiellegung 30. Juni 1972 … Deutsch Wikipedia

USS Valdez — USS Valedz (DE/FF 1096) Geschichte Typ Fregatte Kiellegung 30. Juni 1972 … Deutsch Wikipedia

USS Badger (DE-1071) — USS Badger (DE/FF 1071) Geschichte Typ Fregatte Kiellegung 17. Februar 1968 … Deutsch Wikipedia

USS Bagley (DE-1069) — USS Bagley (DE/FF 1069) Geschichte Typ Fregatte Kiellegung 22. September 1970 … Deutsch Wikipedia

USS Capodanno — (DE/FF 1093) Geschichte Typ Fregatte Kiellegung 12. Oktober 1971 … Deutsch Wikipedia

USS Capodanno (DE-1093) — USS Capodanno (DE/FF 1093) Geschichte Typ Fregatte Kiellegung 12. Oktober 1971 … Deutsch Wikipedia

USS Knox (DE-1052) — USS Knox (DE/FF 1052) Geschichte Typ Fregatte Kiellegung 5. Oktober 1965 … Deutsch Wikipedia

USS Pharris — (DE/FF 1094) Geschichte Typ Fregatte Kiellegung 11. Februar 1972 … Deutsch Wikipedia

USS Pharris (DE-1094) — USS Pharris (DE/FF 1094) Geschichte Typ Fregatte Kiellegung 11. Februar 1972 … Deutsch Wikipedia

Tranquillity, Solace & Mercy

To date, there have been 43 U.S. Navy ships named after Navy medical personnel--i.e., dentists, hospital corpsmen, nurses, and physicians. Of these ships, 20 are named after hospital corpsmen, 18 after physicians (including three World War II ambulance ships), 4 dentists, and 1 destroyer is named after a Navy nurse, Superintendent Lenah Higbee. For your interest, we have listed these ships below and included a very brief overview of the respective namesake.

Ships named after Navy medical personnel.

USS Benfold (DDG-65)
Commissioned 30 March 1996. Named after Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Edward C. Benfold, USN, KIA Korea, 5 September 1952. (Medal of Honor recipient)

USS Blackwood (DE-219)
Commissioned in December 1943. Named after CDR James D. Blackwood, MC who was KIA while serving in USS Vincennes during the battle of Savo Island, 9 August 1942.

USS Boone (FFG-28)
Commissioned 15 May 1982. Named after Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone, White House physician and pioneer in Navy medicine. (Medal of Honor recipient)

USS Bronstein (DE-189)
Commissioned 13 September 1943. Named after LTJG Ben R. Bronstein, MC, who was KIA while serving aboard the USS Jacob Jones which was sunk by German submarine U-578 off the New Jersey coast, 28 February 1942. There were less than 30 survivors. In 1952, USS Bronstein was transferred to the Republic of Uruguay and renamed the Artigas (DE-2)

USS Caron (DD-970)
Commissioned 1 October 1977. Named after Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Wayne M. Caron, USN, KIA Quang Nam, South Vietnam, 28 July 1968. (Medal of Honor recipient)

USS Crowley (DE-303)
Commissioned 25 March 1944. Named after LCDR Thomas Crowley, DC, who was KIA while serving aboard USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941.

USS Dewert (FFG-45)
Commissioned 19 November 1983. Named after Hospitalman Richard Dewert, USNR, KIA Woju, Korea, 5 April 1951. (Medal of Honor recipient)

USS Durant (DE-389)
Commissioned 16 November 1943. Named for Pharmacist’s Mate 3rd Class Kenneth Durant.

USS Frament (DE-677/APD-77)
Commissioned 15 August 1943. Name after Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class Paul Stanley Frament, USNR, KIA Guadalcanal, 19 November 1942.

USS Grayson (DD-435)
Commissioned 7 August 1940. Named after RADM Cary Travers Grayson physician to President Woodrow Wilson.

USS Gendreau (DE-639)
Commissioned 17 March 1944. Named after CAPT Elphege A. M. Genreau, MC, who was KIA while aboard the LST-343 when it was hit by a Japanese dive-bomber, 21 July 1943.

USS Hammond (DE-1067)
Commissioned 25 July 1970. Named after Hospitalman Francis C. Hammond, USN, KIA Sanee-Dong, Korea, 26 March 1953. (Medal of Honor recipient)

USS Halyburton (FFG-40)
Commissioned 7 January 1984. Named after Pharmacist’s Mate William D. Halyburton, Jr, USNR, KIA Okinawa, 10 May 1945. (Medal of Honor recipient)

USS Heerman (DD-532)
Commissioned 6 July 1943. Named after Surgeon’s Mate Lewis Heermann who was put in command of the ketch Intrepid during the hospitalities with the Barbary States in 1804. Help to authorize the establishment of Navy hospitals.

USS Higbee (DD-806)
Commissioned 13 November 1944. Named after the second Navy nurse superintendent and first woman to receive the Navy Cross while still living.

USS Jobb (DE-707)
Commissioned 4 July 1944. Named after Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class Richard P. Jobb who was KIA on Guadalcanal, 26 January 1943.

USS Joy (DE-585)
Commissioned 28 April 1944. Named after Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class Daniel Joy, USNR, KIA Guadalcanal, 5 October 1942.

USS Kane (DD-235)
Commissioned 11 June 1920. Named after Elisha Kent Kane, the naval officer, physician and explorer who pioneered the American route to the North Pole.
Recommissioned 25 September 1939.

USNS Kane (AGS-27. Redesignated APD-18)
Commissioned 20 November 1965. Named after Elisha Kent Kane, the naval officer, physician and explorer who pioneered the American route to the North Pole.

USS Lester (DE-1022)
Commissioned 14 June 1957. Named after Hospital Apprentice Fred F. Lester, USN, KIA Okinawa 8 June 1945. (Medal of Honor Recipient)

USS Litchfield (DD-336)
Commissioned 12 May 1920. Named after Pharmacist’s Mate 3rd Class John R. Litchfield, USN, KIA France, 15 September 1918.

USS Liddle (DE-206)
Ship was laid down and named Liddle, but never commissioned in the U.S. Navy. She was launched 31 May 1943 and transferred to the United Kingdom as HMS Bligh (K-467). Ship was to be named after Hospital Apprentice First Class W.A. Liddle, Jr., KIA in Guadalcanal, 19 August 1942.

USS Longshaw (DD-559)
Commissioned 4 December 1943. Named after William Longshaw, Jr., a 25-year-old Assistant Surgeon who was killed in action during the Civil War while administering to the wounded in an attack on Fort Fisher, NC, 15 January 1865.

USS Miles (DE-183)
Commissioned 4 November 1943. Named after LTJG Samuel S. Miles, MC, KIA on Tulagi, Soloman Islands, 7 August 1942.

USS O’Reilly (DE-330)
Commissioned 28 December 1943. Named after Edward J. O’Reilly, DC, who was KIA while serving aboard USS Astoria, off Guadalcanal, 26 August 1942.

USS Osborne (DD-295)
Commissioned 17 May 1920. Named after LTJG Weedon Osborne DC, who was KIA in the Chateau Thierry area, France while attending to the wounded, 8 May 1917. (Medal of Honor recipient)

USS Parker (DE-369)
Commissioned 25 October 1944. Named after Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class Thaddeus Parker, USN, KIA New Georgia, 20 July 1943.

USS Pinkney (APH-2)
Commissioned November 1942. Named after Medical Director Ninian Pinkney, who is best known for his service as Fleet Surgeon in the Mississippi River Squadron, during the Civil War (1861-1865). In September 1946, Pinkney was transferred to U.S. Army Transportation Service and renamed Private Elden H. Johnson.

USS Rall (DE-304)
Commissioned 8 April 1944. Named after LTJG Richard R. Rall, MC, who was KIA while serving aboard the USS Pennsylvania at Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941.

USS Ray (DD-971)
Commissioned 19 November 1977. Named after Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class David R. Ray, USN, KIA An Hoa, Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam, 28 July 1968. (Medal of Honor recipient)

USS Ringness (DE-590. Redesignated APD-100)
Commissioned 25 October 1944. Named after LT Henry R. Ringness, MC, KIA Guadalcanal, 17 October 1942.

USS Rixey (APH-3)
Commissioned February 1943. Named after former Navy Surgeon General, and medical inspector, RADM Presley M. Rixey. In March 1946, Rixey was transferred to U.S. Army Transportation Service and renamed Private William H. Thomas.

USS Tatum (APD-81)
Commissioned on 22 November 1943. Named after LCDR Laurice Aldridge Tatum, DC, USNR who died aboard the USS Wasp (CV-7) after the ship was hit by an enemy torpedo on 29 May 1942.

USS Tucker (DD-875)
Commissioned on 12 March 1945. Named for Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class Henry W. Tucker (1919�) who was killed in action during the battle of the Coral Sea on 7 May 1942 and posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

USS Tryon (APH-1)
Commissioned 30 September 1942. Named after COMMO James R. Tryon, MC, who served as Navy Surgeon General 1893 to 1897. In 17 July 1947, Tryon was transferred to U.S. Army Transportation Service and renamed Charles E. Mower.

USS Valdez (DE-1096)
Commissioned 27 July 1974. Named after Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Phil I. Valdez, USN, KIA Danang, South Vietnam, 29 January 1967.

USS Walter Wann (DE-412)
Commissioned 2 May 1944. Named after Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class Walter C. Wann, USN, KIA, Guadalcanal, 7 August 1942.

USS Jack Williams (FFG-24)
Commissioned 19 September 1981. Named for Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class Jack Williams, USNR, KIA Iwo Jima, 3 March 1945. (Medal of Honor Recipient)

USS John Willis (DE-1027)
Commissioned 21 February 1957. Named for Pharmacist’s Mate 1st Class John Harlan Willis, USN, KIA Iwo Jima, 28 February 1945. (Medal of Honor Recipient)

USS Wood (DE-287)
Construction of this vessel was cancelled before completion. Ship was to be named after COMMO William M. Wood, the first Chief of the Medical Corps to hold the title of Surgeon General (1871).

USS Wood (DD-317)
Commissioned 28 January 1920. Named after COMMO William M. Wood, the first Chief of the Medical Corps to hold the title of Surgeon General (1871).

USS Wood (DD-715)
Commissioned 24 November 1945. Named after COMMO William M. Wood, the first Chief of the Medical Corps to hold the title of Surgeon General (1871).

USS Woods (DE-721. Redesignated APD-118)
Commissioned 28 May 1945. Named after Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Don O. Woods, KIA in Gavutu, Solomon Islands, 8 August 1942.

The pull of New Mexico's land, history

Quade’s family is white on her father’s side, while her mother is from a Hispanic family that has been in New Mexico for centuries. “My grandmother’s home in Santa Fe was always home base for my family, the place that we consistently returned to,” she said.

“People feel very attached to the land,” said Quade, speaking about New Mexico. “What draws me to it is the deep sense of history, a deep sense of family history. People tend to romanticize New Mexico, but there is a lot of pain and conflict in the land. The sense of history is still really palpable.”

The state’s unique mixture of Native American, Mexican, Spanish and Southwestern culture has long attracted writers such as Willa Cather, D.H. Lawrence, and Thornton Wilder. It has equally inspired Latino writers such as Ana Castillo, Pat Mora, Demetria Martinez, and J.C. Cervantes (author of the Storm Runner trilogy for young adults). The late Rudolfo Anaya, known as the “godfather of Chicano literature,” lived and worked in New Mexico.

Nearly half (48 percent) of New Mexico’s population is Latino, according to the Pew Center, the highest share of any state.

“Artistically, there is so much happening here because we live in the borderlands, in this liminal space that goes back and forth between two worlds,” the performance artist Denise Chávez, who is based in Las Cruces, said. “People think New Mexico is all skiing, green chiles and Santa Fe charm, but we are much more than that we are a fusion of the old world and the new, the past and the present, and this richness is a constant source of creativity.”

There is a kind of fearlessness in New Mexico writers, Chávez believes, because the region has its share of problems and poverty. “We are people who have struggled.”

Chávez, author of “Loving Pedro Infante,” noted that “Latino writers of New Mexico have a sense of respect and dignity for our landscape, our people, our culture and those who have come before us.” She described Quade’s writing as “wonderful and interesting . startling and painful.”

According to Valerie Martínez, history and literary arts program director at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, “So many writers either move here, or are from here, but they are captivated by the landscape of the state. Their work is imbued with our history of colonialism and conquest, both by Spain and then by the U.S. government.”

“We have a deep and long history of storytelling, starting with the oral traditions of the Native peoples,” she said. “Ever since then, the sky, the water, the land, and identity and culture have fascinated New Mexican writers.”

Martínez pointed out that New Mexico’s literary tradition “literally goes back to the beginning.”

Fray Alonso de Benavides, a Franciscan friar, was sending written reports about New Mexico to the King of Spain in the 17th century. Cleofas Jaramillo wrote books about preserving traditional Spanish folklore in the 1930s. Nina Otero-Warren, the first Latina to run for U.S. Congress, wrote a book on the Southwest in 1936. And these days, Martínez added, there is an “incredibly vibrant” spoken word/poetry slam community in Albuquerque.

For her part, Quade is adjusting to virtually promoting her novel and hoping that her characters resonate with readers. “We just never know what will strike a chord with a reader. This story has lived with me so long, and I’m glad that people are taking all kinds of things from it.”

“I hope that readers are moved, and that they laugh as well,” she said. “This is a story about healing and connection, and I hope readers root for the characters.”

Raul A. Reyes, a lawyer, is a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors. He has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Texas Monthly and the Huffington Post.

El Teatro Campesino

Since its inception, El Teatro Campesino and its founder and artistic director, Luis Valdez, have set the standard for Latino theatrical production in the United States. Founded in 1965 on the Delano Grape Strike picket lines of Cesar Chavez’s United Farmworkers Union, the company created and performed “actos” or short skits on flatbed trucks and in union halls. Taking the “actos” on tour to dramatize the plight and cause of the farmworkers, El Teatro Campesino was honored in 1969 with an Obie Award for “demonstrating the politics of survival” and with the Los Angeles Drama Critics Award in 1969 and 1972.

In 1971, the company moved to San Juan Bautista, a rural town of 1,600 people located on the periphery of the major metropolitan centers of Northern California. In the summer of 1973, legendary British theater director Peter Brook and his Paris-based company, The International Centre of Theater Research, participated in an eight-week experimental workshop with the company in San Juan Bautista culminating in a joint venture performing throughout farmworker communities in the San Joaquin Valley.

In 1976, El Teatro Campesino launched an extended European tour starting at the Popular Comic Theatre Festival in Nancy, France and made its way through eight western European countries to critical and public acclaim. Over the years, the company toured the United States, and Mexico, and made six major tours throughout Europe.

During the 70’s, the company evolved a series of plays termed “The Miracle, Mystery, and Historical Cycle of San Juan Bautista.” During the Holiday season, the miracle play of the four apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe called “La Virgen del Tepeyac” and the traditional shepherds play, “La Pastorela,” are still performed in the Old Mission of San Juan Bautista on alternate years.

In 1977, a Rockefeller Foundation Grant enabled El Teatro Campesino Artistic Director Luis Valdez, to create for the Mark Taper Forum “Zoot Suit,” one of the most successful plays ever to originate in Los Angeles, playing to critical and popular acclaim to close to half a million people. Mounted on the New York stage by the Shubert Organization, “Zoot Suit” became the first play by a Latino to be presented on Broadway. The motion picture version for Universal Pictures, directed by Valdez, received the prestigious foreign press association’s Golden Globe Award nomination for “Best Musical Picture.”

In 1981, the Teatro acquired a warehouse and converted it into its new playhouse. The company began experimenting with the relationship between music, dance, and theater. The subsequent musical theatre production of “Corridos” (based on Mexican folk ballads) played to sold-out houses in San Juan Bautista and eventually moved to the Marines Memorial Theater in San Francisco, where it was awarded eleven Bay Area Theater Critics Awards including Best Musical.

In 1986, El Teatro Campesino joined forces with the Los Angeles Theater Center for the premiere of Luis Valdez’ comedy, “I Don’t Have To Show You No Stinking Badges”. The production received critical acclaim and enjoyed a successful six-month run.

In 1987, Valdez wrote and directed “La Bamba”, the Ritchie Valens story, for Columbia Pictures. That same year, he adapted his critically acclaimed play, “Corridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution” for PBS Television in association with El Teatro Campesino. It won the coveted and prestigious George Peabody Award.

In 1991, El Teatro Campesino produced its first feature-length film, “La Pastorela: A Shepherd’s Tale” written and directed by Luis Valdez for PBS Great Performances Series. It aired internationally on the United Kingdom’s Channel Four and on Spain’s TVE Television Espanola and quickly became a staple of Holiday programming on the Telemundo Network.

In 1993-94, Luis Valdez co-wrote and directed “The Cisco Kid” for a Turner Network Television (TNT) production in Mexico. That year El Teatro Campesino launched their first AT&T On Stage production by presenting Valdez’ “Bandido! The American Melodrama of Tiburcio Vasquez, Notorious California Bandit” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

In 1996, a whole new generation of young Teatro artists began experimenting with live and electronic theater, producing revisionist versions of classics such as Antonin Artaud’s “The Cenci”, Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu Roi,” Bertolt Brecht’s “The Measures Taken” and the entire cannon of Luis Valdez, beginning with his first play “The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa.”

In 1999, El Teatro Campesino opened its own multimedia digital center in an effort to reach new audiences. “Ballad of Soldier,” written and directed by Kinan Valdez and produced by Anahuac Valdez, became El Teatro Campesino’s first fully independent feature. The film, based on Luis Valdez’ anti-war play “Soldado Razo,” toured the film festival circuit for a year, garnering numerous indie awards, including the “Gran Premio” at CineFestival in San Antonio, Texas.

In 2000, Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino began an extended association with the San Diego Repertory Theater to develop and create new works for a growing multicultural audience. Over a five year period, Luis Valdez wrote and directed two new world premieres, “Mummified Deer” (2000) and “Earthquake Sun” (2004), and collaborated with his son Kinan on a third production, “Corridos REMIX” (2005).

In 2002-2003, El Teatro Campesino produced a 25th Anniversary production of Luis Valdez’ hit play, “Zoot Suit”. The wildly successful revival ran for nearly a year, and launched on a U.S. Southwestern Tour in 2004, becoming the genesis for an emerging new generation.

By 2006, El Teatro Campesino had returned to its roots as an ensemble theater company committed to generating social change through the arts. A new enthusiastic generation, under the direction of Kinan Valdez, began training in the classic ETC style and creating new works to explore the changing multicultural face of the Americas.

Whereas the previous generations had engaged in the ancient mythology of indigenous America, the new ensemble explored the commonalities among world mythologies. Whereas the previous generations had engaged in American farmworker labor struggles, the new ensemble embraced worldwide contemporary struggles such as growing corporate control and the environmental movement.

As ETC charges forward toward our 6oth year as a company, we recognize our current reality as a reflection of the injustices, especially in the United States, against black, Indigenous and people of color. The reality of living through a devastating pandemic, the ongoing struggle for equality for black and brown lives, the economic devastation for marginalized communities, and the current administration’s explicit actions to harm our communities is even more reason for us to charge forward into an uncertain future, with the knowledge that our history informs us, and our passion and commitment to artistic excellence and the pursuit for a socially just and equal society impels us to share our message with the world.

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