Currently viewing the tag: "U.S. Navy"

Navy Vet Tony Ruopoli

by Richard D. L. Fulton

From Beirut to Eritrea

Soon-to-retire and highly decorated Frederick County Deputy, Tony Ruopoli (pictured right), served in the U.S. Navy and has been confronting the “bad guys” for more than four decades, from Lebanon to the highways of Frederick County.

Emmitsburg resident Ruopoli served in the Navy from 1980 until his retirement in 2002. He has served in missions from Lebanon to Somalia to Eritrea, as well as at home, which included recovering a valuable, prototype aircraft involved in a fatal crash in the Potomac River.

Ruopoli, who enlisted in the Navy when he was 17, was initially assigned in 1980 to serve on the U.S.S. Spruance as a mechanical engineer, working on hydraulics and the ship’s diesel engine.

He was serving aboard the Spruance, which was stationed off Lebanon in 1983, as the Lebanese war was erupting, and was present when the U.S.S. New Jersey engaged the enemy, firing her heavy guns for the first time since Vietnam at hostile positions in Beirut.

Also in 1983, Ruopoli was assigned to the U.S.S. Halyburton.  While serving on the Halyburton, Ruopoli was aboard when the ship was dispatched to Granada in October 1983 to support the Marine assault that resulted in the liberation of 36 American students that were being held as hostages by the Grenadian militia. 

During 1985, Ruopoli was assigned to Assault Craft Unit II, a unit that was involved in the invasion of Panama, which ultimately resulted in the surrender of Dictator Manuel Noriega. While with the unit, he was made chief engineer and became the first engineer to qualify as craft master.

Ruopoli was subsequently transferred to the Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit II (MDSU) after having been trained as a Navy diver. When Iran invaded Kuwait in 1991, Ruopoli found himself and other members of MDSU deployed in support of the ensuing military response.

A less pugnacious incident he was assigned was the salvage of a prototype V-22 Osprey (a “tilt-rotor” aircraft), which had crashed on July 21, 1992, into the Potomac River. “We got called to recover the aircraft,” Ruopoli said. By dusk, Ruopoli and his fellow divers had begun recovering pieces of the craft and the bodies of the crew members.

The year 1993 found Ruopoli enroute to Mogadishu, Somalia, to support Seal Teams 2, 4, and 6 in retrieving the remains of the Black Hawk helicopter that had been shot down by Somali militia (subject of the movie Black Hawk Down).

Ruopoli was then assigned to the Navy Medical Research Institute (NMRI) in 1994 to participate in developing protocols for civilian and Navy divers and to help with experimenting with gas mixtures for divers’ tanks. He was also made chief petty officer.

Ruopoli also became involved in recovering debris and bodies from the wreckage of TWA Flight 800, which had exploded and crashed into the Atlantic in 1996 off Long Island, New York. He said the recovery was especially emotional and difficult for him since “a lot of them [victims] were those of kids who were on the plane on a field trip to France.”

When the Eritrean–Ethiopian War broke out in 1998, Ruopoli and other members of his unit were deployed as part of a United Nations operation in an attempt to “assist Eritrea in becoming its own nation and (in assuring) a peaceful separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia,” he said. 

Ruopoli retired from the Navy in 2002, and then attended and completed the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) Academy, becoming a deputy sheriff, a position he continues to hold until he retires in September.

He has received citations (including medals for valor) for numerous acts of heroism while on and off duty, having saved several lives over the years, including an individual rescued from her burning home. As part of his duties with FCSO, he predominantly patrolled the north county, with some of his time on the force devoted to accident reconstruction.

Following his retirement, Ruopoli and his wife, Brenda, intend to continue with their development business, Cherry Blossom Properties.

by Priscilla Rall

The mission of the “Silent Service” is to “Seek, Find, and Destroy.” 

Raymond Lloyd, from near Ladiesburg, lived that mission during WWII. He started in humble beginnings, born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, to Raymond and Mary Catherine Neller Lloyd in 1921. He was the oldest of three children. His father was a machinist, but during the Great Depression, he found little work. Mary Catherine slaved at a clothing manufacturing plant, sometimes returning home in tears as the work was so hard. The family ate a lot of hominy and mush. Raymond was often sent to the store with an empty jar to get filled with dark molasses for five cents rather than the six-cents lighter variety. Sometimes, the family lacked the money to pay the electric bill and their power was cut off. They made money nipping green beans for the canning factory. They would get several large bags of beans and sit in the yard, nipping off the ends. Mary Catherine bought lots of oatmeal, as the boxes had dishes in the bottom and she prized those. In those days, Hanover had no sewage system and everyone had outhouses! There were no buses to take students to school. So, when the snow was deep, Raymond’s mother wrapped newspaper around his legs and tied them in place with twine. To help his family, young Raymond helped deliver milk, getting up at 2:30 a.m. to put the milk jars on porches and collect the empties. He also had a newspaper route in the afternoon, riding his bicycle around town. Raymond graduated from high school in 1939 and first started working with his father in a machine shop. Then, Raymond went to York, Pennsylvania, to a munitions plant, making 20-mm guns, working 7 days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day.

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor immediately changed the United States. Raymond was upset about it, as were all Americans. He decided to join the U.S. Navy, although his parents were not too happy about his decision. He went to Baltimore and enlisted for six years. After six weeks of basic training, Raymond volunteered for the submarine service. His first test was to hold his breath for two minutes. After passing that test, he was sent to New London, Connecticut, where a psychiatrist examined him. After that, Raymond was tested to see if he could endure 52 pounds of pressure. Then it was off to a huge water tank, 100-feet deep. To pass, one had to be able to go up 100 feet without going too fast and getting the bends. Passing that difficult test, he was off to sub-school and became Seaman 2nd Class. After a number of boring assignments, he finally was assigned to a submarine, the USS Gunnel, which was just back from North Africa and led by Captain McCain, the father of the late Senator John McCain. It held 72 enlisted men and 7 officers. Lloyd’s job was to man the periscope shears and look out for anything in the air or sea and report immediately to the captain. After three days, the Gunnel left for war patrol. His parents knew nothing about his assignment or even the name of the submarine.

The Gunnel left New London and went south through the Panama Canal, then on to Pearl Harbor, and finally to Midway Island. Lloyd’s position had him high in the air, and if the captain ordered the boat to dive, he had 15 seconds to get down the hatch before it was closed. The Gunnel was sent to the Yellow Sea and Tokyo Bay. Their mission: to seek, find, and destroy any and all enemy shipping. Once Raymond sighted a camouflaged Japanese plane flying low, and he gave the warning. Raymond got through the hatch in time and the boat dove. Then, they heard a number of depth charges go off. The sub escaped unharmed. Another time, the boat’s sonar picked up a signal, and Lloyd saw a light on the horizon. He reported this to the captain, who fired three torpedoes. One hit and exploded, but the other two didn’t explode. The Navy was plagued with defective Mark 14 torpedoes, which they blamed on the captains’ errors. At least two subs were destroyed by their own torpedoes, which made a U-turn and sunk the American subs. Captain McCain then fired two more torpedoes, but only one exploded. The Japanese freighter started sinking as its crew began firing at the Gunnel.

Later, the Gunnel picked up two heavily loaded ships on radar, riding low in the water, plus three destroyer escorts. From the surface, the Gunnel fired four torpedoes, running according to the captain, “hot, straight, and normal.” Then, someone yelled, “Oh my God, they are leaving a smokescreen.” The Gunnel started to dive as the torpedo hit the freighter, and it exploded. The enemy destroyers started dropping depth charges, and the diving officer told the captain, “We’re in trouble.” The sub submerged to 300 feet, as depth charges exploded on both sides of the boat. They knocked out the lighting system, and the Gunnel starting springing leaks. Lloyd said that they stayed submerged for “hours and hours,” as the captain ordered “silent running.” They had almost used up their battery power and oxygen when the captain ordered her to surface. Lloyd immediately climbed the periscope shears and sighted two enemy ships, and he fired two torpedoes “shot right down the throat.” One ship exploded into pieces as the Gunnel submerged. This turned into a harrowing time for the Gunnel’s crew as they could hear what sounded like grappling hooks sliding over the Gunnel, trying to grab her and bring her to the surface. They stayed submerged for two days. The temperature in the boat was 120 degrees, the emergency oxygen was about empty, and they had just enough battery power to get to the surface. Cpt. McCain called a meeting of all the crew. “We have two choices: we can surface, then flood the ship and take our chances that we’ll be rescued, or we can surface with our battle crew ready and all guns on deck.” With one voice the crew answered, “We’ll fight it out!” So, they surfaced, ready to do battle…but the seas were empty! A heavy fog concealed their position, and they slowly crept away back to Midway.

After a 30-day pass home, Raymond returned to the Gunnel, and they left port, going south of Tokyo Bay. One night, they picked up a target and moved in. Firing torpedoes, they hit and sunk the enemy ship, but suddenly there was a destroyer heading straight for the Gunnel. Diving quickly, they counted 30-depth charges as they took to “silent running.” After things got quiet, they went to the surface and found another target, a high-masted trawler; it could be a trap. As Lloyd was on the periscope shear, he saw strange bubbles coming straight towards the Gunnel. “My God, it’s a torpedo… My God it’s another!” McCain immediately shouted, “All ahead flank rudder.” The crew watched as the torpedoes went past them, only feet away from the sub. Much later, Lloyd was given credit for saving the crew and the sub with his sharp eyes.

Lloyd was now Yeoman 1st Class, and he spent five months on Midway, keeping track of crew members and doing office work. What he remembers most is the gooney birds, or albatrosses, on the island. His next assignment was in San Francisco, censoring letters. He was then sent to Philadelphia for sub maintenance on the USS Moray, which was getting ready to be commissioned. When she was ready, Raymond sailed on her, again through the Panama Canal and on to Saipan, where they were put on lifeguard duty, picking up any airplane crew that had gone down. But, then they located a target, fired two torpedoes, and hit dead on. The freighter exploded in a ball of fire!

Then, it was back to Midway to keep a lane clear for the scheduled invasion of Japan. The atom bombs made that unnecessary, and Raymond was finally cleared to go home, except for a pesky x-ray that revealed that he had T.B. He then spent 11 months in a Navy hospital before it cleared up. His son, Jim, was born while he was in the hospital. Tragically, his first wife developed multiple sclerosis and soon passed away.

Back home, Raymond decided he wanted to go to college. First, he went to Gettysburg College and then to Johns Hopkins. Eventually, he began work as the assistant commissioner, Division of Labor and Industry, retiring after 16 years. He married Evelyn in 1953, and they moved into a home they built near Ladiesburg.

Raymond certainly followed the mission of the submarine corps to seek, find, and destroy. Few Americans know how much the submarines did to win the war in the Pacific. Fifty-two submarines were lost and 3,600 sailors did not survive. Out of four submariners, only three returned home. Remember the Silent Service when you celebrate our victory in WWII. They certainly deserve our praise.

Courtesy Photos

Raymond Lloyd

The USS Gunnel

Insignia for the USS Moray

Come to the Shrine and pray for servicemen and women at the Annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services on Sunday, October 6, 2019, in Emmitsburg. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the Patroness of the Sea Services, which include the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and Public Health Service. The late Cardinal John J. O’Connor advocated for her designation as the Patroness of the Sea Services in 1977, when he served as the Navy Chief of Chaplains. The Mass will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Michael C. Barber, SJ, the current Bishop of Oakland, California, and who also served for many years as a chaplain in the Naval Reserve.

“It will be a very special honor to have Bishop Barber, who recently retired from the Navy Chaplain Corps with his broad background of military service, join us for the annual Pilgrimage,” said retired Admiral William J. Fallon, chair of the Pilgrimage Sponsoring Committee. “Bishop Barber has served with our Navy and Marine Corps in many places around the world, including a deployment to the Middle East during the war in Iraq and also on aircraft carriers and with Marine units. He’s provided spiritual guidance to numerous deployed servicemen and women in a variety of circumstances, and we will be so pleased to welcome him to the Pilgrimage.”

“We’re grateful for all of the servicemen and women who’ve taken part in the Pilgrimage over the years,” said Rob Judge, executive director of the Seton Shrine. “It’s a prayerful and moving time for them to join with their family members and others in thanking Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton for her protection and to ask for her continued intercession on their behalf as they serve our country.”

The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, and a co-sponsor of the Pilgrimage said “This annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine is to be commended. With two sons serving in the Sea Services, Elizabeth Ann Seton is a fine example of sacrifice, service, and love for our country and its people.”

The Pilgrimage Mass will take place at 3:00 p.m. on October 6, in the Basilica at the Seton Shrine, located at 339 South Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg.

A complimentary dinner will be provided afterward to all in attendance. If you would like to attend, please contact Rob Judge at 301-447-6037 or through email at

Cameron Rogers

Members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and Public Health Services were recognized at the annual Pilgrimage for the Sea Services Mass on October 2, 2016, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., and son of a ship captain, celebrated the Mass. It was organized, among others, by retired Adm. William Fallon. Hymns were sung by the Catholic Choir from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

The story of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who converted after traveling to Italy with her ailing husband, is familiar. The widow underwent many hardships, but founded the Sisters of Charity, schools and orphanages. She died in 1821 and was canonized as the first American-born saint in 1975.

Less well known is that two of her sons, Richard and William, served on the USS Cyane and USS Macedonian, respectively. Her devotion to them led then-Monsignor John O’Connor, a former Navy admiral and chaplain who would go on to become the cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York, to lead the effort to have her named “Patroness of the Sea” in the late 1970s.

Admiral Fallon, whose education includes a Catholic high school in New Jersey and Villanova University, said Mother Seton’s work and entombment at the shrine that bears her name made it a natural location for the acknowledgement of those who serve at sea.

“They face a lot of dangers,” he said, of the U.S. armed forces. “It’s good to pay tribute to them.”

During his homily, similarly, Cardinal McCarrick spoke of Mother Seton’s dedication to her sons in the Navy, and praised the service of the men and women in the armed forces.

“I see a group of people who love their country,” he said. “We are not alone in wanting peace around the world.”

Almost every pew in the shrine’s basilica was occupied. A Joint Ceremonial Color Guard led the opening procession, and remained at attention for the National Anthem. The Knights of Columbus Brute Council 1860, based in Emmitsburg, also participated in the Mass.

Afterward, worshipers conversed while enjoying a courtesy dinner provided by the shrine’s staff.

James Cotter of Vienna, Va., retired U.S. Air Force, came on a bus with other pilgrims. He described the Mass as “wonderful” and expressed his enthusiasm for seeing Cardinal McCarrick.

“It’s a really good ceremony, it always has been,” said Michael Weaver, an Army veteran from Gettysburg, Pa., who attended with his daughter, Michelle. “Mother Seton kind of brought the religion to the region.”

Joy and John Murray, a couple from Lanham, said that they thought the Pilgrimage Mass was “beautiful.” They come to the shrine every year for it.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Michelle Rodriguez, who went to the Mass with her father Michael. “It’s interesting to be able to walk around the places a saint walked.”

Carol Birzer, a Navy veteran, spoke highly of the Catholic Choir from the Naval Academy, which had not sung in the previous Pilgrimage for the Sea Masses she had attended at the shrine.

“It’s nice knowing we had a saint here,” said Birzer, of the grounds where Mother Seton she lived and taught.

Tony DiIulio, the program director at the shrine, said he hoped the site’s beauty and history continue to draw people.

“I see (Mother Seton) as a model parent,” he said. “I also think, for anyone who has hard times, she’s a model on how to remain faithful and committed to the Lord.”

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