MINUTES OF THE ROTARY MEETING
May 6, 2021
By Dr. Leona O. Rowan
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by Claire McCarron, President of the Rotary Club of Mobile, at 12:15 p.m.
Invocation: Stephanie Streeter offered the invocation.
Pledge and Welcome: Tommy Blankenship led the members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and welcomed members’ guests.
Announcements: Claire reminded everyone of the Founders’ Day cruise event on May 14th. May 10th is the last day to purchase tickets for the dinner cruise.
Program: Garrett Williamson introduced the guest speaker, Gen. Janet L. Cobb, Executive Director of the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. She enlisted in the US Army Reserve in 1974 and, in 1978, was commissioned Second Lieutenant, Signal Corps, from the University of Alabama ROTC program. Many years later, in 2017, Gen. Cobb was inducted into the Inaugural University of Alabama ROTC Hall of Fame.
During her years in the Army, Janet commanded at the detachment, battalion, brigade, directorate/brigadier general and major general levels. Her deployments include post-Desert Storm operations at the Ports of Al Jubayl and Ab Dammam, Saudi Arabia and Operation Iraqi Freedom port operations in Kuwait. In 2012, she served in the Pentagon on the Army Staff as Deputy G-4. Her final assignment was Commanding General 81st Regional Support Command, Fort Jackson, South Carolina and Senior Commander, US Army Garrison Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. Janet retired from the US Army in 2016 with 42 years of service. Her decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service Medal.
Janet holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama, an M.S.S. from the US Army War College, and a J.D. degree from Cumberland School of Law.
Her presentation was on the history of the S.S. Drum, a museum ship located at Battleship Memorial Park. The Drum (SS-228) is a Gato-class submarine of the United States Navy, the first Navy ship named after the drum. The Drum was laid down in 1940 at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, and commissioned in 1941. Though it was the twelfth of the Gato class, it was the first to be completed and the first to enter combat in World War II. She is the oldest of her class still in existence.
The Drum was decommissioned in 1946 and in 1947, she began service in Washington, D.C. to members of the Naval Reserve in the Potomac River Naval Command, which continued through 1967. Then she was in the inactive fleet at Norfolk, Virginia until 1969. It was during that time that Bob Edington became involved in obtaining the SS Drum for Mobile.
So, the Drum was donated to the USS Alabama Battleship Commission in 1969. She was towed to Battleship Alabama Memorial Park later that year and was dedicated and opened to the public on July 4, 1969. It was moored in the waters behind the USS Alabama until she was substantially damaged by Hurricane Georges in 1998. As a result, she is now on display on shore. The U.S.S. Alabama and Drum also sustained damage when Hurricane Katrina hit the area in 2005. It is interesting to note that most of the funding for repairs and maintenance of the submarine comes from a community of American Submarine Veterans.
By 2015, the Drum’s restoration included the complete rebuilding of part of the bow and stern sections and the installation of new I-beams inside the ballast tanks to support the submarine’s overall weight. The submarine was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Today, visitors from all over the world tour the Drum and learn about the significant role she played during WWII.
After questions from the floor were answered, Claire thanked Janet for speaking to our club and presented her a certificate noting that a donation has been made in her honor to the “Reach Out and Read” literacy initiative.
Closing Remarks and Adjournment: Claire announced member birthdays and reminded everyone the meeting next week will include guest speaker, Jorge Ribeiro, CEO of AM/NS Calvert. Claire adjourned the meeting at approximately 12:50 p.m.
MINUTES OF THE ROTARY MEETING