Tampa Chapter

Sons of the American Revolution

Meeting Notice and News, January 2011



            Our next meeting will be held on January 15th in the private meeting room of the Piccadilly Cafeteria, located at 11810 Dale Mabry Highway North, Tampa, Florida (813-963-1660). Meetings begin at noon but members arrive as early as 11:30 for a time of camaraderie.

Charles Klug will offer us "A Brief History of the Port of Tampa" - a pictorial presentation of the evolution of port activity from Ft. Brooke to the present. Charles is the Deputy Port Director for Administration and Port Counsel for the Tampa Port Authority. The Port of Tampa is the largest economic engine in west-central Florida and one of the largest cruise ports in the U.S.  The port is responsible for nearly 100,000 direct and induced jobs and $8 billion in annual economic impact. We’ll also be installing our 2011 officers. Remember guests are welcome!

Below are a number of other items that may be of interest to you. Thanks for taking the time to look them over.




Kevin Yarnell

Secretary, Tampa Chapter


Our Joint Meeting with the C.A.R.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our December meeting with the Fort Brooke Chapter of the C.A.R. As usual, our camera crew got some great shots of the meeting.



At the right: Vice President Yarnell presented Charlene Herried with the SAR Medal of Appreciation in appreciation for all her work with the C.A.R. and her cooperation with our Chapter.




John Skillman with Edna Broylen, DAR Regent


Update on Bear Marler

Barry “Bear” Marler is member of our chapter and on active duty. His mother attended our December meeting and sent this update.

“Saturday (Jan. 8) he'll be leaving for Spokane for a months survival training and then
will be reporting to Warner Robbins near
Macon Ga. where he'll be for the next 6 years”


The Last Naval Battle Ceremonies Will Be Held On Saturday March 5, 2011

The 228th Anniversary of the Last Naval Battle of the American Revolution will once again take place at the Canaveral Port Authority Administration Bldg., 445 Challenger Road, Cape Canaveral, FL. We will be assembling at 9:15am and our parade will step-off at EXACTLY 10am. In case of rain the ceremonies will be held inside.

            The event is sponsored by the Florida Society SAR and hosted by the Brevard Chapter SAR along with the local chapters of the DAR.

The Last Naval Battle commemoration is a SAR National Color Guard event, that recognizes the March 10, 1783 naval battle fought offshore of Cape Canaveral, Florida. Capt. John Barry of the Continental Navy Ship Alliance was victorious over HMS Sybil, thereby saving the transport ship Duc de Lauzon and her cargo of much-needed funds headed for the Continental Congress.

We are pleased to announce that Tim McGrath will be our keynote speaker. Mr. McGrath is the author of the new book “John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail” (640 pp. / 51 illus., Westholme Publishing)


A Great Story of a Former Tampa Member – Rod Stebbins

I received an email from Tom Merrill of Haverhill, MA referencing the article reprinted here. For those that knew Rod this is a real treat. Even if you never met Rod, you’ll enjoy the story.


January 6, 2011

Mission accomplished: Son solves dad's war mystery

By Tim McCarthy tmccarthy@hgazette.com The Haverhill Gazette Thu Jan 06, 2011, 12:54 PM EST


Old soldiers never die, they just complete their mission.

Haverhill Army veteran Tom Merrill closed a chapter of the Korean War for a Marine living more than 1,000 miles away after laying his father, 1st Marine Division Supply Sgt. David Merrill, to rest in 2007.

The elder Merrill succumbed at the age of 72 to complications from a heart attack, leaving behind a lifetime of memories and one lingering mystery for his son Tom — a single dog tag in his father's war mementos bearing the name of Rodney Stebbins.

David Merrill, a 1952 graduate of Haverhill High and an engineer for Western Electric following his military service, never mentioned the dog tag or Stebbins' name to his son Tom, his daughter, or even his twin brother, Donald Merrill.

"That's what still puzzles me to this day," Tom said. "My dad was always faithful, you might say, to this Marine."


'What a small world'

Stebbins, a former captain in the Marines, was finally reunited with a small piece of himself thanks to the curiosity and tenacity of Tom Merrill.

For 50 years, he had thought the dog tag he wore in Korea had been lost. Little did he know how well it had been guarded.

After his father's death, Tom, perplexed by the tag, held on to it.

"I thought it could have been one of his friends that died," he said. "I didn't even think of returning it."

A year later, Tom Merrill began searching for the tag's owner. He searched by Web and the phone to find anyone in the area who might know the name. To aid his search, Merrill used a computer scanner to make a digital "lost and found" photo of the tag.

"I decided that, in fact, the Marine's lost tag was never mine to keep," he said. "You can do a search, but there are a million people that could match your name."

About a week after he started, Merrill made contact with a cousin of Rodney, a resident of Deerfield, Mass., whose last name also is Stebbins. The cousin had begun working on a family tree. Soon thereafter, Rodney Stebbins made the first contact by e-mail.

"My name is Rodney Jerome Stebbins and I served in Korea," he wrote. "When I opened the attachment I could have cried. I cannot thank you enough for your efforts ... What a small world this is."



Merrill said he and Stebbins made contact over the phone the next day and quickly formed a fast friendship.

At the time of their first contact, Stebbins was about 71 years old and enjoying retired life in Tampa, Fla., after a career as an engineer. Tom said Stebbins deeply loved sailing and Korean food.

"He was just a nice guy to talk with," he said. "I found a great man in Rodney."

Though Stebbins asked Tom to visit him at his home, Merrill continued to delay, citing family and work concerns.

In the fall of 2009, the final straw to prompt Merrill's visit came when he discovered Stebbins' ration book among a pile of items in his basement. Merrill said the ration book had been maintained in immaculate condition, bearing only the penciled-in address of Stebbins' parents who lived, at the time, in Venezuela.

"I said to myself, 'That's it.' Something was telling me to go to Tampa," Merrill said. "Rodney was of my dad's age and time would not always be there."

He flew to Florida that November to spend a week with Rodney and his Korean wife, Suzie.

"I'm so glad I did it when I could," he said.

Staying with Stebbins for a week, Merrill learned of the hard-knock life the Marine had endured.

Stebbins told him that his family frequently moved about the world, following his father's work. At the age of 18, Stebbins' father issued him a straightforward demand — join the Marines.

During the Korean War, he was wounded three times in combat and earned three Purple Hearts for his efforts.


Mystery solved

Stebbins and the younger Merrill agreed that David Merrill likely came in contact with Stebbins' tag and ration book after Stebbins was evacuated by helicopter following an injury. David Merrill, tasked with reuniting Stebbins and his effects, probably never had the opportunity.

Tom Merrill said he'd wanted to have Stebbins' medals reissued to him, but Stebbins protested, asking for Merrill's help to keep the war in the past.

"I don't want to go back," Stebbins said.

After Merrill departed Tampa, Stebbins suffered a fall the following week that would ultimately lead to his death in May 2010. Stebbins requested no funeral service.

Since then, Merrill said he'd always take comfort in the fact that he'd reunited Stebbins with his tag. But he does have a regret.

"I still get frustrated at times that Dad never knew I had found the Marine," he said.

Merrill said Stebbins was surprised that someone would go out of his way to return the wartime memento.

"He was amazed he could get that back," he said.

Tom added that, more importantly, his was a final act as a son to his father — a fellow brother-in-arms.

"It was a really nice thing to be able to do something for a vet and my dad, too," he said.



Minutes of the December 18, 2010 meeting of the Tampa Chapter SAR


Vice President Robert Yarnell called the meeting to order at 12:00. Jack Bolen offered the invocation. The President led the pledge to the flag and the pledge to the SAR.


Members present: Marty Miller, Paul Farley, Chuck Copeland, Jack Bolen, Bill Floyd, Chuck Hawley, John Sessums, Ed Neugaard, John Skillman, Dick Young, Charles Klug- our newest member, Robert Yarnell, Gray Reece, Doug Brown and Kevin Yarnell. Also, Terry Doan of the Emerald Coast has recently moved to the area and will be joining the Tampa Chapter as a dual member.


Welcome guests: Edna Broylen, Regent of the DAR

Wives: Lissette Young, Judy Copeland, Mrs. Brown

            Leo Kelly prospective member


Chrissy Harreid - Florida C.A.R President, Charlene Harreid, Valarie Bagenski- honorary state C.A.R. President, Pam Bagenski, Mimi Marler


The Vice President asked the members to introduce themselves as we are blessed to have several new faces in the room.


The minutes of the November meeting were approved.  


Our Treasurer, Chuck Copeland, reported a balance of $3,066.29 in the checking account and $90.88 in cash. He received a check for $100 from the Wounded Warrior Benefit in which our color guard participated earlier this fall. Chuck moved that we add this money to the collection we are making for the program. The motion was seconded and passed.


The secretary had nothing to report.


Jack Bolen reported on the next function of the Color Guard – Presenting the colors at the Florida C.A.R. state meeting on March 12, 2010.


Vice President Yarnell presented Charlene Harreid with the SAR Medal of Appreciation in appreciation for all her work with the C.A.R. and her cooperation with our Chapter.


Next Christie Harreid, current President of the Florida C.A.R. made a brief presentation regarding the National C.A.R. project. Their goal is to raise funds to aid in the restoration and upgrade of the display cases for “Great Essentials Exhibit” at the National Archives which displays the Declaration of Independence and the other founding documents. Chrissy Harreid, Florida C.A.R President, presented the Florida State C.A.R. project entitled, “S.O.S. Save our Springs”.


The meeting recessed for lunch.


The Vice President introduced John Skillman who began the program on the Founding Fathers. He began by sharing with the members the recent conference on George Washington sponsored by the NSSAR. John found the presentations to be excellent and encouraged us to attend this year’s conference on African Americans in the Revolution to be held in Baltimore this summer.


John then reviewed a short timeline of the Revolution and then brief biographies of George Washington and John Adams. Bob then joined John to start the interactive part asking, “If you could ask a question of either George Washington or John Adams, what would it be?” Several members volunteered suggestions. At the same time the members took advantage of John and Bob’s expertise to ask some questions regarding the founders and the early years of the United State.


John then moved to Alexander Hamilton, giving some brief background, and focusing on his work in consolidating the war debt and establishing the national bank. A brief background of Jefferson was next with more suggested questions that the members would ask these founders.


Bob provided an interesting look at 4 of the founders:

-          James Madison: You’d want him to take your SATs

-          Alexander Hamilton: You’d want him to take charge of your startup company

-          John Adams: He’d win an argument you wanted fought; in part because he didn’t mind offending people

-          Thomas Jefferson: You’d want him to help you explain a reasoned argument and to work behind the scenes for a cause


Our speakers recommended several books that might aid the members in their further study.

McCullough, David. John Adams. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

McCullough, David. 1776. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.

Ellis, Joseph J. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

Ellis, Joseph J. His Excellency: George Washington. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.

Ellis, Joseph J. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.

Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. New York: The Penguin Press, 2004.

Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.

Henriques, Peter R. Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006.


Mrs. Marler won the 50/50. She donated the money to the chapter and thus the treasury was enriched by $20.00.


The Vice President led the recessional, Jack Bolen gave the benediction, and the meeting adjourned at 1:34pm.


Respectfully submitted,


Kevin Yarnell

Chapter Secretary