...between the USS Density and the mv Galaxy

Ron Buninga's Presentation Speech to the USS Density Reunion in Branson, Missouri, 18th September 2003

Hello veteran Density crew members, relatives and friends. I feel very honoured and proud to be here at your reunion. Through Tanya Baugus, you might have heard of the reason why I am here at this occasion.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Ron. I am the son of the former captain who served on the then Big L ship, Galaxy, during its broadcasting years in the Sixties. I will try to tell you what I know about the ship and its history - what I have heard and seen.

My father, who by the way served as a merchant marine on oil tankers during the Second World War, had a certain bond with the ship. He knew it had been a US minesweeper around Okinawa during World War II.

During the time the radio pirate ships broadcast in the Sixties, my father served on other ships as well, that did the same thing – sending out music as radio stations.

Two years ago, Mary explained to you how things worked out in Europe then. My Dad mentioned that the Galaxy, to you the USS Density, was the least suitable ship for the purpose, because of its narrow size and high antenna. The ship had four anchors to prevent it from swinging around with the strong tide and current.

At first, the old generator was used to supply the ship's power, but its use was abandoned because the engine used some 150 gallons of oil just for lubrication [per day]. Then they installed two Cummins generators, one on the wing of the bridge, and the other one was lowered in the engine room by cutting a hole in the rear deck.

The energy from the antenna was so powerful that you could hold a neon tube in your hand and it would shine!

The Density had two studios in the rear of the vessel.

The Density was scrapped sometime in the seventies when it was laid up in Kieler Harbour in Northern Germany after it capsized.

The bell; my father got it as a present. Crew members took it down and made a hanger for it to put it up against a wall outside of the house. It has been out there for some thirty years before I took it down when the house was eventually sold after my mother passed away in 1999.

Through Mary and Chris's site about Radio London on the Internet, I found out about your veteran members' club concerning the Density.

That is why I am here today to take the bell back to you – the place where it should belong.

Post-Reunion Feedback

From Ron, who was the last of us to leave the hotel.

It was kind of lonely out there in Branson when everybody had left that afternoon. I had the best time ever meeting all these friendly people. I enjoyed every hour and will be thinking back with happiness for a long time to come! I am so glad that I took the initiative to take that bell back. Actually, without the two of you and me surfing on the Internet to find out about Big L's site, you mentioning the Density Reunions etc., etc, this never would have happened!

Love, Ron.

Chris and Mary presented Radio London founder, Tom Danaher, with a copy of The Sound of Big L double CD, produced in Amsterdam by Hans Knot. (Details of how to buy it are in the Swop Shop.) During the presentation evening, Chris had given a shortened version of the history of Radio London which he had previously compiled and presented at the 2001 reunion. This was for the benefit of the many crew members who had been unable to attend before.

From Tom:

Thanks for coming over to Branson and adding so much to the affair. Your presentations were excellent! I really had a wonderful evening yesterday, listening to "Wonderful Radio London", recorded straight off the air! Hearing those so-familiar PAMS jingles, T.W. and the various disc-jocks, brought back so many imbedded memories. I enjoyed disc #1 last evening, and will enjoy #2 tonight. Thank you so very much for your kindness.

Being with the Density shipmates also meant very much to me. To talk to them about specifics of the ship causes me to recall so many of the details of the ship. When I went below with a flash light in the "Manoula" at Merrill-Stevens yard up the Miami river to inspect her, she was listing port about 30 degrees. Much of the machinery, wiring etc. was inundated. Those crew members would have been sick to see their ship in such a condition. The effort expended in getting that ship barely seaworthy, and outfitted as a 50kw broadcasting station in non-stop nick time, would sound like fiction if the story could be told. I began the project at my petrified weight of 155lbs, and watched Kou Walter and the rag-tag crew sail the "Galaxy" out of Government-cut, Miami, at 140lbs! "Radio London" has been quite a ride.

I hope to see y'all again sometime before Nashville. Best regards, Tom

From Co-organiser Mary Simmons:

We had so much fun with you two and also with Ron. Can't imagine what the reunions would be like without you now.

Love, Mary and Lanny

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