Miami Sea Scout Ships 537 and 520

How it all began
by D. Wood


Memories of
S.S.S. 537


Dan Hogg

Rick McClure

Nancy Morris



















  Andy Biro  
  Click to enlarge image  
  My Sea Scout Memories – Andy Biro

TGIF was invented to describe how this 13-year-old felt about the days leading up to the weekends as a Sea Scout. Actually, Tuesday nights weren’t that bad either.

Before I could drive I could pack a sea bag. Required to board either the Sea Horse or Sea Scout, my packed sea bag meant I was about to take another step toward becoming a man. At 13 assuming responsibility for anything was usually annoying and distasteful, unless you were at the helm of a 43’ or 65’ war ship, in the galley preparing a meal for 15 hungry soldiers, or in the engine room monitoring switches, dials, rpms and leaking seals. When you knew you were responsible for something on the ship, you focused on the job at hand and made sure your watch would count.

I was a fattish little Momma’s boy when Ray Mendel brought me to the B.P.O.E. building one Tuesday night in 1959 or 60; I was almost 13. Not expecting much, I was astonished to find boys from every walk of life dressed sharply in blinding whites and eagerly participating in a variety of exercises and programs. I wanted in.

My first assignment was working the Christmas tree lot between the B.P.O.E. building and Sears. In a fowl smelling tent, on an uncomfortable army cot, I spent my first night away from home. We worked under the glare from strings of 60 watts bulbs and gas lanterns. We stole away to Sears to get white chocolate and a ¼ inch socket. We awoke to eggs and bacon, aching from head to foot from the cots and sleeping bags, damp from the morning dew but grinning from ear to ear. I wanted this to last forever.

My first trip on the Sea Horse was even more spectacular, arriving on Pier 1 at Dinner Key, sea bag in tow, I hoisted my petard aboard, found my assigned bunk in the bow, and waited for instructions. Within minutes the remaining crew arrived, Hartwell, Nemeth, Pine, Mendel, Fitch, Thickman, others I can’t remember and, of course, Wood was already aboard with his stogy. We quickly became a team, heaved the lines and set sail for a weekend of intense maritime study aboard a boat that was made to order. With something always needing attention, we were never bored. As we showed talents and interests to the leaders, our places and responsibilities were determined. I was given the opportunity to stand at the helm during the day and was given a 4-hour watch on the stern at night. I slowly learned how to operate the radio, and how to listen unconsciously for distress calls from weekend boaters in trouble. I steered the boat through the Feather Beds, learned Distance equals Rate times Time and found a legitimate use for dividers and slide rules. Life was grand.

We camped one weekend on Elliott’s Key. Practically the entire ship participated and was fairied over to the island on a small fleet, which included the Sea Horse, Charnley’s boat and other cruisers that I faintly remember. Sea Scout Drummond, much older than me, and I decided to walk around the island…thinking it would be an afternoon stroll. We got lost and were found late in the evening battered and bleeding. We even made the papers.

Wood, Fitch, Quillen, Barry and Bees somehow, with the help of Massey, I think, snagged us a 65-foot yacht that I met in dry dock off the Miami River. We scraped, caulked, screwed, sawed, sister ribbed, engineered, refitted, sanded, sanded, sanded and painted for a lifetime. Finally, with a red bottom, a blue water line and a gleaming white hull, the Sea Scout was launched. With enough room for a small platoon, we took to the high seas using all the skills we had honed on the Sea Horse. With two engines, two generators, a real galley, salon, two helms and lots of sleep quarters and hammocks on the fantail, this ship was the perfect vessel for the committed crews that it trained.
Many memories fill my mind. The Sebring races, the VIP tent, the Dry Tortugas, the tool shed at Wood’s house in South Miami, the 65 Mustang, red with no power steering, and delivering phone books and pamphlets to fund our journeys. The friends I made, both young and old, all had a lasting affect on what I am today. I always thought I would become a Scout leader as an adult. Never did, never was willing to devote the enormous amounts of time it required. I will FOREVER be grateful to Dave Wood, Charlie Berry and the band of men that made this possible for me a hundreds of others. I became a Man as a Scout in SSS 537.

I have done much since SSS 537. Attended Mars Hill College, played bass guitar and traveled around the world twice with Up With People, Graduated FSU, partnered a Fish Farming venture with my brother in Malawi, Africa, had a small mobile home company in Fairbanks, AK during the pipeline days, partnered with my Step Father in a computer business, System 20/20 and Miami Voice. Had a small telephone equipment company, lived for many years, about a block from Dave Wood's old house, just behind the Parrot Jungle. Moved to Tallahassee when the kids were Young and my wife and I had a Christmas Shoppe for ten years. Presently, we are building a restaurant in Tallahassee, Brewbakers Bakery Cafe. I am presently the General Manager of the #1 store in the Atlanta Bread Company Franchise. I am old and fattish, I love the Lord. My mom passed away in 86. My father, Dr. Biro, is still living and healthy at 97 in Palm Bay, Florida. My brother Rick and Sister Bonnie Lois live in Ft. Lauderdale. My youngest brother, Ladd lives in Dallas.

I am married, forever, to a wonderful lady, Keta and I have two kids. Travis, 18, is going to FSU in the fall. My baby girl, 17, is an ART freak and both are great kids that have been raised by a trained Sea Scout...both love the Lord. I suffered a triple bi-pass three years ago, but I am just fine now. I love to cook, fly fish, and fly. I have my instrument rating and had a C-172 for many years...and once the kids are gone, I will have one again.

I have several rolls of Super 8 film of our times in Sea of the Dry Tortugas and the infamous food drop. I have NO projector and can't find anyone in Tallahassee that can convert the film to CD or DVD. Someday I will get it done and load it on the internet for all to enjoy.

Keep up the good work, and please visit me in Tallahassee when ever you are in the area.




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