Vice-Admiral Carl Stark, the first Commanding officer of the USS Euphrates/USS Ticonderoga was asked to write up some memories for the 25th Anniversary of the Star Trek club now known as the USS Ticonderoga. Here is what he sent in for the newsletter.
What happened Twenty-Five years ago by Carl Stark
Wow, March 2021 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Star Trek fan club known as the USS Ticonderoga. As I look back on how this all came together, I have many fond memories. Some of them good and some not-so-good. But life is dealing with both the good and the bad. I was asked to put down my thoughts on this fan club that I helped to start and grow.
The year was 1995 and it was not a kind one for me while I was living in the Salt Lake valley. I was working as a computer support tech for three different companies. And in that span of a year, I had been laid off three times from those same three companies. I was beat and discouraged. One of the few things that kept my spirits up was my membership in the Star Trek family known as the USS Kelly.
I had been a member of the Kelly since 1991 (on the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek) and I had earned the rank of Lt. Commander in the years that followed. I had also been tasked with being the Chief of Security. Looking back, I’m grateful for the time I spent as a department chief. Running a department is like running a mini-starship. I had to select an assistant department chief, meetings had to be planned and agendas written, I had to keep my members informed and active. We helped each other with our rank advancement goals and special projects. It was a sense of pride to have a good running department because I felt that I was helping to make the chapter a better club.
As it turns out, this was noticed not only by the Kelly CO, Captain Dennis Hollinger and XO, Commander Richard Henline but by the Admiralty at Starfleet Command as well. The performance of my duties had been noted in the USS Kelly chapter reports. I was not aware of this at the time, but my name had been placed on a promotion list of possible future commanding officers within the fleet.
After being laid off from my third IT job in 1995, I didn’t know what I was going to do next. I had several job leads that I was pursuing when I was approached by a former Kelly member, Robert Aswin, who had moved up to Davis County the year before. He was looking for roommates to live in his house in Layton and invited me to move up with him. Another Kelly member, Mark Boone, had started a job at the America Online tech support call center in downtown Ogden and stated he could put in a good word for me. I passed the interview with flying colors and was offered a position that would start in two months. This would give me plenty of time to get things wrapped up in Salt Lake and moved into the new area at the start of 1996. A fresh start after the disastrous year of 1995.
At a Kelly senior officers meeting I let Captain Hollinger and Commander Henline know of my intention to move up to the Ogden-Layton area in a few months. While not a huge distance, I felt it was far enough that I could not give my Chief of Security duties the proper time needed to perform them. They understood my decision to resign my department head position. It was at this time that they let me know that my name had been placed on a promotion list with Starfleet Command. If I wanted to take a Runabout (chapter-in-training) to run in the Ogden/Layton area I had the blessing of the Kelly leadership and the Admiralty at Starfleet Command. As Mark Boone (who was also a Kelly department head) and I were driving away from the senior officers meeting I let him know that I was giving it serious thought. Mark turned to me and said that if I took on this new role, he would join my chapter-in-training despite still living in the Salt Lake valley. My roommate, Robert Aswin, was very supportive as well.
The Ogden/Layton region had originally been the home of a Star Trek fan club called the USS Dominion. It had operated from 1989 to 1994 before disbanding due to a lack of recruiting new members and several members moving away. But it had a lot of good remaining members who had enjoyed their time with the club. There had been several other attempts at starting Star Trek clubs, but they hardly lasted after a year or two. It was easy to start a club, but to keep a club going and growing took a lot of work. While seeing those in uniforms with recruiting booths and having fun at meetings may look easy from the outside, on the inside it was a lot of time and energy. As people found out after starting a club, this work could be exhausting if you were not prepared for it. So, these Star Trek clubs never got very far. But the USS Dominion had set the groundwork for the fans in the area to join the newly launched USS Euphrates.
The Euphrates was one of two Runabouts available to launch from the USS Kelly. A chapter-in-training allows newly minted commanding officers and crew to walk-the-walk of a Star Trek club, but still make mistakes. Learning from these mistakes with help from the mothership allowed the club to grow and eventually graduate into full chapter status. On Saturday, March 9, 1996 at a ceremony at the Davis County North Library in Clearfield, Captain Dennis Hollinger presided over the launching of the USS Euphrates under command of Lt. Commander Carl Stark with Lt. Robert Aswin as the Executive Officer and Lt. Mark Boone as the Second Officer. After the ceremony the first official activity was touring the Hill Air Force Base Museum as a group and going to dinner soon afterwards. You know a meal had to be involved in there as we always seem to get together with friends for a meal.
Running the USS Euphrates did take a lot of hard work. There was even one meeting where the only people who showed up are those that came in the CO’s car. But there were other times when the persistence and hard work paid off. The Euphrates lead the group of volunteers who helped at a Salt Lake appearance of William Shatner at a Star Trek convention. Shatner was so impressed with the volunteers that he complimented them the next day at another Star Trek convention put on by the same organizer.
After going through the growing pains of a year and a half I had been promoted to the rank of Commander and the Admiralty at Starfleet Command informed me that we were nearing the end of their chapter-in-training phase. I was instructed to decide upon a final chapter name and class. A list of several chapter names and classes were provided to me to select from. After looking over the list I narrowed it down to three possible choices. The Nebula-Class USS Virginia, the Cheyenne-Class USS Black Hawk or the Intrepid-Class USS Ticonderoga. These names were presented to the crew and the majority of them voted to become the USS Ticonderoga. The primary reason this name was selected was because of the history of vessels named Ticonderoga. Apparently, this decision had shocked Captain Hollinger and Commander Henline as they thought the larger Nebula-Class would have been selected. They even had a schematic poster of the USS Virginia printed up in anticipation of the decision.
On October 25, 1997 the friends of the USS Euphrates: The USS Kelly, USS Rendezvous, USS Zambezi (i.e., the future USS Retributor), Rebel’s Associated (a local Star Wars fan club), the IRW Falcon (a local Romulan club) and other friends got together for a meal and the launching ceremony of the USS Ticonderoga. This was held at a banquet center in Kaysville. There I was promoted to the rank of Captain and given command of the USS Ticonderoga, NCC-74676.
However, the changes were not stopping there. Our parent organization, Starfleet Command and the Admiralty based out of Baltimore, MD after running the organization for over eighteen years had decided to disband at the end of 1997. After finding ourselves without a parent organization I had to decide what to do with the USS Ticonderoga. We could have joined another existing parent organization out there. But most of them charged dues to join and we had a lot of success being a dues-free organization. I didn’t want to turn away a fellow Star Trek fan and his family because they couldn’t afford $15 or more in dues. We could have proceeded as an independent club, but life is better when you share it with friends. So, the USS Ticonderoga joined up with the USS Kelly, the USS Retributor (both of Starfleet Command) and the USS Rendezvous (an ex-SFI chapter who had gone independent years ago) to form Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet. When we had told Starfleet Command of our intention to band together, the Admiralty gave us permission to use the name “Starfleet Command” in our title and promoted Captain Dennis Hollinger to Admiral just before disbanding. Thus, making the USS Ticonderoga a plank holder with Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet. I’m happy to say that this new beginning has allowed us to grow and meet more friends as new chapters have joined in on the fun.
Now there are a ton of different events, memories, and happy times that I could write down for this article. However, I know our poor editors only have so much space allotted in this issue. So, I’d like to wrap up with how I ended my term as the Commanding Officer of the USS Ticonderoga. One of the philosophies that we try to live by within this organization is “train your replacement”. As a volunteer organization we understand that real life comes first. Real life has given our friends opportunities in their lives that may cause them to move to other areas. There have also been times that other issues have caused some members to cut back on the amount of participating that they can dedicate. And unfortunately, a few of them have entered the final frontier beyond this life. Thus, we have attempted to teach our leaders to give opportunities to those under their command to expand their leadership roles. This way when real life rears its ugly head, we can tell the affected individual to take care what they need to and that the club will still be here upon their return. So, in the early 2010’s I had initiated the “Captain for a Month” program on the Ticonderoga. Any member who had reached the rank of Lt. (j.g.) or higher could volunteer to be the acting CO of the Ticonderoga for the month. They would be responsible for conducting the monthly meeting, writing up the senior officer meeting agenda, preparing the report for Admiral Hollinger and (if it happened during the month they were acting CO) attend the quarterly Seventh Fleet Council meeting with myself and the XO. This would give a ton of leadership experience to the volunteer and allow the chapter to see how they would handle command. I had four different members participate in this program before I had been approached by Admiral Hollinger. The growth of the Seventh Fleet had reached a point where he needed more than himself to run the organization. He had been thinking of asking one of the chapter CO’s about taking a position with the Admiralty, but he didn’t want to leave a chapter without a commanding officer. The question he asked me was “If I gave you a promotion, is there anyone you feel confident in taking over the center seat of the Ticonderoga?” Because I had done the “Captain for a Month” program, I felt confident that one of the four candidates could fill the position. Both the Seventh Fleet Council and the crew of the USS Ticonderoga accepted Lt. Erica Abner-Stark as the new CO. She was given a field promotion to Captain (don’t worry, she still went through and completed the rank requirements adopted for the fleet) and took over as the Ticonderoga CO in 2011. I will let her tell her adventures as the Tico CO in her own article.
To my friends who joined this Star Trek fan club and just came to hang out, to those who volunteered as department chiefs and senior officers. To those who served as executive officers, newsletter editors and more. And especially to the spouses of those who volunteered, I say thank you to you all. The USS Ticonderoga would not be celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary without your dedication, hard work and effort. I’m looking forward to 25 more years of friendship, adventures, and family.
Vice-Admiral Carl Stark, Commander-in-Chief
Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet