Navy Seawolves
How The Seawolf Association Began
From March 1996 Wolfgram
By Tom Thalmann

(Ed. Note) Since I was wondering, I felt that other Seawolves might also be curious as to our origins. So I called Tom, and he was kind enough to provide the following.

I started the Seawolf Association on a single premise. I wanted/needed to meet other Seawolves and I sensed that others would feel the same way as I did.

I have learned that three things are necessary for success:

  • Motivation
  • Knowledge or skills
  • Tools needed to do the job

    MOTIVATION: I was active in the local Vietnam Veterans (VVA) chapter. You might say this spurred my interest.

    KNOWLEDGE AND TOOLS: I Received a personal computer at work. As my skill with the PC grew, suddenly writing a letter was no longer a painful task; it was easy.

    It was the winter of 1986. Armed with an inspiration, a new found writing ability and the investment of a stamp, I laid it all on the line, and wrote a letter to the Vietnam Veterans of America Newsletter locator column.

    The journey began. One day a letter arrived from a wolf. I called him that night and we talked. Yes, he knew the addresses of two other Wolves. I wrote them letters and the chain started to grow. First one, then two, now six and so forth.

    One of my fondest memories is making first contact with a new Wolf. I would get a lead from someone that went like this. I think Joe so and so lives in Chapel Hill, NC. That night I'd dial information and ask for Joe's number. I was always apprehensive about calling because I was concerned that my call might wake dormant Vietnam memories: I feared disturbing someone and upsetting their lives. My first call went like this. Are you Joe so and so? Were you in the Navy? Are you a Seawolf...? There was a long pause until Joe blurted out YES, followed by a joyful conversation. Even as I type this now, it still brings back some strong emotions.

    My search expanded into other veteran's newsletters. Making the first contact was hard on the Wolves I found, too. I laugh at it now, but there was a time when our phone would ring after midnight and my wife would yell "GET UP! Seawolf calling!". Many a time I received calls from Wolves who had to work up the nerve to call me.

    Finding Wolves was one thing, pulling it all together was another. I started writing a monthly newsletter (before the days of desktop publishing) which became the Wolfgram. By this time my Seawolf quest was starting to put a strain on out family budget with long distance calls and 100 plus stamps per month. I asked for donations and started collecting stamp money. As I look back on it, that was the start of the Seawolf Association.

    Now other Wolves came to the forefront to help. Don Thompson, Seawolf Historian, friend, co-conspirator in the first Kansas City reunion. Tom Olby, friend and partner in crime. Dan Smiley, a hard worker whose efforts I will always appreciate. Howard Jacobs, who laid the financial groundwork for the Seawolf Association. And, of course, Charlie Borgstrom. Charlie was a source of inspiration and a mentor. I'm indebted to his support.

    The rest, as they say, is history.