Founder’s DayPotomac River Power Squadron10 March 2012
A Squadron on the River1914: Dr. Adolphus B. Bennett, Jr., Fleet Captain of the CorinthianYacht Club, Washington DC, learns of the Power Squadronmovement, an effort led by Roger Upton of Boston to support theboating and navigation skills of motor boat owners.Dr. Bennett asks to take the examination to join the movement. He isadvised instead to recruit at least 10 interested persons who mightsit for the examination and become the nucleus for the movement inWashington, D.CMembers of Bennett’s Corinthian Yacht Club support the idea.Members of the Capital Yacht Club resist out of concern that such amovement could lead to government regulations requiring allyachtsmen to be certified in navigation and safety. However, Theyeventually agree to the movement.
A Squadron Is born Members of the United States Power Squadrons Committee on Instruction and Examination visit Washington in May 1915 to examine potential members. Twenty-two men sat for the oral exam. Nineteen passed and a great squadron was born.F Street, NW, Washington, DC, 1915 The Governing Board chartered Potomac River as Squadron No. 14 under General Order 12 on May 25, 1915.
October 17, 1915, Cdr. Bennett led aflotilla of nine Potomac RiverSquadron vessels in drills andmaneuvers “at the forks of theGeorgetown Channel andWashington Channel” near the WarCollege. Today, DC area civilians simply call the War College “Ft. McNair.”
WARDuring the Great War, Power Squadron members and other yachtsmen were offeredcommissions in the U.S. Navy Reserve Forces (USNRF) to use their boats for VolunteerTorpedo Patrol duty to guard against the U-boat menace. vs. Boating is fun. We’ll show you how.After the war, returning service men wanted little to do with boatsand drills. Power Squadron membership fell. In 1919, the chiefcommander recommended all operations cease.That’s when A.B. Bennett went to work.
Dr. Bennett’s Lasting Influence V/C Bennett’s Strategic Plan, 1919: Repeal the requirement that members must first be members of yacht clubs. Cease drilling as the Power Squadrons only activity. Make United States Power Squadrons the primary member relationship for individuals Make education the primary purpose of the Power Squadrons. Bennett was elected Chief Commander in 1920 and served four terms in office (1920 – 1924). Potomac River member J. Edwin Lawton succeeded Bennett as Chief Commander. Bennett and Lawton were the only two men to serve as Chief Commander and Squadron Commander simultaneously.
Original list of Potomac River Squadron Boat names and OwnersVessel Owner Vessel Owner Vessel OwnerAragon A.B. Bennett Nokomis Dr. John R. Sharp Spunky Harrington Barker Nevil Monroe HopkinsOolootsa Wm. J. Bacon Nemara James T. Sunbeam II Robert B. Roosevelt BreshnahamSewanee A.C. Clephane Helen D. Evarton B. Powell Elizabeth Emil C. Kaiser L.P. ClephaneOwen Col. W. O. Owen Juel W.J. Ingram Catawba Roscoe H. Shaw J.S. RandallSabot W.D. Grosbeck Emeline C.W. Sherrier Elsie Ede C. Merrill Charles F. Haden Harvey H. HaunNorma II Herbert Bose Edna E.O. Reed Florence R. John H. Aue E. M. Eastwood John G. RizzoA. B. C. Dr. R. S. Clinton Ecola Frank N. Moore Bill William M. Wagner F.E. Symanoskie Ke pa goin Charles H. Kerper
Dr. Bennett was the face of Potomac River for over 50 years… The Washington Evening Star took note in 1964.
Past Chief Commanders of United States Power Squadrons fromPotomac River Squadron Theodore I Coe, JN, 1916-1917 A.B. Bennett, JN, 1920-1923 J. Edwin Lawton, JN, 1929 Arthur Middleton, N, 1938-1940What do the letters mean?The Power Squadrons offers a series of courses above basic boating safety for therecreational captain. Power Squadrons members who complete an Advanced Grade course,they are entitled to use the suffix for that Grade after their name and an insignia on theiruniform. The grades are:• Seaman, S• Pilot, P• Advanced Pilot, AP• Junior Navigation, JN• Navigation, NA senior navigator (SN) is a member who has completed all Advanced Gradeand elective courses.
Potomac River – Father of SquadronsList of squadrons formed from Potomac River Squadron: Annapolis, 1941 Patuxent River, 1953 Northern Virginia, 1967 Mid-Potomac, 2000 Prince Georges, 1970 - 2002 Rockville, 1972In 1968, Potomac River claimed the honor the largestmembership of all the Power Squadrons.
At mid-century, society redefined the notion of “who belonged.”United States Power Squadrons dropped the word “men”from membership requirements in 1982.Edna Winterhak was the first woman elected squadroncommander in 1985.Ted Hagins was the first African-American admitted tosquadron membership.Bonnie Gaskins was the first African American electedsquadron commander in 2003.Howard Gasaway, Sr. is the first person to serve threeterms as squadron commander since 1929.
Potomac River is the oldest Power Squadron in continuous existence. Our Centennial Year: May 25, 2014 – May 24, 2015 We will be here… and we will be looking for you. To be continued….
This presentation prepared by P/C Anthony Brown, P, Potomac River SquadronWith grateful acknowledgement to P/C Harry Seeback, SN, and P/C Tom Dillon, AP, as long time custodiansof squadron records and oral tradition.Newspaper images used with permission.®The USPS Ensign (Flag Design), "Wheel-and-Flag Design", "Officer Trident Design","United States PowerSquadrons", "USPS", "The Ensign", "the Squadron" with flag graphic, "Paddle Smart", "USPS University", "Boat Smart","Jet Smart", and "Americas Boating Club" are registered trademarks of United States Power Squadrons.