Friday, April 13 | Texas' Oldest Newspaper: Since 1842
Family’s big gift deserves another


Published April 13, 2007

The community owes a big thank you to the Burke Family Trust of California for a $1 million gift to the Cavalla Historical Foundation.

The money will be used to complete the restoration of two Navy vessels from World War II — the Cavalla, a submarine, and the Stewart, a destroyer escort. It will also help to fund a visitors center.

How did a California family get interested in a naval display in a park on Pelican Island?

Jim Burke served on a later Cavalla — a nuclear sub. The nuclear sub was scrapped. As Burke said, if there was ever going to be a Cavalla memorial, the old diesel-powered sub at Seawolf Park on Pelican Island is it.

Burke is in Galveston for a couple of days with a message.

First, he’d like to see the restoration of the World War II vessels completed. He hopes to see a visitors center that will help visitors understand the history behind those vessels.

The Cavalla was the only U.S. submarine of its era to sink an aircraft carrier. On her first patrol, she torpedoed the Shokaku, which was part of the carrier force that attacked Pearl Harbor.

The Stewart is one of two remaining destroyer escorts left from the war. They were built quickly — and in large numbers — to try to protect convoys from submarines.

The life expectancy of escorts was three months, Burke said. He wonders if people can imagine the courage of the sailors who manned them.

Burke is concerned about giving people a chance to learn about history. He also hopes to spur interest in Galveston in supporting the effort.

Burke, who is chairman of the Cavalla Historical Foundation, says he’s made calls on other foundations and trusts, seeking donations.

He said he frequently hears the question: “Why isn’t Galveston supporting this?”

Burke is hoping the community will appreciate what it has at Seawolf Park and make plans to support it.

+++ How to help Contributions are tax-deductible and can be made to: Cavalla Historical Foundation 2504 Church St. Galveston, TX 77550 For information:

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