A Brief History of
STARFLEET: The International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc.
By Fleet Captain Jeffery Higdon
SPECIAL NOTE: The Brief History of STARFLEET was originally written as the first step in writting the association's history. It was then printed as part of the 100th Issue of the STARFLEET Communique. It had been updated at least once before the history was expanded thanks to Admiral Chris Wallace's PDF Version and later in the On-Line History. This version will not be changed despite other information gleaned. That information has been incorporated into the expanded version of the history.The roots of STARFLEET begin in 1973 when John Bradbury and a group of Texas Star Trek fans formed the USS Enterprise. A dilemma came when other groups wanted for their own groups based on their chapter. The command staff of the Enterprise subsequently decided that allowing other vessels was the solution to their problem of wide spread expansion of members.
On May 23, 1974, the first issue of the organization's newsletter (then called STARFLEET Communications) announced that "The USS Enterprise has been reorganized, effective Stardate 2538.0. It will henceforth be known as STARFLEET, due to directives determined during reorganization."
The first chapter of STARFLEET was commissioned as the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Jay Wallace in Lufkin, Texas, which also became the location of STARFLEET Headquarters. Two more chapters were quickly commissioned - the USS Constellation in Memphis, TN, and the USS Constitution in Coppel, TX. By the end of 1975, there were 14 chapters across the country.
In the fall of 1977, Fleet Admiral Bradbury retired from active duty and was replaced by Fleet Admiral Adeline Longshaw. During the Longshaw Administration, STARFLEET's organizational structure began to solidify with a large number of new Fleet Divisions developed.
It was also during this period that both STARFLEET's Command level newsletter (today's Command Status Report) and the STARFLEET Academy were developed. While serving as the Command Assistance Coordinator, Admiral Brandt Heatherington produced a monthly publication for all Command level officers which evolved into the current Fleet Status Report.
Unfortunately Fleet Admiral Longshaw stepped down as the Commanding Admiral of STARFLEET due to serious hospitalizing illnesses in her family. Admiral Heatherington became STARFLEET's first interim Commander, STARFLEET. A few short months, Admiral John Wetsch became the 3rd Commander, STARFLEET.
The Wetsch administration improved further on the organizational structure of STARFLEET. The STARFLEET Officer's Handbook was greatly improved and a previous backlog in distributing membership packets was addressed. Also in August 1981, the IRS granted STARFLEET the official designation as a 'Non Profit Organization'.
It was during this period of time that a failure of communication between staff members, membership and Fleet Admiral Wetsch took place. Correspondences were not being responded to, as well as membership applications and renewals were not being filled. The 'problem' grew worse when the fabled 'Star Trek Welcommittee' blacklisted STARFLEET. The problems came to head as Admiral Heatherington was relieve of his position as Chief of Personnel and replaced with the Vice Chief of Personnel Vice Admiral Eric Stillwell.
Stillwell then began a personal crusade to also further improve STARFLEET under a program called Mandate for Change. Early in his Mandate, Admiral Stillwell praised Fleet Admiral Wetsch for his accomplishments, but it soon became a political power struggle between Admiral Stillwell and his views on what direction the organization should take, and Fleet Admiral Wetsch's vision of STARFLEET.
An important element in this power struggle was the 'STARFLEET Communiqué', which had become the Fleet's quarterly newsletter. In 1981, due to delays in publication of the 'Communiqué', Admiral Stillwell began publication of his own supplemental STARFLEET newsletter, which became the regular STARFLEET magazine. It was long believed that that while Admiral Stillwell was serving as Vice Chief of Personnel, that he was also serving as the Chief of Communications under the pseudonym of 'VADM T. Wxyn'. However documents recently discovered revealed evidence that VADM T. Wxyn was in fact Vice Admiral Anthony Wynn, the Chief of Communications at the time in question. Both men shared the same address at the time.
A blow came to the Wetsch Administration with the resignation of Vice Chief of Staff, Admiral John Lunt. Then the power struggle ended in Admiral Stillwell's favor with the resignation of Fleet Admiral Wetsch in September, 1981. Thus, Eric Stillwell became the 4th Commander, STARFLEET.
Fleet Admiral Stillwell began by restructuring the command staff, beginning by having the name of the President of STARFLEET, up until that time called 'Chief of Staff'', changed to the Commanding Admiral, which was later changed to Commander, STARFLEET. Also the name of the organization, which had varied between Starfleet Command, Starfleet Headquarters, Starfleet Central or just plain Starfleet, was officially made STARFLEET. Also after a few correspondence with the leadership of the Star Trek Welcommittee, Fleet Admiral Stillwell was able to have a 'new' STARFLEET officially recognized and removed from the blacklist.
In the summer of 1982, a major crisis developed. At one time, STARFLEET had its own product distribution office, where several items of Star Trek nature were sold to members to raise sorely needed funds. Paramount Pictures contacted STARFLEET, concerning the possible violation of the copyrights and patents held by Paramount by selling unlicensed items and for using the calligraphic font in the name title of the organization. The situation was finally resolved after the legal department of Paramount discovered that STARFLEET was indeed a fan club and offered no unfair competition to Paramount and/or any of its licensees. Paramount's solution to their legal dilemma of being required by law to defend their copyrights was simply to ignore a group that was giving them hundreds of thousands of dollars of free publicity. They had no need to protect a copyright from a group they pretended did not exist. Since Paramount was then beginning to try to work with Fandom through their official fan club, they instead chose to support and enlist the aid of the many fans in STARFLEET.
Unfortunately, toward the end of the Stillwell Administration, the high cost of producing quality membership packets and an international newsletter, coupled with continual turnover of key fleet personnel, affected HQ efficiency and many members and chapters began leaving STARFLEET. However, most damaging was a new organization, 'Trek International", that was started and run by several members of Fleet Admiral Stillwell's own Executive Committee, which tried to undermine STARFLEET through the recruitment of Fleet's own members and chapters. Thus, Fleet Admiral Stillwell subsequently resigned on January 2, 1984 and went on to become a Production Assistant within the Star Trek Franchise.
Two candidates emerged from the subsequent election process for a new Commander, STARFLEET, Captain Fran Booth was the winner. Captain Booth became the Fleet Admiral and 5th Commander, STARFLEET, on March 27, 1984. She took command of a much-depleted STARFLEET. Over the previous two years, membership had dropped from nearly 4,000 to 1,000 and chapters had decreased from close to 200 to fewer than 30.
The Booth Administration began immediately to rebuild the Fleet, almost from scratch. Inexpensive membership materials were developed. Captain Steven Smith was appointed the new Chief of Communications and quickly brought the Communications Department back on-line. Within a month information to STARFLEET members was back with the production of an informative but inexpensive Communiqué.
Admiral Brian Ackermann reopened STARFLEET Academy, which had been closed under Fleet Admiral Stillwell. Admiral Ackermann is credited with developing STARFLEET Academy into what it is known as today. The STARFLEET Shuttlecraft Program was developed to both recruit new members and chapters and to train their leaders in how to run successful chapters. But the toll of rebuilding the Fleet weighed heavily on Fleet Admiral Booth and at the end of her two-year term she announced her intention not to run for reelection.
Again, two candidates emerged: Admiral Steven Smith and Vice Commander, STARFLEET, Admiral Mary Helm. Apparently, Admiral Helm chose mainly to run so those STARFLEET members would a choice in who to vote for. Even before the ballots were distributed, it became clear from the nominations received from the Admiralty Board and Starship Commanders who STARFLEET favored for nearly 100% nominated Admiral Smith. Shortly thereafter, Admiral Helm threw her support behind Admiral Smith and, by concession, Steven Smith became the 6th Commander, STARFLEET, on December 28, 1986.
The Steve Smith Administration saw another explosion in the
size and scope of STARFLEET. The Academy continued to grow and the pocket-sized
Communiqué went COLOR. However this led to many problems according to the reports of the
time. The costs of publishing the Communiqué became outrageously expensive and other
aspects of Fleet-based services began to slow down.
Another point to the 1988 election is that Maddox was elected unopposed. Fleet Admiral Steve Smith, who was a candidate, withdrew from the election citing the promise of a new job. However the job fell through and Smith tried get back into the race. It was decided that once a candidate withdraws from the race for Commander, STARFLEET, he or she cannot enter the race again. This item was later incorporated in to the STARFLEET Constitution.
The Maddox Administration can be credited for bringing STARFLEET out of our parents' basements and into mainstream of respectability. To stabilize the finances, STARFLEET went back to black and white Communiqués. Once STARFLEET could afford it, the organization went to a larger, colored, magazine format to bring more information to the membership. The Scholarship program got off the ground, and almost every other month it seems another scholarship was added. During Fleet Admiral Maddox's first term as Commander, STARFLEET was once again was in the black, membership was growing, and the Shuttle Program started under Fleet Admiral Steve Smith was fine-tuned as a useful tool to expand the organization.
Another highlight was the authorization of the Starfleet Marine Corps as a recognized appending body of STARFLEET. In addition both Shuttle Operations Command, and Computer Operations became Executive Committee level positions. All in all Fleet Admiral Maddox went into the election for her second term riding high and STARFLEET was right there with her.
Fleet Admiral Maddox second term was just as successful as the first. She was able to convince fleet to raise the dues from 10 to 15 dollars a year. And she also was able to begin the process to incorporate STARFLEET as a Not For Profit organization (this was different from the IRS designation in 1981). However this in itself led to some controversy: the incorporation. This was done secretly and without membership input or consent.
STARFLEET Academy continued to provide new courses, more and more chapters came on line, and the Communiqué came out on a regular and timely manner every other month. The biggest accomplishment Fleet Admiral Maddox achieved though was continuity. Though Executive Committee members would come and go, the Maddox Administration endured. For four FULL years Fleet Admiral Maddox served the fleet and was able to hand over the reigns of a sound STARFLEET.
The next election thought was less than amiable. An assortment of controversy occurred when the nominee hand-chosen by Fleet Admiral Maddox, Vice Admiral Daniel McGinnis, the Region 12 Coordinator, began to receive some bad publicity about alleged mishandling of regional finances. While the charges were discounted, Admiral McGinnis lost the election. However the election returns were immediately challenged on the grounds the Election Coordinator, Fleet Admiral Maddox, may have been biased as she was on one of the opposing teams. However since she was on one of the losing teams, this appeal was disallowed and Admiral Rob Lerman became the 8th Fleet Admiral and Commander, STARFLEET, in January 1993.
At this point the secret incorporation of STARFLEET was revealed and also the fact that while the Maddox Administration had danced through the government hoops to achieve Incorporation as a Not-For-Profit organization, she neglected to file the necessary tax returns. This opened up STARFLEET to massive tax penalties; penalties that Fleet Admiral Lerman and his legal advisor, Captain Gary Decker, spent the next two years battling; in order to keep STARFLEET from being pulled under by its very own attempt to reach out and help people. These tax penalties, along with others caused by the McGinnis Administration, were only worked out with the IRS near the end of 1998.
The Lerman Administration , according to some members of STARFLEET, was not particularly imposing years for STARFLEET. Political infighting between the regions was The Communiqué once again began to fall behind schedule, while most of headquarters attention was on resolving the IRS issues dealing with the incorporation. STARFLEET Academy continued to grow, and Regional Summits became popular, allowing STARFLEET members even more reasons to get together and socialize.
The next election was to be even more contentious then the last. Admiral McGinnis was again running for the position of Commander, STARFLEET. With a new slate of backers, Fleet Admiral Lerman ran for reelection, and Rear Admiral Janis Moore entered the fray. This time Admiral McGinnis would win the plurality of votes, thus being elected the 9th Commander, STARFLEET. However the outgoing Executive Committee refused to seat him due to the continuing financial scandal, taking the unprecedented step of revoking his membership. The Executive Committee did however swear in the Vice Commander-Elect, STARFLEET - Admiral Deborah Nelson.
Nelson's first act as interim Commander, STARFLEET, was to restore Admiral McGinnis to STARFLEET. Then Nelson named him her Vice Commander, then resigned as Commander, STARFLEET. Consequently in the end and in less then a day after his dismissal from STARFLEET, Dan McGinnis became Fleet Admiral and the Commander, STARFLEET. Fleet Admiral McGinnis then appointed Admiral Nelson Vice Commander, STARFLEET.
Strife and disagreement hallmarks the Administration of Fleet Admiral Dan McGinnis. The 'Questar Debacle', which actually broke a few months into his administration, haunted Fleet Admiral McGinnis throughout his tenure. This arose from Admiral McGinnis' alleged failure to pay Star Trek: The Next Generation Star Wil 'Wesley Crusher' Wheaton for appearing at conventions hosted by Questar, a company owned by Fleet Admiral McGinnis. Although some STARFLEET members tried to work with the new administration while others were less cooperative and more vocal.
There were several members who throughout the first few months of 1995 called for Fleet Admiral McGinnis to resign. The most vocal of these members were former McGinnis Vice Chief of Staff, Fleet Captain 'Ranger' Michael D. Smith, Region 15 Coordinator Rear Admiral Alan Ravitch and former candidate for the CS position, Rear Admiral Janis Moore, who at the time was serving as Region 4 Coordinator. The most vocal and scathing of these voices belonged to Fleet Captain 'Wild Bill' Herrmann, CO of the USS Rutledge.
These attacks on Fleet Admiral McGinnis came to a head during the 1995 International Conference in Atlanta when charges of 'Conduct Unbecoming an Officer' and 'Violation of the Officer Code of Conduct' were brought against Ravitch and Moore. Admiral Moore was accused of releasing materials (given to her by what appeared to be the Wheaton people) that Fleet Admiral McGinnis felt was of personal problem best handle privately by the courts. Admiral Ravitch was very vocal over the unofficial STARFLEET Listserver. The consequences of these actions would lead to their dismissal as Regional Coordinators.
A year later, during IC96 in Oklahoma City Captain Herrmann was brought up on the same charges, for his outspokenness over the STARFLEET Listserver, which lead to his being reduced in rank to Captain, and dismissed as CO of the Rutledge. The Officers and Crew of the Rutledge refused to recognize the dismissal, standing by Captain Herrmann as their CO.
During this time of conflict within STARFLEET many Regions and Chapters chose to concentrate on their local and regional functions. But some chapters and members decide to withdraw from STARFLEET, some who would form another Star Trek Fan Organization.
In the summer of 1996, the United Federation of Planets Internationale (UFPI), was established. Many saw this organization as an alternative to STARFLEET, others saw it as trying to split, break up or even destroy STARFLEET. The number of chapters withdrawing to the UFPI hit Region 4 especially hard.
The IRS issue was still on the burner. Fleet Admiral McGinnis revealed that STARFLEET still owed back taxes, but that he was filing the appropriate forms to make sure that STARFLEET would owe no more. However no evidence has been found to substantiate that Fleet Admiral McGinnis had done this.
But problems with the McGinnis Administration started to come to climax shortly before the 1996 International Conference in Oklahoma City when the Vice Commander, STARFLEET, Admiral Deborah Nelson-Maestu, resigned. Rear Admiral Paula 'Coyote' Schaff was appointed Vice Commander, STARFLEET, while still retaining her position as Region 12 Coordinator. But within a month, Admiral Schaff resigned abruptly, citing the lack of communications and cooperation with Fleet Admiral McGinnis and STARFLEET HQ.
At that moment Fleet Admiral McGinnis announced before the beginning of November 1996 that he would resign the position of Commander, STARFLEET, as well as his own STARFLEET membership, effective on Nov. 14. As McGinnis had yet to appoint a new Vice Commander, STARFLEET, Commodore James Herring, Chief of Operations, STARFLEET, and next in the line of succession, became the 3rd Interim Commander, STARFLEET. Commodore Herring refused to take a promotion to the rank of Fleet Admiral, citing the length of time he would be in office, but was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral.
It was only after Admiral Herring had to personally 'retrieve' records, files and other materials from Fleet Admiral McGinnis that the truth came out. STARFLEET was in serious trouble both financially and physically. The only trace of funds belonging to STARFLEET found were those belonging to the Scholarship funds. Traces of funds belonging to STARFLEET and other charitable programs administered by STARFLEET were not found at that time.
In response to this unprecedented appearance of duplicity and circumvention by the former Commander, STARFLEET, Admiral Herring, acting with the powers of the Fleet Admiral's office and with the approval of the STARFLEET Executive Committee, stripped Fleet Admiral McGinnis of his lifetime membership, which is granted to any former Commander, STARFLEET, as well as taking the unparalleled step of demoting Fleet Admiral McGinnis to the rank of Captain. This was a superfluous action toward McGinnis
It was during this time the word was sent out to those who had membership renewals due before the end the year to delay their renewals until the next administration assumed power. It was also found that hundreds of membership forms had not been processed. This took until mid-1997 before all these membership forms, as well as the membership forms for those who waited until 1997 to send them in, to be full processed.
Meanwhile, attempts to hold the elections of for Commander, STARFLEET, were well underway, despite Captain McGinnis' disinterest and obstruction. Three candidates appeared, Captain John Maestu, Admiral Schaff and Fleet Captain Michael D. Smith. The voting was delayed because of Captain McGinnis' lack of cooperation before his resignation came into effect. Nevertheless due to efforts of the Chief of Communication, Rear Admiral Doug Glenn, the election was held On January 3, 1998, Admiral Glenn announced that Michael D. Smith was elected the 10th Commander, STARFLEET.
The first step of the new Michael D. Smith Administration was to reverse the demotion of Captain Bill Herrmann and restore his rank of Fleet Captain. Then Smith issued a statement of apology to Admirals Alan Ravitch and Janis Moore, symbolically rescinding the removal order, noting he could not restore them to their position, he could restore some dignity to them.
Fleet Admiral Smith also declared that all forms of communications, in particular, electronic or e-mail communications could and would be considered an official way to communicate with STARFLEET, even though the old way, postal mail, was still acceptable. The McGinnis Administration declared electronic forms of communications, especially e-mail, unofficial and thus not to be used during his term of office.
The need for real reform was seen as necessary, so Fleet Admiral Smith appointed a new committee to fashion a new Constitution for STARFLEET. The committee actively sought out the help and advice of all STARFLEET members, keeping the membership updated periodically. Thus the REFORM of STARFLEET became a hallmark of the Fleet Admiral Michael D. Smith Administration.
This document would make the Commander, STARFLEET, more accountable to the membership, take the Executive Committee out of the Admiralty Board, as well as guaranteeing Chapter autonomy and Member's rights. The new Constitution was complete and voted on at the end of 1998. It was ratified by a wide margin and put in effect in January of 1999.
However it was reported at the time the lack of funds inherited from the McGinnis Administration put STARFLEET in the red by more than $5,000. However, a recent report from Admiral Freas reported that $18,000 inherited from the McGinnis Administration (There was rumors that said that the totals came closer to $50,000, but this was unsubstantiated).
A novel way was done to not only raise much need capital. An Internet auction, organized and led by the Region 3 Command Staff, injected hundreds of needed dollars which went to help pay this rather large debt. Later these monies were used to infuse the Scholarship funds. Also the Communiqué was converted from a magazine format into a small newspaper in order to save money in printing.
Then the biggest news of the Smith Administration came on the front on the IRS almost a year later. Admiral Freas, Vice Commander, STARFLEET, as well as being a Tax Lawyer, negotiated with the IRS on behalf of STARFLEET. In the end, the IRS forgave STARFLEET all back taxes and penalties incurred. This included a sizeable refund of all penalties paid to the IRS. This enable STARFLEET to pay all outstanding debts as well as placing the organization back in the BLACK financially.
When Fleet Admiral Smith took office, he also stated that
any former members and chapters that wished to rejoin STARFLEET might do so unfettered of
possible retribution. In order to facilitate this, a new department the Existing Fan Club
Program, was instituted to allow those chapters that had withdrawn from STARFLEET to
efficiently rejoin. It also allowed other existing fan clubs that had no attachment to
STARFLEET previously to also join STARFLEET without going through the Shuttle Program. The
1st Director of the EFCP was Commander Dennis Rayburn, who had helped in the creation of
the UFPI the year before.
When it came time for the 1998 election, there were a couple of dozen nominees that had received nominations, but only one person obtained the necessary 5 nominations in order to qualify as a candidate for Commander, STARFLEET - Fleet Admiral Michael D. Smith. Thus the 1998 election became a Vote of Confidence the Smith Administration.
STARFLEET celebrated its greatest moment as the 1999 International Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, was held. STARFLEET celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 1999 and patted itself on the back. The organization had come from almost near collapse to say it was again at the forefront of fan-based Star Trek Fandom. It was, to that point, the most attended International Conference ever.
The 2000 International Conference was held in Burlington, Vermont during the weekend of July 28-30, with the 2001 International Conference returning to Kansas City, Missouri, and for the only the second time since National/International Conferences have been staged, in the year 2002 IC, will be held in San Jose, California.
The year 2000 (also affectionately known as Y2K) started off with the resignation of the Vice Commander, STARFLEET, Admiral Chuck Freas. Fleet Admiral Smith then appointed Admiral Gordon Goldberg, who was serving as Chief of Communications to fill the unexpired term of the Vice Commander.
In the summer of 2000, the first elections under the new constitution commenced. On July 16th, 2000 Election Coordinator, Admiral Allyson Dyar, announced that Lieutenant General Edwin L. "Les" Rickard (SFMC), and Vice Admiral Robert Westfall were to vie for the position of succeeding Fleet Admiral Smith as Commander, STARFLEET in 2001. On November 17th by Admiral Dyar, announced that General Rickard is to become the 11th Commander, STARFLEET, assuming the rank of Fleet Admiral, on January 1st, 2001.
STARFLEET had started as the Starship USS Enterprise Fan Club in 1974 and now with the new millennium about to start with the new administration of the 11th Commander. STARFLEET, membership is close to 5000 members and more than 300 chapters world-wide.
Official Starfleet History, Version 2.27 Last Update on 12/24/2000