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Navy Reunions


These are items of interest to military reunions including reunions that have already happened so others can find their own reunion groups. If you have military reunion news, e-mail us. If you are listing your reunion, send the reunion name, date and place and the name, address, phone and contact person's e-mail address.

Keeping memories alive
   Military reunions aren’t just for veterans anymore. Families join sailors of USS Foote to keep the memories of their experiences alive.
   Georgia Tuttle feels closer to the father she never knew by sleeping in a small bunk like the one her father occupied on the USS Foote and doing chores aboard a World War II destroyer. She spent a weekend aboard the USS Kidd, a refurbished destroyer on public display in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
   Tuttle’s father, a career Navy man, was near retirement when he died in 1960, leaving his 6-year-old daughter only vague memories of him. However, Tuttle has learned more about her father at the USS Foote Association reunions.
   The latest reunion drew 109 people, only 40 were shipmates, the rest were families. Most crew members are in their 70’s and their ranks dwindle with each passing year.
Those who attend reunions don’t believe the association will fade away anytime soon. The group encourages attendance by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to keep memories alive. Younger generations are committed to building a legacy so future generations can participate in this marvelous event.

Calling all LCVP
Bill Hiebert asked us to help get the attention of LCVP (landing craft vehicle and personnel) and LCM’s (Landing Craft Medium) of WWII. The five units helped the Army push through Germany to the Rhine River in WWII. Hiebert wants to organize a reunion of members who assembled in 1944 to take the Army across the Rhine. Contact Bill Hiebert, 7901 Candlewood Dr, Alexandria VA 22306; 703-768-6419; william.hiebert@worldnet.att.net.

The Navy in Hollywood
The Navy has been a recurring subject in Hollywood over the years and with the recent release of Men of Honor, we found a listing of Navy films for you to consider showing in your reunion hospitality room.

A few films include On the Town, Francis in the Navy, PT 109, McHale’s Navy (’64 and ’97), Navy Seals, The Navy Comes Through, Don Winslow of the Navy, The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell, The Final Countdown, They Were Expendable, Torpedoed, Hell Boats and Hellcats of the Navy. Or you could take a trip to see Men of Honor.

Climb Aboard
Explore battleships in Norfolk, Virginia. Visit Nauticus and the Battleship Wisconsin to experience life on a battleship. The Wisconsin is the last and largest battleship built by the US Navy and is docked next to Nauticus, the National Maritime Center.

Nauticus has three interactive exhibits dedicated to nautical science and life aboard a battleship. Kids can zero in on the Wisconsin through a viewfinder equipped with multimedia clips of sailors in action. Check the web site for special events and additional information. Admission to the Wisconsin is free, Nauticus is $9.50 for adults and $7 for kids ages 4 to 12. Contact Nauticus, 1 Waterside Drive, Norfolk VA 23510; 212-883-1986; www.nauticus.org.

Veterans triumph on trans-Atlantic journey on LST-325
World War II and Korean War veterans sailed into Mobile, Alabama, on a LST-325 warship from WWII. The Coast Guard warned the 29 member crew, whose average age was 72, against crossing the Atlantic during the stormy winter months. They cited the ship's lack of safety equipment, questionable steering and uncertainty about the crew's ability to respond to emergencies.

The veterans rejected the Coast Guard's advice and left Greece November 17th and crossed the Mediterranean in 11 days despite storm and equipment problems. Capt. Robert Jornlin, Earlville, Illinois, described the journey as fairly smooth, with a few problems. Sadly, crewmember William Hart's health problems forced him to leave the ship early. He died shortly after.

Other than that disappointment, the trip was a success and a wonderful experience for all of those on board. Crewman Jim Edwards said, "This is the greatest thing I've ever done in my life, but I wouldn't do it again for all the world." Joe Milkovich, another crewman said that outside of greeting his wife and daughter, the next best thing upon his return was a hot shower.

The ship was built in 1942 and decommissioned in 1946. In 1964 it was lent to the Greek government and was taken out of service last summer. Congress passed a bill authorizing Greece to turn it over for use as a memorial. Crewmembers paid their own way to Greece and donated $2,000 to help cover expenses, the boat needed rehabilitation. The 328-foot vessel delivered troops to Normandy during the D-Day invasion and will become a museum.

Dwindling heroes
Military reunion planner Bud Galow faces a sad problem each time he prepares for his World War II battleship USS Tennessee reunion. Instead of having a "problem" of accommodating more people, he loses people each reunion. His mailing list has dwindled over the past 10 years, in fact, the late June reunion drew only 160 of the 200 people expected. Dwindling numbers doesn't prevent remaining members from having a good time reminiscing when they get together.

The group formed a lifelong bond almost six decades ago. The USS Tennessee was the only ship of four to escape sinking at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. Less than four years later the crew survived another disaster when they were struck squarely by a kamikaze plane and caught fire in waters off Okinawa. In both instances lives were lost and others affected for life. One member is still scarred by burns received 55 years ago. They are all grateful to have survived their struggles.

At this year's reunion the group took a bus tour of war memorials around Washington DC, including the US Navy Memorial to honor fallen friends. Brooks Breece, a former marine, led the tour and kept the mood light with jokes and quiz games. He realizes these men and women can't cover as much ground or stand heat as they once did, so his tour has minimum-exertion, but maximum sightseeing.

from Successful Meetings

Reunion in review
Frank Romanick, Captain USN (Ret), reports that the reunion of the USS Ingersoll, held at the Lodge of the Ozarks, Brandon, Missouri, drew 152 including 77 shipmates. Writes Romanick, "All attendees rode in four Ducks, converted WWII amphibious craft holding about 35 people. After a ride through the mountains, we took to the water. We entered Table Rock Lake at a pretty fair clip with a big splash. The Ducks circled, and a brief memorial service was held, names of deceased members were read while a bell tolled. A large wreath was thrown into the lake as taps was played.

Silent service speaks
The secret is out. The US Navy is lifting the cloak hanging over its fleet of submarines as part of its "Submarine Centennial," which features a year-long series of ceremonies, open houses and exhibitions. The centerpiece is an exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington DC. Called "Fast Attacks and Boomers: Submarines in the Cold War," the exhibition examines the history and lore of the submarine fleet from 1945 to 1991. The Navy is also sponsoring smaller exhibitions across the county. A full list of events is posted at www.navy.mil.

from the New York Times

USS Intrepid meets in Naples, Florida
About 30 crew members of the infamous aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid, met at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club in Naples, Florida for their annual reunion.

The Intrepid, now a museum at Pier 86 in New York, was launched in 1943, and is referred to by many naval historians as "a hard luck ship." It holds the distinction of being the only US naval vessel hit more times by enemy fire than any other during World War II. It withstood at least eight Japanese kamikaze hits and several air bombings.

Dick Steppling, a retired Naples High School history teacher, organized the reunion, bringing crew members and their families from as close as Lee County, Florida, and as far away as Washington State.

To lead and to serve
For over 150 years, the mission of the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, has been to develop midshipmen morally, mentally and physically to become professional naval officers. The Academy's Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center makes the events, history and traditions of this unique institution available to the public. Special focus includes a historical walking tour, educational tours, an architectural tour, an African American heritage tour and a military reunion tour, for those who participated in military operations while serving their country. Contact Nancy Horne, 410-263-6933.

Valor transcends
Dorie Miller, the first African American recipient of the Navy Cross, was ordered to save himself from the blazing USS West Virginia December 7, 1941. The mess attendant disobeyed orders, ignoring bullets, bombers and torpedoes to carry his wounded commander to safety. Then in violation of orders prohibiting blacks from firing weapons, Miller used an anti-aircraft battery to fire at the planes. After the attack, Miller of Waco, Texas, was awarded the Navy's highest honor personally by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Two years later he was lost at sea when his ship was torpedoed. In his honor, a new Navy housing area at Pearl Harbor bears his name.

Miller's was one of several stories told during a service at the USS Arizona Memorial commemorating the 55th anniversary of the infamous Japanese attack. The keynote speaker, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Adm. Archie Clemins noted "Through his name, we are reminded that heroism and valor transcend racial and ethnic bounds and that, as Americans, our strength lies in our ability to help one another in time of need."

from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Follow-up
In our summer issue, we included a plea for service ID numbers for escort carrier sailors and airmen from Luther Royds, USS Tripoli CVE64/CVU-64. Thanks readers! Luther reports he's received complete services lists and has been able to help others with their searches. Luther's still looking! Contact him at 1019 Govrman St, Philadelphia PA 19116; 215-673-7742. Send $2 in postage with requests.

A reunion white glove inspection
Lieut. Commander Frank Romanick, while executive officer of Navy Destroyer USS Ingersoll (Korea 1952-54) conducted 50 shipboard inspections. 43 years later, 70 former shipmates and their spouses arrived in Canon City, Colorado, on three busses for a "pay-back" white glove inspection of the retired Romanick's home.

To prepare, for nine months Romanick used 75 gallons of white paint to cover 16 rooms and the exterior of his home. Romanick was, however, taken by surprise when the inspection party of 140 persons wore white gloves for a top-to-bottom and fore-and-aft inspection. As executive officer he'd always maintained high standards of cleanliness.

During the Ingersoll reunion's gala banquet, Romanick was presented all the white gloves as a testimonial of passing the inspection with flying colors. The gloves are now on display in Romanick's trophy room.

Unique reunion promotion
Recently we were watching a Today Show where crowds of people line up each morning to wave and shout greetings to the world (or at least to their mothers)! Three women in the front row got the attention of the host and had a chance to talk about the USS LST 1027 reunion, which they were celebrating in New York City.

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