Jerry Fulk authored this narrative of the reunion.
The 2007 reunion was held at the Holiday Inn Bayside in San Diego, California under the leadership of President Ed Courtemarche. A total of 74 shipmates and guests attended one or more events. The weather was perfect and San Diego was at its best.
The reunion started Sunday with a surprise visit aboard USS GERMANTOWN (LSD-41). Approval for the visit was obtained only a few days before the reunion. About 20 shipmates and guests were able to participate in spite of the short notice. We had an excellent tour and our guides (two Seaman) did a commendable job. Personnel were on station to brief us in CIC, the bridge, galley, and other locations. One of the highlights of our visit was meeting the young Marines who were coming on board for deployment to the Middle East.
Following the ship tour, a complimentary poolside reception was held at the hotel. It was the first opportunity to gather most of the attendees. Afterwards, many repaired to the upper-floor Hospitality Room which provided a view of San Diego, the former NTC and boot camp (now Liberty Station0, Fleet ASW Training Center and the harbor. The Hospitality Room was open throughout the reunion and was well used. Several shipmates and spouses volunteered to watch over the setup. Beer, wine, soft drinks and snacks were provided.
Monday began with a narrated bus tour of San Diego and Coronado. We drove down the Embarcadero and past Petc Park (the new downtown baseball stadium), then over the bay bridge to Coronado. A tour of the “Emerald City” included a stop at the beachfront for a view of the Pacific Ocean, Point Loma and Mexico. Boarding the bus, we drove by the Hotel Del Coronado and Coronado Golf Course and back over the bridge to Balboa Park with its lush landscape and many museums. We then toured the Gaslamp district, built in the late 1800’s. A stop at Seaport Village precede lunch at the Bali Hai Restaurant, overlooking the harbor. We then returned to the hotel. The rest of the day was for touring and visiting with shipmates.
Tuesday morning, we headed for the ex-USS MIDWAY (CVA-41) aircraft carrier museum on the harbor. Our group went to the head of the line and boarded the sip for a two-hour, self-guided tour with audio headsets. Numerous WWII and modern aircraft were on display in the hangar deck and flight deck. Berthing, messing, communications, engineering and other spaces were open, as well as the bridge and flight control. Afterwards, we boarded an excursion boat for a two hour harbor cruise. Box lunches were provided. The boat cruised past Harbor and Shelter Islands, then out to Point Loma and the Submarine Base. On the way back, we passed North Island Naval Air Station, Coronado, the San Diego waterfront and 32nd Naval Base. We had a round-trip under the bay bridge. Afterwards, the bus returned to the hotel.
That evening, we had a Mexican Buffet at the hotel and were honored to have VADM & Mrs. Ray Peet join us. VADM Peet was the first C.O., and for many shipmates, it was the first chance to visit with him since pre-comm and commissioning. There was no formal program so everyone just relaxed and enjoyed the food.
Wednesday morning, the coaches departed for Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery and our Memorial Service. A bugler began the service with “Church Call” and a retired Navy Chaplain presided. Roll Call and Bell Ceremony were conducted and every known deceased shipmate and spouse was recognized. The ceremony concluded with a final prayer and meditation. ”Taps” was sounded and we departed the ceremonial area. The bugler gave us an “Anchors Aweigh’ send-off.
We were scheduled to visit Mt. Soledad Veterans’ Memorial but were diverted en route because of a morning landslide which caused our road to collapse. After a detour, the bus reached Mt. Soledad but it too, was closed as a precautionary measure. Instead of visiting the Veterans’ Memorial, we had an enjoyable drive through downtown La Jolla Village and past La Jolla Cove. The bus returned in time for lunch.
The Business meeting was held in the afternoon. New officers were elected and reunion sites were discussed. Dan and Teryl Robertson will host the next reunion in Savannah, Georgia in 2009.
The Reunion Banquet was held Wednesday evening. Social Hour included group and individual photos. The banquet began with the National Anthem and Dan Robertson gave the Invocation. A vacant table was set to honor deceased shipmates. After remarks by President Ed Courtemarche, dinner was served. Special guests present were VADM & Mrs. Peet and RADM & Mrs. Jack Shaw. RADM Shaw was C.O. in the early 1980’s. Both skippers spoke after dinner and recounted events during their tours of duty. We were honored to have these two flag officers join us. Presentations were made to Past President Harold Beers and Reunion Coordinators Jerry & Carol Fulk and entertainment was provided by the “Hot Flashes Follies”, a song and tap-dance group. The Raffle followed, coordinated by Leta Holloway and Liz Davies. Bob Hemingway was the Master of Ceremonies. Sally Walker and Sarah Phillips assisted Leta and Liz with the distribution of numerous raffle prizes that were donated by our members. A lot of people took home some valuable prizes.
Thursday was the final day of the reunion. Coffee, juice and pastries were served in the Hospitality Room until 11:00 A.M. Farewells were exchanged and most shipmates headed home to await the 2009 reunion. A few extended their stays for more sightseeing in California.