2013 Reunion Review
Our 15th annual reunion was
held at the newly renovated Holiday Inn, downtown New London, our alternate choice location. Due limited hotel
availability and high cost, our city choice of Burlington VT was diverted to New London. On Thursday arriving shipmates and guest quickly renewed old acquaintances
in the hospitality room with drinks and snacks. Reunion Chairman, Chief Richard Legg began our welcome reception with the
Pledge of Allegiance, the reunion itinerary and the announcement of the reunion host ship the USS Joseph K. Taussig. Thursday
evening, following an in house pizza and chicken wings party, Master at Arms Tony Zeoli, USS Lester, hosted the family feud
game between the USS Lester and the USS John Willis where embarrassing questions were asked, provoking comical comments from
the panel and audience resulting in many laughs. The Lester came out on top.
The Friday tour took us to the Mystic Sea Port museum on the shores of the Mystic River to experience maritime heritage, the coastal life and the
ship building craftsmanship in 19th century New England. The Charles Morgan, the last wooden whaler was under overhaul and many shipmates toured through the ship observing
craftsmen at work. Upon arrival at the hotel, our business meeting activities included shipmates selecting Boston as the location for the 2014 reunion and Cincinnati Ohio for our 2015 reunion. After the Friday evening buffet dinner, LCDR Ray Hammock gave us an update on the health of Mrs.
Willis (widow of John Harlan Willis and the name sake of the USS John Willis). Marc Arsenault then provided a projected pictorial
presentation of Mrs. Willis’s past attendances from the year 2000 at our Lake George reunion. The main event consisted of Chairman Legg inviting shipmates to come to the podium and share
some of their navy experiences with us. Bruce Whitney, USS Joseph K Taussig, kept us laughing as he reminisced his first days
as a young inexperienced shipmate aboard the USS JK Taussig. Capt. Bill Crawford, former XO of the USS Lester accompanied
by his daughter Sue Sullivan, entertained us with the Lester fight song that he wrote back in 1961. Admiral Roy Hoffmann,
gave us a personal account of the USS Cromwell’s activities along the coast of Cuba during the Cuban crisis.
Our Saturday morning tour schedule
first took us to the USS Nautilus and the Submarine
Force Museum located at the entrance of the US Navy Submarine Base Groton. Then it was off for a ride on the Essex
Steam Train and a narrated river boat cruise with a box lunch on the Connecticut River. Our Saturday evening activities commenced with the posting of the Colors by our guests, the US Naval
Sea Cadets, Dealey Division of Stamford Ct. and accompanied by shipmates of the Joseph K Taussig. The national anthem, pledge
of allegiance, remembrance table and grace by our Newport Dealeys chaplain Jerry Skorch completed our pre-dinner traditions.
The post dinner activities included a tribute honoring Admiral Joseph K Taussig Jr. read by Duane Stum. LT Joe Latwin of the
Sea Cadets addressed the audience by enlightening us of the Sea Cadets training program and their associated duties. On behalf
of the Newport Dealeys, Chairman Richard Legg presented LT Latwin a framed large Newport Dealeys insignia patch as a thank
you gift for their participation. The formal activities ended with the retirement of the Colors. The attendance raffle grand
prize, the porthole clock went to Ray Hammock. For the shipmates who still had energy, the evening continued with music and
Chaplain Jerry Skorch again assisted by the shipmates of the USS Joseph K Taussig, conducted the Sunday morning
memorial service. Following several emotional prayers, the Newport Dealeys ship’s bell rang twice for each shipmate
that passed on during the past year. Hugs and hand shakes followed as shipmates and guests departed looking forward to next
year’s reunion in the Boston Area. Michael
Upchurch MM2 of the USS Van Voorhis, with the assistance of the reunion committee, has volunteered to assume the chairmanship
for our 2014 reunion in Boston MA.
USS Lester / USS Hartley
Loading Ballast on the Whaler Morgan