Our 2017 reunion was quite different this year
due to the sudden closing of our reunion coordinators Premier Reunion Services / MLRS in December 2016. Upon hearing of our
dilemma, DESA (Destroyer Escort Sailors Association) stepped up and offered the Newport Dealeys an invitation to hold our
reunion in conjunction with their national convention and activities at the Radisson Hotel, Albany NY, under our own banner
including our own hospitality room and banquet seating, while taking advantage of their tours and related activities. The
committee agreed that utilizing this platform would allow us to meet once again and as a whole to discuss and decide how to
proceed for 2018 and the Newport Dealeys future.
After a bit of pre-reunion jitters and a less than normal sign up, the post reunion general consensus among the attendees
was that our Newport Dealeys 2017, Albany NY, reunion was different but a pleasant success and we still continued to have
lots of fun and laughs again, even though Albany NY is not a good city for tours like we were use to. The tour highlight was
a visit to the USS Slater, the only WW2 Destroyer Escort still a float. Thursday morning DESA accompanied by selected
Newport Dealeys shipmates boarded the USS Slater and conducted a scheduled formal memorial service.
I personally found that DESA members and officers were
very friendly as they recognized us as a separate group. As the days went on, I received comments such as "Wow, you guys
seem to be a really friendly group". Remember DESA was conducting a national business convention.
At one of their meetings, since their membership is dropping off too, there
was some mention that they would like to explore the possibility of changing their charter rules to allow groups like ours
to join. Presently their organization is governed by a national charter under outdated rules, with chapters in each state.
(some active, some not) At our business meeting Thursday afternoon, I polled each shipmate for their comments on the 2017
reunion experience. The consensus was that foremost, we want to keep our identity and do not want to merge as an organization
with DESA., however, we would certainly be open to a similar arrangement in the coming years, with some minor details to be
worked out by our committee. Of course future DESA convention cities and dates will still be a year to year consideration.
They also felt that the reunion dates this year and shipmate health concerns had an impact on the attendance but are looking
forward to 2018.. As of the banquet, Sept 7, DESA was still negotiating with several hotel locations for their 2018 convention.
A site location should be announced in early fall.