Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann
decorated Vietnam War Veteran
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2019 Norfolk Reunion in Review
This year 0ur annual Newport Dealeys reunion was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference
Center, Virginia Beach VA, on September 12 to the 15th, with approximately sixty shipmates and guests. Shipmates began checking
in early and continued throughout the day, meeting in our well stocked hospitality room with welcome greetings.
Thursday evening we gathered together and reunited with old friends. Mike Upchurch (USS Van Voorhis) introduced Charles Lawing (USS Lester) as this
year's chairman, followed by the recognition of several first time attendees all while enjoying a generous supply of soup and sandwiches.
Friday's tour of downtown Norfolk and a two hour narrated boat ride on the Victory
Rover with lunch aboard, gave us a close up viewing of the fleet ships and history of the area followed by a visit to the
Nauticus Museum and the USS Wisconsin.
On return, we had our business meeting, Marc Arsenault provided the treasurer's
report followed by a discussion of new ideas that we could implement to improve the future reunions including moving the reunion
dates to the Spring to avoid the hurricane season on the east coast. We decided to take it under advisement for further review,
however the 2020 reunion will remain in Sept. as in the past. Mike Upchurch announced the reunion committee's recommended
city choices to consider for our 2021 reunion and provided a brief
description of what each city had to offer. The voting results were mixed but Philadelphia PA was the city of choice.
Friday evening, Charles Lawing introduced our own Admiral
Roy Hoffmann (CO USS Cromwell 1961-63)
who honored us once again with his presence and a brief statement along with
his wife Mary Linn. Bill Dudley PhD (LTJG, USS Cromwell) former Director of the Naval Historical Center (1995-2004) gave a presentation on the Navy's D-Day memorial, and unveiling of it on Utah Beach
Normandy in time for the 75th anniversary of the invasion in June 2019. Captain Wyman Howard (XO USS Lester 1972-73)
followed with a short summary of his naval career, including serving on the USS Lester and then as the commander of the USS Anzio CG-68. He also talked proudly of his son who is Admiral with the Navy
Our tour Saturday morning took us to the Mariner's
Museum in Newport News for a day enjoying the area history and maritime artifacts including a full size model of the USS Monitor.
We also observed the effort to recover several original parts of the USS Monitor that were soaking in a bath of chemically
treated water to remove the accumulated crustaceans that had formed over the years. This effort has been ongoing for over
ten years and we saw a definite progress since our last visit to the museum in 2009.
Saturday evening, with
the entrance of the Honor Guard, our designated Chaplain Jerry Skorch (USS Joseph K Taussig) surprised us when he opened the
evening by singing the National Anthem, then we continued to our formal evening dinner. Later Charman
Charles Lawing introduced our guest speaker of the evening, John Hagan of the USS Lester. John had a very successful
34 year career in the US Navy which concluded with his rise to Senior Master Chief of the Navy (1992-98). He spoke of his experience and accomplishments while serving at the
Pentagon. The post banquet raffle which consisted of a number of military and nautical prizes, completed the evening with
Bill Dudley's name drawn as the winner of grand prize, the Newport Dealeys porthole clock. As we departed the dining room, Admiral Hoffmann stated that
he wanted to meet a well known highly decorated Vietnam Veteran, Carlos Garza (who started his Army career as a Tunnel Rat
in Vietnam), Carlos was attending his US Army reunion in the adjacent dining room and as they exited they quickly drew
the attention of our fellow shipmates who also wanted to meet him. The comradeship continued to the hotel lobby for additional
drinks and conversations late into the evening.
Sunday morning memorial service conducted by our Chaplain Jerry Skorch was again a moving experience as we paused
to remember the loss of several of our recently deceased Newport Dealeys shipmates who have been frequent reunion attendees
over the years. Jerry recalled his fond memories and conversations with Bob Lizta (USS John Willis). Marc Arsenault provided
an insight into USS Lester shipmate Steve Kittle's life changing experience while working in the World Trade Center Building
2 the day 911 happened. On conclusion of the service
again we expressed our well wishes and goodbyes while looking forward to our return to Washington DC for our 22nd annual reunion
I would like to thank Mike Upchurch and
wife Beverly for their continuing effort throughout this past year, attending to details that insured us of a successful 2019
Secondly, to Yvonne Costalas, our new onsite reunion coordinator from Gathering Plus for her professional effort
in arranging the hotel and tours and her continuous attention
to details throughout our stay.