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USS Piedmont AD-17 reunion
|USS Piedmont members were welcomed back by Holiday Inn Norfolk Airport hotel staff when returning from a city bus tour.
|Two PLANK Sailors (members of the original crew assigned to the Piedmont at commissioning in 1944 at the Tampa Shipyards): (left) Willis Bloyd, Seward, Nebraska (93, aboard 1944-45) and Cecil Whitmer, Goodlettsville, Tennessee (94, aboard 1943-46). Whitmer was assigned before commissioning and was aboard for the "shakedown" cruise.
Bill Kastens, Topeka, Kansas, is the originator of the USS Piedmont AD-17 Reunion. He maintains a current roster of all members with name, address, phone number, email, years aboard USS Piedmont, and duty station or rank/rating while aboard. He also writes and issues at least three (sometimes four) newsletters each year. Newsletters include all reunion details. Sailors with email receive all communications electronically; others receive USPS mail delivery. Kastens also sends notices to print publications and websites that accept reunion notices.
Each USS Piedmont AD-17 reunion is in a different location, moving across the US. Locations are chosen by vote at business meetings after hearing presentations from potential reunion sites. The last was in Norfolk, Virginia. The next is in Omaha, Nebraska. Someone living near the destination and willing to do the legwork makes reunion arrangements. Otherwise, a Board member will travel to the location to approve plans.
The board (four members) and officers (president, vice president and secretary/treasurer) are chosen by election at business meetings.
Reunions usually are held every October for four days and nights. They enjoy two all-day bus tours of local sights and enjoy hotel meals Wednesday night and Saturday night.
Most of the members were aboard from 1944 to 1982 and sometimes bring grandchildren. They remember members who have died during the last year in an annual memorial service.
The registration fee covers meals and bus tours, and each sailor is responsible for his own hotel reservation. They have a big fundraising raffle on Friday night and use the funds to stock the hospitality room. The hospitality room where registration occurs is well stocked with snacks and drinks of all kinds. Visit www.theusspiedmont.org.
Reported by Bill Kastens, Topeka, Kansas.
VC-8 Redtail Squadron enjoys tour
Navy Captain M.E. Smith. one of the VC-8's Commanding Officers, holding the VC-8 Redtail Squadron's "Loving Cup."
The Navy VC-8 Redtail Squadron held their recent reunion at the Hope Hotel just outside Gate12A at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Lisa Willis, the Green County, Ohio, CVB representative, did an outstanding job of coordinating activities, establishing points of contact at places visited, and arranging transportation. The Hope Hotel (named after Bob Hope, and the home of the surviving "Doolittle Raiders" reunion) was an excellent choice. Ms. Billie Meeks, director of sales and catering, was a most gracious host. She coordinated all of their needs, including a generous room rate, hospitality suite, lunches, and banquet facilities.
The reunion was held Thursday through Sunday. The Thursday Night get-together and registration included catered hors d'oeuvres. Banners, hospitality bags and name tags were provided by Green County CVB. On Friday, after a complimentary breakfast buffet, Mr. Wilber Dahmer Bus Service provided transportation to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. After three hours they returned to the Hope Hotel, where a gourmet lunch buffet revitalized everyone before they returned to finish the Museum tour. There was a special guided tour through all the Presidential Aircraft from Franklin Roosevelt through John F. Kennedy, thanks to Jane Leach, Museum Special Events Coordinator. Group photos were taken by Reunion Photo Service.
The second day was equally informative and exciting. The morning was spent learning the history of the Wright Brothers and their contribution to aviation. Reunion members were bused to Federal Park of Huffman Prairie Interpretive Center, where they saw a movie about the lives of Orville and Wilber. They visited the Wright Brothers Flying Field and the Wright Brothers Museum in downtown Dayton to see all of their inventions. All of these educational adventures were scheduled and coordinated by Park Ranger Mandy Way. In the afternoon, the final tour was at Dayton's Carillon Historical Park, where they lunched at the Culp Café and toured the historical buildings and exhibits. Exhausted from the day's events they returned to the hotel to rest before their "sit-down dinner," with exquisite menu and beautiful table setting. The squadron continued the tradition of passing of "The Loving Cup" (made from a large propeller dome) full of Puerto Rico rum, a remembrance of when the squadron was home ported at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. The reunion ended with Sunday morning breakfast and "goodbyes" until next year.
Reported by Jim Rueff, Pensacola, Florida.
Reunions at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum
The Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, is one of the largest maritime museums in the Midwest, and perfect for all reunions, especially Navy groups. The Museum offers special meeting facilities and friendly staff to help organize your reunion. Arrangements can also be made for your reunion to visit local shipyards or experience an engine start-up of a World War II submarine.
The Wisconsin Maritime Museum strives to educate the public about the maritime history of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes, and includes 12 galleries and exhibit areas, along with USS Cobia, a World War II submarine.
The Museum welcomed the crew of USS Cobia for a reunion last year. Visitors to the Museum were invited to meet the men who served on board USS Cobia during WWII, to hear first-hand accounts of what it was like living on a submarine. The reunion started Friday morning with a business meeting that was open to the public. Other activities included a ceremony for the crew on the deck of the Cobia and engine start-up. On Saturday the crew manned the positions they had held on the submarine during the War, and visited with guests during tours. Visitors were treated to stories of actual events on the submarine talking one-on-one with Cobia vets.
The Museum's Riverview Room seats 120 and overlooks USS Cobia; it can be divided for smaller groups. The Roof Deck overlooking Lake Michigan and Manitowoc is great for open-air evening functions, with a small concession area for refreshments and receptions (available May 1 through September 30). The Board Room, with its pilot house decor and breathtaking views, is available for small parties up to 16 people. Museum staff can suggest caterers for every price range.
For information, contact Mike Johnson at 866-724-2356, ext 106; email@example.com. Also contact Manitowoc Area Visitor & Convention Bureau, 920-686-3071, www.manitowoc.info.