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2013 Reunion Summary

by Don Gillispie, Reunion Committee Chairman


If you missed this reunion, you missed one of our best.  The location could not have been better and the weather was absolutely marvelous. With so many things to do in the San Diego area, many of us arrived early to take advantage of the area attractions.  I have to say that we have never been pampered by any of our previous reunion hotels like we were by the Kona Kai Resort. If we needed anything, they were most accomodating by making sure that we received it.

On the first day of the Reunion (Monday, 9 Sep 2013), we gained access to the Hospitality Suite at 10:00 AM to prepare it for our reunion.  Paul & Mary Daraska along with their guests Steve and Karen Lingle and Frank and Donna Riggio did a great job with the decorations and Larry Bennetts helped me with refreshments and setting up for memorbilia display and registration.  At 1:00 PM we opened the hospitality suite for registration and for fellowship among attendees and their guest. Thanks to Larry for volunteering to coordinate registration this year.

At 5:00 PM we gathered in the patio near the bar for our Welcome Reception.  It was fun to renew old aquaintances and to hear what was new in their lives since our last gathering in St. Louis.  This is always a layed back informal event that is popular with everyone and this year was no exception.  After the reception, many of us got together for dinner at a local Seafood Restaurant which are abundant on Shelter Island where our hotel was located.

On the second day of the reunion, we gathered in front of the hotel at 9:30 AM for the first of two full days of tours.  The bus was a little late, but we were on the road by 10:00 AM in a beautiful new bus for a short trip over to the former Naval Training Center where many of us went to boot camp and/or service schools.  Our first stop was at the USS Recruit where many of us had our first exposure to the seamanship skills that we used throughout our tour in the navy.   There have been a lot of changes since the Navy turned the base over to the city of San Diego, but they have done a good job of preserving the history of the time so many of us remember.

After a bus tour of other points on NTC (now called Liberty Station) we moved on across the Coronado bridge for a Bus tour of Coronado Island  followed by a stop at Seaport Villiage.  From there we were whisked back to Shelter Island for a delicious lunch at the Bali Hai Restaurant.  After lunch we were bused up to Mt. Soledad for a impressive tour of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial.   After the tour bus returned us back to our hotel, we were on our own until the next day.  With so many activities available in the San Diego, no one found it hard to find something to do.

On the third day of the reunion (Wednesday), while waiting for our tour bus in front of the hotel, we had an unexpected treat when the Guided Missile Cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG-71) entered the harbor.  Then it was back on the bus for the second day of tours which started with a tour of the USS Midway (CV-41) which has been converted to a museum and moored at one of the piers at the foot of Broadway in San Diego.  

After the Midway tour we had a lunch at Tom Ham's Lighthouse Restaurant where the food was excellent and the views even better.  With our stomachs full, we boarded our bus once again for a ride down to a small park next to the Midway Museum that was set up as a National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military.  Next we moved to the starboard side of the Midway for our final tour, a tour of the north end of San Diego Harbor on a tour boat.  It gave us an opportunity see many of the landmarks we had previousy visited from the harbor side. 

The fourth and final full day of reunion activities started with an audit of the books by Bill Hatcher and Conrad Maher and overseen by Larry Bennetts who was standing in for our Secretary/Treasurer Tom Dannatt. Tom was unable to make it to this reunion.  Thanks to all.  

At 1:30 PM our President Paul Daraska opened our Business Meeting in the Hospitality Suite. Congratulations to Paul Daraska, Bill Evans and Tom Dannatt who volunteered to continue in their current positions and were elected to do so.

At 5:30 PM everyone gathered around the hotel fountain for group pictures.  From there we moved into the Banquet room for a moving Memorial Service to our departed comrads conducted by our Association Chaplain Paul Squire.  From there we moved on to the Farwell Banquet and a very tasty meal and great fellowship with our shipmates and their mates.

Following the meal, we had our drawings for the prizes that people brought to the Banquet followed by another 50/50 drawing. The drawings have become a very popular part of our reunions and I would like to extend a very special thank you to Larry and Dee Dee McMaster for their hard work to set up and conduct them.  Their efforts to oversee the drawings at our Welcome Reception and Farewell Banquet has added another $142.50 to our Association Treasury. 

When all was said and done, our income for the reunion was $7,032.50 while expenses totaled $6,572.84.  That leaves us with an additional $459.66 in our bank account that can be used for various administative costs required to keep the Association going until our next reunion in 2015 at San Antonio, Texas.

Our service in the navy has taught us that no matter what the activity is, everything goes smoother when we act as a team. I have found that the same principal applies very well for setting up and conducting one of our reunions.  I would like to recognize the contributions of the following members of the 2013 Reunion team for their outstanding work:

Larry Bennetts - Registration & Hospitality Room Refreshments

Paul and Mary Daraska - Hospitality Room Decorations

Conrad Maher - Group Pictures

Larry and Dee Dee McMaster - Drawings & Prizes

Paul Squire - Memorial Service

Edward Williams - Pre-reunion email blasts.

Bill Evans, Bob Anhalt, Gary Geist and Tom Dannatt - Team members