MAY 22 - 25, 2000
And Still Another Fantastic Reunion.
This 25th Reunion turned out to be yet another fantastic one. We made the decision a few months back to return to Reno, Nevada and the Sands Regency after plans fell apart to go to southern California. The Sands once again proved to be the perfect choice as it was in 1989. Shipmates and Family members checked in as early as 5 days in advance. Total attendance averaged about 250. Of those attending, 91 were active shipmates of the U.S.S. Washington. The remainder being wives, sons, daughters, friends and widows of shipmates.
On Monday afternoon, after attendees received their registration packages they proceeded to the Hospitality and Memorabilia room across the hall to meet up with old friends. At 1500 hours we gathered for the Shipmate Introductions by Division. This is always exciting. Shipmates who have not seen each other since the day they left the ship are reunited by bringing together the individual division they served on board in. Later in the evening the attendees gathered once again to muster by states. It is amazing how many shipmates live just a few miles apart and don’t know it. This is where they discover who their next golf partner will be when they arrive back home.
Tuesday Morning everyone arose early for a filling and fantastic Buffet Breakfast. At 1000 hours we boarded buses under the direction of Marshall Ray Krueger. The other end of the bus trip would find us at the docks of the MS DIXIE II at Lake Tahoe. Once again, the sailors and sea going Marines would find themselves on a ship again. The cruise was spectacular and breath taking. The weather was beautiful and everyone enjoyed the two hour cruise.
After returning to the Sands Regency, the Hospitality & Memorabilia room was reopened. Shipmates brought in son, daughters and wives and showed them the pictures of where they fought the battles, bunked down every night and where they chowed down. They shared stories with other shipmates.
So many of these shipmates are modest about there service time. Most will tell you that they were just serving their country. Yet, these times were the most serious and traumatic times in their lives. At this reunion, the Associate Unit tried something new. We conducted individual interviews in front of a video camera. We attempted to zero in on what life was like on the ship. This tape will be used on our Reunion Video and in the future in possible videos on the history of the ship. We were very successful with this and shipmates were very responsive.
Wednesday morning found us in the Corporate meeting. Shipmate and the Associate met in separate rooms and discussed various issues. One important issue was discussed by both groups. This was the placement of a U.S.S. Washington Ships Plaque in the U.S. Navy Memorial Heritage Center on the Memorial Wall. The decision was for the placement, however we needed to contribute $2,500 to accomplish this. We asked all members to contribute to this fund. The Associate Unit came up with $615 and a corporate donor that matched all donations. The shipmates contributed an additional $700. We met our goal. I would like to thank all who helped accomplish this so quickly, especially our Corporate donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
At 1130 hours the men retired to the Hospitality Room for recordings and videos as the women attended the ladies Luncheon. The Ladies gave out gifts and introduced each other. They all enjoyed an excellent lunch and great conversation.
When evening rolled around, we all gathered in the Comedy Club "Just For Laughs" located inside the Sands Regency Hotel. We were greeted at the door by this friendly doorman. The next thing we knew Mr. Danny Iannici, Mr. Doorman was up on stage and the audience was rolling on the floor laughing hysterically. After Danny left the stage, Bryan Kelly continued with the laughter. It was a great night filled with great entertainers. I highly recommend anyone passing thorough Reno to spend the night at the Sands Regency and catch the show at "Just For Laughs". You won’t be disappointed.
The final day started with the Site Committee Meeting. No decisions were made as to where yet. We will be taking the next reunion to the Northeast.
At 1100 hours we all gathered to pay tribute to 114 deceased members and wives we have lost since the last reunion. It was a somber moment as each name was read aloud and the bell was rung. Prayers were said and Taps were played. The service was then adjourned.
At 1700 hours we came together one last time for our Dinner Banquet. We started with an excellent meal prepared by the hotel chef. After dinner, we heard from various speakers including former World War II POW Ray Hammond. To close the event, we pushed all the tables back and Linda Neilson choreographed and aligned all the shipmates for a group photo. It was quite a task. The end result will be a great photo of all the shipmates in Dress Civi’s .
This brought to a close another fine reunion organized by John "Brownie" and Gladys Brown. This is their 25th successful reunion.
A special thank you to the full staff of the Sand Regency Hotel. They were very helpful throughout our stay. Thank You to Helen and her Sales Staff. Thank You to Marci and all her banquet Servers. To the Chef and her staff for all the great meals. Thanks to the Security team, Dealers, Bell Hops and the Front Desk crew for a all the pleasant service. Thank you also to Karen in the Health Club for the great message after the Reunion was over. You really took the kinks out of this Web master and Associate Presidents leg after a week of non-stop running.
Click here for
Reunion Photo Gallery
If you are Shipmate or a Descendant, and you are not a member, please E-mail or write to the below addresses.
USS Washington BB56 Associate Unit, Inc.