24th REUNION - MAY 22 - 25, 1998
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The 24th Reunion was a great success. From the arrival at the airport, to the last departure of the shipmates. The Baton Rouge Hilton Hotel was an excellent choice as a home port for our celebration. Memorial Day weekend and our Memorial Services for our departed shipmates were spectacular. The Field trip to the Rural Museum was enlightening, the Corporation and Associate Unit meetings were very productive and the Banquet was superb.
Registration began on Friday morning. Later that afternoon, John Brown welcomed everyone and then tickled our funny bones with some hilarious jokes and stories. The Laughter continued with a special welcome to the South from Ann Vidrine, Cajun Fiddler. Ann is quite the entertainer and made us all feel at home in Baton Rouge.
After the Registration, the reunion continued with the shipmates introductions by divisions and then by state. A lot of old friends reunited after 55 years. It’s always a pleasure to find a buddy who you had thought of over the years and never knew what happened after they were discharged.
On Saturday, festivities started off with a breakfast served professionally. We then boarded busses and headed for the Rural Museum. We all had a chance to see how life was before technology started taking over our lives. The comment "I remember that" was heard more than once.
From the Rural Museum, we went to the USS Kidd & Nautical Center. Upon arrival we gathered on the banks of the Mississippi River overlooking the Historic World War II Destroyer USS Kidd (DD-661). Here we conducted our Memorial Service honoring all our shipmates and relatives who have passed on since our last gathering 18 months ago. The service was rather moving. Prayers were recited and each name was read, followed by a chime on the ships bell. Eighty-five names were honored. The surviving relatives then proceeded to the USS Kidd’s Memorial Eternal Flame Monument and place the wreath. This was followed by the Surviving shipmates passing by one by one and saluting the departed friends and shipmates. We then heard the bagpipes play "Amazing Grace" and then the Bugler with "Taps". This was immediately followed by the firing of the five inch mounts of the USS Kidd three time. The whole service was breath-taking and memorable for all. A special thank you to the Director, Mr. Maury Drummond for such a splendid event.
For Larger View
Sunday found all the Shipmates and Associate members in Corporation meetings. A lot of items were discussed and resolved.
At noon, Gladys Brown conducted the ladies Luncheon. All attending were entertained by Ann Vadrine once again, prizes were awarded and all hated to see it end.
With the rest of the afternoon free, many attendee’s headed for the "Belle of the Rouge" Casino. We did have a few winners. One person hit on the slots for $3,700.00. A lot of shipmates also gathered in our Memorabilia room and the lobby of the hotel and rehashed old stories.
Monday started with the Site Committee Meeting. The decision was made to conduct the 25th reunion in the state of California about October 1999. No particular city was selected. The city will not be known until proposals from the various Chamber of Commerce are received, reviewed and inspected.
Monday evening brought us to the conclusion of the 24th Reunion with the USS Washington Reunion Banquet. After a short welcome by our Executive Director John Brown, Everyone savored an excellent meal of Prime Rib, followed by Chocolate Silk Pie.
After the meal, John Brown presented Life Time Honorary Certificates to the Reunion Group Committee members. Those honored by John were Bob Sutterland (MI), Ray Kruger (IL), Jim Loewe (MO) and Elmer Cox (IN) for many years of service to the Reunion Group.
Also honored by Howard Wright and the Associate Unit were the Wives of the committee members for their service to our group. They were Kitty Sutterland, La Verne Kruger, Mary Ann Loewe and Gladys Brown.
Associate Member and Reserve Officers Association, Public Relations Officer, Captain Michael Smith updated us on the progress of the Unit Citation award. We wish to thank Captain Smith for his dedication for all his efforts that he has put into acquiring this much deserved citation to the shipmates of the USS Washington. Thanks Mike!
The banquet continued with laughter created by Humorist Ed Taylor. Mr. Taylor kept everyone in stitches with laughter for close to an hour with his jokes and stories. If you ever have the chance to catch him, do so. You will not be disappointed. Ed will leave you with your side aching from laughter and a smile on your face that won’t go away for days.
John Brown once again took the podium and read us the purpose of our reunions and thanked everyone for joining us. He then wished everyone happy travels and concluded the 24th reunion.
This reunion was a great success. It could not have proceeded so smoothly and problem free with out the professionalism and dedication of the whole Baton Rouge Hilton staff. A special Thank You to Stacie Currie - Sales Manager for a wonderful time.
A heartly THANK YOU to all the Shipmates, Associates, and Guests for a wonderful reunion and to John and Gladys Brown for organizing all 24 great reunions.
If you are a Shipmate or a Descendant, and not a member of the Reunion Group or Associate Unit, we would like to hear from you. E-mail at the below addresses.
USS Washington BB56 Associate Unit, Inc.