A Great Success !
The 1996 Reunion was a huge success and all that attended had a great time. Everyone left home with concerns as to the condition of the Wilmington Holiday Inn and the damage it may have suffered because of the previous two hurricanes over the past two month. Upon arrival, they found that the only damage was to the street sign. However, they did have a welcome "USS WASHINGTON REUNION GROUP" on the marquee. Margaret, JoanAnn, Gina and the rest of the staff of the Holiday Inn went well beyond their call to duty to accommodate our group of close to 400. A huge THANK YOU to the full staff of the Holiday Inn, Wilmington, North Carolina.
The Reunion got underway with Registration on Wednesday. Shipmates had the opportunity to relax from the drive, to get situated in their rooms. Some spent most of the evening at the hotel entrance awaiting the arrival of shipmates they have met from past reunions.
On Thursday, an introduction of all the shipmates was conducted. First, they were introduced by Division. This was a chance for shipmates to reunite with those they worked next to over 50 years ago. Then they were asked to muster by State. This gave the shipmates a chance to see what former crewmembers were living within their own state. Florida had the largest number of attendee's and Michigan placed second.
Friday was a very special day. This day would find all the shipmates and families onboard the USS North Carolina BB55 . It was very emotional for some who had not been onboard since they left the ship after the war. The North Carolina may not be the same ship, but it is built from the same plans. The similarities were striking. Dad’s were showing sons and daughter where their General Quarters were, where they bunked and even where they won $400.00 at Poker (Bill W.). One Daughter related that her Father never mentioned much about the war until then. She said he was yaking up a storm. She enjoyed every minute and hung on his every word. I’m sure it even brought the two of them even closer. I experienced a rather emotional moment myself. I lost my father in 1989 to cancer. I have a photo of Dad on the fantail in front of the crane. As I was boarding, I spotted the crane and found my emotions starting to well up inside me. Dad was smiling down on me at that moment, and I felt so proud to be the son of a Marine! His son !
Later that day, a joint memorial was held with the USS North Carolina BB55 and the USS Washington BB56. Respect were paid to all those that we have lost to the Supreme Being in the past few years. A wreath was released over board with Taps and a Rifle volley following.
Saturday evening brought everyone together once again for the conclusion of the reunion with a Banquet. After a superb dinner of Surf and Turf, all were greeted with a few words from the Officers attending. Then came an rousing speech by our guest speaker Naval Historian Paul Stillwell of the Naval Institute. Mr. Stillwell related some rather amusing and humorous stories on Admiral Willis A. Lee. The banquet continued with dancing to the music of DJ Joey Dee. All who attended had a great time.
The banquet brought to a conclusion the 1996 reunion. It was a great success. We selected this location at the last reunion because of our sister ship the USS North Carolina BB55 . The date was selected to coincide with the reunion of the shipmates of the USS North Carolina BB55 . This combination of friends, family and past memories resulted in a very successful reunion. A great time was had by all who attended.
If you are a Shipmate or a Descendant, and not an active member of the Reunion Group, now is the time to join. E-mail or write to the below addresses for an application to our fine group.
Associate Unit Director