16th Biennial Reunion
Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel
September 19 – 23, 2018
By Dom Menta
Once again our reunion was held at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel.
The hotel has been beautifully renovated since our 2016 reunion. Sheraton staff members were very friendly and accommodating.
The adjacent mall was a little disappointing to some of us. The restaurants were not as we expected. However there were enough good eateries in the area to satisfy our taste.
Our reunion was great, only about 200 crew members, family and friends attended but it looked like a lot of fun was had by all.
The one disappointment about our reunion was the low attendance. Yes our association membership is declining, a number of our members are in poor health and some are just too old to travel.
I think for some, they don’t understand the meaning of reunion.
I found the following meaning that I think sums all of this up
Veterans who are deployed together or who serve in the same unit or combat area forge a bond that is almost unbreakable. This bond helps the service members during the worst times. A reunion allows these men and women to reconnect and share their experiences while they were in the service.
Myself and many of the guys I have spoken to look at our reunions as just that. A time to reconnect, reminisce and share stories of our time on the ship and perhaps throughout our time served in the Navy.
With Nauticus opening new areas of our ship each time we have a reunion, it is exciting to visit our ship and explore the areas we spent so much time in. Some spent so much time on board, it became “Home”, I know it did for me.
Getting back to our reunion, we had a nice turnout by our 3rd generation crew members.
I think they are getting the hang of what our reunions are about and they looked like they were enjoying themselves. We desperately need you guys to be involved in our association.
Heart felt thanks to the people who made donations to our association to be used in keeping our sea stories room well stocked with refreshments and goodies to eat. Our vets appreciated your thoughtfulness and generosity. Also thanks to the two people that donated the 5 1960s era Battleship games. They were a tremendous success and brought out the kids in us.
A winner takes all competition was held where brackets were set up and the final winner took all. A total of 16 players, young, old. men and women enjoyed playing in the competition throughout the reunion. Others enjoyed watching or just playing the game when the competition was not being held.
A plaque was awarded to the grand winner of this competition that turned out to be my daughter, Donna Bethel. A well deserved award not only for this game but also for her involvement in helping with this reunion.
On Wednesday evening our Association hosted a cocktails and hors d’oeuvres social event for the Docents to show our appreciation for what they do in presenting our ship to the public. As an added attraction three of the Docents, Bob McCarthy, Doug McLiverty and Jim Donvan in appreciation for the most volunteer hours serving the public were each awarded a plaque.
Well done men.
Our business meeting went well and ended on time. Voting was as follows: President, Darnea (Mike) Olson (1987-1990), Vice President, Glenn Foster (1988-1991). Re-elected as Treasurer, John Fox (1952-1955) Re-elected as Recording Secretary / Badger Editor, Paul Zentmyer (1988-1990).
Reunion site for 2020 will be Norfolk VA.
Our Memorial Service was held in Nauticus, approximately 92 plus names of deceased shipmates were called out by our associations Chaplain, Tim Rott. There were a number of family members in attendance to place the flower in the memorial wreath in honor of their deceased loved one. Our former crew members placed the flowers in the memorial wreath for those that did not have a family member or friend present.
As in the past the conclusion of the service was held on our ship where Chaplain Rott said a prayer to our departed shipmates. Mike Hodgis played taps and the wreath was dropped into the Elizabeth river by our Chaplain and Jane Gavin, wife of our deceased former Vice President.
The cook-out on the ship Friday night was so much better than we had at our last reunion. The food selections were excellent. Everything was in one word, “delicious”. Keep that recipe for our next reunion.
And what can we say about what followed, the “Ice Cream Social”.
A perfect top off to our cook-out meal.
Also another great banquet with The Strolling Silver Strings starting the evening off with beautiful music. We thank you for getting us in a relaxing mood before dinner was served.
As for the docents, thank you for the interesting tours. You did a great job describing the sections you took us through. Also thank you for providing information about our ship to the visiting public.
Clayton Allen, what can I say about you except that my family and I always look forward to meeting with you. We thank you for the time you take to show us things we didn’t see before.
Our wish is to see you again in 2020. Actually my two daughters and two granddaughters said they can’t wait to see you again.
Thank you to the Nauticus staff, especially Angela Mello, you were so helpful, kind and friendly to us that I think you should be considered part of our family. We all look forward to seeing you and the entire Nauticus staff again in 2020.
A gracious thank you to Molly and Ted Dey of Armed Forces Reunions, Inc (AFRI) Norfolk, VA. for another one of your flawless well planed reunions. It’s always a pleasure to see your smiling face Molly. OK and you to Ted. (He gets jealous if I don’t mention him)
I think I could say that since I have known them since first meeting them at our 1990 reunion, right?
Dom Menta #1 to #12, #14 to #16, #18 to #20, #22, #24 to #31, #33 to #37, #42, #43, #50 to #53, #59, #60, #65 to #68, #113, #114, #123 to #126, #128 to #132, #134 to #140, #142 to #147, #150, #151, #157 to #192, #194 to #196.
Donna Bethel #17, #44 to #49, #54, #55, #69 to #77, #193.
Andy Bethel #21, #23, #24, #31, #80 to #83, #103 to #112, #120 to #122, #149
Jessi Bethel #141, #78, #79,
Debbie Loftus #63
Lynn Ketelsen #38 to #41, #56 to #58, #61, #62, #64, #84 to #102,
#115 to #119, #127, #133, #148, #152 to #156, #198, #199.
Seana (Fox) Pantojas #200
Thank you for sharing your photos with us.
Also a big thank you to all that attended this reunion especially to family members that I’m sure made their husbands very happy you were here with them.
Stay well and we hope to see you all again at our 2020 reunion.
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