by Barry Dahlberg
Tuesday, September 20
The day before the start of the reunion, several shipmates arrived to start early. Barry and Evelyn Dahlberg arrived to make sure everything was in order for the event’. Jim and Katy Pollock, Joe Kiefner, Ben and Shirley Lowery, Bill and Shirley Kelly, Jim and Marcella Foster, and Max and Lucy Geyer, also arrived during the afternoon. Jim and Katy Pollock helped with the shopping for the hospitality room supplies. Later in the evening, we all went to dinner at the La Tisa Restaurant as a group using the hotel’s shuttle van.
Wednesday, September 21
Registration day started with a deluxe continental breakfast in the hotel’s lounge. While some pursued individual activates and gathered in the Hospitality Room, Ben Lowery and Barry Dahlberg shopped for the reception food as the ladies prepared the Hospitality Room to welcome the shipmates. All enjoyed Subway sandwiches, chips, cheese, and vegetable trays, and drinks. The plans and schedules for the upcoming programs and tours were reviewed to insure everyone was on board with timing. The balance of the evening was composed of renewing old friendship, exploring scrapbooks and just getting caught up with other shipmates.
Thursday, September 22
After breakfast in the hotel lounge, the crew gathered at the front entrance in anticipation of boarding the tour bus. The bus arrived at 8:10 AM right on time for an 8:30 AM departure, and by 8:20 we were loaded and ready for departure with the exception of our tour guide who showed up at 8:40.
Our first stop on the tour was the McCormick Family estate and Cantigny Museum. Some of the shipmates toured the family mansion and gardens, while others elected to do the Museum. The estate is comprised of 200 acres with gardens and greenhouses. The mansion served the family for over 100 years before becoming a museum destination. The Cantingy Museum was created by Colonel McCormack (Publisher of the Chicago Tribune) as a tribute to the WW1 Regiment he commanded in France. It portrays all the recent wars from WW1, WW2, Korean, Viet Nam, and the Gulf Wars. The exhibits included the village of Cantigny and WW1 trenches, South Pacific landings and Germany WW2, Korean, and Viet Nam jungles. An outside display of 15 Army Tanks included versions from WW1 through present day armor.
Lunch was enjoyed at the museum before reboarding the bus enroute to Fermilab. Upon arriving at the entrance we were greeted by the guide staff and briefed on Fermilab history and function. A trip to the 17th floor brought us to a tabletop model exhibit of the lab grounds and a view that included the Chicago skyline 40 miles distant. The guide explained the mission of the facility is cutting edge science and tried to educate us about the 57 varieties of sub atomic particles like Mus, quarks, and leptons. The study of these particles makes use of the Tevetron particle accelerator that we were then taken to explore. We were able to see the linear accelerator portion and all the equipment needed to operate that portion, but the 1 mile diameter ring where the atom smashing occurred was off limits.
During the return trip to the hotel, we passed the Morton (salt) Arboretum and the world headquarters of McDonalds.
Friday, September 22
The day began again with breakfast at the hotel. We boarded the tour bus for the trip to Great Lakes Naval Training Station at 7:30 AM. Our first stop at the base was the Recruit Graduation Ceremony conducted in the drill hall on Camp Barry. The crew was directed to a section of the stands reserved for ship reunion visitors. The two hour program opened with the entrance of the recruit companies and the piping aboard of the guest of honor, the Canadian naval secretary accompanied with an 18 gun salute and all honors. Two Navy bands, a flag drill, and a rifle drill preceded the passing in review of the recruits.
Our next stop was the USS Whitehat, a full mockup training ship used to familiarize the recruits with what they will encounter after being assigned to a ship in the fleet. The mockup included a sample of shipboard berthing spaces, deck equipment, painting stage, refueling rigging and bridge.
Buffet lunch at the Port-O-Call on base club was enjoyed on the enclosed veranda overlooking Lake Michigan. A brief window tour of the base buildings and Ross Field, where those of us who went through Great Lakes had their graduation, brought us to the Navy Exchange where we were able to purchase any of the uniform supplies or souvenirs. A visit to the Naval Museum completed our visit and we returned to the hotel for an evening of comradeship.
Saturday, September 24
The tour to the inner city of Chicago began at 8:00 AM, arriving at the lakefront and hour later right in the middle of a marathon. After several detours, we finally made our way to the museum campus on the lakefront. Our first stop provided a great photo op of the Chicago skyline. We had planned to make our second stop a memorial service at the War Memorial Wall at the entrance to Solider Field, because of rain, we elected to have Jimmy Pollock hold it inside the bus.
The tour proceeded to Lower Michigan Avenue to the docks of Mercury River Tours to board a cruise up the Chicago River as far as the Sears Tower and back down to the locks and out into the outer harbor. As we approached to outer breakwater, the swells coming in off the lake began to rock the little ship and most of the shipmates tested their sea legs as we did aboard the USS Arnold J Isbell. When we docked the tour headed to Navy Pier, the cities commercial maritime facility dating to 1900 and since converted into a convention and amusement center. Everyone explored the attractions, selected a food concession and had lunch on their own.
We boarded the bus driving back to Michigan Ave passing a 30 foot statue of Marilyn Monroe posed in her famous “The Seven Year Itch” movie pose over the subway air vent. Driving down the “Magnificent Mile” we exited at the north end and continued on to Division Street along the lakeshore park and then departed Chicago for the ride back to the hotel.
Cocktail hour began at 5:00 PM with a cash bar, the banquet dinner at 6: PM started with the piping aboard of Command Master Chief Leon Walker who along with his partner Tamera Dennis, declared honorary shipmates, presented with ship’s hats, coffee cups and a ship’s cookbook. Ben Lowery conducted the Missing Man Ceremony, and Jimmy Pollock said Grace before dinner was served.
The program continued after dinner with a discussion of proper toasting procedures when Bill Fortenberry interrupted with an order in hand from King Neptune to concoct a toasting potion “Grog of th Seven Seas” as a proper drink for the crew to toast with. A request was made for two Shellbacks from each table to fall in as servers and was promptly carried out. Toastmaster Bill Fortenberry
read King Neptune’s Order, Barry Dahlberg mixed a bottle of juice, each representing one of the world’s seas the ship had sailed. A nonalcoholic portion was served and then a final bottle of 190 proof torpedo juice was added and a second round of spiked drink was served. The toasts began with “To the United States of America”, “the Ship”, and after many more evolved into anecdotes of things that happened on board over the many years of service. The toasts were followed by the introduction of Master Chief Walker who gave us an insight of his function at the Great Lakes Training Center as well as his personal experiences in the Navy. His description of the aftermath of the USS Stark bombing and his personal involvement was fascinating. The raffle of items contributed by the shipmates completed the program. A benediction was given by Jimmy Pollock and the evening and reunion declared complete.