2010 Reunion Report

by Barry Dahlberg

Day 1, Tuesday, September 28

Registration and check-in began at 10:00 AM.  in the hospitality room at the Doubletree Hotel. A total of 51, 27 shipmates and 24 spouses, family and friends registered.

Bill Fortenberry and his brother Dub, Glen and Sue Van Schaack, Ben Bender’s sister and sister-in-law Ann Pickering and Helen Rossi, Ronnie May, Larry Krueger and his son and daughter Larry Krueger and Darla Trujillo, were first time attendees.

This reunion was to be a combine reunion with the USS Rogers who had not gotten together for 3-4 years. After getting together with the shipmates who had done their past reunions, we decided to do the combination. Unknown to all of the planners, some other Rogers shipmates had been planning a February 2011 event. We didn’t become aware of this before the announcements were mailed to both mailing lists. I had many calls from the Rogers shipmates and explained what had happened, advising them they could attend either or both. As a result, none of the Rogers shipmates elected to attend the combine reunion. As it turned out only Ben Bender and I were the only shipmates who had served aboard both ships were there for the Rogers. It seemed like a good idea, but we won’t try that again.

Everyone gathered in the hospitality room at 6:00 PM to renew old friendships and a welcoming reception of   Submarine sandwiches, fruit and cheese, chips, snacks, wine, beer, and coffee. The coming day’s programs   and tours were outlined to make sure all the participants were on board. The  wives of the shipmates were  recognized and thanked for their support.

Day 2, Wednesday, September 29

After breakfast in the hotel dining room, 30 of the group boarded 2 tour buses for the 1 hour trip north to Everett  Washington for a tour of the Boeing Assembly Plant and Museum. We arrived just 15 minutes before the escorted tour began. As we were seated in an auditorium, our guides gave us a short briefing and the rules of the tour. We then viewed a short movie on the history of the Boeing Company before boarding the Boeing tour bus for the short trip from the museum across Paine Field Airport to the aircraft parking area on the north end of the field… As we cruised past the Boeing painting hanger where all the Airliners are given their final paint colors, the Boeing guide pointed out the various planes that were on the tarmac awaiting final checkout before delivery to the various worldwide airlines. As we proceeded east across the highway overpass to the assembly plant located on the far side, our guide explained that all the airliners also traveled across the same overpass upon completion of assembly, and that it was always done in the middle of the night so as not to disrupt traffic. It seems that the sight of a 747 crossing the highway sometimes startle the drivers causing accidents.  At O’Hare Airport in Chicago it doesn’t seem to bother anyone that there is aircraft crossing over the main entrance regularly at all hours of the day.

As we passed along the gigantic assembly building, our guide explained that if you were to walk all the way around you would have traveled three and a half miles. The bus stopped about half way down the building where the entrance to the 747 assembly floor is located. We had to walk about a tenth of a mile to reach the elevator in the center of the building. Boeing supplied a golf cart for those who needed one. We were taken to the third floor level to a balcony overlooking the 747 assembly area. There are four cockpit jigs where the cockpit sections are assembled, then moved to the other side of the area where the two wing assembly jigs and final assembly is located. When all the main assemblies are merged, the airframe is moved toward the main door where internal and other assemblies are added. When everything is completed the aircraft is moved out the 300 foot door and across the highway for testing and painting. As we were leaving, there were several more shipmates taking advantage of the Boeing provided golf cart.

The group reboarded the Boeing bus and proceeded to the next area of the building where the 767s and 787s are being assembled. We were again taken to a third floor balcony situated between the two assembly areas. The assembly methods are similar to the 747 except that the 767 was put together like an automobile line. The sections are constructed alongside the line and assembled at stations as the airframe moved forward toward the 300 foot door. The 787 also moved down an assembly line with sections added as it progressed. The difference between the two lines is that all the modular sections of the 787 are constructed all over the world and shipped to Everett Washington via specially modified 747s and assembled in this plant. The assembly area dimensions are 1200 X 400 feet 100 feet high. This space is large enough to accommodate 24 Destroyers the size of the USS Isbell.

Upon returning to the museum, the crew had lunch at the food court and inspected the various exhibits illustrating the Boeing Products with mockups and sections of actual airframes.

Upon returning to the hotel, the hospitality room became the gathering point until taps.

Day 3, Thursday, September 30

After breakfast, we boarded the coach for the trip to Bremerton Washington via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to visit the USS Turner Joy and the Bremerton Naval Base. Upon arriving at the Turner Joy, we were divided into three groups and escorted aboard by docents for a tour of the ship that included the bridge, forecastle, wardroom, captain’s cabin mess hall, engine room, and boiler room.

When the ships tour was complete, we boarded 2 Navy buses that took us aboard the base on a tour past the four mothballed aircraft carriers, USS Ranger CVA 61, USS Independence CVA62USS Kitty Hawk CVA63, and USS Constellation CVA 64. The group had lunch at the Samuel Adams Brew House, the on base restaurant. After lunch we saw more of the base but were not allowed in the shipyard area due to security issues. The buses returned us to the Ferry Dock, where we boarded the ferry back to Seattle. The one hour trip across Puget Sound provided us with a view of Mount Rainer, the Seattle skyline and ships traversing the sound. Our tour bus met us at the landing and returned us to the hotel for another evening of comradeship.

Day 4, Friday, October 1

We started the day boarding the tour buses for a tour of the Seattle area that included the Klondike Gold Museum, UPS Memorial Park, Washington Island, Lake Washington locks, Fishing Boat port, and time to explore Pike Place Market. We returned to the hotel at 3:00 PM to prepare for the banquet.

Cocktail hour began at 5:00 PM. Our Guest Speaker, Ensign Michael Schermerhorn was piped aboard at 6:00 and the banquet began. After welcoming Ensign Schermerhorn and presenting him with an Isbell hat and cookbook, he was inducted as an honorary member of the crew.

The pledge of Allegiance to the flag was followed with the Benediction by Jimmy PollockBen Lowery conducted the Missing Man Ceremony.  Grace was said by Jimmie Pollock followed by dinner served at 6:30.

After dinner Jerry Thompson was presented with The Lone Sailor Award and declared Ship’ Boatswain recognition of piping our guests aboard for the past eight reunions.
Ensign Schermerhorn, who had also served as our guide at the Bremerton Naval Base the day before, then introduced himself and told  us how he had enlisted 18 years before and risen to the rate of Master Chief before being commissioned Ensign. His service in the submarine forces prompted many questions about submarines and he delighted educating us “Squids” (surface sailors) about the “Bubbleheads” (submarine sailors) service.

Barry Dahlberg discussed next years 2011 reunion that will be held in the Chicago area, outlining the tentative plans and tours. The 2012 reunion was proposed to be held in the Norfolk Virginia area.

The Banquet evening was concluded with the raffle of prizes supplied by the shipmates that represented their home areas.

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