2012 Reunion Report

by Barry Dahlberg

Tuesday, September 25 – Norfolk, Virginia
Several of the shipmates arrived a day early to explore the Norfolk area on their own, among them were Jimmy and Katy Pollock, their son-in law and daughter, Rick and Christine Swafford, Ben and Shirley Lowery, Joe Kiefner, and Barry and Evelyn Dahlberg.

Wednesday, September 26
Registration day began with the opening of the hospitality room where the shipmates began to gather as they arrived at the hotel. Some of the early arrivals explored the Norfolk area on their own while the Pollocks and the Dahlbergs shopped for Hospitality room supplies and refreshments. The ladies setup the room in preparation for the 6:00 reception. Subway sandwiches, fruit trays, vegetable trays, chips and, soft drinks, beer and wine were enjoyed by everyone while we reviewed the tour programs. There were two first time reunion attendees, Greg and LuAnn Hinshaw and Mickey and Slyvia Lawrence. The remainder of the evening was spent in the telling of sea stories and reviewing our escapades of many years ago. Seems as though the episodes get better with every telling.

Thursday, September 27
The group departed the hotel for a guided tour of the city of Norfolk arriving at the dock of the Victory Rover for a two hour harbor cruise of Hampton Roads. As we passed the Norfolk Naval Base we were able to see several destroyer and three aircraft carriers tied up at their docks. After all the shipmates had reacquired their sea legs we arrived back at the Nauticus Museum where we were able to board the USS Wisconsin and explore the topside decks and a few of the internal spaces. After depleting the gift shop of much of its inventory, the group boarded the coach and headed for Dumar’s Ice Cream shop where the grandson of the inventor of the ice cream cone told us the story of how his grandfather created the first cone at the Saint Louis World’s Fair in the early 1900’s while he cooked cones on the original baking irons. As he made them they were given to each of the shipmates and we had them filled with the flavor of our choice of ice cream. The group returned the hotel and gathered in the hospitality room. Small groups of 6 to 10 then went off to different restaurants for the evening meal.

Friday, September 28
The tour coach left the hotel at 8:00 AM arriving at historic Colonial Williamsburg after an hours ride. Our guide, Debbie, conducted a walking tour up the main street of Williamsburg explaining the history of the buildings as we progressed. When we approached the Armory, there was a reenactment of the announcement that the British had just landed in Yorktown. When we reached the end of the street, we all were able to shop in the stores and have lunch on our own.

After boarding the coach, a short trip brought us to Jamestown State Park where we toured the recreated village complete with the three ships and Indian village. In the village, there were demonstrations firing the muskets and cannon. Reenactors were aboard the three ships to explain how they were sailed and the purpose of the items of rigging as well as what life was aboard while at sea.

Upon leaving Jamestown, the Coach took us down to Yorktown along a road that has been preserved as much as possible to the original 1700’s look. We were given a “windshield tour of the Yorktown monument, the battlefield, and the surrender road before heading back to the hotel. As the shipmates departed the bus, the whole hotel staff greeted and cheered the shipmates with waving American flags. It was a very emotional moment to be recognized like this.

The day ended with excursions to various restaurants for dinner, returning to the hospitality room to tell each other sea stories until the late hours. (Seems the sea stories get better with each reunion)

Saturday, September 29
The tour left the hotel and headed to the National Mariners Museum in Newport News Virginia where we viewed the turret of the ironclad USS Monitor. In addition to the actual artifact that was still in the restoration tank, we were able to inspect a reproduction of both the turret and main deck. The museum also contained many exhibits documenting maritime history including a separate building housing many recreational craft.

Returning to Norfolk, we entered the Norfolk Naval base for a “windshield” tour of the base. As we approached the docks we were warned not to take pictures of the ship tied up. That was sort of puzzling because on the harbor tour Thursday we all had taken many photos of the ships tied up at the docks from the harbor as we passed by the base. Guess it’s just Navy procedure to have restrictions. The tour took us passed the Admiral’s row of houses before arriving at the mess hall. Finally, after many past years attempts to get the reunion into a real navy mess hall so we could sample todays modern chow, we were final successful. All the shipmates were impressed at how the mess hall was configured. It is more like buffet restaurant with salad bar, and desert bar. The food, however, as attested by the shipmates, has not changed that much. The best surprise was the ice cream freezers placed around the hall with cones and bars for the taking. Some of us treated ourselves to several before leaving the hall. The shipmates all enjoyed the lunch.

Due to security, we were not able to go aboard an active naval vessel. As an alternative, we visited the MacArthur memorial. The General and Mrs. MacArthur are entombed in the rotunda. The museum documents the career of the General as well as the history of the US Army.

Preceding the last night banquet, cocktail hour began at 5:00 PM in the lobby of the hotel. At 6:00, the banquet opened with Jerry Thompson piping aboard of our guest of honor and speaker, Captain Isbell’s son, Retired Marine Major Charles Isbell. The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag was led by Barry Dahlberg, and the Missing Man ceremony was presented by Ben Lowery. Jimmy Pollock said Grace and dinner was served.

The evening’s program began with the appearance of King Neptune, AKA Joe Kiefner, complete with Trident, Crown, and swab/mop hair. The King greeted the crew and read a proclamation commanding that we create the toasting beverage, Grog of the Seven Seas. As Toastmaster Bill Fortenberry read the list of ingredients, Shellback Bill Kelly poured each bottle into the mixing bowl. Shellbacks from the crew were asked forward to serve the brew pitchers to each table. A bottle of Torpedo Juice (Grain Alcohol) was then produced and added to the remaining Grog, and served by the Shellbacks to those who desired a more potent drink. Toasts were then proposed by Bill Fortenberry, Toastmaster, including to the United States of America, The President of the USA, Chief of Naval Operations, The USS Arnold J Isbell, and several more before being taken up by other shipmates.

Charlie Isbell, his son and niece were introduced to the shipmates and were made honoree shipmates. We presented a replica of the plaque that is mounted on the wall of the Naval Museum in Washington D.C. to the Isbell family. Charlie spoke of the Naval Air Museum in Jacksonville Florida where an exhibit has been created the honor his father, Captain Isbell.

Ted Guess proposed a program to solicit the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mobus to have another ship named after Captain Isbell and has written to the Secretary making a case to have this done. The shipmates were all for making the effort. He has also requested that as many shipmates as possible to also write to the Secretary to support his request. A simple request as follows will serve, as his letter has made a case for the naming.

Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy
Office of the Secretary of the Navy
2000 Navy Pentagon
Washington D.C. 20350-2000

December 20, 2012

Dear Secretary Mabus,

I am a Veteran who served aboard the destroyer USS Arnold J Isbell DD 869, from 1956 -1960. I would like to add my support in naming another ship in Captain Isbell’s honor.


Feel free to elaborate on the contents of your letter, but please send one in support. For more information, contact
Ted Guess,
586 Kent Lane
Shoreview MN. 55126
Tel 651-955 -3895 e-mail guess.te@q.com

The reunion continued with a raffle of the gifts brought by each shipmate.
We ended the evening with a benediction by Jimmie Pollock


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