Plank Owners at the 2019 Reunion
From Left to Right:
Dave Romero, Dwight Kauffman, Donnie Nolan, Joe Rydzewski, Bob White, Dennis Hatfield, Larry Jones and Russell Green.
The 2019 reunion in New Orleans has come and gone but the memories will live with Ed and me for a lifetime. We spent a lot of time mulling options for food, activities and entertainment hoping to make this reunion memorable to all. How our excitement built over the summer when reservations really began rolling in!
Visiting the World War 11 museum was a highlight for the reunion. Having visited it, we can understand why it is ranked #3 museum in the USA and the number 8 in the world! Most visitors probably felt as we did, in that there wasn’t enough time to see it all.
Our lunch cruise on the Steamboat Natchez down the Mississippi was very popular. The food was classic Southern fare, and we were entertained with traditional Dixieland music.
Our speakers on Saturday night were very well received. General Cushman’s keynote address was inspiring and thoughtful. What an honor it was to have him and his wife join us. Larry Jones, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, reminded everyone the importance of registering with the VA. Larry and his Mars Krewe is hoping to keep in touch with us for future announcements.
It was wonderful meeting up with old friends, and especially welcoming first timers into the Mars family. How exciting to think more and more of the crew are getting the word out about the fun and comradery reunions offer and will plan to attend future reunions.
Thanks to all of you for your kind support and hoping to see you all again next year in Norfolk.
Wow, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I had a great time at the 2019 New Orleans reunion. Since I didn’t get to attend the reunion in Port Huron, I was really anxious to come and begin visiting with my old shipmates.
Ms. Linda and I arrived on Tuesday, September 17th and began putting the finishing touches on the plans by assembling welcome bags and shopping for the food and beverage for the hospitality room. We had plenty of help with these tasks. Many thanks to Anne and Paul Randall, Bob Schorfheide, Larry and Peg Jones, and first-timer, Tom Waller from California, for pitching in. Special thanks to Bill Bamberg for delivering the cruise books to New Orleans for all to enjoy.
The hospitality room opened Wednesday afternoon for check-in. We were fortunate to have a large room with many tables and chairs. Ms. Linda and Anne Randall took first watch at the check-in table and greeted every arrival with Mardi Gras beads and the welcome bag. New arrivals streamed in all afternoon. As the crowd thinned, many of us ventured out to the French Quarter to sample some delicious Cajun fare.
Thursday morning, we bussed over to the WWII Museum. Many who were less enthusiastic about a trip to a museum, quickly changed their minds. This Museum is a beautiful complex of phenomenal exhibits in several buildings. Aircraft, jeeps, artillery, landing craft and a host of WWII military gear are curated to tell the story. Personal items, recording and video enhanced the experience. Seeing the trials that these men and women endured at the front and at home to keep us free made a real connection with the crew of the Mars.
We assembled in the American Quarter room for lunch where we took a moment to recall the recent passing of some of our crew and their spouses. Don Welch read the names and a moment of silence followed for personal reflection about our loss of our friends, family and shipmates. The remainder of the day was free time to relax explore the city and just enjoy the day.
Friday morning, we sailed up the Mississippi on the S/S NATCHEZ. The crew, spouses and friends settled outside on the deck in the breeze and sunshine. We had reserved seating for the luncheon buffet which featured Southern and Creole food. After the cruise, many chose to explore the French Quarter until the evening events at the hotel.
We had a great dinner Friday evening, but the highlight of the evening was the raffle. Our good friend, Bob Schorfheide took the mic and started raffling off everything that wasn’t tied down including trying to raffle Ms. Linda’s jacket! We took in $1,056 after all the dust settled, a pretty good haul. Thanks to all who participated.
The annual business meeting was scheduled for Saturday morning. Open to all, the main topic was where to have the 2021 reunion. Many of you already know that Marilou Briglan has graciously offered to host the 2020 reunion in Norfolk. San Diego, Seattle and Nashville/Memphis were mentioned. These are all great suggestions, but the driver is finding a volunteer to act as host. I will be glad to continue to assist with funds and record keeping.
Saturday afternoon found most of the crew out exploring the city and doing a bit of shopping in the French Quarter. Some of us even enjoyed a coffee and beignets at the famous Café Du Monde for an afternoon break. It was fun to just relax and enjoy the city surroundings with good friends.
The farewell dinner that evening was an exceptional event. Special thanks to Paul Randall for finding and dragging the podium into place and finishing the setup so we could get started. We were treated to a visit by a Veterans Administration advocate, Mr. Larry Jones, who answered questions and encouraged all of the crew to register with the VA in order to receive their full benefits.
The keynote speaker for the evening was retired USAF Brigadier General Michael Cushman. His remarks to the crew were enlightening, thought-provoking, and a source of pride and patriotism. I have since received a note from him thanking us for allowing him and his wife to share our last night together. I will include his note in the 2019 photo album.
The celebration went on into the night as we retired to the hospitality room and began to say our good-byes to our friends and crewmembers. It was a great time to share and reminisce. Ms. Linda and I are so thankful to have been a part of the gathering.
Looking forward to next year in Norfolk and seeing my friends again.
Click on this 2019 Reunion Pictures Link as they come into me.
William Dalmeida 2019 Reunion Pictures
2019 Reunion Pictures from Ed Biddle
2019 Reunion Work Detail