Reunion of the
25 - 26 - 27 - 28, 2003
Our reunion is now history and all of us that attended are looking forward to a repeat performance. Unlike the normal rainy Washington weather, the skys were clear the whole time we were there. It was a perfect in every way. By the way, before I get started, I'll take this opportunity to apologize for the lousy photographs that I took. I was taking them through a video camera that takes stills as well. I won't make THAT mistake again. However, Don "Red" Bassler did a fantastic job.
The day we arrived we got the Hospitality Suite opened up and ready for business. We sent out a team (Doc Pannell and Dale Pritchett) to get the necessary provisions from the Base package store. Fortunately, it didn't take long. This was one thirsty bunch.
wasn't long until we had a Hospitality Suite was full of people. I think
everyone was having a blast being reunited once again with shipmates that
they haven't see for 30-40 years! The stories flew. Geeze, these alone
was worth the trip. Capt. Hipple and Capt. Smith were masters of the stories.
It was hard to take time to go to the bathroom as you might miss something.
Well, it went on and on, well into the night. Somewhere around midnight
or 0100, the days travels started taking it's toll on people as they crawled
back to their rooms. A few of us just wouldn't give up the ship. So, down
to the hotel bar we went. We closed that place down and went back to the
suite. Well, there was still plenty of beer left and we were still thirsty.
You can imagine.... At any rate, we gave up the ghost at about 0300 or
Well, after a whopping 2 1/2 hours sleep (ugh!), I dragged my butt out of bed, caught a quickie shower and went back to the suite to check out the damage. I popped open a beer and had a few swallows and tried to pick up some of the beer cans, bottles and cups before people started showing up. You see, we were meeting for breakfast early to catch a boat to Tillicum Village on Blake Island for the Salmon Lunch and show.
There was a van to transport us to the dock to meet the boat, but, we had to make two trips to get us there. I was in the first load. Although the was no rain, it was a chilly morning with a little wind. Thinking back on it, that was probably the best thing for us that may have had one beer too many! The boat finally arrived and we got on board. Finally, warmth.
The boat ride over was about 2 1/2 hours. That was a long trip in our condition. No booze. But, as the morning wore on, the warmer it got and several of us went outside to take in the fresh, crisp, clean air. The pilot stopped by a marker buoy where a few sea lions were hanging out. They were definitely not camera shy. So, we took several pictures while they barked at us.
When we finally arrived, it was a relief to get out feet back on the ground. They had hot steamed clams waiting to prime us for lunch. There was a ferry of about 3-400 people that arrived about 20 minutes or so after we did. Hence, we were first in line for everything. The food was great and the entertainment interesting. However, there were no lights in this huge room that we were seated in. The only light was from a few candles on the tables. We might have been eating blindfolded. At any rate, it was a great lunch and everyone enjoyed it.
After lunch, we boarded the boat once again for the trip back. They took us via the Bremerton Shipyard where we saw all kinds of ships and submarines. Mostly, in mothballs. Of course, it just wouldn't be right if I couldn't get in some kind of trouble. I was trying to take some pictures of the subs and this police boat comes up near us and with their bull horn, they scream at me that this is a restricted area and pictures are Not Allowed! Well, fine. I got the shots that I wanted anyway. I mean, it's not like you couldn't have stood on the opposite shore clicking pictures with a telephoto lens or anything, right? Well, at any rate, we finally got back to the pier and the van shuttled us back to the hotel, the suite, the booze and the stories.
Capt. Hipple and Capt. Smith had all of us spellbound with their stories. It got to the point where I had to turn on my video camera to capture some of them. In my advancing age, I can't remember what happened yesterday so I need all the help I can get. This went on until about 2300 when most of the people started heading for their rooms to collapse from exhaustion. However, a few of us hung on.
So, there was George Riolo, Greg Riolo, Bobby Poe, Shelly West and myself continuing to suck up the suds. Someone decided that we should go out and hit a bar or two. George said he had gotten the name of a bar or two. I said that I'd call a cab and off we went to one of his recommendations. The cab driver knew of the bar that George suggested and we drove through town, though the residential district and off into the forest. There wasn't a light in sight. I was getting a little concerned where the driver was taking us. Eventually, a bar popped up out of no where. We paid the driver and in we went.
I gotta tell ya. Only George could have picked this one. It was like we had arrived 30 years ago in the Philippines. Outside of Bobby, Shelly and I, everyone there was Filipino! Disco lights, loud music and dressed like they all came out of the late 60's. That's OK. We had a blast and we closed the place. We called a cab and finally made it back to the hotel. Up to the suite we went for a few beers before we checked it in for the night. It was 0300 and my aching body was telling me all about it.
At 0700, we were up again for breakfast. That 3 hours sleep wasn't enough for this old man. But, what the hell. After breakfast, we assembled in the lobby for a trip to the ferry and a ride to Seattle to visit the Russian Submarine. Hey, I'm telling you, these guys had it tough. There's not enough room to fart. However, it was basically set up similar to our boat. I'm sure that with a little effort, we could have gotten her underway, had we been sober. After the tour of the boat, it was back on the ferry and a ride back to Bremerton to the waiting van and back to the hotel. Of course, it was back to the suite and a few more beers.
At about 1800, we departed for the famous Horse & Cow. Now this was the total reason that I started all this up in the first place. It was all I expected. Hundreds and hundreds of plaques from boats over the years. They had all kinds of contraband that was taken off boats. It was truly and enjoyable visit. We had dinner and of course several more beers and drinks. At about 2130, we returned to the hotel and back to the suite. By this time, just about everyone was in need of a wheel chair. Total exhaustion was setting in but the refrigerator still had beer in it and we weren't going to leave any more that absolutely necessary. I stayed until about 0200 and just couldn't take it anymore. I bid everyone good-bye and staggered down the hall to my room.
I was up at 0430 to clean up the Hospitality Suite and pack my clothes. Doc and I left with Pete for the ride back to the airport. I do regret not being able to attend the farewell breakfast. I would have enjoyed seeing these folks one more time.
So, what's left? Some great memories, a few pictures and a truck load of empty beer bottles & cans. I hope you enjoy the story and the pictures. Keep you eye on the web site. You may see a Poll on the NEXT Reunion soon. You won't want to miss it!
Did you attend and want to relate your memories? Why not go to the Remora Discussion Forum and write them down for all of us to enjoy?