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2003 Robinson Reunion Memories

“Shuffle off, sailor!” And so we did, 44 of us, off to Buffalo, NY, for our 23rd Annual Reunion. To keep us reasonably well-behaved, we brought with us 41 significant others, mostly first mates, some friends, kids, and guests - and we had ourselves a ball. Radisson Hotel & Suites at the Buffalo Airport was our hostelry, and George Schureman, ably teamed with wife Eleanor, our meeting room hosts. Rich Tinker was originally paired with George but, alas, Rich was fighting a breathing disorder and was unable – for the first time in 14 years of intense reunion involvement – to attend.

We had barely gotten reacquainted and started the adventure stories when Buck Bedford broke out a display of flags and WW2 pictorials, which he mounted on one wall of our meeting room. On the opposite side, Walt Vereecke laid out his increasingly impressive collection of Robbie memorabilia – which attracted much attention throughout our 4-day affair. In between were the tables and chairs where the conversations flourished, with occasional visits to the well-stocked bar at one end of the room.

Billy Ogden's RestaurantBilly Ogden’s Restaurant
Thusday evening many of us enjoyed an evening meal at Billy Ogden’s Restaurant/Tavern. Master chef Andy Vincenzo, his wife Eleanor, and waitress Cindy Brandy conspired in presenting a superb meal in a wonderland ambiance that will be long remembered by those in attendance. Do you suppose that Eleanor Vincenzo’s niece-to-aunt relationship to our own Eleanor Schureman played a role here? Not only did Andy and Eleanor feed us royally Thursday, on Friday evening they reappeared at our Radisson hospitality room bearing pizza, roasted peppers and other goodies – another full meal deal!. We were indeed fortunate to receive such pampering from such great folks.

Niagara Falls 2003U.S./Canadian Tour
On Friday, a huge tour bus carried almost all of us on a magnificent tour of the Niagara Falls area, on both sides of the International Border. Unique to this outing was a requirement that participants display birth certificates as well as photo IDs or passports, presumably to satisfy border authorities we were not terrorists.

This 5-hour jaunt produced breath-taking views of the Falls from many viewpoints, including beneath - from the deck of the “Maid of the Mist” sightseeing boat. Also witnessed: the Whirlpool, Table Rock, and the Floral Clock. This was a truly spectacular experience for all those shipmates who remembered to sign up in advance and bring their birth certificates.

USS The Sullivans Tour
Downtown Buffalo lies at the eastern extreme of Lake Erie, and boasts a Naval & Military Park surrounding a small lakeport. Berthed there is the famous USS The Sullivans, DD537, a WWII vintage destroyer of the same class (Fletcher) as our Robbie. Next to her lies the cruiser USS Little Rock (CLG4), and ahead of her the submarine USS Croaker (SSK246), also WW2 veterans.

The presence of The Sullivans was one reason we had chosen Buffalo as our reunion site, but midway in the planning we were told the Park was undergoing repairs, and would not be open to visitors. Disappointing as that was, we went ahead with Buffalo planning. Upon arriving in Buffalo, we contacted the Park and learned to our joy that the Park and all exhibits were open to visitors (and had not been closed at all). A few more calls lined up a school bus and driver, and we took off Saturday after lunch for the Park.

USS The Sullivans was named for 5 brothers – Albert, Francis, George, Joseph & Madison – who enlisted together in the Navy after a close buddy was killed on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941. After training at Great Lakes NTS they were, at their own insistence, assigned to the same ship, USS Juneau (CL52). Alas, the Juneau lost a fight with a Japanese submarine off Guadalcanal in the Battle of the Solomon Islands, and was sunk 13 Nov 1942 with a loss of some 700 lives, including all five of the Sullivans. This tragedy was memorialized when President Roosevelt caused the name “The Sullivans” to be given to a brand new Fletcher destroyer.

And there she was, 60 years later, covered with tour groups of Robbie sailors renewing their acquaintance with dimly remembered decks, quarters, battle stations, heads, galleys, bunks, boilers, engines and armament. It seemed almost a religious pilgrimage to many of us old salts. We marveled at how much steeper and difficult the ladders were than we remembered. Too, all the enclosed spaces seemed more confining than we recalled. Were we really able to answer the GQ alarm in under a minute? Seems impossible now.

The exploits of The Sullivans brought her 9 battle stars in WWII from engagements in the Marshalls, Carolines, Mariannas and Philippines – the same places where the Robbie earned her WWII stars. Her actions in the Korean War won her two more stars, and she was further involved in the Cuban missile blockade and the USS Thresher recovery effort. Her name and fame are carried on by the USS The Sullivans (DDG68), an Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer home-ported in Mayport, Florida.

Banquet
Following a Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag, our Master of Ceremonies, Art Bowne, honored the memory of recently departed shipmates: Earnest G. Campbell , Korea; Morris P. Jaggers, WWII; Richard Johns, Korea; Stanley Johnson, post Korea; Duane D. LaRock, WWII; and Lloyd E. Wickes, Korea. An empty place setting, with a single rose and a memorial plaque reminded us all of our missing mates, and of our limited earthly franchises. Our own Reverend Howard Wise delivered a stirring invocation, recognizing our departed shipmates, celebrating those present, and blessing our meal. Then came our banquet meal, a delicious and copious feast fit for a king, thanks to our Radisson chefs.

After dinner came our traditional raffle. The quantity and quality of the prizes never fails to astonish. Many of the prizes were created by our creative first mates, who expended uncounted hours and personal resources in their creation. Others were donated by organizations sympathetic to our cause. Mary Ellen Ernsberger and Eleanor Schureman organized and conducted the affair in grand style. They, and all who contributed, receive and deserve our heartfelt thanks.

Our banquet ended with the traditional shipmate picture-posing for photographer extrordinaire – Bud Carlson. His work appears in the following 3 group photos.

World War II Crew
Willie Twice Crew in 2003
(Click on picture to expand)
Back Row, L to R: George Flege, George Breeden, Dave Miller
Front Row, L to R: Bill Callahan, H. H. (Buck) Bedford, Maurice Johnson

Korean War Crew
Korea Crew in 2003
(Click on picture to expand)
Back Row, L to R: Jim Reed, Luke West, Tom Clegg, B. F. Boyd,
Don Loder, Pete Masella, Art Bowne, Ron Carney
Mid Row, L to R: Bud Carlson, Frank Schwerin, George Schureman,
Bernir Schreiber, Jim Ernsberger, Joe Sabatini, Art Schuetze,
Bob Ferguson, Fred Souba, Buck Reynolds
Front Row, L to R: Jim Tomkinson, Al Shippling, Bill Gelmini,
Ray Querey, Howard Wise, Walter Vereecke, Thomas Womble

Post-Korea Crew
Post Korea Crew in 2003
(Click on picture to expand)
Back Row, L to R: Rich Gruny, Duane Neegard, Charles Smith,
Vern Compton, Ron Kaiser, Carl Slack, Robert Ennis
Front Row, L to R: Jim Lane, Wilbur Rose,
Smokey Wainscott, Bill Murphy, Hal Mullen

Welcomed Aboard!
Forty-four Shipmates, Forty-one First Mates and Guests

Buck Bedford
Art Bowne
Bobby & Rowena Boyd
George & Ora Breeden
Bill & Bill Jr. Callahan
Bud & Betty Carlson &
Bob Bridge
Ron & Rosemarie Carney
Curt Castleman
Tom & Peggy Clegg
Vern & Marge Compton
Bob & Peg Ennis
Jim & MaryEllen Ernsberger
Bob & Elaine Ferguson
George & Rita Flege
Bill & Millie Gelmini
Dick Gruny
Maurice & Mary Johnson

Ron & Joanne Kaiser
Jim & Janice Lane
Don & Venice Loder
Pete & Marge Masella
Dave & Betty Miller
Hal & Gloria Mullen
Bill Murphy & Joan Patten
Duane & Rena Negaard
Ray & Renee Query
James J. Reed
Buck & Barbara Reynolds
Wilbur & Jeannette Rose
Joe & Carolyn Sabatini
Bernie & Elizabeth Schreiber
Art & Bonnie Schuetze
George & Eleanor Schureman
Frank & Joanne Schwerin
Al & Patty Shippling

Carl W. Slack
Charlie & Patsy Smith
Fred & Joyce Souba
Jim & Maye Tomkinson & Dot Kiker
Walter Vereecke
Marcus & Judy Wainscott
Luke & Sue West
Howard & Betty Wise & Vivian
Cearlock & Deloreus Wise
Tom Womble & Billie Ramsey.

 

First Timers:

Jim Reed
Bill Murphy
Hal Mullen
Carl Slack


We end with the wish that we will see all of you, and many more of our blessed crew, next year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The USS Kidd awaits us there. May your Holidays be Merry and your 2004 be full of joy and good health.


Here's where we were in past Robbie reunions. Where were you?

1981 South Bend, IN
1982 St. Louis, MO
1983 Denver, CO
1984 St. Louis, MO
1985 Seattle, WA
1986 Baltimore, MD
1987 New Orleans, LA
1988 San Diego, CA
1989 Dallas, TX
1990 South Bend, IN
1991 Post Falls, ID
1992 Charleston, SC
1993 St. Louis, MO
1994 Denver, CO
1995 Covington, KY
1996 Myrtle Beach, SC
1997 Harrisburg, PA

1998 San Diego, CA
1999 Covington, KY
2000 Daytona Beach, FL
2001 Peoria, IL
2002 Gulf Breeze, FL
2003 Buffalo, NY
2004 Baton Rouge, LA
2005 South Portland, ME
2006 San Antonio, TX
2007 Branson, MO
2008 Boston, MA
2009 Newport News, VA
2010 Branson, MO
2011 Myrtle Beach, SC
2012 Nashville, TN
2013 Waterloo, IA
2014 Savannah, GA


Send us your comments and contributions!
Send them to Tom Clegg at
tomcleg@yahoo.com

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