2004 New Orleans, Louisiana
October 25, 2004
To the Shipmates, USS SHERIDAN APA 51,
As you all know, the 5th reunion of the USS SHERIDAN APA 51 was held in New Orleans Louisiana from October 17th through the 20th. That was the official dates. However, several people, including us, arrived on Saturday. It was sure good to see everyone once again. Later that evening, Louis and I went back to the airport to pick up a car we had rented. After that, we went with several people to the Treasure Chest Casino in their shuttle bus. We didn’t get back to the hotel until one-thirty in the morning. We were sure tired and sleepy.
Next day was Sunday, arrival day and a Free Day to go sightseeing. Eleven of us, including Mr. and Mrs. Kobs, Patti, Ann, Mr. and Mrs. Stuckey, the Wally Page family and me, took public transportation to downtown. It was much cheaper than taking a taxi. At the end of the bus line, we were told we had to take a red streetcar, which runs down Canal Street to get us to the French Quarter. Well, we followed instructions to a certain point. We missed the Bourbon St. stop and went to the end of the line. We were within walking distance to the River Walk that is a three-story building made for tourists. We were hungry by then so we had lunch. We did a lot of window-shopping and tired out quickly. So, Fred and Betty Kobs and I headed back for the hotel via public transportation again.
When we arrived back at the hotel, Louis was so excited. He had been greeting arriving shipmates. At this time, in walked Herman Firmin and his wife. They were first timers to the reunion. Louis was happy to greet them. They did talk with Louis until he had to leave for the train station to pick up the Paskiewicz family, all 22 of them. They were scheduled to arrive at 3:00 pm. So, Louis excused himself from Herman and his wife, and left. Did they talk to any other shipmates? Were you one of them? If you were, please tell us how you felt to talk with someone you hadn’t seen or heard from for over sixty years. Other first timers were Jack Ferguson, his daughter and Theron Ragsdale. They stayed the entire time of the reunion and seemed to have had a good time. What we like to see happen is that they mingled with the group and everyone was friendly. Other shipmates and their spouses who attended the reunion were: Mr. and Mrs. Kornau, Herbert Gross, Mr. and Mrs. Collins, Mr. and Mrs. Graveno, Tom Stinchcomb, Guy Clowers who brought his younger brother, Mr. and Mrs. Petty, Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez, Mr. and Mrs. Hogan, Mr. and Mrs. Mork and sons, Gordon Jamieson, Mr. and Mrs. Thomassen, Mr. and Mrs. Page and family, Mr. and Mrs. Stubblefield and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Stuckey, Mr. Clingman and his two sons, Mr. and Mrs. Smalley, Lester Lawton, Mr. and Mrs. Etzler and family and Mr. and Mrs. Eudy and family. Last but not least, Patti Chandler, Ann Powers and the newspaper reporter, Daryl Tabor. A nice surprise visit was from Mike Whalen, Bill Whalen’s son, who lives in New Orleans. He came to meet the shipmates on Sunday and attended the banquet on Monday.
Monday morning we boarded two school buses and were transported to the D-Day Museum. All the shipmates were given a nametag that stated he is a veteran. We were met by volunteer docents that were full of information about the Higgins boats. The young newspaper reporter, Mr. Tabor and Jay Clingman, Lawrence Clingman’s son, took several photos of the group by the Higgins boat. The museum is very interesting. Louis made a presentation to the museum curator of an official copy of the Signing of the Peace Treaty aboard the USS MISSOURI by MacArthur and Hirohito and other United Nations dignitaries.
We browsed around, bought souvenirs and snacks. By this time, the buses had returned to take us back to the hotel. We all enjoyed the tour.
That evening at 6:00 pm, we were supposed to take a group photo outside by the pool. All the men were seated and waiting. Well, the photographer didn’t show up on time. The group then went into the banquet room, which was already for all of us. Lorraine and her daughter had decorated the tables with a Mardi Gras theme. It was colorful. This is when the photographer showed up. So, all the shipmates went back outside and it was drizzling. That didn’t bother the photo shoot. Back inside.
Gordon Jamieson introduced Mike Whalen to the group. Mike told the story his father had told him about the Philippine baby who was born aboard the USS SHERIDAN and was the first baby born under the American flag. His name is Roberto Sheridan Cayobit. He weighted 5 pounds 3 ounces. He was baptized by the Catholic Navy Chaplain Lt. J.T. Keown, USNR. Date of birth was October 21, 1944. We are still looking for him.
Next came the guest speaker of the night. I am sorry that I neglected to write his name down. However, his speech was entitled, “Turkey Shoot of the Mariannas”. He had been a pilot in WWII and saw combat in the Pacific. To the disappointment of the audience, the microphone was not working properly, so half of us heard half his story. The food was Cajun and delicious. The dessert was just as good. Chocolate cake. Since the photographer was late in arriving, he offered to take individual shots for free.
Louis called Patti to the podium where he surprised her with a collage he had put together of photos of most of the shipmates who have attended reunions for the past five years. He thanked her for all her work, especially the grand-daddy of them all, the Charleston, S.C. reunion last year. Louis then called Mr. Jamieson to the podium to present him with a similar collage in gratitude for all the folders containing history, maps, charts, copies of newsletters from aboard the ship. Mr. Jamieson generously has paid for all this on his own.
We talked about next year’s reunion and the place it could be held. Louis suggested that perhaps everyone needed to rest for a year. Or, another option we have is, there is a plan in the works to hold a reunion of all APA’s in Myrtle Beach, SC, in September of 2005. They have invited all APA 51 people to attend. A discussion was held and the idea was rejected. Someone thought that California had been suggested. Louis said not until 2006. By then, Bea Hogan stood up and suggested Pensacola, Florida would be a good choice since they were so hard hit by the recent hurricanes. She felt they needed our support to get them back on their feet. A vote was taken, so that will be our destination in 2005. After dinner came the raffle. All these items were donated. We raised $641.00; enough to get us started once again.
Tuesday was the tour on the NATCHEZ. It was a beautiful day. We left the hotel at about 9:30 am. Of course, there were many other people waiting to board the boat. I don’t know if we went up river or down river. All I know is that the paddle wheel rotated and we were on the river. We had lunch on board. It was a good serving of chicken, salad, and other items. We took snapshots of the scenery. We shopped, mingled, listened to some Jazz music, and had a good time. We returned to the hotel at about 3:30 pm.
Many of us went directly to the Hospitality Room where Larry Clingman’s sons, John and Jay, were busy at work on the computer and the scanner making copies for those who requested them. We really thank these men for all the work they did. The rest of us just sat around and socialized until our stomachs growled. Out to dinner and back again until bedtime.
Many of the shipmates and families were scheduled to depart on Wednesday including Louis and me. We said our goodbye and sadly left the hotel. Today was going to be a sort-of a Farewell lunch at the Treasure Chest Casino for those who were going to stay a day or two longer. Lorraine tells me that the casino issued $5.00 credit for lunch and $3.00 credit for drinks. Twenty-five of our group went.
On behalf of all the shipmates and especially Louis and I, we would like to thank Lorraine and Bob for all their yearlong hard work. They made up a cookbook for each of us, which were distributed at the banquet. They turned out very nice. The tables and the accessories were attractive. The time and effort that was put into organizing the reunion is appreciated by all. Thanks.
Your Shipmate and Mate,
Louis and Stella Perez
Proud supporters of our troops around the globe defending freedom