The 2013 USS Lloyd Thomas Reunion in Gettysburg turned out to be a fine event, in spite of the challenges of having the National Parks closed for most of that week by the Federal shutdown. There were 89 attendees this year, with 51 of them being shipmates. There were 11 shipmates who were attending their first Lloyd Thomas reunion.
On Tuesday, the first day of the reunion, we visited the Gettysburg National Military Museum and Cyclorama. Following a tasty lunch at the Appalachian Brewing Company on Buford Avenue, the group again boarded the buses for a battlefield tour. Our tour guides did a great job of explaining the battle from the main roads and from several stopping places on private lands.
That evening, the group gathered at the Hickory Bridge Restaurant, and visited their farm machinery museum and country store before sitting down to a family style dinner of pork tenderloin, fried chicken, and Crab Imperial. After dessert, General Robert E. Lee and his wife inspired the group with conversations regarding their family life.
Wednesday morning’s scheduled event was to be a tour of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Farm, but being a National Park, we were unable to visit there that day. Coordination with the tour agency allowed us to substitute a visit to the Seminary Ridge Museum. Shipmates and wives toured the three floors of this museum, and some ascended to the cupola where General Buford observed the approaching soldiers at the beginning of the battle. Lunch was held at the historic Dobbin House restaurant, and after lunch about 20 members gathered at a private pond to observe the speed trials of the LT Jr., the model of DD764 constructed by shipmate Jim Gee. The rest of the crew visited the shops and museums on Steinwehr Avenue, or headed back to the hotel.
Thursday morning the crew assembled at the Grand Army of the Republic Hall on Middle Street for the memorial service, and for a presentation on the history of the GAR and the hall. Lunch was held at the Pike Restaurant, and afterwards we held a “Family Reunion” style business meeting. Suggestions for the location of the next reunion were solicited, and Grant Smith and Jack Summers volunteered to host a reunion in Phoenix, Arizona. Jim Gee suggested Wilmington, North Carolina and Nelsonville, Ohio, which was LTJG Lloyd Thomas’s home town. Rich Madansky proposed the Cleveland, Ohio area.
A show of hands selected Phoenix as the site of the 2014 reunion, with Wilmington and Cleveland coming in a close second and third. Wilmington will be the tentative site of the 2015 reunion, to be confirmed at the Phoenix reunion. After the meeting, the bus drivers gave us a personal tour of the battlefield areas which had just been re-opened that morning.
On Thursday evening, all assembled for the banquet, and were entertained by the presence of Mr. Abraham Lincoln, who afterwards was also introduced as Mr. James Hayney, a fellow tin can sailor. First time reunion attendee Vince Martino won the drawing for the Lone Sailor statue. PJ Miller was kind enough to return the travelling Lloyd Thomas artifact (A valve wheel from the salvage yard in Taiwan that was sent to us by a Chinese sailor when they scrapped the LT/Dang Yang), and Jim Clark from Pittsburgh won the draw, and gets to keep it until the next reunion.
Chief Edwards donated an American flag that flew from the mast of the Lloyd Thomas during combat operations in Vietnam to the returning item raffle, and Carter Conlin won the honor of keeping it until the next reunion.
On Friday, most shipmates headed home, looking forward to gathering again next year in Phoenix. The dates and particulars of the Phoenix reunion will be announced as soon as they are available.
During this year’s reunion, several of our shipmates were active in taking pictures to be included in an online reunion book which was put together by Cheryl and Ed Ragsdale. The book is on www.Picaboo.com and can be viewed at this link. You can also purchase a copy of the book if you like. Cheryl advises that there are frequent discount deals and groupons available, so check the Picaboo site often to find the code to enter for the best deals. Here’s the current (11/11/13) great deal on the Picaboo book: $15 for the $70 11 x 9 book with lay flat pages. If you would like to order a book, but are having trouble accessing the ordering info, please give us a call.
Remember to check out the Ship’s Store at www.DD764.org. We have hats, shirts and the Lloyd Thomas print now available. We also have a Facebook page under “USS Lloyd Thomas Reunion Association”.
All in all, Gettysburg was an excellent place for a reunion. After returning home, I feel we have acquired a new and more complete sense of the events which happened here 150 years ago.
I would like to share a quote I found in one of the museum gift shop books:
“…and reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field to ponder and dream; And lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls.”
General Joshua L. Chamberlain, at the dedication of the monument to the Twentieth Maine, at Gettysburg on October 3, 1889.
Take care, shipmates, see you in Phoenix!
Scott and Nadine