As pleasant memories of the 2014 Lloyd Thomas reunion and the Southwestern hospitality linger, I would like to send you all a review of the reunion, and a recounting of the places we enjoyed visiting. The headquarters for the reunion was the Embassy Suites Hotel in Tempe, Arizona. Shipmates Grant Smith and Jack Summers arranged a fine reunion schedule of events for our members and their guests.
For those of us who had not visited this part of the country before, we were treated to a good sample of what the region has to offer. There were up to 77 folks attending events, 36 of whom were shipmates. There were 5 first time attendees, and we look forward to seeing them again next year.
On Tuesday morning, we toured the Phoenix area, stopping at Bolin Plaza, where we performed our annual memorial service, flanked by the anchor and 16” gun barrels at the USS Arizona and World War II Memorial. After an introduction and reading of the names, shipmate Mike Balog called for a moment of silence for our departed shipmates, and Mason Lyle, Jack Summers grandson, played Taps to close the service.
After the memorial service we had lunch in a pecan grove at The Farm at South Mountain. That evening we headed north from Phoenix to the Ft McDowell Reservation, where we arrived in time for the sunset. We enjoyed a cowboy cookout of steak and chicken, with corn on the cob and beans, and peach cobbler for dessert. During the meal we were entertained by Western music performed by Jack Summer’s friend Major Joe, who sang and played guitar and banjo with Arlene, his accompanist.
Wednesday, we headed back North into the mountains toward Sedona. On the way, we stopped for a short visit at Fort Verde, which served as an Army headquarters during the battles with the Apache. Arriving in Sedona, we enjoyed the spectacular red rock scenery, and spent some time shopping. Then we headed out to Red Rock State Park for a picnic lunch, featuring epic sandwiches from Sedona Memories sandwich shop.
After lunch, we visited the historic copper mining town of Jerome, and checked out some of the shops there. On the way back to Tempe, we stopped at the Rock Springs Café, and sampled their famous pies.
On Thursday, we visited Pueblo Grande, and learned about the prehistoric Hohokam culture, which built many canals in the area. After Pueblo Grande, some of us visited the Desert Botanical Garden, while the rest headed to Old Town Scottsdale for shopping.
After our return to the hotel, we convened the annual business meeting, and Rich Madansky offered to host the reunion in Cleveland, Ohio next year. The offer was accepted by those present, and we are already looking forward to a good time in Ohio.
The Thursday evening banquet social time began with Cheryl and Ed Ragsdale once again taking photos of everyone to include in a reunion picture book, which is now available to order.
The banquet provided by the fine folks at the Embassy Suites Tempe was over before we knew it, and we all retired for the evening. Some of us left on Friday, but a few stayed on for several days enjoying more of the Southwestern scenery.