We’re back from a week in Charleston, a few days ahead of Hurricane Matthew. I feel for the beautiful city and her people, and hope it’s not as bad as is being predicted.
The USS STRONG DD 467/758 did another wonderful job with the reunion this year. Our hotel was the Doubletree by the airport. We had newcomers Tom Kelly and his mother Jane Kelly, son and wife of Thomas Ambrose Kelly of the DD 467. They had a great time and even walked away with some nice raffle prizes! I’m just really glad they came, and hope to have an opportunity to meet with them again. Since we’ve been back and I sent around a note about next year’s reunion location of Virginia Beach/Norfolk, I’ve already had two other DD 467 families express interest in coming and hope they get the opportunity to do so.
To sum up, everyone arrived on Tuesday. The hospitality room was full and it was great catching up after a year. These folks literally come from all over the United States, from the west coast to the east coast the group is pretty geographically diverse. Makes for a fun mix of accents in the room!
Wednesday was spent touring the H.L. HUNLEY Museum at the Charleston Navy Yard. The HUNLEY was the only submarine in the Civil War era to sink a Union battleship, the USS HOUSATONIC. HUNLEY was sunk three times (and brought back up again) with the loss of at least 21 lives, only 3 able to escape the first time she went down. The wreck was discovered and brought to the surface in 2004. The museum is a large and well put together facility. Visitors can see the sub in its float tank of water and sodium hydroxide solution. Even more interesting is the forensic reconstruction of the faces of the crew, derived from retrieval of the bodies of the last 8 men to man the sub, making it very emotional and humanizing the loss.
Thursday was a free day and folks went in all directions. We traveled to Patriot’s Point to see the USS YORKTOWN aircraft carrier and the USS LAFFEY, an Allen M. Sumner class destroyer, named for the first LAFFEY sunk in November of 1942. A submarine, the USS CLAGAMORE is also there, but closed for maintenance. After touring the YORKTOWN, we took a harbor cruise over to Fort Sumter, a Civil War fort that also had uses in WWI and WW2. The view from the top of the fort was breathtaking and it was amazing walking among the historic structure. I highly recommend visiting Patriot’s Point in Mt. Pleasant if you are in the Charleston area.
Friday was our visit to the historic and beautiful Boone Hall Plantation, fully operational since 1681. Many historic structures remain on the property, but the main mansion was built in 1935. Three other structures preceded it, one lost to fire, one to storms and one to time and demolition. The farm has been a major producer of indigo for dye, cotton, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. At one time it was the top pecan producing farm in the world. The live oaks on the drive up are original plantings from the 17th century. Some of these oaks in the Charleston area can live to be over 1,000 years old. Amazing and beautiful!
Saturday, the board meeting and raffle commenced. After lunch, our family headed to Isle of Palms for lunch and a chance to put our toes in the sand and smell the sea air. The banquet was held that night and from there all dispersed to pack and prepare to head home the next day.
All said and done, another great gathering of wonderful people. Looking forward to Virginia Beach/Norfolk next year!