A few arrived Sunday, October 5, 2003. Some to prepare and set up for the Reunion scheduled to begin Wednesday, October 8 and others just to get an early start at the reunion. We had arrivals through Saturday, October 11. It must be noted right away that we had some very special items on display in the Hospitality Room. Mike Pollack and Jim Hawker contacted the National Archives and the Ship's History Branch of the U.S. Navy Historical Center and they were able to locate some original artifacts from the USS SOLEY (DD707). The artifacts brought to the reunion for display were the Ship's Name Board that was on the quarterdeck when the ship was in port, two of the Battle Efficiency Awards that had been on the bridge, and the Ship Builder's plaque with the Ship Builder's name, the Ship's statistics (length, width, weight, etc.) and the date of commissioning.
These were some very special items that brought back many memories of our tour of duty aboard the SOLEY. Jim Hawker, who was a Radioman, found out what it must have been l ike to be a deck hand when he started polishing all this brass. Great job Jim!! All artifacts must be returned to the Navy Historical Center. It should be noted that they are unable to locate the Ship's Bell. They have bells that do not have an identification tag. If anyone has a picture of the Ship's Bell, please send it to Mike Pollack or Jim Hawker. Hopefully with a picture they will be able to identify the bell among those with no ID tag.
Wednesday evening October 8, 82 of us traveled by motor coach to the Derby Dinner Playhouse for an excellent buffet dinner and the play "Catch Me If You Can". The play was a mystery/comedy that had a surprise ending that all present were sworn to keep secret.
Thursday, October 9, we traveled by motor coach to Fort Knox where we had a guided tour of the Patton Museum. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and provided some very interesting information about the history of tanks and the actual deployment of many of the tanks brought from the battlefield to the museum. After the museum tour we entered the Leader Club where a well-presented and delicious lunch was served to our group of 137. After lunch the Memorial Service was conducted in the auditorium where members of the staff at Fort Knox greeted us. After presentation of the colors and the National Anthem, the names of all known deceased were read. The Fort Knox personnel, assisted by Ernestine Eble and Lynn Eble, widow and daughter of Walter Eble, recently deceased, presented a wreath after which Taps was played. It was a very impressive ceremony and there was hardly a dry eye. Upon departure from Fort Knox we passed the Gold Depository at a great distance. We were not allowed to see or touch and were not even offered any samples.
Friday, October 10, 138 of us traveled by motor coach to Churchill Downs where the history, pomp and circumstance of the Kentucky Derby were presented in a theater in the round. We then had an opportunity to visit the Kentucky Derby Museum and had a guided tour of the grounds, stands and track. After departing Churchill Downs we proceeded to the Indiana side of the Ohio River where we boarded the Star of Louisville for a 2-hour cruise on the Ohio River with a buffet lunch. We had some great entertainment by a very talented organist. A gospel group that was on the second deck for a luncheon cruise also entertained us. The organist was able to accompany the group without written music. She did a fantastic job. Upon return to the host hotel the Business Meeting was conducted. Click here to read the Minutes of the 2003 Reunion Business Meeting.
Saturday, October 11, we again traveled by motor coach to visit St. Joseph's Cathedral where a guide provided the history of the Cathedral from 1819 to present. There are a number of beautiful old paintings from European artists on display. There was a huge craft fair on the Cathedral grounds this weekend and everyone had an opportunity to do lots of shopping. Many took the opportunity to purchase hand made gifts and souvenirs. When you get a chance, ask Stan Ambuski about the treasurers he and Theresa found to take home. I think they set the record by spending more than everyone else combined on the trip that day. We all then traveled to Historic Bardstown where we met for a great lunch buffet at The Old Stable. We were amazed at how fast they were able to get our group of 114 through the buffet line. After lunch we continued on to the Jim Beam American Outpost where we had an opportunity to see a film presentation of the Beam family and their distillery and to taste a sample of Jim Beam bourbon-not bad stuff! We returned to the hotel at approximately 3:30 PM so we could prepare for the banquet that began with cocktails at 6 PM and great food served at 7:00 PM.
Mike Pollack found out earlier that he knew the Chef preparing the meal. The Chef had worked at the base where Mike works. As a result we had a special presentation of the meal on the plate. It was a great meal enjoyed by all.
After the dinner Gene Blum provided information on the health of Harry and Nancy Shoup and Jay Moser. Both had returned Gene's call Friday evening and were pleased that we were concerned about them.
At this time we recognized the Plank owners present. They were: Dave Latshaw, Don Sanford, Mike Masciola, Fred Perkins (Fred was unable to stay for the banquet), Al Schowalter, and Perry Shelton. We also recognized those here present for their first reunion. We were proud to have: Adam Bragg, Pete Casper, Marvin Fisher, James Francis, William Greist, Donald Guevin, Robert Harper, Robert Hayhurst, Larry Hentges, Jackie Long, Raymond Ray, Mike Ruetten, Marv Scholl, Walt Scholl, Bill Scivally, Bill Simmons, and Don Vandersall. We also had first time attendees that were present earlier but not able to stay for the banquet. They are: Richard Foley, Wilgus Hale, David Hodgkins, and Bernie Liskey. In addition we recognized those present that have attended the most reunions. Those present that were attending their 9th reunion are: Dave Latshaw, Werner Bierbach, Gene Blum, Tom Bowen, Frank Hawkins, Keith Peterson and Russ Shillaber. We hope that all present can continue to attend future reunions. Those attending are the ones that make the reunion complete. Without you folks the reunion would be a bust.
We then started with the evening's festivities of raffle drawings and door prize drawings. But before this started, Jim Hawker came forward to make a special announcement. Again, Mike Pollack and Jim Hawker obtained documents from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland and the Ship's History Branch of the U.S. Navy Historical Center in Washington, D.C. With the information that they obtained, they prepared a bound book entitled U.S.S. SOLEY (DD707), 7 December 1944-18 September 1970, The Beginning and the End. It is a presentation of the Ship's early history and it's demise as the result of being run aground at 1033 hours on November 7, 1969 with some interesting information between these dates. The book contains copies of deck logs and messages that have been declassified pertaining to the last days of the SOLEY. This document also answers the question that so many have been asking over the years, "Where is the SOLEY resting on the floor of the Atlantic?" We now know that the answer to that question is, "Latitude 19°17'N and Longitude 65°41'W, just north of San Juan Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We also now know almost blow by blow, or round by round, how the SOLEY was finally sunk. A copy of this document was handed to each shipmate present at the banquet that evening and will surely be the prized possession of all. A copy of this document will very likely be available in the future from the Ship's Store. The printing cost of this book was provided by the generous donation of a shipmate. Thanks, Mister______!!
In addition, Jim Hawker went to the microphone to announce that we had a couple present (Ed and Sandra Shartrand) that were celebrating their third wedding anniversary. Ed and Sandra were married at the SOLEY reunion in Buffalo, NY in October 2000. He also reported that the couple that stood up for the Shartrand's (Gene and Shirley Blum) celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary in 2000 and have been married 50 years on October 3. A huge anniversary cake was then brought out for all to enjoy. The Shartrand's and the Blum's thank everyone for the thoughts and kindness in this remembrance. We found that we had two other couples in attendance that have 55 years of wedded bliss. Congratulations to them!!
Before getting into raffles we want to recognize and thank those that sold tickets for the 50/50 and door prize raffles. They are: Bill and Nora Smith, Bill and Julie Smith, and John and Jane Rhodes. We also want to recognize and thank Jane Rhodes and Jane Fogel who recorded all gifts donated and the winners of those gifts. These would be included here but the list is so long that it would fill up an entire SCOOP to identify all of them. A hearty THANK YOU to all that brought items for raffle and door prizes. These gifts are a tremendous addition to our reunions; they contribute substantially in covering the cost of preparing for the reunion and maintaining the Association between reunions. Everyone looks forward to winning any of the wonderful gifts because they mean so much coming from a fellow shipmate.
The festivities continued with drawings for the 50/50 raffle and the raffle of donated prizes. The 50/50 ticket sales totaled $888.00 so we had $444.00 to divide between 3 winners in the amounts of $90.00, $132.00 and $222.00. The door prize raffle tickets sold totaled $805.00. Numerous Door Prizes were also presented based upon the number everyone was assigned when their registration was received by Gene Blum. We concluded with a drawing for our Grand Prizes consisting of paid nights at the hotel including taxes for 1 night, 2 nights and 3 nights lodging. The winners at this Reunion were Mike Ruettin, John Olejar and Mike Kranack, respectively. Lucky Guys!
Again, a hearty THANK YOU to everyone that volunteered and helped with this reunion in any way. Your efforts made the reunion run smoothly and made the events enjoyable for all.
We continued to schmooze through the evening, remembering old times, telling sea stories, memories of prior reunions, and just have a grand evening. We don't know where the time goes. It seems that the reunion just gets started and it is over.
The Committee hopes all that attended the reunion had a great time. It is difficult to please everyone, so please let Mike Pollack know if you would like to see anything changed; or how we might improve the accommodations, tours, banquet, etc., for the next reunion.
We all look forward to the next reunion in Plymouth Meeting, PA in the spring of 2005. SEE YOU THERE!!!
Return to the Messdecks