Summary of the USS SOLEY (DD707) Reunion

Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel

Mobile, Alabama – October 8-12, 2009


The reunion began on October 8 with no events scheduled as shipmates arrived throughout the day.  Most shipmates and guests arrived on October 8 or earlier.  In summary, there were 43 shipmates present with a total of 84 present.  Shipmates included widows Ernestine Eble and Helene Wallace, and present with them were their daughters Lynn Eble and Paula Wallace.  We are always happy and proud to have these dear ladies and their daughters attend.


The first event was on Friday, October 9.  We boarded a deluxe motor coach with our very knowledgeable and outgoing tour guide, Linda.  She provided lots of good information and told some great jokes.  Our trip was to the Bellingrath Home and Gardens where we toured the gardens with the beautiful plants and flowers.  After a tour of the gardens we took a cruise on the Fowl River where we learned a lot about the Mobile Bay estuary where much of the sea life of Mobile Bay comes alive.  When the cruise was complete we returned to Bellingrath Gardens for lunch and a tour of the Bellingrath mansion.


On Saturday, October 10 the motor coach shuttled us to the USS ALABAMA Memorial Park.  Our Memorial Service was conducted on the fantail of the USS ALABAMA where we remembered the 50 shipmates that died since our last reunion in Plymouth, MA.  We were pleased to have Dave Spako and his son’s David and Dale in attendance at this service.  Dave is the cousin of Stanley Ambuski who died in August.  Stan and his wife Theresa attended our reunions on a regular basis.  After the Memorial Service all were free to tour the battleship and be in awe of the size of this ship compared to the size of the USS SOLEY.  Lunch was then served in the Officers Mess.  After touring other sites at the Memorial Park we returned to the host hotel.


On Sunday, October 11 we boarded the motor coach for a trip to the Naval Air Station Museum at Pensacola, Florida.  During this tour we learned about many of the aircraft used since WWI.  There were many interesting exhibits and the tour guides provided history of the aircraft.  One tour guide had been a tail gunner that served during WWII on the plane on exhibit.  He had a very interesting story about his duties and experience as a tail gunner.  We were free to have lunch at anytime during the tour.  Upon completion of the tour we returned to the host hotel.    


Upon return from Pensacola we conducted our business meeting.  Reports by the Secretary/Registrar, Treasurer, Storekeeper, Historian and Webmaster were made and the Committee for the next reunion was elected.  A number of future reunion sites were discussed.  The 3 potential sites selected for the next reunion to be held in the Spring of 2011 were Nashville, TN, St. Louis, MO, and Las Vegas, NV.  After the Reunion Coordinator researches these sites, the Committee will make the final selection and inform the membership.


Jim Hawker presented information about a Memorial to Destroyer Sailors that Dave Latshaw was working on prior to his death.  It was moved seconded and passed that the USS SOLEY Association would sponsor this Memorial.  Dave Latshaw had raised the money necessary to purchase and place the Memorial Stone so our Association would not have to put out any money.  Jim will follow-up with the family of Dave Latshaw to get the necessary forms to complete.


Committee Members elected for the next reunion are as follows:

            Reunion Coordinator                          Mike Pollack

            Assistant Reunion Coordinator          Herb Pearlman

            Treasurer                                             Frank Hawkins

            Assistant Treasurer                              Bob Piatak

            Secretary/Registrar                              R.E. ‘Skip’ Sharpe

            Assistant Secretary/Registrar              Harlan Hamm

            Historian                                             Jim Hawker

            Assistant Historian                              Len Porter

            Ship’s Store Operator                         Mike Kranack

            Assistant Ship’s Store Operator          Dave Cummins

            SCOOP Editor                                    Chuck Bruce

            Assistant SCOOP Editor                    Bill Smith

            Webmaster                                          Frank Chesla

            Assistant Webmaster                          Len Porter


Attendance was down significantly at this reunion and the Association failed to meet the minimum commitment to the host hotel.  This resulted in a substantial amount of money that the Association was required to pay to the hotel.  It was moved, seconded and passed that the Registration Fee (normally $25.00) would be non refundable at future reunions should the shipmate cancel their registration.


There being no further business the meeting was adjourned.


Monday was a free day for everyone to site see, visit and/or prepare for the Banquet.  The Banquet was held Monday evening, October 12 at the host hotel.  We had a Mardi Gras theme with a Mardi Gras style buffet.  After dining we introduced Plankowners, 3 shipmates attending their first reunion, 3 shipmates attending the most reunions, Committee members for this reunion and new Committee members for the next reunion.  There was a 50/50 drawing, and drawing for raffle prizes and door prizes. 


A great time was had by all and we all look forward to the next reunion in the Spring of 2011.