Summary of the USS SOLEY (DD707) Reunion

Doubletree Nashville Downtown Hotel

Nashville, Tennessee

May 12-16, 2011


By all accounts, the reunion was a huge success.  Feedback from shipmates, wives, family members, and guests was all positive.  The reunion began on May 12, 2011, as shipmates arrived throughout the day.  Some arrived a day or two early to take advantage of the southern hospitality of the fine city of Nashville.   In summary, 40 shipmates attended, with a grand total of 82 attendees. 


Shipmates attending included widows Ernestine Eble and Helene Wallace and their daughters Lynn Eble and Paula Wallace.  We are always happy and proud to have these fine ladies in attendance.  Also attending for the first time, was Bill and Heidi Olsen’s grandson, Eric, who quickly became everyone’s favorite and was adopted as the Soley mascot.  Everyone agreed that Eric is a fine young man, and we hope he continues to attend our reunions.  We also welcomed another first time attendee, shipmate Stanley Shaney.  Only one Plankowner was able to attend, Mike Masciola and his lovely wife Jean. They both seem to get younger and younger  at each reunion.


Representing their father, Plankowner Richard Crandall, who recently passed away, were Peter and Carol Crandall.  Peter traveled all the way from Chico, California, and Carol from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to attend the reunion.  In loving memory of their father, they were given the honor of participating in our memorial service by throwing a wreath overboard as is our tradition to remember those who have passed on.


The first official reunion event was a welcome reception hosted by our hotel on the afternoon of May 12.   That evening, we traveled by motor coach to the Troubador Theater where we attended a show titled “A Tribute to the King, The Years 1953-1977”.  The show is the first and only continuously running show paying tribute to Elvis Presley and the recordings he made in Nashville.  John Beardsley portrays Elvis, performing over 30 songs, and 5 costume changes.  A great time was had by all.


On Friday, May 13, we again boarded motor coaches for a trip to the Grand Ole’ Opry, the longest running live radio show in the U.S.   We were treated to some great country music, as we clapped, hehawed, and stomped our feet.    As we headed for the buses after the show, we got caught in a rain shower, but nobody melted.  After all, we are sailors, and “wet” is our middle name.



Saturday, May 14, we traveled by motor coach for a “Star for the Day Tour”.  The tour included  a stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and a guided tour of RCA Studio B, where Elvis and many other country stars recorded their music,. While at Studio B, a professional sound engineer recorded our group singing one of Elvis’s songs “Can’t Help Falling in Love”.  We all purchased a CD of our performance for a nominal fee.  “The Soley Singers”, as the CD was labeled, sounded great.  Then it was off to the Wildhorse Saloon for a fabulous barbeque lunch, line-dancing, and entertainment.  Our CD was played over the speaker system for everyone at the Saloon to enjoy.


Shortly after our return to the hotel, we held our business meeting. Reports by the Reunion Coordinator, Secretary/Registrar, Treasurer, Storekeeper, Historian and Webmaster were made. All reunion committee members volunteered to continue in their respective posts for the next reunion, and as there were no other nominations from the floor, all were duly elected.   It was decided that the next reunion would be held in DuPage County, which includes the greater Chicago area.  Chicago and vicinity was voted on at the Mobile reunion as one of the places shipmates wanted to hold a reunion.  Frank Chesla had done extensive research on the area previous to the Mobile reunion, so rather than pick 3 potential sites as is the normal practice, it made sense to stick with DuPage County.


There being no further business the meeting was adjourned.


Committee Members and their Assistants elected for the next reunion are as follows:


            Reunion Coordinator                          Mike Pollack

            Assistant Reunion Coordinator          Herb Pearlman

            Treasurer                                             Frank Hawkins

            Assistant Treasurer                              Jim Brown

            Secretary/Registrar                              Harland Hamm

            Assistant Secretary/Registrar              Bob Sefton

            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


We welcome our two new assistants, Bob Sefton and Jim Brown, to the Committee.  Thanks, Bob and Jim, for agreeing to serve.


There being no further business the meeting was adjourned.




Sunday, May 15 we motor-coached to the General Jackson Showboat for our memorial service and a luncheon cruise, complete with a fabulous band who entertained us with great music and some hilarious comedy.   During the memorial service we remembered the 35 shipmates that died since our last reunion in Mobile, Alabama.   Jim Hawker was our master of ceremonies, taking over for Gene Blum, who performed those duties for many years before “retiring” following the Mobile reunion. Jim didn’t miss a beat, and we thank him for stepping up.  Again, we were honored to have Peter and Carol Crandall participate in the service as they remembered their father, Richard.



Monday, May 16, was a free day for everyone to do some sightseeing, hang out in the hospitality room, and/or prepare for the Banquet.  The Banquet was held that evening at the host hotel.  After dinner, Jim Hawker again stepped up as Master of Ceremonies, overseeing the evening’s festivities.  Included were introductions of our “Plankowner in Attendance”, our first-time attendee, the shipmates who have attended the most reunions, reunion committee members for this reunion and new committee members for the next reunion.  There was a 50/50 drawing, drawing for raffle prizes and door prizes, as well as announcing the winner of a silent auction for a 3-D photo of the Soley.   A big thank you to all those who donated items and to Dottie Vigna and her crew for selling many 50/50 and raffle tickets, which raised lots of money for the Association.


I’d also like to give a big “thank you” to my fellow committee members for volunteering their time and effort to help keep the Association going on a day-to-day basis, and for all their hard work leading up to and during the reunion.  Also a thank you is in order to all those shipmates, wives, and family members who lent a helping hand during the reunion. A great time was had by all, and we look forward to the next reunion in the Fall of 2012. 


Everyone stay healthy and spread the word about what a grand time we have at our reunions.

See you in Chicago – Fall of 2012.



Mike Pollack

Reunion Coordinator