|USS FRED T. BERRY
|The 2001 reunion was held at the Clarion Hotel in Charleston, South
Carolina on September 11-14. This was the 16th annual reunion of crewmembers of the USS
FRED T. BERRY (DD/DDE 858) and was attended by forty-six former shipmates. Joining the
former crew were wives and family members bringing the total in attendance to over one
hundred. As is always the case there were several first time attendees and it was a
pleasure to see several plankowners return again. The Clarion went to great lengths to
accommodate the bunch and all were treated like celebrities. A sincere thanks goes out to
Howard Lett and the hotel staff.
The hospitality room was well supplied during the entire time there and all found time to tell sea stories and enjoy the camaraderie. There were several photo albums present and it was always a treat to view the ship and crew throughout most of its commissioned days.
Navy guys started arriving on Wednesday and continued to arrive through Thursday evening. They came from all over the country, by car and plane. The events of September 11, 2001 had little effect on the attendance although the memories of that day were shared by all. Most gravitated to the Hospitality Room as soon as they checked in to their rooms.
Organized activities started on Friday morning with a visit to the Patriot's Point Naval and Maritime Museum. The two ships receiving the most attention were the USS LAFFEY (DD-724) and the USS YORKTOWN (CVS-10). The LAFFEY (a SUMNER Class Destroyer) was especially interesting, as it was quite similar to the F.T. BERRY (a GEARING Class Destroyer). It was a FRAM II ship and a little foreign to many of us who had never been aboard a post FRAM destroyer. Almost to a man the comment was "it didn't seem this small".
Lunch was held in the Chief's mess aboard the USS YORKTOWN. That brought back many memories, as the serving line was quite similar to the serving line we all remembered, down to the regulation Navy trays. The wives thought it strange to "slam" the tray on the garbage can to remove food scraps after bussing our own tables and exiting the "chow hall". Seemed normal to all the guys. After lunch we all boarded a tour boat for a trip out to Fort Sumter.
Friday evening saw the first of our two dinners at the hotel. Several shipmates received recognition for their efforts in 2001 and the ship received a special recognition from the Senate of the State of South Carolina. Ed Teagle contacted his Senator about recognizing our ship during its reunion in October. They in turn passed a Concurrent Resolution that was read at the reunion. (This resolution can be read in its entirety at http://www.lpitr.state.sc.us/bills/768.htm. In addition to the resolution they presented us with a flag of the State of South Carolina. After the dinner many of us returned to the Hospitality Room for continuing stories and friendship.
Saturday saw the group touring Charleston. A stop was made at the Heyward-Washington House (circa 1772) which proved to be a fascinating visit to a home representative of the period in Charleston history. After that the group was dropped off at Market Square for lunch and a few hours of shopping. It was back to the hotel for the membership meeting, picture taking and the annual banquet. The traditional raffle was held and everyone had a great time. Our resident raffle ticket "salesperson", Elaine Brothers and her gang of ruffians coerced, twisted arms and generally threatened all into purchasing hundreds of raffle tickets. The end result was a nice addition to our treasury. After the banquet it was back to the Hospitality Room to take up where we had left off that afternoon.
Sunday was a little subdued, as it was time to leave our friends for another year and return home. The 2001 reunion was a great success. The hotel went out of their way to accommodate us and thanks were voiced to the staff on many occasions. As with previous reunions we just started where we had left off the previous year. I suspect the same will happen in 2002 at Niagara Falls, New York. The 2002 reunion will be held there on September 12, 13, 14 and 15. Information on the 2002 reunion can be found on another page of this website.
Many people contribute to the success of our reunions. It would seem appropriate to list the many here but fear of missing one or more tends to make me gun-shy. Thanks to all for a great time. We loved renewing old friendships and making new ones. We missed some of the regulars who couldn't make it and lament the fact we will never see others again. They all remain in our memories though. There seems to be a common bond that those, who go to sea in ships, have and that is the same bond that draws us back each year.
Webmaster Ron Fritz