|USS FRED T. BERRY
|The 17th Annual USS FRED T. BERRY (DD/DDE 858) reunion was held at the
Quality Hotel and Suites in Niagara Falls, NY September 12 - 15. As with previous reunions
this was a wonderful gathering of former shipmates from this great ship. We were blessed
with excellent weather during the days we were there and were especially pleased that we
had seventeen first-timers present. In all, we had 58 shipmates, 53 spouses/friends and 11
guests for a total of 122 present.
Shipmates started wandering in on the day before the reunion actually began. That day was the one-year anniversary of the World Trade Center attack and there was some concern with delays or restrictions to traveling. That never came about and everyone made it with few problems. It was pure pleasure to sit in the hospitality room and watch our shipmates arrive and take up where we left off the year before. John and Toni Titsworth had arranged a great schedule of activities that included two dinners at the hotel. The customary hospitality room was well stocked; being the nerve center the entire reunion. Activities included a Friday bus tour of the Niagara Falls area (including the Canadian side), and included lunch at the Hilton Hotel, overlooking the falls. All of us were able to test our sea legs on a short ride on the MAID OF THE MIST. For those of us who had ridden the boat before, we knew it was a good idea to have a sheltered place to stand, as there is a perpetual rainstorm at the base of the falls.
The Saturday schedule saw us traveling to the Flying Tigers Restaurant at the Buffalo, NY airport for lunch. After lunch, it was on to the Naval Park and tours aboard the USS THE SULLIVANS and USS LITTLE ROCK. It was nice to see THE SULLIVANS again, as it was homeported at Newport while most of us were doing our duty aboard the FTB. It seems the tin cans get smaller all the time, as the spaces aboard her seemed smaller than ever. It was fun for a our technicians to see the same electronic gear aboard the SULLIVANS as was aboard our own ship. It was incredibly obsolete compared to gear on present-day ships.
Dick and Donna Enright ran the ship's store and just about sold out of all items. They are planning for the 2003 reunion and hope to have sufficient quantities of items with them to satisfy everyone's wants.
The Saturday night banquet was the culmination of the entire reunion. Our guest speaker was a departure from past banquets as it was presented by Captain, Matthew Brooke, U.S. Army. Captain Brooke is the son-in-law to Chuck Metcalfe. The place was abuzz with sea stories and there were door prizes galore. Almost everyone won a prize, some more than one. Vic Guempel, despite having a table full of tickets, was chagrined to watch all the prizes go to other tables. There will be better days Vic, maybe at the 2003 reunion. At the banquet it was announced that the 2003 reunion would be held in Mobile, Alabama. A vote of all present at Niagara Falls indicated a consensus that the majority favored a trip to Mobile.
The Sunday morning breakfast was probably the most somber event of all. It was time to go home and we wouldn't be seeing any of our friends for another year. Although the traveling activities were much fun, the camaraderie displayed in the hospitality room and during the two dinners was what makes the reunions worth while. Despite the fact that few of us served in the same departments at the same time it was as if we had all actually served together. The sea stories were essentially the same; only the faces were different. We all seem to harbor the same conviction that we had a big job to do, we did it well and we are ever so proud of our accomplishments. We are all confident that the present day sailors share our same conviction and will fulfill their commitments as we did.
Webmaster Ron Fritz