|USS FRED T. BERRY
REUNION 2005 SUMMARY
|The 20th reunion of the crew of the USS FRED T. BERRY took
place in Norfolk, Virginia from October 13 through October 16, 2005 and
was hosted by Tony and Terri Merendino. Our hosts had organized a very
nice schedule of events and selected the Hilton Norfolk as our center of
operations. This was one of the largest reunions that saw 58 former
crewmembers attending. Also attending were two widows of former shipmates
who have attended most of the previous reunions. The 2005 reunion saw 16
first timers attending. In all there were over 100 persons in attendance.
Dick and Donna Enright had the ship's store in operation throughout the
reunion and anyone wanting an article of FRED T. BERRY clothing didn't go
home empty handed.
As in years past, the hospitality room was the social center of the reunion and it was truly heartwarming to see our shipmates arrive and renew old friendships and form new ones. This year saw many new attendees who served during the 1960's. There was a large group of former sailors who served under Cdr. George Sharp who was captain from June 1960 through March 1962. Captain Sharp had planned to attend but was forced to pass due to pressing health problems. (As a sidelight, Capt. Sharp underwent successful cancer surgery shortly after the reunion and is making a good recovery. We hope he will be able to attend the 2006 reunion in Jacksonville, Florida)
Our first tour on Friday saw the group visiting the Douglas MacArthur Memorial Museum in downtown Norfolk. This is an impressive museum and commemorates the life of one of our country's greatest Army generals. The day also saw us touring the Norfolk Navy Base. Due to security measures our tour was limited to the bus ride only and didn't allow visiting any Navy facilities on base. Lunch was aboard the Spirit of Norfolk, our transportation for our harbor cruise. Though it was a gray day, spirits were very high. Most of the group had visited Norfolk or was based there sometime during their Navy service. Completing our day was a visit to Nauticus, the National Maritime Center and a topside tour of USS WISCONSIN, BB-64. Since the WISCONSIN is still a part of the Inactive Fleet, much of it is closed to visitation. Friday evening saw the Annual Membership Meeting and "Welcome Aboard Dinner". The hospitality room was busy after the days activities but it seems like the room emptied earlier than in years past. This is probably attributed to the aging of the crew. It must be remembered the ship was decommissioned over 35 years ago in September 1970.
Saturday saw everyone boarding the busses for a tour of historic Williamsburg, Virginia. This was a nice tour and the weather was perfect for our walking tour of this beautifully restored village dating back to the 1600's. Our guides were very well informed about the history of Williamsburg and made the tour very enjoyable. On the return to the hotel we visited the President's Park Museum. That Saturday night was the highlight of the reunion and saw the annual Banquet and Raffle. Elaine Brothers and her helpers had sold over $1500.00 worth of raffle tickets and the assortment of gifts was overwhelming. As usual, Dick Enright had crafted another of his famous duck carvings and the lucky winner this year was Anna Atkinson. Congratulations Anna. Anna and "Tiny" Atkinson have been a most devoted couple of reunion attendees for many, many years and hosted the 2004 reunion in San Diego.
Sunday saw the group gathering for the Farewell Breakfast Buffet. This is probably an appropriate end to our annual gathering as it gives us a memorable closure. The annual reunion of the crew of the USS FRED T. BERRY is one of the high points of the year for many of us. It reminds us of a time when we were all carrying out a very important job. Many of us only realized this years after returning to civilian life and each succeeding year only increases the feeling of pride that we feel toward our Navy service. As one veteran once said, "My time spent in the Navy was one of the best times in my life." Outside of family, that might be a truthful statement as Navy memories occupy a large part of my reflections of the past.
One of the outcomes of the annual reunion is the selection of the locations for future reunions. The 2006 reunion will be held in Jacksonville, Florida and the 2007 reunion is tentatively planned for Washington, D.C.
Photographs by Ron Fritz. The webmaster welcomes other photos of the 2005 reunion.
Webmaster Ron Fritz