|USS FRED T. BERRY
The 1999 reunion took place at the Lodge of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri on September 30, October 1, 2 and 3. Many of the 43 former shipmates attending were there for their first reunion. Included in this group were five plank owners, part of the original crew that first sailed on the ship. The hospitality room was well attended and well stocked with refreshments and munchies for the entire event. The Boss, Denis Gordon, outdid himself with the 1999 reunion and is already working to plan a bigger and better reunion for 2000. Judging from his success with the 1999 affair, this will be a big task but not impossible for a FRED T. BERRY veteran.
Several shipmates arrived before September 30th and set up the hospitality room and shared in sea stories while warming up for the upcoming reunion. After registering upon arrival, the crew busied themselves meeting old friends and making newcomers feel at home with the "old timers".
The biggest, and most important, event of the reunion, the annual banquet, was held Friday, October 1 in the Crystal Hall at the Lodge of the Ozarks. There were a total of 98 crewmembers, wives and guests in attendance. The keynote speaker was former Executive Officer, Wilton "Tiny" Atkinson, who treated us to a fascinating account of his time spent on Embassy Duty while with the Foreign Service.
Most of the group spent Saturday morning touring the Branson area in former Navy Ducks. Saturday evening saw the group attend a dinner theater and enjoy a performance by the Platters. Many of us remembered the Platters as a popular singing group in the 1950's and 1960's.
On Sunday afternoon the group traveled to the Bobby Vinton Theater to enjoy a nice family performance by the Vinton family. The group was honored by a special recognition by Bobby Vinton and enjoyed sincere applause from the entire crowd. During the intermission several of the Fred T. Berry couples enjoyed dancing on the stage.
After the Bobby Vinton show, it was wind down time at the hospitality room and a time for a special birthday celebration for former FRED T. BERRY captain, Harry J. Kelley. Unfortunately Captain Kelley was not able to attend this year's reunion but he was present in the hearts of all present.
The entire event was well received as old friendships were renewed and new ones were made. As anyone, who sailed on a Navy ship, knows, there is a special camaraderie that exists between shipmates and this was evident during this reunion. Everyone shared the same feelings and there was a special connection between all whether they had actually served together or not. Before leaving Branson, everyone promised to renew our friendships at the 2000 reunion to be held at Baltimore, Maryland.
Webmaster Ron Fritz