OUR FAREWELL BANQUET
Wednesday evening brought us to the finale of our reunion. The last all of us would be together in the same room until the next reunion. The hotel provided a large complementary banquet room and served a attractive and tasty three-entree buffet dinner.
Emceed by our Host, Earl Kurtz, opening ceremonies included a Pledge of Allegiance to our flag, a brief invocation delivered by a local U.S. Navy Chaplain, followed by the first verse of the Navy Hymn to the accompaniment of RADM Richard Donnelly on the piano.
WE HAD WONDERFUL SPEAKERS
Mrs. Diane Phillips
Diane is the daughter of our first Commanding Officer, CDR Edward G. Fitz-Patrick. She was intimately involved in the early history of our ship and knew many of the original wardroom officers. She and her husband traveled all of the way from San Diego to be with us. Thank you so much, Diane.
CAPT Stuart T. Sadler
CAPT Sadler relieved CDR Fitz-Patrick to become our second Commanding Officer mid-way through our first WESTPAC employment. What a way to be introduced to a new command! At that time, Preble was the only missile ship in the Pacific, the Vietnam War was just becoming white hot and Preble was in demand everywhere...particularly the Tonkin Gulf. To say the least, it was an eventful tour for CAPT Sadler. Our thanks to CAPT Sadler for choosing to join us in reunion.
RADM Paul Gibbons
RADM Gibbons served twice in Preble; as Executive Officer 1962-1964 and then as Commanding Officer 1968-1969. Not a man alive has as many memories of our Preble. RADM Gibbons honored us with his remarks at our 1995 San Diego reunion and altered his summer travel plans just to be with us again in 1997 at Charleston. Thank you so much, RADM
Gibbons and we hope to see you again in St. Louis.
AFTER DINNER SHOW
Earl Kurtz arranged for delightful after-dinner entertainment. About 20 ladies from his Elks lodge dressed in nun's habit a'la Whoopie Goldberg. The ladies performed a selection of songs to the delight of all.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY STU!
The banquet came to a close with a sing-a-long medley of "Happy Birthday" and "He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to help CAPT Sadler celebrate his 76th birthday.
WE HAD PREBLE ARTIFACTS
Many of our shipmates brought interesting Preble memorabilia. All was on display in the Host Room.
Bill Reich (Chief Radioman - 1971/1974) brought the ensign which flew at the gaff at the time Preble took shrapnel hits from NVA shore batteries. This ensign was prominently displayed on one wall of the Host Room throughout the reunion.
Steven Buckler (Operations Specialist - 1985/1989) shared with us a plaque which he rescued from a pier-side Dumpster as the ship was being stripped for final decommissioning. This plaque had for many years been hung on the door to the Captains in-port cabin. The plaque is adorned with the Preble crest and has engraved brass plates with the names and dates of service in Preble for each of the Commanding Officers since the original commissioning in 1960. Makes one wonder how many other valuable artifacts were just discarded at that time.
Jerry Valade (Sonarman - 1960/1962) was unable to attend the reunion but was well represented by his gift of a beautiful painting of Preble as she appeared in the early 1960s. Jerry, at his own expense, commissioned a noted San Diego artist to produce two paintings of Preble. Jerry donated one of these paintings to the Preble Reunion Association to be displayed for the enjoyment of our shipmates at all future reunions. Let's hear it for Jerry!
Russell Smith (Radarman - 1960/1961) has spent two years building a 1/8" scale radio-controlled model of Preble. Although Russ was unable to attend the reunion, he did send along a set of close-up photos of the model along with videotape of the model underway under radio control. The detail and accuracy of this model are incredible! Russ is hoping to be able to bring the model with him to the 1999 reunion.
By far the most popular of Preble artifacts were the old cruise books brought to the reunion by several shipmates. These were scattered about on a large table in the Host Room where shipmates would gather around for hours on end to relive old memories and compare notes of their experiences. Hopefully, our shipmates will bring their cruise books to future reunions, as so many of us have lost track of those we once had.
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