DESTROYER USS ORLECK 2020 NEW ENGLAND REUNION
June 9th, 10th & 11th, 2020
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For those flying your airport is the Portland International Jetport
I want to talk about reunions and what lies in store for our Association. I hope you have been looking forward to information and if so, here it is.
Before discussing reunion specifics, I need to have a heart to heart with you on my current situation and ability to do reunions for you. I was 39 years old when I connected with Phil Klotz of Leavenworth, Kansas and we decided to start a reunion organization for the men of the USS ORLECK. We had our first in 1993 in San Antonio. Now I am 77, we have 16 reunions under our belt, and while still young at heart, the years have taken somewhat of a toll on certain ways I do things, so there had to be some adjustments.
You all made clear to me in many ways how much you loved the work I did to bring you quality reunions, how you liked doing them in cities around the United States and what good vacations they were for you. I loved every minute of it all (well almost). I always visited each venue at least twice before finalizing what I presented to you. We enjoyed great hotels, wonderful food and entertainment, a time to remember, share, catch-up with old friends and make new ones. At our reunion Memorial Services (this shot shows the honor guard at our Hawaii reunion Memorial Service aboard the USS MISSOURI in Pearl Harbor), we fondly remember, honor, and call out names of those USS ORLECK shipmates who have departed on a greater voyage. At the end of each reunion together, we sadly parted, knowing when and where we would hopefully, the Lord willing, be meeting again.
It was a real possibility that Norfolk could have been our last reunion, but it is not, but it is up to you to ensure that they go on. One day at a time, one reunion at a time, we will go on. There is a reunion scheduled for 2020 and it is going to be a great one. Put aside the dates of June 9th, 10th and 11th, 2020 and maybe three days before or after if you wish to extend your stay for a greater vacation. Many of you have said you use our reunions as vacations because you could not do these things the way we do them and at the price you pay. This reunion will be no different, but I have a few things to say before we talk more of the details and location.
Most of you who attend reunions know I have been trying to get someone to take over that can and is willing to do reunions for our group into the future but have been unsuccessful. I started talking about a replacement even before the San Diego Reunion in 2014, carried it on at the Bar Harbor Reunion, then the Boothbay Harbor one, and pushed harder for it at the last reunion in Norfolk, VA. Still no luck.
I have been talking with someone about doing them for us who is not a USS ORLECK sailor but that has not been as fruitful as I had hoped. We were looking at a reunion in South Dakota. I have ruled that out because some have said the activities necessary to make it a good one there would be too strenuous and difficult for some of our people due to infirmities of age. Lots of walking involved. I have thought long and hard on other possibilities that I could deliver to you but without success. I felt I had but one option and I hope that it is satisfactory to most of you because I was not willing to just let things end.
I talked to our Board of Directors and started to plan another reunion here in the Northeast. I am keenly mindful and sensitive to the fact that we have been doing the most recent reunions on the East Coast. Under the circumstances, I saw no other alternative for the moment, and this gives us one more reunion at least. I believe you, for the most part, are aware of how I have accomplished fine reunions for you before but will tell you again since it might help you understand why the reunion needs to be in New England this next time. With all past reunions, I would visit the sites at least twice, walk the streets looking for things to do and after a lot of vetting, made decisions based on what I believed would please you all. I did those trips at my own expense but that is not the reason for not being able to continue doing them. It is because of my age, the other things I must do, and it just is no longer possible. Staying close to home makes it doable for me to do this one. When we meet in business we can talk about the future.
So, this reunion is planned and ready to go for the east coast of Maine and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I have a fine three-day plan together that will include great food, entertainment, a dinner cruise, all done with the same quality I believe we have become accustomed to. Here is the most current work on the plan-of-the-day (subject to change). Also, here is a link to a registration form for the reunion. Feel free to begin now. Make your reservations. Send in your form with payment. We are only doing checks this time.
For a moment let’s look back on how we communicated about reunions and other things that kept our interest level high. We used to have a way to communicate all this reunion stuff and other happenings in a regular, meaningful way. How many of you remember the Destroyer USS ORLECK DD 886 Association’s “SCUTTLEBUTT” newsletters? (this is an example of one of the shorter newsletters done for our Arlington Memorial gathering.) Most likely many of you do remember, especially those who have been involved with our reunion group since its first gathering in 1993. But do you know much about the term itself? I mention it only because we might want to consider a form of SCUTTLEBUTT to carry on the discussion as we move toward another fine Destroyer USS ORLECK Association reunion in 2020.
The “Scuttlebutt” derived from the nautical name for a barrel used to serve water. For those who don’t have any idea what I am talking about, think of the water cooler in an office that has been depicted as a place for workers (when the boss is not around) to gather and discuss whatever.
This is how Merriam-Webster defines “Scuttlebutt”. “Scuttlebutt, the Water Cooler Talk of 19th Century Seafarers”
“Nowadays, office workers catch up on the latest scuttlebutt around the water cooler, and when they do, they are continuing a long-standing (although not necessarily honorable) tradition. That kind of gossip sharing probably also occurred on the sailing ships of yore. Back in the early 1800s, the cask containing a ship’s daily supply of freshwater was called a scuttlebutt; that name was later applied to a drinking fountain on a ship or at a naval installation. By the early 20th century, the term for the water source was also applied to the gossip and rumors generated around it, and the latest chatter has been called scuttlebutt ever since.”
We have a SCUTTLEBUTT opportunity, albeit it different than the printed one, available today to enable us to be able to tell stories, gossip, talk about reunions or the like. Read on to find out what I mean. First a bit of history about past reunions.
The Destroyer USS ORLECK DD 886 Association was founded around 1988 and our first reunion was held in 1993 in San Antonio, Texas. Somewhere in that timeframe, we started publishing our “SCUTTLEBUTT” newsletter and it grew in popularity and was probably the single-most important element (I call it the glue) that bound us together as a powerful and large organization. The newsletter started slow and without color grew to 48 pages in length, with color and photographs but the most important part of it were the letters from shipmates. They would share their stories of their time aboard USS ORLECK (all were absolutely true of course not the gossip and rumors attributed to Scuttlebutt talk on sailing ships ), about their lives after ORLECK and talk of reunion gatherings and more.
In those days we were fortunate to have a newspaper in Barre, Vermont, that was willing to print our newsletters for super-low costs and I handled the mailing right from my home here in Randolph, Vermont. But, alas, those days came to an end in 2006 when we lost the ability to produce the low-cost wonderful newsletters due to large production costs and mailing increases and they had to be discontinued.
Our reunions went on though and through our website we have sea stories, history (once you get to the website you will find other historical links), our tremendous “Deck Log” project that took seven years to complete but now allows for on-line searching of the 37 years of USS ORLECK deck logs so sailors can find and read about their time aboard. Also, on the site are all the “Cruise Books” published about ORLECK Westpac tours of duty. John Barrios was a key person in making these two projects a success. There is so much more, as well, and I would encourage you to go to our website and click around. You might be pleased at a lot of what you will see.
Even with the loss of our “glue”, the organization was now solid and large (boasting the largest single-ship destroyer reunions held, not only in the US but in the world). Because of natural reduction in our numbers, our gatherings get continually smaller, but they have carried on as well-attended, fine affairs, to this very day. During the Scuttlebutt Newsletter days, after San Antonio (1993-a major part of our reunion with speakers took place at the alamo), we had reunions in San Diego (1995), Charleston (1997), Portland, ME (1999), Seattle (2001 with over 300 in attendance) Orange, Texas (2002 with over 500 registering for that reunion (this was our Association reunion and I am not referring to another event in 2000 when the USS ORLECK arrived home from Turkey-that was a USS ORLECK Museum event.) Our Association was key in USS ORLECK coming back to the United States and for many years we were closely involved in the attempts to get her a permanent home and mooring and many of our people were at the homecoming. Tony Norris had a special role to play that keeps her homecoming in our minds. Presently, Jacksonville, Florida, is attempting to have USS ORLECK moved there to serve as a museum in a permanent place of honor. When we learn something definite, we will advise as many as we can. Back to the reunion summary: 2003 in Waikiki, Hawaii, 2004 Memorial Service for Lt. Orleck in Arlington, 2006 in Wilmington, NC. Post Scuttlebutt reunions were held in Branson (2008), Northern Kentucky (2010), Newport, RI (2012), San Diego (2014), Bar Harbor (2015), Boothbay Harbor (2016) and the most recent in Norfolk, VA (2018).
We decided at the founding of our Association, to hold reunions every two years. Looking at the dates above, you can see that we did fit some extra ones in. Planning is important and it was necessary to have that one-year break since it takes at least that long to plan a good reunion, one that is unique and meaningful for our group and not, like cookie-cutter events, same old same old that can be purchased from tour companies. Each of ours was tailored to please you and that is what has made our reunions the best in the business.
For me this all started in 1982 when I connected with Cem Gurdeniz (retired Turkish Admiral who was the XO aboard ex-USS ORLECK, TCG YUCETEPE D345, after having been transferred to NATO ally, Turkey in 1982. That is another story that has been shared and I am sure, the Lord willing, will be shared again, about her 16 years as the most cherished warship in the Turkish Navy and the plans that developed to save her as a museum ship, first attempt being in Turkey, then to the United States. That connection was enabled by a Marine, Major Mac McLaughlin, (ret.) of Randolph, Vermont, who tied a part of his life to searching out and making connections aboard the USS ORLECK and then the TCG YUCETEPE. He visited her in California, after she had starred in the ABC documentary, “The Winds of War”, and sought her out in Turkey when traveling in Europe and Asia. Mac is gone now, but his story is not forgotten and that too will be shared again sometime.
A short while ago I put a page up on the website called “Scuttlebutt (let’s talk about things)”. There has not been much activity on it probably because I have not devoted the time I should have in communicating to you. Well, that has changed, and I will be sharing much more. Here is a direct link to take you there. Let’s get some discussion going about it. Go to the plan-of-the-day and the registration form. If you have any questions, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or bring the matters up at the SCUTTLEBUTT.
We have one member who is trying to stimulate some discussion. Many of you know Bryan Davies. Bryan is a special and the only member of the kiwi-Orleck division of the USS ORLECK Association. Many years ago, Bryan befriended a young sailor who in 1972 came to New Zealand aboard the USS ORLECK. Bryan and his wife had that sailor, Dave Wallace, stay with them in their home for several days and a friendship developed that has been carried over to the ship and her members these past 43 years. Bryan lost track of Dave and we do not have him on our roster and have many times tried to find him for our friend. He went from ORLECK to the USS BRINKLEY BASS, but we have not been successful in locating him. Would love to hear from anyone who knows him. Bryan is an honorary member of our Association and blessed us with a visit from 8000 miles away when he attended our 2014 San Diego Reunion. He has touched the hearts of many of our people and we love him. (I interviewed him at our main banquet in San Diego in 2014 and you can watch the whole thing here if you would like. Bryan is at 6 minutes 57 seconds to 13 minutes 13 seconds). He has written on the SCUTTLEBUTT page so please go there and communicate with him. While there talk about the reunions, past, present and future. Talk about yourself, your life and family. Talk about your time aboard USS ORLECK or other ships and other adventures. Please go there and at least say “hi” and give your years aboard. We need a few to get the talk started and like the 48-page newsletters that are now just a memory, this on-line SCUTTLEBUTT can serve as the glue that the newsletters did back then.
I would encourage you to get an early start and register for the reunion. It will increase enthusiasm and attendance. Also, click on the links in this message and enjoy some of our past. The reunion attendance is limited to 150 because that is the limit for some of the events, so it has to be first come first serve.
Looking forward to hearing from many of you.
Bob Orleck, Reunion Organizer
Destroyer USS ORLECK DD 886 Association
P.O. Box 213
Randolph, VT 05060