NORTHERN KENTUCKY REUNION FOR DESTROYER USS ORLECK DD 886 ASSOCIATION
June 20-24, 2012
The 2012 reunion is history and we look forward to San Diego in 2014. Northern Kentucky treated us very well. The upscale Airport Holiday Inn exceeded all expectations and the staff at the hotel were the best. And we got it for only $89 per night. Molly Fruin, the Group Sales Manager for the Holiday Inn offered everything at her disposal to insure we would enjoy every minute while there. Northern Kentucky in my opinion is one of the best if not the best inland military reunion destination points in the country. Their Convention and Visitor’s Bureau went out of their way to be helpful and even provided incentives that allowed us to offer more in the way of food and events. They actually gave us money for our treasury for each room we rented and they sent staff to help us in the hospitality room. The Cincinnati Riverfront and the Newport and Covington side of the river were discovered by many of you with so many things to do. We called this our Northern Kentucky Reunion but actually, Cincinnati Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Dayton, Ohio were the venues during the reunion. Our base of operations will be the upscale Holiday Inn at the Airport.
Many wanted more than 3 days so we had added a 4th day and 2 optional events. On June 20 many of you went to the fabulous Kentucky Horse Park. On the other optional event we did a Reds/Twins Major League ball game on June 24th and our entertainer, Marie Mazziotti sang the National Anthem and some of our guys were the honor guard. It was great and its on youtube. The Reds were in first place then and the only thing bad about that day was the final score.
Most folks drove to Cincinnati but those who flew in were picked up at the Greater Cincinnati Airport (located in Kentucky) in a complimentary shuttle.
We did most of our activities at the hotel right in our spacious hospitality room. We enjoyed 6 meals in that room. We finalized our registration there, gathered, displayed our stuff, talked stories and had some great visits. We sold shirts and caps, had an auction and more. The model of the USS ORLECK that was given to Bob by the Turkish Navy personnel was displayed and was left at the Ft. Thomas museum where Bob was born and raised and is displayed there for all to see. We had soft drinks and snacks and even tried to replicate the Skyline Chili specialty of Cincinnati but I don’t think we did accomplish that. But we tried and I would encourage any who visit the Cincinnati to give one of the many chili parlors a try. We had breakfasts each morning in the hospitality room.
So many of you were so generous in bringing items for the raffle and auction and that was so needed for insuring we had sufficient funds to start planning for the next reunion as well as funding part of this one. Since there has been a great reduction in dues paying members this has become our major source of income for the Association. We spend more on you than the registration fee so we make up for it in this way in addition to the dues and contributions. We also earn room nights based on the number of nights you all rent and we turn that into money to defray the costs as well.
At the Kentucky Horse Park you had lunch and while there was a fair amount of walking everyone did well. The Park takes in more than 1,200 acres in the heart of Kentucky’s famous Bluegrass region and is the home to about 50 different breeds of horses. Therewere shows, film presentations and you got to see a real working horse farm in the heart of Kentucky.
What a great dinner and time we had in Newport at an authentic German beer garden, the Hofbrahaus Newport House. There were raves about the food and I have to agree with that. We broke from tradition of having our first banquet at the hotel when we went to the Hofbrahaus. The restaurant had a weighty responsibility of a world class venue that started over 400 years ago in Munich, Germany and it sure seems that they lived up to that tradition in Newport. The food was authentic German cuisine and if you did not know this was the first replica of the original German Hofbrahaus in the USA.
Friday was a busy day for us. We had our breakfast and business meeting then off on the buses to the Peace Bell in Newport, Kentucky for our Memorial Service, then we boarded a Paddlewheel Boat on the Ohio River with Banjo Bob and enjoyed a luncheon and a wonderful ride on a bright and glorious day on the Ohio.
The day was filled with activity but it was not be too hard on anyone. All of the events were close by and most of the time we were seated, eating and enjoying entertainment or just talking and visiting with each other. Joe Correia (Padre), our Chaplain led our Memorial Service at a very special place in Newport Kentucky, the World Peace Bell. Right after the service we made our way and boarded the BB Riverboat for a luncheon tour of the Ohio River with Banjo Bob entertaining us and narrating the tour. Back at the hotel we had a fine banquet at the hotel, special entertainment with Marie Mazziotti and our auction. I got a chance to speak about our friend in Turkey, Admiral Cem Gurdeniz who was instrumental in arranging for the USS ORLECK to have been given to Orange, Texas at my request. He was in prison then and is still there and I still ask for your prayers and help in any way you can to bring attention to this so this patriotic man and friend of the US and the USS ORLECK can again be with his family.
We had photos taken before the event and I am sad to say we were taken by the photographer who has not produced one picture to those who paid case for them at the hotel. I continue to try to get him to produce and I have worked with other ships organizations who have had the same problem. I have some plans that I will share with you about this soon.
On Saturday we began with a good breakfast then went to the Museum of our choice. Some went to the Creation Museum and others to the Union Terminal (Cincinnati Museum Center. We then returned to the hotel for a short time and boarded buses for the trip to the National Air Force Museum for a tour, dinner, speaker and entertainment. We had the entire place to ourselves from 6 PM until 10:00 PM. We got to tour former Air Force One aircraft including the one that brought assassinated President John F. Kennedy back from Dallas. This museum has the largest display of aircraft in the world and our banquet was right in the middle of it between those planes that served in Korea and those planes that served in Vietnam. We were honored to have as our keynote speaker, Curator of the National Air Force Museum, Terry Aitken. We were entertained by the Air Force Band of Flight and the Air Force provided us with an active duty Air Force Color Guard. It was an awesome night to remember. Plan of Day-Sunday, June 24, 2012
We had breakfast on Sunday starting at 5;30 for those who had to leave early for the airport. Our Chaplain, Joe Correia, conducted our church service and we all said our goodbyes. Some stayed and boarded the buses as mentioned earlier and went to the Reds major league baseball game. Boy ball parks have changed. The food was unreal and it was all you could eat and was a part of our paid ticket. The Great American Ball Park lived up to its name for fun and food.
There are lots of pictures in the Forum from the reunion.
See you all in San Diego!