Sep 032023


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NEW NEW NEW-Come back regularly for important updates and information. New updates will have the date posted:

  1. Sept 29, 2023-Preserve your legacy aboard USS ORLECK in your berthing area. Go here to learn how. 
  2. October 4, 2023-An important message for those who have had some problem signing up for the name plate for the berthing project by the Jacksonville Naval Museum. Click here

At the business meeting at our Veterans Day 2023 reunion in Jacksonville, Florida, permanent home of our beloved USS ORLECK DD 886, the eligible voters unanimously responded positively to my suggestion that we dissolve our Destroyer USS ORLECK DD 886 Association but only if we replace it with a new way for USS ORLECK sailors, family, and friends to continue to meet at their ship in Jacksonville each year.

While we have ended the Destr,oyer USS ORLECK DD 886 Association and while there will be no more organized reunions for the group, we are far from done. We have had a long run of successful three- and four-day events over the last thirty years but the time has come to change the way we continue. It has been wonderful to have done these reunions for you over these decades but I will be unable to continue doing them and being that no one else would or could take them over, the time had come.

The vote was for a plan that would set up a way those interested can meet aboard the USS ORLECK and to go out to dinner together every year into the future on Veterans Day as well as build the rest of their stay around that. You might want to arrange for a mini reunion with shipmates or treat it as an extended vacation and build the other events around it. Veterans Day in Jacksonville will be chockfull of many local activities from a massive parade, many events in and around USS ORLECK, now in her special and permanent mooring at Pier 1, as well as many other exciting things to do throughout this welcoming US Navy town. The possibilities are endless!

We picked Veterans Day for a good practical reason. Our last official reunion was on Veterans Day, 2022. Now on each Veterans Day into the future, we will continue to meet. It is a special day for our military. The Armistice that ended World War I happened on November 11 and the guns ceased firing at 11 AM. Setting the date and time to coincide with the Armistice has the added advantage of having a time and date that will be easy to remember and it will be the same year after year. 11/11/11. 11 AM on the 11th day of the 11th month.

Beginning in 2023 and every year thereafter, USS ORLECK sailors, family and friends will converge on Jacksonville, Florida, meet on the USS ORLECK at 11 AM, and have dinner together that evening. As mentioned above, the rest is up to you. The plan gives flexibility to meet everyone’s needs and desires even if you just plan to come for the day.

There will not be any organized events except the meeting at the USS ORLECK and dinner that evening. Kelly Harris, owner of the Village Café right on the St. Johns River, and good friend of our organization, has agreed to do that dinner each year and Heather Surface, owner of the River Taxi has agreed to be available to transport you between your river front hotel, the USS ORLECK and Kelly’s restaurant.

Nadia, the Director of Events for the USS ORLECK DD 886, has calendared your coming on November 11, 2023, and will have a special place designated for you to meet and discuss your plans for the day and weekend.

Soon there will be a special website developed by the Jacksonville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (VISIT JAX) that will keep you advised of the happenings and will enable you to communicate about it. I will post the link to that site when it is available.  Until then, information will also be found on our website so you will not miss anything by coming here.

If you have any questions about this plan, you can contact Bob Orleck at 802-565-0340 (talk or text) or email him at  You can also leave comments (see below post).

So many have experienced immense joy at our reunions and getting together with their shipmates, some who they had not seen for 40 or 50 years. Let’s keep things going in this way!

I hope to hear from many of you that you will be planning to come this upcoming Veterans Day, November 11, 2023, at 11 AM aboard USS ORLECK DD 886. Easy to remember 11AM on the 11th day of the 11th month each year from now on.

Thank you for allowing me to associate with you all these years, to organize and execute the wonderful reunions we have had. It has been the greatest honor of my life.

Please let me know your thoughts on attending. 

Best to you all.

Bob Orleck

P.S. Any updates will be posted here until further notice. Visit this page often and also if you wish to comment, CLICK HERE  go to the bottom of the other comments on the page that opens and enter your comment.

  74 Responses to “Plan to Visit USS ORLECK DD 886 on the upcoming Veterans Day holiday!”

  1. Bob, Thank You for all the Reunions You and Barb set up for all those years. Do have fond memories along with Sue. Special Thank You for being so considerate to Sue. San Diego in 1995 was our 1st reunion. If my count is correct, did attend 5 more, plus the mini reunion in Lake Charles. All were very special and enjoyed them all.

    Understand its alot of work to set up the reunions. You and Barb are to be commended. Very much appreciated.

    Do hope to attend a reunion on Veterans day in the future,

    Best Wishes to You, Barb and All My fellow shipmates.

    Bob Labbe’
    USS Orleck 1968 to 1972.

    • Bob
      So good to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words. We had good times, didn’t we?
      Hope you get to attend 11/11/11 events in the future.
      God Bless you and Sue

  2. Hello Bob;
      We have just returned to Virginia from our trip to Jacksonville and our visit to the Orleck. It was great to see the ship again as I have not seen it since I left nearly 55 years ago. I met a couple of former sailer’s that served the same time as myself and that was nice. I could see that Jane Arnold was doing everything she could to make everyone feel welcomed and happy. Larry McConnell I thought also did a fine job as well with the memorial.
      Take care and thank you for all that you do. 
                                                    Bob LeClair 65-69

  3. I served on the USS Orleck from 1950 through 1954 during the Korean War. We did two tours of duty during the war. We spent 10 months and six months patrolling the East coast of Korea from Manchuria south to the Yellow Sea. Our goal was to destroy trains from North Korea providing troops and supplies to their troops. We were the only destroyer to destroy two trains during that period of time. The USS Orleck was hit by a shore battery in the area of the Port side 40 mm gun battery. No one was injured.
    When the torpedo tubes were removed and other modifications made for the rocket launchers, the modified USS Orleck no longer was the ship that I proudly served on.

    • Hi Paul: So good to hear from you and thanks for sharing your view of history while aboard.

      I can understand you feelings expressed in your last paragraph, but if you think about it, without those modifications, USS ORLECK would be at the bottom of the sea as a reef or in your medicine cabinet as a razor blade. While you feel the way you did about your proud service, her modifications allowed for another 20 years of sailors to feel that sense of proudness as well and now she is looking real good in Jacksonville. She will make people proud and they will love visiting her for years to come. Jacksonville is where she was meant to be! Bob Orleck

  4. Thanks for keeping us informed. Much of my time aboard the Orleck is a blur, but I remember liberty in Hong Kong, Yokosuka our home port, frigid days in the Sea of Japan when we had to chip sea ice off the decks because we were top heavy in rough seas, Akita, Japan where we couldn’t get off ship because of demonstrators, many many hours on the gun line and backing down rivers in Vietnam to support our ground troops. My CO was captain Wise.(always first off the ship on liberty ports in his pin striped sport coat). I moved from being a deck ape to striker in the IC division where IC Abolins was in charge. He was an interesting fellow, being a full blooded Russian that really liked his vodka’s. I recall one incident when we came near a Russian war ship and he was asked to interpret for our captain. The gun line days were very long, with little sleep due to the guns going and having to take on more ammo often. We had a near miss during one venture in Vietnam when we had to out run a bit of shore battery and only sustained a little shrapnel strike on the hull. There is one friend I miss and haven’t been able to locate, seaman Earl Nakamura. His family was from Gardena, Ca where his brother Dave was a cop. Earl and I spent many good times together

    • Hi Mike,

      Remember me?
      Question; Are you coming to Jacksonville this November 11?
      Please let me know one way or the other.
      I’m letting the Hyatt Regency Riverfront know our count today. They want to know the number of rooms we need. I’m trying to secure a block of rooms for us.
      Great story about your time onboard.
      Hope to hear from you,
      SK3 Charlie DiMaria ’70 – ’72

      • I just want to clarify one thing. There is no deadline for reporting whether you are coming on Veterans Day, November 11th. That is the beauty of this plan. The night before you can decide to come and do that and be as much a part of the event as anybody who decided months before. Charlie is doing a great thing in trying to get the best price from the Hyatt for stays and he needs the information for that so he can try to get the best price. Any questions, just comment and ask.

  5. Debbie & I would like to thank you and your wife for all the years you planned and ran the USS Orleck Reunion. It was great to see my shipmates and enjoy such wonderful venues with them.

    Debbie & I will be attending the Veterans’ Day Reunion on November 11. What a wonderful way to continue seeing our shipmates annually on the ship we proudly served on, the USS Orleck DD 886,

    • Wow! You sure made my day. My prayer has been that this 11/11/11 project would be a great success and described as you have, being a “wonderful way to continue seeing our shipmates on the ship we proudly served on, the USS Orleck DD 886” Thank you so much!

    • Ahoy James!

      Glad to hear that you and Debbie are coming to visit the Orleck this Veterans Day.

      I need to ask you about your hotel reservations. Have you made them yet? If so were they at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront in Jacksonville? As you may know from reading these posts, I am trying to secure a block of rooms at a discounted rate for our group. The Hyatt has asked me to let them know how many rooms we need and what nights our people are staying. Also, when making your reservations, tell them and have them note that you will be with the USS ORLECK group.

      Please let me know your plans for staying in Jacksonville.

      Thanks, and see you in November,

      SK3 DiMaria, ’70 – ’72

  6. I’m happy that the ship is in its new home. My late husband Paul Ridgeway served onboard as a radio man in the late 70’s. He told me many stories of adventures he had, including being off the northwest coast during the Mt. St. Helen eruption. I hope to visit some day and see where he served his country.

    • Hi Charla:

      Thank you for that nice note. All seem as happy that she finally, after 22 years back in the US, has a permanent mooring. They are doing a great job with her and I hope someday that you do get to visit her. I am sure that would please Paul immensely.

      By the way, I did not have the information that Paul had died and I would like to move him to our Memorial Roster. Could you provide me with the date when he passed. You can send that to my email and I will take care of that.

      If you remember what he told you about the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption, and you would want to do this, please post that account here. I am sure there are those who would like to read about it. I have his information that he provided that he was onboard 1980-81.

      Bob Orleck

  7. Bob, Thank you for everything you do. Sorry that we have to miss the reunion this year. Its always a great time. Hopefully we will make it to future reunions.

    • Thanks Ray. Sorry you can’t make it also. Just want to clarify something though. While these will be reunions in a sense, they are not official reunions. We have ended those, and the Jacksonville 2022 was the last one. What is happening now is that each and every year, sailors, family and friends can travel to Jacksonville and know they can meet others on USS ORLECK at 11 AM on Veterans Day and go out to dinner that night at The Village Bread Cafe. Anything else you do and arrangements you make are yours to do. Lots of freedom to do what you wish. Hope to see you all there in 2024. Bob

  8. Hi Bob –

    Ruth and I have been looking forward since Veteran’s Day last year on returning to meet again with former shipmates aboard USS ORLECK. We will be driving and plan on spending 3 days in Jacksonville, 3 days in Orlando, 2 days in St. Augustine, and 2 days in Pensacola. We had hoped to meet up during this trip with Russ Freel but unfortunately learned that he passed away last month.

    • That is great Steve. Have you made any hotel arrangements yet. Charlie DiMaria is working on getting a better price for a small group than could be gotten individually. So sorry about Russell.

      I will take this opportunity for those who have also committed to being their on November 11, 2023, to ask if they have reservations at any hotel and if so where and what price is being charged. Would also like to know if anyone has information on who they know is coming. There are a number in these comments who have said they are.

      If you (referring to all sailors) have not sent out the notice to shipmates in your address book, please do it. Time is close. Only 44 days away.

      Thanks Steve
      Bob Orleck

    • Hi Steve,

      Glad to hear that you and Ruth are coming to our gathering.
      What nights are you staying at the Hyatt?
      Please let me know.

  9. Patti and I will not be able to make it
    this year, maybe next time

    • Hi Rick,

      Sorry to hear you and Patti won’t be there in November. It has always been nice to see you two at our gatherings.

      Looking forward to next time,

  10. Ahoy fellow shipmates! Hope you all are well and looking forward to coming to our USS ORLECK sailor, family and friends gathering this upcoming Veterans Day, Saturday, November 11, 2023.

    I am trying to secure a block of rooms at the HYATT REGENCY RIVERFRONT – JACKSONVILLE. They require a minimum of 10 reservations in order to receive a discounted room rate. I am sure we will be able to meet that requirement, but the more rooms we can reserve the more inclined they will be to give us the best possible room rate. I’ve spoken to the sales manager and she says they already plan on that weekend being very busy. So the sooner I can give her an estimate of the number of rooms we will require, the better.

    The block of rooms will be at a discounted price. Who would like to save money $$$???

    If you are planning on coming to the USS ORLECK in November, please let me know as soon as possible.
    For those who have already made reservations at this hotel; if they grant us a reduced rate for our rooms, your reservations will be changed to the block room rate.

    Also, I need to provide the Hyatt with the names of the people who have already made reservations. They need to know if you made your reservation directly with the Hyatt, or was your reservation made through a third party: i.e., or some other website.

    Please update me on your plans and if you have already made reservations at the Hyatt. Let me know the nights you will need a room in Jacksonville.

    My email address is: Also copy Bob Orleck so he will be kept informed of our progress.
    SK3 DiMARIA,

    • Thanks for doing this Charlie. For those concerned about where they would stay, this will be a great help. Anyone who knows of another who might want to come, contact them and share this page with them.

    • Message sent. I hope you get a good response.

    • Charlie; Thanks for doing this. How is the response going?

    • I plan on attending. I have already made my reservations at the Hyatt. Iam sure they will join the group.

    • I did go through Travelocity

    • Thanks Charlie –

      If we can get a good discount, I can book with the Hyatt for the nights of November 10 & 11 (2-nights). Please let me know what kind of rates are available. Will the hotel also be willing to waive parking fees? We look ward to seeing you for the reunion,

      • Hi Steve!

        Glad to hear you and Ruth are coming. As soon as the details are firmed up, I will pass on all the info.
        See you in November,


  11. yes I plan on atteding

  12. Hello Bob,
    John Neville here. Hopefully, the wife and I both plan to be there if our well-being holds up. This is the first time I\’ve seen the old girl since Yokosuka, Japan when I got transferred to Sub-School in New London, CT. A lot of water has passed under this old keel since then. I retired in November 80 and dropped anchor in Satsuma, FL on the banks of the St Johns River. I\’ll never be with my water.

    • John: Pretty exciting thought not having seen her for 65 years. Yours will be a great story to follow. You might even make the nightly news down there. From what I understand you are less than 70 miles away. Plan on coming by car or boat? Look forward to seeing you there. Bob

  13. Hi Bob,
    At this point Jan and I plan to attend. Looking forward to seeing you and shipmates of USS Orleck. November can’t come quick enough!

  14. Hi Bob it’s great to hear from you again regarding the reunion. Last year was great and seeing and being on board her again was an amazing experience. Sadly I have a conflict this year and won’t be able to attend. Fingers crossed I’ll see everyone next year. Thanks again for all you have done for the association over all the decades. You are one of a kind!

  15. HI Bob, hope things are well with you. Chris and I are planning to attend this year. Thanks for setting things in motion again.

    Chris and I plan to be there God willing. Thank you again Bob for setting it up.

    • Hi Mark: I combined both of your comments into one. I knew you would be planning on being there. You are definitely hooked on USS ORLECK. 🙂

      The only requirement for this to work is for people to show up, but it would be nice to know in advance for this first one who are solid “will be there” people. Let me know when you know by coming on and posting another comment.

      Look forward to seeing you both again.

  16. EM3 McClure; TAD 1981 from the USS Samuel Gompers AD-37, 32nd St., stood electric plant watches on the Orleck while escorting a minesweeper up the Pacific coast. We blew up some of the island off the CA coast while cruising from San Diego, 32nd St. to Bremerton.

    Looking forward to the visit on at least one Veteran’s Day Memorial opportunity. How did she weather the recent storm?


    • Hey Tom: Good to hear from you. Glad to hear this is on your bucket list. Keep me advised if it is going to be this year. The wonderful thing about this is the ease of remembering where and when. All you need to do is find the USS ORLECK in Jacksonville on Veterans Day each and every year into the future. 11 AM on board, on 11th day of the 11th month of the year. 11/11/11 Easy peasy!

  17. Ahoy Bob, your dedication to your family and to USS Orleck is nothing short of fantastic. I am certainly looking forward to the Veteran’s Day reunion in Jacksonville. I do hope to be there for a couple of days but still need to rearrange some unexpected obligations.
    Stay well and look forward to seeing you all in November.
    Paul (Rom) Romilly – 65-67

  18. I will plan to be there, with my wife Mylli. Have been looking forward to seeing the ship again. I was an electronic tech (ET 3/2) Oct ’76 – Nov ’78.

    • Look forward to meeting you. You are going to be surprised at the improvements in her looks from when she was in Orange. The folks in Jacksonville are taking very good care of her.

  19. Hi Bob,
    John & I won’t make it this year, but will plan to be there in 2024.
    We have so enjoyed the many reunions we have been privileged to attend! Thank you for the amazing amount of work you have put into the reunions over the years.
    Give our best to Barb.

    • Dear John & Sue:
      Thanks for the kind note. You have been good friends and so loyal to our reunion efforts. Believe me, the privilege is mine to have been able to be around such quality people. With so much selfish greed being exhibited in the country, it is a breath of fresh air to be around the caliber of people that have made our association a great one.

      I expected since the information was late getting out that many would not be able to make it this year but will work on it for 2024. That’s the beauty of this plan. It is to happen year after year and you can count on the date to make plans for it. Nice, huh?

  20. Bob
    Avis and I are working on being there.

    Avis & Gene Haukoos

  21. Bob, I can’t make this one this year, however will definitely try to make next years, Lord willing of course.
    Would make this one but we have a family reunion scheduled for about the same time in November this year. I definitely plan to vist again soon. Thank you for all your work over the years, All the best to you and your lovely bride. Would love to see you both again. The Orleck was my home for 3and a half years, went from seaman recruit to RD2 on board her. Leading radarman at the time she went in to FRAM. Only ship I ever served on and she is really dear to my heart.
    Don Hart RD2 1958-1962

    • Great to hear from you my good friend Don Hart. It is one of my favorite things to hear when her men describe the feelings of being home aboard her. Then to witness those seeing their fellow shipmates after 50 or more years since serving. Thanks for the post and look forward to seeing you again.

  22. Bob, Im planning on attending the event on Sounds like fun and I have been trying to get over to visit the Orleck since she got into Jacksonville. I winter about 3 hours from there and am looking forward to the visit

    • So glad to hear that Gary. I know, with all that goes on in life that it is not easy to pick a time, but when a time is picked (11/11/11), that gives the incentive to make the decision as you have. The message about the event has missed some shipmates I am sure, so please forward this to others you know to be sure they haven’t missed hearing.

  23. I plan to be there. Will be at the UDT/SEAL Museums Kmuster the week before, keep me posted on the events.
    R/ Iryll

    • Look forward to seeing you again but more so your pups. 🙂 Bringing them I hope. Bob

      • Yes will have probably Axe with me again. But you never know who goes with me, as I have Tessa (Axe’s Big sister) who works for me and training a small all Black Malinois Mylah to be a service dog.
        Looking forward to going up.

  24. As of now I am planning on attending on November 11th at 11:00 AM on the ship. I am going to ask my Daughter if she would like to go. She hasn’t attended a reunion yet. My Sister has even shown some interest in going. She lives in VA in the winter so it wouldn’t be that bad a trip. Looking forward to seeing all that can make it.

  25. Hi Bob;
    Mae and I plan on attending. Thanks a bunch for all that you STILL do.

    • Thanks Bob. Please give our best to Mae. Sorry it didn’t work out for the last reunion, but this will be a great time for all to get together again. I would suggest for you start looking for a hotel reservation because that is going to be a very busy weekend in Jacksonville.

  26. Bob,I am going to plan on attending the event on veterans day. I have been talking about getting over there since the ship arrived. I winter in Fl about 100 miles from Jacksonville. Hope to see you then.

  27. My Dad, who has passed, served aboard the Orleck during the Korean War and my wife and I are planning a trip there. My Mom wants to visit but is unable to travel.

    • Hi Greg. Sorry about the loss of your Dad. I have checked our roster and don’t see a Gentry listed. We searched as best we could for years to locate the estimated 4400 men who served in ORLECK over her 37 years but only located 2200. I would like to get his name on the Memorial Roster. Please send me his full name, years aboard USS ORLECK, spouse name, and date he died. If you have head shot photo, I can include that on his Memorial Page. You can send that information to

      It is wonderful tribute to your Dad that you are coming to pay respects to the ship he loved and served our nation aboard. Look forward to meeting you both.

  28. Greetings Shipmates,
    Had a great time last year in Jacksonville. (Thanks again Bob)
    I had originally planned to make the trek again this year however, unforseen circumstances and obligations have made it unlikely. Rest assured that I am already thinking about next year.

  29. Thanks Bob! Been waiting since July 15th for the good news. Kathy and I have been planning on going.
    Thanks again Bob!

    • That was my intention to get it out there earlier, but things don’t always work out as planned. Am glad you are going to be there. If along the way you hear of others, while I am not coordinating anything, I would like to know. I want to make sure that it is going as I had envisioned. Bob

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