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Reunion Memories by Shirley Clark

As darkness began to become light in the early morning hours of a cool October morning, we left the small Community of Lawrenceburg, KY, to start on a long awaited journey. Nearly fifty years had passed since a group of young men, almost boys, had boarded a ship named the USS Bristol (DD857). A Destroyer, a small ship, a “Tin Can” that became home to these boys that the navy so proudly claims to have turned into men.

Expectations grew as the miles stretched out in front of us. We left the beautiful bluegrass and entered into another part of these great United States. The time passed so quickly as we drove into Pennsylvania. The autumn air was crisp and the colors breathtakingly beautiful.

Our destination was Pittsburgh, PA. and our anticipation grew as we came closer to the hotel. As usual, we arrived early. A few other people began to arrive and get settled in for what was to be the Reunion of a lifetime. 140 people signed in on October 2nd, and the good times began.

A great big thank you to Clyde and Mary Riddle and Jerry and Joan McCall for their hard work and dedication in making this wonderful event possible. Their memories wrapped around their heartstrings and kept them going until every detail of these few precious days were as perfect as humanly possible.

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial was very impressive. Even though we had a steady mist of rain, our spirits remained high as the clouds over Pennsylvania.

The cruise and the dinner aboard the boat on Three Rivers were wonderful. The Saturday evening Banquet was copied from the menu served on the day the Bristol was Commissioned. It was an elegant affair.

On Sunday morning we were all somber at the Memorial Service conducted by Leland Phillips, Rev. Vern Klingman, and Clyde Riddle. Names of loving Shipmates who had passed on were honored. The Memorial Service concluded “a great reunion”! What a treasured experience we all enjoyed!!

We left Pittsburgh with warn feelings and the great hope that we would meet again a year from now in Fall River, Massachusetts. As we drove home our thoughts seemed to stay in Pittsburgh where, for these few days, we had enjoyed going down memory lane.

Once again in their hearts these young men reliving a time they could never forget.

Shirley Clark
USS Bristol DD857 Historiank
October, 1998

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