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Reunion Memories by Shirley Clark

It was decided that we would all meet in Nashville, TN in the fall of 200. What a wonderful decision that was--- going to Nashville. Wandering into the south where hospitality flows like milk and honey, where people say y’all, where you can hear grits in the voices of people so proud of their heritage that they sometime s brag a bit too much for their Yankee friends. It takes time to get used to southern people, but, when you do. They are treasured friends forever.

Everyone who came to Nashville really enjoyed their stay. The General Jackson Showboat, the Patsy Cline show, and shopping at Opry Mills mall, everything was a wonderful treat. We also went on a tour of Nashville, known to many as the capital of country music. This city is so much more than country music. The great buildings, Vanderbilt University, Belmont College, The War Memorial and almost everything that makes the south a country unto itself. Once you cross the Mason-Dixon Line, it is the slow and easy living that takes you into a world that you never want to leave.

The bonds of friendship were growing stronger. This group of men who had so proudly served their country many years ago were now sharing signs of maturing, a few gray hairs, a little bigger around the middle. An ache and a pain here or there, but they still had a spring in their step, a smile on their faces, pride in their hearts and a joy for living that sets them apart from any other group.

How fortunate for all of us that these men had the good sense to marry such wonderful girls. Sometimes the US Government has a way of making a wrong turn now and then, but what great luck they had when they put this group together. Maybe God had a hand in this!

Sometimes when things are going well and you think you have the world by the tail, you think you’ve caught the brass ring and the sun is always going to shine in your backyard, you get that bit of news that brings you back to earth. That is what happened to the Bristol Shipmates and friends of Clyde Riddle when we heard of his death. We have lost a good friend, a Shipmate, a kind and special person, a man with joy in his hear, a gleam in his eye, and the wish to make life better for all. Clyde, you are missed here on earth, but there is another angel in Heaven’s choir.

144 shipmates and ladies come to Nashville on October 5-8, 2000. They will always remember this trip, not for where they were or what they saw, but because of the people of the USS Bristol DD857.

Shirley Clark

USS Bristol DD857 Historian

October, 2000

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