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Reunion Memories by Shirley Clark

The air was crisp and cool, the trees beginning to change colors from green to orange, yellow and red. The leaves falling softly to the ground marking the beginning of autumn. The days that were getting shorter, it was darker than it was just a few weeks ago. That is Kentucky in the fall. That just means one thing at the Clark home---it is time for the USS Bristol DD857 reunion. Oh, what a wonderful time of year, full of expectations and joy. Awaiting the time that we will once again embark on a much awaited journey. This year we will travel to Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk is a city with the populations of 234,403, the largest naval base on the east coast, Included in the ships at Norfolk are cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers and frigates. The base is the homeport to more than one hundred ships of the Atlantic Fleet.

As you know, the Shipmates vote for the city that they want to hold the reunion and Norfolk was a good choice. As always you can count on the men of the USS Bristol to do the right thing. Not only is Norfolk a great place to have a reunion, it has other things to offer, such as the Botanical Gardens, the battleship Wisconsin, the National Maritime Center and the most popular thing of all is the General Mc Arthur Memorial. It is located on City Hall Avenue and hoses nine galleries of the General’s life. You will find there are many things depicting the General’s life and military career. Some of which are his corn cob pipe and his 1950 Chrysler Crown Imperial limousine.

But as I have written many times before, it is not where you are, or what you do, or how good the food is, or the shopping and sightseeing tours, it is the shipmates and wives and friends that make a reunion one of the single most important events of the year. Many of us wait from one October to another just to be able to see our Shipmates once again. And to Remember the GOOD TIMES.

You may be sitting in the lobby of the hotel and hear a familiar voice say “Go Big Blue” or you may pass someone in the hallway and suddenly realize that they are members of the Bristol Association. Then you have to stop and shake hands or more often get a big hug. There is always the Hospitality Room, with lots of laughter and wonderful memories. The memories that is one of the best things about the reunions. Shipmates sharing the good times they once had with each other, while defending this great country. Then it is on to the tours that the “BRAT “has organized for the reunion. Then everyone gets all dressed up in their finery and “Lookin’ Good”. Then off to a wonderful banquet.

The Memorial Service is always very touching. This year it was done by Leland Phillips. He is more than capable, even though we missed having the Rev. Vern Klingman. Mr. Phillips filled in, doing his usual wonderful job.

As the Shipmates said goodbye and wished everyone a safe trip home, looking forward to the time that they once again will be together to enjoy each other’s company, and renew old friendships and listen to each other’s memories. There’s that word again--- Memories. That is what this is all about--- Memories.

Next year the reunion will be held in San Antonio, Texas. We will have another year to look forward to seeing all of you once again. Until then, may God hold each of you in the palm of His hand.

Shirley Clark

USS Bristol DD857 Historian

Oct. 9- Oct 12, 2003

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