I just returned from a five-day reunion of the survivors’ association of the USS Samuel B. Roberts in Fredericksburg, Texas. We enjoyed various presentations at the renowned Admiral Nimitz National Museum of the Pacific War, including a dedication speech given by President George H. W. Bush and three panel discussions involving the five surviving crew members present (pictured above). The survivors, their families, and other guests enjoyed a heart-warming, emotional week.
October 2 – 6, 1999
San Diego, California
Quality Resort Mission Valley
875 Hotel Circle South
San Diego, CA 92108
Telephone 619 298-8282
Room Rate $79.00 + tax = $87.33
Restaurant in hotel open 24 hours
San Diego Inbound Tours
PO Box 371182
San Diego, CA 92137
Tel 619 226-5237, 800 226-7477
Fax 619 265-7036
|Saturday, October 2, 1999|
|Arrival and registrationHospitality Room open
Evening free, dinner on own.
At our first reunion in Long Beach at the time of the commissioning of COPELAND, I spoke and began by wondering if others were like me in almost always having a favorite song, a tune that kept coming until replaced by another. I had one that was from a movie I saw on the base here in Norfolk, and it was pretty much the background music for my whole life aboard the ROBERTS, for there was no chance for replacing. I was lucky in my song, for it was by Jerome Kern and became a standard. The sentiment of the song is not relevant but the title WAS even that night for it is “Long Ago and Far Away,” and what we all had in mind was really a long time ago and far away.
And even that highly emotional reunion now seems a long time away, too, and though appropriately then I spoke of Captain Copeland I’d like to now think aloud of our reunions,
They have meant people with whom we have shared one of the most important experiences of our lives or with those having in common memories of those lost in battle. Of those lost in battle I for one think of a signalman who shook my hand with hopeful words as we abandoned the open bridge, who went on to really help others in the water hut did not survive himself.
Another grouping of shipmates are those that survived but we did not find or who had died before getting together. To pick one I remember there, is a man who had written the most powerful letter I had to censor, written home on learning of his brother’s death in the war. That sailor and I part of the first night in the water alternated semicircling each other on the edge of the net to give the safe rest we needed. We searched for him but could not find him.
There is no way I would dare example the shipmates who have made our reunions so successful. There have been so many, and even among them we have lost more than a few to join the others in our memories.
There is also that group of relatives and friends of our shipmates or those tied to us through our reunion experiences with the FFG’s, and there I WILL give an example. On my way home from San Francisco, by arrangement, between flights in Dallas I met with a family, including a probably 14-year old brother of our shipmate, to tell them that they should find no hope in “missing in action.” How hard it must have been on him I don’t know, but he has come to make a great contribution to our reunions.
Whit and Jack gave a superb historical account of our reunions last year in San Antonio, but I’m not sure you would know from that just why our reunions have been great and meaningful to all of us.
We have not descended to being just a social club. We have always met at places with appropriate connections to us, We have always included the military and of course especially the Navy in our activities and ceremonies. And in our memorial services we have remembered those now lost but not forgotten.
The final and most important thing our reunions have done is kept alive the spirit that is in the St. Crispins speech from Henry the Fifth. Shakespeare wrote of a very important and decisive battle in European history that was fought on St. Crispins Day as ours was. I read it all in Long Beach, but will only lift phrases now. “On St, Crispins Day, though old men forget, we remember with advantages what feats we did that day.” And though it may not be “to the ending of the world, we shall be remembered,” we can say with Henry that those “that fought with us upon St. Crispins Day” are truly “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…. “
Unfortunately, due to lack of attendance. See you next time!
Seven survivors, family and friends of the USS Samuel B. Roberts Survivors Association gathered in the Washington DC area at the Springfield Hilton Hotel for their reunion. In all, 27 were present during the period from September 26th to September 30th.
The U.S. Navy Memorial was the site for our Memorial Service on Thursday. The weather was perfect and the staff of the Navy Memorial could not have been more helpful. The bell was sounded three times for shipmates who took their final voyage since our last reunion. They were Executive Officer Everett E. “Bob” Roberts and close friends Seamen George Bray and Sam Blue. Along with the Navy Honor Guard and Navy Bugler, we were pleased to have old friend John Cosgrove in attendance. Following luncheon, we then visited the most impressive World War II Memorial. On returning to the hotel we had our annual business meeting. San Diego is our proposed site for next year’s gathering.
On Friday, we visited Arlington National Cemetery and witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. No matter how many times you may see this, it never diminishes in honor and respect. One cannot forget the words from the Sentinel’s Creed, “…. this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance”. Following a luncheon at the Mount Vernon Inn, we toured Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. This is indeed a magnificent home in a beautiful setting.
Saturday evening, following a social hour, we enjoyed a delicious meal served by our hotel. Special guests this evening included CDR Mark Metzger and his wife Dalia. Mark is the Prospective Commanding Officer of USS CARR, FFG 52, named after our shipmate Paul Henry Carr. The Change of Command will take place in October somewhere in the Middle East. Former CO of USS CARR, Ned Bagley and his wife Catriona had planned to be with us for dinner but airline delays changed their plans. Ned did join us for breakfast on Sunday morning. Our speaker for the evening was Brad Peniston, author of the book “No Higher Honor” which chronicles the story of the mining of our namesake ship USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS, FFG 58, in the Persian Gulf in 1988. Even though many of us had read his superb book, he made the story come alive. Following the presentation of long stemmed roses to our ladies, we moved on to our hospitality room for songs, stories and farewells.
Sunday morning most of us gathered for our Farewell Breakfast. Vows to meet again next year were followed by our return to our homes from one coast to the other. Fair winds and following seas to all.