Washtenaw's 2006 Reunion

Our June 21-25 San Diego reunion, hosted by Al and Alice Dillon, with help from many others, turned out to be our best attended reunion to date! Held at the Hanalei Red Lion Hotel in Mission Valley, there were 45 crew members in attendance, along with many wives, a few kids, grandkids, friends, and Larry Martin and Al Berg made it down from Portland.

The reunion started early with a deep sea fishing trip aboard John Montagne's boat, but the party really came to life Wednesday evening at Al and Alice Dillon's reception featuring San Miguel beer, Philipine lumpia and a cake decorated with a picture of Washtenaw.

Throughout the week there were visits to museums, casinos, baseball games in LA and San Diego, the San Diego Zoo, and even a trip to Torrey Pines Gliderport. And of course the "Rat Pack" was out shopping everywhere!

Saturday began with a bus trip to the Vietnam Unit Memorial Monument and Boat Display aboard Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado. Chaplain Nate Loesch, who was aboard Washtenaw in 1968 while attached to the Mobile Riverine Force, honored everyone with a memorial service, even though it was his wedding anniversary. Thanks are due Chuck and Irene Campbell for opening up the CCB for everyone to tour. BM1 Chuck was a MRF boat captain in Vietnam.

The reunion ended with a Saturday afternoon association meeting and evening banquet at the hotel with Charlie Bradley serving as Master of Ceremonies & DJ featuring music and karaoke. The banquet opened with a Navy Color Guard presentation and singing of The Star Spangled Banner. Silent auction items were also displayed and brought in over $1,100 for our Veterans Association. Who won the karaoke contest? It was running neck and neck between Ed Sardey and Mike Redding with Mike taking the prize (whatever that was)!

Although a little short on display space, our hospitality room did have room for several photo albums along with Greg Pierceall's collection of Washtenaw's Log Books. On display for sale were items from the ship's store plus reunion T-shirts. Dick Ronnow and Dick Hamill both shared videos they had converted from 8mm movies.

We were not the only reunion at the hotel. Our neighbors from Lima Company 3rd BN 5th Marines Vietnam 66-71 were a great bunch, and stopped by several times to shoot the breeze! Our own Jim Wolak provided them with entertainment, eh Blackbeard! And on Wednesday our neighbors on the other side of our poolside space were from the San Francisco PD.

Thanks Al, Alice and everyone who helped make this another great reunion!

Message from Al Dillon:

As I rest up after the 2006 Reunion I reflect on the contribution of many of our former crew members and wives who assisted in the planning and attended the four day reunion in San Diego that was a joy to my wife Alice, members of my family, and myself. I have said you were the “greatest crew of the greatest ship”, and now I observe that if you take a great crew to a great place, they will have a great time.

The 2006 Reunion was a collaborative effort of members of the USS Washtenaw County Veterans Association Board of Directors and volunteers from our great members and their wives. I am very grateful for the help I have had during planning and implementation of the 2006 Reunion.

I would like to thank Chaplain Nate Loesch for taking time out from his 50th wedding anniversary celebration to provide us with a very memorable memorial service.

Bob Coombs our VP Communication as co-host got the word out and was my closest companion during the planning. He was a constant source of assistance and advice and a good friend who encouraged me during the doubtful days when I feared for the success of the Reunion.

Other members of the Board who made this year’s Reunion a success:
Jim Hopkins, Treasurer who set up procedures for the collection and accounting of membership and Reunion fees and was a great adviser to me, and a “hands on“ leader during the days of the Reunion.
Vice President Tom Osmond who set up an effective and profitable “ship’s store” operation, while pursuing the difficulty of establishing the Associations “not for profit” corporate status.
Vice President Greg Pierceall who has compiled interesting and valuable historical material and helped display it at the Reunion.
Vice President Dave Vicknair and wife Roz, who despite recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, were available to me with advice and encouragement during the planning stages and were leaders in the day to day events of the Reunion.
Jay Brown who maintains our crew list which was the basis of all communications with our great bunch of sailors.

From among our members:
John Montagne and wife Shizuko came on board early to help plan and arranged tours, transportation and Hospitality and free tickets.
Larry Mattoni, and wife Josie who came out early to plan and set up the reception and Hospitality room and provide a “tank deck load” of lumpia.
Dick Ronnow who set up video displays.
Joe Rosenberg for the most successful Silent Auction ever.
Jim Wolak for his humor and public relations with the Marines.
Gary Glanert, 2005 Reunion host for his advice and guidance.

My wife Alice who has been a constant worker and companion during the many months of planning and a sparkling participant in the four days of the Reunion. My daughter Penny who provided yeoman support and designed the name tags. My mother in law who stuffed envelopes. My son James Dillon and grand children Buddy and Catherine who were there every day of the Reunion keeping things going in the Hospitality Room.

I thank all attendees for the congenial and comradely manner displayed by all of our “Washtenaw Family”. For those who could not make it this year, don’t miss future reunions, you will experience a renewal of comradeship with your shipmates, “the greatest crews of the greatest ship”. The 2007 Reunion is already being planned by Jay Brown and Jim Hopkins; be there. Keep in touch by checking Bob Coombs’ website WWW.LST1166.com .

Thank You
Al Dillon
2006 Reunion Host and Association President

Photo courtesy of Charlie Heare. I won't even try to attach names to all the faces this year!

Crew members who attended: Augustus Alegado, Eriko Astadan, Tony Banaban, Felicito Bayson, James Beuving, James Burpo, Robert Carson, Duke Chenoweth, Bob Coombs, Harry Coomer, Kenneth Cordrey, Al Dillon, Harold Durr, Dick Dybdahl, Darrell Eldridge, Herb Florance, Dean Graves, Mike Gregovich, Robert Haley, Dick Hamill, Al Hamilton, Charlie Heare, Jim Hopkins, Alfred Ketchen, Vic Little, Larry Mattoni, John P. Miller, John Montagne, Cliff Moore, Dave Mork, Nick Motto, Gerald Mueller, Tom Osmond, Michael Pankake, Greg Pierceall, Mike Redding, Dick Ronnow, Ken Rosenbalm, Joe Rosenberg, Ed Sardey, Mike Shaw, David Vicknair, Al Weatherill, Jim Wolak, and Herbert Wolfe.

Photos by Jerry Mueller

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