USS Eugene A. Greene (DDR-711 / DD-711) Reunion
September 18-21, 1997 - Burlington, MA
Over one hundred and thirty people gathered at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Burlington, Massachusetts on September 18-21, 1997 to celebrate the 52nd Anniversary of the Commissioning of U.S. Destroyer USS Eugene A. Greene (DDR-711 / DD-711). The Wyndham Garden Hotel was located just fifteen miles outside of Boston, Massachusetts and was a wonderful choice for the ship's reunion.
Jerry Riordan was in charge of all the details and proved once again that with the help of Glen and Laverne Herman, USS Greene Reunions just get better and better! Registrations opened on Thursday, September 18 and the hospitality room was extra large to accommodate a large crowd.
On Friday, September 19 a guided tour of Boston, Massachusetts was provided. This was a great opportunity to brush up on your American history and see all the famous sites of our heritage. The Freedom Trail, which begins at the Old Boston Common, is where the British mustered for Lexington and Concord. Another point of interest was the site of the Boston Massacre and the Old North Church where Paul Revere would signal One if by land and.... Two if by sea!
Lunch was at Faneuil Hall Market Place. The Quincy market was a cornucopia of eating delights. Street entertainers provided music and there was plenty of shopping. Next came the USS Constitution Museum. Old Ironsides is America's oldest, commissioned ship. Thc museum also provided the opportunity to tour USS Cassin Young (DD-793) a Fletcher class destroyer. Scott Harmon, one of our shipmates, wrote the pictorial history booklet that is sold in the museum bookstore.
Saturday, September 20 began with a business meeting in the hospitality room. It was decided that the next USS Greene Reunion would be held September 1999 in Baltimore, Maryland. Many shipmates then boarded the bus for the trip to Battleship Cove to tour the nine decks of the USS Massachusetts and the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, JR. (DD-850. The USS Kennedy, Jr. is the first Gearing class destroyer saved for posterity. There were also two PT boats from WWII and the SS Lionfish an attack submarine.
Dinner Saturday night was the highlight of the Reunion. The guest speaker was Admiral T. Joseph Lopez. Upon his commissioning Admiral Lopez was assigned to the USS Eugene A. Greene (DD-711). He has recently been assigned to his new post as Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, the highest ranking Naval post in Europe. He is also Commander, Allied Forces Southern Europe, and headquarted in Naples, Italy where he will command all NATO forces in Bosnia.
Admiral Lopez entered the U.S Navy in September 1959. He is a native of Powelton, West Virginia and was commissioned an Ensign via the Seaman-to-Admiral Program in 1964. Throughout his more than 30 years of service he has earned the Defense Distinguished Service Metal, the Naval Distinguished Service Metal, three Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star, two Meritorious Combat Action Ribbons, Presidential Unit Citation and numerous other unit and campaign awards.
Admiral Lopez's address to his gathered shipmates was most notable for its personal touch and strong support of the U.S. Navy. He recalled many very personal experiences on the USS Greene and how these impacted and influenced him in later years. A special treat was the presence of Captain Earle W. Sapp who commanded the USS Greene when Admiral Lopez was an Ensign.
Of greatest concern to the admiral was the recent rise of instability in Southern Europe, as evidenced by the crisis in Bosnia and Albania, and the need for U.S. forces there to remain forward deployed and engaged in promoting peace and stability. Admiral Lopez expressed his belief that the best way to prevent conflict in the region is to engage in dialog, military exercises, U.S. Navy and NATO ship port visits and other cooperative efforts with NATO.
Admiral Lopez ended his talk with a reflection that the U.S. Navy of today is still the finest in the world. Young men and women who are dedicated and devoted to their profession staff the Navy. They require and deserve our support and prayers.
Farewells and good-byes were difficulty for all on Sunday, September 21 as shipmates departed for their homes. This was the end of a wonderful weekend and wonderful Reunion for all.
I wanted to pass on a passage that E. J. Jernigan relates in his book Tin Can Man:
Shipmate is an honorable word that is earned, not given. Being called a shipmate is the highest compliment one can earn in his life. Shipmate is a word equal to none in the English language. It is filled with courage, love, hate duty, honor and country. It is a bond forged in storms, adversity and victory; and it is equaled only by a man's love for his wife and family. It is formed at sea in a ship with a captain of character who causes can-do spirit to pass down the line; captain, to executive officer, to junior officers; chiefs, petty officers and crew.
Until we meet again in Baltimore, Maryland in 1999.
R. J. Clark