USS Eugene A Greene (DD-711 / DDR-711) Reunion
September 16 – 19, 1999
Hurricane Floyd made an unexpected visit to Baltimore, Maryland Thursday morning and deterred some shipmates from attending the fourth Reunion of USS Eugene A. Greene. However, one hundred and eighteen shipmates did brave the storm and arrived at the Holiday Inn (Hunt Valley) to enjoy what turned out to be a spectacular, sunny weekend.
The Reunion tour bus departed on schedule Friday morning for Annapolis, Maryland. This was an opportunity to visit the Annapolis Waterfront and visit many of the quaint shops near the Annapolis City Dock. After lunch everyone met at the U.S. Naval Academy Visitors Center. A guided tour of the U.S. Naval Academy followed and was heightened by information about "plebes", Midshipman life and Academy customs. The Academy Chapel, John Paul Jones’ Crypt and Bancroft Hall were other highlights of the tour
Saturday morning began with the Reunion’s Business Meeting. Jack Plasterer was elected Chairman, Roger Miller - Vice Chairman , Laverne Herman – Secretary and Jerry Riordan – Ship’s Historian. After much discussion a vote determined that the next Reunion will be held September 21 – 23, 2001 in San Diego, California. Owing to increased publishing and mailing cost a twenty-five dollar membership dues will be instituted in January 2000.
Saturday was a bright and sunny day and helped to make the guided tour of Baltimore exceptional. The tour ended at Ft. McHenry with the opportunity to explore the historic fort and relive the writing of Francis Scott Key’s "The Star Spangled Banner" Lunch was a special treat at the Inner Harbor on Baltimore’s waterfront. You could wander around the Inner Harbor, visit the frigate Constellation, or spend the afternoon in the National Aquarium.
J. Scott Harmon, Director U.S. Naval Academy Museum, was our guest speaker for the Saturday evening banquet. The subject of his talk was "Youth and Responsibility". I thought that a few excerpts from Scott’s speech might be of interest to you as Scott reflected on the time he served on USS Eugene A. Greene (DD-711):
"The theme that keeps recurring in my mind is youth and responsibility. Thirty years, fifty years and more have passed since those days. As we gather here in reunion, we are young once more. The years have melted away ...time stands still as we once again see our friends and shipmates of long ago. And we tell wonderful "sea stories" that unite shipmates. As my friend Bob Storms informs me: All "sea stories" are true …some of them even happened.
As I think back on those days, I am amazed at how young we were …seaman and firemen …seventeen, eighteen and nineteen years old …senior petty officers in their twenties, and really old timer chiefs perhaps in their thirties. Forty was ancient, reserved for the oldest, wisest chiefs and the captain. And the responsibility we were given at such a youthful age was incredible!
Nowhere is responsibility more shared and more equal than on a destroyer. Each person from seaman apprentice to captain has his duties. We think of the captain of the ship as having responsibility for the ship, but to my mind, everyone on board shares equal responsibilities.
A fireman keeping constant watch on a sight glass on a boiler, making sure that the water level is in sight and that the boiler has the proper amount of water. If the water level gets too high or too low, the boiler is at hazard and people might die. The duty is hot and dull, but vital! The fireman is responsible for not only the boiler, but for the lives of his shipmates and ultimately for the ship."
Captain Arthur W. (Bill) Pattee, Commanding Officer USS Greene 1971-1972, spoke briefly about the transfer of USS Greene to the Spanish Navy. The ship was renamed SNS Churruca (D-61) and served for seventeen years as a vital part of the Spanish Navy.
Jack Palasterer also showed a plaque that would have been presented to Jerry Riordan for his outstanding service that past five years as Chairman of the Greene Association. Jack also selected the winning ticket for the framed USS Greene picture to the winner and "Plank Owner" Bradley Cole.
Sunday morning arrived all too soon and once again it was time to say good-by to old and new friends and shipmates. If you have not previously participated in one of USS Greene's Reunions I would encourage you to join us in San Diego, California in 2001.
Robert J. Clark