USS EUGENE A. GREENE (DDR / DD-711) REUNION
Over one hundred people gathered at the Marriott Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Commissioning of U.S. Destroyer USS Eugene A. Greene (DDR-711 / DD-711). This was the second gathering of the various crews that served on board USS Greene and many old friendships were renewed. After a highly successful first reunion in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on September 22-25, 1994 the 50th Anniversary Reunion in Charleston, South Carolina was held on September 21-24, 1995.
Thursday, September 21 was arrival and registration day. The hospitality room was quickly opened and filled with USS Greene memorabilia which included photos, letters, patches, hats, and of course sea stories to warm any landlubber's heart. There was even a USS Greene Commissioning Plaque that was offered as the grand prize for a lucky raffle ticket holder.
On the next day, Friday, all hands boarded buses at the hotel and arrived dockside to the Charles Town Princess. A two and a half hour harbor cruise followed and everyone enjoyed seeing old Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, Patriots Point, the U.S. Naval Base (which officially closed the day before) and Charleston's waterfront mansions. Lunch was taken at Market Square and then a two hour bus tour of historic Charleston included stopping at the Battery that overlooked Charleston's Harbor and Fort Sumter, and a walking tour of picturesque, stately mansions. Many shipmates teamed up for dinner and then returned to the hospitality room to reminisce and recall their service days onboard the USS Greene.
Saturday morning was dedicated to the ship's business. Jerry Riordan conducted the meeting and it was decided that the next reunion would be in Boston, Massachusetts, in September 1997 (the USS Greene's home ports were located in Norfolk, Charleston and Boston). After a brief financial report and announcements the business meeting was concluded.
For those "Old Salts" who could not get enough of the sea, a special tour of Patriots Point followed the business meeting ( an optional tour of Boone Hall Plantation for spouses who said "enough is enough" was provided). Most of the USS Greene's crew toured the carrier Yorktown; however, the destroyer Laffey, the submarine Clamagore and the Cost Guard Cutter Ingham also received visitors. This was truly a special treat for any Navy man.
After a complete documentation of attendance by official and semi-official photographers, the formal USS Greene Banquet was held Saturday night. This was a chance to dress up and enjoy a final dinner with shipmates. At the special invitation of Jerry Riordan, William "Bill" Greene, the brother of Eugene A. Greene, was present as the guest speaker. Bill related some personal remembrance of Eugene:
"I can't remember too much about Eugene ... other that he was a big brother. He was about eight years older than me. There were eight brothers and sisters... He was a good athlete... played basketball for St. Francis Prep... played basketball at Rhode Island University... was captain of the golf team... etc. We had six from our family in WW II - Eugene & Roger - Pacific John and me in North Africa & Italy - Thomas and Frank - USA. Eugene was lost during the Battle of Midway... flying a Dauntless Dive Bomber."
Bill Greene concluded his remarks with a thought for the day "poem" that left everyone thinking about their contribution:
Did you gain this day, or lose it
was it poor or wisely spent?
Did you leave a ray of sunshine?
or a scar of discontent?
As you close your eyes in slumber
do you think that God would say
You have earned one more tomorrow
by the work you did today?
The 50th Anniversary of USS Eugene A. Greene (DDR-711 / DD-711) concluded on Sunday, September 24 with a farewell breakfast. Farewells are always difficult, and this was no exception. With wishes of "smooth sailing and following seas" it was departure day until reuniting in Boston in 1997.
USS Greene has many other shipmates and crew members that have not been contacted and do not know about the next reunion. You can do your part by searching out shipmates and contacting them. See you in '97.
Robert J. Clark