A Message From The Master Chief...

It has been well over a decade since I started planning the first Patrol Gunboat Association reunion.  Sixteen reunions later, I still look forward to visiting with my shipmates from the Gunboats.   In 1997 I created a very simple basic web site in order to help get the information out. It was far from the professional web site that most of you have been accustomed to.

I used the web site to explain my reasons for organizing this Association.  Eventually one of our shipmates, Jim Thomas (PG-101) volunteered to create a much more professional web site, and the current high quality Patrol Gunboat Association site was born. Jim allowed me to continue to bore the members with my introductory page, calling it the "Master Chief Speaks" page. In the last fifteen years, I believe I have updated this page three or four times.   In 2006 Jim turned the site back over to me so now I guess I am a web master too. Hopefully I can do as good a job as Jim has done for these last few years. The first thing I changed is the name of this page. This link is now called "From The Master Chief".  My last update to this page was July, 2011.  Most of the information on this page is the same, however I want to add information about the last few reunions. 

I have not been able to figure out how I managed to mess up the Ship's Muster Lists, but for the last year or so, the individual ship's pages would not display correctly.  Every time I got a few minutes to play with the site, I tried unsuccessfully to fix the problem.  Back when my mind was a bit sharper, I figured out how to write a macro that converted the data files to HTML so I could simply paste that data onto the site.  Somehow, I managed to miss one line of HTML Data that caused the pages to display incorrectly.  I finally managed to figure that problem out and fix it.  I have also added the names of the wives of our departed shipmates to the ship's muster lists for those who continue to participate in our organization.   

While some of the words may change, some pictures added, some deleted, the basic message is still the same. For new members who venture onto this page, let me first introduce myself. I served onboard USS CANON (PG-90) from January 1973 until July 1975. After leaving CANON, I continued in the Navy until I retired in May, 1996 as a Master Chief Petty Officer. I now reside in Virginia Beach.

Back in the early 1990's I became involved with the USS Canberra Reunion Association. Canberra (CA-70) was a World War Two Cruiser. Just prior to the Korean conflict, she was converted to a Guided Missile Cruiser, CAG-2. My father Paul, a World War Two (CA-70) veteran formed the USS Canberra Association in 1988 and organized their reunions from 1990 until 2002 when he turned the group over to two CAG-2 veterans. I attended my first USS Canberra reunion in 1994 when it was held in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Since that time I have been fortunate enough to have attended all but one reunion between 1994 and 2002 when my father resigned as the Association Chairman due to health problems.

My involvement with the Canberra Association was one of the things that motivated me to consider starting one for the PG's. It was obvious from the beginning that a reunion for just one Patrol Gunboat would not yield a sufficient number of participants so I decided to see if we could organize all the PG's into one group, and the Patrol Gunboat Association was born.

From the very beginning I felt that a reunion of the crewmembers from the seventeen Patrol Gunboats as well as the associated Staffs and Support Ships would be a successful venture that would be a pleasant and rewarding experience for everyone.

The first Patrol Gunboat Reunion held at the Holiday Inn City Centre, Peoria, Illinois from 12 - 16 August, 1998 showed me as well as the sixty some crewmembers that attended that the spirit and camaraderie that we had on the Gunboats still exists. I believe that everyone who attended had a great time. The second annual Patrol Gunboat Association Reunion was held at the Fairview Park Marriott Hotel in Falls Church, Virginia in August, 1999. Our attendance had grown to seventy three former crewmembers plus guests. In 2000 we went to Saint Louis, Missouri and stayed at the Sheraton West Port Lakeside Chalet. Next came San Diego, California from August 8 through August 12, 2001. Our San Diego Host was the Hanalei Hotel in the heart of San Diego's Mission Valley. Banquet attendance in San Diego was a record 171 members and guests. In 2002 we headed east, meeting at the Sheraton Chicago Northwest.

The 2003 Patrol Gunboat Association Reunion was held at the Sheraton Park Ridge Hotel and Conference Center in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania followed by our 2004 San Francisco Reunion in Concord, California at the Holiday Inn. We headed to Texas in 2005 with the Dallas Fort Worth Marriott Hotel hosting our first July reunion. The 2006 reunion had us meeting in August again, this time in Charleston, South Carolina at the Clarion (now Ramada) hotel.

The 2007 reunion was held in Buffalo, New York starting on Wednesday, August 1 and ending on Sunday August 5, 2007. All I can say is "WHAT A HOOT". The food was great, the dining out, a first for us was excellent and the Saturday Working Party had an excellent turnout. Next came the 2008 Seattle reunion. Seattle was our third trip to the west coast and presented some difficult challenges for me as far as planning. But, like any event where Gunboatriders are present, it turned out great. I was unable to set up a dining out like we did in Buffalo, but we did manage to do the working party on Saturday.

The end of 2008 brought on significant challenges in the economy and as a result, made me very cautious with the contracts for the 2009 reunion.  Negotiations with Baton Rouge fell through for the second year and very late in the planning I decided that we would have the 2009 reunion in Virginia Beach, VA.  With all of the proposals in, I had selected a great hotel and was ready to sign the contracts when that hotel changed ownership.  When the new sales staff personnel advised me that they would not permit the group to bring in our own snacks and soft drinks for the hospitality room, I ended up starting over.  Very late in the planning, I selected the Founder's Inn and Spa for the 2009 reunion.  The Founder's Inn just started hosting reunions for military groups, catering to corporate groups in the past.  With the economy the way it had been recently, they hired a new sales staff and our reunion became the third military reunion for them.  Their lack of experience with meal functions for military reunion groups made for some problems during the buffet and banquet dinners, but hopefully everyone was satisfied with their meals.  Our biggest problem with the 2009 reunion had to do with late registrations and me being unable to plan for entertainment until the last minute.  By the time we had enough registration packages in, it was too late to book a band at a reasonable price.  I simply cannot emphasize enough how important it is to make your reservations early and send in your registration packages as soon as possible.  Remember, we have never had a problem with refunds at our reunions. We also had some problems with the hospitality room due to late registrations.  Still, it was a great reunion.

The 2010 reunion took us to Nashville TN.  We had really good participation in Nashville and were able to arrange entertainment for the banquet dinner.  We also had a great turnout for the Thursday Evening Dining out at the Nashville Nightlife Dinner Theater as well as for both of our tours. 

Our 2011 Reunion in Pittsburgh, PA has had a less than expected response.  I was hoping that the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA would help generate additional interest, but we ended up having our second smallest turnout that year.  In spite of the response, I believe everyone had a great time.

We headed west again in 2012 to Portland, Washington.  Our host hotel was the Red Lion Hotel, Jantzen Beach.  We managed to accomplish both the Dining Out as well the working party at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery.  Back in 2008 I tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a reasonable contract with the hotels in Baton Rouge, LA.  I had tried every year since then to get a favorable contract.  Every proposal I received had major problems.  If the room rate was good, then the meals were too high.  If the meal prices were reasonable, then the room rate was not.  If both the room rate and meal prices were within out budget, then there were significant charges for meeting space for hospitality and dinners.  Still, Baton Rouge had so much to offer I continued to request proposals from them every year.  Finally in 2013 a package came back from the Holiday Inn South in Baton Rouge.  The room rate was very good, the meal prices were within our price range and there was no charge for banquet space or the hospitality room.  So, we headed to Louisiana in August, 2013 for a great reunion.

Our plan was to hold reunion number seventeen in Boston, MA.  As usual, I sent requests for proposals to the Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau looking for proposals from those hotels able to handle our requirements. It was like an instant replay from 2012.  I simply can't figure out how a hotel can think anyone would pay $75.00 - $80.00 for a meal, I don't care how good it is.  Eventually we decided to try Providence, Rhode Island.  What a super Convention and Visitors Bureau.  Aside from problems with setting up the tours, it was one of the easiest reunions that I have set up so far.  Our turnout was pretty much what I expected and I think everyone had a good time.  The only major issue was with the Banquet Dinner and our beef entre' which might have been made by the Goodyear Tire Company.  

The next reunion location is still up for grabs.  I have put a voting link on the "Next Reunion" page so you can vote on whether we go to Atlanta, Georgia, Jacksonville, Florida or Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I will update the results periodically on the site.  

I still believe that these reunions should be a family affair, entertaining for the crewmembers, wives and even children. I try my best to keep the costs of the reunions as low as possible, while still having a quality event that all can enjoy.

 

Updated by Terry W. McManuels on 10 September, 2014.

Copyright © 2006 PGRA. All rights reserved. Revised: 09/10/14.