Association 2007 National Reunion.....
The 2007 Patrol Gunboat Association was held in Buffalo, NY.
WOW! What a great reunion. The hotel was great, the hospitality room was excellent, the tours went well and the food was exceptional. The reunion started off with our arrival at the hotel on Tuesday, July 31. Since Nancy wanted to spend some time in Pittsburgh with her family and I needed to make several stops both on the way up and on the way home from Buffalo, we decided to take two cars. This worked out really well since we had plenty of room to take reunion "Stuff" with us instead of having to pay to ship it to the hotel.
At noon on Wednesday we were set up and ready to start checking in our members. Most of those who arrived on Wednesday spent the day in the hospitality room munching on chips and pretzels and having a cold soft drink or beer. While a few ventured out to see the sights, most stayed in the hospitality room all day. At 7:00 the hotel catering staff showed up with several bottles of wine and a huge tray of cheeses and meats for the group to snack on. Surprisingly, the hotel brought in so much wine that I think we were drinking it for the next three days. For some reason, between the wine and the beer, everyone was in a great mood until the wee hours of the night. Like the liquid refreshments, sea stories flowed freely until the early morning hours....
Thursday morning Nancy checked in the few members who arrived late Wednesday night, then we headed out to the bus for the tour to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. During the registration period I worried about the new regulations for crossing into Canada. While I was told that passports were not yet required, I was still concerned. I suggested that everyone go ahead and get a passport just in case, but for those who didn't a government issued picture ID would be good enough according to the tour company. The crossing into Canada went off without a hitch, the Canadian Customs officials had all of us through in no time at all. From Customs, we headed to the falls. I loved this tour when I was there with the USS Canberra group and I loved it just as much when I went back with the Gunboats. The ride on the Maid of the Mist was just as awesome the second time as the first. What an incredible sight. The tour included visits to Goat Island, Whirlpool State Park, and Niagara Reservation State Park on the US side of the falls. Our first stop was at Table Rock House at the brink of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, next a visit to the famous Floral Clock and the great whirlpools. Our tour also included lunch on our own at Table Rock.
This year we tried something new. Our reunions provide dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, however everyone is pretty much on their own on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Following the banquet dinner last year in Charleston I talked with several members about the possibility of doing a "Dining Out" on Thursday night. I negotiated a group dinner at an excellent restaurant in Buffalo for those who wanted to attend. For those not attending, dinner on Thursday night was "On their own". In order to keep the costs down, we arranged our own transportation to the restaurant. Car pooling was set up and designated drivers volunteered to take people to the restaurant. This was not really one of our group tours, it was intended to be an extra dinner out for those who wished to attend. We posted lists of members who were driving and could provide transportation as we car pooled to Waterstreet Station for an excellent dinner. The remainder of Thursday was "On their own" our own for those who didn't go to the dinner.
Friday morning started off with a registration session from 7:00 until 8:30 for Nancy. By 9:30 we were headed for the Buffalo Naval and Serviceman's park. When we arrived we were split up into several smaller groups and commenced our tour of the USS Little Rock (CL-92/CLG-4), USS The Sullivans (DD-537) and USS Croaker (SS-246). Several of the wives and kids had never been on a Naval Ship before and were amazed at the way sailors lived. If they only knew how much better it was on the Little Rock compared to living on a PG. Of course, PG duty was much better in spite of the living conditions.
Friday night was our usual buffet dinner. Since there was no entertainment scheduled, following dinner we held an open mike session so guests could make comments, tell a few stores and relax in the company of friends and shipmates.
Saturday morning we took a few minutes and discussed the future of the Association at our 2007 Patrol Gunboat Association Business Meeting. Topics included finances, membership issues and the date and location of the 2008 reunion.
SATURDAY BUSINESS MEETING
Those who attended the Buffalo reunion were offered a chance to do a little something for those Veterans who have passed away. With the help of the Buffalo Convention and Visitors bureau, I arranged for us to visit a small local cemetery. I made arrangements with a small cemetery close to the hotel for us to visit and do some grounds maintenance and replace flags on some of their Veterans Graves. This was strictly a voluntary project for those who wanted to do something for those veterans who have gone on before us.
The bar opened at 6:00 and everyone was seated in the banquet room in time for us to start the opening ceremony promptly at 7:00. During dinner we held the drawing for the winning 50-50 tickets with the winners sharing $970.00 in cash prizes
ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END
Sunday morning many of us met in the hotel lobby to share hugs as we promised to meet again at the next annual Patrol Gunboat Association reunion. The hospitality room closed at noon.
Updated by Terry W. McManuels
Copyright © 2006 PGRA. All rights reserved. Revised: 08/01/12.