Association 2011 National Reunion.....
The 2011 Patrol Gunboat Association was held in Pittsburgh, PA.
The Radisson Hotel Pittsburgh, Green Tree hosted the 2011 Patrol Gunboat Association Reunion from Wednesday, August 3 through Sunday, August 7, 2011. Our group rate was $95.00 for single, double, triple or quad rooms.
Wednesday was simply a check in day with the hospitality room opening at noon and check in starting soon after. As always, we had commemorative coffee mugs and a free gift for each member along with an opportunity to get a free ball cap with the purchase of raffle tickets. Of course there was free snacks, soft drinks and beer.
At 8:40 we boarded our motor coach and headed out with our guide for the America's Heroes Tour to Shanksville, PA, the site of the Flight 93 Memorial and Chapel. If you have never been there, the crash site is such a sobering thing to see. It amazed me how such a deserted field in the middle of rural Pennsylvania could evoke so much emotion from everyone. From there we went to the Flight 93 Chapel where we were treated to about an hour of interesting stories about the flight, the people on the flight and their families and how much a single man has put into creating a lasting memorial for everyone to visit. Next we had lunch at Eat and Park, an economical chain restaurant, home of the Big Boy Burger (around long before the Big Mac). I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the Pennsylvania Turnpike is in much better shape than I remember from my younger days. We were back at the hotel just after 4:00.
This year we did a dinner cruise on the Pittsburgh Gateway Clipper. At 5:30 most of the group traveled by car pool to the waterfront for a ribs and chicken dinner cruise on Pittsburgh's Gateway Clipper while touring the three rivers that Pittsburgh is well known for. Those needing a ride signed up for transportation on the Carpool Signup Sheet in the Hospitality Room. The food was good and plentiful, the narrative provided by the tour company was terrific. The ride was even smoother than the ride on a Gunboat and the view was much better than we had back then too. As a special treat, we got to witness a civilian version of a Transfer At Sea, since several of our members missed movement. Fortunately the tour company had another boat available to bring our missing shipmates alongside. After considering all of the facts, the Skipper decided not to convene a Captains Mast, figuring that the embarrassment of a professional sailor and firefighter getting lost was punishment enough. Once again, a PG Sailor has worked his Magic. Of course for those who wanted to venture out on their own or have dinner at the hotel, the hospitality room remained open for the evening.
Early Friday morning we again boarded our bus for another tour. This tour included the sights of the city of Pittsburgh including the Incline, Nationality Room at the Cathedral of Learning and a stop at the USS Requin (SS-481). USS Requin was struck from the U.S. Navy list on December 20, 1971. Today, the USS Requin serves a very different purpose, educating hundreds of thousands of visitors about life and science aboard a submarine from over 40 years ago. Preserved within her 312 foot long hull is the technology of a bygone era. Fifty years after she was commissioned, the submarine is a far cry from the sleek nuclear-powered behemoths that now patrol our seas. Our tour included a stop in downtown Pittsburgh at the PPG area for lunch "On our own".
Friday evening was our traditional buffet dinner. Following dinner we had an open mike session for those who wish to make comments to the group.
SATURDAY BUSINESS MEETING
Saturday morning we took a few minutes and discussed the future of the Association at our 2011 Patrol Gunboat Association Business Meeting. Topics included finances, membership issues and the date and location of the 2012 reunion. We will also be taking questions and comments from the membership. We took suggestions from the attendees on where to hold the 2012 reunion, narrowing it down to 4 locations. After I returned to Virginia Beach, I sent an email out to the members so that they could vote on:
San Antonio, TX
Those who attended the Buffalo or the Seattle reunion may remember the trip to the cemetery. I made arrangements with the folks at the Chartiers Cemetery in Pittsburgh 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 $670.00 in cash prizes. Only one of our winners was present this year, the other two had their checks mailed to them shortly after we returned to Virginia Beach.
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: 09/15/11.