January 2008 Newsletter

USS John W. Thomason Shipmates,

We trust with the arrival of our first newsletter of 2008, everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with family and friends.

Reunion Information

With the arrival of 2008 comes our bi-annual USS John W Thomason Reunion. Every even year, shipmates who have served on the USS John W. Thomason gather together to share a long weekend of fellowship and fond memories of our days about one of the Navy's finest. Our plans for the 2008 Reunion have been completed. The 2008 Reunion is set for the last week in May, 2008 at the Holiday Inn Select Convention Center and Hotel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The reunion officially begins on Thursday, May 29 and ends on Sunday, June 1; however, we encourage you to come early and stay late enjoying our Southern hospitality. Details concerning our 2008 Reunion can be found later in this newsletter or on our website at www.dd760.org. The hotel room rates are $86.00 per night plus local and state taxes.

The Reunion Staff has put together an exciting program for the 2008 Reunion. Registration fees include the following items:
  • Banquet Dinner with Entertainment
  • Complimentary Banquet Photo
  • Hospitality Suite (2100 sq ft) with snacks and decorations
  • Gift Bag with lots of local goodies
  • Unlimited tours of the Louisiana War Museum and the USS Kidd DD 661
  • Transportation & Activities for the Memorial Services
  • Lunch provided, Cajun "Pastalaya", during Memorial Services
  • Opening Social on Thursday including Cajun Zedeco Band,
  • Boiled seafood, local beer, and Cajun Dancers
The costs for registration are $85 per person for shipmates and $75 per person for spouses/guests/friends. We have been able to lower our registration fees for this reunion as a result of generous donations by local business and gifts to the Association.

If you are considering attending this year's reunion, we ask your cooperation in registering early to help us finalize our contracts. Presently, our contract with the hotel requires a minimum number of room nights for our reunion. We have purposely lowered our contract room nights so we do not have to pay for unused rooms. We can always increase our contract room nights in the next month or so provided most of our guests register early. If you are considering going to the reunion, we ask that you register now. If for some reason you can not make the reunion, the hotel has a 24-hour cancellation policy prior to your first night stay. We would like all reunion guests to register by late February to allow us to renegotiate the terms of our hotel contract.

To book your rooms for the reunion, call the toll free line for the Holiday Inn at 800-678-4065. Tell the hotel you are with the JWT Reunion and ask for special rate code U01. If you experience problems in booking your rooms with the hotel, please inform us immediately of your problems and we will assist you in resolving any problems you may have.

Remember, register now. By registering now, you can greatly assist us in obtaining the necessary rooms for our reunion. The special rate will apply until April 28, 2008 at which time the hotel has the option of applying a higher room rate for your visit to Baton Rouge. If rooms are not available at this hotel, you may need to book your rooms at an adjacent hotel. Act now to secure your low room rates at the Holiday Inn Select.

After making your hotel registration, take a few moments to complete the enclosed registration form and mail it, along with a check for your registration fees, to the Association. If you wish to expedite your registration, just visit our website and register on-line, Then all you need do is mail your check for the registration fees to the Association.

One of the highlights of the Reunion Banquet is our raffle. We ask all of our guests to bring a minimum of one raffle gift from your part of the country to donate to the Association. If you wish, you make bring more than one gift. These gifts may be something you have made or purchased. During the reunion, the Reunion Staff will sell raffle tickets. At the end of the banquet, a raffle ticket will be called out with a matching gift. The raffle makes our banquet a fun experience and everyone has a chance to win one or more gifts. The raffle is the only fund raiser the Association has for future reunions. Your contribution of a gift(s) and the purchasing of raffle tickets will ensure the future success of our next reunion.

When making your plans for the 2008 Reunion, make sure you arrive early. On Thursday morning, the Association is offering Tour No. 1 of the Louisiana Rural Life. Our hospitality room opens later that morning. Our Opening Social begins promptly at 6 PM with lots of Cajun music, seafood, and fun. This promises to be a fun event and one that you do not want miss. Our Friday tour of New Orleans and the D-Day Museum is proving to be one of the most popular events of the weekend. As of the early registrations, approximately 90% of our shipmates and guest are signed up for the Friday tour. We have filled our first bus and started working on our second bus to New Orleans. Presently, we have two buses scheduled for this tour. However, if the demand requires additional transportation, the Association will meet the reunion needs. Our final tour is the post-reunion Plantation tour. Presently, about 60% of our guests have signed up for this tour. This tour includes the walking tour of a Civil War home with a guide providing the history of the home and lunch at the next door restaurant. This home has 360 windows and doors, one for each day of the year. It has a wonderful history and is one of the most frequently visited Southern homes in Louisiana. A brief description and costs of each tour is discussed later in this newsletter.

Saturday will be the highlight of our Reunion. We will start the morning off by having our Association Business Meeting in the auditorium of the Louisiana War Museum. Afterwards, we will gather on the fantail of the USS Kidd DD661 for our Memorial Services. The staff of the USS Kidd has promised to dress up the ship in preparation of our ceremonies. Our Memorial Services will consist of a brief narrative of deceased shipmates, a few words from our Chaplin, the playing of taps, and a seven shot volley of the ship's 5-inch guns. After the services, we will gather on the levee for a side view of the USS Kidd. Then, the staff of the USS Kidd will provide some additional shots of her 5-inch guns for all guests to see. With a short walk back to the patio area of the Louisiana War Museum, the Association will provide a Cajun "pastalaya" lunch. The guests will be allowed to view the museum and USS Kidd for the remainder of the afternoon. At 6 pm that evening, we will have our Social Hour prior to our Banquet activities. Around 7 pm the Reunion Banquet will commence. We will provide a guest speaker from the Navy and entertainment. Afterwards will be our raffle, which always proves to be fun. Make sure you bring your raffle gifts and buy your raffle tickets from the Reunion Staff during the weekend.

Some of you have asked about the Association's cancellation policies. We understand that emergencies do occur and that once you register with us for the reunion, you may need to cancel at the last minute. If, for some reason, you do experience a problem with attending this reunion, we will refund your registration fees in full after the reunion. We would like to see you enjoying the weekend with friends and fellow shipmates, but we do understand when our shipmates are in need. The hotel policy allows anyone to cancel their reservation 24 hours prior to the first night stay. In the past, guests have cancelled and most have donated their registration fees. Although we do not seek these fees, most guests are happy to donate to the Association. The Association has contracted with several groups for the success of our reunions. Your presence will ensure the financial success of each of our reunions.

Tour No 1 Louisiana Rural Life Museum (Thursday morning/afternoon), May 29
Cost $6.00/person

Located just a few minutes from the hotel is one of Baton Rouge's hidden secrets. This tour is being organized by the Association but no formal registration through the Association for this tour is provided. The Association has obtained a lower fee for the reunion guest. Guest can ride over to Louisiana State University's Rural Life Museum on their own and at their convenience, casually stroll and see Louisiana as it was years ago. No transportation will be provided by the Association. The Museum is located within 5 minutes of the hotel.

Tour No 2 D-Day Museum and French Quarter, New Orleans (Friday all day), May 30
Cost $32/person

This all day tour begins with a bus trip to the D Day Museum in New Orleans. For 2-3 hours, guided tours of the National Museum dedicated to D Day and World War II will be provided to our guests. After your tour of the museum, the buses will transport our guests to the French Quarters where you will be allowed to have lunch at one of our fine restaurants and tour the Quarters with it's numerous antique and gift shops. Late that afternoon the buses will transport all to Baton Rouge. This tour is the highlight tour of our reunion and a must see.

Tour No 3 Nottoway Plantation (Sunday midday), June 1
Cost $42/person

Awe-inspiring Nottoway Plantation, the largest plantation home in the South is not to be missed. Built in 1859 by John Hampton Randolph, Nottoway is a classic Greek revival structure with 53,000 square feet and some 64 rooms. It has 200 windows and 165 doors, one for each day of the year to be opened. It features a 65 foot grand white ballroom, intricate lacy plaster frieze work, hand-carved marble mantels and hand-painted porcelain doorknobs. Once you arrive, the tour of the home and grounds will begin. Upon your completion of your tour, guests will be directed to Randolph Hall for a formal lunch. This lunch is included in your tour fee. Please choose between Cajun Shrimp Creole and Chicken Iberville for your lunch entrée.

Now is the time to register with the hotel and the Association for this year's Reunion. Please complete the enclosed form and return it to us as soon as possible. The early response to this request will assists us in planning for a successful reunion. If you have not been to any of our reunions, you have really missed out on a fun event, not to mention the fellowship of those of us who served aboard the JWT. We have a great time renewing friendships that were created many years ago and developing new ones with shipmates who served before or after our tour of duty. Come pass a good time in Cajun Country with some of the best friends you ever went to sea with.

Annual Donations

Each year during the month of January, we ask our Association members for donations. Our request is a minimum of $15.00; however, most have been generous and have given more. These funds help in the preparation of the newsletters, the mailing of the newsletters, and yearly fees required by the bank and bonding agencies for the Association. Any additional funds remaining from our annual donations are applied to the reunions activities to reduce the registration fees for future reunions. We presently have a healthy balance. We would like to maintain this balance in case our reunions require additional funds that the registration fees will not cover. For those of you who may not be aware, our Treasurer who writes all of the Association checks is bonded. Most of the work and some materials are provided by the Association Officers at no costs to the Association. Any expenditure for Association activities are approved by a collective vote of the Officers for those items we deem necessary for the continued operations of the Association and the success of our reunions. Your contributions to our Association will enhance our efforts on meeting those goals. Please remit you annual donation this month to:

USS John W Thomason Association
131 River Bend Park
Lancaster, PA 17602

Ship's Store

For those of you who will be attending the Reunion, we ask that you purchase and wear our blue golf shirt for our Memorial Services on Saturday. We intend on taking our Reunion Group pictures of the shipmates on the bow of the USS Kidd after the Memorial Services. To ensure that we have an ample supply of hats and shirts, please indicate on the registration form what items you wish to purchase at the reunion. The Ship's Store will be open during the registration. Any item you wish to purchase may be paid for at the reunion. By indicating what items you wish to purchase on your registration form will allow us to order those items for you in advance of the reunion. For those who will not attend the reunion, you may wish to visit the Ship's Store on the internet and order your JWT shirts and hats. Jim and Penny Kulp who run our Ship's Store will be happy to send you your items.

Looking for Missing Shipmates

Many of you have asked about missing shipmates. Some of us are skilled in using the internet to locate shipmates. Others are in touch with some of our shipmates who are not on our mailing lists. On our website is a list of Association members and another list of Missing Shipmates. If you know of anyone who is not listed but you have been in contact with anyone who served on the JWT, please let us know. Please contact any Association Officer or write to the Association mailing address with anyone you wish us to contact. If you would like us to find someone, please provide us with as much information as possible and we will try to help in locating any missing shipmates. We have been very successful in the past; however, we can not make any guarantees on locating your buddies. We can only guarantee that we will give it our best shot.

Call for Cruise Books

We are in search of past cruise books to post on the Association's website. Some of our members have expressed a desire to obtain a copy of a cruise book when they were aboard the JWT. To assists those members, we have decided to locate all of the existing cruise books, scan them, and post them to our internet site. For those of you who are coming to the reunion, please bring your cruise books. We will scan them and return them to you while you wait. For those of you who will not be with us and wish to assists us in this effort, please have your cruise book scanned and forward it to our Association address. So far we have copied and posted to the website the 1955, 1961, 1963, 1966, 1967-68, and 1969 cruise books. If you have a cruise book for any other years, please help us in this effort.

Association News

  • We offer our deepest sympathy to the family of David Amick who passed away recently. David was at our last reunion and will be deeply missed at all of our future reunions.
  • Recently, we have obtained the muster rolls of those shipmates who served on the JWT from 1945 to 1970. Special thanks to Gary Furgerson who helped in obtaining this information. This information was obtained at National Archives in Washington DC and we will provide a copy to all of our guests at the next reunion. The muster rolls were taken every quarter on an annual basis and submitted to Naval Operations. Our copies are for the first quarter each year the ship was active. In some cases, we had to obtain later quarters to complete our yearly muster roll listings.
  • Also, we have obtained new photos of the JWT, most of which were taken during commissioning and in the yards for FRAM (59-60). These forty-seven photos will be displayed at the next reunion. Digital copies will be provided to all guests. Photos were obtained from the Naval Historical Center at the Navy Yards in Washington, DC. We expect to obtain additional photos once the Naval Historical Center receives copies in the future.
  • Our research at National Archives provided us with the name of each Commanding Officer and Executive Officer who served aboard the JWT. Once again, we will publish this information at our next reunion. Our research included the date the Commanding Officer reported aboard and departed the ship for another duty.