August 2011 Newsletter


Planning for the 2012 reunion in South Bend, Indiana is proceeding quite well.  Please start making your plans to attend as I am sure this reunion will be a great time of relaxing and fellowship with all our shipmates.  

The reunion registration fee will be $60.00 per person.   The fee includes the banquet dinner.

A bus trip to Shipshewana, Indiana is planned.   The bus trip is expected to cost about $20.00 per person.

The hotel room charge is $99.95 per night, plus taxes.

A reunion reservation form will be available on our web site and will be mailed out to each shipmate later this year.    This form will list all the charges associated with the reunion, other than your hotel expenses.

Reservations at the Magnuson Grand Hotel in downtown South Bend can be made starting immediately, so please reserve your room as soon as possible.

The Magnuson Grand Hotel

You will need to phone in your reservation at 574-232-3941.   Let them know that you are a part of the John W. Thomason Reunion.   The hotel advises us that it will be easier for them to keep track of the blocked out rooms if you reserve by telephone.    So, please phone in your reservation, do not attempt to reserve your room by going on line.   I have blocked out sixty rooms.   If we fill three fourths of these then the hospitality and banquet rooms will be free.   The room charge will be $99.95 per night, plus taxes.   This rate is good for Tuesday through Sunday of the reunion week.   This is very comparable with the rates we paid at the previous reunions.   Included is a free continental breakfast on Thursday and Friday and a free breakfast buffet on Saturday and Sunday.

We will be going on a bus trip to Shipshewana, IN on Friday.   I am sure most will enjoy the Amish country atmosphere.    

An Amish Horse Drawn Carriage

You will be on you own there to roam around.    There are many fine eating establishments for you to take advantage of.    You can learn more about this community by going online.   Be prepared to spend some money because you will find unique things that you may not be able to live without.   Maybe you might want to purchase one of those famous Amish Quilts.   Again, bring your money/credit cards!!!!

Our Memorial service is scheduled for Friday morning just prior to the Shipshewana trip.   The service will be held at a local park by the St. Joseph River in downtown South Bend.    Transportation to the memorial service will be by the same buses that take us to Shipshewana.   We won’t be in Shipshewana very late so if you want you can take your evening meal at one of the twenty downtown South Bend restaurants, all are within three blocks of the hotel.   Or you can have a meal at the hotel which has very fine food.  

Plans for the night baseball game fell through due to their schedule.   I am working on something else for this time period.   I apologize for this, the schedules did not work out.  

Thursday morning and Saturday morning you will be on your own to roam around downtown South Bend.   If you are driving into the reunion there are many places to see within a short driving distance.   South Bend has a very intriguing zoo that you may like.    


I am still trying to make arrangements for a guided tour of the Notre Dame Campus.   


For those who are driving, access to the campus is easy and parking is available so you can walk the campus yourself.   You just may not have access to any of the facilities.  

We have a large mall only four miles from the hotel for those who love to shop.   There are two museums in downtown South Bend that are within a short walking distance from the hotel.  

The South Bend museum of Art is very intriguing and only two blocks from the hotel.    


The NCAA Football Hall of Fame is only one block away and, if it is still in town, this is a very excellent site to visit especially for the college football fans.    


The Studebaker and Natural History museums are only five blocks away and are a must see.   The Studebaker Car Company was South Bend’s largest employer up until they ceased business in 1963.   You can still see some of the old factories from the hotel.    Adjacent to the Studebaker Museum is the Oliver Mansion which can be toured.   Oliver tractors and implements were made in South Bend.   The Studebaker Mansion is just a block away and is available for a tour but is basically a restaurant with very fine dining.   You might want to treat your wife to a very good meal on Wednesday or Friday night.

Saturday morning will be our business meeting in the hospitality room.   After the meeting you will be on your own until the reunion banquet at the hotel and adjacent to the hospitality room.    The menu is an all you can eat buffet.

I again want to encourage all those who have not signed up yet to receive our newsletter electronically to please do so.    The signup site is    It is very important that we get as many shipmates as possible signed up because it saves the Association printing and postage costs.    Our goal is to have all members who have an e-mail address to receive the newsletter electronically.    The Association spends around $750.00 per year to print and mail the newsletter.    By receiving the letter via e-mail you will be helping to reduce the printing and mailing costs which in turn helps us keep the reunion costs to a minimum.   

A few years ago we began asking our Association members to submit annual dues of $15.00.   Once again we are asking for those who are able to submit your dues to USS John W. Thomason Association at 131 River Bend Park, Lancaster, PA 17602.   This will help to cover cost and charges to the Association.   We want to thank those who already have donated.

South Bend is located about half way between the borders of the state of Indiana.   The city is located on the Northern edge of the state on Interstate 80/90.   If you are traveling to the reunion on this route use exit 77 and then proceed south on Indiana route 933 which turns into Main Street when you arrive downtown South Bend.   The hotel is located on the northwest corner of Main and Washington.   The hotel can be seen as you are arriving into South Bend, it is the tallest structure in the city.

South Bend Regional Airport is just northwest and approximately four miles from downtown.  


The airport is accessible from Chicago O’hare, Atlanta, Detroit, and Cincinnati airports.   Our host hotel has a shuttle service to and from the airport.   If you are driving to South Bend from the south, US 31 north out of Indianapolis goes straight to downtown South Bend.   If you are planning on flying into O’hare or Chicago Midway and have difficulty in arranging a flight into South Bend, due to expense or scheduling, there is another option from both Chicago airports.    Coach USA schedules trips to South Bend airport several times a day.   From there you can call the shuttle from the hotel.    If you Google “Coach USA/Tristate United Limo” there will be a link to access the schedules and rates.   I believe the bus rate for a round trip ticket is around $55.00.

There are several RV parks that are located close to South Bend for those who may want to bring their RV.

I again want to encourage those shipmates who have never attended a reunion to please do so as I am sure you never will regret it.    It has been a great pleasure, for me, to meet with past shipmates.   You will especially enjoy gathering with those you may not have seen for forty years or more and re-establish old acquaintances.


Shipmates, the USS John W. Thomason Association has enjoyed tremendous success locating “lost” shipmates over the past 3 or 4 years thanks to the help from Skip Flippin (JWT 67-69).   However, in spite of the effort to keep accurate records on each shipmate so we can maintain contact with all of you, each time we mail out a newsletter to everyone, a number of the newsletters are returned to us marked “RETURN TO SENDER _ NOT AT THIS ADDRESS” or “MOVED, NOT AT THIS ADDRESS” or other notations indicating the Postal Service was unable to deliver the newsletter to one of our shipmates.   That returned newsletter generates another massive search for that shipmate.    We have had about a 50 percent success rate at relocating shipmates but the other 50 percent are lost.

Please guy’s, you can help prevent being a “lost shipmate” simply by notifying Bill Busching promptly if you have a change of address, a new telephone number, or a new e-mail address.    He can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by mail at 2035 Majestic Pine Court NE, Palm Bay, FL 32905.    He will make the corrections to the roster and notify all the officers of the Association on the change.

Soon we will begin sending our newsletters to most of you by e-mail so it is doubly important to keep your e-mail address current in our records by reporting any change in status to Bill right away.   REMEMBER, once we send you a newsletter by e-mail and you have changed your e-mail address, we normally do not have anyone sending the e-mail back to us marked “NOT AT THIS ADDRESS” and we will not know that you have not received the newsletter.    We don’t want to lose contact with any of you.



For those shipmates who have made donations to the Association I want to personally thank you.   These funds help keep down the cost of the Association operations.    Please mail your donation to:  

USS John W. Thomason Association

131 River Bend Park

Lancaster,  PA 17602

Further information about this reunion will be available on the website.   You can access the hotels website from our website so you can review what the Magnuson Grand Hotel is like.    I am sure everyone will enjoy the comforts of this hotel.    There is onsite parking at the Magnuson Grand Hotel.

Also included with this newsletter is the ships store order form.   If you would like to purchase any of these items please designate on the form and mail to Jim Kulp and if you would like, these items can be picked up at the reunion.


Howard Barrett

President USS John W. Thomason Association