Reminder: Send in your $15.00 donation for the 2017 calendar year. Mail to
USS John W Thomason Association, 131 River Bend Park, Lancaster, PA 17602
Greetings shipmates we apologize for the tardiness of this newsletter but times are finding all of us very busy. For some of us are retired but some continue to work. So let’s get on with the Ship’s News…..
Just a recap of the reunion we had at Patriots Point, SC in 2016. It was a great success. This was possibly one of our largest as we had almost 60 shipmates attend. For those of you who were with us, you can attest, it was a fun time. With family and friends we had well over 130 attending. Our Memorial service was held on the USS Laffey (which was a Sumner class destroyer just like the Thomason). I am sure a great time was had by all and a special thanks goes out to the committee that made all the arrangements. After the Memorial Services, each of us got to tour the Laffey and explain to our wives and family members where we worked and our duty stations while aboard the Thomason. There was plenty of activity in the hospitality room along with tours to many destinations around Charleston, SC. Much time was spent aboard the USS Laffey along with the other ships on display there. The tour on the USS Laffey brought back many memories to all of us and provided an opportunity to show our families what type of ship we served on. Right across the pier was the USS Yorktown. This carrier was a floating museum which housed many aircraft from the Vietnam era. It had a huge hanger deck with one end having a restaurant with a stage and a huge American flag. There we took a picture of the reunion group with all of the guest which is shown on our website.
Our Hotel was the Quality Inn & Suites Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina which is a suburb of Charleston, South Carolina. If you ever get the chance to visit this area while traveling through South Carolina, stop by. There is a lot to see. Included in the park is the Vietnam Experience. This is a land exhibit with lots of artifacts from the Vietnam War. If you are a member of Tin Can Sailors, you can get a discount when you enter the park area.
Our hospitality room was decked out with memorabilia from one side to the other with donations from shipmates throughout the years. Pictures of the ship lined the walls along with action photos of the JWT. Each table had deck logs and muster rolls of each of the ships 25 years of active service. Shipmates gathered at the bar area and at tables telling stories and reliving memories of years gone by. Each year we hear the same stories and each year those same stories get better and better and we can’t wait until next year to see what happens to those same stories.
If you have never made a reunion (we had several new comers attend), I seriously what to encourage you to do so. We have a great time and you see old friends and meet many new ones. Our wives and lady friends enjoy the reunions just as much as the shipmates do. Many of them are the first to encourage us to attend the next reunion. In most cases, the wives keep in touch throughout the year to find out how each of them is doing. Returning every two years and visiting for one week is always fun. Visiting another part of the country and seeing new places with friends is a fun part of life, especially when it is not part of work. This is the time of life where you are supposed to travel and have fun. So consider coming to the USS John W Thomason Association Reunion in 2018 and seeing some of your old friends. We would sure like to see you.
The Reunion Association is in the preliminary stages of planning our 2018 reunion and we hope you and your family will be joining us. The reunion promises to be another fun filled opportunity to enjoy and share another part of our great country with shipmates and friends.
The reunion will be held September 25 thru 30, 2018. Our base of operations will be The Holiday Inn San Antonio Riverwalk located at 217 N. St. Mary’s Street, San Antonio, Texas 78205 Tel: (210) 224-2500. The room rates are $131.00 per night and there is a breakfast buffet available for $12.00. Parking is $15.00 per day reduced from the normal charge of $25.00. The good news is, because of the downtown location of our hotel, it will not be necessary to rent a car. The hotel is located in the heart of San Antonio and has direct access to the Famous San Antonio Riverwalk and it is within walking distance to all downtown dining and attractions including:
• 3 Blocks from the historic Alamo
• 4.5 Blocks from River center Mall
The River Walk is a network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River, one story beneath the city streets that extends for a mile. Water taxis are available to allow for dining, shopping, visiting attractions, and to enjoy the hospitality of this world renowned waterway.
The San Antonio Missions National Historic Park is about 4.5 miles from our hotel. This UNESCO World Heritage Site extends for 9 miles and includes four 18th century Spanish missions.
We are working on a few tours similar to what we did in Patriots Point where we check for availability and then let you schedule them yourself rather than getting something for everyone to take as a group. We find that letting everyone make their own decision is better than making it for them. Also, we are looking at a dinner barge but that is in the preliminary stages.
We have met with Dr Tom Cole who is the nephew of Col. John W Thomason who the ship is named after. He has agreed to be our guest speaker at the banquet depending on his commitments at the time of the banquet. He is a gifted guy with lots of history and would be a great speaker especially about the past of his uncle. He will bring with him the ceremonial sword of Col Thomason and other memorabilia of Col Thomason. If you have time, The Thomason Room at the Library in Huntsville, TX about 1.5 hours away from San Antonio houses most of Col. Thomason’s sketches and his writings. This would be worth a side trip either before or after the reunion. Some members of the Association has visited the library and have held sketches and visited Mr. Coles home which was the birthplace of Col. Thomason. Mr. Cole has offered any member of our Association the opportunity to visit his home anytime you wish when passing through Huntsville, TX. Just tell him you served aboard the USS John W Thomason and you will enjoy a two hour discussion about his uncle and the Thomason family. And while you are there, you may wish to visit the graves of Col. Thomason, his wife, and son in the cemetery in Huntsville, TX. As Mr. Cole tells the story, Col Thomason’s wife sold her husband’s property and took the money to travel to England to witness the crowning of Queen Elizabeth in the early 1950’s. He has many more stories which are worth the time to listen.
Reunion Hotel Information
If you were looking for information on what to do in San Antonio, you can visit the website for the hotel and look up things to do. The website is http://www.hiriverwalk.com/. Some other useful sites are:
Our next newsletter will have more information on the reunion and details on activities and costs. Meanwhile you can visit our website at https://www.facebook.com/dd760 for more information.
The ship’s bells rang for a spouse of a shipmate. Joanne Ringer, Sammy’s wife, who was at many of our reunions and at our last reunion in Patriot’s Point, passed away in April from a recent illness. Our prayers and condolences goes out to Sammy and his family for the loss of Joanne. She will be missed by all of us in the JWT family.
The ship’s bells again rang for William C. Hoffman ETC who passed away on March 5, 2017 who retired in 1967 and lived in Del Mar, CA. Chief Hoffman served aboard the Thomason from 61-63.
We said good-bye to Jack J. Wilson, a BT who wrote songs of the JWT while on the 69 cruise. He was from Cartersville, GA
Again, the bells tolled for CDR Douglas Crabbe who passed away on November 1, 2016.
For all of our shipmates and spouses, we bid them farewell and smooth sailing on their spiritual journey.