The Mariners of VP/VPB-26
VP/VPB-26 Reunion 2006
September 24th to 28th, 2006
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Once again a group of former VP-26 Officers and their wives from the 1952-55 period of operations reported for reunion duty at the beautiful Samoset Resort at Rockport, Maine, September 10-12, 2006. You can check it out on the Internet to see how beautiful the facilities and the surrounding area were. The weather was perfect and if you were a golfer you would have really been impressed. We had a separate suite as our "Ready Room" and the most fun times were when we snacked and shared stories of days gone by. Those present were:
Several that had hoped to attend were unfortunately unable to make the trip. The numbers in attendance have certainly dwindled since that first Reunion held in 1989 when there were over 120 in attendance.
- Tom and Marge Cass (Chief Chairpersons)
- Leigh & Mary Lou Benner (Assistant Chairpersons)
- Andy & Ann Rearick (Assistant Chairpersons)
- Bob & Dorie Tomenendal
- Joe & Chuckles Schettino
- Bill & Dotty Mill
- Don & Marion Weisel
- Ray & Patt Boatman
- Jake & Nancy Kertz
- Ted & Dolores Bochniarz
One highlight was a two hour sail on a small sailing ship. The scenery on the sailing excursion out of Rockport Harbor was fantastic and the wind fairly gentle so there were no rough seas. It was just a very nice two hour sail on the good ship "Morning In Maine.". The next day the waves from the hurricane that hit Bermuda arrived and any sailing excursion would have been "exciting" to say the least. The news reported that a fishing vessel was overturned by a rogue wave and while two crewmen were saved the skipper of the ship was lost.
The next day we bussed down to Brunswick, Maine where we toured the Naval Air Station and the current VP-26 hanger space. The current VP-26 personal (from the skipper on down) could not have been more courteous and made every effort to make our visit a pleasant one.. We toured their current plane (E-3) and their home quarters located in a brand new hanger with all the "latest." We received an extensive slide show and "briefing" as to their current operations. Their current deployments are all over the world and they do all sorts of things from watching for operations threatening the deployed US forces to tracking down drug smugglers running high speed boats (or just plain fishing boats) from South America to North America.)
There is a memorial space set up in their hanger in remembrance of three planes and crews lost to enemy action. Two were lost operating near the Vietnam coast during the Vietnam War and one was shot down over the Baltic Sea by the Russians in 1950. They do not memorialize those lost in plane accidents.
We also toured the base with a former Executive Officer of the base who is now (as a civilian) one of those in charge of planning the decommissioning of the base. He had an extensive knowledge of what has been, is, and will probably be --- going on. The law passed by congress limits what they can do but all things can change. The hanger space utilized by VP-26 is brand new, has all the latest safety equipment and is even air conditioned. In fact it was so cool that many of us were glad to be wearing warm jackets. The new control tower with all the latest communication equipment was just recently activated. The closing of the base is scheduled to begin on 2008. The base is the main source of income for Brunswick (and the 2nd largest financial contributor in the state of Maine). If closed completely there will be little or no interest in making commercial investments there. It is hoped that it will at least continue to see service as a civilian airport and as a base for at least a reserve Navy Patrol Squadron.
The banquet on Tuesday evening was lobster and everyone seemed to enjoy their meal so it was deemed a success. There was a time of remembrance for those from our days of active service who are no longer with us. Afterwards we again gathered in the "Ready Room" and it seemed that someone always had a new story to tell. Perhaps they were revisions of some of the old stories -- but they get better all the time.
Tentative plans were made to try and make arrangements for the group to take a three day cruise down the Mississippi next year on one of these modern River Boats. Dotty & Bill Mill are to look into the possibilities. If you are interested let them know!
REARICK, LT Anderson (Andy) Retired
"VP/VPB-26 Reunion Association Summary Page"