|Comments from Harold Dillingham|
|I wanted to let everyone know that I had a wonderful time meeting and talking with you at the reunion last week. It was great seeing some of you that I had not seen for over 45 years. Tommy Lee is still the same Tommy. I owe a lot of gratitude to Tom Planes for the GREAT job he and his son-in-law Ryan did in supplying the hospitality room with all the goodies. Tom we all are very grateful for you taking charge and seeing that this came off smoothly. It was FIRST CLASS in every aspect of the reunion. All of you are a group of people that I feel privileged to be a part of and to know that we all served our country and did it with pride. How much better this country would be today if the young men and women today felt like we did then and still had that since of pride. We live in the GREATEST country in the world today. Until we meet again, I wish everyone continued good health, prosperity and enjoyment in whatever you do working or just having fun.|
Myrtle Beach, SC - The 2008 Altair reunion is now history. Occurring October 24th through October 26th, it opened with a gathering and story swapping in a meeting room just off the lobby in the Marriott Courtyard. By 4:00 the room was packed. I later discovered that several of our shipmates were not able to attend due to the economy and health issues. A slide show featured 454 pictures thus far submitted to the Altair photo site http://altair.smugmug.com.
We then went to the Alabama Theatre to be entertained by the musical "ONE - The Show". Voted #1 by Myrtle Beach Visitors, this was the last performance of the 8th year. The talented cast and crew of over 40 had spent hundreds of hours reinventing the show with fabulous new songs, dance & comedy. ONE -The Show featured the charm of emcee and featured vocalist Greg Rowles, and one-of-the-funniest guys in the country, Grant Turner's Ricky Mokel. It was an evening filled with song, dance, and laughter. ONE -The Show featured an all-new production with over 25 new chart-topping songs, and an incredible Beatles Pop segment, playing six nights a week. Everyone was wowed by a stunning presentation from the Broadway's Disney musical, Mary Poppins. Visual surprises abounded in this show-stopping medley from one of the most charming musicals ever written. There were two military groups present and both were honored. The Altair group was introduced during the general announcements segment, along with birthdays and anniversaries being celebrated. Then at the shows conclusion, which was a fantastic musical, visual presentation and patriotic celebration, our group was honored with a reading of the history of our ship and the crew! After the show, I was personally thanked for my service to the United States by the person seated behind me. WOW, that doesn't happen very often! During the show it started to rain so hard that you could hear it pounding on the building's roof. The rain continued until late that night, so most of us got somewhat damp in the mad dash to the car.
Saturday included an auction that was led by master auctioneer John "Tom" Thomas to a packed meeting room. Tom did a magnificent job of keeping everybody's attention and entertained. There were two long tables overflowing with donated items. A special thanks for all who donated to the auction! Well, as Tom auctioned off each item, you could tell that we, as a group, were not very sophisticated in the ways of an auction -- the head scratch, nod at a person next to you, a shrug of the shoulders -- all to Tom's eagle eye was a bid; however, he was kind enough to stop the action and ask if the intention was to bid or just a casual twitch, and did it in a way to amuse everyone. When all was said and done, the auction raised about $1,300 that will be sent to Charles Brecheisen to be added to the general fund to offset the cost of the general expenses of running the organization. Thanks to all the buyers and bidders who made it so much fun. The Auction was followed by free time, that most of the folks spent in the meeting room, chatting and swapping sea stories.
Saturday evening was a trip across the parking lot to California Dreaming for dinner. After the dinner Tom Planes held the drawing for the Altair Memorial Plaque that was being raffled off. This plaque is a duplicate of the one that was dedicated on October 23rd at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington DC. Check it out at http://altair.smugmug.com. After much fanfare, the drawing of a single name was complete. Congratulations to the winner, John "Tom" Thomas! After dinner many of the folks went back to the meeting room and continued swapping those sea stories.
On Sunday morning, there was a general meeting to name the coordinator of the next reunion. Dick Stader was nominated, 2nd-ed, and carried by unanimous voice vote, with no discussion, as Chairman of the 2009 Reunion Committee. We also selected the same week in October of 2009 and Baltimore was the first choice, with Branson as the second choice. So Please, Please, Please, set aside the time frame of the last two weeks of October to allow for scheduling purposes, and start saving now so you will be able to attend. More information will follow just as soon as it becomes available.
After the meeting, some of the folks had planes to catch and left, we stayed and did some shopping and sea story telling. Be sure to check out the 2008 reunion pictures at the ALTAIR photo web site http://altair.smugmug.com.. Also, check out the photos from C. O. Lee. He gave me a bunch of snapshots to scan so they are now on the photo site as well.
As for our host, TOM PLANES, what a wonderful job in setting up and conducting the reunion!!! He even enlisted his son-in-law Ryan Moore, MM1 USN (not affiliated with the ALTAIR) who came in from Atlanta to assist him with the event. My THANKS to both of these gentlemen; they did a magnificent job!
My wife, Susie, accompanied me on the trip and here are some of her thoughts: This was my first reunion, and, God willing, it won't be my last. I was so impressed by the friendliness of everyone in the group. I was worried about fitting in, but right from the beginning, I felt a air about the group that made me feel welcome and very much a part of the group. The whole experience made me "proud to be an American" and a part of this fantastic group of people.
The camaraderie of this group, from a first-time attendee's prospective, was well worth the cost and time. No one was left out of any of the discussions that they chose to be a part of. This includes the partners of the shipmates. I feel so privileged to be a part of the group. I am so looking forward to the next gathering and hoping that we can convince as many of our shipmates to attend as possible.
"I will answer the wind
I will leave with the tide
I'll be out on the road
Every chance I can ride"
Bob Seger -- Wait for me
I thank you all who attended the reunion in Myrtle Beach. I think we all had a wonderful time and I look forward to the next. The auction and raffle brought in a little over $1300 which I will pass on to Charles for the Altair Association. My heart is full of great memories of my time on Altair and to see how fine my shipmates have turned out is a real bonus to life. I can truly say that I loved that ship and all who served her. As Tommy Lee said she was the closest thing to a pirate ship the Navy ever had. He can say that because he like Poland, Stater and several other Altair pirates stole one of the true treasures of the Spanish main, its women. Please save your pesetas so you can attend the next get together in October 2009.