As We Remember

Victory in the Pacific - the War is over. News of the surrender of the Japanese spread quickly over the country. There was a celebration in Boston by the crew members of the USS BRAINE - DD630. The surrender meant they did not have to go back to the Pacific.
A point system was established to qualify men for discharge from the service. Most of the crew members of the BRAINE, except regular Navy and essential ratings, were discharged in October 1945. Part of the crew was still on their thirty day leave and missed the opportunity to exchange addresses.
The discharged sailors returned to civilian life to pick up their lives which were interrupted by the war. Many returned to their old jobs. Others went to college under the GI Bill of Rights. Most married and started families. As their careers developed and their families grew, the thoughts of the war and shipboard life were filed away deep in their memories.
Nearly forty years later, when their children asked, what did you do in the war Dad, their thoughts turned to their naval service. The country had been through two disagreeable wars. Many wartime crew members did not know that the BRAINE had been recommissioned, serving during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
In October 1983 Destroyer Squadron held a reunion for the crew members of the ten ships that served with them in World War II. The reunion was held in Washington DC for the 40th anniversary of the battle of Cape St. George during the invasion of Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. The guest of honor was Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, the squadron commander. Thirty crew members of the BRAINE attended the reunion and made plans for a future reunion in 1985.
In October of 1985, a reunion was held at the Quincy Bay Inn, Quincy, Massachusetts. Advertisements in military publications drew the attention of crew members who served on the BRAINE during the 1950s and 1960s. Tours were made to some historic sites in Boston. The hospitality room became the focus of the reunion and the sea stories began to flow. Many became reacquainted with their old buddies. A visit was made to the Charlestown Navy, where tours were conducted of the USS CONSTITUTION, Old Ironsides and the museum ship USS CASSIN YOUNG - DD793, a post World War II configuration of the Fletcher class destroyer. A memorial service was held at dusk on the fantail with prayers and hymns to commemorate the men who died in service on the BRAINE, followed by a banquet. Officers were appointed to plan another reunion in 1987 in Florida.
In October 1987 the reunion was held at the Howard Johnson Park Plaza, Kissimee, Florida. Tours were conducted at Disney World and Epcot Center, the graduation exercises at the Naval Training Center, Orlando, Florida. Attitude Adjustments in the hospitality suite were again a popular place and the sea stories were embellished. A memorial service was held in the Lake Bonnet Gazebo in memory of those who served well and whose service is forever ended. Their courage and strength in battle was remembered. The banquet speaker was Frank Thomas, MD, Another reunion committee was formed to plan the 1989 reunion in Norfolk, Virginia. The Ship's Store was opened and items such as hats, patches, and coffee mugs became popular items.
In October 1989 the fourth reunion was held at the Norfolk Airport Hilton, Norfolk, Virginia. Eighty crew members, their spouses, and friends attended. Tours were made to Colonial Williamsburg and a luncheon cruise of the harbor and shopping at the Waterside. A tour was conducted of the destroyer USS DAHLGREEN at the Norfolk Navy Yard. A tour and memorial service was held at the General Douglas McArthur Memorial. Lieutenant Commander Benito I. Rotolo, a pilot from the Argentene Navy, was the featured speaker at the banquet. He related to those gathered the history of the naval service of the BRAINE in Argentina. The crew voted to hold the next reunion in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The fifth reunion was held at the Ramada Inn, Baton Rouge, Louisiana in October 1991, the 4th anniversary of the second commissioning of the USS BRAINE - DD630. It was attended by 150 former crew members, their wives and guests. Tours were made of nearby old plantations. The highlight of the reunion was casual tours of the Louisiana War Memorial and the museum ship the USS KIDD - DD661, a Fletcher class destroyer, which had been restored to its World War II configuration. Bull sessions were held in the hospitality room and adjoining plaza. An oral history was started to record the experiences of the brave men who survived the Okinawa battle. The memorial service was conducted by a former crew member, Reverend James Crouse. The reading of the names and the tolling of the ship's bell recalled the sacrifice of crew members who died in the line of duty, as well as deceased crew members who died in civilian life. At the banquet the speaker was Mr. Maury Drummond, Executive Director of the Louisiana War Memorial. The new reunion committee, consisting of crew members from the 1950s, planned the next reunion in Charleston, South Carolina.
In October 1993 a reunion was held at the Sheraton in Charleston, South Carolina. It was attended by 175 crew members, spouses, and their guests. While those who wanted to indulge in a bit of shopping participated in a trip to historic Charleston, the men stayed behind to relive their navy experiences touring Patriots Point, USS YORKTOWN - CV10, USS LAFFEY - DD724, USS CLAMAGORE - SS343, CGC INGHAM, and the NS SAVANNAH. The ever-popular hospitality suite and plaza received its customary attention. It was the scene of numerous bull sessions and the renewal of old pals. The memorial service was held on board the USS LAFFEY - DD724, which survived five kamikaze crashes at Okinawa. By an overwhelming vote, the reunion members selected San Diego, California as the site for the 1995 reunion.
The seventh biannual reunion was held at the Clarion Hotel Bay View, San Diego, California in October 1995. A former BRAINE crew member, a Chief Petty Officer still on active duty, arranged a tour of his ship, the USS VINCENNES - CG49. The group was received with gracious hospitality, They toured the ship and were briefed on the missile armament of the vessel. Side trips were made to the Old Town Trolley tour and Tijuana, Mexico. The beautiful hospitality suite overlooked the harbor and the navy ships were observed entering and leaving the harbor. The memorial service was held on the USS CALLAGAM - DD994. It was conducted by the Commanding Officer as names were again read of the deceased crew members. Annapolis, Maryland was selected as the next reunion site. Some members continued their journey on to Hawaii.
In September 1997 the former crew members of the USS BRAINE - DD630 gathered at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Annapolis, Maryland. A memorial service was held at the United State Navy Memorial, Washington DC, with color guard and bugler from the Washington Navy Yard. The movie "At Sea" was viewed, followed by visits to the Franklin D. Roosevelt, Korean, Women in Vietnam, and the Vietnam memorials. The buses detoured to pass by the British Embassy to view the flowers for Princess Diana, who had died a few days before. The following day, after a luncheon at the U.S. Naval Academy, the group toured the academy and visited the grave of Admiral Burke. The featured speaker was Donald G. Shormette, an archeologist and historian. He is the author of several books about Chesapeake Bay.

1 comment:

  1. My father Vernon Turner Cook RdM2c (T) V2 was wounded manning a Twin Bofors 40mm Gun. He only told us that he was the radio operator on a ship in WW2. He never talked about any of his time in the war. He was blown in the water and had scrapnel damage and a broken arm. He was fished out by a rescue boat. I found this out through researching his navy records. The video of the kamikazi attack on you-tube that surfaced a few years ago is unreal. He had survivors remorse and drank heavily every day. Now i know why. Jess David Cook..... Sonora, Texas


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