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VP-2 Association Reunion - Charleston Reunion Report

     A whopping (and whooping) 142 people (including guests) showed up for the Charleston reunion from October 30th through November 2nd, 2014.  That’s a good gathering for a group whose squadron shut down some 45 years ago.  We were honored to have RADM Jim Summitt among our group, as well as two former Commanding Officers of VP-2 in attendance: Captain Bruce Campbell brought his daughter and son-in-law, and Captain Bert Howard was joined by his wife Mary Anne, two grandsons and a grand-daughter-in-law, and VP-2 veteran Nick Aguilar.  It was noted that some of our reunion regulars didn’t make it this year; we hope to see many of them in 2016.  Three of our longest (not oldest) association members were on hand: Rick and Sue Dombrowski (Member #25), Dan and Juanita Davy (Member #32) and Mike Moreno (Member #28) all joined the Association on the same day in 1986.  Our newest members, (Bill and Myrna Schneider (#599) and David Brougham (#600), were welcomed at the reunion.

     Excellent rooms and facilities were provided by the North Charleston Crowne Plaza hotel.  Originally we had contracted for 50 rooms, not knowing how many members would attend this reunion; wound up using 75 rooms.  Our Ready Room was spacious, was used for breakfast each morning, and for casual gathering with friends all day.

     Thursday was check-in day, with a welcome cocktail hour and full buffet dinner that evening.  On Friday morning, the ladies took over a separate meeting room and had their own private 'Meet and Greet' session.  This meeting served to accommodate the wives who maybe hadn’t been to a reunion before, or who met their husbands after their VP-2 service and didn’t know the other wives.  They had fun swapping stories, getting acquainted, and sharing Halloween candies.

     At the conclusion of the ladies’ meeting, they rejoined the husbands for the Association business meeting where plans were discussed for the 2016 reunion, and a slate of officers was elected to serve on the Association Executive Board for the next four years.  We also received briefings about the state of the Treasury from Doug Donohue, and the closing of the Ship’s Store by Vic Gulliver.  During the meeting, Floyd Palmer gave his outgoing remarks after 14 years as our president, and Greg Kelley spoke briefly on his thoughts for the future as our incoming president.

     For the rest of Friday, most of the members availed themselves of an interesting and informative privately guided tour of historic Charleston with a tour of the Heyward-Washington House, built in 1772, and a stop at the Citadel to witness the cadets’ afternoon dress parade.  Many of the members remarked that the Citadel visit was a highlight of the tour.  On Saturday, a large group spent the day touring the huge and stately Boone Hall plantation.  Plans to follow that with a visit to Fort Sumter by boat had to be curtailed due to stormy weather in the harbor.  On Sunday, a hearty group visited the Patriot’s Point Maritime Museum, which includes the carrier U.S.S. Yorktown with an array of aircraft on display, followed by a tour of the laboratory/museum for the first submersible vessel to sink a ship, the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley.

     Sunday evening saw the closing banquet with good food, abundant wine, and a disk jockey for our musical entertainment.  A beautiful plaque was presented to Floyd Palmer showing the Association’s appreciation for his fourteen years as our Association president and celebrating all that the VP-2 Association has accomplished under Floyd’s time in office.  A similar plaque was presented to Vic Gulliver for his many years of work on the executive board.  In the many reunions we’ve attended, I don’t think I’ve seen a more gregarious, fun-loving group on the dance floor as we saw on Sunday night.  Finally, Greg Kelley wished us all a safe trip home from the reunion with the hope that we would see each other again in 2016 in the Pacific Northwest.

     We give many grateful thanks to the many Association members and hotel staff members who pitched in and helped with the running of this reunion.  One or two reunion hosts can’t do it all.  We always need volunteers to help out in many areas.  Let’s do it all again in 2016.

Fay Hanson, Meryl Dando

Bruce Campbell, Doug Donohue

Patriots Point Welcome Sign

Rick Dombrowski, Floyd Palmer

Lynda Porterfield, Linda Niccum,
Connie Bowen, Pat Gulliver

Anne, Ernie Hand with Fay Hanson

Jim and Pat Welch

Mary Jo Walker
Text contributed by Vic Gulliver; Images by Dino Vlahakis