THE FINAL REUNION
NOW HERE THIS! THE FINAL REUNION OF THE
2019 USS BLOCK ISLAND ASSOCIATION.
We’ve been invited back to Fargo by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 941. Thanks to Larry Nicholson (Associate Member) who set up the hotel and tours! And thanks, also, to Georgianna Shepke, Associate Member, daughter of our President George, who is assisting with this year’s reunion. HOTEL INFORMATION: Homewood Suites by Hilton, 805 E. Beaton Drive, West Fargo. Phone: 701-551-5800. Please note that there is a connecting hotel, owned by Hilton, the Doubletree. The two hotels are inter-connected. There is an indoor pool, a spa tub and a fitness center. Additional amenities at this hotel include complimentary wireless Internet access, a fireplace in the lobby and barbecue grills. For dining, there is a restaurant next door at the Doubletree Hotel, or you can grab a bite from the grocery/convenience store located in the Homewood Suites Hotel. Every evening, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., there is a complimentary social offering beer, wine and snacks. A complimentary, hot full breakfast, is served in the lobby. There is free parking. For those of you flying to Fargo, there is a hotel shuttle service – call the hotel number to be picked up at the airport. Please Note: If any attendees want to go shopping, our hosts, the Vietnam Veterans
of America, will provide transportation. Hotel Reservations: Call 1-701-551-5800 and ask for “Reservations.” Mention “USS Island” – (note: hotel left off “Block” ) to receive our special rate of $85 plus 10.5% room tax. Deadline to make room reservations is April 30th .
- Monday, May 20 – registrations begins at 9am.
- Tuesday, May 21: After enjoying a sandwich at 1pm in the Sandwich Bar, we will board our bus to tour new exhibits at the Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center, commonly known as the Hjemkomst Center, is an interpretation center museum in Moorhead, Minnesota, United States. The building opened in 1985 and serves as a home to Hjemkomst Viking Ship, Hjemkoms; quarterly museum exhibits, Hopperstad Stave Church replica and county archives. It is also occupied by the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County. The Red River Valley exhibit is a permanent display of the geologic and cultural history of the valley and its settlers. The Hjemkomst, which
means “Homecoming” in Norwegian, is a Viking ship that is permanently housed in the center of the museum. The ship is a full-scale replica of the Gokstad Viking ship that was discovered in Norway in 1881.
- Wednesday, May 22: We’ll tour Fargo Air Museum that includes flying aircraft and static aircraft plus traveling exhibits. The Museum gives you the rare opportunity to see and explore two hangars full of aircraft ranging from a Wright Brothers’ flyer to the Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft. The majority of the planes are still able to fly. Lunch at the museum is included in cost of tour. Then, we’ll view Fargo by bus.
- Thursday, May 23: A visit to the baseball great Roger Maris’ Museum at the West Acres Shopping Mall. Lunch is on your own. Then, a stop at Bonanzaville, an authentic pioneer village with 400,000 artifacts and 43 historic buildings. Located in West Fargo, ND, Bonanzaville is a pioneer village with 12 acres, 43 historic buildings, 400,000 artifacts and millions of memories. Bonanzaville is operated by the Cass County Historical Society, with a mission to collect, display and interpret artifacts relevant to the history and cultural heritage of the Red River Valley. It is the region’s largest historical attraction with something for everyone to see. We’ll attend a Veteran’s Memorial Event (picnic dinner) at this location.
- Friday, May 24: Business Meeting in the morning – “All Hands on Deck” Our Dinner Banquet begins at 6pm with a no-host bar, followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m.
Organizations have many reasons for holding reunions but for most military associations there is a special bond among members that was developed during life and death situations. The quote at the right is from a brochure for the 2003 San Diego reunion hosted by Bill and Judy MacInnes, it probably best illustrates why the USS Block Island Association holds annual reunions.
From 1947 to 1962 some of the shipmates for both CVE 21 and CVE 106 would meet from time to time in different locations throughout the country to maintain friendships and personal contact with their shipmates. Each year more and more contacts took place. In 1962 those attending these meetings made the decision that there was a common bond over and above just being shipmates. Initially, the common bond was that they were all survivors or shipmates present during the sinking of CVE 21 or the attack on DE 576 USS Barr. Crews of the DE 575 USS Ahrens , DE 686 USS Elmore and the DE 578 USS Paine were also involved in the event. While many of the CVE 21 survivors went aboard CVE 106 as the original operating crew, many of those attending these reunions actually were transferred off the ship when the Marine Squadrons were brought aboard for air operations. CVE 106 went on to make naval history. It was only a short time when everyone involved recognized that all the personnel serving on the ships and squadrons (being Navy or Marine), serving with either CVE 21 or CVE 106, were very much a part of the history of the two Block Island escort carriers. The Bylaws of the Association established these facts and as many as 2000 Sailors and Marines were made a part of the USS Block Island Association.
Note: With the interest shown and the Association Membership increasing yearly, as shipmates became aware that in fact there were yearly reunions, maintaining records of the mini reunions by the Board was discontinued in 1984.