As I sit down to write this, I hope that everyone had a safe and uneventful trip home.   It is also my hope that all that attended had an enjoyable time and are looking forward to Branson, 2018 as much as I am.   I wish that I had had more time to sit down and visit with all of you.

I so very much appreciate the kind words and recognition that you bestowed on me but I can’t take all the credit.  Cookie and I talked and exchanged messages countless times.  I was the beneficiary of the wisdom that Harry and Carol Chaffin gained coordinating their reunions.  And the certificate that was presented to Martha was well deserved as she was the one who had to listen to all of my ideas, changing my mind many times and my fear that it would all fall apart.


Anniversary Cake



So, what went right and what went wrong?   I will be working with the board to compile a survey that will be sent out within the next couple of weeks so you can tell me.   I know that the photography sessions on Saturday evening could have been handled better and should not have been set up in the banquet room.  There are reasons this happened but the bottom line is that it was a mess.   I know that some were upset at the comedian’s material.   We will do better next time.  Each reunion is a learning experience and each has its challenges based on number of attendees, the hotel facility and the activities selected.  I did hear many positive comments and suggestions for future events.   I thank all of you for your input.  I would be remiss if I did not thank Jerri Osborne for her efforts in obtaining the Viet Nam 50 Year Anniversary pins, the creation of the certificates she distributed and for volunteering to make sure that all the Viet Nam era guys received them.  Debbie Ausbeck did a great job of selling raffle tickets, Jerry Schwarz spent many hours helping Kurt in the ship’s store and Kathy Mashanic helped clean up the hospitality room on Sunday.  I am sure that others pitched in where and when they could.   I thank all of you who assisted during “Wainwright Week”.

On to Branson—we will begin work right away and bother you several times with surveys to ensure that all have a good time and make the trip worthwhile.

I want to introduce the new board to those of you that could not be with us and for anyone there that was not at the banquet:

Vice President – Richard Molck.   Richard is the curator of our museum trailer as well as custodian of all the artifacts in our possession.  Richard previously served on the ships store committee and was responsible for the acquisition of items as well as storing and fulfilling orders.  Richard conceived the idea of acquiring the Wainwright as a museum ship and started the Save Our Ship campaign.  When it became apparent that that would not happen, he arranged access for the removal of the artifacts.  He is responsible for the update and maintenance of the website.

Secretary – Robert Bennett.  Rob is a member of the past president’s council.  During his term he worked diligently to increase our paid membership.  The Lockee Award was his idea and as a result the association has another method of recognizing those that benefit the association.  Rob was the guiding force behind a campaign to have another hull bear the name Wainwright.  We will revisit this possibility.

Treasurer – Jerry McKnight.  Jerry has agreed to serve another term as treasurer as well as assisting in the maintenance of the roster.  As a former treasurer, I can attest to the efforts it takes to maintain the financial records of the association.  Jerry has recently completed the transfer of data to our accounting software and will be updating that program so that dues invoices can be generated as well as creating an inventory of the ships store to assist in ordering items.   I appreciate his dedication to the group.

Donald “Skip” Greene – Master at Arms.  Skip returns to this role after serving several years ago.  As the biggest guy in the group, he is well suited to this role!   Skip, along with Harry, was instrumental in having our trailer be part of the Old Soldiers Parade in Alpharetta, GA.  As one of the longest running veteran’s parades in the nation, it has been our privilege to be included for the past 6 years.  We’ll be there again on August 6.  Skip also hosts an “after-parade” event in his home.  Good eats!

It has been my pleasure to know these gentlemen for many years and as we were on board at different times, it is solely due to the association that I can count them as some of my closest friends.  We are humbled to have been elected to be the new board and will serve to the absolute best of our abilities.

I also want to mention Rod Shafer who will continue in the role of newsletter editor and Kurt Ausbeck who will stay on as storekeeper.  Thanks, guys.

A big round of applause goes to Ed “Cookie” Cookenham, President; Ricky Horne, Vice-President; Jerry McKnight, Treasurer; Walter “Trip” Turbyfill, Secretary and Ken Merrifield, Master at Arms, for their service during the last two years.   BZ, guys, you did a great job of conning our ship and keeping her off the rocks!

One of the things that I think we got right was the Memorial Service. Having the Anthem and TAPS played live, being attended by the West Ashley High School NJROTC Honor Guard as well as the American Legion Post 147 Rifle Squad, made for a very moving and emotional event.   Here is where we need your assistance.  We strive to keep the Memorial list updated but need your input.  Please let us know when you become aware that a shipmate has passed.  Don’t assume someone else already told us.

On another but somewhat related topic.   We are a unique group.  No one else has a trailer like us, no one else is more inclusive than us.   Every memorial service, the list of names gets longer which is to be expected as much as it is discomforting.  We need to increase our membership involvement and get the 80’s and 90’s sailors involved in the running of the association to keep USS Wainwright Veterans Association alive and functioning.  On one of our organizing trips to Charleston, Cookie and I met a group of veterans who flew bombers in WWII.  There may have been 15 or so original members there but there were several hundred in attendance.  Children, grandchildren and some great grandchildren of those hero’s belonged to the association.  If they can do it, so can we!  Let’s figure out how, together.

I mentioned at the banquet that I wanted to bring back the Women of the Wainwright.  Julie Yearling has volunteered to create a Facebook group for the ladies.  Once established, we will discuss the roles WOW can assume.   Please join and lend us your talents.

Womens Group



We need your ideas, input and yes, even your criticism, but please keep it positive.  The website will be updated soon with our contact information but, for now, you can reach me at

Lastly, some housekeeping items.  We had 186 lanyards at the reunion, 120 of which were returned.  This will help to hold down costs in 2018.   For those that ordered t-shirts at the reunion and for those that pre-ordered and for one reason or another, could not join us, I will mail all of them once the new orders are delivered to me.  I have one small men’s shirt left over that would be great for a grandchild. Any takers?

I and the new board look forward to the next two years and, together with you, the members, let’s maintain the Wainwright spirit that has sustained our group the past 30 years!