Held at the Hawthorne Hotel, Salem, MA., the 6th USS Donner LSD 20 reunion provided memories, tours of Boston & Salem Massachusetts area sites to over 80 attendees. Included were Spirit of Boston luncheon cruise, Tours of Old Colonial Salem, Lexington & Concord, Mass., Quincy Market, Charles River & back bay (in amphib. DUC's). Donner sailors and family members were saluted during the annual memorial service held at dry dock #2 Charlestown (Boston) Navy Yard. At this site 60 years ago, the USS Donner was built. US Coast Guard Saluted in full dress, at side rail aboard their Cutter that flanked dry dock #2. Hosted in the grand ball room, the annual Donner banquet was enjoyed by all. Each morning a breakfast buffet started our day. 126 Shipmates, wives, family and friends attended a patriotic musical & banquet at the Riverview Plaza Hotel, Mobile, AL. The 7th annual USS Donner LSD 20 reunion gave attendees a tour of historic Mobile, City of Six flags: French, English, Spanish, Independent Alabama, Confederate States and USA. Bus tours allowed all to see Old Fort Conde (1702), the Historic Districts of Mobile such as De Tonti Square where tea was served by the DAR at The Richards Ante-bellum House (1860). Then on to USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, where many shipmates got reaquainted to shipboard life retelling many a sea story. The USS Donner Memorial Service was held aboard the "fantail" of the Alabama. Luncheon in the Aviation Pavilion and tours of USS Drum submarine were available. On the second day, busses were boarded for the Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL. Lunch was served at the Lighthouse Point NCO Club. Each morning a full breakfast was served in the hotel dinning room to start our day. [7th Reunion Pictures] More than 90 Donner Shipmates, wives, family and friends attended the two and a half day reunion at Harrah's Reno Hotel, which included "Night on the Town" show by Bareback. The Boatswain's pipe sounded a call to order by Mike Stefanidis at the Donner Memorial Statue and the Memorial Service was conducted by Jim Palmer with the assisitance of his family and shipmates. The newly aquired "Donner ships bell" was rung by Gerry Tesar for each name read by Bob Mclellan, Vic DiChiro, and George Hovey. The memorial wreath placed by retired Captains Richard Hurt and John Stewart. A 20 minute Donner Party film was shown to all Donner visitors. The entire event was covered by the Sierra Sun newspaper featuring quotes by Ed Smith, Ken Winter and Ron Luxon. The buses resumed the tour to Truckee, CA for a lunch, and on to Lake Tahoe in the rugged and beautiful Sierra Nevadas. Many shipmates and wives,family and friends attended the Dinner that evening. The following day the tour traveled to silver mining town Virginia City, NV. Then it was back to Harrah's for Photos and the Annual Banquet, along with door prizes and raffle gifts. After free time for gaming each evening, in the morning a full breakfast was served in the hotel dinning room to start our day. [8th Reunion Pictures]
10th Donner Reunion May 2-5, 2008 - St. Louis, MO at the Sheraton Hotel at Westport
There were approximately 90 shipmates, wives, and friends in attendance. The festivities began with a Welcome Reception on the evening of May 2. Wine, cheese and hor d’oeurvres were served in the hospitality room. On the morning of May 3, the annual memorial service was held in the chapel of Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. We then visited, shopped and had lunch at Union Station. We were also able to visit the New Cathedral (at which Pope John Paul once spoke) and the Gateway Arch. A bus tour of the city gave us an opportunity to see Forest Park, the massive Barnes-Jewish Hospital Complex and Washington University. We returned to the hotel for our annual business meeting, which included a beautiful tribute to Tom Nelson, by John Fuchs. The evening concluded with a raffle of wonderful prizes and socializing. On May 3, we took a tour of historical St. Charles, MO, which included a visit to a Veterans Memorial. Afterwards, we toured Anheuser-Bush Brewery, and sampled some of the product. Returning to the hotel, we prepared for picture taking and the Banquet. Entertainment was provided by Oliver Johnson, one man band, and the remarkable St. Louis Strutters. A buffet breakfast was provided each morning, in the hospitality room. Reunion Hosts: Langston and Georgeanna Jackson.
11th Donner Reunion April 23 thru 26, 2009 - Alexandria VA
We just completed our 11th reunion, and all had a wonderful time. Lets take a trip down memories lane to see what went on.
Day one: Welcome all aboard, we had a great buffet and were entertained by Old Blue eyes. All the swabies and guest enjoyed the hospitality room. We shared lots of stories about our Donner experiences, renewing old friendships and making new ones.
Day two: Early buffet and liberty call at 0900 for Bus tour to the Naval academy in Annapolis, Md. Tour started with talk and side presentation from one of the retired Navy Captains. We toured the complex saw the midshipmen at the parade grounds for their lunch. We had lunch at the academy and went to the visitor’s center. Some folk’s toured the beautiful town of Annapolis other went to visit the capital of Maryland. In the evening we had our Business meeting had light finger food in the hospitality room. We had our famous raffle. The reunion members donated a fabulous amount of gifts.
Day three: Early buffet and liberty call at 0900 for Bus tour to Washington DC and the Navy Memorial First stop was the Second World War memorial. It was well done honoring all the brave men and women who served during this time in history. Next we visited the Korean Memorial, those bronze figures were breathing taking, sad, but heart warming at the same time. Our last visit to the memorials was the Vietnam. It was a warm day and there were lots of visitors there, the silence was amazing you could feel the compassion of all the visitors there. We then went to the Navy Memorial for the highlight of the trip. We had our Donner memorial service in their beautiful theater was grand to see the USS DONNER LSD 20 in the video slide, we were all so proud. Then we had the pleasure of presenting our plaque for all generation to see. We then toured Washington DC in the bus. Back to the Hotel for dress uniforms, pictures, and the main banquet. We had entertainment DJ who played background music during Dinner. After Dinner we had dancing, and sang Happy Birthday to Peggy. We them did karaoke; the talent was just great, we were sorry to see the evening come to a close.
Day Four: Sad day we said our good bye and on a pleasant note see you all again next year.
John and Dolly Fuchs hosted this Reunion
12th Donner reunion April 29 thru May 2 2010 - San Antonio, TX
Judging by what participants have told and written me as recently as this morning, the reunion was a huge success. Everything went like clockwork. The hotel was on the river and projected a tropical atmosphere, the staff was responsive at all times and the supervising manager equally helpful whenever we changed or needed something out of the ordinary: Breakfast was good and prompt, not to forget that it was free as well, the dinner on Saturday was tasty and served in minimum time. The DJ music was exceptional and tailored to our crowd.
Both tours were very informative and attention grabbers. Our guides knew their "stuff," and guided our members through the Texas countryside and historical locations with great expertise and interest. Buses were punctual at all times. Both riverboats were on-time and guided our men and women through San Antonio River history with much humor and historical knowledge. The Mariachi Trio which introduced our members to local music was superb and of the highest quality. Their name of "Vargas Mariachi" is associated with a traditional Mexico City group of musicians, adhering to the highest standards, forming a reputations in that genre of music which has lasted for over 100 years.
The COSTCO spread eaten on Friday was fresh from the market and made hours before we picked it up and served at 6pm. We even had the bus driver take the bus over to COSTCO, to pick the food up for us. No mean feat because the bus was very long, holding some 60 people. The bus itself was of the latest edtion, i.e., super quality, very comfortable and quiet. It goes without mention that Peggy Winters excelled in pulling money out of our wallets. The raffle formed a major part of our entertainment on Fridays. Winners of bids on gifts were happy to have won. Peggy made her budget, as always and significantly contributed to the funding of our expenses.
The Pacific War Museum in Fredericksburg was all inclusive, and of the finest quality for a regional location. Explanations were plentiful, as were static exhibits which included aircraft, a tank and an Admirals Barge. Too much to see in just two hours but also inviting enough for a return trip. The Mission of San Jose displayed the very early history of Spanish occupation in this stretch of Indian Territory. Effects from this occupation can still be seen to this day. The adjoining museum managed by the Park Service was informative. Facilities were new and clean. The Alamo was somewhat crowded as can be expected but also formed the center piece of our visit to San Antonio. Our members interest was great bordering on the passionate, as demonstrated by Mike Stefanidis whose Bucket List is now one item shorter.
All-in-all, great fun was had by all including participating new members who were impressed by our esprit de corps, as were other military reunion guests of the hotel whose comments I've heard on several occasions. John Liczbinski hosted this reunion.
13th Donner reunion April 28 thru May 1, 2011 - Nashville, TN
There were approximately 80 shipmates, wives and friends in attendance. Wine, cheese, hors d'oeuvres and refreshments were served in the hospitality room. The festivities began with a welcome reception and buffet dinner on the evening of April 28th. The Dave and Daphne Show entertained us with their country music. On the morning of April 29th, a bus tour of the city gave us an opportunity to see the the city of Nashville including the historic sites in the State Capitol area, homes of the country music stars, World War II museum, many more sites. The afternoon began with a luncheon cruise served family style aboard the General Jackson Steamboat, an authentic paddle wheeler, showing the sites along a stretch of the Cumberland River. Steve Hall & The Shotgun Red Show featured Nashville music. We returned to the hotel for our annual USS Donner Shipmates memorial service and afterward the annual business meeting, where the USS Donner ship's flag was presented to shipmates and all attending. The meeting concluded with a raffle of wonderful prizes and socializing. On April 30th, we had a free day with no scheduled tour. Many on their own toured the Nashville area, Grand Ole Opry Hotel complex, Downtown Nashville, Natchez Trace terminus city park with the replica of the Parthenon, Vanderbuilt University, President Jackson's home, The Hermitage. In the evening, we prepared for picture taking and the banquet. Entertainment was provided by a DJ with music hits from the 50's & 60's and dancing. A buffet breakfast with custom omelettes was provided each morning in the hotel restaurant.
Reunion Hosts: Peggy Winter and Terry Cumbee
THE MARINE's HYMN
From the halls of Montezuma,
to the shores of Tripoli
We will fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea.
First to fight for right and freedom,
and to keep our honor clean.
We are proud to claim the title
of United States Marine.