My wife Diana and I attended the 39’th annual USS Balch–Porterfield reunion in early September, and like last year this was a memorable event. The reunion was held in Buffalo and was a week filled with activity and camaraderie amongst fellow shipmates and family members. If I have my numbers correct there were 22 of us sailors dating back to 1941 and through World War II … through the Korean War … through the Vietnam War … through the Cold War and on to 1969 when the Porterfield was decommissioned for the final time.
Many family members were also there … sons & daughters- brothers & sisters, as well as friends, making it very much a family event. I think the total count was in the mid sixties.
The flag you see above was the last flag flown on the Porterfield (DD-682).
The fellow on the right is Sam Thomas who was on the commissioning crew of the Porterfield in 1943 … he is called a “plank owner” and is a spry 91 years old.
The follow on the left is Steve Osbourne who was on the decommissioning crew of the Porterfield in 1969.
The setting for this picture was the fantail of the USS The Sullivans (DD-537), a museum ship in Buffalo. The Sullivans is a Fletcher Class tin can … destroyer, the same as the Porterfield.
During this reunion I presented the video “I Didn’t Want To Worry You Mom … “ which was well received by the reunion members, and I received a number of compliments. Sam Thomas told me that “it brought tears to my eyes in places … “. I created this video as an introduction and companion to the book, and it contains a selection of snippets representing some of the things that sailors get involved with at sea … in peace time as well as war time.
Following the video I presented a book to each of the sailors present as well as to the three widows in attendance. I also sold copies to anyone else interested.
I received many compliments for the book, both from the sailors and family members … Gene Beckstrom, a Navy veteran from WW-II and a Korean War Army veteran told me that some of the stories in the book brought tears to his eyes. So these comments served to validate the work I have done in compiling this book, and thus I consider the 2014 Balch-Porterfield reunion to be the “kick off event” for the book and I invite you to take a look at it at my online bookstore.
After returning home from the reunion I received a phone message from a 90 year old Navy veteran from World War II. Len Lohne recently traveled as an honored guest of Honor Flight to the World War II Memorial in Washington DC, and some of us at church were asked to send cards, letters and mementos to Len as he returned from his trip. I sent a copy of the book, and Len called to thank me for the book and tell me how much he enjoyed reading it … further validation of the message I intended … to honor those who served and gave so much, as well as the family members who were left behind.
Best regards and smooth sailing …
Don Johnson Sept 2014