New Jersey Veterans Reunion (Part
was a grand evening for all of us U.S.S. New Jersey Veterans. Behind
Zack Lindsey, GMGC (retired) and me is the Union Jack I donated
to the Vietnam Vets which was draped nicely behind the podium.
Vets' held a meeting room daily complete with sign-in station where
you can pay dues. They also had a ship's store where you could buy
everything from T-shirts, cups, hats, badges and shopping bags all
emblazoned with the U.S.S. New Jersey logo or likeness.
Richard Esser, Larry Kalakauskis, Frank La Rosa and others on the
committee the event, as far as we can tell, went along flawlessly....of
course that's we are supposed to see. I know all too well how much
work goes into these events and it's a LOT!! You'll never appreciate
the work these men, and women, did until you try it yourself (hint:
ask your wife about planning a wedding). I know I speak for all
of us who travelled the country to attend that we offer as loud
Esser told the audience about the Union Jack I gave to the Vietnam
Vets organization. He didn't have time to tell the whole story,
in Bremerton, Washington in late 1969, the boys on the Signal Bridge
were going through the 'flag bag' discarding many items no longer
desirable due to age, damage or spoilage. They tossed out the Jack
and I asked if I could have it and they said "yes."
Later that day
I ran into XO Cmdr. Elfelt and brought the subject up and he agreed
that I may keep it as it's the ensign or "colors" that
has the "importance" with the ship (I believe it went
to to Governor Evans). So for over 35 years I kept the Union Jack
in my trunk of souvenirs at home. I thought it was time for it to
be put to good use. But
that's not all.
discovered upon our arrival to Washington D.C. for the reunion Wednesday
morning the airline had lost our luggage. And, yep, the flag was
in there. I was livid. I didn't care about the $3000 notebook computer
or my $700 suit, our medicine, clothes or other personal items.
I wanted that flag! We even got the police involved to force the
apparently uncooperative airline people to deepen their search.
I was astounded at how unconcerned the airline was. If they knew
it would take a couple days to find our luggage they never said
so. No reassuring words what-so-ever. We kept in close contact and
finally by late Thursday the luggage arrived, unmolested with the
flag inside. I have a letter of thanks going to the airline.
Assuming command of a ship
already earmarked for the "mothball fleet," Captain Peniston
and his crew prepared for their melancholy task. NEW JERSEY got
underway on her last voyage 6 September, departing Long Beach for
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. She arrived on the 8th, and began pre
inactivation overhaul to ready herself for decommissioning. On 17
December 1969 NEW JERSEY's colors were hauled down and she entered
the inactive fleet, still echoing the words of her last commanding
officer: "Rest well, yet sleep lightly; and hear the
call, if again sounded, to provide fire power for freedom."
From web site The
History Of The U.S.S. New Jersey BB-62.
I remember how
distraught Capt. Peniston and the crew was upon receiving the orders
Peniston spent most of the journey to Bremerton on the Bridge. Quiet
and reserved, by the Captain's demeanor you'd think we were going
to a funeral. In actuality we were. I saw him everyday as he took
in the all that he could of our mighty ship.
has had quite a career since leaving the Navy. What I know for sure
is that Captain Peniston has been a volunteer in the Leyburn Library
Special Collections since 1998. The Capt. has been volunteering
there since he retired following twenty-two years as Director of
the Lee Chapel on the Washington and Lee University campus.
has been working on transposing letters written to and by General
Robert E. Lee. He's dedicated thousands of untold hours to this
wonderful project. there must be over a hundred such letters, beautifully
written not only in content but penmanship.
Robert C. Peniston, U.S.S. New Jersey BB-62, in 1969. The Capt. spent
most of his time on the bridge during that mournful journey.
are two sites that may be of interest to you: The
Robert E. Lee Collection and the Lee-Jackson
Linda told me she was taking pictures with the "Vietnamese
ladies" I was taken aback because I knew she wasn't Vietnamese!
I told myself "she can't do THAT! She's Chinese!" Linda's
in the back row, in pink, second from the right. Although she is
shy and her English is good, she didn't know many people. Linda
had a wonderful time as everyone was very kind to her.
and Pam Leonard at the U.S. Marine (Iwo Jima) Memorial in Arlington,
Virginia. They asked me to take their picture and email it to them.
Well, here it is!
This was Linda's
dream ever since leaving China to see Washington, D.C. It's my second
trip, but that was in 1967 and things had changed dramatically.
The wide boulevards I remember are now occupied by more buildings
as our government had grown so very much. Still a fascinating place,
"D.C" was a place of wonders for us. We only wish we had
about 51 more weeks to explore its many monuments and buildings.
We took advantage
of several tours and those we went on the buses with were a delight.
Some of the most interesting conversations I've had in years with
ladies and gentlemen from all parts of the country.
a sample of the hundred of pictures we took.