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U.S.S. New Jersey Veterans Reunion (Part II)
Gala Dinner

It 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.

The 'Jersey 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.

Organized by 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 "Bravo Zulu!"

Richard 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, though.

During decommissioning 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.

We 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 for decommissioning.

Captain 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.

Captain Peniston 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.

The Captain 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.

Captain 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.

Here are two sites that may be of interest to you: The Robert E. Lee Collection and the Lee-Jackson Collection.

When 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.

 

Washington D.C. Tour

"Blackie" 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.

Here's just a sample of the hundred of pictures we took.

Click here for some of Franklin D. Roosevelt's memorable quotes I photographed at his memorial.
The bottom two photos are for our dear friends Cleo and Sekai in Zimbabwe. What a surprise to find this booth at the Union Station in Washington, D.C. We enjoyed looking through the many beautiful items from all parts of Zimbabwe.

 

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