U.S.S. Allen M. Sumner DD-692
1999 - Baton Rouge

Jim Poston & Brenda Stanley at Nottoway Plantation

    The Baton Rouge reunion was everything you could ever want it to be - and then some. Just ask any of the 110, YES I said 110 people who attended. Everyone went home reluctantly, but with a smile on their face and a head full of great memories.
    Every Sumner reunion has been great, but this one had some special magic. Don't know what it was, but it was there. Even the weather cooperated - could have been insufferable heat and relentless humidity, but it wasn't. The day we arrived (Wed) the nice warm, dry air - about 75, came with us from Buffalo, and lasted til we took it back home on Sunday. Can't promise to that every time, BUT - ha-ha.
    If you missed this one, you REALLY missed it. On Fri morning, 82 people went on a bus tour to Nottoway Plantation. From all reports, all agreed it was a great tour.
    When everyone arrived back at the hotel, we had refreshments at poolside all afternoon, and the weather was great.
    Friday evening we had a sumptuous banquet, followed by photo ops, and our award presentations. The Long Distance Traveler Award went to Al & Shirley Payne of Sacramento, CA. Jesse Marney, also from CA, took the "Old Salt" award, for being the most senior in attendance. Our outgoing Pres, Jack McCormack, received a nice plaque as a "Thank You" for his past leadership. Wes & Reigh Ritchie received a plaque and accolades for their SUPERB performance as co-hosts. Fred Willshaw received our first Special Achievement award for his outstanding & ongoing activity as our web site founder and coordinator. Visit us at www.DD-692.com and visit often, as it changes daily. When you visit for the 1st time, make sure you have several free hours if you want to scratch the surface, as our site has well over 200 pages.
    Wes Ritchie was recognized by his shipmates for his selfless efforts on behalf of his fellow veterans. Since 1983 he has been involved with the VFW on the local, county & state level, culminating with his election as Commander, Dept. of Louisiana, in this the 100th Anniversary year of the organization (On to National, Wes?).
    Several of our folks received Outstanding Volunteer medals for their repeated efforts year after year. They are - Don & Shirley Moore, Bill & Imogene Holthaus, & Ann McCormack.
    Our Unsung Hero award went to Dottie Gall, for her day to day, year round efforts on our behalf. She is the behind the scenes gal that keeps us going!
    Certificates of Appreciation were given to those who jumped right in to bear a hand. They were Elayne McHale & Aleta Williams. Congratulations & Thank You again to all our awardees.
    At this time I would like to apologize to a great guy & 1st time attendee - Frank Castaldi. He should have received a Sumner Patriotic American medallion, and did not, due to a screw up on my part. When asking for eligibles to come forward, I asked for anyone onboard at commissioning, not having been previously honored. That was wrong! The criteria is being on board 6 Jan. '45, at the Battle of Lingayen Gulf. Frank was there. He says he will be at the reunion next year in DC/Arlington to receive his award. I can not say "I'm Sorry" enough.
    After our awards, we were entertained to the max, by Louis Monic and the Boudain Cajun Band, with special appearance by 8 yr old Dane Monic, Cajun Accordionist extraordinaire. He wowed everyone, as did the entire group. They even allowed this displaced Cajun wannabee to sit in with them and do a little fiddlin and Cajun singing. Little do they realize what a dream come true it was for me - playing with a real Cajun band in Louisiana!
    On Saturday morning we all went to the Louisiana Naval Memorial and had our Memorial Ceremony onboard the USS Kidd. It was very moving; CDR Dave Tezza was our Speaker, bugler for Taps, Naval Sea Cadet Corps as Color Guard, and a 3 volley firing of the Kidd's 5" guns as a tribute.
    Maury Drummond, Director of the Louisiana Naval Memorial presented me with a beautiful plaque engraved with the Sumner, and the Ship's history. Thank You, Sir, I am very appreciative. We in turn presented them with a beautiful plaque in memory of our shipmates KIA. Saturday afternoon we had our annual business meeting to elect new officers. They are - Bobby Moore, Pres; Bill Holthaus, 1st VP; Jesse Marney, 2nd VP; Joe Gall, Sec-Treas; Richard Callihan, Chaplin. These officers, plus the following, make up the Board of Directors - Jack McCormack, Past Pres; Walter Meierdierks, Harold King, and Carl Shopp, Directors.
    The next event was the silent auction. There were many items this year, and as usual, it was a great success. People took home very nice items and the Assn. was the benefactor to the tune of $575. Thank you to all the donors, participants, winners, and volunteers who made it happen.
    For the rest of Sat., we milled about smartly, conversing in intelligent conversation, and trying to solve the world's burning issues. Our solution turned out to be - more firefighters and fewer arsonists! One issue we couldn't resolve was - the Navy has shrunk to about 20% of it's WWII manning, but we have far more Admirals. What's wrong with this picture? If you find the solution, believe me; the Pentagon doesn't want to know!
    Sunday morning we had our traditional Farewell breakfast, then went into recess until 21 Sept., when we meet again in Arlington, VA for reunion 12. See you then - BE THERE! -- Joe Gall

Many thanks to Shipmate John Barry who sent us these scenes from the Reunion of 1999.
For those of you who could not make it - mark your calendar now Sep 21-24, 2000.

A few of the gang dropped by
Our gracious host Wes Ritchie, where is Reigh? The "Chief" guarding the Coors while "Doc" tells us about the procedure he is going to perform on us. Paul, Joe and Wiley showing off more gold than in Fort Knox.
In honor of those who did not come home. The Louisiana War Memorial as the Sumner wreath is placed. John asked everybody what that "Big Gray Thing" was........
John and Mort as always - waiting to eat. And what else next - Nap Time. The AFTER picture from a great Reunion!
Awards for service above and beyond.......

The Official Reunion photos thanks to Wes and Reigh Ritchie
The Plank Owners Operation Crossroads Post WWII to 1950
1951-1957 1957-1963 1963-1973
Vietnam R Division 1966-1973 Crew of the Allen M. Sumner
Key to Who's Who