"The 2022 HPRA Reunion in Charleston - The Recap"
by George Baker and Gene Sampieri

     The 2022 reunion in Charleston, SC, September 19-22, 2022 was a fine success. This was our first since 2019 due to the problems of Covid-19.  Once our planned one in Milwaukee had to be canceled, maybe to be rescheduled at a later time, Charleston was put together in a relatively short period. Normally it takes a year to plan one of our reunions.

     The hotel selection, The Town & Country Inn & suites, is the same hotel we used in 2006. A major upgrade was done on the hotel, and it showed. Everyone seemed to enjoy their stay. The hotel staff was excellent, making sure we had everything we needed. The hotel restaurant, Trotters, served excellent meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The only problem there was a short handed staff, something common throughout the country. Access to the historic regions of Charleston was either by driving, taxi or bus as the hotel didn't have a shuttle.

     Day one, Monday morning, started out with a crew of 2 going to the local "Sam's Club" to purchase to goodies for the hospitality room. When completed, the room was set up ready for the members. Registration began at 3pm, with the attendees picking up their information package and name tags. by dinner time, most of the 62 had checked in. with the rest through the evening until closing time. Groups of attendees formed quickly, having not seen each other for 3 years in Hartford. It can get noisy.

     Day two, heading out at 8:30am, was our first tour, a visit to Patriot's Point, the location of the carrier USS Yorktown, the d
estroyer USS Laffey and the submarine USS Clamagore. The Clamagore was closed to visitation due to some problems with leaks. The first order of business was our annual Memorial Service on the fantail of the Laffey. Our chaplain, Brian Goode, gave a welcome aboard and a prayer. This was followed by each member dropping a long stemmed carnation in to the water. After that, we were on our own to explore the Laffey and Yorktown until 11am. The Laffey is the same class, Allen B. Sumner, as the USS Hugh Purvis. We were able to tour most of the spaces that we would have worked in during our time aboard. Some spaces were viewable but sectioned off by Plexiglass walls. The USS Yorktown, CV-10, is a Essex class carrier. (Gene spent three plus weeks on the Essex in 1960 for a trip back to Newport from Barcelona after transferring the McGowan DD-678 to Spain.)

Due to a slight change in plans, the 'Point tour started at 8:30 when George found out there were not going to be Food Trucks on the pier as scheduled. We had to come up with an alternative before the second part of the days tour. Within two miles of the 'Point, were 4 or 5 restaurants. George checked with them to make sure there was no problem. This turned out to be a great idea, as everyone found something they liked and had lunch. Much better than a food truck, for sure.

     At 12:30, we re boarded our bus and headed to the Hunley museum. The Hunley was a confederate attempt to to create a submarine to break the blockade of Charleston harbor. After a number of mishaps and new crews, they were able to sink one ship in the blockade, but in the process, they went to the bottom and were not able to get back. The Hunley was found many years later and in in the museum in a water bath to get the salt out of it. This process takes many years.

     After the Hunley, we returned to the hotel for our annual business meeting, the first since 2019. Following the meeting, the attendees were on their own to do as they pleased, heading to a place of their choice for dinner. Quite a few had dinner at the hotel, as they had a nice menu, and good food.

     Day two, Wednesday, our bus departed the hotel at 9:30am for a bus tour of historic Charleston. A tour guide was hired to show us as much of the Charleston area we could fit in. Around 11am we headed out to the Charleston Tea Garden, the only tea growing farm in the United States. The Tea garden is now associated with Bigelow Tea, where much of their product goes. There were two parts to this tour. Divided in half, one group hopped a bus to tour the fields of tea, with the driver and some taped commentary providing us with how th
e fields and watering ponds work. The other half had a tour of the factory, located right on the farm, seeing how the tea leaves are processed. At the end of each tour, the two groups swapped places. prior to the tours, we had pre-ordered box lunches on the picnic tables outside the main building, which housed a store and the factory.

2022 (Charleston)  Reunion Golf Shirt & Hat Ordering Information
is in your June 2022 Newsletter

Also available are the shirts from the canceled Boston (2020) and the 2019 Hartford reunions. T-shirts are not available for any of these dates.
2010 St. Louis 2011 Washington D.C. 2012 Newport
2013 Norfolk 2014 Jacksonville 2015 New Orleans
2016 Memphis 2017 Harrisburg 2018 Savannah
2019 Hartford 2020 Boston Canceled 2021/22 Milwaukee Canceled
2022 Charleston (in progress) 2023 - Norfolk 6/11-14* 2024 Tampa Area TBT**
  * Planning by George Baker   ** Planing by Alan Zimcus

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