2019 20th Anniversary Come Around After Action Report Posted (20190525)

Posted: 5/25/2019

20th Anniversary Celebration

April 24-29, 2019

Monte Sano State Park

Firsties: Gary and Val Polansky ‘67

 We convened at Monte Santo State Park in Huntsville, AL on April 24th to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Chapter’s first Come Around at the same location. Attending were: Don & Susan Baldwin ’74, Walt & Chris Baskin ’59, John & Bea Christensen ’57, Royal & Melinda Connell ’70, Marian Conery (Frank ’58), Jim Connors ’74, Bart & Jann DallaMura ’54, Dale & Su Gange ’70, Adrian & Debra Gordon ’67, Randy & Laurie Harris ’73, Jim & Catherine Heffernan ’81, John & Eileen Madaio ’77, Bob & Maryjane Metcalfe ’61, Norman & Liz Mims ’60, Jack & Nita Parry ’67, Gary & Val Polansky ’69, Jim & Marie Roberts ’59, Scott & Pam Rodgers ‘78/’80, Glenn Shindler ’64, Keith & Karen Waldrop ’64, Andy & Eva Wehrle ’72, Jay & Patti Williams ’67, Tom & Rose Wolfe ‘70, Jerry & Marie McIlwain (LSU ’65) & Dale Elliott (Marie’s father, Signalman USN 1943-1945, Pacific Theater), and Dick & Judy Klima (Navy ROTC, Vanderbilt ’69, guests of the Polanskys).

The first night (Wednesday) started with Happy Hour and the Firstie Dinner, which was a traditional southern dinner catered by G’s Country Kitchen. Following dinner we had a program highlighting the history of the Chapter and the members who have contributed to its success. A summary of the founding and early history of the Chapter was distributed, and the Plank Owners were recognized. Those in attendance were Marion Conery (Frank ’58), Jim Connors ’74, Jim & Marie Roberts ’59, Royal & Melinda Connell ’70, and Bart & Jann DallaMura ’54, easily identifiable by the blue and gold ribbons attached to their name tags. Past and present Officers and Directors were recognized, as well as Webmasters, Shipmate Editors, Historians, Auctioneers, Margarita Makers, Cookbook Editors, and all the wives who have provided delicious and plentiful food for all the Come Arounds. Lists of all the Firsities and locations of all the Come Arounds were provided, and a map with pins in all the Come Around locations was on display. Some of the Chapter’s notables were highlighted and the following awards presented:

  • Senior-most active member: Bart DallaMura ‘54
  • Members present at the first Come Around: Marion Conery (Frank ’58), Jim Connors ’74, Jim Roberts ’59, Royal Connell ’70, Bart DallaMura ’54
  • Earliest Firstie present: Jim Roberts ‘59
  • Member who has been Firstie the most times: Jim Connors ‘74 (15 times)
  • Member who has been Firstie the most times at different locations: Walt Baskin ‘59 (7 locations)
  • Member who has been Key West Firstie the most times: Bob Metcalf ’61 (6 times)
  • Member who has attended the most Come Arounds: Jim Roberts ‘59
  • Longest-serving President: Jim Roberts ‘59 (10 years)
  • Other Presidents present: Jay Williams ‘67, Jack Parry ‘67
  • Longest-serving Officer: Glenn Shindler ’64 (Treasurer 16 years)
  • Longest-serving Board Member: Frank Conery (13 years)
  • Current Shipmate Editor: Nita Parry
  • Member who traveled furthest for this Come Around: Glenn Shindler ‘64 (2005 mi)
    • Honorable Mention: DallaMuras ‘54 (1622 mi), Marion Conery (1170 mi)
  • First female member: Pam Rodgers ‘80
  • Firstie for the Come Around with the most members in attendance:
    • Bardstown, KY May 2001 (26 members, Firstie Mike Stevens ’59)
    • Key West 2019 (26 members, Firstie Tom Wolfe ’70)
    • Huntsville 2019 (26 members, Firstie Gary Polansky ’69)
  • Firstie for the most geographically-longest Come Around—Gary Polansky ’69 (2018 Western Caravan—Colorado Springs, Albuquerque, San Diego)
    • Honorable Mention: Civil War Caravan 2007, Firsties Frank Conery ’58 & Charlie Norton ‘62

The program ended with members remembering their favorite Come Arounds and recounting funny things that happened at them.

On Thursday we enjoyed a guided tour of the U.S. Rocket and Space museum and a bus tour of Red Stone Arsenal. After our long day, we relaxed in the pavilion at the campground, made our own subs, and celebrated with anniversary cake.

Friday started with the chapter business meeting where we thanked Secretary Gary Polansky ’69 for his two-terms of service and Jim Connors ‘74 and Dale Gange ‘70 for their service on the Board. The Chapter’s new Secretary as of June 1, 2019 is Scott Rodgers ’78, and Tom Wolfe ’70 and John Madaio ’77 are joining the Board. The remainder of the day was free for sightseeing and/or socializing. We reconvened at the pavilion for Happy Hour and Grill Night, followed by a private program at the Wernher von Braun Planetarium, which was within walking distance of the RV Park. It was the clearest night in two weeks, so conditions were perfect for us to look through the telescopes set up for us.

Saturday was free for sightseeing and/or socializing until Happy Hour, when we enjoyed Tom Wolfe’s Margaritas, followed by an outstanding Mexican/New Mexican buffet featuring enchiladas, tamales, pork carnitas, white chicken chili, and all the traditional fixings and sides. Jim Connors ’74 provided his famous nuclear s’mores for dessert. (Jim also made fires for us each night.) After dinner we played Travel Trivia. The first round was won by Jim Connors ’74 and his partner Jerry McIlwain (LSU ’65). Pam and Scott Rodgers won the second round.

Sunday began with a BLT and Bloody Mary Brunch, followed by Traveling with Technology, where some members shared their favorite programs and apps. The afternoon was open for sightseeing and/or socializing. We had left-overs for dinner, after which some of us went to the Chinese Lantern Display at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. It was a remarkable and beautiful display of about 800 life-size animals from each continent (“lanterns” because they are lit from within).

Monday morning those of us still there met for breakfast bars and biscotti, to disassemble the pavilion, and divide up the left-overs.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Monte Sano State Park and the friendliness of the staff, who welcomed us with a USNA Alumni Association banner hung outside the office.  (When we left, they gave us the banner.) They also provided us with free fire wood for the pavilion. Many of us are hoping we will return in less than 20 years this time!