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More than 40 years after serving on the USS Caliente (Cal) and after reading, in various military publications about ships' reunions, Bob LeGacy (BM2, 1943-1945) thought there should be a reunion of the Cal's ship's crew. Bob told his wife Nancy about his aspiration and, after listening to his mumblings and expressions of exasperation, Nancy suggested he take the lead and put notices in the various publications about having a reunion. Bob did in 1987 and 1988. That thought was the start of the formation of the USS Caliente Association.
Joe Benziger (PHM2, 1945-1946) was one of the first to respond to Bob. John Creedon (QM1, 1943-1945), prompted by his high school classmate Camil Spiecens, told Bob Define (QM1, 1943-1945) and they both responded. Benjamin Grenberg was also instrumental in the success of the USS Caliente's 1st reunion. Another response was received from gunnery officer Edward M. Whitlock, who sadly passed away prior to the reunion being organized. Bob received interest notifications from 40 or more shipmates.
A letter, signed by Bob LeGacy, John Creedon and Bob Define, was sent out on 6 February 1989 informing the respondents of a planned reunion. A follow-up letter was sent out with the original signees and the additional endorsement of communications officer Ben Greenberg, (LTJG, 1943-1945) indicating that there would be a reunion. New York City was chosen to be the site and John Creedon assumed responsibility for all the planning.
On 28-30 April 1989 the first reunion of USS Caliente crew members was held at the Vista, a luxury hotel in downtown Manhattan. Almost 45 years after WWII, 15 veterans, including six officers and 12 wives/companions got together. Activities included a helicopter ride over Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty and a buffet lunch during a boat ride on the East and Hudson Rivers. The reunion culminated with a banquet, with music and dancing, held in the original World Trade Center. Attendees included Pappy Nichols (LCDR, 1943-1945), Fletcher Gordy (YN1, 1943-1944, Ciss and Frank Lang (LCDR, 1943-1945), Harold Hainebach (YN1, 1943-1945) and Trudy and Bud Lynch (LT, 1943-1945).
Coincidentally, the fleet was in New York to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the inauguration of President George Washington. The New York Daily News devoted two full pages to the inauguration celebration and included a full page-length column, under the caption "OLD DAYS SAIL BACK FOR CREW", describing the USS Caliente reunion. It included a quote from Bob LeGacy stating "We put this together because the guys are dying off like flies" (Bob certainly had a way with words when describing his shipmates).
The reunion was a great success and all agreed subsequent reunions should be held.
In September 2014, two shipmates who attended the first reunion in New York attended the 19th reunion in Chicago. They were Joe Benziger and John Creedon. Fred Griffith (QM3, 1944-1946), Ed Ruimerman (FN, 1945-1946) and JC Van Deusen (SFC, 1961-1965), all WWII vets, also attended the Chicago reunion. Bob LeGacy and his wife Nancy were unable to attend but were extremely happy to hear that five WWII vets attended and that his dream of "getting shipmates together" was still succeeding.
All present Association members thank Bob and his wife Nancy for their efforts and diligence in initiating the creation of an Association that exists today and whose existence, I'm sure, has long outlived Bob's initial expectations.
In response to Bob's 1989 quote in New York Daily News - "they aren't dead yet."
At the 2015 reunion in New Orleans the membership voted to allow an executive committee to run the Association. Having more persons involved in organizing reunions, finding new members and providing assistance to a committee chair will greatly assist Providing a solid future for the Association.
Committee Chair: Jeff Sturgis
Executive Committee: Mike Copeland, Dave Ludeman, Greg Perett, Tom Rawlinson, Steve Selzer
Treasurer: Pat Hurton
Jeff can be reached at email@example.com
Annual dues should be submitted by 15 January of each year. Keep your membership current. If you haven't sent in your $10.00, please do so now. Mail your check to:
USS Caliente Association
c/o Pat Hurton
156 Greenfield Drive
Chico, CA 95973-0185
For items or pictures of permanent interest to Pat Hurton firstname.lastname@example.org (website) or Karl Seitz at email@example.com (Pipeline)
The crews' lists (link above) are a compilation of all know sailors who served aboard the USS Caliente. Please send any additions or corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org
The email list is all known email addresses of Cal crew members. Please send any additions or corrections to email@example.com