USS Floyd B. Parks DD-884
"The Fightin' Floyd B"

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 Hello to all shipmates, friends and our Parks “Family”,                                         February, 2012 Newsletter

Welcome to the middle of winter and by now we are all looking forward to spring.  Flowers, cool breezes (not snow, rain, wind etc), and most importantly, sunshine!  We sure hope this finds all of you safe and warm and most of all healthy and happy. 

First of all we have a message for each of you from Robby.  Robby has asked us to thank everyone very much for all their care, concern, cards, letters and calls during Lois’ hospitalization and finally her passing.  All of you were a great comfort to Robby and his family and they really appreciate it.  Once again you have all come through in a really tough time.  Thank you so much.  He is doing better now and anxious to get out and about and into a much warmer place.  He will be at the San Diego mini reunion and also in Chicago for the Sept. reunion.  Let’s all show up and spend time with him.

And now a message from our assn. Historian, Keith Knoblock….. Association Historian Keith Knoblock is soliciting input for features in the annual reunion memory book.  For the 2012 book, since we will be visiting Great Lakes Naval Training Center in September, he would like to include some of your memories of boot camp.  Two or three paragraphs detailing your boot camp experience, serious or humorous, would be a good fit for this edition.  But the memories don’t have to stop there.  Remembrances of typhoons, the Parks in action during the Korean or Viet Nam conflicts or any other shipboard event which stands out in your memory will be considered.  For example, past memory books have included stories about the 1956 collision with the Columbus, Typhoon Sally and Christmas Eve 1961.  Another possibility is the memories of those left at home during a WestPac deployment.  Keith welcomes your input.

DUES …..Its dues time once again and seems we are all a bit lethargic this year about getting our dues paid.  We are a bit behind so we are asking all of you to please remember to get a check in the mail.  Dues are $15 a year due each Jan. 1st.  Please make check payable to FLOYD B. PARKS ASSN. and mail to Bill Birdsong 17139 Owl Tree Rd. Riverside, CA. 92504.  We will sure appreciate your help here.  If you are not sure of your dues status, please call the Birdsongs at 951-789-5309 and they will look it up for you.  Wouldn’t it be absolutely wonderful if this was the year when all 525 active shipmates paid their dues?  This, my friends, is our 20th year of this assn. and it just seems there is no better time.  To those of you who have already sent in your 2012 dues, we thank you so much and many of you sent a bit extra to help the assn. and we owe you a huge thank you for that.  That helps us to do the little extras for you.  If you are going to attend the mini reunion in San Diego, please DON’T wait until then to pay your dues….we already have plenty to do there and would love to collect dues ahead of that time.  We are looking at having to move another 33 shipmates to the inactive list as they are 3 or more years behind in their dues.  Please don’t let that be you. 

MINI REUNION….this growing “mini” reunion will be held this year on Sat. March 31st at 12 noon at the FRA in Imperial Beach.  Last year we had 75 people attending with 14 states represented.  Let’s see if we can top that this year.  We will have lunch cooked by the FRA for the price of $11 each collected at the door.  This is a really fun 3-4 hours filled with shipmates, buddies, friends and Parks “family”.  Friendship and fun are the agenda for this day.  If you plan to attend the mini reunion, please R.S.V.P. right away to Bill & Sue Birdsong at 951-789-5309 or email  If you haven’t seen San Diego in many years, now is the time to go back in time and also to attend the mini reunion.  We will have lunch, door prizes, ships store, a Parks cake for dessert etc.  Join us on this super day.  Anyone needing a hotel room, please get in touch with us as we are working a deal with the Holiday Inn for rooms at a good price.

MEMORY BOOKS… now most everyone should have their 2011 Memory Books from the DC reunion.  What an awesome job our Historian, Keith Knoblock did on this one.  It is terrific!!  Let us know if you haven’t gotten yours so we can look into it.  If you are enjoying your book, how about letting Keith know about it at .  Everyone appreciates knowing that they have done a good job…..let’s let Keith know.  We know you are all remembering all the good times we had in DC and the super friends who were there with us.  It was great.

This is celebration year.  It was 20 years ago that a sailor from the Parks with a dream of reconnecting with shipmates and buddies, managed to get in touch with enough shipmates to put the very first Floyd B. Parks reunion together.  That shipmate was James “Robby” Robbins and with help from Tom Wyatt, Herman Carter and many more, we’ve come a long ways.  Let’s all be in Chicago to celebrate this together.  Robby will be there…..will you?

The very first thing we want to let you all know about the reunions is that this year we will start a new program.  We realize that we are all 20 years older than when this reunion was started.  Walking is just not an option for many of us.  But we still want all of you to feel free to come to the reunions and enjoy being with your shipmates.  We will from now on have the hospitality room open and serving drinks while bus trips are going on.  So if you can’t or simply don’t want to go on the trips, your hospitality room will be open and someone will be in charge and fixing drinks.  We will also have a few board/card games available to keep you busy.  Last year in DC, several came and stayed in the hotel during bus trips…..made us realize that we need to change it up a bit so that everyone feels comfortable coming to the reunion and will have something to do during activities.  We already have our first volunteer to open the hospitality room and run the bar while others are gone……..”Robby” said he would love to do that so he will be in charge.  We may even have some dominoes to see who can win the “Mexican Train”.

This year we will remember your boot camp days.  Those days of long ago, when our shipmates looked like the “babies” that today’s recruits look like.    We will attend a boot camp graduation at the Great Lakes Training Center, take a windshield tour of the base, have lunch at “Port O Call” on the base, go through the base museum and stop at the Base Exchange where we will all be allowed to go in and shop until we drop.  If you graduated from boot camp at Great Lakes, please let us know.  We are keeping a list of everyone who graduated there and would love to add your name to this list.  We need to know your name and the year you were in boot camp at Great Lakes.  Get in touch with the Birdsongs please.   This trip will take place on Friday, Sept. 14th.  We will continue to celebrate boot camp and our shipmates at a dinner in our hospitality room at the hotel on Friday night.  Do you remember “dungarees”?  Sure hope so because we would love for each of you (guys & gals both) to wear a “dungaree” shirt to dinner… these are better known as a “chambray” shirt or light blue denim shirt.  Remember, this is NOT mandatory…..just a suggestion to complete the evening.  Now, a project for all shipmates.  Because we are going back in time to boot camp days, we would like help from every single shipmate getting this newsletter.  Please go through your old photos and find a picture of you (by yourself) in uniform from your boot camp days or there abouts.  We would like for you to make us a COPY of that picture in either a 5x7 or 8x10 size and write on the back, your name, the location of the boot camp you attended and the year you were there.  Then mail that COPY to Bill & Sue Birdsong 17139 Owl Tree Rd. Riverside, CA. 92504.  We don’t have the time be responsible for original pictures or to send them back to everyone so please make sure you send us the copy.  We are going to use these at the Chicago reunion and they will represent all of our shipmates at the beginning of their Navy service.  What a great way to honor them.  You can make these copies on your computer and if you don’t have a computer, then ask your kids or grandkids as they know it all.  Or take your picture to your local Wal-Mart and they will do it for you.  We would like for our Parks widows to please send their husbands pictures too…..they are also very important to us.  Please be a part of our honor/memory wall.  Send your pictures now.  Photo paper is best and please, please, do NOT email your picture to the Birdsongs.  This is your project to take care of for us.  Thank you so much everyone. 

We are going on a luncheon cruise on Lake Michigan on Saturday.  We will go to the Navy Pier for a hour before boarding where you can shop, sit and watch the water, or have a cup of coffee while you wait to board the ship.  Not too much walking on this day.  We know that we are all slowing down so we are trying to keep
the walking to a minimum.  This will be an easy day for you and you won’t have to board the buses until about 9:45 a.m. so you can sleep in a bit.

Sunday will be your men’s assn. meeting, followed by our worship service with our assn. Chaplain, Harry Brantley.  Then on Sunday evening we will wind up this week of fun, friendship, and the best destroyer reunion ever, with our banquet dinner.  Monday morning we will all check out of the hotel and say good bye for another year.  It’s a sad day for many of us.  So we are going to ask you to make your hotel reservations as soon as possible and the hotel has a great cancellation policy…there is no penalty if you cancel your reservation within 24 hours of your scheduled arrival.  So reserving early helps us a lot and won’t hurt you a bit.  Here is your hotel info:
HOTEL PHONE….847-945-3400
Please use central reservations to make your room reservation.  Be sure to tell them you are with the “Floyd B. Parks Reunion” to get our $70 a night room rate.  There are only 6 smoking rooms in this hotel and 3 of those are gone already.  So if you are a smoker you should make your reservation right away.  The Parks assn. “blocked” 85 rooms for this group, but last year we occupied over 130 rooms.  Lets get reservations made real soon so we can figure out how many more we need to get before the hotel sells them to someone else.  Be sure to fly into O’Hare Airport……DO NOT FLY INTO MIDWAY!!  When you get your luggage, you will call “303 Taxi” and they will tell you where to wait and they will come pick you up and bring you to the hotel for the price of $33 for up to 4 people.  Don’t panic!!! We got the room rate dropped from $85 a night to $70 a night so you could pay for the taxi.  Here is the phone number for “303 Taxi”……847-303-0303.  Please do not run out the door and jump into the first taxi that you come to… will cost you over twice as much.  The hotel is a really nice Hyatt Hotel and we think you are going to like it.  As this is being written, the Hyatt is undergoing a $5 million upgrade.  Every room will have a flat screen tv, refrigerator, hair dryer, iron, coffee pot, etc.  Nice rooms.  The restaurant serves really good food and the chef is terrific.  You can have breakfast buffet for $9.99 per person.  That should get us all of to a great start.  Make absolutely sure that you tell Central Reservations that you will be checking out on MONDAY, SEPT. 17TH. This is important so you don’t wind up without a room on Sunday night.

FISHING TRIP…..we have a super shipmate who has graciously volunteered to put together a fishing trip for anyone who wants to go on Wednesday, Sept. 12th.  This is Wayne Priddy and we really want to thank Wayne for putting this together and handling the entire trip.  Here is the info Wayne has sent us: 

“I finally heard back from the charter captain and the new cost for 2012 is $420.00 for 6 people and $400.00 if we only have 4 people.  He cleans the fish and can work with us to have the fish packed in dry ice and shipped to their homes at the end of the day.  He can offer two start time at 0600-0700 and 1200 noon and if we need two boats he can make arrangements for that as well.  The catch limit is 5 fish per person per day and we have the chance to catch Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Brown Trout, Lake Trout and Steelhead.  The only thing we would need to make sure we have are our fishing license for each person, any food we would want and whatever we would like to drink.  Everyone please contact me as soon as possible so we can reserve the boat(s).
They will need an Illinois fishing license and they can be bought on line in advance for the day that we will be fishing.  They also are available to purchase on the boat the day we go fishing.”

If you are interested in this fishing trip please call Wayne at 574-440-4618 or email him at
This is a great opportunity for many of you fishermen. 

And another volunteer…….Dick Kanoski (the great guy he is) has volunteered to handle a golf game for anyone wanting to play, on Thursday, Sept. 13th.  So if you are interested in playing golf, please contact Dick at 815-939-2961 or email him at .  So you can have two days of fun before our assn. activities even start.  So come early and stay late for this reunion….there are tons of things to do in the Chicago area that we simply can’t take you to do.  There is a list of many of these things in this newsletter. 

BUS TRANSPORTAION.  For the last few years we have had virtually no problems to speak of and for that we are really thankful.  One of the ongoing concerns we have is keeping everyone together and accounted for.  Your assn. officers each take a bus to be in charge of counting heads and filling the seats.  To make their job easier we would very much like for you to please return to the same bus that you got off of.  There is usually a number on each bus so be sure to look at that number and return to that bus.  Please don’t change buses as that messes up your in charge officers count.  We DON’T assign seats and we won’t start that process.  We have plenty to do without that headache, but we would prefer that you get back on the same bus each time.  Thank you for your help here. 

We are looking into finding a medical supply where those of you who need wheelchairs, can rent them.  We think we have one located and more info will be in the May newsletter.  In the meantime, to help with the buses, we need to know if you will be using a wheelchair regardless if it’s yours or you will need to rent it.  Then we also need to know if you will need to rent a chair.  The rental co. needs to know approximately how many chairs we will need.  Thanks for your help here.

We can use all the help we can get in locating new shipmates and bringing back inactive shipmates.  If you would like to have an inactive list to help work on this project, just let us know and we’ll see that you get it.  We are yearly going down in numbers due to many things and we certainly don’t want to lose any more to the inactive list. 

Everyone remember your dues, a chambray shirt, and right away your boot camp picture.  Whether you can come to the Chicago reunion or not, we still want to honor and remember you on our honor/memory wall.  Call right away to let the guys know if you want to go fishing or golfing or both. 

As this newsletter was being written, we got word of the death of Ron Cornelius.  It was very sudden and unexpected.  Ron (Parks ’59-’62) was married to Sue Birdsongs sister, Pat.  So Ron & Pat & Sue & Bill all got to attend the reunions together and make family time of the reunions also.  Ron will truly be missed by many.  Cards can go to Pat Cornelius & Family 815 E. Mule Deer Rd. Central, UT. 84722.  Pat & family have asked that anyone wishing to send flowers or make a donation somewhere, to please send a donation to the Floyd B. Parks assn. in memory of Ron.

Once again we will say goodbye for now.  There will be several “Sues News” updates between now and the May newsletter.  If you aren’t getting the “Sues News” emails, get in touch with Sue Birdsong and your name will be added to the list.  All the latest info goes our in these updates.  Everyone stay safe and healthy and have a terrific spring.  COME TO THE MINI!  Great hugs to everyone.


                                                       Your Parks Association

BILL BIRDSONG                                 LARRY WHITE                   JAMES “ROBBY” ROBBINS
SECRETARY/TREASURER               PRESIDENT                          ASSN. ADVISOR
17139 OWL TREE RD.                        616-364-8959                         530-283-2165                    





CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN……..acres of formal gardens designed by the world’s leading landscape architects.  Surrounded by 81 acres of lakes & rivers, and featuring nine islands and 10 bridges, the Garden presents a landscape of stunning color, texture and beauty 12 months a year.

HARLEY DAVIDSON MUSEUM… Milwaukee, WI. about 90 miles from Chicago…..Elvis Presleys motorcycle…oldest Harley in existence, restaurants and shops.

GURNEE MILLS MALL….tons of shopping, food courts, restrooms etc.  The girls will love this.

VOLO AUTO MUSEUM…….something for the guys…..worlds most famous tv and movie cars including the “Batmobile”, Indiana Jones’ car, Miami Vice car, Days of Thunder car, and the world largest T-Rex on wheels.  They have a military museum, combat zone, and military vehicles.  There is Michael Jordans Bentley GT, Rod Stewarts Viper, Princess Dianas Rolls, and Nicolas Cages Ferrari.  Collector cars and classic cars.  Restaurants and malls for shopping.  About 50 miles from Chicago.

JELLY BELLY CENTER… here’s a winner.  Full throttle fun on the free Jelly Belly Express Train Tour.  A 35 minute indoor train tour where you will see Jelly Belly bean mosaic artwork, giant 3D Jelly Belly beans suspended above as you pass through “Candy Alley”.    A chorus –line of animated Jelly Belly beans dances on the way to the final stop at the shipping dept.   Then returns to the main station where you’ll be sweetly rewarded with a free bag of Jelly Belly beans. 

LAMBS FARM….Lambs Farm is a non-profit organization that helps more than 260 people with developmental disabilities have more meaningful work and life experiences.  They learn valuable vocational skills while providing visitors with quality service in their many businesses.  When customers purchase a gift from one of the shops or dine in the restaurant, they provide valuable support for their programs.  Country Store and Bakery, pet shop, thrift shop, farmyard, Country Inn Restaurant. 

CHOCOLATE FACTORY TOUR…….Sue Birdsongs personal favorite!!!!!  Hear a brief history of the candy kitchen, see incredible chocolates being produced, smell the chocolate aroma and finally taste a sample of the gourmet chocolate.  This is a MUST!!  Located in Buffalo Grove, IL. 

LYNFRED WINERY…Largest continuously operating winery in the state of IL.  Taste award winning wines, sample gourmet food products and shop for specialty gifts.  If they have Zinfandel, this too could be a MUST!!!

TOMMY GUNS GARAGE…audience interactive roaring 20’s dinner show.  Comedy and dangerous fun with “Da Gangsters & Flappers”.  Chicago’s original speakeasy.  We understand this is a terrific show so get your group together and make it a point to go see this show.  The prices include dinner and the show.

RUSSELL MILITARY MUSEUM….dedicated to preserving, restoring and displaying U.S. Military History.  Over 100 vehicles on display.  Gift shop with t-shirts, posters and souvenirs.

WILLIS TOWER….previously the Sears Tower.  Go up, look down, get sick!


AND FINALLY…..we think there are a couple of casinos in the area for you gamblers. 

probably be the only time to see Chicago.  Take advantage of it and plan ahead. 




Have you taken a walk down Memory Lane lately? Lois and I have been going through  old pictures and memorabilia collected over the years we have shared. My goodness...the people, places, and things that have faded with time. The pictures with no names and no clue as to who the people were or even where they were taken baffle us.

As we reflect on sixty years of marriage, four children, and quite a few duty stations, many things come to life….others have faded and shall forever remain in obscurity. We began our journey that 4th day of August in 1951 when we were married. Our first duty station was an Admiral’s Staff in Heidelberg, Germany. Loads of pictures taken there.

There were the four years we lived in Virginia and served with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. There was the birth of our first child, a son, and the 1957 promotion to Chief Petty Officer. Pictures of the many monuments and memorials, as well as the visits to Arlington National Cemetery, and the trips we took… all captured on film. 

Next was a tour of duty in Madrid, Spain when the Navy was building the naval and air bases there. Many trips within Spain and the birth of our second child, a daughter (Pam), and the pictures taken there filled one large box.

Then came a culture shock – orders to Key West, Florida. There were pictures of the last two children a son and a daughter. Pictures of the old Brantley family homestead where my grandfather, a Southern Baptist preacher, had come by ox-drawn wagon in 1875 settled and raised 16 children. More pictures than we can count.
Finally, duty aboard PARKS. Many more memories and pictures. Our annual reunions remind us that, if we haven’t taken a trip down Memory Lane, it may be time to do so!  

TAPS: Since our last newsletter we’ve lost two more crewmembers: Richard Lizarrago and Dalton L. Kuder, & Ron Cornelius.   May God their souls!

For God and Country!

                                                                                 Harry W. Brantley, MS, MA                                                                                                        
                                                                                 YNCM, U.S. Navy (Retired)
                                                                                 PARKS Association Chaplain