September 15-21, 2003
11th annual USS Floyd B. Parks reunion was held September 15-21,
2003 in Charleston, SC. Approximately 200 shipmates, spouses and
friends were in attendance, including several first-time attendees.
As usual, the organizing committee did a superb job putting together
a festive agenda to ensure our enjoyment of this historic and charming
southern city. Planned
excursions included visits to the beautiful Magnolia Plantation
and Gardens, Patriots Point and its collection of historic ships,
historic Fort Sumter and the fascinating South Carolina Aquarium.
always the popular hospitality room was in service and well attended
offering the opportunity to visit and reminisce with shipmates-new
and old.The reunion highlight was again the Sunday banquet dinner
that concluded with the always-popular blockbuster raffle. This
year's reunion was formally dedicated that night to Capt. John W.
O'Neill, the Park's commanding officer 1960-62.
2003 USS Floyd B. Parks Reunion Charleston,
Dedicated to Captain John W. O'Neill (USN Ret.)
Commanding Officer 1960-1962
The officers of the USS Floyd B. Parks Association
decided it would be appropriate to dedicate the2003-ship's reunion
to Captain John W. O'Neill, the outstanding commanding officer of
the Floyd B. Parks from 1960 to 1962. Health considerations prevented
Jack and his wife, Bertha, from attending the reunion, but the presentation
speech and award of a plaque commemorating the occasion went forward
at the banquet. Keith Knoblock's presentation was taped and Bill
Birdsong accepted the plaque on behalf of Captain O'Neill.
To formalize and personalize the event for
the O'Neills, a surprise mini-reunion was organized to take place
November 8, 2003, at Bob Bahler's beautiful w-Some in San Diego.
Captain O'Neill, seven of his shipmates and spouses attended the
On the pretense of taking Jack and Bertha
to lunch, Bill and Sue Birdsong picked them up and drove to Bob's
house where the O'Neills expected to be joined by Bob at lunch.
Instead, when the O'Neills walked into the house there was total
surprise at what greeted them.
Lunch, prepared by Bob for his 14 guests,
was followed by some brief remarks by Keith, a viewing of the reunion
tape presentation and a formal presentation of the plaque to Jack
to make it "official." Bob Bahler followed up an afternoon
of camaraderie with preparation of another excellent meal (several
steps above what he did aboard ship according to some of those in
Captain O'Neill was one of the catalysts
of what has made the ship's reunions possible. Because of his leadership
and presence, shipmates from more than 40 years -ago have remained
in close touch during the ensuing years. Not only did these shipmates
respect and feel a close attachment to the captain and the ship,
they developed close bonds among themselves which endure to this
day. If anything, these bonds have become stronger over the years.
Moments, memories and shared experiences bring shipmates together.
In this case, there are two things in common, the captain and the
ship. It is wonderful to be able to experience the sentimentality
and fond attachment we have for one another largely because of the
influence of Captain O'Neill.
Submitted by Robby Robbins
SC Reunion photos
Book Honoring Captain O'Neill