9/26/08

Singing for Navy Veterans

USS Bennion (DD-662) was a Fletcher-class destroyer of the United States Navy, named for Captain Mervyn S. Bennion (1887–1941).

Bennion was launched 4 July 1943 by Boston Navy Yard, sponsored by Mrs. M. S. Bennion, Captain Bennion's widow; and commissioned 14 December 1943, Commander J. W. Cooper in command.
Bennion departed Philadelphia, Pa. 3 March 1944 escorting Bataan (CVL-29) to the Pacific. Arriving at Pearl Harbor 22 March, she trained and patrolled in Hawaiian waters until 29 May 1944. Moving westward she served as a fighter director and radar picket ship during
the Saipan seizure (15 June–24 July 1944);
Tinian occupation (24 July–2 August),
Palaus occupation (2–29 September);
Leyte invasion (18 October–18 November) during which she was slightly damaged by a shore battery;
Mindoro landings (13–17 December);
Lingayen Gulf landings (7–20 January 1945),
Iwo Jima invasion (18 February–12 March),
Okinawa seizure (26 March–8 June) during which the near miss of a kamikaze suicide plane caused slight damage;
and the 3rd Fleet raids against Japan (18–29 July).
Bennion returned to Puget Sound Navy Yard 27 October 1945 and went out of commission in reserve at Long Beach, Calif., 20 June 1946.


Tonight I had the wonderful opportunity to perform for a group of World War Two Navy Veterans. They made me cry.


Rick Shaffer, who manages the Wallace Inn in Wallace, was going to host the reunion of the USS Bennion at the hotel, and wanted some entertainment for the participants. Rick's father was one of the men who served on the USS Bennion.


So those of us who performed in the August show this past summer decided to come together again and perform our Kelly's Alley Review for the evening. What a delightful time it was.


I do confess, I wasn't that thrilled Friday afternoon to do it. It had been a very long week, and I had been working with 8th graders all day, and I was very tired.


But, by the time we got to the hotel, and had rehearsed a bit before things got started, I was getting excited to perform the show again.


The reunion included men who had served on the USS Bennion, as well as family members. There was probably around 30 in the room.


All summer long we would end the review with a patriotic medley, and the last song we sang was "God Bless The USA". PKR would always invite the veterans in the audience to stand so we could honor them as we sang through the chorus one more time. I never lost it once all summer. I came close, but was always able to keep it together.


But there was something about being in a room with about 15 World War II Navy veterans who stood during the final number, as family members were crying and hugging their fathers and I was singing that last verse with quivering lips and tears coming from my eyes.


Boy, that is a good feeling. It makes all you do feel like it was for a purpose, to honor these gentlemen who risked their lives for our country.

1 comment:

Inland Empire Girl said...

That sounds like a great night. What a treat for them to hear you Kelly's Alley Review also.