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USS Conserver 2024 Reunion Recap

Date: April 24-29, 2024

Location: Hilton Garden Inn Savannah Airport, Savannah, GA

The Conserver family gathered in Savannah, GA, to celebrate our 11th reunion. A total of 44 attended: 24 crew members and 20 guests.

To kick things off, we held another Meet and Greet in the hospitality room on Thursday evening. It was was well attended. Everyone enjoyed the crispy, pan-fried pot stickers with sweet chili sauce, chicken tenders with dipping sauce and crispy vegetable spring rolls, beer, wine, and soda. Old friends and shipmates reconnected and new friendships were formed.

The hospitality room was the gathering spot and frequently had a dozen or more shipmates socializing, reminiscing, and comparing Conserver experiences. A rousing game of Ship’s Captain and Crew was popular one evening.

On Friday, nearly all of those in attendance gathered at the city hall landing for a 90-minute narrated Savannah Riverboat cruise on the Savannah River. The majority sat in the open air of the upper deck to enjoy the beautiful blue skies and moderate temperature. The narrator for the cruise was well-versed in Savannah’s Civil War history, the shipping industry, and numerous other historical facts about Savannah. His presentation reflected his obvious love of sharing his knowledge with everyone.

On Saturday morning, Thayes Hower organized a Ladies’ Breakfast at the Another Broken Egg restaurant in nearby Pooler, GA. The ladies used the hotel shuttle to transport them to and from the restaurant. Eight attended and enjoyed a great breakfast and a welcome respite from the continuous sea stories bantered about in the hospitality room.

A business meeting was held prior to the Saturday banquet. The results of the 2025 reunion city survey were revealed.

Colorado Springs, CO, will be the location for the 2025 reunion.

Potential locations for the 2026 reunion were chosen:

  • San Diego, CA
  • Reno, NV
  • Napa, CA

Another email survey will be forthcoming to select the 2026 city from the three cities listed above. Depending on the city that’s selected and hotel availability, the reunion will be in late April/early May or late May/early June.

After the business meeting was adjourned separate group photos of the shipmates and their guests were taken by Romondo Davis. They are posted on the Conserver Facebook group page along with numerous photos taken by other attendees.

Keith Hansen circulated the room selling tickets for the 50/50 raffle. First time attendee, Merle Melling (RD2 1955-56), was asked to draw the winning ticket. The lucky winner of $250 was first-time attendee, Danielle Rodak.

I opened the banquet by leading the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. I spoke briefly about Carl Weegar who passed away last fall and then directed everyone’s attention to the Missing Man Table and the list of all who have passed over the years. We paused for a moment of silence to reflect and honor those on the list.

John Ackerman’s guest, Kay Starr, gave the blessing prior to the Southern Treat buffet dinner of Chicken Marsala, Beef Tips, Mashed potatoes, Buttered Corn, Green Beans and Apple Pie.

I had the pleasure of presenting award plaques to the following shipmates:

  • First reunion: Tim Heil, Jim Rodak, and Merle Melling
  • Fifth reunion: John Eubanks and Ben Lokey
  • Tenth reunion: Keith Hansen, Barry Wilk, Dale Hower, and Lee Samuelson
  • Oldest: Merle Melling (age 92)
  • Youngest: Fred Stevens
  • Traveled farthest: Ben Lokey
  • Served earliest: Merle Melling
  • Served Latest: Jim Rodak and Pistol Hurst

First-time attendees were invited to stand and introduce themselves and their guests to let everyone know their rate while onboard, how they heard about the reunion, and their current occupation.

Dale and Rita Geldert conducted their Navy Trivia Quiz, a feature at four previous reunions. As always, the rules of the quiz poked fun at Navy Divers and various rates and ranks. Each table answered the multiple choice and fill in the blank questions. As in previous years, the questions were difficult and the answers sometimes hotly contested. Dale did throw in a couple easy questions. The quiz is always great fun and as always the highlight of the banquet. Everyone at the winning table received an engraved USS Conserver tumbler.

Numerous items were donated for the silent auction and were on display throughout the reunion.

After the quiz, the silent auction was closed out. The auction and generous cash donations added $870 to the reunion fund. The donated auction items, cash donations, and generosity of those who bid on the items added to the reunion fund and have helped keep the registration fee at it’s current low of $60. Bravo Zulu to all who contributed items and made bids.

Romondo Davis took numerous photos of the attendees and the award winners. His photos are posted below and on the Conserver Facebook page as well as other photos taken by those in attendance.

Although many of you are not on Facebook, I urge you to join and become a member of the Conserver Facebook page. You’ll have access to the thousands of photos posted by members since 2013. Additionally, it’s a great place to reconnect with shipmates and keep abreast of future reunions.

Reunion planning has been turned over to Pistol Hurst, who did the hotel research for the San Antonio reunion in 2016, and Lee Samuelson, who coordinated the Charleston reunion in 2015. I urge you to consider joining them as committee members.

Speaking for myself, Keith Hansen, and my wife, Thayes Hower, it’s been a pleasure coordinating Conserver reunions for the past few years. Keith and I joined the reunion committee at the Las Vegas reunion in 2014. Thayes was drafted into the committee at the San Antonio reunion in 2016 by then chairman, Kevin Weaver, when he learned that she had event planning experience at one of her previous jobs. We’ve all made dozens of friends over the years and will continue to attend reunions to make even more.

We’re looking forward to Colorado Springs and being able to relax and spend more time with shipmates and their guests.

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USS Conserver 2023 Reunion Recap

Date: April 26-30, 2023

Location: Holiday Inn & Suites
Phoenix-Mesa/Chandler, AZ

Number of Attendees:

  • 23 Crew Members
  • 21 Guests
  • Total: 44

The Conserver family gathered once again for the 10th reunion. Attendees and guests were free to spend their time socializing with shipmates and guests, new and old, and to enjoy visiting the area’s attractions. This year we had an informal Meet and Greet in the hospitality room on Thursday evening. We enjoyed hors d’oeuvres catered by the hotel. Jim and Colette Davenport generously donated a case of assorted wines from their Hard Hat Winery inventory.

Continue reading USS Conserver 2023 Reunion Recap

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2022 USS Conserver Reunion

Photos by Romondo Davis

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2017 Conserver Reunion — Things to do in San Diego


Balboa Park
Mission San Diego de Alcala
Torrey Pines
La Jolla Cove
Mission Beach Boardwalk
Old Town San Diego
Seaport Village
Spruce Street Suspension Bridge
Little Italy
Cabrillo National Monument
Point Loma, San Diego
La Jolla Shores, San Diego
Spanish Landing
Scripps Institute coastal reserve
Coronado Island visitor center, San Diego
Coronado Island Visitors Center
Coronado Beach Continue reading 2017 Conserver Reunion — Things to do in San Diego

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2016 Reunion Recap

Click here for details on the upcoming 2017 Reunion

The 2016 Conserver reunion was held April 7–9 in San Antonio. In attendance were 28 shipmates and 21 guests who enjoyed the accommodations at El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel, visiting local attractions, reconnecting with old friends, meeting new ones, and studying the great detail in the USS Conserver model — a project directed by James Richardson and unveiled at the reunion. Continue reading 2016 Reunion Recap

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Charleston Attractions

Great things to do in Charleston.

The reunion committee hopes for a large turnout. If you are planning to attend and haven’t submitted the official reunion registration form, click here now and get that done. Be sure to submit your registration fee and book your hotel room.

Looking east on Market Street towards Charleston Market image

Lee Samuelson image
Lee Samuelson, Reunion Host

We are fortunate to have a shipmate and committee member — Lee Samuelson — who lives in the Charleston area. As official reunion host, he will be able to answer questions and make suggestions about how to get the most out of your visit to Charleston.

The committee, with Lee’s direction, will compile and make available a comprehensive list of group and independent activities from which to choose. It will include some of what you see on post; I’m providing this as both a preview for those who have already registered for the reunion, and incentive for those who have not. I hope you will browse this page, make note of my insights into activities and attractions I enjoy, and share with shipmates who need a little extra push to convince them that the reunion will not only be fun, but that Charleston is a wonderful place to visit.

Lee's graduation from CSU image
Our youngest son graduated from Charleston Southern University in May of 2012

My responsibility as a member of the 2015 reunion committee is communication. I thought it appropriate to share some of what Charleston offers. I know a good amount about this wonderful southeast community because I’ve visited there a dozen times over the past six plus years; my youngest son attending college there and then settling down nearby with his South Carolina-born wife.

My wife and I love Charleston, and have taken advantage of our visits there to experience as much of the area as possible. This post will highlight some of our favorite places and activities in hopes that it help you get the most out of your visit. And if you’re on the fence about attending — if hanging out with a bunch of virtual shipmates isn’t enough — knowing a little about what Charleston has to offer could push you over the top.

Patriots Point

USS Yorktown at Patriots Point
Photo taken from a sailboat harbor tour described below.

Patriots Point is probably the biggest attraction for a group of old sailors. The reunion committee is organizing a visit as our main group activity on Friday, April 24. Plans for our visit are still being made, but I can tell you that we will have plenty of time to tour the ships, submarine and other exhibits, and we’ll eat lunch off metal trays in the USS Yorktown CPO Galley. Be sure to sign up for this outing in the reunion hospitality room.

Visit the Patriots Point website.

Charleston Historic City Market

Sweetgrass Basket Vendor at Charleston City Market imageThe photo at the right shows one of several vendors that sell intricate and artistic baskets woven from sweetgrass. You’ll also find some of these sweetgrass artisans along nearby streets if you venture out beyond the historic district and into the residential neighborhood just a few blocks to the south.

But in the market, besides sweetgrass baskets, you’ll find a wide variety of shops and kiosks selling everything from t-shirts, to jams, to jewelry and more. The three block long market is packed at peak hours with tourists looking for bargains on low-country souvenirs. This is an especially unique shopping experience.

Visit the Charleston Historic City Market website.

Horse-drawn Carriage Tour

Charleston Carriage Tours imageI never took one of these tours because I’ve had some pretty knowledgable personal guides with me. I can tell you that the self-guided walking tours are a good way to do it if you have the time and energy, but if you prefer to learn about the history of this beautiful and historic city in comfort, you’ll get it more efficiently if you go on one of these horse-drawn tours.

The tour guides know their stuff and treat their passengers to the highlights of the city’s history as well as humor and interesting trivia.

Visit the Palmetto Carriage Tours or the Old South Carriage Tours website.

The Battery and White Point Gardens

On the way to Battery Park imageWith a history that includes the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and pirates, The Battery and White Point Gardens, also known as The Battery, is a great destination by car, but is even better by foot. Starting at the west end of Charleston City Market, walk straight south on Meeting Street to the park. The less-than-one mile walk takes you through a great neighborhood of beautiful, well-kept southern-style homes.

Charleston Waterfront Park imageThe park features cannons from the Civil War artillery battery and a wonderful panorama of the south and east areas of the harbor. And to make your walk even better, I recommend returning to the market via the shore, heading north on East Battery Street, which turns in to East Bay Street, and turning right on East Adgers Wharf through Waterfront Park. I estimate the round trip to be 2 miles, exercise I will surely need after so much reunion revelry.

Deb and I will probably include this in our Saturday free time activities in downtown Charleston; if you’re interested, let me know and we’ll be glad to take you along.

Visit the White Point Gardens website and The Battery on Wikipedia.

College of Charleston

College of Charleston imageAbout a half mile walk from Charleston City Market is the beautiful campus of the College of Charleston, the oldest college in South Carolina. Unlike almost every other college or university campus you’ve seen, this one retains the old southern charm it must have had when it was founded in 1770. The buildings, many of them resembling large residences, and the ample shade trees draped with Spanish moss, make a stroll through the campus a visual pleasure.

On your walk from the market to the college, you’ll pass through the retail district of downtown Charleston, where you’ll find numerous stores, shops and restaurants.

Visit the College of Charleston website.

Blue Horizon Harbor Yacht Tour

Blue Horizon Harbor Yacht Tour imageShipmate Jim Richardson has offered to provide a day of bareboat sailing on Saturday, April 24th. He will be recruiting sailors among us to crew this craft, hopefully a Bavaria 39 foot. A signup form will be provided on this website beginning in March.

With that said, if you prefer not to be a part of this salty crew, but have interest in enjoying on a more leisurely guided tour, I suggest the Blue Horizon. I discovered this option when my son treated Deb and me to it as his Father’s Day gift in 2012. Captain Paul Mitchell and his wife provided a grand tour of the harbor, pointing out significant Charleston landmarks and offered insights in Charleston’s nautical history.


South Carolina Aquarium imageI visited the South Carolina Aquarium on my very first visit to Charleston, a trip dedicated to registering my youngest in college. He chose Charleston Southern University because of their biology program; he had set his sights on majoring in marine biology. (He ended up earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Theatre.)

We found this aquarium’s 60 unique habitats and 385,000-gallon Great Ocean Tank to be as enjoyable as what we saw at the world famous Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Visit the South Carolina Aquarium website.

Lianos Dos Palmas Cigar Shop

Lianos Dos Palmas Cigar Shop imageI don’t buy a lot of cigars, but when I do, I buy them at Lianos Dos Palmas in downtown Charleston. If you’ve ever been in a cigar shop, the first thing you notice is the cigar smoke. Not so much here; because they roll them fresh on the premises, the smell of fresh tobacco is prevalent. Walk in and watch the expert roller at work. The cigars they sell are high quality and very reasonably priced. Let me know if you’re interested when we’re in downtown Charleston and I’ll take you there. Otherwise, check their website for a map. It’s just a few blocks from City Market.
Visit the Lianos Dos Palmas Cigar Shop website.

Charleston Area Beaches

Isle of Palms Beach imageThe weather is not likely to be anything like it was when I took this photo at Isle of Palms in June, 2012. We were in Charleston for my son’s graduation from Charleston Southern University. If you’re inclined to visit the beach, even if it’s just to take off your shoes and walk along the sand, there are two beaches within 20 miles of downtown Charleston.

Visit the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Isle of Palms page or Folly Beach page.

Old Sheldon Church Ruins

Old Sheldon Church Ruins imageDeb and I visited this site on one of our southeast road trips on our way back from visiting friends in Hilton Head. It’s over an hour away from the hotel, but if you appreciate pre-independence history and architecture, you’ll enjoy visiting these ruins. The church was built between 1745 and 1753; the walls and columns still stand. The original church was burned by the British during the Revolutionary War and rebuilt in 1826. It was burned again in 1865 by General Sherman in his march from Georgia to South Carolina.

The grounds and the ruins are one of the most picturesque scenes I’ve seen in my many travels to South Carolina and Georgia. I rank this site right up there with God’s beautiful sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean. Be sure to take your camera if you visit the Old Sheldon Church Ruins.

Visit the South Carolina Information Highway website.

Angel Oak

Angel Oak Tree imageJust 11 miles from the hotel and approximately half way between the hotel and the Charleston Tea Plantation, Angel Oak helps make the drive worth it. This tree is estimated to be over 1,500 years old and its canopy covers 17,000 square feet. It’s pretty amazing.

Visit the Charleston Parks Conservancy Angel Oak page website.

Charleston Tea Plantation

Charleston Tea Plantation imageNow, my wife had to drag me on this one. So guys, if you owe your wife a favor, consider the Charleston Tea Plantation.

The 20-mile drive from the Holiday Inn Riverview takes you through the typical low country terrain and scenery, something you should experience if you are from west of the Great Smokies. The plantation is owned by the Bigelow Tea Company and is the only working tea plantation in the United States. Your visit includes a guided trolley ride through the 127 acre farm, a visit to their high tech propagation farm (my horticulturist wife was really excited about this attraction) and a chance to see the extensive tea processing plant. The tour ends in the visitors center where you can shop teas to please any taste.

Visit the Charleston Tea Plantation website.

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Registration is Open for the Conserver Reunion

We’re only five months away from the third annual USS Conserver Reunion — in Charleston, South Carolina this coming April, 23 – 26.

The reunion will be held in the beautiful Holiday Inn Riverview, overlooking the Ashley River and located just 1.5 miles from the Historic District of Downtown Charleston. Activities include a tour of Patriot’s Point, the home of the USS Yorktown and other ships and exhibits, as well as a boat trip to Fort Sumpter, known as the place the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

A hospitality room will be available for getting caught up with former shipmates and meeting new ones, and we’re planning a sit-down dinner for Saturday night.

Please register now! The reunion committee needs to know who be attending and how many guests we’ll have. We’ve provided a registration form on the Conserver website. Even if you’ve already told us you’ll be attending via the website or Facebook, this registration is the official form.

With your registration, we require payment of a fee of $50 per person to cover the cost of food for the hospitality room, the Saturday night meal and a few other expenses needed to make the reunion special.

Click here to register!

If you have questions, reply to this email message or call Kevin Weaver at (610) 780-5484.

Also of interest:

USS Conserver 26-inch Scale Model:
The reunion committee has commissioned the production of a high-quality model for display at our reunions. To fund the building of the model, we’re selling ownership in the form of contributions that make you a plankowner.

Click here to purchase your plank.

USS Conserver Challenge Coin:
We’re taking pre-orders for this beautiful challenge coin.
The coins are 2″ in diameter, 1/8” thick and weigh 2 ounces.
Antique gold finish on the front (ship photo side) of the coin and a three color (green, blue and black) emblem on an antique gold background on the back of the coin.

Click here to pre-order your Challenge Coins.

USS Conserver Patch:
Get your 4” USS Conserver patch before Christmas.
4 inch diameter
Anchor chain encircling a Mark V diving helmet
Rescue — Salvage label
Serveron 5 label

Click here to order your Conserver patch.

USS Conserver Hats and Shirt:
See the high-quality cap and a variety of shirt styles in the USS Conserver Ship’s Store.

Click here to shop at the Ship’s Store.