USS Gearing DD-710
Las Vegas, Nevada
April 21 to 25
Photos from Ken Baker (ETN2 63-64) and Bill Latta (PC3 65-67).
Bill Latta has captioned the photos.
This world-famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign was erected at the then edge of the city in 1959 but the city has grown way beyond the location of the sign. It is so famous; it has become an icon for the city and is carefully maintained for all visitors to see.
This is a view just outside the entrance of the Golden Nugget Hotel of Famous Freemont Street in Las Vegas, NV. The arching arcade has a light show and live music every night, bringing the street to a high fever pitch.
This large cowboy sign vies for attention along Freemont Street in downtown Las Vegas.
On Sunday, our second day after check-in on Saturday, DeLois and Bill Basnett (FN, 1956-57), our reunion hosts, welcomed everyone on the tour bus that would take us to Hoover Dam and nearby Boulder City for a casual lunch.
Dave Connelly (RM3, 1970-71) and Ray Garceau (QM2, 1968-71) were shipmates at the same time on the USS Gearing. Here they stop for a photo on the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge that spans high above Black Canyon in front of Hoover Dam, connecting the state of Nevada with Arizona.
This spectacular view of Hoover Dam was experienced from high above the dam from the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge built in 2010 in response to national security after 9/11. The purpose was to move traffic off the narrow two land road on top of the dam and onto this hew four lane highway and pedestrian bridge. All the land and water left of the center of the dam is in Nevada; all the land and water to the right of center of the dam is Arizona. The states line run directly down the center of the Colorado River. Behind the dam is Lake Mead, created when the dam was built. Lake Meade is 112 miles long. Hoover Dam is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Our USS Gearing group walks from the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, a graceful arched bridge spanning high above Black Canyon in front of Hoover Dam, to take the tour of Hoover Dam.
Our USS Gearing group of shipmates, family, and friends gather to take the tour deep into the bowels of Hoover Dam to see the massive turbines and the story of how the dam was built.
Jim Tracy (SH2, 1970-72) hangs out with Dave Connelly (RM3, 1970-71) while waiting to take the tour of Hoover Dam. As you can see from their service dates, they served aboard the USS Gearing at the same time in the early 1970s.
Our USS Gearing group walked through the original tunnels workers blasted out to build Hoover Dam as we descended into the depths of the dam itself.
Deep inside the dam, we could see the eight massive turbines that produce hydro-electrical power for Las Vegas and surrounding states.
The beautiful arched bridge of the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge spans the flanking canyon walls of Black Canyon high above the Colorado River, in front of and down river from Hoover Dam.
The Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge arches high above Black Canyon. For national security reasons, as well as better highway traffic flow, the bridge was constructed directly in sight of the dam—but further down river from the dam itself. The new bridge was completed in 2010 and is a spectacular addition to the Hoover Dam site.
Frank Goetschius makes a photo of Jim Tracy (SH2, 1970-72) and his wife Sue Ann Jensen Tracy at the overlook above Hoover Dam. Frank's wife Nancy Goetschius takes a photo of the massive dam, as well.
Ray Garceau (QM2, 1968-71) and Jack Cole (QM2, 1970-72) checkout a selfie they just made of themselves with the spectacular scene of Hoover Dam in the background.
James Bauer ((MM2, 1963-66) and his wife Cherie pose for a photo at the lookout above Hoover Dam. This was their first USS Gearing reunion and they seemed to be enjoying themselves very much.
Sam Stewart (MM1, 1955-58 and his wife Roxy Stewart order their lunch from one of the many food truck vendors at the annual Boulder City Spring Jamboree in Boulder City, NV.
Everyone enjoyed a leisurely outdoor lunch from food trucks located at the annual Boulder City Art Festival in Boulder City, NV just a few miles away from Hoover Dam. The town was build to house workers who build the dam in the 1930s. The food as well as art, pottery, and jewelry by local artists and artisans were a treat. Frank Goetschius (LTJG, 1963-65) and his wife Nancy Goetschius enjoy their lunch in the shade with Joan Sickles, wife of the late Russell Sickles (RD2, 1950-54) and her friend Alice Olsvary seated at left beside Nancy.
Maria Bento, wife of Ray Bento (GMSN, 1956-60) enjoy browsing at the Boulder City Spring Jamboree with her cousin Rose Martins. Wow! Cool shades, Maria.
On Sunday afternoon, the USS Gearing (DD-710) Association memorial service was conducted in the Nevada National Cemetery. Neil C. Johnson (right) and Andrew J. LeDuc (left) of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter #1076, graciously provided a color guard
The American flag was respectfully folded and honorably presented to the USS Gearing (DD-710) Association by the men of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter #1076 in honor of our departed shipmates, wives, and family members at the end of the memorial service by Neil C. Johnson, chapter president.
On Monday, our third day in Las Vegas, we visited Wayne Newton's Mansion situated on 52 acres in Paradise, Nevada, now a suburb of Las Vegas. It is named Casa de Shenandoah that he built in 1976 on 52 acres, at that time way outside of Las Vegas in Paradise, Nevada. The city has since expanded to engulf the entire ranch.
Our USS Gearing group poses for a photo on the front porch of Wayne Newton’s mansion. The home was completed in 1976 on 52 acres made lush from natural artisan springs beneath the desert floor that also fill his manmade pools and waterfalls. Wayne Newton and his family do not live in the house anymore. It is now a museum. However, he and his family live only five miles from his ranch here, downsizing a few years ago to a smaller home.
Dave Connelly (RM3, 1970-71) discovered a jacket that Wayne Newton had kept while on USO tour in Viet Nam. On the back of the jacket is the emblem "Stabilization Force, Peacekeeping Mission, Bosnia". This was an operation in which Dave participated and had a lot of meaning for Dave. It was on prominent display with all of the other USO jackets Wayne Newton had received as gifts from the American military while on USO tour for the military.
Margaret Szewczyk, Roxy Stewart, wife of Sam Stewart (MM1, 1955-58), Conrad Hebert (MM2, 1948-52) and Joyce Coy, wife of Scott Coy (FN, 1952-54) relax on the front edge of the white marble fountain in front of the entrance to Wayne Newton's mansion, Casa de Shenandoah in Las Vegas.
Our USS Gearing group gathers inside the foyer of Wayne Newton's mansion to tour the home.
Our USS Gearing group admires the luxurious foyer with its twin curved staircases in Wayne Newton's mansion.
This photo is of the circular, sunken living room in Wayne Newton's mansion. Sunken living rooms and family rooms were very popular in the 1960s and 70s.
View of the beautiful crystal chandelier and circular ceiling and columns with gold leaf gilding that rise high above the sunken living room in Wayne Newton's Casa de Shenandoah.
This photo is of the large garage which house Wayne Newton's collection of favorite cars. They are housed in a long custom garage sporting ten of Wayne Newton's favorite cars and eight very large garage doors. Most are Rolls Royces; one rare 1933 Terraplane 8 made by Hudson; one Chrysler LeBaron Station Wagon, once owned by Lucille Ball; one 2005 Lincoln Limo; and one Hummer.
Conrad Hebert (MM2, 1948-52) pauses for a photo inside Wayne Newton's custom garage, filled with Wayne’s favorite cars.
This photo is of one of Wayne Newton's favorite Rolls Royces that he has in his collection of Rolls Royces and Bentleys.
Don Hilaman (FTSN, 52-54) explores the well-manicured grounds at Wayne Newton’s ranch, Casa de Shenandoah.
This photo is of one of the beautiful gardens, swimming pool and Jacuzzi at Wayne Newton's Casa de Shenandoah.
On Monday evening of our third day in Las Vegas, we attended the
spectacular performance by Cirque du Soliel, "Mystere" at the Treasure
Island Hotel on the main Strip in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, owing to
safety issues, we were not allowed to make any photos or videos of the
performance. Therefore, no images are available to post showing highlights
of this event.
On the morning of our fourth day in Las Vegas, we walked to the old Las Vegas Post Office that was converted and is now known as the Mob Museum, dedicated to the study and prevention of organized crime.
This image is a close-up view of the Mob Museum in the former U.S. Post Office in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Early organized crime began in the ghettos of New York City and eventually spread to other major cities in the United States, especially after the arrival of the Mafia from the Italian island of Sicily.
Carl Lloyd (RM3, 1945-46) with his traveling companion and good friend Cheryl Witteman stand in front of the original St. Valentines Day Massacre Wall with bullet holes still apparent.
This display shows a Tommy-gun machine gun that was popular with many organized crime figures such as Al Capone and his gang.
Scott Coy (FN, 1952-54) and his lovely wife Joyce pause for a photo in the display on how organized crime skimmed the profits at the casinos in Las Vegas. Organized crime could no longer have an iron grip on the city once Howard Hughes got passed a bill to legalize corporations to own casinos. Las Vegas casinos are now almost all owned by corporations and not the mobs. Hence, the city's image has now changed to family oriented.
On the fourth day of our reunion in Las Vegas, the 31st business meeting of the USS Gearing (DD-710) Association was called to order and discussion was held to address both old and new business of the Association. It is a necessary time in our reunion where we all take part in the important business issues and future of our Association. Left to right are, Bob Witkowski (FTG3, 1965-66), secretary; Dan Donohue (FTG3, 1965-66), treasurer; Bill Latta (PC3, 1965-66), chairman; and Ken Baker (ETN3, 1962-64).
Carl Lloyd (RM3, 1945-46), a plank owner, receives his 30-year pin as a member of the USS Gearing (DD-710) Association.
Louise Jefferis, wife of the late Allen S. Jefferis (CDR, 1969-70), and Joan Sickles, wife of the late Russell L. Sickles (RD2, 1950-54) receive pins for their many years of membership in the USS Gearing (DD-710) Association.
Don Hillaman receives his 20-year pin as a member of the USS Gearing (DD-710) Association.
John R. Kelly (EM2, 1963-67) stands to speak during our 31st annual business meeting. The Las Vegas reunion was John's first time to attend a reunion and enjoyed it very much.
Bobby Harris (BT1, 1965-69) stands to speak at the during our 31st annual business meeting. His lovely wife Diane looks on.
Ron Elwell (PC2, 1968-70) stands to speak during our 31st annual business meeting. Ron's lovely wife, not pictured, is Myriam Elwell.
Ken Baker (ETN3, 1962-64), vice chairman of the Association, addresses the 2018 business meeting and gave reports on the 2019 Buffalo, NY reunion and a report on how to obtain a veteran's ID card for use at local and national businesses.
The ladies who held the Ladies' Auction are recognized during the Association's business meeting. Those standing are Margaret Szewczyk, friend of Conrad Hebert (MM2, 1948-52); Faye Latta, wife of Bill Latta (PC3, 1965-67). Unseen in the photo are Pam Baker, wife of Ken Baker (ETN3, 1962-64); and Joan Witkowski, wife of Bob Witkowski (FTG3, 1965-66).
On Tuesday evening of our fourth and last full day in Las Vegas, before we all cast off on Wednesday morning, we attended our 2018 reunion banquet. A table of Honor is set prominently at every reunion banquet, representing those shipmates who have passed on and are no longer with us to partake of the meal. Each item on the table and the coat on the chair symbolize something important about those shipmates who are missing.
Frank Goetschius (LTJG, 1963-65) performed the reading for the Table of Honor and described what each element at the table symbolizes for us as fellow shipmates.
Bill Basnett (FN, 1956-57), host of the 2018 USS Gearing (DD-710) Association reunion, welcomes shipmates, their spouse, family, and guests to the reunion banquet. Following a word of prayer by Frank Goetschius, the banquet began.
On our last night of the 2018 USS Gearing (DD-710) reunion, we enjoyed the music, food, and conversation throughout the banquet. Being our last time to gather at the 2018 reunion to visit with each other, it is a bittersweet moment for all.
The renewal of friendships and the conversations at the banquet tables was intense and enjoyed by all.
The gathering of shipmates, spouses, widows, family, and good friends are what our annual reunions are all about. It is even more exciting when shipmates get to see and visit with some of the shipmates from their years of service on the USS Gearing.
Although it has now been more years than we would like to remember since all of us Navy shipmates put out to sea, the bond that formed between each of us and with our ship the USS Gearing (DD-710) is difficult to explain to others, yet it remains very strong—even today.
After the very delicious meal, everyone enjoyed each other’s company catching-up on what they had been doing since the 2017 reunion as well as share the exciting things their families, especially grandchildren, had been doing since the 2017 reunion in Tampa, FL.
As the DJ sang and played music from our era, following the banquet, we danced the night away. And, we have discovered over the years, that dancing with one's sweetheart is still just as romantic as dancing with her in the years of our youth.
Thanks to Ken Baker and Bill Latta for the photography!