24 June 2017

Sat. Afternoon: Going Dark

The live-blogging of the 2017 NMA reunion now goes dark for a spell.

We're suiting up for the closing banquet and dance. We'll celebrate our friendships, remember old shipmates and think about those good, difficult, rewarding and challenging days of service. Then we'll say goodbye for another year.

And in the morning, we'll get in cars and on airplanes and head home.

Amidst all the farewell frenzy, I will not have time to share more with you from Virginia Beach. I, too, will close down the lounge tonight and rev up the car tomorrow morning.

In a few days I'll be home and ready to share much more with you about this wonderful week. Until then:

Fair winds, following seas.

To Absent Friends

Amidst the joy and excitement of meeting up with all the old friends at every reunion I start thinking about those who aren't here, those who could't come for reasons of time, distance, work, family and community obligations. You guys are in our thoughts this week. I know this is true because we've been talking about you.

Don't worry, it's not all bad-rapping. For instance, when the topic of the 7th Fleet Band comes up, I am obligated to talk about Mike Burch-Pesses. LCDR Pesses was my bandmaster when I was a boot chief. The poor guy didn't just have to oversee operations of the COM7FLT band. He had to oversee the operations of Chief Mullen,
Sorry, sir, but I couldn't
control myself. 

I recently heard from the commander. To his regrets over not being able to attend the reunion this year, he added, "I can still see you playing "Eve of Destruction" as a bossa nova during a reception aboard Blue Ridge."

I don't recall this particular event, but I'm sure it's true. The story has Frank Mullen written all over it. It's the sort of thing I'd been doing since I wore seaman's stripes and didn't have the sense to curtail when I put on anchor devices,

But Mike's ability to discuss this calmly sums up this fine officer's ability to know where to draw the line. I remember those receptions on the Blue Ridge, formal affairs in the officer's wardroom and the double-holy admiral's wardroom as well as ultra-formal, topside affairs with flag officers and civilian dignitaries. And there's poor Mr. Pesses, cringing in fear and hoping that no one will notice that his piano player, a chief petty officer, for God's sake, is jazzing up anti-war protest songs from the Sixties.

But he was also willing to laugh when it was all over and nobody wound up in the brig. Of course, 30 years gives a guy plenty of time to get over things.

Friday night

Rehearsing for the Big Gig.
An NMA reunion is like a Sousa march; a big start and a big finish separated by a lot of highlights.

One of those highlights is the Friday Night Gala. Our concert band gets better every year and can put on a dynamite performance with a minimum of preparation time. Of course we can--we're all MUs.

NMA Big Band in Concert

Our Big Band puts on a show, too. This generally turns into a dance, and why not? That's what swing was designed for.

Concert Band conductor Wilbur Smith after
another successful performance.

Eventually, the stalwarts adjourn to the lounge for a last round of jazz and sea stories.

And yet, it's not over. This evening is the Saturday Night Dinner/Dance. This often features a concert by an active duty Navy band--the highlight of four days of highlights.

2017 NMA All Hands Meeting : True Rumors

The 2017 General Membership meeting of the NMA went smoothly. We filed in, poured coffee, sampled the pastries and when we'd reached a quorum, excused our spouses from the room and got down to business.

With one exception, our Board of Directors was re-elected. We offered a hearty round of thanks to our Treasurer Cecil Strange, who has retired his position after 16 years of faithful and diligent service to the NMA.

In is place, Stephanie Rowland was elected Treasurer. Stephanie, a former Sea Chanter, is now the comptroller for the U.S. Navy Band. I'd say she's qualified to monitor our finances.

And, yes, it's now official:. For once the rumors proved to be true:
the 2018 reunion will be held here in Virginia Beach.
Because our "homeport" reunions are well-attended, they build up our treasury so that we can sometimes afford to travel to other cities.

The meeting concluded without bloodshed. Members are now on liberty until the evening's concluding dinner and dance.

Getting ready for business

This morning, members of the NMA will gather in the ballroom for our annual all-hands business meeting. Our board of directors will bring members up to date on plans and directions and members will have the opportunity to present comments and questions.

And we'll hold the election of officers. The NMA may sometimes resemble a pleasure cruise, but someone needs to steer this ship.

Later today I'll report on the proceedings, particularly on the one thing that everyone wants to know: where will we hold our next reunion?.

In preparation for our the meeting, Legal Adviser Bill Sterk (r) is helping President Terry Chesson (l) brush up on the fine points of parliamentary procedure.
"If a motion has been offered and seconded and subsequent
discussion proves that the maker of the motion wishes to
withdraw the motion, he or she, the maker of the motion,
may move that the motion be withdrawn, but such
withdrawal shall be effective only if the motion to
withdraw is seconded, discussed and passes with
a majority of votes."

23 June 2017

They're still coming in.

It's Day Three of the NMA reunion and the MUs keep arriving.

And just a reminder: if for any reason the registration room is closed when you arrive, don't worry. Join the party and sign in later. We want you involved, not worrying.