By Vince Geraldi, USN 1954-1957, AT-3, VP-56, CREW 5
There I was standing in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza, in Warwick, RI waiting for the elevator doors to open. I hadn’t seen my old bud and crew mate since he separated from the USN in 1958. My wife and I had just spent a great first day at the 32nd Mariner/Marlin Association Reunion. We had toured the mansions of Newport and then lunched aboard the decommissioned USS Massachusetts in Battleship Cove. During the day, we had bonded with an old VP-56 shipmate, Bill Kushman and his wife Pat and, afterwards, had enjoyed the warmth and camaraderie of our seaplane fraternity. The memorabilia posted throughout the Ready Room served to heighten the nostalgia filling the air. Now, as I waited by the elevators, I wondered if “Stoney” would recognize me or if I would recognize him. When the doors opened, there was no doubt it was him. We hugged and quickly picked up where we left off fifty-six years ago. Of course “Stoney” has a real name but no one knew him as Ken Field back then and I doubt if many know him as that now.
And so, we had dinner that evening with Stoney, his daughter Dee, myself and my wife Pat. The next day, we were all off to tour Boston. I shared a seat on the bus with Stoney and we gabbed away the time and rekindled the “glory days” as only flying buddies can. In Boston harbor, we boarded the USS Constitution and we all shared a proud and emotional high when the crew tolled the ship’s bell announcing the arrival of Mariner/Marlin Association Vice President, Commander Bob Noble. Then we were off to have lunch at Cheers and walk Quincy Market. Our next bus stop was the JFK Presidential Library and Museum which was both captivating and engrossing. The bus ride back to the hotel encountered typical weekend traffic congestion but a constant droning of Rock & Roll from“dueling iphones”, and a few loud merrymakers in the back of the bus, kept the good times rolling.
On Saturday, Stoney and I drove out to Quonset Point Naval Air Station to explore the base where I had been stationed back in 1955 as a member of FASRON 101. Surprisingly, the base had been closed since 1974 and had been converted into an industrial park/air terminal. I barely recognized anything except for the control tower which was still in use serving the RI Air National Guard. As we were leaving, we spotted a blue hanger building housing the Quonset Air Museum. What a lucky find! Inside was a collection of aircraft including the TBM Avenger, F6F Hellcat, F3D Skynight and F4A Phantom. Sharing the tarmac with a venerable P2V Neptune was what I remembered as an S2F. There were engines, models, photos, and over 5,000 smaller aviation artifacts. We both spent a great afternoon wandering throughout the exhibits. If you would like to take a virtual tour of the Museum, go to www.quonsetairmuseum.com and enjoy.
The final highlight of the Reunion was the Saturday evening banquet. Dancing, singing and a wonderful meal rounded out the four day trip with a blast to the past. Stoney is back in Maine, and I’m back to the Jersey Shore. Our bond is as strong as ever and we are making sure we stay connected. As a “first timer” at the MMA Reunion, I urge anyone who hasn’t done so to put the next Reunion on your bucket list. I know you will be glad you did.
More on this article and more are found in the Summer 2014 MMA Newsletter.
Renton’s Celebrity WWII Airplane Wreck By Matt McCauley, Executive director of the Kirkland Historical Foundation, kirklandhistory.org
Bringing World War II Audio Artifact By Rob Hoffman, pricelessphotopreservation.com
“First Timer” Reflects on the MMA Reunion By Vince Geraldi, USN 1954-1957,
AT-3, VP-56, CREW 5
Photos of 2014 MMA Reunion in Rhode Island
Design Analysis of the Martin PBM-5 Mariner by E G Riley, Project Engineer, The Glenn L Martin Company, Sept. 1945, Industrial Aviation
Annual membership in the Mariner/Marlin Association entitles members to receive four issues of the Newsletter.