Posted at: 09/22/2012 11:58 PM
By: Brittany Lewis
WWII Vets Gather for Last Reunion
(ABC 6 News) -- For a quarter of a century, a group of World War II Veterans have held an annual reunion to catch up and talk about their memories. But this year's reunion is even more special than the last.
Nine men, of all different heights, from all over the country, with one thing in common- their time spent serving on the U.S.S. Haggard during World War II.
"I was with the ship, the U.S.S. Haggard, from the time she was comissioned brand new til the time she was decomissioned, too battle-damaged to be repaired," said Trino Soto.
Every year, for 25 years, the men who served on that ship have gotten together in different cities.
"It's getting together with the guys and reminiscing about when we were young," said Fred Schnorr.
Something they call a family reunion.
"These guys were really close on the little ship, ya know, they were like a family, you know, really closer than most families," said Dick Crawford.
Their first one, a quarter century ago, was held in Las Vegas.
"I'm the only one here was also at the first reunion," said Earl Opheim.
Only 18 people went, but word quickly spread and some reunions have had 60 members of the ship attend.
"Seeing all the guys, I mean the old friends and I've been going to them for years," said Joel Harris.
But with many finding it harder to travel, their reunion this year, will be the last.
"It's pretty emotional at the memorial service and even at the business meeting knowing I'm not gonna be seeing these guys again," said Schnorr.
The men and their ship, went through a lot together. The U.S.S. Haggard was in several battles. And in 1945, was attacked by a kamikaze. 13 men died and nearly 30 were wounded. Those experiences, make the end, all the more emotional.
"I just hate to see it come to an end," said Bud Weigland, who has been to 25 of the reunions.
"I think most of us, a lot us would like to keep trying as long as we could, but there's gotta be an end to it sometime," said Dale Wagner.
But their memories, will forever be anchored, by their days spent on the U.S.S. Haggard.
The men say they hope to have a newsletter to keep in touch and they were already planning to see each other again soon. But they say, there's no doubt, it will be hard for it to end.