While ship reunions are hardly rare, especially among destroyermen, a ward room reunion is not that common. That is exactly what occurred the weekend of 7-10 October in Hot Springs, Arkansas, as five former officers from the 1962-1964 wardroom of the USS Johnston (DD 821) came together to renew old friendships, meet wives, retell sea stories from long ago and generally have a good time with the various entertainment venues that Hot Springs offers.
The former officers and (wives) involved were LCDRs Sam Knox (Carol Ann), Gene Flesher, (Pat) Romain Bastian (Evelyn), Jack Hughes (Kris), and LT Larry Burke (Nancy). The Knox's, Bastain's and Burke's traveled from various points in Pennsylvania, the Flesher's live in Hot Springs Village and the Hughes's drove up from Dallas, TX.
After arrivals were established, legs stretched and the "what have you been doing for 46 years?" questions were asked and answered, the group, less the Burkes whose plane was delayed, repaired to the Flesher's home on the golf course for conversation, hors d'oeurvs and cocktails until time for our dinner reservations.
The Burkes joined us in the restaurant and the party was on. It lasted until closing, much to the entertainment of the kitchen staff who were waiting for us to finish so they could clean up. They were enjoying it almost as much as we were.
After a continental breakfast at the hotel, couples headed out to follow their interests in a very interesting resort town. The evening of 8 October brought us all back to the Fleshers for more predinner revelry followed by a catered dinner of Texas barbeque with all of the trimmings.
Saturday was again various activities with some driving through a very small part of the huge Ouchita National Forest and enjoyed the beauty of Lake Ouchita. Others afforded themselves the opportunity to enjoy the mineral baths which are fed by natural underground springs; hence the name "Hot Springs." During the afternoon, the Fleshers, Hughes and Burkes toured one of the lakes by boat and enjoyed ogling the beautiful homes built around the perimeter of the lake.
Cocktail hour was again at the Flesher's until it was time to caravan to the aptly named "Last Chance Grill & Saloon" which overlooks one of the many lakes in the area. We were escorted to the upstairs private room where a fun and somewhat noisy dinner ensued.
Sunday morning, those in the hotel met for a final breakfast and after the usual parting comments and promises to keep in touch, we packed up and headed for home, hoping to do it all again in a couple of years.