When reminiscing about the USS Macon, former Petty Officer 1st Class Ted Parker remembers one thing:
“For a lot of us, it was the best ship we’ve ever been on,” he said.
More than 40 former shipmates and their family members are in Macon for the 23rd — and perhaps final — reunion of those associated with the Navy cruiser, which was commissioned in 1945 near the end of World War II.
Members of the USS Macon Veterans Association arrived in Macon on Monday for four days of reconnecting and swapping stories about their beloved ship. Wednesday included a trip to Washington Memorial Library to go through memorabilia and pictures stored there, as well as a meeting with Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert later in the day.
Parker, a past president of the association, waxed nostalgic about the gathering. There are always good times with a lot of great friends, he said.
“It’s fantastic. We’ve had a few reunions where people haven’t seen each other for 40 or 50 years.”
The former crew mates look forward to the trip, of course, but the reunions may be coming to an end. The youngest shipmate at the reunion is 76 years old, and it’s not getting any easier for some association members to make the trip.
“Many of the shipmates can no longer travel, and those that can have spouses who can no longer travel,” Parker said.
One former crew member who hasn’t been slowed is former Ensign Richard Vivian. Vivian was a member of the original crew or a “plank owner” that commissioned the cruiser in 1945. He is 91 now and one of the oldest members of the association.
“It’s really kind of nice,” Vivian said of the gathering. “It may be the last reunion because anybody who was on the ship is getting pretty old.”
Reichert was all smiles as he greeted the visitors at the Macon-Bibb County Government Center. He detailed the story of having a 15-foot replica of the cruiser moved to city hall and the ship’s history with the city.
“It means a lot to me to see the reaction of people who come in and see” the replica, Reichert said. “I’ve seen people cry.”
The USS Macon was commissioned on Aug. 26, 1945, as a Baltimore-class cruiser. It sailed its first assignment in April 1946 and was decommissioned for the last time on March 10, 1961.
About the USS Macon:
- It was known as the “Friendly Macon” because it never fired a shot in combat.
- It was more than 674 feet long
- It was decommissioned in 1961 and later sold for scrap