Originating History of the USS King (DLG-10/DDG-41) Association
And Its First Reunion
In the fall of 1997, BT3 Steve Cuddihy (69-72) was looking for anything on the King and could not find anything. His son came home from college and asked what Steve was looking for and Steve told him that he was looking for something on the King and could not find anything. His son took over and in five minutes said that there is nothing. He said, “Why don’t you start something?” Steve said he didn’t know how and his son said he would do it. Steve found his cruise books and old photo’s and made copies and they were the first web page. Steve’s thoughts were to get old shipmates back together and with the hope of getting a reunion together. I believe that LT. Mike Leonard (81 - 84) was the first person who made contact after the web site was on line. Shipmates started finding the site and were asking to post notes to locate old shipmates. Thus was the start of getting shipmates together again.
The first reunion attempt was pursued by GMG3 Jonathan Kammen (68-72). It didn’t pan out and was never held.
In November of 2000, YN3 Terry Forsyth (72-74) with a new computer purchased in July that now provided access to the mystical world of the Internet; he started searching for the King. His search paid off when he found ussking.com with BT2 Mike Luppino (60-63), webmaster. There were several messages from former shipmates on the message board. He then tried other combinations of USS King and found uss-king.com. He read pages of message board entries and saw names of guys he knew. After querying a few of those known shipmates, Terry found there was great interest in having a King Reunion. By end of a week the drive was overpowering and he started sending emails to everyone in the message board explaining who he was, what he’d like to do, “This is a genuine letter, please write back as I am looking forward to your response”. Originally two-thirds a page and four paragraphs, each email was retyped because Terry didn’t know about the right-click copy option. It didn’t take long for the letters to reduce to three lines. “USS King Reunion in progress…..please write back” with the closing we all saw
Terry Forsyth, YN3, USN
For the remainder of the year, Terry obsessively spent almost all his non-work/waking hours to establishing contact with as many of the King’s former crew members as was possible and receiving leads to other kingsmen and to databases resulting in discovery and more contacts.
In December Terry’s first assistant was OS2 Jack Dineen (78-81) who offered to help locate the King’s commanding officers. During this search, he learned that four of the King Officers eventually became admirals. Jack also said he would pursue locating the ship’s bell.
Soon and throughout the search for the crew, Terry continually found where one guy was in current contact with at least one other shipmate. One group had FIVE guys!
About January 2001 someone wrote Terry that a film had been shot onboard the King in the 63-66 periods. Terry sent an email to all the contacts asking about this film.
Confusion shortly followed because two different names for the same film were given. Terry put this on hold for future pursuit.
About January, Terry received an offer of money if the reunion effort became a non-profit organization. The idea to legitimize this blooming effort and becoming a real organization was seeded but Terry put this on hold because locating crewmembers was consuming all this King time.
Shortly later though and fully recognizing this growing and unofficial organization was more than he could hope to accomplish by himself, Terry sought help—and now, quickly, a Board! If someone had offered help, Terry decided they were worthy of asking to help at a Board level. Terry had established some communications with Steve Cuddihy. Steve had informed Terry there was at least one other attempts to create a reunion with one by Jonathan Kammen. Terry remembered Kammen from the King and started emailing with him. Two friends of Jonathan’s from King days were ET1 Irv Trinkle (70-72) and PN3 Alan Barnett (68-72). With this group of guys accepting Terry’s request to help at a Board level, the effort began to create a reunion. Although unaware they were technically a steering committee, they called themselves the Board.
Jonathan Kammen, President – Terry so nominated because of his prior attempt to establish a reunion.
Terry Forsyth – Membership/Treasurer
Steve Cuddihy – Web Master
Irv Trinkle – Historian
Jack Dineen – Director at large
In January, the new Board decided that the first reunion should be 2002, so a large enough body could be found to have a successful reunion and to give the people contacted enough time to make vacation plans.
In February, Terry received a note from MM3 Hans Bruckler (60-61) about an article from Stars and Stripes that discussed an 18-month schedule for a successful reunion. This provided the Board much relief to know they were not only on the right track; it also outlined the future month requirements, as well.
By end of February, contact had been made with IC2 Bill Brewer (68-69). It turns out Bill was doing the exact effort as Terry but for the USS Waddell (DDG-24), Brewer’s prior ship to the King, of searching for crewmembers and establishing their contact. Understandingly fully occupied with the Waddell effort, he nevertheless was there to provide guidance and wisdom to the Board.
About the first of March the Board started working on bylaws for the forming organization. Bill Brewer offered a copy of the Waddell’s bylaws for a starting point. Initial contact made with STG2 Dave Bilby (66-69) in late February found another assistant who has a tax service and helped with the bylaws and getting the association application completed.
On March 20, 2001 the King bylaws were completed.
On March 27, 2001 with the Bylaws, officer list and application for Federal Tax ID number completed, Dave Bilby submitted these to the Internal Revenue Service for issuance of the Tax Exemption Application.
In April, the Board started discussing where to have the first reunion. It was decided the current contacts should help determine where they wanted to go so a survey was created and emailed.
By late May the returns stopped and the tally was taken. San Diego was the first choice, with Seattle a close second. Norfolk, Chicago and Las Vegas were the runners up. The announcement was made in June 2001 that San Diego will be the site for the 2002 Reunion.
Realizing the Board was without any knowledge and San Diego hotel experience, they determined a reunion services organization would have all the necessary knowledge and experience. When told the Board’s decision on that, Brewer said the Waddell (DDG-24) steering committee had researched and selected Military Reunion and Locator Services, Inc. (ML&RS) of Hickory, NC as their reunion organizing company. Jonathan contacted them about handling the King’s reunion as well. They gladly accepted and Jonathan signed the papers.
By end of July the name issue regarding the video shot on the King was settled by someone writing they had a copy and it cost $20.00. Having learned it was produced by Military Tradition Video in Escondido, CA, Terry contacted them. They said for a fundraising project and a minimum order of 25 videos, they would sell them to us for $10.00. In the course of pursuing the video’s rightful name, many of the guys said they would want a copy of the video. The first batch of 60 videos was purchased on July 18. These sold quickly and 25 more copies ordered on August 17 and 25 more on September 19. Approximately 100 videos were sold by end of 2001, bringing about $1000.00 to the organization’s checking account.
During the last half of 2001, Terry solicited the King contacts for copies of cruise books and received original books, complete copies, copies of division photos from various cruise books and even copies of personal lists of the crew. He went through all these items looking at each page and entered all the data he could find. The database grew exponentially. Terry estimated there were about 4400 crewmembers during the ship’s total life.
With working 55+ hours weekly, and continuing his driven pace of 15-20 hours a week on King search, contact maintenance and countless Board emails, in January 2002 Terry asked PN3 Alan Barnett (69-72) to become the ship’s store operator because purchased videos were not getting mailed. Alan accepted and the ship’s store was born from his efforts.
In July 1995 IC2 Dave Turk (69-71) had saved the transom, the ship’s name on the stern through a friend of his.( How it was found) With hope of getting the transom to San Diego, Terry researched its transport and found shipping and transfers for getting it from Minneapolis to the hotel and back was 800.00. As much as the Board wanted the transom at the reunion, the dollar requirement removed any chance of the transom’s presence.
In early February the Board received, from ML&RS, the proposed brochure of the weekend. They gave us two weeks to review and approve the brochure. And as always, more discussions, decisions—and changes occurred between board members.
With this delay threatening the continued services of ML&RS, the final brochure approval barely made its second and last print date.
Also in February, the Board realized that in addition to selling videos and receiving donations another avenue was required to raise sufficient money for the projected March or April $2500.00 inventory deposits. Membership dues were established and immediately that, plus more donation money started to arrive.
Late in February, to help people who would give towards the effort, the Board recognized time had come to officially organize ourselves. Terry contacted Dave Bilby who is a tax consultant, and asked if he could provide his services in making the King Association a non-profit organization. He also offered to provide accounting oversight and could do so only if he was not on the Board.
About the first of March, ML&RS mailed the brochures. Initially they told Terry the first reunion usually has about 40 attendees but with the reunion in San Diego, 10 more guys may come. But the King reservations were coming at a record rate when the first week the brochures hit the mail!
By end of March the required money had been raised to order more merchandise to be sold at the first reunion.
The May 20, 2002 Room reservation cut-off date with ML&RS arrived with 90 confirmed reservations. They told Terry this will be the largest first reunion for a destroyer in this firm’s 15-year history. The Board was excited!
SAN DIEGO - June 23-26, 2002
The Board had determined to arrive Wednesday at 5:00PM so they could finally meet each other before the reunion began—and they weren’t the only ones with approximately five other kingsmen and spouses at the hotel that evening.
Starting Thursday, each day was exciting as more kingsmen arrived and the group continued to grow. In the hospitality room, the personal memorabilia that guys brought with them was collecting, with everything being examined by everyone.
Terry brought two prints of the database: Alphabetical and by rate. These also were very well reviewed and some notations were made.
Oh, the chaos of the first meeting! A microphone was not ordered so the hotel had to bring that before we could start the meeting. The ship’s store was opened the first day and immediately it was learned no order sheets were made so Terry was with the hotel staff designing, confirming and printing order sheets which resulted in his not being in the reunion group shot during the photo session.
NOTE: Friday and Saturday morning social times before breakfast were for meeting those who arrived during the evening and night.
Friday included breakfast, social time, then time to visit the San Diego Zoo, Old Town, or take the Harbor Cruise, ending with a Hawaiian dinner.
Saturday included breakfast, social time, a tour of the Naval base with a tour of the USS Stethem (DDG63), business meeting, (Business meeting was 2:00 – 3:00 PM), reunion book photos, and ended with a formal banquet. Also on Saturday several Board members asked Mike Luppino if he would be willing to give his website address to the King because it was ussking.com versus the Association’s current website with the hyphenation. This was refused.
NOTE: In 2005 Mike closed his website, offered the website address to the Association and the Association determined there was no need for this address, so the Board turned down the website offer.
Sunday included breakfast and final farewells.
When finished, the King’s first reunion had 102 shipmates with 30 guys from the original commissioning crew. There were 94 shipmates from the 1960-1974 DLG and 8 from the 77-91 DDG. With 110 spouses and guests, the group’s total was 212 people! ML&RS was blown away by the success of this event.
With the reunion over, the need for getting a newsletter out right away was recognized by the Board. STG2/STGC Dave Nesbitt 60-62, 65-67 offered his service for this crisis project and published the first issue in September, 2002.
We applied for the IRS Tax ID number on July 17, 2002, and received the number on September 27, 2002.
As an Association we applied for the IRS Tax Exempt Status on September 19, 2002 with a $150.00 check to Department of Revenue to complete the March submission for incorporation as an Association, and received the exemption January 26, 2003.
By October 2002 of the estimated 4400 total crew, Terry had identified 3750 names,established contact with approximately 800 of us, including learning of the passage of some of our shipmates! Three kingsmen requested they receive no further contact from the Association.