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Remember, all members can create their own albums and upload their images to share.
Official Kirk Association Facebook Page:
USS Kirk Facebook Group:
Greetings USS KIRK Shipmates and Friends of KIRK!
As you know, we are extraordinarily fortunate to have our very own “Branson Expert” as one of our USS KIRK Shipmates. Glenn Tahbonemah and his family have been regular visitors to Branson for more than four decades. Here is Glenn’s “Second Installment of things to do in Branson the week of the USS KIRK Reunion.”
Following is a brief list of a few of the attractions and things to do at Branson. Each item has a hyperlink to provide more information from the event itself. Again, it is nowhere near exhaustive, just a very sampling of some of the favorite thing my family enjoys about Branson.
The first item on the list is the hotel accommodations where we will be staying. It in of itself has a lot to do. You will also see the many types of accommodations they have. The basic price we have the rooms at are for the basic rooms but they are very nice accommodations.
This is the link to some of the attractions at the hotel where the reunion will be held. The crew has done a great job at getting a great place to stay at such a great place with so much to do. And, it is in its own quiet nook in this busy city. It will be a great place to meet, greet, play, share, have fun, and just hang out. Check out all the amenities available.
As I mentioned before, this is a very Veteran friendly city and atmosphere. There are just as excited about us coming there as we are about being there.
Ride the Ducks: http://branson.ridetheducks.com/
This is one of the best in Branson for my family. We have ridden them many times. The tours is both on land and on the water. It will take you through a very unique display of WWII equipment displayed in the woods on a hillside. Then you hit, and I mean hit, the water of Table Rock Lake. It is a must do. (hint) Don’t ride the last seat or you will get wet when it the duck hits the water. They go in at full power on most trips. Reminiscent of hitting the beach only in reverse.
Silver Dollar City: http://www.silverdollarcity.com/theme-park
Another great go to is the Silver Dollar City theme park. It has something for everyone of all ages. From the exciting rides, yes, I ride them with my grandkids and then stay dizzy the rest of the day, to musical shows, displays, train ride, and lots of good food. During the summer time it is highly themed towards kids but is still a fun for all.
Branson Landing (aka shopping): http://www.bransonlanding.com/
This is just one of the many shopping opportunities in this multi venue city. Here you will find the Bass Pro Shop, plus a whole lot more including some great eating places (common throughout Branson). Mid way through the center you will find a great fire and water show with sounds (sometimes live music) that is very entertaining. It is a long walk from one end to the other but there is a shuttle that you can hop on. Parking is fairly ample on each side of the center.
There is also a Tanger Shopping Outlet: https://www.tangeroutlet.com/branson .
This has some really great buys all depending on what you are looking for. There is also a whole lot more to shop at and spend time and money on. Shopping is literally endless for those that are addicted to it.
Veterans Museum: http://www.veteransmemorialbranson.com/links.php
This is in of itself another stop worth your time and look. It is the fulfillment of a dream of a man to honor his father, a WWII veteran, Fred Hoppe Sr. It was completed in only about ten months and opened in 2000. It was Fred Hoppe’s desire not to just honor his father but all Veterans alike. Make time for this time honoring museum. Well worth it.
Dixie Stampede: http://www.dixiestampede.com/branson
This is a great dinner show that provides a great meal with more than enough to satisfy the largest appetite and a great full action show to go with it. Lots of audience participation, horses, action, a buffalo stampede, and comedy Plenty of fun for the whole family or just your own small group. Bring a big appetite and get there early for the preshow.
This is a great place to cool off with the kids, get wet, spend a day or a few hours, and enjoy some pretty nice sights. Gentleman, I do not know if you are aware but female bathing suits are at an all-time small. Just to mention to those who are interested. It also has some very amazing water rides and some just nice relaxing pools to drift in and get totally sunburned (ouch). It is owned by the Silver Dollar City Company. If you are going to make several trips to each of the properties owned by Silver Dollar you may want to check into the special pricing available.
Showboat Branson Belle: http://www.silverdollarcity.com/showboat-branson
This is another Silver Dollar City attraction. It is a great boat ride on an old style paddle wheeler with a great meal and show. It last about three hour’s total.
In the next installment I will try to cover more of the shows on the strip. Also maybe some of the non-cost attractions that are available.
Have a great time and I hope to see all of you at the USS Kirk Reunion, Branson.
Greetings again, USS KIRK Shipmates and Friends of KIRK!
“What’s for chow?”
How many times did we ask that very question when we served aboard KIRK? Probably three or four times a day, right? Well, here are the details on our USS KIRK Reunion 2016 Banquet scheduled for Thursday Evening, July 21st:
We will share a wonderful buffet-style dinner, consisting of:
— A traditional Salad Bar
— Skinless, boneless baked Rosemary Chicken Breast, with bacon wrap
— Savory Roast Beef
— Seasoned Tilapia, sautéed in butter
— Baked Potato with toppings (cheese, sour cream, butter, chopped onion, etc.)
— Broccoli with cheese sauce
— Heavenly Rolls with butter
— Desert Bar, with USS KIRK commemorative cake, Apple Cobbler, and Vanilla Ice Cream
— Iced tea, lemonade, coffee, decaf coffee, and tea
Remember that Captain Brad Bell, USN (Retired), the last man to command USS KIRK in Long Beach, will be our keynote speaker!
Please let us know in advance if you have any special nutritional needs or food allergies that we need to be aware of.
If you haven’t yet made your hotel reservations or sent us your registration form with your check, please do as soon as you can so we can get a good count of attendees. And remember that the great special hotel rate is guaranteed ONLY until May 18th, so don’t procrastinate much longer!
See you in Branson!
Greetings USS KIRK Shipmates and friends of KIRK,
We are very fortunate to have as our KIRK Shipmate Glenn Tahbonemah. Glenn is one of our fine San Diego Shipmates who served in OE division as an ETR2 back in the mid-1970s. Glenn and his family are “old Branson hands,” vacationing in that wonderful area of the country throughout the last four decades. If anyone is an expert on what Branson has to offer during our upcoming USS KIRK 2016 Reunion, it is Glenn! This is the first of Glenn’s “Branson Travelogues.” We will be sending them to you as part of our frequent “Reunion Updates.” Thank you, Glenn, and keep them coming!
I have been requested to cover some general information about Branson where we will be holding our next USS Kirk reunion. Our family has been enjoying going to Branson since 1979. There has been a major change in the area since then, mostly all good. The area has a very wide range of things to do and activities that should suit most anyone’s need, wants or desires in a family way.
The Branson area is a very family oriented area. There are live shows of all types as well as plenty of action type activities. But, let’s begin where we will be staying.
The Branson Woods Resort is a very nice resort in a great location. We will be there at the height of the tourist season so there will be literally thousands of families and peoples all over the place. The resort we are in is tucked away in a very nice area that is out of the hustle and bustle of all the happenings but it also is in a very centrally located spot that gives great access to every area of what Branson has to offer. The main highway, 76, is normally over crowded but from the resort are some great backroads with much less traffic. Maps are available to these roads. Be sure to grab one and ask directions. The resort itself provides plenty of opportunities to keep one busy having fun.
I mentioned shows. Shows and shows. Check the links given in the previous mailing. Shows for whatever you like are available. Comedy, country and western, good old hillbilly, dancing, dinner shows, just whatever gets you going, is there. There is even a large screen IMAX with all the latest movies.
Boating, bring your own or rent one, fishing, lots of trout, beach, swimming, skiing, para sailing. If it’s on the water they have it. Even a fantastic Ride the Ducks, and be sure you don’t miss the opportunity. They also have several excursions on the water you can take. Some even provide a meal. The big one is the paddle wheeler, The Branson Belle. On that you get a great dinner and a show. The cruises last about three hours and they have at least three a day.
Gentleman, don’t tell your wives but there is also a plethora of shopping of all types all over the Branson area. Shop till you drop is a standard in Branson. They have the factory discount shopping malls as well as a fantastic Lakeside Mall that runs along the Taneycomo Lake which looks like a river. And if you get stuck there it also has a Bass Pro shop you can linger in while the wife shops.
Museums are plentiful. They have a really good Veterans Museum on the strip. Plus everything from a toy museum to a tractor museum.
The whole town is very Veteran friendly and always honors the Veteran most highly. It is a first class place to be in America and brings back a lot of what we long for the way things used to be. You will enjoy your stay here if all you do is sightsee. I hope everyone ever connected to the Kirk will make it a point not to miss this reunion. Branson is situated in the middle of the US to make it as accessible as possible to all.
I will cover some of the items more specifically in future updates. There is much I have not yet mentioned that will even make it more desirable to attend with your family including kids and grandkids.
USS KIRK Reunion 2016 – Update #2
Greetings USS KIRK Shipmates and our many Friends of KIRK! We have major news to pass on in this reunion update.
— Our keynote speaker at our banquet on Thursday evening, July 21, 2016 will be none other than Captain Brad Bell, USN (Retired). Captain Bell was KIRK’s Commanding Officer during her final deployment to the Middle East. Captain Bell also led USS KIRK through her decommissioning and the transfer of our great ship to the Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy at Long Beach, California on August 6, 1993. And as we all know, USS KIRK continues to steam today as the Guided Missile Frigate ROCS FEN YANG (FFG-934). KIRK/FEN YANG is now in her forty-third consecutive year of active service – quite a record!
— The theme of this year’s KIRK reunion is “USS KIRK Through the Years.” It is our goal this year to honor the accomplishments of all of our USS KIRK Shipmates, during all of the 21 years of USS KIRK’s busy life. Therefore, the afternoons of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will be devoted to our three separate home port “eras” (San Diego, Yokosuka, and Long Beach, respectively) giving all of our proud KIRK Shipmates the opportunity to tell the stories of their time aboard our good ship. More to follow on this.
— We will shortly finalize the details of the banquet on Thursday evening, and other miscellaneous reunion costs, and nail down other registration details, so that we can get that administrative task behind us. Stand by for more of those details to come in the next reunion update.
— Branson, Missouri is known far and wide as an incredible “smorgasbord” of entertainment and activity. If you are not familiar with what Branson offers, we encourage everyone to visit some of the following Branson websites (there are many!) to see the amazing array of attractions that are waiting for us. There is certainly something here for everyone’s tastes and interests:
And. finally, if you have not yet made your hotel reservations, please do so as soon as you can. Here is the information you need:
The Branson Woods Resort
2201 Roark Valley Road
You can reserve your room by calling 877-502-7058, and use the “Group Code” 60-383.
The Reunion will run from Monday, July 18 to Friday, July 22, 2016. Early Check In will be available Friday July 15, 2016. Final Checkout will be Sunday July 24, 2016.
We have been able to arrange a very good discounted Room Rate, just $67.00 per night, but please keep in mind that your reservations must be made not later than May 18, 2016 to get this discounted rate. After May 18th, the rate cannot be guaranteed, so please don’t procrastinate on making your plans!
On to Branson!
USS Kirk Reunion in Branson Missouri
The reunion will be held at The Branson Woods Resort 2201 Roark Valley Road Branson Missouri. The Resort Telephone Number is 417-334-2324. You can reserve a room by calling 877-502-7058 Group Code 60-383.
The Reunion will run from Monday July 18 – Friday July 22, 2016. Early Check In will be available Friday July 15, 2016. Final checkout will be Sunday July 24, 2016.
The discounted Room Rate is $67.00 per night.
The Resort is also giving us a Hospitality Suite and a Banquet Room for our formal dinner which will be Thursday July 21, 2016.
USS Kirk Association
There will be a large 40th reunion of participants in Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon in April and May of 1975. Former Vietnamese refugees and U. S. Servicemen who took part are cordially invited to attend. The reunion will take place at the U. S. Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Pendleton, California (Camp Telega, on the Orange County line). Retired U. S. Navy Captain Ralph Ortolano is organizing an “Oral History Project” in conjunction with this reunion, collaborating with the Navy History Command and the Library of Congress, as well as local journalism schools. For more information, please contact Captain Ortolano at (310) 982-5499.
UPDATE — The documentary “Last Days in Vietnam” depicting USS KIRK’s participation in Operation Frequent Wind (the April, 1975 evacuation of Vietnam) has been selected as an “Academy Award Nominee” for documentaries for 2015. The competition is stiff, but we will know the outcome on February 22nd, when the Oscars are awarded.
As many of you know by now, USS KIRK is featured prominently in the upcoming documentary, “Last Days in Vietnam.” This “American Experience” series film will debut on Public Broadcasting System (PBS) TV channels nationwide on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, the 40th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon. Please see the website www.lastdaysinvietnam.com to view the trailer. This film has seen critical acclaim during the past year, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, and showing throughout the country at limited theatrical screenings. “Last Days in Vietnam” is one of fifteen “semi-finalists” (out of an initial 134 films) for the upcoming Academy Awards (Oscars), and it is hoped to be one of five finalists going into the final competition.
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