The 2006 reunion, hosted by Phil Smith, The MASSEY Association President, was held at the Branson Windmill Inn in Branson, MO, September 24-28, 2006 and was another resounding success. We had a very strong turnout with 113 members and family in attendance. Of special note was the number of first time attendees with the group including Bob (FN 1/C, 46-47) and Ruth Arnold; Plankowner Joe (WT3, 44-46) and Phyl Redden; John (BTFN, 60-63) and Shelly Platcher; Dennis Chunyo (SK3, 64-66); and new association members, Donald Foley; Duane and Karen Edwards; Amba and Mary Ellen Sargent. We are also thankful that 6 Plankowners also made it to the gathering!
Branson lived up to its reputation as the Patriot Capital of the United States with the cordiality and respect for veterans and the armed forces at the forefront of every activity and interaction. Thanks to that special feeling of thanks to our veterans that the citizens of Branson convey in hosting visiting military associations, a wonderful time was had by all and proved that Branson is a great place to visit. As an example of that special hospitality that Branson is known for, it should be mentioned that all the beer to support our hospitality room was donated by the 1st Battalion/9th Regiment of the U.S. Marines! A Semper Fi thanks to our Marine brothers!
The MASSEY reunion kicked off with a welcome reception at the hotel the first night and a continental breakfast every morning that allowed us all to mix and meet in the hospitality room with elbow room to spare. Plankowner Bob Doll and his mate, Gwen Hanlin, once again provided us with great music in the hospitality room and were given justly deserved special recognition for their musical services throughout the years at the reunions.
On our first full day of events Monday morning, we loaded buses and attended the Lowe Family of Utah show, followed by lunch at McFarlain’s Restaurant (a local favorite) with a shopping opportunity at the Imax Entertainment Complex. That afternoon many of us meet in the hospitality room for some sea story swapping and later boarded buses in mass to attend the Mel Tillis Show. Mel did not disappoint anyone and put on a great show that got even the most reluctant country music fan on board!
Tuesday morning found us again boarding buses to visit Branson’s Veteran’s Memorial Museum followed by a sightseeing tour of Old Town Branson and surrounding area. Lunch was on our own and there was plenty of shopping for the ladies in Old Town. At 1400 it was back on the buses for transport to the Showboat Branson Bell on Table Top Lake. A Memorial Service to honor past MASSEY shipmates was held in a beautiful setting next to the lake. After the service, it was onto the Branson Belle for a dinner cruise and show. The quality of the entertainment and the food, the hospitality of our hosts, and the absolute beauty of the lake made this event a very memorable trip. There is little doubt that the dinner cruise and show was a highlight of the reunion.
On Wednesday morning, we held our annual business meeting at the hotel. The rest of the day was free time and the ladies did an admirable job at helping the local economy at the numerous outlet malls in the area. At 1730 we gathered for one of the most challenging events for a senior group – the group photo! First the Boys and then Boys & Girls! Trying to get everyone in place, relatively quiet, smiling, and focused on the camera at the same time was an above and beyond accomplishment! That evening we were treated to the annual banquet complete with a live band and dancing. Jack Zagaros won the Fred Astaire trophy for classiest male dancer of the evening. The guest speaker for the banquet was Lt Col Rick Ziegenfuss, USAR, who in civilian life is the City Administrator for Hollister, a neighboring town to Branson. Rick’s speech was all about the Branson giving feeling in honoring our nation’s veterans and was a great way to capstone our reunion visit. If you missed Branson, you missed a great look at Americana at its finest!