In the mid to late 1980's Bob LeGacy (BM2, 1943-1945) started to wonder about his old shipmates from the Caliente, how they were doing and why they didn't get together. It had been about 40 years since most of them departed the Cal and he thought a reunion to remember the times and share "war stories" would be a great idea. After listening to Bob mumble, groan and muse Bob's wife Nancy get a little tired of his grumblings and told him to "get off his butt and do something. With that encouragement Bob put ads in most of the military publications and contacted as many shipmates and he could. Once the word got out his idea started to come into being.
Joe Benziger (PHM2, 1945-1946) was one of the first to respond. John Creedon (QM1, 1943-1945), prompted by his high school classmate Cami Spiecens, told Bob DeFine (QM1, 1943-1945) and they both responded. Communications Officer Benjamin Greenberg (LTJG, 1943-1945), another respondee, joined the group along with Gunnery Officer Edward M. Whitlock joined the team. All of these shipmates worked together to plan the 1st reunion of a Cal crew.
On 6 February 1989, a letter signed by Bob LeGacy, John Creedon and Bob DeFine was sent to shipmates, who had shown an interest in having a reunion, informing that the 1st reunion would be held that year. A follow-up letter was sent by the original signatories plus Communications Officer Ben Greenberg confirming that the reunion would be held in New York City and that John Creedon would be the lead planner.
On 22-30 April, 1989 the first reunion of USS Caliente crew members was held at the Vista luxury hotel located in downtown Manhattan. Almost 45 years after the close of WWII, 15 veterans, including 6 officers plus 12 wives/companions got together. Activities included a helicopter ride over Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, a buffet lunch during a boat ride on the East and Hudson Rivers. The reunion culminated with a banquet, including music and dancing, that was held in the original World Trade Center. Others in attendance included Pappy Nichols (LCDR, 1943-1945), Fletcher Gordy (YN1, 1943-1944), Ciss and Frank Lang (LCDR, 1943-1945), Harold Hainebach (YN1, 1943-1945) and Trudy and Bud Lynch (LT, 1943-1945).
Coincidentally, the fleet was in New York celebrating the inauguration of President George Washington 200 years ago. The New York Daily News developed two full pages to the inauguration celebration and included a full page-length column, under the caption "OLD DAYS SAIL BACK FOR CREW" describing the USS Caliente reunion. It included a quote from Bob LeGacy stating "We put this together because the guys are dying off like flies". Bob certainly had a way with words when describing his shipmates.
In September 2014, two shipmates, who attended the 1st reunion in New York, attended the 19th reunion in Chicago. The shipmates were Joe Benziger and John Creedon. Also in attendance were WWII shipmates Fred Griffith (QM3, 1943-1946) Ed Reimerman (FN, 1945=1946) and JC Van Deusen (SFC, 1961-1965). Bob LeGacy and his wife Nancy were unable to attend but were extremely happy to hears that five WWII vets atended and that his dream of "getting shipmates together" was still succeeding.
All in attendance sent their best wishes to Bob and Nancy and thanked them for their efforts and diligence in initiating the creation of an Association that exists today. Bob responded, albeit 25 years later, "they aren't dead yet" - a bit of a reversal to his remarks in the New York Daily News. We are sure, that the Association has outlived Bob's initial expectations.