Veterans, Wives Hold Kennebec Day’ Reunion

Veterans, Wives Hold Kennebec Day’ Reunion


Veterans who served aboard the U. S. Navy oiler USS Kennebec, AO 36, gathered in Alameda with their spouses for their 17th annual reunion. This year’s confab coincided with Fleet Week on San Francisco Bay. 

During their stay, the veterans and their wives enjoyed a cruise aboard the USS Jeremiah O’Brien. They also visited the Alameda Museum, where they met with Mayor Trish Spencer. The mayor honored them with a proclamation declaring Friday, Oct. 6 “USS Kennebec Day.” 

In the photo above, standing from left to right for the occasion are Don and Nancy Neff from Nashville, Tenn.; Charlie and Gail Howell from Alameda; John and Carol Kachur from Prescott, Ariz.; Walter and Marylou Norkus from Hanover, Mass. and Mayor Trish Spencer; “down front” are Richard and Margaret Spanier from Shell Beach, Calif. Spencer holds the proclamation that honored the veterans and their wives. 

“We all served aboard the Kennebec in the late ‘60s,” said Don Neff, who made the trip with his wife, Nancy, from Nashville, Tenn. The ship had its homeport across San Francisco Bay at Hunter’s Point. The Kennebec saw duty in Vietnam as a fleet oiler replenishing ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, out of Subic Bay and in the Philippines. The Kennebec also saw duty in World War II and during the Korean conflict. The ship was awarded a Battle Star during World War II and seven Campaign Stars during the Vietnam War. 

According to Alameda resident and Kennebec veteran Charlie Howell, the wives organized themselves one year as the K-Chicks. “The men were having their Saturday morning business meeting, which used to take a while,” Howell said. “Our wives would go shopping, or to a movie, or in the later years, to the bar. They dubbed themselves the K-Chicks.” 

Attendance at reunion has dwindled as the years rolled by. “Our first couple of reunions had more than 100 veterans in attendance,” Howell said. “There are fewer of us nowadays. The average age of this year’s attendees is 72.” 

“Emails and posts from this year’s crew say they want to come back to Alameda, soon. The veterans really enjoyed the Victorian-era houses, the museums and restaurants, and, of course the breweries,” Howell said.