Former Navy shipmates visit Whitehall museum

A group of Navy veterans who served aboard the same ship during the Korean War visited Whitehall last week as part of their annual reunion.

Nearly a dozen veterans who served aboard the U.S.S. Ammen during the Koren War took in some of the local sights, enjoying lunch at Finch and Chubb’s and stopping by the U.S.S. Ticonderoga and the Skenesborough Museum for an informative program on the history of the community, led by museum volunteer Wayne Senecal.

They also took a few minutes to hold a memorial service for their fallen comrades and veterans everywhere, reading off the names of former shipmates and ringing a bell for each man who is no longer among them.

Afterwards they dedicated a handsome plaque-that will be on display at the museum-in honor of fellow veterans.

Walt McConnell, an officer aboard the ship and a retired physician from New Jersey who now lives in Lake George, said the former shipmates try to get do together every year to catch up and bond, as well as spend a few days with family sightseeing throughout the northeast.

He said they host a memorial service every year to pay their respects.

“Most that come are regulars and come every year,” McConnell said. “But we always have a memorial service. Last year it was at Sullivan’s Ship inNiagara Falls.”

He said they choose to come toWhitehallthis year because of the history of the area.

“Well, first of all it’s the birthplace of the U.S. Navy and we’re all navy vets,” McConnell said. “It’s also theAdirondacksand it’s beautiful this of year.”

BesidesWhitehall, the group had visitedFortTiconderoga, Fort William Henry, drove to the summit ofProspectMountaininLake George, taken a cruise on the Mohican, and dined in Warrensburg.

The four day tour was organized by McConnell who said the group has organized its own reunions for the past three years after previously relying on Tin Can Sailors, a national association of naval destroyer veterans.

The USS Ammen was a Fletcher Class destroyer and was commissioned onSept. 17, 1942before being taken out of service onSept. 15 1960.

The ship was more than a football field long (376 feet and six inches to be exact) was capable of traveling at a speed of 35 knots.

The vessel saw a great deal of action in the Pacific theater of World War II, providing antisubmarine and antiaircraft protection for troops during the invasion ofOkinawa.

Several years later the ship patrolled the waters of the Korean peninsula during the Korean War.

McConnell said he was 22 years old when he served aboard the ship during the Korean War and many of his shipmates were even younger at 18 and 19 years old.

He said they served together for approximately two years and the bond they share still brings them together to this day.

“We love getting back together,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll start a tradition of other ships coming to visitWhitehall.”

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