Early Days and Memories of the USS Underhill Reunions

Stories from the USS Underhill family and early days of the USS Underhill Reunion.  This is a reprint from the USS Underhill Newsletter created and distributed by Cheryl Dace Jones and Ruth Dace.  I don’t usually put the newsletters on the web site because of the personal nature of the information in the newsletters but this past newsletter has some great information about the early days of the reunions.  Many thanks for Cheryl and Ruth for putting this together.

If you like this you may also want to read the page on the Organization Founding.
If you are not receiving the USS Underhill newsletter and would like to please let me know and I will forward the request along.
Thanks, Jay

USS Underhill 682 Newsletter

Vol.21 No.1 - July 2009

Greetings to all DE 682 Underhill Reunion members.  It’s July… and It’s Hot!

Now travel back in time to 1947,.two years after the Underhill was sunk. “Pop” Morrison was among several other family members who had lost their loved ones on the Underhill.  He made it a mission to gather the families and survivors together for a memorial reunion.  Getting information on members was hard because the military had not released or declassified information on crew members and many had been scattered over the U.S.  

Through much hard work from Mike Mraz, Jake Golba, Mom Hogus and Pop Morrison and several others the Underhill memorial committee was born.  Pop Morrison’s son, was killed on the Underhill and so was Mom Hogus.  Somehow, Pop Morrison was able to secure a charter from President Truman to hold an annual memorial reunion at the Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, MD.

The first reunion was held in 1947 and it served to provide some closure in bringing the survivors and families together to tell their stories and share their grief. The Underhill  was always a family reunion.  The first group picture was everyone together; survivors and all.

Carvel Hall was the reunion meeting place and was often used by visiting VIP’s, as well as Navy when they need headquarters for visiting guests.

It was a 100 room addition to an old plantation house called the “Paca” House. The Carvel Hall addition was built in 1909 and was in the old plantation style with big porch columns and an alabaster white exterior.  There was no air-conditioning except for the dining room and bar.  As I remember the whir of giant ceiling fans with big open windows kept you cool.

I remember many visits to Annapolis and Carvel Hall when I was little.  It was like visiting your extended family of Aunts and Uncles every year.  We also looked forward to seeing the Bell Captain and official greeter… Marcellus.  He was CARVEL HALL!  Marcellus understood the Navy and the crew.  He understood the families and children.  Sometimes he let us slide down the great curving banister in the grand lobby or take us to get an ice cream at the bar.  He terrified Mom Hogus by throwing us up in the air and laughing his great laugh.  Marcellus was part of the reunion every year and also was honored by the Naval Academy for being a great ambassador for them.  He was also in the old 40’s movie Shipmates Forever. Carvel Hall was a hop-skip and jump from the “Naval Academy” and it was our playground.  Someone a few years ago asked if it was ok to bring their children to the reunion.  Our reunions have always had children attending.  I grew up at them.

USS Underhill reunions after the war years were big news in the Annapolis Newspaper.  Sometimes, the memorial service was met by the Commandant of the Academy.  The Underhill Committee as it was called, saved money to purchase a gift for the Chapel in the form of a carved redwood console case for the pipe organ.  It was dedicated in 1954.  You can see the console case in the movie A Man called Peter.  The committee met and agreed to purchase more organ money for more pipes. In the 50’s there was a short cruise for reunion members on a destroyer. 

As families grew older and larger the reunions came to a halt in the late 60s and 70s, but  after retirement was reenergized by Paul Adams, Rodger Crum, and Jake Golba.  Sorry if I left out others that were helpful.

Don Kruse kept in touch with many in New York and New Jersey.  Many early Bull Horns were printed by Bobby Wooten.  The pictures in those early editions have the 1947 memorial picture in them.

We have lost many loved crew members lately… Phil Maiorana (Underhill  crew member)  in June and a memorial gift was sent to the Slater in his honor.

Jim Cannon, Maki, Earl Arnold, Golba, and many others will be remembered. The Underhill reunion, has  added  a beautiful stone at Arlington that is very visible from the path. The extended Underhill family has grown with the help of Jay Crum’s web site for the Underhill members.  Paula Ponas whose Uncle Ed Ponas (KIA on the Underhill) helps to coordinate yearly meetings . 

We realize that not everyone is connected to the internet and hope that you will find a way to get to Jay Crum’s website for that, but we are including greetings from Phil Hanlon that he could not go but wanted any information from Underhill members.  Barb Adams called to say they will try to get there if possible. Same here. We want to come but are not sure how. In this newsletter, we are sending some pictures of the history of The Underhill, Carvel Hall, and crew members. 

The memorial services always consisted of a prayer, music, a remembrance, and a short version of the sinking of the Underhill. Then we finished with Taps and the Navy Hymn. On the way out you can look in the Golden Book or Honor Roll pages turned to see handwritten names of the crew members who were lost. The last thing was the group photo of everyone, families and crew members all together. Because after all, we are all a family.

    We are including pictures of Carvel Hall circa 1940-50, Marcellus Bell captain, Reunion pictures of 1947 and 1952 and of Gard and Mom Hogus outside Carvel Hall, as well as a few others. Bring your family and your memories to reunion 2009!

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