Navy men who served on the USS Salem gather to remember the Quincy-built ship
Ocean winds could be heard in the background as Eileen Daniels sat aboard the Spirit of Boston with the US Navy men who once served on the heavy cruiser, the USS Salem.
It was the 25th reunion of the USS Salem Association, and the weekend was all about old friendships.
A Friday afternoon lunch on the Spirit of Boston cruise ship was just part of a weekend packed with events for the old crew to reconnect and reminisce their days aboard the Salem.
“Emotions run heavy every time,” said Daniels. “The guys lived together. This ship was their home.”
The USS Salem was an active Navy vessel for 10 years, serving as flagship of the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and the Second Fleet in the Atlantic, the ship’s website said. Built in Quincy, the Salem was commissioned at the former Boston Navy Yard in 1949, and returned home in 1994, according to the ship’s website.
At over 716 feet long, the Salem was advanced for its time. The vessel’s most unique feature was its rapid fire guns, the website said.
Now, the Salem is a member of the Historic Naval Ships Association and is permanently berthed in the former Fore River shipyard in Quincy, the website said.
Daniels and her husband Bob started the association in the 1980s. Since her husband’s passing in 2007, Daniels has kept the reunion going.
“It has renewed the friendship of many guys,” she said.
The Salem crew often brings family and friends to the reunion, which can be especially fun for grandchildren, Daniels said.
“They all want to see into the ship their grandfather lived in,” said Daniels. Unfortunately, due to maintenance of the pier Salem is docked on, the group could not celebrate on board this year.
They instead set up chairs and a podium for speeches with the Salem as a backdrop. After hearing stories and memories from their days on board, they headed to Boston for lunch on the Harbor.
The weekend will come to a close Sunday after an elegant dance Friday evening and a visit to Salem Saturday.Melissa Hanson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Melissa__Hanson.