Captain Tazewell's Party


Captain Tazewell Dinner
March 30, 2006 

            Members of the crew from 1960-62 gathered in Virginia Beach on March 29th and 30th, 2006 to give a surprise party to honor our Captain John P. Tazewell.
            In attendance were a mixed group of former officers and enlisted men.
            The crew gathered on Wednesday and had a great time seeing each other, some for the first time in 45 years. We had a fine dinner on Wednesday evening and a good time was had by all in attendance, especially John Hudak.
            On Thursday morning some played a round of golf and others toured their old stomping grounds at N.O.B. and the old D&S Piers.
            Thursday evening Sonny picked up Captain and Mrs. Tazewell along with Mrs. Faye Robison Harris, (our former OPS officer’s widow) to go to dinner. The captain only thought it was dinner with just me. As we approached the restaurant the crew was hiding just inside the door. As the captain approached, the doors opened and there were two ranks of 14 men as side boys. Chief Ralph Doll piped the captain aboard. Fred Nardei rang the bell and announced “Laffey Arriving”. Captain Tazewell, 86 years young, was very surprised and moved. He went down the ranks shaking each man’s hand as he went.
            As the dinner progressed, Sonny Walker spoke of how the captain turned a bunch of children into a well oiled fighting machine. As he was told, even though it was peace-time, he had us ready for anything the Soviets could throw at us.
            Captain Tazewell was presented a plaque from those in attendance, in appreciation for what he did for all of us. The plaque read as follows:


Thank You
Captain John P. Tazewell
Commanding Officer
USS Laffey DD-724

From your crew members of 1960-62.
Thank you for taking “boys” and turning us into “men of responsibility”.
Thank you for showing us how to lead, by leading by example.
Thank you for giving us honor and integrity.
Thank you for the discipline which was sometimes necessary. It helped to strengthen us.
Thank you for making the LAFFEY’S crew the best in the Navy.

We are proud and honored to call you “OUR SKIPPER”.

Thank You

Your “CREW”



            Tom Hoobyar DKSN spoke and mentioned how the captain brought the Laffey from last place to first plane in our squadron in 3 months.
            Joe Papaleo SN thanked the captain for turning his life around.
            Sonny read letters from John McBrinn RD2 and Barry Shugarts QM2thanking the captain and giving their apologies for not being able to attend.
            Ltjg Frank Schulte and Ltjg Fred Thiesz also spoke with compliments to the captain.
            Sonny told the captain that most of us enlisted men in attendance were “disciplinary problems”. He said that “They make the best sailors!”
            The captain spoke and told us how he was honored to be with us again. He thanked us for everything.
            When I took our guests home the captain told me that he would remember that evening forever.

            Shipmates in attendance were:

1. LCDR & Mrs. Bill Clark      XO                  Tennessee
2. LT Bob Karas                      OPS OFCR     Florida
3. Ltjg Frank Schulte                ENG OFCR     Virginia
4. Ltjg Fred Thiesz                   CIC OFCR      Maryland
5. Ralph Doll                            BMCM            Virginia
6. Ira Kurtz                              DK2                New York
7. Dave Harhager                     QM2                Florida
8. Sonny Walker                      RM2                Maryland
9. Tom Kilpatrick                     RM2                New York
10. Tom Hoobyar                     DKSN             California
11. Don Watson                       SN                   Florida
12. John Hudak                        BTFN              Pennsylvania
13. Joe Papaleo                        SN                   Ohio
14. Larry Ubil                           SN                   Pennsylvania
15. Fred Nardei                       SN                   Indiana 

A special thanks to Tom Watt and John McBrinn who were unable to attend due to health problems. 

Sonny Walker

Photographs of party