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O'Briens Join Veterans for Washington Reunion
Lucille and I just returned from my fourteenth annual reunion, which was held this year at Seattle, Washington.  To begin our trip, Lucille drove our car (I, O'Brien, live dangerously) to Grand Prairie where we spent the night with a buddy, William S. Bean, nicknamed "The Judge-East-of-the-Pecos-Bean." Bill's niece and her husband drove us to DFW Airport for our flight to Seattle the next morning.

Our Group was lodged at the Red Lion Inn, a luxurious hostelry with a bank of glassed-in elevators - every ride to and from our room was a scenic tour.

One of our tours was a trip to a sidewalk-fruit-vegetable-fish-and everything-imaginable market, a visit to the freshwater-seawater boat locks, and a view of the Salmon Run, where I learned more of the salmon's lifestyle than I wanted to know. According to our guide, the salmon are born upstream in fresh water lakes, migrate downstream to the ocean where they live I would think a very monotonous life of some five or so years.  Then as full grown salmon, they return to their birthplace where the female lays her eggs, they are fertilized by the male, and then they both die.  Seems like a very dull life to me, and they never even get acquainted with their children, much less their grand children. I'd rather be a peanut farmer. And, some of the salmon don't even get to finish the round trip, winding up at a salmon bake for the 82nd Fighter Group at Tillicum Village. We reached Tillicum Village by way of a boat cruise up Puget Sound. (I learned a "Sound" differs from a "Harbor," because one has two or more inlets and the other has only one, but I forget which is which).

While at Tillicum Village we not only enjoyed salmon baked in traditional Indian style by open fire, but we were also treated to a spectacularly traditional series of dances by descendants of the Northwest Indian Tribes, complete with their most elaborate ceremonial masks. In retrospect, we could have stayed home and eaten Lucille's salmon patties, which I prefer to baked, and gone to the PowWow and seen the Indian Dances there, and spent a lot less money.

Another tour we made was a one-day excursion by way of boat to Victoria, B.C.  The trip to Victoria was disappointing in that the view was obscured by fog most of the way, but we enjoyed the view of the seascape and sunset on the return trip.  While in Victoria, we passed up High Tea at seventeen fifty per person and opted for a tour of the city.; Our guide said the residential area we viewed had an average market value of some $350,000.00. We were not so impressed except for the landscape and flowers.  (Two homes were valued at $7,500,000 and $10,000,000 respectively.)   With two hanging baskets at every lamppost and flowers throughout the business and residential areas, we thought the flowers were the most beautiful and prolific we've seen, excepting possibly Ireland. The 95th Fighter Squadron of which I was a member, was one of four squadrons of P-38s that made up the 82nd Fighter Group, and the present-day 95th Fighter Squadron based at Tyndale, Florida is the only one of our group active today. The present-day 95th still maintains our cherished squadron insignia, the rather macabre Human Skull wearing a top hat.  But, today they fly a very sophisticated computerized F-15s with awesome long-range missile firepower accurate at unbelievable ranges and in this dangerous world in which we live, I still believe we are in need of this type of deterrent.  I trust my reasons are not just sentimental ones in hoping the 95th Fighter Squadron will remain intact as one of our first lines of defense.

 It was a great personal pleasure to renew my friendship with several of these young pilots at our reunion, including one Captain Tom O'Brien, age 34.  I am flattered, pleased, and embarrassed to have him claim me as his long-lost Grandfather.  We did decide for the sake of propriety and other compelling personal reasons to maintain the relationship on an honorary basis, and more practically to claim a common Grandfather O'Brien some 10 or 20 generations ago.

Of course, the real reason we have for our Annual Reunion is not the trips or tours but the all-too-fleeting friendships and fellowship we enjoy with those with whom we have shared memorable experiences a half-century past, and this reunion was one of the best.  On our return trip we were met at the airport by Bill Bean's brother, Bruce, and their mutual friend, Durwood Sutton, retired banker, in a chauffeured limousine about one and a half blocks long.  We traveled in most unaccustomed style to Bill (the Judge) Bean's home where we enjoyed bed and breakfast before returning home.  I told Bill I would recommend his accommodations to all my friends, but he said not to bother.

Our next reunion will be held in San Angelo, Texas.

Printed in The Comanche Chief newspaper, October 1993