The Presidents MessageGreetings shipmates near and far: I am writing this letter from a normally cold and wintery Indiana, but not so much this year! My name is Gary Schweizer and my wife and I will do our best to serve the Southerland Reunion Committee.
I served aboard the Southerland from 1971 to 1975 as a Machinist Mate. It was by far the most memorable experience of my life. Working in the forward engine room (Main Control), it was very hot and the hardest work that this 20 year old had ever experienced. I have many great memories and made lasting friendships.
After my discharge in 1975 I returned to my previous employer in a frozen food warehouse. It didn’t take long till I was bored wondering what the heck I got out for. So later that year I went into the Navy Reserves. After a couple of years drilling I tried to get back into active duty but they were not taking veterans at that time. I dropped out of the reserves and pretty much put the Navy behind me.
In 1981, I met my future wife Linda and we were married in September 1982. Life was good but about to get better. Out of the blue in early 1983, a Navy recruiter called me and asked if I was still interested in re-enlisting. When I told Linda I was going back in the service she said what does that mean. Needless to say she found out and she loved it. She supported me fully and was always first in line on the pier upon my return from my many deployments. So, in 1999 after nearly 25 years of service and multiple ships I retired as a Chief Petty Officer. Of all of my duty stations the Southerland was the ship I most often thought of.
Like the previous Reunion Committee President, Ben Gurganus (My good buddy and shipmate) I too was contacted by Rick Anderson and attended my first ships reunion in Omaha and was hooked. I reunited with old shipmates and met many others who served aboard the best Tin Can on the West Coast. With the help of many shipmates and their spouses we are preparing for the 2018 reunion in New Orleans, LA. With the great food, music and a wonderful WW II museum, it should be a great time for all.
If you are reading this letter on the Southerland Web Page and have not received a newsletter, please contact me with your service information, phone number and mailing or email address. We would love to see you in New Orleans and catch up on sea stories.
I want to thank everyone for your help, from the updating of the ships roster to the venue planning for 2018.
Gary W Schweizer, President
USS Southerland DD/DDR 743