Highlights from the 20th Class Reunion: September 9-11, 2016

What an amazing weekend! The tallies show there were close to 400 of us in town for all or part of the weekend, which is outstanding considering the number we have still deployed/active duty, and how wide and far we are spread around the globe. After trickling into town Thursday and Friday, the Class of 1996 kicked off the weekend in style with a Friday evening cocktail reception at the Governor Calvert House, where we busted the seams of the place and got our first chance to catch up with everyone en masse. We may have leaned heavily on the assistance of nametags from time to time, but judging from the dull roar that ensued throughout the evening, it’s safe to say we had no trouble trading stories and catching up on the years that have passed. I know more than a few people who needed a new voice by the time Saturday rolled around!

The heat and humidity were certainly pegged for the entire weekend, and Saturday brought the big guns for sure. Too hot for the Brigade to march on Friday? That’s weak… the WBGT might be through the stratosphere, but ’96ers never Black Flag a tailgate. We partied on despite the well over 96 degree temps and 96% humidity. Awesome food, great booze from our very own distiller, an exciting Navy win and the amazing company of friends and family were all we needed on Saturday. Huge shout out to Brian Facquet, who tirelessly donated time, energy and spirits from Prohibition Distillery to fuel our reunion comraderie. Here is an excerpt from Brian’s post-event report:

“Wow… I am exhausted. I have done events all over the world in the past 7 years, from the NY Superbowl and NASCAR All Star race to the Sundance Film Festival, and you ’96ers drank more in one day than all of those events combined. You consumed 25 gallons of Southside, 5 pounds of mint, well over 700 Mules and 400 gin and tonics, 125 limes, 360 mini Bootlegger bottles and a total of 240 full bottles of Bootlegger Vodka and Gin.  It was like the Klumps at a buffet. I enjoyed sharing my spirits with you. I hope that you all had a great time. I love you guys, am proud of each of you and I will always do what I can for you guys.”

Thank you is just not enough, Brian! Reunion attendance tallies are a bit murky when it comes to breakdown by company, but I’m declaring a tie between 9th Company, pictured at right, and 11th Company. 9th Company managed to get 19 people in one photo at the tailgate, although 11th Company reported they had 19 of 24 members present over the course of the weekend. We’ll definitely try to keep better stats and have a rematch at the 25 year reunion. An 8 hour tailgate may sound like a long time, but it really wasn’t. The event crew had to shut off the lights and lock down the air-conditioned bathrooms in order to get us to leave, which prompted spillover parties at many of the local bars and restaurants downtown, as well as in hotels and at rental houses (and rental boats!) long into the night.

Sunday, 11 September was a most fitting day to pay tribute to the 13 fallen members of our class with a memorial service on the Yard. As difficult as that service was, we bonded together in true ’96 fashion and bravely honored those we love dearly and have lost too soon. I know I echo the sentiments of many others when I say that a weekend just wasn’t long enough. I was in town from early Thursday through late Monday, and still wished I had another week to catch up with everyone. See you at the 25th!

– Cara