MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Eight former sailors who served during Vietnam aboard the USS Genesee Auxiliary Oil and Gasoline (Tanker) 8 visited Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Oct. 21, as part of their three-day reunion tour.
Six of the eight sailors served together from June 1967 - August 1969 and traveled from various parts of the U.S. to attend the weekend reunion, according to retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Alan Pendleton, reunion coordinator and former company commander aboard the ship.
“A few of these men served during the late 50s,” Pendleton said. “All of us are Vietnam-era veterans except for the Senior Chief Petty Officer Francis Bolds who also served in World War II. He was our chief boatswain mate and spent five years aboard the USS Genesee.”
Pendleton noted there is an AOG association that holds an annual reunion, but individuals who served on the USS Genesee usually hold a separate reunion event.
“We were hoping a few more would be able to make it, but due to health and other personal reasons, there are only a few of us this year,” he said. “We all have special memories of the time we served together and the attack on our ship April 22, 1968.”
Pendleton, who lives in Albany, Ga., and visits MCLB Albany periodically, said he wanted the group to see what the modern-day forces are doing and how they support the warfighter.
Jack Berryman lives in Vancouver, Wash., and served in the Navy on the USS Genesee from 1955 - 1957. He described his first time here in Georgia as “very different” and “very impressive.”
“I only served with one of the gentlemen here and when we served, nobody was shooting at us,” Berryman said. “It was a different lifestyle for us, but the reunion has been great and the stories are even better.”
Former Navy Lt. Bartley Costello of Albany, N.Y., served as the executive officer aboard the USS Genesee from 1966 - 1969. He said their mission on the AOG-8 was to provide gasoline for use in trucks, jeeps, tanks and planes in North and South Vietnam, as well as diesel fuel for some of the other equipment.
“Our ship was the only way to get this fuel in to support our team of Marines, Navy and Air Force personnel on the ground,” he said. “There was no other way to bring it to these areas because the roads were not safe for fuel trucks.”
Another attendee, retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Russell Waddell, served on the USS Genesee from 1967 - 1969 and currently resides in Great Falls, Mont.
“This is the second reunion I’ve been to and because I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, my counselor was a bit leery of me attending because he thought it might trigger something,” Waddell said. “Being here has helped me more than anything because it has given me closure. Getting back with these guys and talking about the things we did, didn’t do and should have done has been therapeutic.”
Pendleton said even though they were unable to tour Maintenance Center Albany, it was a fantastic tour.
“Seeing the military working dogs and listening to the Albany Marine Band play the Navy and Marine Corps Hymns made us all tear up,” Pendleton said. “I get butterflies in my stomach every time I hear those songs. It has been wonderful getting together with these guys again and I would go anywhere, anytime and anyplace with them.”
According to information provided by Clifford Blind, editor, USS Genesee newsletter and former shipmate, those who served on the ‘Genny’ were awarded the Navy Unit Citation for outstanding service.
The USS Genesee served in five different campaigns during Vietnam and was decommissioned by the Chilean Navy in January 1992. It was struck from the Naval Register on June 25, 1992, and the final disposition is unknown.