Not all of the music lovers were aboard the USS Turner Joy. This happy couple brought their row boat alongside the USS Turner Joy to enjoy the evening’s music. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

Spreading the love on the USS Turner Joy

There was certainly love and thanks for six former crew members who served during the Vietnam War

BREMERTON — There was lots of love going around at the “Love on the High Seas” musical event on Aug. 6 aboard the USS Turner Joy. The event was a joint fundraiser — the first — for the Kitsap Historic Ships Association and the Bremerton Symphony Association and was sponsored by the Bremerton-Kitsap Airporter and First Federal.

Love our veterans

There was certainly love and thanks for the six veterans who had served aboard the USS Turner Joy during the Vietnam War and who had journeyed from around the country to be at the event and to share their love for their ship and shipmates.

“This was our home,” said Tod Hale of Central Point, Oregon, who served aboard the destroyer from 1966-69.

It was a sentiment shared by all of the other veteran crew members there: Chad James (1962-65) of Redmond, Oregon; Jim Chester (1971-73) of Carson City, Nevada; David Nitsch (1967-68) of Hallettesville, Texas; and John Hart (1965-69) and Mike Stockreiter (1964-66), who both came all the way from Illinois.

The six had toured the ship the day before the event and then dined that night at the Horse and Cow, a favorite hangout for Navy submariners.

“They let us in even though we were [surface] Navy,” one veteran said with a smile.

Love the music

From almost the moment they arrived, guests were entertained with string and brass music performed by members of the Bremerton Symphony, first at the check-in stand and later on the destroyer’s fantail.

The Take Four String Quartet consisted of Tineke Dahl and Pete Wiggins playing violin along with Larry Nyquist on the viola and Ingrid Peters bowing the cello.

In addition to bouncy beats, the Bremerton Symphony Brass Quintet helped formally open the evening’s events by accompanying vocalist Janese Coleman in performing the National Anthem. The Brass Quintet was made up of trumpeters Dean Wagner and Keith Baggerly, with Valerie Behling on French horn, Dennis Goans on tuba, and Wayne Jordheim on trombone.

Love the memories

In addition to selfies, guests could have their pictures taken by Elaine Turso Photography. (Which seemed appropriate for the “Love Boat” theme, as she is well-known for her glamour photography.)

Love letters

In keeping with the evening’s theme, visitors could read copies of love letters that service men and loved ones exchanged during World War II. The Kitsap County Historical Museum provided the display and reading them touched the heart; writers on both sides sharing the little, mundane things in life, funny stories and, sometimes, passionate love — all the while attempting to conceal or downplay anything that might cause the other pain or concern.

Lovely prizes

Besides music, food, guests honor and wine, there a raffle and silent auction.

The raffle for a private party on board the USS Turner Joy was won by Nick Wofford.

At the silent auction, Alan Hunter was the high bidder for the Hampton Inn & Suites one night stay for two. The winning bid for the Argossy Cruises Harbor Cruise for two came from Linda Hyland. Frank Laverty beat out the other bidders for two tickets to Ride the Duck of Seattle, complete with a yellow duck stuffed toy. The Woodland Park Zoo family fun pack passes for four was scooped up by Sheila Cline, while Alan Hunter was high bidder for the SeeFilms party room rental and the Eleven Winery Club Party went to Lydia McElroy. The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park tour for four went to high bidder Pat Sullivan. John Hart was the top bidder for a framed image of the USS Turner Joy. The high bidder for the O’Reilly’s Autoparts basket of car accessories and golf bag was Mark Lauch. Sheila Cline outbid everyone else for the Debbie Macomber basket full of signed books, a coffee mug, tea, and wall art and decor. Six tickets to The Monorail Behind the Scenes Tour went to Kim Sloan, while the pair of Kellie Pickler Tickets went to high bidder Kim Sloan.

Lovin’ it

“Superb,” chorused Bremerton Symphony President Deborah Housen and First Vice President Connie Lord, when asked how the evening went.

“The weather was perfect. This is a great venue,” Lord said.

Housen added, “Everybody I talked to said they had a great night.”

The event raised about $8,000 before expenses, said Bremerton Symphony Executive Director Anna James Miller, who co-chaired the event along with Frank Portello, executive director of the Kitsap Historic Ships Association.

— Terryl Asla is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at

The Take Four String Quartet entertained guests as they came aboard as well as on the fantail later in the evening. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

Turner Joy crew members from the Vietnam War era welcomed guests to what they called “their home” as they came aboard. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

Guests gathered on the stern of the ship to listen to the evening’s music, while enjoying complimentary hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer and desserts. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

Six veteran Turner Joy crew members were honored guests. From left, Jim Chester, David Nitsch, Tod Hale, Chad James, John Hart and Mike Stockreiter. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

The display of World War II love letters provided by the Kitsap County Historical Museum touched the hearts of many guests Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

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