Local WWII veteran honored at USS Bollinger Reunion

Charlie Stewart speaks at the USS Bollinger ReunionCharlie Stewart speaks at the USS Bollinger Reunion

All born in 1926, five WWII Navy shipmates from the USS Bollinger met in Tyler recently for their 21st annual reunion. Each of the veterans entered the war as 18-year olds and were in the service until 1946 at the end of the war.

This year, Groveton resident Charlie Stewart was presented a handsome plaque thanking him for organizing the reunions and for bringing the Bollinger family together. There were over 500 men on the Bollinger during WWII, and many of the veterans who joined their first reunion in 1997 had not seen each other since 1946. Starting in 1995, Mr. Stewart has spent many hours researching contact information on his shipmates. His efforts have allowed these Veterans to meet annually and renew friendships.

While their reunions have taken them from Jasper in 1997 to Ruidoso, NM in 1999, to now meeting in Tyler since 2012, these friends reminisce about everything from war stories to their great grandchildren. This year, shipmates could be heard describing memories of their families in Great Depression, one shipmate having typhoid fever, and most of them working several jobs to feed their growing families during the late 1940s and 1950s.

The veterans who attended were: Robert Hogue (Coldspring), Bill Reynolds (Center), Charlie Stewart (Groveton), Jim Upchurch (Texarkana, TX) and Joseph Stone (Portland, OR).

Other Bollinger Veterans' families join the reunion, Marie Hogue, wife of Robert Hogue, Lane Stewart of Groveton, son of Charlie Stewart, Joan Abler and Linda Johnson, wife and daughter of Jim Abler from Palo Alto, CA, Carol Holland, daughter of Jim Upchurch, and Lauren Fox and Emily Zietz, daughters of Veteran Wallace Norman of Houston, MS.