2023 registration is now open. Go to the reunion page to read the details and register.
Our scheduled port visit in October has been changed from Groton CT to Chantilly VA.
Primary reason is hotel availability and cost. Average daily room rate was in the high $200’s for the weekdays and well into the $300’s for Saturday night. We were unable to find a hotel, of a decent nature, that could guarantee us a room block of 30 to 40 rooms for the 4 days, which means we would have been split up into multiple hotels. Also, per Connecticut state law, we would not have been able to have our traditional Hospitality Suite. A lot of research went into trying to make Groton work. Many thanks to Captain Curtin for trying his best to help us out as well.
Because of these factors, the Board made the decision to pivot to Chantilly VA. This is a suburb of Washington DC. Many of our shipmates have done a tour of duty in DC. We do have a volunteer Reunion Coordinator team, Gene and Naomi Canfield. Gene is a retired Captain. Way to go O Gang!! Gene and Naomi are working diligently on securing a banquet location as well as some exciting field trips for Friday and perhaps Saturday. Stay tuned as plans come together and we can put out the information.
Also, this is an election year for the Board. All five spots are up for nomination and election. So, if you feel like leading this group, step up.
President, USS James K Polk Veterans Association
SSBN 645 Gold, 1971-1972
Jimmy K. Polk-fish 2023 All Crews Reunion Info
When: October 12th – 15th 2023
Where: Chantilly. VA
More details on the Reunion Information page…
Good evening folks,
As promised in our last update, the Board did convene this evening to discuss Hurricane Ian and the effect it may have on our reunion events this coming weekend.
Based on the latest predictions that have come out from The Weather Channel, NOAA, and whatever super weather spy agency that McGinn is tapped into, we have decided to remain on-course: the reunion will commence at 1400 on Thursday.
If you are having second thoughts on making the trip, you could come early and beat the bad weather on I-95. Several of the crew will be arriving on Wednesday afternoon so come join us early.
Therefore, the party is on. If we need to alter the weekend’s schedule a little(museum tour is iffy), a notice will be posted on the website and sent out on our Facebook page as well, so stay in-touch. We have spoken to the hotel, and they are excited to have us. No one wants this reunion to be cancelled.
Therefore, the Captains Night Orders are, “See you in Jax”.
In case you have been disconnected from the real world, we are about to have us a major hurricane steaming across the Gulf of Mexico. Ian is on a path towards the west side of Florida. Some of the models have this storm arcing to the east and passing over Jacksonville sometime around Thursday-Friday. Other models have it slamming into the panhandle. It really is too early to tell where this beast is headed. On the good side, we are receiving some serious intel from our own Senior Chief McGinn.
So, for right now, the party is on. The Board will be convening Monday evening to review the latest forecast. At that point, we will decide to either cancel, delay the start, or to continue monitoring. No one wants this reunion to be cancelled.
Therefore, the Captains Night Orders are, for all crew members to monitor the JKPVA website and decide what is best for you. This message will be updated tomorrow evening by 2100 hours.
Our Secretary, Matt Baumgarten, was the featured speaker at the Bench Dedication at the Cold War Memorial on Saturday, Oct 2nd 2021. The following is the text of Matt’s speech:
Greetings and salutations my fellow shipmates, and a warm Navy welcome to the spouses, families and friends that have accompanied you here today. You are all great Americans and true Patriots. Of this you should be extremely proud. And what better place for us to convene today than at Patriot’s Point, here in beautiful Charleston S.C.
We gather together today to formally dedicate the USS James K. Polk’s memorial bench located here in this magnificent Cold War Submarine memorial park.
I want to thank the people who were critical in making this bench dedication possible through their tireless efforts to have this beautiful memorial fabricated and installed: EM1 Lew Leal, Captain Jim Lyons, Captain Jim Pillsbury, the Board of the JKPVA, and most importantly, the Donors. I will not name names. You know who you are.
Whether you served on board the Jimmy K, submerged and cruising along at 4 knots to nowhere, standing at the ready to deliver intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple independent re-entry warheads or you served on-board her, sneaking up on some unsuspecting foreign land delivering America’s finest and bravest special operations warfighters, the United States Navy SEALs, you are part of a very special family; a very special breed of human being that is knuckle headed yet brilliant ,cunning and clever, introvert or wiseass, yet all silent killers from the deep.
For 33 years the James K. Polk sailed the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and then the Mediterranean Sea. Occasionally she spent time on a cradle in a drydock, getting fresh zoomie rods inserted in her tea kettle or a pair of underwater garages welded to her back, just so she could go back underwater and do her very special job. A job that can only be accomplished by men, and now women, that are specially trained, highly skilled and extremely motivated at not being found by their enemies for weeks or months on end. What a weird way to earn a living folks. And not much of a living it was.
I joined the crew of the James K. Polk in May 1992. I was fresh out of Nuke School and the Submarine Officer Basic Course and was so excited to hit the deck plates running. I knew walking across the brow for the very first time, just a few miles from where we stand right now, up the Cooper River, at Naval Submarine Base Charleston, that this was going to be a tough run. But never in my mind did I ever imagine the lifelong friendships that I was going to make. The true thing about these friendships, is that you may have served three months with a shipmate or three years, it doesn’t matter. One underway together and the bond is there forever.
Standing here some 29+ years later, I would give my right arm to get underway one more time and take her down deep. There is not a thrill in this world to me that matches hearing the sound of the klaxon diving alarm blaring out its unique sound and the COW saying “Dive, Dive” over the 1MC. It may have taken hundreds of procedural steps and many long hours of preparation to finally get out to the dive point, but hearing the air escaping the main ballast tank vents, and then feeling the boat slip beneath the waves, bow down, picking up speed, and then finally settling at the ordered depth in that surreal tranquil undersea world that we all called home for some period of our young lives, was all worth the effort.
The beauty of our James K. Polk Veterans Association, is that once a year we gather together to see our former shipmates, make a few new shipmates and to relive the days of our youth.
No one can tell a better story, 3 times in one weekend I might add, than a submarine sailor.
One day not too long ago at one of these gatherings in Myrtle Beach, an idea was brought forth about raising money to have a memorial bench created to honor the Jimmy K. I don’t recall the price, but it wasn’t cheap. The amazing thing about this bench is not the fact that it looks freaking awesome, or that it is the best-looking bench in the entire park here, the amazing thing is that we raised the money in just a few days. The excitement, the love for and the commitment to the Polk legacy shined ever so bright that week.
We are very fortunate that the sail from our beloved boat has been saved and will live on for many years to come in Albuquerque. Not many submariners ever get to touch a major part of their boat ever again in their lives, but we do. Getting the sail saved, moved, and put in-place was the work of a few shipmates.
And now, thanks to the efforts of a few more of our shipmates, we have this beautiful bench to visit and reflect upon the days we sailed together onboard the USS James K. Polk SSBN 645 and SSN 645.
Thank you for coming today. Thank you for listening. I am really looking forward to the Banquet tonight onboard the Yorktown. Our guest speaker is going to amazing.
And one last thing shipmates: never forget, the SS after all of our names, really stands for Submarine Strong.
Thanks to all for attending the reunion this year in Charleston! We had around 120 attendees this year.
If you have not already done so, please fill out a short survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GC5T7HS
Don’t be a check valve, please share your photos with the rest of the crew via this link:
Want to see what you missed, or what trouble you got into, the photos can be viewed at this link: