Navy officers and enlisted personnel in crisp summer white uniforms were an impressive sight as guests boarded the USS De Wert Friday for a private reception honoring the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
A band played, drums, bugles and whistles sounded, and the national anthems of Canada and the United States were performed. It was a patriotic moment that touched everyone's hearts. Oliver Hazzard Perry, whose birthday was the day before, and the Battle of Lake Erie were recognized and a toast was made to all servicemen who are currently deployed.
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Invited guests mingled over hors doeuvres set amid a sparkling eagle-shaped ice sculpture. Mingling with the Navy personnel were U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D. Toledo), State Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo), Mayor Mike Bell, and Allan Block, chairman of The Blade's parent company, Block Communications Inc., who was there with his wife, Susan.
Also there were Blade president and general manager, Joseph Zerbey IV, a retired Navy man; Bob Chirdon, Jerry Chabler, Labib and Karyn Hajjar, Bill Buckley, Joe Napoli, Stan and Sheila Odesky, and many others.
Special guest was William De Wert of Fort Wayne, Ind., brother of the ship's namesake Richard De Wert, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism while serving with the 7th Marines during the Korean War. William was there with his son, William De Wert, Jr., and granddaughter, Jessica De Wert. Mike Koontz, of the Lucas County Sheriff's Office, said he rode on the ship as it came into the harbor, and all along the way crowds of people on the riverbank cheered. He said communication and security were team efforts involving the Navy and the sheriff's office, Toledo police and fire departments, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the Coast Guard. Yachts and a nearby bridge were dwarfed by the giant ship docked at Maritime Plaza.
A Welcoming Reception at the Maritime Academy of Toledo was last Thursday. The reception, a fund-raiser for the academy, netted more than $3,000. Guests watched the arrival of the Navy ships from a balcony while tasting an 1812 British beer prepared by Maumee Bay Brewing. Tasty appetizers were prepared by Maritime Academy chef Ed Gozdowski, including Angus beef sliders and smoked salmon quesadillas.
In attendance were Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Lucas County commissioner Carol Contrada, David Dock Treece and his father Dock Treece, Keith Burwell, Linda Stacy, Jim Brennan, Jr., Greg and Amy Dunn, Tom and Marlene Uhler, Matt Zaleski, Bill and Christine Meyers with daughter Bella who was celebrating her birthday, Steve Toth, board president, and Shawn Bussell of the University of Toledo.
Some 40 developmentally disabled adults of Lucas County from Wiley Homes saw the ships on the Maumee River during Navy Week, thanks to Harbor View Yacht Club, which hosts an annual cruise for the group. The cruise of about a dozen boats was Saturday, followed by a picnic at the club. Residents ranging in age from 34 to 91 years old were thrilled by the sights, according to club member Marie Cousino, who is a licensed practical nurse for Wiley Homes.