USS Natrona Sailors Hold Renion

by Taylor Viydo, 


This week Casper played host to a very unique reunion. Wednesday morning 16 World War II veterans and their families met at the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum. All 16 of the veterans were sailors during the War on the USS Natrona. 

The Natrona was an attack transport ship that carried combat troops into battle in the Pacific during World War II. It's not entirely sure how the ship got named after Natrona County, but one popular says residents of the county sold more war bonds than any other area, and thus earned the title. 

Since the early 1990's, sailors from the ship have met each year for a reunion to reconnect and rekindle their bonds formed during the war. "I have a sense of responsiblity to be associated with [the veterans]," said former USS Natrona sailor Donald Bates, "I look forward every year to getting together with these men."  

However, this year's reunion is the last for the group of sailors who are forced to come to terms with the harsh reality facing all World War II veterans. "Guys are dying off as of right now," said veteran Joe Bongiovanni. "Last time we were in Casper in 1992...there were 49, 50 guys. Now there are 15." 

While their time on this earth is limited, the one thing that will remain eternal for Natrona's Band of Brothers will be their bonds with one another. "Some of my buddies, I lived with," said an emotional Bongiovanni. "It's good seeing them again. It's just like you're brothers."