Irish Naval Associations first visit to the USA 1996 

One highlight of the Association was an invitation from the US Veterans in Boston for the Irish Naval Association to participate in The Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade. 156 members, including wives and girlfriends, traveled to the United States on the 10th March, 1996.

11 officers, 33 NCOs and 41 Ratings headed the Irish Contingent marching behind the Naval Colour Party carrying the National Colours.. It was the first time in the history of the Irish State that such a large contingent of Irish Naval personnel paraded outside the State. Next came the Naval Association Colours leading 45 retired members. The Naval Association Colours were paraded for the the very first time on this historic occasion. Trailing behind, suitably decked out for the occasion, came the wives and girlfriends.

Prior to the visit to the United States the US Ambassador to Ireland Mrs. Jean Kennedy Smith (sister of the late President J.F.K)and her Military Attaché, Col. William Torpey made several contacts in the USA resulting in all the Irish Naval Association Contingent being accommodated by the US Military at Fort Devens Military Base in Massachusetts.

On Parade Boston 1996

Fort Devens situated 35 miles northwest of Boston was created in 1917. It was named after Major General Charles Devens (Civil War). When Camp Devens opened in September 1917 it received draftees who underwent rigorous training before leaving for the trenches in France. Following the ending of the first World War, Camp Devens was manned by a small caretaker staff and in 1930 the government was planning to close Camp Devens, however in 1932 the government made Devens a permanent post and renamed it Fort Devens on October 7 1932.
In 1942 the Army designated an area as a prisoner-of-war camp and held over 5000 German and Italian prisoners captured in Africa, Sicily and Italy.

In 1991 the BRAC Commission recommended that Fort Devens should close. Fort Devens was to officially close in February 1996, however, due to the arrival of the Irish Naval Association on the 15th March for 10 days the closure of Fort Devens was postponed until the end of March. The Irish Naval Association were delighted to have had an opportunity of staying at Fort Devens as an Army Fort before its closure.

US Army Reserves on local training during our visit to Fort Devens.

No St. Patricks day would be complete without a party. Following our participation in the Boston St. Patricks day parade all returned to Fort Devens where an excellent dinner and dance was provided. During the courese of the evening we were joined by members of the US Army reserve who were on training at Deven's. As the evening wore on the real party got under way and several renderings of "The Shores of Tripoli" was provided for our entertainment.

We must also recall the hospitality of the Army at Fort Deven's including Ric Brackett 3rd who look after our needs before our arrival and during our stay. Also the three army Sergants who provided the transport for our party while in New York and Boston.

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