The Heroes of Branson, Missouri
By Garland Davis
The Oxford English Dictionary defines Shipmate as simply, “A fellow member of a ship’s crew.” But the Asia Sailor knows there is a greater meaning to this simple word. Yes, someone a person served with in the same ship but also someone who served in the Navy, who served under the same circumstances and experienced the same hardships, the same trials, and, yes, the same good times. Yes, Shipmate when the word friend just doesn’t cut it. We even refer to our seagoing allies and onetime adversaries as shipmates.
Of course, there were times when you didn’t want to be called “Shipmate” like, when the Chief said, “Let’s walk back to the fantail Shipmate, we need to have a serious talk.” You knew you had fucked up and it was come to Jesus time.
There are two people who own and personify the term “Shipmate.” I call them the “Heroes of Branson, Missouri.” David “Mac” and Kathryn McAllister. Mac and Kathy are founding members of the ASIA SAILOR Westpac’rs Association. I guess you could call them co-Presidents but then we never went in for titles. The title “Shipmate” suits us simply fine.
Mac and Kathy plan, prepare for, and host the annual Westpac’rs reunion held in May at the Branson Clarion Hotel. There’s more to having a reunion than simply saying, “Let’s have a reunion.” Negotiations with the venue for room rates, hospitality suites, planning for comestibles, potables (Fancy words for food and booze. Hey, I am trying to add a little class to our group.) and entertainment. They also collect fees from the attendees and pay the bills. I know there have been times when they dipped into their own pockets to make up differences. Those of us who have attended the reunions feel that the results of eight successful reunions accord them “Hero” status.
As the late Paul Harvey would say, “Here is the Rest of the Story.”
Many times, each month Mac participates as a volunteer in the Honor Guard at a local Veteran’s funeral.
Mac and Kathy, help plan, and volunteer in numerous Veteran’s Week activities in Branson during Veteran’s Week leading up to Veteran’s Day in November of each year. They host activities, serve meals and I am sure even help clean up and carry out the trash. They also are involved in many activities that honor veterans throughout the year.