Members of Army Security Agency in town for reunion

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 24, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; A cocktail party at D’Evereux, a true Southern lunch at the Carriage House, walking tours, dinner at the Eola Hotel and a memorial service at Memorial Park all await about 170 Natchez guests as they pour into town for a whirlwind tour of the city tonight through Sunday morning’s farewell breakfasts.

But these guests are not just any group of tourists, they are all part of the ASA Okinawa organization of soldiers that served in the Army Security Agency in Okinawa, Japan during its existence from the 1950s to the late 1970s and will be in town for their annual reunion.

All were part of this special arm of the Army’s intelligence to support combat operations and the national intelligence effort. The field station at Okinawa was the second largest in the world.

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Why Natchez? Col. David Wisyanski, who pitched the idea of Natchez to the organization last year, said &uot;Why not?&uot;

Having visited Natchez many times in the past years, coming to see Jack Benson, his friend and deputy from when he was commander in Okinawa, and having lived here for three years, Wisyanski wanted the people to come somewhere they might not venture to otherwise.

&uot;I wanted them to come here to see for themselves, the beauty, the antebellum homes and the people,&uot; he said.

Wisyanski listed many places the group has been &045; &uot;Baltimore, ho hum, Myrtle Beach, ho hum&uot; &045; but said none, in his opinion, measured up to Natchez, a &uot;unique place for as small as it is.&uot;

The group has many events planned throughout their stay. There will be touring and attending special dinners as well as a special performance by the Natchez Little Theatre.

Saturday, the keynote day, they will have a banquet at the Eola. And Sunday will be their farewell breakfast.

This weekend will not be the end of reunions in Natchez; there is always the possibility that they will elect to return to Natchez. Also, the Friends of the ASA in Florida have already decided to hold their reunion in Natchez in 2004 thanks to a little promotion.

&uot;We then want to take the testimonials of that planning Š into the National Region’s Commission Š so we may be able to attract them to Natchez,&uot; Wisyanski said.