Niccolls, who lives in Arlington, Va., admits to being 88 3/4 years old. He served on the USS Hector from 1944-45, and is what is called a "plank owner," which means he was on the first crew after the ship was commissioned.
"I just missed being a plank owner," Riedel said, although he served the same two years, but not from the very beginning when the ship first headed into the Pacific for duty.
Designated an auxiliary repair vessel, the USS Hector AR-7 was commissioned Feb. 7, 1944. The ship was involved in repair jobs during World War II, then participated in the Inchon Invasion during the Korean War. It was decommissioned in 1987.
"We were a floating shipyard," Niccolls said. Either the USS Hector went to the ship needing repairs, or seagoing tugboats brought the damaged ship to them.
Though both Riedel and Niccolls were serving aboard a repair ship, it was the height of World War II, and danger often lurked beneath the waves.
"We had submarines after us sometimes," Niccolls said.
Still, all wasn't grim aboard ship. Riedel said he had the job of running the movie projector - a talent he made use of later in life when he was back home in Michigan.
"I got to see Tyrone Power once when I was working at a theater in Ithaca, Mich.," Riedel said.
Whenever he comes back to Hagerstown, Riedel, now a widower, visits with a cousin, Frances Harshman, and rides around to see some familiar sights from his youth.
This trip, Riedel visited the Western Enterprise Fire Co. and Antietam Creek, where he said he spent time.
"Lots of places aren't there anymore," Riedel said, such as the Dixie Diner on Summit Avenue, the old Academy Theater and the train station that once stood where The Herald-Mail Co. is now.
When he isn't going to World War II reunions, Riedel keeps busy volunteering for the American Red Cross, both during bloodmobile visits and when families need emergency shelter.
Arthur Riedel, a retired music professor who now lives in Louisiana, said his father is quite independent and fit for his age. Father and son drove to Hagerstown together from Michigan, and are planning to head back there today as the reunion draws to a close.