2002 REUNION BRANSON, MISSOURI
Reflections by Doug Beard
at the Bottom
Message from General Trefry
To all of you Northern I Corps Artillerymen:
Jacque and I apologize for not having thanked you before this for the
wonderful weekend we had in Branson. I have been extremely busy since I
returned and this is the first opportunity I have had to respond.
What does one say to thank all of you for what you did 36 years ago and what
you have done with yourselves since the last time we met. While 36 years
may seem a long time ago, to me it seems as if it were just a few weeks ago.
Like you, I have vivid memories of that part of my life and I will never
forget them or you either.
Both Jacque and I look forward to wherever you have the next reunion and God
willing we will be there. I believe that if we all get to work we can track
down many more of the gang that was with us from Sill and with the 2nd of
the 94th long after all of us had left. It should be quite an affair.
I will get busy and forward more of the stuff I have to the Kelley's to
attempt to make the collection complete. I will also try and forward copies
of my slides or photos that I have collected.
Again, it was a wonderful party and Jacque joins me in thanking you all for
making it such a memorable occasion. We look forward with great
anticipation to wherever we go in 2004.
Hi ya'll...on our way home from Branson now. Glenda typing, Kelley driving and dictating. We thought we would tell those who couldnít join us what you missed and bring some fond memories to those who were there.
We arrived in Branson on Thursday evening and found several members already there and excited about our first reunion. We went to dinner after moving into our room with Dean Shanklin (the point man) who had been there since Wednesday, and Eldridge (Jr.) Morris and his lovely wife Diane.
We went to the Red Lobster that was just across the street from the motel as none seemed inclined at that point to get back in a moving vehicle. On returning from dinner we found Tim Cline had arrived and the 5 of us sat outside and chatted until 9 pm when we went to our rooms to watch the Khe Sanh Special on the History channel. Of course we had all forgotten we had changed time zones and we had missed it so Dean and Tim stayed and chatted a while in our room and then we all retired to prepare for Friday. Glenda, being the night owl she is, woke Kelley about Midnight when she found the special on Khe Sanh was being aired again. Not sure he was happy about that.
Friday arrived and so did more of our group. We were able to get the conference room early and the fun began. Almost immediately slide presentations and videos were being shown. Everyone got acquainted or reacquainted. Kelley had put together some books of information, articles and pictures sent in by Sims McKnight, Tom Jones, Bob Mahmood, Larry Rollins, and of course the data he had accumulated. These were all on display along with draft copies of the History of the 2nd/94th for review.
Dean Shanklin set up tables of memorabilia including patches, books, emblems and maps some of which were for sale.
Doug Meredith and his wife Kathy arrived with wonderful shirt with the Flexible emblem and hats with the 2nd/94th emblem and "Artillery lends some dignity to an otherwise ugly brawl" embroidered on them. They went like hotcakes.
Henning Jonsson arrived without his luggage but with some great enlarged pictures of "Blood, Sweat and Tears".
Glenda set up two computers and some who had never seen the web site got to peruse it a bit. Tammy and Garry Wulstein were there and we sent an email to an old buddy of Garry's. We got a response on Sunday and the Wulstein's intend to stop and see the Harniss's in their travels home.
Former Lt. Barry DeVita must have raided 15 different wineries to bring the variety of wine that was enjoyed by all.
Saturday more arrived and more of the same went on. In the afternoon many went on the Duck ride, which from the stories was a successful event.
Clyde Lewandowski arrived with the reunion hats and the extras were sold out in minutes. We heard a rumor that there is a possibility of a reorder for more if anyone is interested.
Saturday afternoon, much to the delight of all of us, General Richard Trefry and his wife Jacque arrived. For those who donít know, General Trefry was the 1st Battalion Commander of the 2nd/94th. He took the organization from Fort Sill thru the Battalion's first year of combat in Vietnam.
In the evening many of us went to Fern Creek Steak house (I think that was the name) for dinner. Parker Holden was a hoot with his story of the Mahogany outhouse and this was when we learned that Henning Jonsson was AWOL since his orders for Vietnam were lost with his luggage.
Lots of stories were told and (now this is Glendaís opinion) I think they have been perfected with age. She mentioned something about all these guys being great fisherman.
Upon returning from dinner, slide shows continued and Greg Smith took digital pictures of everyone, which hopefully you will be able to see soon. There were cameras flashing everywhere so I imagine you will soon be overrun with pictures from the event. Glenda made up a short survey in anticipation of a future event. She was impressed with the willingness and speed with which these were filled out and returned. At about 0100 hours Glenda announced she was going to bed and the last man standing was to lock the door behind him. It was at this point she was informed she had guard duty. Sure am glad none caught her sleeping on that shift. Oh, and by the way, donít think she has forgotten those honey do's that Kelley wasnít able to do while working on this history and event. She will get those chores to all of you eventually.
Sunday dawned and the conference room filled early. About noon many left for the Branson Belle Boat ride, which I heard later they especially enjoyed Andre and what was her name again Squire???
At 1600 hours Will Myers held a short meeting where the survey results were announced and discussed. The consensus was to have another event in 2 years with either Washington D.C. or Fort Sill as the site. Some discussion was held on the expense of Washington and later the question came up as to whether, since 911, we would be allowed on Fort Sill. It was also mentioned that at the next event we should try and get a representative of the Veterans Administration there to answer questions as many many medical problems were discussed among us this weekend. These things will be looked into and discussed in later correspondence and Kelley would like to remind you how beautiful Lake Tahoe is anytime of the year!
At 1800 hours we all met in the Sunshine Room for dinner. Col. Jerry Heard, former A Battery Commander introduced General Trefry who proceeded to present plagues of appreciation to Will Myers and Charles Kelley for their efforts to make this event possible which was totally unexpected, greatly appreciated and left Kelley speechless for once. A representative, whose name has escaped us, from the veterans task force spoke and he was given a King of Battle hat for his efforts. The Color Guard was a no show. Chaplain Roy DeLoach, formerly of the 2nd/94th Charlie Battery, led us in prayer before the meal and later read the list of 2nd/94th brothers who died while in Vietnam. As the names were read those who knew them stood in remembrance. This was especially appreciated, as Kelley knew he could not do it. Roy was then presented with a 2nd/94th artillery hat for meritorious service above and beyond the call of duty. Kelley then spoke briefly on the importance of gathering the history of all the units before it is lost forever and then presented 2nd/94th hats to Dean Shanklin, Charles Stevenson and Sims McKnight for their help in gathering the 2/94th info and contacting members of the 2nd/94th.
King of Battle hat was given to Will Myers for his "Other Northern I Corps Artillery" site. With out it none of this would have been possible. King of Battle hat was also given to Tammy Wulstein for all her assistance in the conference room and for her unique story of the birthday party she had for Garry while he was in Vietnam.
Kelley pointed out the successful careers of the former officers of the 2nd/94th and emphasized that the enlisted men trained them well. Retired Col. Felix Muller was recognized as being in the OCS Hall of Fame. Former Col. Ed Smith was recognized even though he was not present as Kelley thinks he also is a member of the OCS Hall of Fame. Kelley alluded to the fact that if he is wrong we will "Ready-up UNCLAP" at the next event. Command Sergeant Major John Heritage, 5th/4th, was recognized. We were sorry he missed this but he left the banquet early for a show. King of Battle hat was awarded to Guy Thomas, 1st/40th, for the best laugh the Kelley's had during the planning of this event thru his email. Thank you Guy and Sweetie. Larry Rollins was awarded a 2nd/94th hat for his elaborate technical discussion on "When to Change the 175 Gun Tube". General Trefry was asked to say a few words and was also given a 2nd/94th hat. Chaplain Roy DeLoach then offered the benediction and we retired back to the conference room to resume slides, videos and discussions along with some fond farewells as many were leaving Monday Morning early.
We forgot to give Dean Shanklin and Charles Stevenson the extra campaign stars for their hats but we will put those in the mail to them just as soon as we find them in this mess again.
We would also like to say that the banquet dinner went well. Everyone raved about the roast beef and a couple people questioned how it was prepared.
We were all sorry Dave Radle's wife Martha could not join us this year and look forward to meeting her at the next one. Dave and Glenda carefully avoided having their picture taken together. Ha Ha
Art Sutter learned to price tractors on the web.
Cindy Tenis, who Kelley thought was not paying attention during the slide show (she was knitting) and told to "pay attention since there would be a test on Monday", passed the test with flying colors as we all know women are use to doing two or three things at once.
We are glad Stephanie found her voice even if American airlines never did find Henning's luggage.
Mark Swearengen arrived Sunday morning just missing Jr. and Diane Morris who had been anxious to see him.
Many stories were told that should be part of the history and we hope you will take the time to write them out and send them to us. Many stories were told that would make a good book of humor ...send those also. A special thank you to Neal Doby, Peter Marchand, Parker Holden and Henning Jonsson for making our sides hurt from laughter over the stories they told.
Kelley also talked to two members of other battalions and said he would help them get started on their unit history.
General Trefry indicated that some of the Army Historical Organizations are eagerly seeking history and pictures from our era.
Kelley recommended a set of CD's be developed similar to Chris Cunningham's CD he sent in. Sets could be developed by year. Would be a nice heirloom and a great piece of history for the Battalion.
The slide pictures that were shown were incredible, from the first opening of Highway 9 to Khe Sanh and beyond to the closing of the Battalion in 1972.
We missed some video as we needed an 8mm projector, but will try next time.
Recommendation was made we set up a presentation time for presenters for photos and video as it was impossible to keep up with all that was going on.
Some of the names Kelley remembers that had information to write up are as follows:
John Greenlaw - personal accounts of possibly creating the worlds largest shotgun when things looked bad for C Battery on the border. Plus other topics he discussed Monday night.
Peter Marchand - chronology of firing missions to SOG operations
Johnny Miller - personal accounts of importing liquor to Vietnam and his letters.
Felton Dunnehoo - personal accounts of topics we discussed Monday night.
Our printer was out of ink but those that had information for Kelley to copy promised to send copies of that information or face a court martial.
A raffle was held, the prize a bronze eagle donated by the VVA (I hope thatís right), approximately $500.00 was raised which will be used to offset expenses incurred in the planning of the next reunion. Roy DeLoach was asked to be the banker and handle this for us all. Harry Langer won the eagle.
There was much laughter, along with a constant roar of stories being told, a few tears, but lots of camaraderie throughout the weekend. I would not have missed it for anything.
Glenda will type up the info from the sign in books and send that info to each of you ASAP. We hope you get the chance to use it. We are already planning to have dinner with Bob and Charlotte Zovistoski and hopefully Lester and Carole Modelowitz before we leave New Jersey.
We are so glad those who could come did. It was a pleasure meeting everyone from all the units and watching them share their experiences with each other. We anxiously await hearing that you all arrived home safe and sound.
God bless you and keep you until we meet again.
ps Got an e-mail from Dean, he is already trying to get our battalion rosters from the personnel records center in St Louis. Updates later as soon as I find out on whether he was successful or not.
Kelley and Glenda
Reflections by Doug Beard
Note: Doug was one of the original officers assigned to the 2/94th at Fort Sill, and has been sited as the original groups unofficial story teller.
As the groups unofficial story teller, I am taking it upon myself to put into words what is probably in our hearts. Most of us got together a few weeks ago and had a great time and we have had time to reflect in our minds what occurred. We renewed friendships, met our buddies loved ones, filled in some of the void of the past 35 years, connected some of the missing points in our memories. and more, much more.
Many years ago, when we were young, our country called upon us to embark on a great and difficult adventure, and we all answered that call. A few dozen brand new officers and a few hundred brand new enlisted men were mixed with a handful of seasoned officers and NCO's and were given the mission to organize an artillery battalion and prepare to take it into combat. Not just any artillery battalion, the most complicated and powerful in our arsenal.
We did that in about three months, then we packed up everything, said goodbye to our loved ones and shipped it halfway around the world. Before we even landed, our mission was change, and we adapted. We were placed in the most critical and dangerous spot in the war. We were blessed with great leadership. Our commander understood leadership better that any. He placed each key person in the role that they were best able to perform. Made sure that we were properly trained. Made sure that we had the necessary resources. Made sure that we understood the mission. Then, he got the hell out of our way and let us do our job. And we did, as a group, perform and excel.
We were fortunate to have a few months over there of relative quiet, to give us time to learn and perfect our jobs. Then, as if on que, the eyes of the War, our country, and the world turned onto the 2nd of the 94th as we took the war to the North Vietnam Homeland, and they responded with a vengeance.
In the past, heavy long range artillery was always kept in the rear areas of battle. WE were on the front lines, and at times, several miles in front of the lines. It was not unusual for our batteries to pack up and convoy at night to reach troops that needed us. Enemy gunners knew exactly where we were, and "dialed" our number regularly. As an FO, I did not spend very much time with the unit. I was usually with our Marine hosts, and I can tell you how proud I was to represent you. The Marines loved and respected us.
The professional manner in which this Battalion came together and performed, under difficult conditions was truly amazing. When troops lives were on the line, our gun crews stayed on the guns in spite of counterbattery fire and followed the mission. Our ammo convoys traveled dangerous roads. Even our cooks and clerks risked death daily just by living at the center of a target. In spite of all that was thrown at us, our losses were small.
There were very few individual decorations in our unit. Certainly Eddy should have gotten a Silver Star for his patrol action at Gio Linh. But, as often happens, his bravery was foreshadowed by the fact that many Marines died on that patrol. His actions certainly saved many others. There were probably many other acts of bravery that went unnoticed. I, personally, am most proud of the fact that we were decorated many times as a UNIT. We were a team, and we know that we did well. That is the force that brought us back together after all of these years. We returned to loved ones and a Country that could not understand what we went through. YOU HAD TO BE THERE, TO UNDERSTAND.
Then, just as abruptly as we started, we disbanded and came home. For the last 35 years we have be busy building careers, families, and lives. But as you well know, we did not entirely come home. A part of us will always be over there. Late at night, our minds wander back to our big adventure and we would wonder about our buddies. Where were they? What are they doing now? We now know some of those answers, thank's to the efforts of Will, Charles, Glenda, and others.
I heard faint grumbles about those who did not go. I feel sorry for those who did not have the opportunity that we had. I came out of the War with a much greater appreciation of life and our liberties. For a brief time in my life, I was on a GREAT TEAM, and we soared with the eagles and made a difference. The guys that stayed home and did not take a turn at the bat, owe me nothing. I am richer than they will ever be. Those guys owe the 51,000 men whose names are on a wall in Washington, because they stepped up for them. Even though I did not stay "in", the leadership examples that I learned from men like Trefry, Gray, Heard, and others have served me well in my career.
We have all been bonded together by our great adventure. We were separated for many years, but have now come back together, and we dare not let it happen again. Whether you like it or not, we are FAMILY. That means that we care about each other. Being a member of a family has responsibilities. It is everyone's responsibility to let the others in the family know what is going one in your life (good, bad, happy, sad). Yes, we will get together for more reunions, we will chat on the internet, now that we know where we live, we might "drop in" if we are in the area. The important thing is that we are back together again. Sadly, we came together to late for some of the family. Three that we know of are gone and we had near misses on a few others. If you are still with me after all of this BS tonight, then your in the Family.