2ND BATTALION 94TH ARTILLERY

 

‘FLEXIBLE’

 

 2003 After Action Reunion Summary

Branson, Missouri

 

April 23 Wednesday

 

Glenda and I arrived on Wednesday to try and get a jump on the reunion. We were surprised to see so many coming in on Wednesday.

 

April 24 Thursday

 

More members started arriving and meeting in the conference room. As usual, my chief of smoke, had the name tags ready to hand out so we could identify each other as to not only names but years served. It was good to see old friends and make new acquaintances from other years that served with the Battalion.

 

I had displays set up of 2/94th data and memorabilia as well as other members had brought in some of their own to set up for display.  I also had a model of the 175 that brought some attention.  I got mine already in a case off of our own website.

 

Doug Beard indicated he had a model he purchased years ago of the M107.  He since has contacted me and the name of the manufacture is ITALERI and the kit number is 791 it looks like.

 

One that caught my eye that showed just how valuable and good all you fellows were was from Doug Beard. Doug was in an AO mission where 4 Phantoms were trying to knock out a bridge just across the DMZ. After the four failed attempts Doug asked if he could call in some heavy arty. They agreed. The 175’s cranked up and three rounds later with some obviously excellent FO’ing and shooting the bridge was no longer there!

 

The picture showed the first two rounds off some what. The third was right on target. Way to go!!!!!!

 

Thursday night some films were shown from Larry Hamilton, David Sandeen (Bob Matlock narrated), and I had a Combat Hammer test flight film to show one of the newer smart weapons go through its paces.

 

Conference room was finally shut down around 0030 hours Friday morning.

 

April 25 Friday

 

About 1000 hours a meeting was held to elect a reunion committee and a search committee.

General Trefry spoke along with myself on the importance of expanding as well as getting some help in these areas.

 

Search Committee volunteers are:

Sims McKnight

Kathy Hobbs

Neal Doby

Charlie Adamson

Bob Matlock

John Hundahl

 

Reunion Committee volunteers are:

Chris Cunningham

Anna Cunningham

Felton Dunnahoo

Glenda Kelley

Greg Smith

Charles Stephenson

Andy Tenis

Jerry Heard

 

Who is to chair these committees is not known yet.

 

I think Greg Smith has been volunteered to chair the reunion committee but not known yet if this is a valid volunteering!!!!

 

I would assume that Sims, with his success, would take control of the search committee.

 

It was decided that we would have another reunion next year.

 

It was also pretty much decided the committee will evaluate the DC area or just outside the DC area.

 

As soon as I know you will know.

 

I then gave a talk on the Agent Orange Issue and the two goals I have set for myself as well as for all the Veterans.

 

A second sub issue is the hearing problems I will address at the same time as my other two goal issues.

 

Glenda and I were a bit taken back by the interest in the subject and actually how many it may have affected including the children of our members.

 

I intend on posting what we are doing and what was concluded at the meeting in a separate posting.

 

The 2/94th was in the most heavily sprayed areas including the Super Agent Orange in 1968 which I have not found out what that title means yet.

 

As I pointed out in the meeting it is important to file.

 

Ironically, enough I just today received an e-mail from a lady whose husband was not with the 94th and she had stumbled on to our website and the info I had posted. She is asking for help. Her husband a Veteran in 68-70 died from acute lymphocyte leukemia. Diagnosed in April of 2001 and died in December the same year. Yet, she has no idea what to do. Since that is on the VA list as of 2003; I would think she could apply for spouses benefits. But I know what the VA will say. They will say the Veteran did apply in 2001 even though they did not admit to it till 2003. The VA has the Veteran in a catch 22 with this stuff.

 

That is why I am telling you that if you have any inclination you have a problem- apply and let them turn you down. Next year or the year after it may be on the VA’s hit parade.  It seems about every two years they announce something else.

 

On my AO posting I will post what all they do say is possibly caused by Dioxin poisoning even though most of it the VA does not recognize - YET! For obvious reasons; not logical or sound reasons;  but obvious.

 

Needless to say there is some work to be done. I also indicated as a last resort we may have to editorialize this to all of your local newspapers.

 

I hope to have my letters posted on the site for you all to see what I am doing by this weekend. Try that is! I hope to mail those out on Monday along with the medical evidence, cited studies, etc, I sent to the VA and then DAV. I will give them three weeks for a reply and that is it! Time to go to war.

 

Bob Matlock brought in a actual 175mm projo for display. Of course the old guys had to show they still had it and could pick it up. It is amazing what adrenaline caused by total embarrassment will do for strength. Ha Ha I am sure there were some sore muscles.

 

Then we heard stories of SGT Buckner who would load two projos at one time. He still looked like he could do it.

 

About 2000 hours some members went to the Top of the Rock for a nice dinner and drinks. It sounded as if everyone enjoyed the evening out.

 

Again, the conference room was closed down about 0100 hours on Saturday. We finally had to shoo the fellows out. Ha Ha

 

April 26 Saturday

 

Open day on Saturday. Many families took advantage and went to some of the shows around the area. I heard nothing but good accounts of all the shows.

 

Slides were shown in the conference room by Neal Doby, John Greenlaw, and Gary Goedecke.

 

Banquet started at 1700 hours across the street at the Golden Corral.

 

We all got seated and then went to the food bar for some great food. If you went away hungry it was not because they did not have enough.

 

At 1800 hours we had a great show in which one of our own took part in. The folks there asked me to select someone who would go along with the deal and I immediately volunteered Gail Duff (Duffy). He did a super job and pictures and videos will be posted later. Duffy had the whole audience in stitches.

 

Most I think at the end of the show, as well as myself, had to choke back some emotions. I know I had to take stock in where it was I was at.

 

About 1930 hours former Captain Tom Jones opened our event with a prayer.

 

I then asked each member to stand and give their name and what years they were there to recognize our members in attendance.  Hayes Alexander was recognized as being with the 94th when it was still a 105 outfit in 1954 and then again when it was a 175 outfit.

 

Shortly after our speakers began to give their presentations with yours truly stumbling but trying to MC as best he could.

 

Charles Stephenson and Dean Shanklin were recognized for their contributions. I forgot Sims McKnight but caught up during the presentations and recognized Sims for his outstanding searches for our former  members.

 

First up was Doug Beard. Doug, as usual, did a great job as Battalion Orator. Doug also read a list of our guys that did not come home. As the names were read the members that knew the fellows stood in remembrance of those that died.

 

At the conclusion of his presentation he awarded yours truly one of his old artillery insignias and a 2nd Lieutenant bar. Whether that is a battlefield promotion or not? After dealing with the VA I am not sure it could not be concluded as just that!

 

Next up was General Trefry with not only a few words from himself but from John Neiger who was the first B Battery CO and from General Byrnes. General Byrnes had been a Lieutenant with the 2/94th.

 

I think I counted at least 5 maybe 6 Generals from the 2/94th. I indicated that the enlisted had done one hell of a job training these men for their future careers. Ha Ha

 

Next up was Colonel Courant who had led the Battalion off of Camp Carroll in late 68. His comments regarding “With Style” were still with the Battalion long after the Colonel had left.

 

Next up was former Lieutenant Gary Goedecke. He told some stories that should have started out, “You aren’t going to believe this sh_t!” Stories on himself as well as Colonel Courant. He did an excellent job and I am sure there are other stories out there that need to be told at the next reunion.

 

Statue of limitations is over you guys!!!! Fess up!!!!!

 

Of course, Colonel Courant denied most of them with a twinkle in his eye.

 

Gary had the place rolling with laughter not only during the banquet but during his entire stay.

 

Chris Cunningham stood and recognized not only his wife but all the wives that have put up with us. Happy Anniversary to Chris and Anna! Many Many more Happy Anniversaries.

Thanks to all the wives that have stood by the fellows.

 

As usual I forgot to recognize Chris as trying to get our hats done also. My fault; I had so much going on in my little pea brain I just plumb forgot.

 

Former Captain Tom Jones then led us in the benediction.

 

We retired back to the conference room at the Honeysuckle for a last nights remembrance and discussions.

 

Once again the room was shut down in the wee hours of the morning.

 

April 27 Sunday

 

Most folks started leaving on Sunday. We had the conference room open and folks began to gather for goodbyes.

 

By Sunday afternoon only a few were left. Some flying out on Monday.

 

We gathered over at the Red Lobster for a final get together for a late lunch.

 

Glenda and I said our goodbyes Sunday evening and left on Monday morning.

 

Thanks to all of you who made this a successful reunion.  No matter how much planning or effort is used. It is up to you fellows to make the reunion what it is.

 

It was an honor and a pleasure to meet new fellows and reacquaint with the ones from last year. In remembrance of what you fellows accomplished and those not so fortunate as we were.

 

One fellow I was talking to said he almost, after arriving there, turned around and went home. He was not ready for this. I am certainly glad he did not as I enjoyed talking with him immensely. He was from my time period and we shared some of the same remembrances. I am glad he stayed.

 

It is time to remember and document what a great tribute to the war effort the unit and all of you fellows contributed in making the Battalion the success it was during the war years.

 

The outfit that fired more long range heavy artillery than any unit ever in war fare and was the lynchpin for the entire Northern I Corps.

 

Someone made the comment and I do not know where the data came from.

 

In WW2 over a period of 4 years the average combat outfit saw combat for a period of 40 days. While the average combat outfit in Vietnam was 240 days.

 

In conclusion, I would like to post a poem written by Donna Phillips presented to the Battalion.  I believe this sums up the reunion and what it means.

 

“Brothers of a Family”

 

One day I meet a family

Bigger than any I knew

Though they didn’t live together

Their loyalty was true

 

None of the brothers looked alike

But there was something familiar on each face

All shared a look of uncertainty

Yet with valor and with grace

 

Their eyes still had a burning

Like fire from within a brush

And the conversations they shared

Was one of courage and trust

 

When this family first got together

All had tales they needed to tell

About nightmares they all had

And a place they called Hell

 

But now they all can have a drink

As they put the nightmares in the past

They learned to lean on each other

That’s what makes this Brotherhood last

 

The care and warmth these brothers have

I’ve never seen before

And what makes these men a family

They’re all brothers of a war

 

Special Thanks to Donna Phillips!

 

As they say in the South

 

The Good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise

I will see you fellows next year along with some new fellows.

 

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