2ND BATTALION 94TH ARTILLERY

 

‘FLEXIBLE’

 

 

Sit Rep from the September 2004 - 2nd Battalion 94th Artillery Reunion

WASHINGTON, DC

 

Third reunion

 

Revised: 07 Oct 2004

1.  Added General Trefry and General Byrnes comments at bottom of screen.

2.  Added signed Flexible Emblem link furnished by Charles Stephenson at bottom of screen.

 

Hi to All,

 

What a treat to meet the new fellows that attended and those that could not make it - you were missed.  As one of the former officers told me later this was not the typical military reunion that he had attended and there was a genuine feeling of camaraderie and personal feelings towards each other and what the unit had accomplished.  I whole heartily agree with that statement.

 

I would like to point out that those that are attending for the first time do not be bashful about introducing yourself to me or any of the members.  I found as I was leaving on Monday morning a Member that I had not talked to or met and that greatly upset me.  I try and get around to everyone but it seems I failed in this endeavor, my apology to that member.  We might have to come up with a plan that while Glenda and I are out of the room or we cannot make it to a reunion then teams should be formed to look for the new fellows as they come in and make them feel part of the reunion.  Maybe some husband and wife teams that can be on duty for a few hours at a time; as the fellows and their wives come in and introduce them around especially to those that served in the same battery.

 

We arrived on Thursday about 1430 hours and found several members already checked in.  We had planned to get there in advance to get things set up in the conference room for Friday AM.

 

As it turned out more and more came in on Thursday.

 

Glenda will be posting a list of those that attended and those that dropped by to see us for the day at the bottom.

 

The Battalion started arriving on Friday, new acquaintances were made, and old friendships renewed.  Friday evening a number of our families took the twilight tour around the DC area to all the sites and the war memorials.  Others took off on their own to visit and see the sites.  In DC, you could probably spend the better part of six months checking out our nations history and the many historic and scientific museums around the area.  The 20-mile force march in our younger days was a close comparison to the aching calves and sore feet most experienced in trying to see the sites.

 

The Florida hurricanes probably dampened the plans of our members coming out of Florida.  Squire (Skip) Knowles and I were greatly anticipating the arrival of our buddy Michael Keeler.  While we understood the position of Mike in his job, we still were sorely disappointed.  Darn hurricane anyway!

 

Saturday morning we gathered for the White House tour in the AM and then on to the Memorial Wall to honor our fallen and all the men and women that had paid the ultimate sacrifice in our war.  This tribute and visit had to be changed from 1700 hours to 1300 hours.

 

Thanks to the efforts of General Trefry, we had an outstanding wreath laying ceremony at the wall.  

 

We gathered on a hill overlooking The Memorial Wall and former Captain Greg Smith called the furnished color guard forward to honor our guys.  General Trefry said a few words regarding our losses and those men.  The bugler then began the traditional playing of taps.

 

After I turned to look at the crowd that had gathered, they also were very respectful as well as emotional of what was going on.

 

Glenda had made reunion nametags for all our guys and on the back gave the place they were killed, the cause of death, and what Battery they were with.  It was decided that each member that wanted to - would take a nametag and pin in to the wreath after it was laid with one member placing a tag one at a time with a hand salute to that individual.

 

From the hill, Van Parton and Eldridge Morris were selected to carry and escort the wreath in procession to the wall, with the park service clearing the way.

 

Van Parton is a recipient of three Purple Hearts as well as the Silver Star.

 

Eldridge Morris is a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal with V device for Valor.

 

Former Sgt Dean Shanklin called the members to attention in line and we presented a final salute to the men of our battalion as well as the over 58,000 names on the wall.

 

Of course, my camera quit working and I was just a little upset so I could not get it fixed.  Those that do have pictures of that please send those in and Glenda can set up a link just for those memorial pictures.

 

My compliments to the men of the battalion as you did yourself proud in remembering those fallen.  As I am sure that, those no longer with us are proud that you do indeed remember them.

 

Because of the time change for the ceremony, the Battalion meeting was changed to allow the members daylight hours to visit the city some more.

 

Saturday evening the Battalion held a meeting to discuss many issues and I will let Greg report on that.  Greg will also be in charge of the next reunion with the help of Gary Goedecke who has volunteered to be in charge of the reunion to follow.

 

Skip Knowles had brought in some huge posters of the Flexible Emblem along with some posters of the B Battery Gun “Bodacious Bastard”.  I mean these things were a work of art already laminated and certainly suitable for framing.  Skip says he can change the gun tube names with no problem.  It was decided to auction these off in hopes of getting a treasury started for the battalion.  When I visited E/2/3 that is what they did and had an auction to keep their reunions going.  Colonel Jerry Heard was, I would not say elected, but instead was volunteered to be this treasurer.  I believe over $700.00 dollars were raised.  As some of you may not know some of us have foot the bill for these unknowns that come up and it was decided that these extra expenses should now come out of this fund.

 

Skip had also brought in some smaller paper copies of these for all the Battalion Members.

 

What a super idea that was for Skip to come up with. 

 

It was decided that every year we would have some (at least 4) unique posters to auction off.  Now Skip is going to send me the .jpg’s of what he has so far and the members can order these at his cost plus shipping.  I will also have the size of these posted so you can see how really big these are.  Again with the unique name on your gun tube.  Wait till you see these posters!  Best shot I have seen of a 175mm gun.

 

Thanks to Skip for that great idea and real artwork.

 

Gary Goedecke had regimental hats made for everyone at his expense and that is greatly appreciated as that had to cost a bundle.  Gary has been a big financial supporter to the battalion and his efforts and contributions are appreciated. 

 

Felix Muller and Van Parton split the expense of the coffee and tea in the banquet room and that was quite expensive in DC.  A big thanks goes to them for their support.

 

Jerry Heard brought in a pocket watch gift for his A battery guys and I was made honorary member and received one also.  My son saw it and said after I am gone he would like to have it.  Now that is the first time he has mentioned anything like that!!!!!!!!  Jerry must have good taste.  Ha Ha  Thanks to Jerry for that honor.

 

Jim Lary brought in shirts for his C battery guys and I received one of those.  Thanks to Jim for that surprise.  I need to take a picture of that and get it on the website and the info from Jim were he had those made.

 

While our room rates in DC were as low as you could possibly find - the rest of the niceties were quite expensive, as you would expect being blocks from the White House.

 

The auction was a blast and also auctioned off was that these posters were to be signed by the attending Army Generals, Trefry and Chelburg and the visiting former Marine Corps Commandant - General Al Gray.  It was a blast.

 

Some of the fellows began asking questions about a former FO and FDC officer - 2nd Lieutenant they had served with and wondered if I had found that officer.  I concluded it was the now four star General – General Kevin Byrnes.  General Byrnes is still on active duty and I was in hopes he could have made the reunion.  However, I must inform the General that stories of him as a young lieutenant were starting to surface and he needs to be at the next one to defend himself.  Ha Ha   Something about trying to grow a mustache and such - among other stories and nicknames!!!!!

 

I gave an AO update and some of my battle with even the NAS/IOM in what they are doing or more to the point what they are not doing and not considering.  I had volunteered to present our findings at a convention they were having if I could have at least on hour to present our side.  I could have 10 minutes while the Ranch Hand guy could have an hour or longer.  Now for those that do not know the NAS/IOM are the ones that make recommendations to the corrupt VA as to AO associations or not.  Yet, the VA testified before congress in March of 2000 that the corrupted Ranch Hand report was not used to determine any AO associations at all.  While the NAS/IOM says they use primarily use the corrupted Ranch Hand reports to determine our associations.  I would call that a simple government slight of hand trick and congress just ate it up and let it go by.  I guess there is really a difference in what the word “is” means at least at the government and congressional level!  Certainly in the words “directly” or “indirectly” from the lying VA officials.

 

Sunday everyone was back in the conference room or out sight seeing.  Our closing banquet started as 1800 hours.  The hotel dinner was just excellent.  The fish, steak, and chicken were just great!  Open bar during the event.

 

Marine General Al Gray arrived and went to each table to shake hands with the fellows and their family members.

 

I read the list of those we lost and then read the list of those we lost since coming home that we know of.  Some of these are confirmed AO cancer deaths.  I apologize for my performance during that event - I thought I had everything under control until I got to Doug Meredith (Black Coat 13). 

 

Greg then introduced the General with his favorite story of the General from Gio Linh.  General Gray spoke to the members and guests regarding Gio Linh and Con Thien.  Come to find out it was then Major Al Gray that suggested your 175’s be brought up to I Corps to counter the long range NVA artillery threat.

 

General Trefry then spoke to the members regarding the present day military and its roles and challenges.  General Trefry is still quite active in that aspect of our military and his beloved United States Army.

 

Gary Goedecke then spoke on the meaning of being FLEXIBLE, which is the motto of the regiment.

 

I then spoke on a summary of your history. 

 

Before I started, I announced that Glenda was celebrating the anniversary of her 29th Birthday. 

 

I had also been hearing all day about the woman behind the man and how you could always tell.  I had been pondering all day how to counter that logic and then decided I could not find fault with it.  I then had all the great ladies of our group stand and be recognized.

 

Also thanked Chris Cunningham for all his work on the reunion and was sorry to see he and his wife Anna were not present.

 

I then had Marine Jerry Kollross stand and be recognized.  Marine Kollross was a member of the valiant and courageous Marine 105mm Battery C/1/12 that did battle against the NVA gunners in many places along the DMZ.  Particularly the stand at Gio Linh during the offensive to take the artillery fight to the enemies home land.

 

Every year we have invited the artillery Marines that were also the defenders of the DMZ.  Marine Kollross was the first to attend and we thank him for attending and sharing with us in our remembrances and celebration.

 

Darrell Gutsche was also recognized for his work on the 2/94th display being developed for the State of Washington Vietnam Museum.  Darrell is building a display of Carroll with two gun batteries in position.  We thank Darrell for his efforts on displaying the 2/94th.

 

Colonel Felix Muller was asked to stand and be recognized as attaining the OCS Hall of Fame at Fort Sill.  Later, Colonel Muller told me that if not for the support and dedication of the men who served under him that honor would not have been achieved.  It is and was a tribute to them also.

 

I then closed with a “Thank You 2/94th Letter” from Marine Sergeant Charles Barnes of E/2/9.

 

I then chastised some members for not sending in their personal accounts for our history.

 

While yes, I have been working on the AO book with its priority it is almost complete and even ready to publish.  3.5 million of us take precedence over 3500 of us.  The AO book title for those that did not attend has been changed by the book publisher from what I had to the following:

 

Vietnam’s Orange, White, and Blue Rain

"Weapons of Mass Destruction"

 

I am about ready within a few months here of getting back on my first love and that is documenting the history of the 2/94th.  I do have some other issues in my life such as fighting this appeal with the VA and fighting for social security since the VA has left me no choice.  However, as you know, you submit that and then wait for years, as this federal agency has no time limit to do anything.  Been almost two years now for the first submittal and I just now got to where I can go to a board, whenever they get damn good and ready.  The difference is I am demanding my congressman be there and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and any other news or media I can get there.  I want the world to see just how disingenuous this process is as they with a stroke of a pen override any and all medical evidence without even addressing it.

 

They challenged my integrity and honesty and that is unacceptable to me.  I am not the one with the conflict of interest for cash awards for denying Veterans or receiving points for quick turnaround denials towards promotions.  I am not the one that robbed the Veterans Widow’s Fund of over 11 Million Dollars – the Atlanta VA office was - with the help of a VA liaison official in Washington.  So, who has integrity?  Who is the one that the congress should be questioning and demanding answers - not just accepting that they denied mine or your claim and there is nothing they can do.  Lord knows I sent in enough medical evidence going back to the 1950’s along with a history of total bias against the Veterans by our own VA.  To include Dr. Ben Holder the medical director for Dow Chemical Company itself and his statements of what this crap will cause with just one of the five toxins.  I uncovered at least two toxins that were never reported to the EPA or the FDA in our toxin swill contained in Agent White.  Conveniently removed by the EPA after all of our problems began to surface in the mid 80’s.  Each with a set of medical issues.  Yet, none of this evidence is addressed plus much much much more! 

 

Therefore, they have a fight on their hands, as the VA and our politicians are the unscrupulous ones - not me or you fellows that fought up along the DMZ.  In the book, I call the area we served in the "QL9 corridor", which should have been called the “QL9 toxin corridor”.  As the Columbia University Research team on AO stated, “Politics and money is the answer for them - not the scientific truths.”  With another parting shot as - changing the outcomes of government AO studies is not the answer to truth.  That as one of the Ranch Hand scientists himself said to congress this is “scientific misconduct”!  The Ranch Hand scientists yuk yuk and laugh it up as they discuss how the Air Force management will change their scientific conclusions.  Disgusting and immoral behavior as recent as 2003!!!!!  This is no longer political it is now become criminal and someone or someone’s should be held accountable. 

 

I have seen some organizations saying now that we may have to go to an international tribunal to get these travesties of justice at least documented and try and punish those that would stoop to changing scientific conclusions, deleting a birth defects matrix that showed double what would have been expected, deleting a matrix that showed by 80% these men were worse off than a study group; not reporting brain cancers, blood disorders, neurological issues, neuron diseases, many other cancers, vascular and heart issues, etc.  Then turn around and say, “See there is nothing to worry about it is all in your mind.”  Along with the dioxin and the Agent White being in your mind.  Those that did that should be in jail, not promoted by the VA. 

 

It has become painfully obvious the government chose sides years ago around 1982 on the side of the chemical companies and our congress has forsaken us.

 

However, they have gotten away with it now for almost four decades and it is time we put a stop to it.

 

Anyway, back to the history.  Every year at these reunions, I hear great personal stories of events that took place.  I then by the time I hit the Virginia border can only remember part of it.

 

This year I heard two great personal accounts.  One being the conversation between Jim Lary (gun chief) and Greg Smith (FDC Officer) of C Battery.  This was in regard to a single gun mission to support a Marine Recon that called in for a few rounds.  Then a few more - then a few more.  The first rounds had uncovered a battalion of NVA with the Recon being in the middle of them.  Within a few minutes of what seemed to be a routine mission, all four guns of C Battery were wailing away as fast as they could shoot, actually faster than they are supposed to shoot according to Jim.  When Greg asked the Recon how close were the rounds, he keyed the mic and Greg said it sound like they were right on top of them.

 

This is your history for the Nation to read and remember – no longer noted as just a 12-gun battalion or 16-gun battalion.  It is for your family and your grandchildren to remember what the unit that you were a part of accomplished.  So, get those personal accounts in.  Take a few minutes and write them down.  I will make them fit the history so do not worry about that.  If you only know the time frame within a few months that is OK also.  In addition, humorous accounts are good.

 

I also learned that when the massive attack on 861 or 861a came, I forget which one now.  The battalion had (16) 175’s firing that night.  Yours plus the attached A/8/4 of Captain Carl Lanier, which I believe, was at the Rockpile that night.  Mark Swearengen told me all guns were brought to bear on that hill fight.

 

Mark has also informed me he is going to try and rewrite his article published in the Marine Corps Gazette from the point of view of the LNO out at Khe Sanh calling in supportive fires for the Marines out there.  That will be a welcome addition also.

 

My thanks to Jay Wilmeth for becoming the battalion driver and carting me and the wreath around and back to the hotel.  As most of you know my hands and feet are withering and I have no padding left on my feet.  That and the neuropathy make it impossible to get around much without enduring much pain.  Even with double socks and shoe inserts.

 

My thanks also to General Chelburg for flying in from overseas to visit with us.  It was an honor for all of us to meet you.  I wish more of the former officers and enlisted men you served with could have been there to visit with you.

 

Thanks to Greg and especially my top kick Glenda for all the effort.  You fellows have to admit she is a sweetheart to all you wonderful guys.

 

Glenda is thinking on taking on the campaign to either getting the CAB approved or a CAR approved for you fellows or both.  More on that as the work unfolds.

 

I know I left some folks out and if I did be sure and let me know.

 

Thanks to all you great guys who worked on this reunion and those that attended that made the reunion what it was – another great one!

 

Those that can make the next one please do so for our sake as well as your own.

 

Best that way to all,

 

Kelley

 

Battalion members and their wives in attendance:

 

Hayes and Juanita Alexander

John and Teresa Arriola

Earl and Elizabeth Bowen

Audrey and Davalene Capps

Robert Chelberg

Paul and Eilene Clark

Tim Cline

Pat and Susan Davey

Felton Dunnahoo

Charles and Brenda Funk

Gary and Sharon Goedecke

Mike (Gus) and Coleen Green

John and Barbara Greenlaw

Darrell and Susie Gutsche

Pam and Mike Hanlon

Jerry and Ann Heard

John and Virginia Jackson

John Kane

Charles and Glenda Kelley

Ed Kile

James and Teresa Klimm

Jim and Dee Lary

Lawrence (LT) and Betsy Mason

Bob Matlock

Richard McClain

Tom and Maureen Miller

Anthony and Donna Montagno

Chris and Tippi Monteleon

Bill Moore

Eldridge and Diane Morris

Linn Moyer

Felix and Glenna Muller

Van and Beverly Parton

Dave Radle

Zane and Robin Ray

Joe Resavage

Kenneth Robertson

Robert and Susan Scordo

Dean Shanklin

Lavon and Kathy Shoaf

Greg and Kaye Smith

Charles Stephenson

Art Sutter

Mark and Gerda Swearingen

Richard and Jacque Trefry

Dennis Will

James Wilmeth

John Woodruff

Bob and Charlotte Zovistoski

William Wayt

 

Marines

Al Gray

Jerome and Linda Kollross

 

General Trefry comments -  Now that a month has past, it is long overdue that I tell you how much we all appreciate your efforts again for pulling off this years reunion along with Greg Smith.  You three have done more than anyone to  perpetuate the memories and the friendships from so many years ago.

I thought the reunion went off without a hitch and everyone I spoke too emphasized how much they enjoyed getting together once again to renew  old friendships.

I was glad we were able to have General Gray and General Chelberg  join us.  I am sorry that General Byrne could not make it despite his action to do so.

 

 

General Byrnes comments - Greetings to the Soldiers/veterans of the 2d Battalion, 94th Field  Artillery. Wish I could be with you this weekend. I served in Bravo Battery from June 1969 to June 1970. I was first stationed at Camp Eagle, then moved to JJ Carroll.

 

Spent time initially with the 101st as an Aerial  Observer, then with the ARVN 7th Cav as an FO, finally as FDO in B  Battery. 2-94 was my first assignment after getting commissioned from FA  OCS in April 69. What a great team I joined when I arrived in country.


That tour of duty, with some of the best Soldiers in the Army, helped keep  me in the ranks. I learned very much from our NCOs and Soldiers. Being 19  years old, it seemed I was learning from everyone. But what impressed me  the most was the dedication and technical expertise I saw in everyone I  came in contact with, truly a terrific team of professional Soldiers and  Artillerymen. I hope you enjoy your time re-living experiences from your  days in 2-94th and getting reacquainted with friends from a time now long
 past.

 

We did our jobs in Vietnam. Now a new generation of Soldiers are  serving the nation, again at war. To a person, they are up to the tasks  they face in Iraq and Afghanistan and they are every bit as professional  as the team we served with in 2-94. Please keep them in your prayers.

 

God bless you all.

 

Kevin Byrnes

 

 

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