2/94th Battalion Reunion at Fort Sill
Our 4th reunion
Some of us arrived on Wednesday afternoon and got checked in and starting meeting with each other. Had a great time out by the pool and the evening meal together.
The first person we saw as we pulled in was Charlie Adamson who was waiting to go pick up a truck and cement mixer for the Goedecke’s as their arrival was about four hours late. This was for the Memorial Construction out at the Fort Sill Cemetery. As hard as it is to believe our 2/94th monument, as I understand it, is the very first monument/memorial for those Artillerymen that did not return from the war.
For Gary Goedecke, Sharon Geodecke, Charlie Adamson, Darrell Gutsche, and many others this was a working reunion as they tirelessly worked everyday and well into the late late nights to get the monument ready to dedicate on Saturday. Every obstacle encountered was overcome by diligence, effort, and dedication to the task at hand. No amount of words can express the thanks we all have for this, excuse the pun, monumental effort by all and the way it was accomplished "With STYLE SIR"!
As I understand it the Vietnam Memorial in the State of Washington also wants the same memorial built out there with the plaque of our guys also displayed in honor.
On Thursday, more fellows and their families arrived as Glenda and I got the conference room open and ready, put out our displays, handed out nametags, and greeted as many as we could during the day. Some took time to hit the links out at Sill in the morning. Most of us gathered and renewed old friendships and ate together in the motel that was nice with a restaurant inside and a small bar adjacent to the eating area. Unfortunately, I did not realize until Sunday morning that the restaurant had a covered cook out area with restrooms and all the fixings out by the pool. Certainly we could have made a run for charcoal and such and cooked hotdogs and hamburgers during the day on Thursday.
The conference room area was small but there were clustered comfortable living room type furniture outside the room to gather in comfort and get off of some tired feet and legs.
Many also during the two days took advantage of the casino located adjacent to the motel.
Eldridge Morris had brought in a steel pot with liner and the second-generation flak vest. Man of man everyone marveled at how heavy they actually were and that we wore those in our younger days. I am 6’ – 0” even and I now know why I never made 6’- 1.”
Gary Goedecke once again donated Battalion hats to the reunion.
Friday was an all day event at Sill and Memorial Day Parade in Lawton.
Friday morning we loaded into buses to head out to Fort Sill for the day. We had an Army Captain, super nice fellow, on our bus as our tour guide and I am sure he thought we were all just a bit touched. My buddy Keeler, Lawrence Mason and I had everyone in stitches on our bus. I thought Mason’s wife Betsey was going to bust a gut laughing so hard.
When we pulled into Fort Sill the first thing I noticed was the gates were not guarded by MP’s or any military personnel but what looked like rent a cops. I asked the nice Captain why this had happened. He went into some tired old excuses doing the best he could. I just looked at him and said it sounds like to me that you are totally short of folk’s - period. He just roared with laughter.
Friday morning the Fort Sill Commander greeted our unit and went through several topics in his presentation along with a presentation by someone else on the new weapons. General Trefry was recognized as a "General’s educator and mentor". Good endorsement by other Generals I would say.
All of us snickered and laughed at the statement by the General of the new living quarters the trainee’s have such as separate bedrooms with a shared bath between the two bedrooms. We should have had it so nice. Ha Ha The insult to injury was when the General said they even have wall-to-wall carpet. My comment was; how do you train the boots to run a buffer on carpet. The other thing many of us noticed was the boots that no longer need polishing or spit shined. Made us wonder what these fellows did with all their spare time. Ha Ha
I did notice and was shocked of all the pictures in the Headquarters Hall there were no pictures of a 175mm gun.
If anyone can send me the name of the General and his mailing address I will send him one of the smaller pictures of the B20 gun poster that Squire (Skip Knowles) had made for us. I do not have any of the large ones left but if I did, I would send him that one to post on the walls of the Headquarters.
Once outside waiting to board the buses, we could hear arty firing in the background off in the distance and for some this was sort of unnerving. You could almost see some of the fellows, mine included, heads go down as they counted or interrupted their speech to wait and see.
After leaving there, we went by bus out to the live fire ranges. The live fire demonstration was impressive with demonstrations of 105, 155, small arms automatic weapons, claymores, etc. The demonstration was put on by the 1/40th, which of course most of you know went over to Nam with the 2/94th and served along the DMZ until 1969. I was somewhat dumbfounded that the Colonel in charge did not know about the superior combat record of the 1st of the 40th during the Vietnam War. However, I guarantee she knows now. You can bet on that.
As we gathered after the demonstration, we discussed how training and rigidity of training by the DI’s had changed somewhat. Keeler pointed out that it may have been because we civilians there watching! Ha Ha
As we went down to the artillery pieces to talk to the gun crews I had the one crew convinced that I was a direct descent of the artillery patron Saint, Saint Barbara. Talking about there 1/40th unit and stuff. Also someone I forget now asked where the aiming stakes were. I indicated they did not use those anymore and the Sgt on the gun crew agreed and said we teach it just in case we need it but we have electronics that do that now. A bunch of dinosaurs watching a new generation of artillerymen.
As I was entertaining the gun crew and had them in awe my buddy Keeler walks up behind me with his hands around my waist and head over my shoulder so the gun crew could hear without even missing a beat and says , OK Kelley the buses are here now and it is time to go back to “The Home.” Ha Ha Ha
The gun crew
did not know whether to believe what they just heard or not, as their mouths
dropped open. Ha Ha Ha
Classic just classic!!!!!
As we left the live fire range we went to the polo field along the main drag there to see the K9 unit demonstration. I tried to raise Susie Gutsche's hand to volunteer to be the attacker but I have never seen a hand come down so fast! Whew! Created a vacuum vortex the speed was at Mach 7.5.
Certainly would not want to be perpetrator against at least that one Shepherd.
After leaving the polo field, we went to the former OCS club in the upstairs area for an afternoon buffet. Good groceries.
One of the buses was to head back to the motel for those that had done all they can do after we ate. I was one of those so the rest of the day I can only tell you what they saw and visited.
The 175mm gun on post called the “All American,” the OCS hall of fame, the simulators where they train today’s modern artillerymen, etc.
After a brief trip back to the motel, the buses headed for the downtown Memorial Day Parade.
That evening at the motel, we had our battalion meeting and a dinner buffet. Again, the food was excellent.
A gentleman from Texas Tech gave a short presentation on their efforts to maintain the Vietnam Archives at the University so that no one will forget.
The auction was great and went very well indeed. Beautiful afghan bed spreads and lap robes made by Jeanne Hepler; and Diane Morris made a wonderful patch quilt to auction off. Many other items went as well, including a 175mm knife.
Jim Lary did an outstanding job as auctioneer and was promoted or demoted whichever to "Permanent Party 2/94th Auctioneer."
I did speak on this Veterans Disability Commission to a point and reminded everyone we must take stock of what is going on and be very watchful. I spoke to this commission in Sep last year in MD and will again be speaking to them this Sep here in Atlanta, after I know more about what they are doing and how political this commission really is - it will not be pretty!
John Brookshire had a good evening Friday and tore up the slots. He contributed over $200.00 of his winnings to the Battalion treasury.
The auction and money donated was the best yet and I think the total was around $1200.00 dollars.
Saturday morning was open until we went to the memorial dedication and then continued over to the former OCS club for our reunion banquet and shindig.
The memorial dedication, again thanks to the hard work of those involved, was done with STYLE. The Marines had requested they supply the honor guard for the dedication and there were some issues with the Army, so a composite honor guard was formed. Eldridge Morris and Van Parton presented the wreath to the memorial; the Army Chaplin spoke to us, General Trefry also said a few comments, Sgt Buckner smartly called the Battalion to attention as we saluted, Taps were played, the Sill band also played while we there and played the Army Song which we all know was stolen from the Caissons Go Rolling Along, which was the Artillery Song.
Gary Goedecke as the designer and builder was introduced and said a few words.
It went extremely well.
Once we left there, we went over to the former OCS club again - only this time downstairs.
Kicked off the evening with drinks as we waited for the banquet room to get ready.
Greg had some slides of the Battalion on Carroll, which coincidently I am sure displayed LTG Chelburg in the reverse horizontal prone position in his easy chair. Clearly thinking about how to make the Battalion’s guns more accurate.
Before the evening meal Greg displayed the names of the men we lost with the background of bagpipes playing as I read the rank and the names of those members that did not come home.
Tom Jones led the group in prayer.
After a wonderful meal a local award winning high school song and dance team came in and gave us a great performance. Quite a show.
Doug Beard gave a presentation on what some of us had brought home with us which some of the things that some guys brought home were a surprise as some of us had forgotten. Of course, everyone had his P38.
Sgt Lynn Moyer (Mr. FDC) introduced LTG Chelburg who gave us an overview of the FDC and who made it go.
General Trefry also was recognized and said a few words of thanks to all.
As usual, I was last and tried to wrap things up. I recognized the many that worked to make the memorial dedication and the reunion another success; I recognized our two Hall of Fame OCS colonels that were both present at this reunion, Colonels Felix Mueller and Ed Smith; and some of the funny things that had gone on.
We all had someone or a group of someone’s over there that made the days and nights a little shorter. I know most of you know Squire who was not present but the other fellow that fell into that category for me was Mike Keeler who I introduced and had him come up and demonstrate what we had done to the gun crew, which everyone rolled on that one.
I also recognized our Marine Color Guard for their most honored treatment of us while they were with us and the Marine Sgt Major that accompanied them. I also recognized the Army Captain that put up with Keeler, Mason, and myself. I wished him luck in getting his first Battery command.
As usual, I forgot my papers back in the room and just gave the sentiment I received from Marine Sergeant with E/2/9 regarding the Battalion. I wanted to read it but alas, I screwed up.
So here is what I wanted to present.
Tribute to the 2/94th
One of the finest tributes an Artillery Unit can receive is the personal thanks of the American Infantryman or Marine Infantryman that the unit supported during combat situations. Including dire life and death, combat situations that without that expertise and commitment of that Artillery Unit may have resulted in great losses to our fighting men.
I have spoken to many Marines this unit supported during its time on Camp Carroll and other firebases along the DMZ.
This is a good example of those tributes.
Personal Greeting of Thanks from an E/2/9 Marine Sergeant
to the Men of the 2/94th
“Thank you for being there for a whole bunch of us when we needed it most. Even if at the time, we didn't know exactly who were the agents of our deliverance. Your boys were often our literal "saviors.” I believe God puts us where we need to be at the times we need to be there. He sure put the 2/94th outfit where I needed them at the right time. Thanks!
You know the last stanza of the Marines Hymn? The part that goes, "If the Army or the Navy ever look on Heaven's scenes, they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines"?
What isn't said there is that we'll be pulling guard duty while the 2/94th Boys are busy knocking down the gates of Hell with precision fire!”
A sincere "Semper Fi!" to you, and God bless you all.
Then, Marine Sergeant Charles Barnes of E/2/9
Now, Retired Navy Commander Charles Barnes
Thanks to ALL who made the REUNION GREAT and we hope everyone had a GOOD time AND WILL PLEASE JOIN US AGAIN AT THE NEXT ONE.
Glenda and Kelley