Let me begin this post with this. The men who served in Charlie Troop 1st Squadron 9thCavalry 1965 - 1966 trained together at Ft Benning , Georgia and took a month long cruise together to get to Vietnam. This was truly a Family of Brothers. Friendships were formed as well as trust during the training and transport to Vietnam. These men fondly refer to themselves as the Boat People because they went to Vietnam by ship. After they arrived everyone else arrived by plane. All of these brave men had successful lives after their service to our country was over.
All of these men have lovely wives who have stood alongside of them as they traveled through life. Darwin Heffner lost his lovely wife recently. It is easy to tell she was an exceptional Lady because Darwin is a great man today.
Carol and I arrived in Branson on the 16thof April. We met Walt (Titch) and Mary Alice Titchenell at the hotel which would become our Tactical Operations Center (TOC) or meeting place. James and Peggy Goldsberry were already there. The Bienemans and Titchenells went out for dinner. On our return Larry and Millie Banks were sitting outside waiting for us. We all went up to Titchs room and sat around and talked for a couple of hours before everyone headed out for their own living quarters.
The Reunion picked up speed on the 17th when Darwin Heffner, Gene and Ann Smith, Jim and Jean Reid. Billie and Doris Williams arrived. We sat around and War Stories were told by the 65-66 Pilots and Crew Chiefs. I listened with earnest. These Pilots were not only talking about their own exploits but also those of the Blues. It was very easy to see that this was a true Family of men. We all went out to eat together and then returned to the TOC. Not all of the conversation that night or really at any time was limited to War Stories. A lot of the talk was about family and Fallen Comrades. Heffner said he would like to talk to a family member of Richard Noyola. I told him that Richards brother lived in Big Bear City, California. He said that that was only 12 miles from where he lived. I called Carlos Noyola and told him that there was a man who knew his brother very well and he would like to talk to him. He told me to give him his phone number and have him call when he got back to California.
The 18th was pretty much the same as the 17th. The ladies went shopping and the men sat around and talked.
The 19thafter the ladies came back from shopping we went out to eat and then took in a show. It was a Country Music show that was really quite good. They were kind enough to recognize Charlie Troop.
After the show we had our banquet. Billie Williams, who was Charlie Troop Commander in 65 read of the names of those 65-66 Charlie Troopers who lost their lives in Vietnam. It was not easy for him as many of the names he was reading off were His men. Jim Reid rang a Bell that was loaned to us by an Engineer outfit. The dinner was superb. I want to thank Billie Williams and Jim Reid for the dinner as they were the ones who paid for it.
After the dinner we all returned to the TOC for more talking and laughing. It was quite evident who was not having a great time. All you had to do was look around the room and see who wasnt laughing. Gee, you couldnt find anyone who wasnt. The ladies did out laugh the men. There is no doubt that the ladies enjoyed themselves as much as the men did.
The morning of the 20th the ladies returned to their favorite shopping places. Some of us men went to a Military Museum which was outstanding. They had displays for every war since WWI. Their WWII display was the best. On three walls in one of the WWII rooms were the names of every man and woman who lost their lives during WWII. Two of the walls were at least 10 foot high by 30 feet long and the other was 10 feet tall by 15 foot long and it took every inch to display the names of the Fallen. I was lucky enough to find my Uncle Billy who was killed in France.
The afternoon of the 20th we took in another show. Heffners good friend, Tracey, was the piano player and he got us free tickets for the show. There is no doubt he was the best part of the show. Heff had said his hands moved so fast on the keys that they were a blur. He wasnt lying. My wife tells me I have fast hands but I was not competition for him. About mid way through, the announcer introduced the Charlie Trooper from 1965 - 1966. As they stood up the audience stood up and and gave them a Standing Ovation for about 5 minutes. It was a spontaneous Ovation which made it that much more special.
Some of the men had to leave before the show and some of us were just to tired to keep going so we went back to our resort. Others continued on to another show.
I am not a member of the 65-66 Charlie Troop. Neither was Larry Banks. Larry was there in 65-66 however he was with Delta Troop. It was truly an honor for myself and my wife to be invited this reunion. I have said before that every Reunion I attend is special but this one was truly special and outstanding. Many of these men I had never met. When the reunion was over I felt like I had known these men and ladies all of my life. I know I am not a 65-66 Charlie Trooper but I sure know that I am welcomed by those who were.
Jeremy Hogan came to the reunion. Jeremys dad served in Vietnam in Bravo Troop 1/9. Jeremy is the Official Photographer and History man. Jeremy takes his time to interview the men who served in Vietnam and records their history. One day Jeremy will make a Documentary of all of the interviews he has taken. It will be a Living Testament to the men who served.
Once again, I want to thank the 65-66 men for allowing my wife and I to participate in the Reunion. And once again, I want to encourage anyone who has not attended a reunion to make one and I guarantee you it will not be your last.