Sunday, June 29, 2008

Guidon

























A military guidon is a rectangular shaped cloth with insignia that indicates company or platoon designation.   A triangle removed on one end makes it "swallow-tailed".  The regulation size is 20 X 27 3/4 inches. The above photo is a miniature guidon of Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 17th Airborne Cavalry.  The regulation size would display crossed swords as well. 

This airborne cavalry unit was established in February, 1964 when the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division was formed.  This "Always First" Brigade trained in Iran, the Mojave Desert, and other places in the United States. In May 1965, the division was alerted for deployment to Vietnam. On July 29, 1965 the Brigade arrived at Cam Ranh Bay, Republic of Vietnam.

I arrived five months later as a volunteer on January 3, 1966 with rank of private first class and M.O.S of 11-B (infantryman).  I served with Troop A as a "boots on the ground" soldier until December 15, 1966. The standard tour of duty was 12 months and new troops arrived often to replace the wounded, killed, or soldiers with completed tours.  Combat operations continued until 1972 when the 101st Airborne Division was withdrawn and returned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The U. S. policy of Vietnamization transferred most of the division's armaments and equipment to the ARVN forces.  The departing paratroopers left behind helicopters, artillery, trucks, jeeps, and base camp supplies and equipment as they flew home on military and contract commercial airlines.

The veteran's association was chartered in 2003 under the name Alpha Troop. I became a member this year and attended the 2008 meeting in Nashville, Tennessee from June 18-22. There I met 25 veterans who served in Troop A from '69 to '71 as helicopter pilots, crewmen, or infantrymen.  The activities and meeting were structured, well organized, and executed following a plan and agenda.  A hotel meeting room served as our gathering place for meetings, reflections upon the past, friendly talk, and for sharing family and life experiences after the military.  

Most Alpha Troop members were around my age of 61, retired, and with grown children.  We probably came from 12 states from coast to coast plus Puerto Rico. The careers of these veterans included retired military, Shell Oil, ExxonMobile, J. C. Penney, self employed businessmen, engineering or defense industry employees, and one large scale farm operator.  All were patriots and solid citizens of our country.  About sixteen wives and four children accompanied the veterans to the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Nashville where we met.

I'll continue my reaction to our meetings and activities with next week's update. The image below is that of a bumper sticker which was for sale at the meeting.

Have a good week!


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