Sunday, May 23, 2010

Alpha Troop Reunion Notes & Pictures

Here are notes I made while attending the Alpha Troop Reunion:

Click on pictures to enlarge.

We arrived on Wednesday in Branson and checked into the Grand Plaza Hotel.

We were fit, strong, trained, focused, uniformed, armed, with a mission forty-four years ago.

Last night at the reception we were bigger, different, weaker, happier, laughing, hugging, joking, and reminiscing without a common goal.

Alpha Troop veterans came to Branson from AL, CA, FL, IA, IL, IN, KY, MN, MO, NC, NM, OH, PA, TN, TX, & WI.

Alpha Troop veterans at the reunion served in Vietnam one or more years from 1965 and 1972.

Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry of the 101st Airborne Division was formed in '64 or '65 and has remained active since that date. Troop A is deployed now in Afghanistan.

We toured the War Museum in Branson. Then we boarded the Showboat Branson Belle for a dinner cruise on Table Rock Lake.

Back at the hotel and inside the hooch the wives separated and sat at tables to talk. The vets mingled, stood or sat. The talk and laughter increased as the evening got later. So did the decibel level.

Some were drafted, others volunteered. Some made military a career, others left after two or three years. Nobody complained or regretted their service to the U. S. of A.

It was not noticeable, but at least two vets are highly decorated. One had been awarded the Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Air Medals for Heroism, and the Purple Heart. Another had the equivalent except his included the Distinguished Flying Cross and 4 Purple Hearts. There may have been others, but as I said, war medals were not obvious.

Military rank and social status do not matter at this time, place, and stage in life. The human affairs of good health, happiness, contentment, and inner peace are the matters of importance now.

A chartered coach bus transported most of us around the area. It was huge, clean, and the driver was smartly dressed, knowledgeable, and careful as he motored along negotiating the turns.

Between events back in my room, I finished reading my 13th book on the Amazon Kindle. I reviewed the twelve titles by using easy touches, which produced electronic movements to reveal highlighted passages I'd made when I first read the books.

Breakfast was in the restaurant on the ninth floor starting at 7:00 AM. A professional singer there softly sang many popular hits. One was Judy Don't Take Your Love To Town.

The memorial service involved reading aloud 197 names and service dates of Alpha Troopers who were KIA or died after tour. Their date of death was announced too. What other organization gives voice to its members' names that died up to 45 years ago?

The reading of names was interspersed with comments from the veterans who knew the deceased. Some remarks brought laughter while other comments were emotional and brought tears.

We dined Friday evening in a theater to background music by a high school band. A stage show followed the dinner. Legends In Concert was music and impersonations of great stars.

The spouses rode on a bus to various sights and attractions around Branson while the vets held a business meeting to discuss and plan the association's affairs. Alpha Troop must soldier on into the future.

The finale was Saturday evening at the banquet. After the fine meal, raffle drawings decided the winners of desired items donated by members. These prizes helped raise funds for future events. There were hugs, handshakes, and promises made to keep in touch as the reunion concluded.

Many of us rejoined in the hooch after the banquet for one final time to talk and hang out together before retiring to bed and starting our journey home on Sunday.

Mike and Doreen landed (1:20 PM) at O'Hare Int. Airport onboard United Express flight 6746. This airport is named after WWII hero & Medal of Honor recipient Lt Cmdr Edward "Butch" O'Hare.

Mike and Doreen landed (5:15 PM) at Greensboro Regional Airport onboard United Express flight 5684. We arrived home after a 45 min drive.

Top picture: I'm fourth from left on top row; Doreen is one step below me wearing glasses.

Second picture: Me in Vietnam in March 1966.

Third picture: Me in the water's edge of the South China Sea at one moment in 1966. See the ghostly image in front of me. I remember the time and place but not that man in front of me there.

Fourth picture: Forty-four years after the previous Vietnam picture.

Last picture: Me beside the iconic poster of Uncle Sam in the museum.

Click here to see 61 additional pictures.

Have a good week!


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