An Unbeknownst Photo Surfaces
Picture taken on March 12, 1966 of Mabe when he returned to his unit from the field hospital after being wounded. The unbeknownst photo came forth 45 years later. Mabe appears to be in shock from the combat of the day.
The photograph is a treasure. When family members gathered around to see, the mood was quiet amazement. When the image was projected onto a wide-screen in a high school classroom, the class became stone silent as each student’s eyes widened. It took several moments for the students to absorb the figure and realize the image in the picture and the teacher standing in front of them are the same person. They listened intently as I described how the photograph emerged.
I received this valuable while attending the Alpha Troop reunion in Nashville in May 2011. Dominick Bates from Albany, New York whom I hadn’t seen or corresponded with since we served together on the ground in first squad, first platoon of Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam during 1966.
Bates presented to me the photograph which was made on March 12 of that year. That day I was wounded while on foot-recon patrol in the countryside around Tuy Hoa. After the close-action small arms firefight and a Huey medevac flight to a Mash-like field hospital, I returned to my unit. The close-up photo of me lying on the ground shows a shocked nineteen-year-old paratrooper. The photo had been in Bates’ scrapbook for forty-five years. May 2011 was Bates’ first reunion, which he learned about from a telephone message on his answering machine. He and I along with our wives are new friends and stay in touch by email and telephone.
One never knows what treasure will come from a reunion of combat veterans. Expect the unexpected and look forward to pleasant interaction with past acquaintances when you attend a reunion. Expect to meet and enjoy the fellowship of other Alpha Troop veterans. You never know how your presence will benefit others or how someone you knew in war will uplift you with spoken words, expressed memories, or mementos like an old photo.
Contact your buddies or track down lost comrades. Urge them to meet you at the Alpha Troop reunion in San Diego in May 2013.