June 28, 2011 - July 3, 2011
My recollections start long before the actual reunion. Total credit for the success of our reunion goes to the fantastic team of
Rick DeNomme, Dave DeMauro , Nick Dragon, and our never say die Host Ruben Barkley and his amazing wife Arlene. Speaking of amazing
wives, I cannot leave out Carolyn who was there helping me through the whole process.
How can we ever duplicate the fabulous “Doubletree Hotel”? I cannot remember ever having the kind of service and co-operation that
we had with them. And was that not the best hospitality room ever? As always it was heartwarming to see “Combat Brothers” reunite
like no time had lapsed since their last meeting. Oh my, the stories that were being told.
After all of these years and reunions, we had eleven 1st timers. Steve Haines, Jim Mc Dermott, Charles Banks, Donny England, Bob
Bessette, Gary Dunagan, Cristobal Abrego, Don Haramoto, Gary Kratky, Joe Mack, Ronnie Evans. Thank you guys, we hope you will join
us in Orlando.
The wonderful and refreshing cruise on the Potomac was one of the reunion highlights and will not be forgotten anytime soon. The
food was better than I ever expected and fun was had by all. (And I did not lose a hat).
Will anyone ever forget the visit to the “WALL”? Rick DeNomme’s crosses made the ceremony so very special. (Thank you again Rick).
Patti Schwindt led us in singing the National Anthem and Amazing Grace. You were great Patti, Thank You. Just as it was in ‘97,
when we got down to the “WALL” many of us again found ourselves relying on our buddies (like we did in ‘Nam) for support, be it physical
or moral, or both. All in all, it was a very emotional time for those that were there.
The banquet on Saturday was the most well attended banquet we have ever had. Three Hundred and Forty one of you filled the beautiful
Crystal Ballroom, led by the Fogarty Family 34 strong. How much fun was the surprise “Red Ant Award”? Thanks to Bill Schwindt for
making it happen. And a special thanks to the Triple Duce for allowing us to use the award. Leading up to the “Red Ant Award” was
one of the funniest comic routines I have heard in a long time. Dave Gehr had the room rolling off the chairs. Dave you truly have
a second career chance as a standup comic. You were hilarious.
Many of us stayed over for the 4th of July festivities and fireworks, they were spectacular as usual. The view from the top of the
Doubletree was unbelievable. An impromptu birthday party for Steve Yanes who turned 65 years young on the 4th made the party that
much more special.
Look forward to seeing all of you in Orlando in 2013.
"Deeds Not Words"
Don Snyder C/3/22 65-67
Link to Reunion Photos:
Link to many more Reunion Photos:
10-12-11 Nick – thank you for your call the other day. Congratulations again on being our New President – and thanks for your willingness
First of all – let me start by saying the entire experience was Magical. In a word – I could say “Perfect”.
Buddy Sherry had called me years ago – and mentioned something about this – but for some reason I was never interested. He again
called me earlier in the year and invited me to this re-union – and mentioned some of the guys in our Platoon who were expected to
attend. I began thinking about it – and the more I thought – the more I wanted to attend. My wife – Colleen – encouraged me and
that’s when I decided to sign up.
· We registered with the Hotel –and they were very pleasant
· I contacted Ruben Barkley and his wife – and they were “Perfect Hosts” and could not do enough to make this a pleasant
· I did see Wayne Brown right after we got back – but had lost contact over the years.
· Don Nollmeyer – our Grenadier – called several years ago – and mentioned that he was raising “Beets” out in Montana.
· Buddy Sherry – Radio Operator – had previously called
· Shorty Menendez – “Tunnel Rat” - had called inviting us to a reunion.
As soon as we got there and registered – I decided to go downstairs to the reception and see if I could recognize anyone. As I walked
into the reception room – I could see several people gathered around various tables – looking at what turned out to be photo albums.
I continued to walk around – like I was lost – when one of the guys at a nearby table got up and walked over to me and gave me a “Big
Bear hug” and said – “Welcome Home Dunagan”. It was Shorty Menendez – and he made me feel so Welcomed. He said to “Follow ME” and
he would introduce me to some of the other guys in our Platoon – who were at another table nearby.
· There was Jim Cunningham & his wife Marty.
· Bob Bessette and his wife Carol.
· Terry Buchholz and his wife Susie. (I had seen her name on his Helmet many times)
· Buddy Sherry and his wife Dottie.
· The Dinner Cruise – very good meal & fellowship on the Potomac.
· The Service @ the Vietnam Memorial Wall. It was like a Funeral Service – and I was given (2) names to read off – Excellent job.
· The Banquet was superb. I am sorry one of the wives at our table got sick and had to leave early – Carol Bessette.
We enjoyed hearing the speakers at the Banquet – as everyone was so attentive. I especially enjoyed hearing from Capt. Don Haramoto.
This was his First reunion – and he too had not wanted to attend a reunion – as it would remind him of experiences he didn’t want
to think about. He had wanted to forget about this time in his life as he felt responsible for those in his command. Well – he said
he was so glad he did come back – as it was a Healing time for him – and everyone had made him feel so welcomed.
· And when I shared them with others who were there – like Cunningham who said – yes – and do you remember what else happened….
and I had never got this type of feedback.
- Cunningham said his claim to fame – is that he walked Point in the Bo Lo Woods – and lived to tell about it!!
· And how Sherry would call in the Choppers & Support – and how Doc Berger would make sure we had taken our Malaria tablets
– remember the big Orange one.
· And when we were pinned down on Nui Ba Den – there was a Soldier right next to me who was struck in the head with a round
– that knocked him to the ground. I had forgotten his name but he reminded me at the Re-union - Steve Todd. The round pierced his
Helmet – and the Helmet saved his Life – and I know he’s been saying “Thanks you Lord” ever since.
· And our Preacher gave a Sermon one Sunday about Battlefield Conversions. After the service – I went over to him and shared
an experience I had on Nui Ba Den. Here again – one night while pinned down – with all the Rockets, Mortars, Machine Gun fire etc.
being thrown at us – and wondering if the next explosion would be my last – I made a Deal with the Lord. I promised him that if he
would help me to get out of there alive – I would Live for him. Well
he did – and I have tried to remember. I also remember – the next day – Capt. Pride called us in for a briefing. He said – Sgt. Dunagan
– your platoon is going to lead us out of here first thing in the morning. And we did – and the Lord brought us home Safely.
Well – fortunately – I did not earn the Purple Heart – as many did – but at the Re union – I did receive the “Red Ant Award” – which
I proudly display in my Office. Thanks again to those involved with this.
Thanks again to all those involved – and we look forward to seeing you again in Orlando. Gary & Colleen Dunagan
- an inscription on a momenta I received upon leaving said it very well – “For those who fought for it – Life has a Flavor and Meaning
– the Protected will never know”. Brothers Forever –
REUNION RECOLLECTIONS SENT TO NICK DRAGON FROM GARY DUNAGAN
You asked me to send you a note regarding my experience with this event - that might possibly encourage others who may have never attended or who may have not attended lately.
Those in charge of planning this event - had experience - as it was flawless from the very beginning.
This was our First Re-union - and we had no earthly idea what to expect! It had been 41 years since I had heard or seen these guys - whom we shared Bunkers with for most of a year.
It was a good 12 hour drive - and we spent the night on the way up.
There were several others there and they all made me feel so Welcomed.
All the events were well planned. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
And I heard many say that if you ever attended one of these - you would not want to miss another one. And I can "Echo" those same thoughts. We shared so many Stories - and it was so amazing to tell of events that I had shared with my
Family and friends.
So - for anyone who may have second thoughts of attending one of these reunions - if you ever attend one - you will not want to miss another one.
Ruben and Arlene Barkley made sure we knew how to get there and gave us some driving tips - as we planned to drive up from Macon, GA.
Washington DC 2011
List of Washington DC 2011 Attendees