As the groups unofficial
story teller, I am taking it upon myself to put into words what is probably in
our hearts. Most of us got together a few weeks ago and had a great time and
we have had time to reflect in our minds what occurred. We renewed
friendships, met our buddies loved ones, filled in some of the void of the
past 35 years, connected some of the missing points in our memories. and more,
Many years ago, when we
were young, our country called upon us to embark on a great and difficult
adventure, and we all answered that call. A few dozen brand new officers and
a few hundred brand new enlisted men were mixed with a handful of seasoned
officers and NCO's and were given the mission to organize an artillery
battalion and prepare to take it into combat. Not just any artillery
battalion, the most complicated and powerful in our arsenal.
We did that in about three
months, then we packed up everything, said goodbye to our loved ones and
shipped it halfway around the world. Before we even landed, our mission was
change, and we adapted. We were placed in the most critical and dangerous
spot in the war. We were blessed with great leadership. Our commander
understood leadership better that any. He placed each key person in the role
that they were best able to perform. Made sure that we were properly
trained. Made sure that we had the necessary resources. Made sure that we
understood the mission. Then, he got the hell out of our way and let us do
our job. And we did, as a group, perform and excel.
We were fortunate to have a
few months over there of relative quiet, to give us time to learn and perfect
our jobs. Then, as if on que, the eyes of the War, our country, and the world
turned onto the 2nd of the 94th as we took the war to the North Vietnam
Homeland, and they responded with a vengenance.
In the past, heavy long
range artillery was always kept in the rear areas of battle. WE were on the
front lines, and at times, several miles in front of the lines. It was not
unusual for our batteries to pack up and convoy at night to reach troops that
needed us. Enemy gunners knew exactly where we were, and "dialed" our number
regularly. As an FO, I did not spend very much time with the unit. I was
usually with our Marine hosts, and I can tell you how proud I was to represent
you. The Marines loved and respected us.
The professional manner in
which this Battalion came together and performed, under difficult conditions
was truly amazing. When troops lives were on the line, our gun crews stayed
on the guns in spite of counterbattery fire and followed the mission. Our
ammo convoys travelled dangerous roads. Even our cooks and clerks risked
death daily just by living at the center of a target. In spite of all that
was thrown at us, our losses were small.
There were very few
individual decorations in our unit. Certainly Eddy should have gotten a
Silver Star for his patrol action at Gio Linh. But, as often happens, his
bravery was foreshadowed by the fact that many Marines died on that patrol.
His actions certainly saved many others. There were probably many other acts
of bravery that went unnoticed. I, personally, am most proud of the fact that
we were decorated many times as a UNIT. We were a team, and we know that we
did well. That is the force that brought us back together after all of these
years. We returned to loved ones and a Country that could not understand what
we went through. YOU HAD TO BE THERE, TO UNDERSTAND.
Then, just as abruptly as
we started, we disbanded and came home. For the last 35 years we have be busy
building careers, families, and lives. But as you well know, we did not
entirely come home. A part of us will always be over there. Late at night,
our minds wander back to our big adventure and we would wonder about our
buddies. Where were they? What are they doing now? We now know some of
those answers, thank's to the efforts of Will, Charles, Glenda, and others.
I heard faint grumbles
about those who did not go. I feel sorry for those who did not have the
opportunity that we had. I came out of the War with a much greater
appreciation of life and our liberties. For a brief time in my life, I was on
a GREAT TEAM, and we soared with the eagles and made a difference. The guys
that stayed home and did not take a turn at the bat, owe me nothing. I am
richer than they will ever be. Those guys owe the 51,000 men whose names are
on a wall in Washington, because they stepped up for them. Even though I did
not stay "in", the leadership examples that I learned from men like Trefry,
Gray, Heard, and others have served me well in my career.
We have all been bonded
together by our great adventure. We were separated for many years, but have
now come back together, and we dare not let it happen again. Whether you like
it or not, we are FAMILY. That means that we care about each other. Being a
member of a family has responsibilities. It is everyones responsibility to
let the others in the family know what is going one in your life (good, bad,
happy, sad). Yes, we will get together for more reunions, we will chat on the
internet, now that we know where we live, we might "drop in" if we are in the
area. The important thing is that we are back together again. Sadly, we came
together to late for some of the family. Three that we know of are gone and
we had near misses on a few others. If you are still with me after all of
this BS tonight, then your in the Family.