Reunion 2005 was a great time! Many first time attendees joined the “usual suspects” in Tacoma , WA . The weather was perfect and the Northwest provided a splendid backdrop for all of
us. Thursday night was a Seattle Mariner game in Safeco field. It was a close game but the home town team lost to the Cleveland Indians 6-5. Thanks to Don Dawkins for being the group leader for this event.
Friday was a bus trip to Mt St Helens. It was a beautiful “severe clear” day in which to see the plume of ash rise 1,000 feet into the sky as a result of minor earthquake which occurred at 10.04 AM PDT . It was a magnitude 3.2 Thanks to Jim Haslitt for being the group leader for this trip.
During the hospitality suite we had blank letterhead and envelopes for soldiers serving in Iraq . Many members wrote letters to these brave young men and women. We also had large get well cards for the men that we knew were ill and could not make the reunion. Many members wrote words of comfort and encouragement on these cards. The hospitality suite also featured 8x10 photos of many scenes from Vinh Long. These were created and brought to the reunion by Charles and Harriett Shipman. They came from slides in the archives that had been digitized. This stresses the need for members to think about turning their slides and movies into a digitized format for the legacy of both the members and the association.
Frank Strobel and his wife, Lucy and daughters, Julie, Lisa Ann and Sarah set up and manned the Quartermaster table. They are a wonderful family and we are lucky to have them as members and supporters of this association.
On Friday evening, Daren McClure and his wife, Trish joined us. Darren is Ed McClure's son. Ed was the first in country commander of the 114 th in 1963. He passed away in 1975 when Darren was 7 years old. Many men who served with Ed were quick to share their memories of Ed with Daren and Trish.
The business meeting was conducted on Saturday morning. We were reminded by Roger Linseman that we were all family in this association. During the discussion about the display initiative by Gene Boyle , Frank Strobel commented that he needed a helmet for the 114 th memorabilia display in Pittsburgh . Later on that day, Ken Rittinger donated his to the association. Thank you Ken! After the election was held it was decided that the 2007 reunion will be held in Nashville TN and will be ably chaired by Jim and Ann Koepke.
Simultaneously, the organizational meeting of the Auxiliary Membership was held. This effort will be co-chaired by Julie Strobel-Kaldorf and Stan Shipman.
The afternoon brought tours of Puget Sound aboard the 85 foot schooner “Amazing Grace” birthed in nearby Gig Harbor . We were met with gentle breezes, clear skies and smooth sailing. Off in the distance, we could see the Thunderbirds performing over the McChord AFB.
The dinner was held on Saturday evening. Charles Shipman provided his team with Certificates of Appreciation for their work over the past two years. They have done a great job and received a well deserved round of applause. We also celebrated the 45 th wedding anniversary of Mary and Albert Apel and sang Happy Birthday to Lisa Ann Strobel and others. The first time attendees were asked to stand and be recognized. We were pleased that there were so many.
After dinner, an auction was held. John Brennan had located three out of production 1:18 scale UH-1C. John stated that the markings on the model were that of Robin Miller's aircraft, HOGHEAD II. John found them on Ebay, purchased them and donated them to the association. Thank you, John.
The first one was purchased by “Buck” Jones, the second one was purchased by Bob Reid. Bob immediately gave the aircraft to Jo Stallings, the son of Robert and Pat Stallings. Bob had flown in from Germany to attend the reunion. Way to go Bob, you represent the best among us! The third one was purchased by Jim Haslitt . All proceeds were donated to the association. Thank you, gentlemen!
Sunday morning was the Memorial Service. It was a solemn and moving tribute. Don Dawkins led us in prayer and song. May Jones addressed the group as did Stan Shipman. Both were powerful testimonials. Paul Wickliffe and Mike Schrumpf took turns reading the names of our members of the 114 th Killed in Action. Don Dawkins concluded the service with a prayer wishing God's blessings on the members of the 114 th as they returned home to their families.
If you are wondering how important these reunions are to some of us, look no further than Terry Bartlett. On Sunday, Terry was released from a local hospital following cancer surgery. But on his way home, he instructed his son to stop by the hotel so he could see his fellow Knight, Ron Kirby and his wife Susan.
The events of this reunion allowed for members to get reacquainted with members and their wives from their year group. It allowed specific aircrews to reconnect and it allowed for people to know members from different year groups. Marilyn and I wish to thank each and every one of the members for taking the time and effort to attend this reunion.
I am very proud to be a member of this association. We look forward to seeing everyone in Nashville in 2007.