Reunion 27th FA Association, After Action Report, Ft. Sill ,Oct 2011
Our reunion Theme "Wall of Honor" dedicated to the 48 members
of our Regiment KIA in Vietnam was represented by all three combat battalions
1st, 5th and 6th. The attendees were Peter Antonicelli and Joan, Tony Bongi and
Karen, Don Clay, Norm Cooney and Linda, Les Cramblet, Al Daley and Laqueta ,
Bruce Dees, Ernie Dublisky, David Fitchpatrick, Ed Gaydos and Kathleen, Rik
Groves, Howard Hatton and Jean, Andy Kach and Masha, Jim Kustes, William Lockart
and Mary, Paul Marchesseault and Pat, Tommy Mulvihill and Drew Mulvihill, John
Munnlley, Connie and William, Hank Parker, John Romaka, James Scavio, Fred See,
Harold Singrey and Joyce, and Lynn Holzer.
The first day Oct 13 we had a golf scramble at the Ft. Sill Golf Club scheduled by John Romaka and tour of the Artillery Museum and Ft. Sill Historic Museum for the non-golfers. Cooney/Kach have the golf bragging rights for the year. The museum tours were terrific with the new exhibits and just seeing Ft. Sill again. That evening we had a Happy Hour Social by the pool and then retired to the Presidential Suite for an evening of viewing videos. Ed Gaydos rented a projector/screen and showed his video LZ Sherry 1970-1971 with period music, a true labor of love, next we watched 1st Sgt. Durant's video Welcome to LZ Sherry, Home of B Battery 5/27th Bull's again with period music and the third video a tribute to Cpl. Howard Pyle. The ladies were able to view all of us in our skinny and shirtless days. Many were surprised by the harsh surrounding/living conditions and shared in our laughs and tears. Our Honorary Command Sergeant Major of the Regiment Bruce Dees, kindly supplied all the beer, chips and other snacks but we needed Al Daley's younger tech savvy generation to set up the projector and tap the kegs. Simply a powerful evening that lasted well into the night. Much later that night, Andy Kach trained me in the proper folding of the U.S. flag for our Flag Ceremony the next night. Andy is certified by the Military Funeral Honors Program so I was in very capable hands.
Next day Oct 14, we boarded the buses and headed to the Ft. Sill Air Defense School Tour coordinated by our Stratcom Action Officer, CPT. Rob Albrecht, click on the following link (Cannoneeer10-20-11.pdf) to read the story placed in the Cannoneer newspaper. Yes, that is Rik Groves in the picture and this was truly a special tour. Next we boarded our buses again after a bit of a delay to visit our 27th FA regiment Room. Proper RSOP was not conducted as Snow Hall is currently being remodeled and our room was no where to be found. We finally ended up in a room that was really more ADA than Field Artillery but we told some good stories and Col John Munnelly donated a plaque for PFC Bobby Joe Marsh, 13A10, KIA 6 March 1966 our first Regiment causality and Hank donated pictures of the USS Boston and USS Turner Joy both signed by their skippers and ships he spotted as an Artillery forward observer. Boarded buses again and headed to the Bamford dining facility for lunch. Fellows our Army dining has changed dramatically, and the food is prepared by Chef's, all civilian servers and no K.P. as we placed our empty tray on an automated conveyer that rinsed the trays. We then returned to the hotel to rest and prepare and dress for our evening banquet. Of course some of us returned to the lounge to share more stories over drinks and get rowdy with the NCOA graduates having their reunion too and we had the honor of meeting Sgt. Ernie Savage of the Ia Drang Valley- and he does appreciate "Red Legs".
The evening banquet began with a Social 1/2 Hour and then Andy & Hank performed the Flag Ceremony to the playing of taps and David Fitchpatrick read the names of our "Fallen". Many were surprised that the regiment had lost 48 men in Vietnam. The Flag ( donated by Tony Bongi) and Names were placed on the Lament table set with a single service and one red long stem rose. The ceremony a was very moving, invoking time honored traditions for our deceased comrades. We honored Gregg Pyle by presenting him with a Howitzer Plaque in honor of his brother Cpl. Howard Pyle KIA 8/12/1969 @ LZ Sherry. Hank installed Col John Munnelly as our Honorary Col. of the Regiment (HCOR) and then Col. Munnelly and Past Honorary Command Sgt. Maj. of the Regiment, Al Daley, (CSMOR), welcomed home and presented Regiment Challenge coins to the men of the Regiment, next the Ladies of the Regiment were presented "Vietnam" First Day Covers. Hank pinned the Bronze Star Medal on Andy as he had never received his even though it is listed on his DD-214. Al Daley then lead the regiment in our Traditional Army toasts with 56 year old straight corn whiskey opened and poured by Tommy Mulvihill and Rik Groves to all attendees. The whiskey aged in the hills of Platte Valley, Missouri ,was purchased by Hank in 1977 for this occasion to "Honor" our men. The mike was left open and many came forward to share very moving and personal thoughts. The dinner was concluded with boisterous song lead by Col Clay "The Caissons Go Rolling Along" The Patriot Club treated us special and provided a wonderful buffet dinner, so a big thank you to Karlie. Many again retired to the lounge to share more stories and close the bar. Some even conceded that getting dressed up wasn't so bad after experiencing the Flag ceremony for the men of our Regiment.
Masha Kach, writes," Last week I attended my husband's Army Reunion at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he was reunited with some of the men he served with in Vietnam. There were stories to be told from each one's viewpoint and it was amazing to see how these men who haven't seen each other for over 40 years, meshed together again. As an onlooker, it was quite evident that these men needed to be able to talk of the experiences they shared during their twelve months of service in the Vietnam war amid hellish conditions."
"As a mom, I remember when my sons were 18 and 19 years old, and it is hard to imagine them surviving what these men endured at such a young age. One veteran brought his Army mementoes and among them was a letter he wrote to his mom in 1968, telling her that he was going to church whenever he could. Here was a young man desperately trying to survive the war, experiencing death of friends, but his main concern was to comfort his Mom so that she wouldn't worry about him. The war made these young men tough-they had to be tough to survive. But when these men come together, remembering their hardships, the friends they lost, the near misses, the laughter-it brings healing to their souls. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to hear the shared memories of these heroes."
The following morning, Saturday Oct 15, we convoyed to Ft. Sill to rededicate our Regiment Monument lead by LTC. Ernie Dublisky. We chatted shared stories, and took pictures, concluding our reunion by holding hands and reciting the "Lords Prayer". I will attach Ernie's words as many of you have requested them. We could not have asked for better weather at our reunion as we bid our farewells and requested safe travel departing for our homes amid rekindled and new relationships.
Here is information regarding the 27th Field Artillery
Association and how you can join:
Letter from Col John
B Battery 5/27th Artillery
Some Reunion Photos
(Click Images to Enlarge)