2011 Colorado Springs Reunion ...A Memorable Success
Sitting amongst the majestic mountains, Colorado Springs was a picture perfect location for the 7th annual reunion. There were 41 B Company “Regulars” along with wives and family members representing 21 states. It is always great to welcome our first timers: Bob Babcock, Stuart Bridenball, Albert Burruel, James Giroux, Stan Kleibenstein, Dennis Otte and Rodney White.
While the Doubletree Hotel provided many venues including our Hospitality Room for just hanging out and getting reacquainted, many did take advantage of the sites that Colorado Springs had to offer. The Garden of the Gods, the Cog Railroad, and the Cripple Creek Casino as well shopping in Historic Downtown Colorado Springs kept many very busy.
The 2nd annual “Ladies Get Together on Friday morning was a special time for the wives to gather and share their thoughts and feelings.
While the Friday evening dinner was delicious, it was the Memorial Service that followed that left each of us with lasting memories. It is always an honor to have Chaplain Gover present at the reunions as there is no doubt that when he speaks about his year in Vietnam with B Company, that he loves “his boys”. The Chaplain’s lighthearted yet sincere manner of talking about his experiences while delivering the spiritual message to the troops, in the jungle is heart-warming.
As part of the memorial service, Jerry Benson, Chaplin’s Assistant read the names, hometown, date of death and age of the 31 B Company KIA’s with the ringing of a bell and lighting a candle for each soldier. Afterwards Captain Leslie Hardy called B Company into formation for a salute, a pray and the playing of Taps.
A group of Veteran motorcycle riders, the “Rough Riders”, were also holding a reunion at the Doubletree. They had heard that we were going to be having a Memorial Service and asked if some of their members could quietly stand in the back of our banquet room to pay their respects. Some 15 bikers did attend and after the service two of the men, asked if they could speak. Both men, who were veterans of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, offered their thanks to B Company their service in Vietnam and apologized “from the bottom of our hearts” for the way Vietnam Veterans were treated when they came home. “It was not right”. The tears and emotional words of these men meant more than they could have known to the room full of “Regulars by God”. .
Later that evening tickets for the 53 Silent Auction items were drawn along with the auctioning of a blanket made by Roseann & Bruce Brown’s daughter and won but Brent Rollings, a beautiful watch donated by Leslie Hardy and a quilt made by Angie Purvis. Both the watch and the quilt were won by Becky Enfante.
Thanks to everyone who bought tickets for each of the auction items. Along with being a lot of fun, the auction provide the funding to cover reunion expenses.
Saturday evening began with a Color Guard presentation from a B Company 1/22nd 4th Infantry squad. Following dinner, we were treated by Captain Hardy being our Speaker. He shared with us all the hardships he had experienced throughout his youth and service days. It sounds like a miracle how he and his wife, Sandy, have built a large organization of over 50 people helping Veterans with their problems after all the hardships he has gone through. Thank you Captain Hardy, you are an inspiration to all of us.
For some who were in Colorado Springs for the 7th Annual Reunion, they will always remember this as very special and unique reunion. On Thursday morning, we were picked up at the hotel by buses from Fort Carson. Both buses had a tour guide (a staff member from Fort Carson's public affairs). As we traveled through Fort Carson, we learned much about what the Fort is all about...it is the home of the 4th Infantry. Our first stop was to the Urban Combat Training field where we saw firsthand the training that the modern soldier receives. Most impressive. As our tour buses took us to the cafeteria for lunch, we were greeted by young soldiers who were with B Co 1/22nd 4th Infantry. These young men had returned in June from a tour in Afghanistan. As we sat and had lunch with these young men, we were each impressed and very proud of them. They all had much to offer regarding their training and their lives in the modern Army as well as being very interested in what their senior counterparts had to share about what it was like "back then". After lunch, they took our group to their barracks where we spent time with them in their supply room. They eagerly shared all their weaponry...it was a hands on for our vets. We were each very proud to know that these fine young men were their replacement. For those several hours on base, it was if the 40+ years had faded away.