Tampa Reunion Welcomed
Fifty Two B Company Brothers
Tampa proved to be a great location for the 8th Annual reunion as 52 men, from 22 states came together to be re-united. We laughed, we cried, we shared memories and re-connected while being reminded that the bonds we formed so long ago are stronger than ever. Many of the wives were present as well as some of our children. Traveling the farthest was Fred and Mary Spence from Heyburn, Idaho.
We welcomed 12 first timers: Daniel Bartow, Robert Boupane, Dragaslav Jovanovich, Arthur Faiella, Pat Ferrante, Richard Lindsay, Joe Rocha, Oliver Sutton, Yolando Vannoni, Clifford Voege, Sam Whitmire and John Yeso.
While the Doubletree Hotel provided many venues including our Hospitality Room for just hanging out and getting reacquainted, a group of 47 took a bus trip on Friday morning to the Armed Forces Military Museum in Largo. The museum offered wonderful displays of all US military engagements from World War I through the present.
Our Friday evening banquet was opened with a “Welcome” by Fred Golladay, our MC and a blessing over our meal by Chaplin Gover. After dinner, it was once again this year, an honor to have Chaplin Gover (Chappy) address “his boys”. It was also a pleasure to meet and welcome Chappy’s wife, Kathleen to her first reunion. Chappy, in his very special lighthearted and sincere manor, shared his experiences as he prepared to leave his wife and young family behind for his two tours of duty in Vietnam. Chappy’s message is always heart-warming and it is such a pleasure to have him with us each year.
Jerry Benson, Chappy’s assistant, offered a memorial service reading the names of B Company men who have passed away since returning home from Vietnam to the present. B Company was then called into formation for a salute, a pray and the playing of taps.
A true highlight to our Friday evening was a beautiful and moving presentation by Dianne Bacorn (wife of Jim Bacorn, 1st plt Jul 69-July 70). Standing in front of the American Flag, Dianne did a powerful signing of the song “O America” as recorded by the Celtic Women. Dianne’s performance was like watching a ballet of her hands and fingers which had many in tears and everyone on their feet. Thank you Dianne for being a very special part of our evening.
Many of the wives gather on Saturday morning for our “Ladies Get Together. This is our third year to gather and it just feels so natural to get together to share our thoughts, feelings, our tears and our joys as we have become a sisterhood.
A very special part of our Saturday night banquet was the Silver Star ceremony for Matthew Carter, who died in 1996. The Silver Star and Purple Heart were presented to Mrs. Matthew Carter posthumously by the Florida National Guard Assistant Adjutant General for Army Major General James Tyre. John McHenry, Matthew Carters platoon leader was present for the awarding of the medals along with Fred Golladay, who was instrumental in arranging the logistics of the ceremony. A cake reception was held after the ceremony.
Following the ceremony, Freddie Ambrose was our guest speaker telling a very touching family story. And once again the open podium offered a time to hear from anyone who had a thought or memory to share or to offer gratitude. You can always expect the unexpected during our Saturday night “open mic as it comes from the heart and is good for the soul.
If you have not had a chance to come to a reunion, let us be the first to encourage and invite you to be with us in St. Louis in September. If you have been to a reunion but your buddy has not been, give him a call and invite him to meet you in St. Louis.