34 Men from 7 different Tour Eras met together with One thing in common,
CHARLIE COMPANY 2nd BATTALION 502nd INFANTRY
101st AIRBORNE DIVISION
Men from Dak To, Phan Rang,
These are their accounts and experiences of Veterans Day 2004.
I hope everyone had a good holiday and got to experience it for what it is, to celebrate God's Son and to welcome the new year with a new beginning. So many times we get caught up on the details of the holidays we miss it. Since we were in
This trip was very meaningful for me. My son, Rob Jr. just isn't vocal about his feelings-for one thing he's a male, 'nuff said. Also he's 17 yrs old. However, I know deep down inside he placed in his memory bank, a strong sense of pride to see real men at that reunion. Rob Jr, got a small glimpse of what it was like to endure the war, and move on. I think he can be real proud of his dad, not a lot of fathers he knows could possibly have survived that. He knows how tough his Dad was. So, he has this in his heart. Everyone of you guys were extremely friendly to us, made of feel very welcome. It was Gods' plan for us to be there, as evidenced by the chance meeting myself, my daughter, Laura and Rob had just in front of the 101st Airborne memorial with Mike Maples and his wife. We had gone to see the JFK grave Saturday and as we were leaving we noticed the logo on a statue (we had been in
Hey we're alive, we have air in our lungs, let's make this year good and grow from here!! Keep in touch, love to hear from anybody, Mike, Donna, Dan, was great having dinner with you all in DC.
God Bless and keep you,
and I want to thank you for organizing a fantastic reunion. It was good
to meet the guys that we all have a bond with. Especially, in my case,
Mercado and Carter. Hopefully next reunion will bring more of the guys
I wanted to put something eloquent together to say how much I appreciate all you have done to bring our small band back together again. However,whenever I sat down to write no words seemed adequate to describe the gratitude, happiness and pride I feel as a result of your efforts. My eyes all began to fill with tears each time I started this email to you.
But this time, the tears are not for a sense of loss but for a sense of something being found again that has been very important to me all these years.
I am so grateful for all that You, Brad, Ana and Betty and anyone else behind the scenes have done to make our little reunion a success. I know that the efforts we saw this past weekend were only a very small part of all
your efforts in planning, communicating and preparation. These words can in no way ever repay you for all you have done for the men of Charlie Company.
I am happy for the sense of completion that our reunion has helped to bring in myself and the other members of Charlie Company that I talked to in D.C. The two years I spent in
life and bring me finally up to date with myself.
The pride that I felt and still feel for being a member of C/2/502d is enormous! I have always felt very privileged to have been "chosen" to lead such a group of guys as we had in the 1st Platoon. I have always been
proud of 'my men' and have held them up as shinning examples to all the troops that I have commanded since my tour in Charlie Company. It seems for many reasons that the 1st Platoon often led the way for the whole company during our varied operations in
I am in the process of preparing the photos I took in D.C. and will send them to you very soon. I'll send all that I took. I also still need to sift through my slides and photos from my tour with Charlie Company and prepare them for the net. I'll be sending them for your use when they are ready.
Again, thanks for everything you have done to see that our most recent mission was successful. WELL DONE!
An answer to your question; was DC what I expected?
I really did not anticipate what to expect in DC. Mainly I just looked forward to meeting my friend Jim Groehler and his wife Deb again. However, I did wonder what happened to others in "C" company that I did not know. I was happy to find out, that of those I spoke to, they were doing well. I was surprised and proud to learn that one was a lawyer and another, James P. Brinker, was the author of a book on his experience in
We brothers made a statement in DC. We fought together in
In answer to your question; "Was DC what I expected"? It was totally unexpected, and a lot more than I expected. Dale, it was a blessing and a honor to meet everyone, especially you. To Dale and Betty, Brad, Ana, Vicki; a special thanks for setting things up. Thanks for the sweatshirt and great food etc.
I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful our time in DC was. Frank was
very apprehensive about the trip for many reasons. But he was sure he was
going to feel "left out" because he wasn't truly a member of Charlie
Co. Nothing in his life had ever prepared him for the acceptance he
received from his brothers from Charlie. Y'all loved him and welcomed him
as if you'd known him all his life. We both laughed and cried more in
that few days than we have in years. You are right when you say that you truly
know the meaning of "Band of Brothers" after this reunion. That
four days in DC was more healing than any time in the 35 years leading up to it
for Frank. And for that, I'll always be grateful to our new family, the
heroes of C/2/502.
was apprehensive about coming to DC, but my fears were unfounded. I want to
thank you and Eddy Lewin for not taking NO for an answer. I once expressed to
my wife that I felt like I was walking back down a jungle trail, looking for
pieces of myself that I had left behind. After 37 years, I thought I had pretty
much retrieved them all, but I knew deep inside that something was still
missing. In DC I realized that I could never have found the missing piece
alone. Only the brothers of the "O Duce" could give it back to me. My
coming together again with you and the others was the key. I needed someone to
relate with that truly understood, could speak the same language, and were
witness to same things that I was. I felt then and still feel like I'm part of
the "O Duce again. These men were, and will always be a part of me. they
were the missing piece I've needed for all these years. I'm already looking
forward to the next one.
Like many of you, I had a hundred reasons for not going to DC. All of them seemed legit to me and would have been accepted by everyone. That's why I want to thank Eddie Lewin and Brad Elkins for continuing to prompted me and make sure I was going to go. The promise of a Widow Maker at my front door also helped me make the decision to go.
I went with the idea of meeting some old buddies, and being introduced to others that I had heard about. The other fascinating thought was that I would be able to meet others who were there before me and after my tour.
I had contacted or been in contact with almost everyone who was going, then it started to be real. It was the thought that this is going to be something very special to many of these men. Having not seen each other in almost 35 years, I sensed that this may be a very emotional time. I too started to think about those days in 68. I thought about the men who would be coming and the men who would not. I also thought about those who could not, but who's names would be engraved on the Wall. How do you plan for something like that. How are you suppose to organize a moment such as this. I wanted to back out. Then there was Brad and Eddie. Again they told me, "Don't sweat the small stuff, just get the guys to DC". That's when I knew this was going to be special.
I remember the drive to DC. At times I wasn't sure about going, but mostly there was an anticipation that was so great, I thought we would never get there. Charlie Company is coming together.
I remember first seeing and meeting Kenny Reese in the driveway of the Marriott. Now there was a face to the voice I had only talked to. Then as we stepped out of the elevator, there was Mac Hayes. My old Capt. I knew then, this is for real. Out of all the guys sitting around the tables in the recessed Lobby area, the only one I saw was Mac. Then I saw Eddie. A little later, Brad came in. There was a relief. Things were going to be OK. I can't explain it but it was just like 35 years earlier, the company was together and each one was drawing strength form the other.
Thursday was a day I wasn't ready for. All those guys, and then Annelle Dickerson and her son Rob Jr. arrived. Were we privileged, more than I can express. The meeting room was filled with men who had one thing in common, C/2/502.
As we walked to the Wall I remember thinking, "what am I doing up in front." Some one said, you're there because you were a point man. That's when I turned to Reese and handed him the Guideon.
I needed to find Yancey and Brad. The Wall was coming up fast, and my legs started to stiffen. The rest was a blur. How I got the guideon back in my hands, and then it was ME who was to place it. God only knows. That's the last thing I was looking to do.
In my eyes, it was something that "Bald Eagle" or "Grubby" was suppose to do. Not some lowly grunt. I still don't know what I said or what Mike Yancey said to everyone at the Wall. I just know it was right. I could hardly see because of the tears in my eyes. But I knew this, next to me was my C.O. and my Battalion Commander. How blessed can a grunt get.
The next thing I remember was Brad. He was standing there and he motioned me to go with him. So after the "group photo" was taken we walked as old friends. Then headed for Ruth's.
Once we were through at Ruth's we headed back to the Marriott. Something inside said, "You need to get back to the Wall."
So this time with Betty by my side, I went to do what I knew I had to do. Find all the names.
She was my strength, just as Brad, Eddie and Yancey had been during the day. I was finally able to make peace, and the final piece of the puzzle was put in place. It was as if a Gorilla had been taken off my back, and I didn't even know I was still carrying it.
I was sure all the things of the past had been put to rest and dealt with. Now I can go on. Now there is no more fear when I think of the Wall. Now I can pay the respects to those gallant men that they desired all along.
Now I know what is meant by, "A Band of Brothers".
The final 2 days were joyful and filled with a camaraderie like that of old. "God it was great to see those guys", those words spoken by others kept being repeated. It was.
Saying good-bye has never been easy for me. So with each hug and hand shake I tried to make it linger. The look in their eyes, the crackle of some of their words, and the feelings transmitted in a hug were all that were needed to convey their thoughts.
Many like me had come with the thought of seeing old friends, but when it was all over we came away with more than we had ever expected. I don't know how to explain the release I received. I don't expect that any of the others do either.
It was truly A VERY SPECIAL DAY.
To ALL the Men of Charlie Company,