Photo by Steve Plyman
See what you missed at the Fort Campbell mini reunion, home of the Lancers. If John was doing this good, imagine what a good time a smart good looking Lancer like you could have had!
Photos submitted by: Gary Whitty, Mark White and Mike Mooneyhan.
Five more photos, the rest can be found at the Lancer server site for those that are on the mail server:
Steve, Mike M, Gary W and Mark W.
Vietnam Lancers and Redskin in the Veteran's Day Parade
Steve S, Mark W, Steve P, Bruce N and Gary B.
|Reunion attendees: (l. to r.) Mark White, Bruce Nesmith, Gary Whitty, Mike Mooneyhan, Gary Bowman, Steve Smith (Redskin 16), Steve Plyman and John Donaldson|
Reunion report provided by John Donaldson:
Lancer Reunion Fort Campbell on Veteran's Day Weekend
Attending were Gary Bowman, John Donaldson, Michael Mooneyhan, Bruce Nesmith, Steve Plyman, Steve Smith, Mark White and Gary Whitty.
We arrived at the Hampton Inn throughout the afternoon on Friday. Us old Lancers reacquainted ourselves with each other and especially some of the guys that hadn't seen each other since Nam. Most of the guys are on the list server and it was great to associate faces with the names.
Hannibal (Captain Hannibal Bray ... the current
Company Commander of the Lancers) met us at the Inn about 6 pm and we rode in
several cars to a great restaurant/club in Clarksville; The Blackhorse Pub and
Brewery where they make their own beer on the premises. After eating we ventured
to the top floor of the two upper levels where there is sitting areas and pool
tables and talked and laughed for hours.
Saturday morning we all met early in the hotel lobby where Hannibal met us and led the caravan downtown for the Veteran's Day Parade. He had arranged for a HUMVEE configured like a small deuce and a half to carry us in the parade. We loaded up and were put in line at nearly the very front of the parade. This was incredible as I'm understand most of the Veteran's parades across the country were bigger than they have ever been. People clapped and waved as we passed by, some with tears in their eyes.
After the parade Hannibal led us, just a couple of blocks away, to a diner for a home made hamburger. We joked with Hannibal the remainder of the weekend about, "just a couple of blocks", because that two blocks seemed more like five. We had a lot of fun with that and Hannibal took it all in stride.
After lunch we all went out to the ground breaking ceremony of a new Veterans Cemetery of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. This is one of Kentucky's four new Veteran's cemeteries designed for Veteran's and their survivors and is designed for a total of up to a million graves. Among the speakers were the Governor of Kentucky, acknowledging us old Lancers, and the General of the 101st Division, Major General Cody (2-star), who agreed happily to have his picture taken with us. I felt another reminder that I am at the beginning of my "senior citizenship" when I learned the General was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1972. He told us he had gotten in trouble at a funeral he was in charge of arranging where several helicopter crew bodies had been returned from Laos where they were killed in Lam Son
719. It was against all rules to have any aviation formation fly over a funeral in Arlington, but he gave the go ahead for a flight of Huey's in the missing man formation to overfly. He knew the Lancers flew in Lam Son 719. I learned while at this reunion that the vast majority of the current helicopter combat tactics are drawn from the experiences of the ill-fated Operation Lam Son 719 of which the 101st commanded.
Saturday night was the big get together at Hannibal's home where besides us, there were over 40 others attending, most of which were pilots and crews of the current Lancers. Hannibal's wife made sure there was plenty of food for everyone including a delicious turkey. There was a big cake for us old guys and an open bar plus a keg of beer. Hannibal much appreciated the money contribution from our Lancer Association to "buy a round" for everyone.
Hannibal actually has a four-man band that played at the party and is the singer. They played and played until about 10 p.m. when two cop cars arrived and requested we quite down. Hannibal's wife was very amused that all of us simply ignored the cops completely and when one of them asked Hannibal to stop the music he replied he would, "after we finish this song" displaying that the Lancer attitude has survived time. The cops left a little confused and I think we hurt their feelings.
Sunday morning Hannibal once again met us at the hotel and led the caravan to the airfield where the hangers and a tarmac of 90 Blackhawks were basically free for us to roam. They had two ships in their hanger that we inspected by sitting in the cockpit, opening panels and walking around on top checking out the rotor system. These are very impressive aircraft. I learned for the first time this day that they recently changed their Lancer patch to match our Vietnam patch ... wow! Hannibal gave us all patches to take home. We all got to wear a new helmet with the night vision goggles and tried them out in a dark room ... it is a whole new experience than what we had in Nam. We would have gotten to the airfield earlier, but because of a quick turn light that broke up the caravan, and my somewhat deficient navigation we became temporarily disoriented. Thanks to cell phones Hannibal came and got us. After a tour of a couple of hours we departed and half of us headed home and half of us stayed until Monday.
You guys missed the event of a lifetime. These new Lancers and their families really made us feel very, very special. They refer to the Nam Lancers as "Legends" and have some Nam Lancer pictures on their wall at the hanger. They told us that any of us are welcome anytime and they are looking very much forward to meeting more of us this June during the "Week of the Eagles" at Fort Campbell. I plan to be there and I hope to see many of you guys there also.
A couple of memories I have of the reunion:
- Most of the guys still had most of their hair and some of us were sporting a belly.
- DAMN those new guys as YOUNG!
- There are female pilots and crew. The Lancer pilot is an RLO.
- I wanted to fly again.
- Gary Whitty taught me how to buy a lottery ticket.
- All of us grunt and grown when we get up from a chair.
- There wasn't enough time for all of us to talk as much as I did.
- Instead of our old designation of B Company of the 158th Battalion, the current Lancers are B Company of the 5th Battalion.
- All of the old Nam 101st Huey companies are still in the 101st with the same names. Thanks to the patch pictures on the A/O map we left them, I think most of the existing companies may adopt the Nam patches.
- We want them to put the dots back on the tail booms.
- They liked listening to our war stories. The favorite one they liked to hear from me starts out, "There I was flying with just one rotor blade..."!
You guys really missed a great event!!!!