More Reunion Thoughts
Bill Haupt, President, Sunshine State Chapter, 101st Airborne Division Association, Inc.
Today I read most of the accounts of the 327th Infantry Regiments-Vietnam (PIR) reunions once again. I am sure, based on the stories that I read, that most of us were apprehensive about attending the very first reunion.
My first reunion of the 101st Airborne Division was in February 1993. I had no knowledge of any of the reunions prior to this. Ironically I was informed of this reunion by another fraternity brother (Mason). He is a Marine, formerly stationed at Clarksville Base. I called Red Floyd and was told this had been going on since 1945. I was upset that I didn’t know of this reunion being held in Jacksonville FL, where I lived.
Anyway, like most others stated, I didn’t think I could recognize anyone there. After all it had only been 29 years since I was in the 101. The first person I saw in the Hospitality Room I recognized! Only he was a sailor, stationed at Mayport on the Starke that had been attacked recently. I talked with him briefly and asked about his wife. He was shocked that I knew his wife, then I told him; I was his mailman. He ran upstairs and got her down to greet me. We had dinner together with his grandparents. His grandfather was a paratrooper in the 101 in WWII!
A few years later I became President of the Chapter after it moved to Kissimmee FL. I attended each of the Snowbird Reunions and got to know a lot of people. Some of them served in the 327th. I was searching for information about a SGT Jerry Norris who was KIA on Mother’s Day Hill and somebody put me on the 327th NFS roster.
After that I got into the wire and started trading mail with the Brotherhood via Yankee Jim, David Cook (the Static Line) and David J. Plus many others I can’t recall, one thing I will always remember: an email from the Brotherhood saying “Welcome Home Brother!” The very first time anybody had ever said this to me.
So I met many new friends for the first time, face to face at the Ihle’s homestead. And like everybody before me said, “I can’t wait until next year!” This reunion meant more to me than any other reunion in the past. Last year was my first national reunion in Nashville. It did not even come close to the family style reunion at Cobra Lake, Tennessee. God bless all of you and spread the word, there’s room for everyone at this lovely place. Ray and Pete serve up some great food and like Frisbie stated, the beer is cold. I hope Dolly Parton and Chris Kristofersen(sp?) and Johnny Cash attend next year!
Always remember this: “We are the Airborne!” We never lost the war, only the yellow; CS politicians in Washington briefly lost our integrity for us. You can always hold your heads high and be proud of your service and sacrifices for your country, the finest and most brave country in the world. The Airborne community leads the way. Above the rest and no slack! Airborne all the way!