From The Command Track
By: Allen Hathaway
3rd Quarter, 2017
“Welcome Home”. This is a greeting often used among Vietnam veterans. We always begin with this greeting at our gatherings at the Wall on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The greeting has many very deep meanings. It began because many veterans never received a proper welcome home, so veterans began welcoming each other home.
The greeting truly means “welcome
home” both physically and mentally. It means “Thanks
for your service. I understand what you endured and
the sacrifices you and your family made while serving
our country”. The greeting is always accompanied with
a firm handshake and sometimes a bear hug and pat on
My wife and I were with some family friends recently. The father of our friend was also with the group. In the conversation, he asked what I did in my retirement. I replied that I was heavily involved in our organization of Army veterans who served in Vietnam with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. He replied that he served in the Korean War with the 70th Tank Battalion. I immediately shook his hand, looked him straight in the eye and said, “welcome home”. I could tell by the expression on his face and the look in his eyes that he was moved. He was of a different generation, a different war, and he may have never been greeted in that manner, but he knew exactly what it meant.
The greeting opened an entirely new conversation as we began to compared notes. He trained at Fort Knox. We joked that we may have used some of the same WW II barracks, motor pools or tank ranges. We joked about the “cruise” across the Pacific.
I write about this because the greeting created an immediate connection between two strangers. His family may not have known much about his service or even understood anything about his experiences. He may never have had the opportunity to talk about his service. I know he left that day feeling proud of his service and so did I.
Our reunions are similar to the conversation described here. The reunions are an opportunity to meet others who have the same experience only with a much deeper connection, we all served in the same unit, the Blackhorse! We all know Xuan Loc, Quan Loi, 90th Replacement, Bien Hoa, sand bags and much more. We talk about the people we knew and many of the good times we had that kept us all together and sane.
Over the years I’ve talked with many of the ladies who attend our reunions. Many say their husbands never talked about Vietnam until they began attending the reunions. Some were reluctant to attend but after much encouragement they finally gave in and took that first step and signed up. No doubt, that is a big step! I’ve also talked to many veterans after they attend their first reunion. Almost to the man there is relief; relief that there are others out there who appreciate and understand. There’s renewed pride in their service. There’s also regret; regret that they waited so long to attend a reunion! So, if you haven’t attended a reunion why are you waiting?
Our next reunion in Orlando is just around the corner. Bob and Barb Moreno have been busy processing all the reunion registrations. By all indications we expect 1,200 or more again this year. Over 30 troopers will be attending their first reunion with more expected to attend. You can check our website for a list of all those who have already registered. We still have many more to register by the August 9 deadline.
Be sure to attend the Veterans’ Seminar on Friday morning during the reunion. The seminars are always helpful and informative. The women’s group is selling nametag lanyards again this year. The lanyards are a good souvenir of the reunion and the sale helps support some of the projects of the group. Our quartermaster, Jerry Beamon, is stocking up on insignia products to offer at the reunion so be sure to visit the QM store.
Mail your raffle tickets well before the reunion. This year we are offering prizes of $500, $400, $300, $200 and eleven $100 for a total of $2,500 in prizes. All proceeds from the 2017 raffle will benefit the Scholarship Fund. The drawing will be held on September 9, 2017 during the reunion.
We’re also looking for items for the silent auction.
The auction is always a fun and interesting part of
the reunion. We welcome any item for the silent
auction. Insignia items are always popular. Please
see the Silent Auction Donation Form in this issue and
on our website.
Get ready for another great reunion. Bring your photos, scrap books and other memorabilia and prepared to have a good time.
Lastly, continue to support those who wear the uniform. These young men and women and their families serve and sacrifice every day for the freedoms we enjoy. Reach out, shake their hand, and thank them for their service. Welcome Home, it’s good to be “Together Again”.