My First Reunion By Jim Murray
The mail arrived as usual, this cold day in January. I had KP that afternoon as my bride tended to the kids & other projects, including the mail run. She handed me an envelope with an ominous military insignia that I hadn't seen for 20 years! As I recovered from the chill in my spine, Pauli said "Don't worry....it's about a reunion" It just so happened that was the day the bombs started falling on Baghdad & the Gulf War began! I hoped that the reunion was NOT somewhere in Iraq!!!
I was anxious, apprehensive & a little
skittish about attending the reunion in Philadelphia, and didn't know who to
talk to about it. Vietnam Vets were a rather private group @ that time! I read
the correspondence over & over & decided to call the president of the
group, Allan Hathaway. He was very reassuring & extended the "Welcome
Home" message, that not everyone understood at the time. I was impressed
but still apprehensive. As the reunion date approached, I called Allan many
times w/ various questions that a "newbie" would ask due to lack of
The weirdest time came when I decided to open
the "red plaid suitcase" that contained all my 'Nam memorabilia. My
son, Dan, then 16, accompanied me & we opened it together. The
"ghosts" inside were too much to handle on my own. As we looked @ the
pictures, Dan began asking difficult questions, like why did you have to live
like that? Why are all those kids in that thing ( ammo carrier as we did the
daily garbage run )? Why is this picture taken from the air? Did you go in a
helicopter? I had to explain these things & was full of mixed emotions as I tried to assign words to what I was feeling......easier said than done!!!!!
Finally, the time came to pack up my support group ( my family ) & begin the 5 hour ride to Philadelphia. We arrived, took pictures, met some great people and ACTUALLY talked aloud about the war!!!!!!!!d
I didn't know anyone when I arrived, but by the end of the weekend, I knew I had a cache of new friends. Allan made sure to introduce me to his lovely wife, Pam and daughter Julie, Pete Walter, Wayne West, Linda Girton, Ollie Pickral and many other great folks. Each reunion brings more & more first timers and they meet new and more importantly, old friends. Soon after Philadelphia, I received phone calls from the guys I served with in How Btry 1 / 11 ACR!!!!
I have not missed a reunion since ( except San
Diego ) and do not intend to miss any more. The 11th ACVVC has been a phenomenal
help to me and my family. This is my story and I think it may be