The Currahee Reunion held in Timonium, Maryland was by all
indications, a great success. All had fun and good times.
The largest group of Currahees from any one single Company was from Company C, 1st Battalion - 1967 / 1968 with 14; followed by Company D, 1st Battalion - 1969 with 8; and Company A, 1st Battalion - 1970 / 1971 with 5. Also present, though only the first day at the Currahee Memorial Jump site in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, were three Currahee from Company E, 2nd Battalion - 1942 / 1945. They were none other than Major Richard Winters - Company E - Commander / 2nd Battalion - Executive Officer, Forest Guth and SFC(R) Clancy Lyall, along with Paul Miller - Regimental Headquarters Surgical Medic. Plus two Gold Star Mothers - Mrs. Dorothy Cook, whose son Thomas R. Cook, Jr. served with Company A, 2nd Battalion and was KIA - July 26, 1968 and Mrs. Ann Dile, whose son Steven O. Dile served with Company B, 3rd Battalion and was KIA - February 19, 1968.
On Thursday, August 15th, two Currahees (James Nemeth - B,
3rd Battalion - 1970 and George Palmer - E (Recon), 1st Battalion
- 1968 /1969) organized a Currahee Memorial Jump, which was held
in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Ground training started early
in the morning for the 50+ Currahee jumpers, then at 1pm a small
memorial ceremony which was led by Andrew (Doc) Lovy - 3rd Battalion
Surgeon, 1967 / 1968 and included the following speakers:
On Friday, August 16th (National Airborne Day), during the
day over 87 Currahees gathered at Padonia Park (just a few miles
from the hotel) for a picnic located on the park's 30 acres of
rolling countryside and access to all of the park's facilities.
When you think picnic, in August, in southern Maryland, right
away you think HOT. Well, we were cool; because the picnic lunch
and get to gather was all held indoor (air conditioned) and if
you wished you had the option to venture outside. Most simply
stayed indoors and enjoy the camaraderie, food and air conditioning.
· Asked for input from the Membership about our next reunion in 2004 and possible sites in the central or western region of the country. After much discussion it was decided to form a Planning Committee with James (Jim) Nemeth [B, 3rd Battalion - 1970] as its Chairman. The Committee's initial assignment is to determine if the various Platoon, Company, or Battalion groups of Currahee veterans are interested in attending the Association's 2004 Currahee Reunion. In addition, to identify possible reunion sites in the central or western part of the country. Then to determine which of these sites is the best choice for our Reunion, based upon our needs.
· Jim Nemeth informed the Membership that the 2002 Currahee Memorial Jump not only was a big success but also generated a net profit of $1,234.00, through the sale of "I Jumped with The 506th" T-Shirts as well as donations made by the community and spectators, which was being donated to the Association.
· Approved and authorized the expenditure of $625.00 for the purchase of a 506th Bench at the new 101st Airborne Division Monument at Fort Campbell, KY. This bench has etched in it the 506th PIR Crest on the left end; the Para-Dice-Patch in the center; and the current 506th Crest on the right. Then on the front edge of it is "Currahee." The expenditure is one-half the total purchase price with the other half of the purchase price was paid for by 506th PIR veterans. [Note: These funds were already paid on behalf of the 506th Association, advanced by a Member, and this would actual represent reimbursement to that Member when funds become available.]
· Approved and authorized the Officers of the Association to officially support an effort to have the Distinguished Service Cross awarded to Richard Winters, Major [Easy Company, 2nd Battalion / 2nd Battalion Headquarters - 1942 / 1945] upgraded to the Congressional Medal of Honor as originally recommended back in 1942 by Colonel Robert F. Sink, Regimental Commander, for Winter's actions on D-Day.
· Members unanimously voted in the slate of Officers
/Directors to the Association's Board as follows:
This concluding all Association business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:30 pm with the rest of the evening spent enjoying one another's friendship and camaraderie in true Currahee spirit. The hospitality rooms were in full swing.
On Saturday, August 17th, at 8:30 am two chartered buses of
Currahees, family and friends headed out to Washington, D.C.
Our first stop was actually in Virginia at the site of the 101st
Airborne Division Monument near the entrance to Arlington National
Cemetery. At the monument a brief wreath ceremony took place,
with a bugler in the background playing Taps three oval wreaths
each covered with flower colored red, white and blue symbolizing
each of the regiment's Battalions as depicted on the 506th Airborne
Flash were placed in front of the monument. Dick van der Zee
of The Netherlands provided the first two oval wreaths and ironically
the colors on the wreaths are the same as the colors of The Netherlands
national flag. On the first one was a ribbon that read - "We
in Holland never forget" and attached a card that said -
"May their memory be for blessing" and was placed by
Dennis Seely [E (Mortars), 1st Bn - 1966 / 1968]. With great
love and admiration." The second wreath read - "We
in Holland remember you Band of Brothers" and a card that
said - "No day shall make your memory fail from the heart
of time" and was placed by MSG(R) John Keene [E (Mortars),
1st Bn - 1967 / 1969]. The last wreath was from The 506th Association
and the ribbon on it read - CURRAHEE! We Stand Together - Then,
Now, and Always (the Association's Motto). [Note: although the
101st Airborne Division Monument was built / dedicated in 1972
many of the attendees were seeing it for the very first time.]
Once at our assigned location, Carl Rebele [M Company, 506th AIR - 1952] led us in a brief prayer and asked for all to our fallen Currahees of the Vietnam War. After this we all proceed down the path of the monument to the apex, the flags leading the way, where MSG(R) John Keene placed a wreath from the Association, the same as placed at the 101st Monument. We next proceeded over to the Korean War Veterans Memorial where Carl Rebele placed a wreath that read - "In memory of our fallen comrades." During the Korean War 506th personnel trained infantryman before they deployed to combat in Korea. Then later on, many of those trainers, like Carl, were sent to Korea as well; many, however, did not return home.
With the wreath ceremonies completed, all Currahees and attendees
had ample time to visit the monuments, make rubbings at the Vietnam
Wall, and have a bit to eat at the concession stand near by before
getting back on the buses for the ride back to the hotel.
Once the colors were posted, all remained standing as Taps was played, after which Joe Forster read a short poem written by Jim Nemeth. Afterwards Lee Greenwood's song "I Proud to be an American" was played, at the same time the names of 1,325 Currahee KIAs from WW II and Vietnam scrolled across a large projector screen which listed their unit, KIA date and then concluded our memorial ceremony and dinner was promptly served.
As dessert was being served, Gene Overton introduced our guest speaker for the evening, LTG(R) James W. Crysel, Sr. [E Co, 1st ABG, 1963-1964; B/HHC, 2nd BN, 1964-1965; HHC (BN CO), 1st BN, 1976-1978], the current Honorary Colonel of the Regiment (HCR). The General spoke about the continuing legacy of the 506th and how impressed he was with the active duty Troopers of the 1st Battalion, 506th currently stationed in Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division. He talk about how 1 April as the HCR he visited with the Troops.
Special guests were acknowledged: Tom, Dan and Zach Shepherd,
the two sons and grandson of SFC Thomas C. Shepherd, Sr. [B,
2nd Bn - KIA March 24, 1971]; Roger D. Marshall [Guest] who served
in the British Royal Air Force and was a Vietnam Relief Worker
- 1968 / 1972; and Lyman (Skip) Faulkner's [E (Recon), 1st Bn
- 1968 / 1969] brother-in -law, who we did not acknowledge during
the dinner at his request, General (Retired) Barry McCaffrey
[Commander - 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) during Desert
Storm and an Infantry Officer when he served with the 1st Cavalry
Division in Vietnam]. The Shepherd brothers were asked up to
the podium where Gene Overton pinned a 506th Crest to each of
their shirt collars and told them to wear these Crests proudly;
let it be known that they are part of the Currahee family.
Presented to :
The above Certificates and Citation were all signed Gene Overton, Association President and Michael Metzger, Association Chairman.
We where about to end the Memorial Dinner when Gary Purcell suggested that we auction off a wooden birdhouse that he had made, with the proceeds donated to the Association. So, we had an auction. Things started out slow at first, then the bidding picked up. It was almost as if it became a battalion challenge, the bidding went fast and furious, with the winning bid reaching $160.00. This then concluded the dinner portion of the evening; many just went over to the hospitality rooms to finish off the evening and the last of the beer.
On Sunday, August 18th, it was time to start head home. The early morning found many Currahees have breakfast together and saying their farewells before traveling back home. But not before promising to stay in touch and seeing each other again at the next Reunion.
Note: Space precludes us from listing all those who where so much a part of making this 2002 Reunion a success but two ladies and one Currahee that must be mentioned for their untiring efforts. They are Peggy Pearson and Marilyn Overton who kept the Welcome Tables going day and night, greeting the Currahees as they arrived and making sure everyone knew about the reunion events. And SFC(R) Joe Foster (HHC 2nd Bn-1969 / 1970) who kept all three Hospitality Rooms well stocked with snacks and beverages. We all thank you from the bottom of our hearts.