The 2004 Reunion drew ninety one (91) attendees and Currahees from all Eras of the Regiment from honored Currahee guest Carl Dalke (Regimental HQ - 1944 / 1945) to Jeremy Paul (B Company, 1st Bn - 2000 / 2001) who headed up the Color Guard Detail from the 194th Infantry Detachment (Long Range Surveillance). While all had a great time, the Reunion attendance was much less than the 145 that attended to 2002 Reunion and resulted in a LOSS of $2,616. While the Reunion may not have been a financial success as in the past, where we generated funds for the Association or just broke even, it was not for trying. The Reunion Committee planned for a larger number of Currahees attending; it just that the number of attendees declined for the first time. But then again those who chose to attend had FUN. For a number of them this was their first Currahee Reunion and they said that they definitely will be attending other Reunions in the future. The largest groups at the Reunion were nine Currahees from E Co, 1st Battalion (Airborne / Airmobile) with six of them that served together in 1967-1968; next was six from C, 1st Battalion (Airborne / Airmobile) with five having served together during that same time frame; and then five from D, 1st Airbome Battle Group who served together in 1958 / 1960. A breakdown of the veterans in attendance is as follows:
1st Bn - Vietnam: 28
As planned the Reunion Hospitality Room opened up on Wednesday and stayed opened for the length of the Reunion thanks to Mike Labbee (B, 2nd Bn - 1970 / 1971) who managed the room for us, making sure it was clean and well stocked with beer, soda and snack food; and Bruce Moore providing transportation during the beer / food runs. In addition, Thomas (Tom) Clegg (82nd / 101st Re-enactor) and his Group of Re-enactors helped by providing security on the room for the equipment and weapons display that he and his group of re-enactors provided us with as well as all the 506 Association memorabilia and books on display.
Thursday morning we traveled to the Iowa State Capitol Grounds and placed wreaths at the World War II Memorial Plaza, the Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam War Monument there in the city. That left the rest of the day free to hang out in the Hospitality Room, check out the displays, meet with old friends and to make new ones.
Friday was pretty much an open morning and early afternoon for all to explore Des Moines and the surrounding area. Andrew (Doc) Lovy (HHC, 3rd Bn Surgeon -1967 / 1698) provided a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Workshop for both veterans and family members. Comments from those who attended was that the workshop was very helpful and informative and said "THANKS, Doc." Then in the afternoon we held our General Membership Meeting as required by our corporate by laws.
The General Membership Meeting, held at the 2004 Association Reunion was called to order at 3:15 PM, July 23, 2004 by Gene Overton, President.
Andrew Lovy, D.O. led the membership in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The minutes from the August 16, 2002 General Membership meeting were read by Kyle L. Worrell. A motion was made by John Jackson to accept the minutes as read. Motion seconded by Mike Labbee. The minutes were approved by the membership by a show of hands.
A history of the organization prepared by Michael J. Metzger, Chairman, was read by Ken Parr. The prepared statement urged the membership to get involved in the business of the association. Tell the Officers and Directors what to improve. All need to step up and be involved
Gene Overton, President reported the following:
Contact continues with the 101st Division at Fort Campbell and 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry in Korea.
Progress is being made on securing the Air Assault Badge. The next step is to get Congressional action initiated. Work continues on that effort.
The Medal of Honor for Major Dick Winters is on the desk of Les Brownlee, Acting Secretary of the Army, pending his final approval before going to Congress.
We continue to keep an open dialog with the 101st Division. We were all 101st members as well as 506th Infantry.
Bruce Moore, Treasurer, presented the Treasurer's Report. A motion to accept the Treasurer's Report, subject to audit was made by John Jackson. The motion was seconded by Mike Labbee. The report was accepted by the membership through a unanimous show of hands. A recommendation was made from the floor to remove anyone who has not paid dues during the past 3 years from the Newsletter mailing list. Bruce Moore responded that it was agreed at the founding of the Association that one newsletter each year would be furnished to all members on the Association Roster with dues paying members receiving three newsletters each year.
The Website Committee Report submitted by Michael C. Bookser, Web Master was read by Bruce Moore.
The cost of printing and mailing was asked from the floor. Gene Overton answered that it cost 54.6 cents per newsletter. It was asked from the floor if we could send a smaller, less expensive newsletter to those who do not pay dues.
Greg McGinn proposed that the issue be studied. Perhaps the newsletter could be sent via internet to members with email addresses. Gene Overton agreed that the Association Officers would look into the feasibility. There are issues associated with maintaining addresses, both email and US Postal Service. Ideally, we should have someone at a regional level to make and maintain personal contact with the membership.
Jim Nemeth nominated John Starr as the Committee Chairperson to study this issue. Sam Knipmeyer, Greg McGinn and Chris Garrett volunteered to be committee members.
Gene Overton reported that the Historical Committee chaired by Terry Van Meter has been inactive for some time. Terry [Director of Army Museums] had very little time for researching the history of the 506th Infantry. Gene asked for volunteers to join the committee.
The Currahee Memorial Jump Committee report was presented by Jim Nemeth. The jump is still scheduled for Sunday, July 25, 2004. The members were encouraged to buy the tee shirts commemorating the jump. Funds realized from donated t-shirts will help to raise funds to support this year's reunion.
Gene Overton, Newsletter Editor, solicited articles from the members for the Newsletters. Currently Jim Nemeth is the 3d Battalion reporter and Chris Garrett is 2d Battalion reporter.
There was no report for the Membership Committee. Mike Krawczyk, Chair, was absent.
Gene Overton reported on the status of the 506th Regiment being assigned to the 101st Airbome Division. The 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry is still currently assigned to the 2d Division in Korea. They expect to deploy to Iraq in the near future. The 4th Brigade of the 101st will be activated shortly. As yet, unit assigned to the Brigade are not known, although the 101st Airbome Division continues to advocate that the infantry battalions assigned to the brigade be the 506th.
The Reunion Committee had selected Colorado Springs, CO for the 2006 Reunion and approved by the Members in 2002. The idea of having the reunion at Fort Campbell to coincide with the 2006 Week of the Eagles if the 506th returns to the 101st Airborne Division when the combat tour is completed was discussed at length. A motion to move the reunion to Fort Campbell, KY was made by John Jackson and seconded by Mike Labbee. The motion was unanimously approved by the 34 members in attendance.
Gene Overton reported that a Scholarship Program is being studied. Gene asked if the Members present want to continue with developing a scholarship program. The Membership responded favorably to the establishment of such a program. Andrew Lovy volunteered to be on the committee, saying he believed it to be a good idea. Further information will be provided via the newsletter.
Jim Nemeth asked for volunteers to help with soliciting donations from corporate sponsors for the next reunion.
Election of Officers and Board was conducted. The slate of candidates was presented to the members in attendance and votes cast. The proxies were also provided to the group tabulating the votes. Results of the election were:
Chairman: Michael "Mike" Metzger
Gene Overton proposed that Peggy Pearson be made an Honorary Associate Member in recognition of her tireless effort and service to the Association. This was unanimously approved by the members present.
A motion to adjourn was made by Mike Labbee and seconded by Greg McGinn. A show of hands approved adjourning.
The 2004 Membership meeting of The 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment Association (Airmobile Air Assault) was adjourned at 5:15 PM.
In the evening, we held our Currahee Memorial Dinner. The dinner was called to order at 7pm at which time Gene Overton, on behalf of the Directors and Officers of the Association, welcomed all to the 2004 Currahee Memorial Dinner. He next asked all to stand and requested that the colors be posted: the American flag, the 506th Regimental flag and the 506th Association flag. A Color Guard Detail was provided us by the 194th Infantry (Long Range Surveillance), 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division (Iowa National Guard) which was headed up by Jeremy Paul (ROTC Cadet and Currahee (B, 1st Bn - 2000 / 2001).
Once the colors were posted our Memorial Ceremony was held in which we remembered and honored the memory of all those Currahees who are no longer with us today. In doing so three candles representing the Battalions that comprise the Regiment were lit; their colors Red, White and Blue not only represent the colors of the American flag but also the colors of the Spades worn on helmets and equipment used to designate each of the Regiment Battalions. Each candle were lit by a Currahee from the respective Battalion; Dana Armstrong (HHC / E (Recon), 1st Bn - 1967 / 1968), Jim Stinebaker (HHC / C, 2nd Bn - 1967 / 1968) and David Kitner (C, 3rd Bn - 1970 / 1971). Once each man had lit his candle, together they moved back and gave a hand salute which was followed by a moment of silence and the playing of Taps. That concluded our ceremony at which time dinner was served.
As dessert was being served two speakers spoke. First, our Honored Guest Carl D. Dalke (Regimental HQ - 1944 / 1945) spoke for a few minutes about his time spent in the 506th and how proud he was of being one of Colonel Sink's men. Then we heard from Patrick Palmershein, Executive Director of Veterans Affairs State of Iowa, who on behalf of Governor Thomas Vilsack, welcomed the 506th Association and its veterans to Iowa and spoke about how his state honors and supports its veterans.
We next acknowledged a very important group of supporter, our Currahee Ladies, by asking each Currahee with a Lady at the dinner to come forward and collect a terra cotta color rose (a very different and rare color) for their Lady and give it to her with a kiss for being so special themselves. We then announced the unanimous approval given by the Members at the General Membership Meeting that Peggy Pearson was made an Honorary Associate Member in recognition of her tireless effort and service to the Association. Next we recognized the Reunion Planning Committee:
Jim Nemeth (B, 3rd Bn 1970)
for the work they did in putting this Reunion together. In addition, we recognized Jeremy Paul (B, 1st Bn - 2000 /2001) and his Color Guard Detail from the 194th Infantry (LRS) for the fine job that they did as well as the two groups of Re-enactors that supported us during this years' Reunion:
- 82nd / 101st Re enactors Tom Clegg; Justin Aliss; Bob Herbert;
Darrek Orwig and Dave Ruffcom
We also introduced Andrew (Andy) Suby and his two sons who attended our Reunion and dinner on behalf of his wife Julie Suby, who is the great niece of PFC Donald D. Eckels (HQ, 2nd Bn WWII) who was KIA on June 6th, 1944 D Day. Julie is looking to learn more about her great uncle and the circumstances of his death.
We next held our Reunion Raffles:
The first prize was a 34.5" x 24" gallery print titled "We Were a Band Of Brothers" by John D. Shaw and donated to the Association by Adam Makos, Publisher of Ghost Wings Magazine, won by Tom Clegg. The next prize was a 8"x 11" Currahee Slate which was won by Charles Lamb (C, 1st Bn - 1968 / 1969). And the final prize was actually two rebates of one hotel night each which were won by Ron Harrelson (D, 1st ABG - 1958 / 1961) and Jim O'Laughlin (HHC / A, 1st Bn - 1969 / 1970). This then ending the dinner portion of the evening; many stayed and danced to taped music while other went over to the Hospital Room to finish off the evening.
Saturday, the Currahee Picnic was held at the Des Moines Water Works Park, where we had plenty of food and refreshments; an excellent display of WWII and Vietnam War era weapons and equipment was provided by the Re-enactors who supported us throughout the Reunion. And two surprises, the first was from a young Fort Campbell soldier who served in Iraq with the 502nd, where he received his Purple Heart, who was home on leave before reporting into the newly formed 4th Brigade of the 101st Airbome Division. His orders clearly read that he would be reporting to the 506th Infantry of the 4th Brigade. The second surprise was that Saturday was also Mike Labbee's birthday, so we had a surprise birthday cake for him, which caught him totally off guard.After the Picnic we all returned to the hotel and relaxed, hanging out in the Hospitality Room.
Sunday, many of the Reunion attendees said their good-byes and started the journey home. But there was a group who were determined not to leave this Reunion before making a Jump. That's right, a group of sixteen jumpers and myself (unable to jump due to hurting my back just two weeks earlier) went out to the Winterset Municipal Airport to Des Moines Skydivers from the 2004 Currahee Memorial Jump. The Jump, headed up by Jim Nemeth (B, 3rd Bn - 1970 and MAJ(R) Tom Duckett (B, 1st Bn - 1971) included:
Carl Dalke - Regimental HQ 1944 / 1945
After the jump we all said our goodbyes and headed home. Only for me to be definitely committed to making the next Currahee Memorial Jump myself.