The 2008 Reunion was by all indication, a great success. All who attended had a great time.
The total number of attendees were 144, to include 83 Currahee veterans plus 4 veterans from other units. As shown below Currahee attendees stretched across the history of the Regiment:
It should be note that five of the six WWII Currahees attending served with the Regiment in Toccoa and all made to jump into Normandy on D Day. In addition, CPT Charles Williams and a six man Honor Guard, headed up by SSG Jason Pinckney, from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 506th Infantry at Fort Campbell, KY were in attendance.
As planned, the Reunion Hospitality Room and display of 506th Association Memorabilia were set up on Wednesday, and stayed opened for the duration of the reunion. Attendees were amazed at the number and variety of 506th related items our Quartermaster Ron Helwig (B Co, 1st ABG, 1960-1962) had available for sale in the Hospitality Room.
No events were planned for Thursday morning and afternoon, and a number of people just hung out in the Hospitality Room; checking out the displays, sale items, meeting with old friends, as well as making new ones. However, that evening we held our 506th Social, just an informal evening with hot and cold hor d'oeurves and drinks. We also raffled off one free complimentary room night, which was won by Manuel Chavez [D/E Co (Mortars), 1st BN, 1970-1971] and Jerry Gomes [E Co (LRRP), 3rd BN, 1967-1968]. An attempt was made sing marching and running cadence, but to all's surprise (or maybe not), none could remember any that were clean enough to sing in the presence of the children attending. But we did have some very interesting tales told by our Toccoa Currahees.
Friday was pretty much an open day to explore Reno or just gather with old friends.
Saturday at 10:00am our General Membership Meeting was held, at which time various committee reports were heard and members discussed where our next Reunion should be held ,which resulted in a general consensus that it should be back on the east coast in 2010.
In addition, the following Officer and Board of Directors were elected for a two year term (2008 - 2010):
Board of Directors:
Then Saturday evening at 6:00pm our Currahee Memorial Dinner was held. The evening commenced with outgoing Association President John Lally calling us all to order and welcoming everyone on behalf of the Association. The American flag, 506th Regiment flag and 506th Association flag was then posted by a six-man Honor Guard from the active-duty 4th Brigade Combat Team, 506th Infantry. Once the flags were posted, a brief memorial ceremony was conducted by CPT Charles Williams, one of the Battalion Rear Detachment Commanders from the 4th BCT, and Association Active-Duty Liaison Fred May. CPT Williams lit the three candles (Red, White and Blue) which represent the three battalions of the regiment. It should be noted that these candles stood in front of a large colorized ice craving of the 506th Crest. Once the candles were lit, Fred May directed every one to look at the small table in front and conduct a Fallen Currahees Remembrance Ceremony, our way of symbolizing the fact that some of our friends are missing from our midst and were unable to be with us. After Fred explained the meaning of all the items placed on the table, a video projection displayed on a large overhead screen the names of all Currahees who were killed in action in World War II, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan; after which dinner was served.
As dessert was being served, a video music projection of Toby Keith's "American Soldier" was played. Next, Association Chairman of the Board Tom Duckett acknowledged our Association Founders: Gene Overton, Bruce Moore, Mike Metzger and Brise Bickerton. After that, he introduced the newly elected Officers and Directors. We next attempted to play a DVD presentation sent to us by COL John P. Johnson, Commander, 4th BCT, 506th INF, from Afghanistan; however the DVD malfunctioned and CPT Williams read to us the Colonel's speech instead. In the Colonel's speech he gave us some insight on how our Currahees activities and that they are continuing the legacy of the Regiment in Afghanistan, how much he and all the Brigade appreciates the support we have provided to the wounded and families back here in the States. In addition, he officially announced the newest list of Distinguished Members of the Regiment (20 in all). Note: the full text of the Colonel's speech can be found on the Association web site.
With that done, newly-elected Association President Don Thies introduced our keynote speaker for the evening, and his former company commander, CPT(R) Benjamin F. Peters, Jr. [HHC/B Co, 2nd BN, 506th, 1970; Silver Star for FSB Ripcord].
After Ben's comments on his experience as a Currahee and in the military, it was time to acknowledge those who have aided the Association over the past two years.
Tom Duckett and John Lally presented to:
In addition to the above awards, each veteran in attendance was provided a Certificate of Appreciation from the Department of the Army's Freedom Team Salute signed by General George W. Casey, Jr., US Army Chief of Staff, and Pete Geren, Secretary of the Army. Association Membership Director Gene Overton and P.J. Degross, Ambassador, US Army out of Carson City, NV, presented the certificates to MSG(R) Dario Ramos (A Co, 1st BN, 506th PIR, 1942-1945), a Toccoa Currahee, and COL(R) Linwood E. Burney [A/E Co (Recon), 1st BN, 1967-1969], the highest ranking Vietnam Currahee present, with the remainder distributed at the end of the evening.
This then left us only to raffle off a number of items donated to the Association by members and friends. In addition to these items, two free complimentary room nights were also raffled off and won by SGM(R) Everett (Bill) Pace, (A Co, 1st ABG, 1956-1964; A/C Co, 1st BN, 1964-1968) and SGM(R) Kyle L. Worrell (C Co, 1st BN, 1967-1968).
This concluded our evening, at which time the active-duty Honor Guard detail retired the colors, and their most junior member extinguished the Memorial Candles until our next Reunion.
On Sunday, August 17th, it was time to start the journey home. The early morning found many Currahees having breakfast together and saying their farewells, but not before promising to stay in touch and seeing each other again at the next Reunion or Gathering of Currahees.
The joint reunion with the 101st Airborne Association and with other sub-regimental units was the subject of much discussion. It led to some confusion and scheduling issues, but also offered additional opportunities to people who are members of both organizations. The Board of Directors will be carefully considering members feedback before making a decision for 2010 and beyond.
Note: space precludes us from listing all those who were so much a part of making this 2008 Reunion a success, but several must be mentioned for their untiring efforts. They are Peggy Pearson and Bruce Moore for keeping the Welcome Table going day and night, greeting Currahees as they arrived, and making sure everyone knew about the reunion events/locations, and Ron and Ruth Helwig for running the 506th Quartermaster Store (with help from Sabina May) and providing such a wide variety of 506th related items for sale.