By John Lally (A Co, 1st BN, 1970-1971)
"Ass-Kicking Alpha" - A Co, 1-506th to the uninitiated - got together in Howell, Michigan over the weekend of July 15-17 for the third reunion of the unit. Although most of the attendees were Vietnam-era vets, our reunion was graced with the presence of a few men from other eras including one of the original World War II Currahees who jumped on D-Day and fought with the 101st through the end of the war.
More than two dozen Screaming Eagles and many of their wives or significant others answered the roll call Friday afternoon for a barbeque at Brian Heeg's farm outside Howell. After a great meal of ribs, chicken and the fixin's...plus a little liquid refreshment...we sat around, swapped lies and memories, remembered some funny times and a few not-so-funny ones, and generally had a great time. Special thanks to Brian for the demonstration of artificial insemination of his prize cow...not a usual feature of our reunions, fortunately. We stayed until well past dark just talking and enjoying each other's company.
The next day we all got together again in a local restaurant for a full-fledged sitdown meal (as if we hadn't had enough to eat already for the weekend). After a brief but moving ceremony remembering absent friends, Bruce "Moe" Moore and Fred May brought us up to speed on things that were happening with members, and passed out the beautiful challenge coins to the men attending their first reunion. We also discussed where and when to have the next reunion, and tentatively decided on Nashville in 2007. After the meal, which was significantly better than the C-rations we remember so fondly, we took pictures and spend the time just talking some more and generally goofing off. After we left, we went to the motel to goof off some more...with pictures and slides to look at, more stories to tell, another round or two or three of lemonade or whatever, and even a dip in the pool for a few hardy types with no sense of shame about the condition of their aging bodies. Some of the stories were even true, but we all acted as if we believed them all.
Sunday morning we reassembled for a last time for a breakfast buffet, then said our goodbyes. It was a great weekend, and it was very moving to watch the years fall away and the friendships renew. All the gentler sex behaved themselves and didn't even lecture us too much about our behavior, which contributed to the general good feeling.
Many thanks to Brian and Nancy Heeg for being such great hosts, and to Bruce, Peg, and Fred and Sabina May for all the work they did to make this such a success. We hope to see many of our old friends again at the 506th Association get-together next summer and again in Nashville...and maybe pick up a few more who couldn't make this reunion. If you haven't attended, make the effort - it's definitely worth it.