2018 Reunion

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The 15th Medical BN Association 20-Year Anniversary Reunion held in Williamsburg, VA 26-28 April 2018 was a real “Barn Burner!” Reunion Coordinator, Dan “Fang” Toothman deserves congratulations for planning and executing a truly outstanding and memorable reunion!

The Great Wolf Lodge, which sold out all 40 suites reserved for reunion attendees, did a first-rate job of hosting our group. The suites were spacious and luxurious, and affordable. The Hospitality Room/Meeting Room and the Banquet Room were outstanding, as was the banquet buffet dinner.

Forty-seven 15th Med Bn veterans attended the reunion tying the record of 47 set at the 2017 reunion in Branson, MO. There also were 56 spouses and guests, four which were guest veterans from other 1st Cavalry Division units. Including guest speaker Phil Marshall, a total of 104 attended, shattering the total attendance of 86 set at the 2017 Reunion.

VIRGINIA INTERNATIONAL TATTOO (VIT)

Thursday evening the group activity was attending the Virginia International Tattoo at Scope Arena in Norfolk, VA with our 37 attendees having their own seating section. The performance consisted of more than 1,000 performers from around the world, in an astounding display of inspirational military music, majestic massed pipes and drums, show-stopping drill team maneuvers, colorful dancers, choirs, and more; continuous entertainment for two-and-a-half hours! Attendees agreed it was the most spectacular performance of its type they had ever experienced.

The performance centered around a salute to Medal of Honor recipients. Nine living Medal of Honor recipients were present, including two from the 1st Cavalry Division; MAJ Bruce P. Crandall (A Co., 229th Assault Helicopter Bn), and 1LT Walter Joseph Marm (A Co., 1/7th Cavalry), both for actions in the Ia Drang Valley on 14 November 1965.

MEDICAL EMERGENCY AT VIT

While at the Virginia International Tattoo, one of our members was involved in a medical emergency. Tom Garnella, 1st LT MSC who was the Medical Operations Assistant at Co. B, 02/70-02/71, and his wife Audrey were attending the performance and while waiting for the program to begin, Tom went to the general entry area to get a bottle of water. He observed a gentlemen in a motorized wheelchair who had collapsed and was bent over with his head down toward his ankles. The entering crowd seemed oblivious to his situation.

In the finest “So That Others May Live” tradition of the 15th Med Bn, Tom immediately took charge of the situation and with another younger man rushed to the gentleman's side to render aid. The gentleman was non-responsive, had a weak pulse, and losing color. While the other fellow stayed with him, Tom went and told the ticket takers that immediate medical aid was needed. Medical personnel with a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff and Ambu bag arrived within about five minutes. At this point, Tom urged them to call for 911 service. Emergency Medical Service arrived about 10 minutes later. Due to the gallant efforts of Tom the man received necessary medical treatment quickly.

“SATISFIED 15th MED BN CUSTOMERS”

Four veterans from other 1st Cavalry Division units attended this reunion and expressed their gratitude to the 15th Medical Battalion for the Medevac rescue and medical treatment they received at 15th Medical Bn facilities.

Medevac picked up Stuart Olson, Ronald Doll and Tony Manetta, B Company, 2nd of the 8th Cavalry and taken to the 15th Med Bn Clearing Station at FSB Mace on 8 Feb 71. Two crewmembers involved in that mission were present at the reunion - Ron (Baby Huey) Huether and Jim (Ferg) Ferguson. At the banquet Ron Doll expressed appreciation on behalf of his group. For an account of this mission, see the War Story “Snipers in Box Canyon” in our War Story section.

On 28 June 1971 Carter “Curley” Bowman, 34th Scout Dog Platoon (attached to B Co., 2nd of the 8th Cav) and others were medevaced to the same 15th Med Bn Clearing Station at LZ Mace. Crewmembers involved in his rescue attending this reunion were Mark Holiday and Kevin Raftery.

BUSINESS MEETING

At the Business Meeting on Saturday morning, a surprise was in the offing for Rich Leonard, CW2, Medevac Pilot, 69-70, whose signature attire at reunions (and presumably other places as well) is bib overalls. Nine fellow members showed up for the meeting wearing bib overalls. Those members were: Dan Toothman, Fred McKellar, Mike Smith, Jimmy Ong, Jim Ferguson, Leo Williams, Rich Leonard, Damien Vierra, Kevin Raftery, Henry Land.

BANQUET

The banquet was an outstanding buffet dinner featuring chicken and BBQ ribs plus a large selection of salad, vegetables, fresh bread, and desserts.

The banquet speaker was Phil Marshal, who served as an Army Warrant Officer helicopter pilot in 1969 with the 237th Medical Detachment Helicopter Ambulance in Vietnam. Phil's speech was highly informative and entertaining, as he has "been there and done that!" Phil has authored nine books, each of which is a compilation of accounts of Vietnam helicopter rescue missions as told by the men who flew them while assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, 44th Med Brigade, or 101st Airborne Division.
Phil's books are : Dustoff and Medevac Vietnam; DMZ Dustoff Vietnam; and Helicopter Rescues Vietnam Vols. I-VII (available on Amazon.com, search under “Books” for Phil Marshall).

Corky Walsh read the names of the 45 15th Medical Bn members killed in action during the Vietnam War.

AWARDS

Following the banquet, several awards were presented. The following Charter Members/ 1st Reunion Attendees were recognized at the banquet: Barry Brown, Jim Ferguson, Ron Huether, Mark Holiday, Bob McKinley, Jimmy Norris, Mike Smith and Corky Walsh. Mike Smith presented some memories of the first reunion including a tribute to Sherman and Ann Breeden for hosting the 1998 Reunion.

Following the banquet, Auxiliary President Velma Smith presented the Auxiliary Angel of the Year Award to Yolande Martin for her care of her late husband, Arthur Martin, who died 5 August 2017, making sure he was able to attend the last few reunions in spite of his health.

Velma also presented Linn Vercheski a thank you card for all the work she does with name tags, printing of programs for the banquet, and agendas for the members business meeting, and also a thank you card and coffee mug to Cindy Lundquist for all her work throughout the year mailing birthday, sympathy, get well, and anniversary cards.

Secretary and Past President, Jim Calibro broke his neck last year shortly before the 2017 reunion in Branson, MO. As a result, he was unable to attend the Branson Reunion and turned the Secretary duties over to Bob McKinley temporarily. After the banquet, outgoing President Fred McKellar welcomed Jim back as Secretary and awarded him a “Door Gunner” T-shirt and his wife and caregiver Holly a special “Don’t confuse your rank with my authority” t-shirt.

AUCTION

The reunion closed with the fund-raising auction of items donated to the Association. Jim Calibro served as auctioneer, assisted by Mark Holiday, and as usual it was a lively and fun event! The amount collected was about $2820.

2018 15th Med Bn Assn Reunion.