Bud writes –
“Fred this comment about reunions is just about what we’ve all said”
Years ago a singer, Edwin Starr asked the question “War-Huoh” “What is it good for?” To which he answered immediately “Absolutely Nothing!!!” Certainly as veterans of war, we have witnessed first-hand the tragic loss of life that it has visited on our friends and the hurt and loss felt by the families and loved ones of those who were killed in action. We also know, those and many of us have themselves traveled a long road of recovery to come back from the wounds they incurred during the war. So in light of these aspects one –at first–would have to agree with Starr’s summation.
But scratching the surface a bit, perhaps a different picture may emerge. Nowhere in his song does Starr mention the bond of brotherhood that was forged among those who were called to serve. Neither does he explore the level of trust that we felt for each other.
Three years ago I finally was able to make contact with a number of my brother members of “Bad Boy Recon” E Co., 1st of the 502nd 101st Abne Div. Last year my wife Leslie and I were able to make our first reunion. I have to admit I was anxious about what I would find when we finally arrived and as well I was nervous about my wife’s reaction to the whole affair. But any doubts I may have had all disappeared when I ran into Rick Klingenfus in the motel lobby. With each arrival of another member of Recon the years seemed to melt away. It almost seemed magical that we just seemed to pick up where we had left off those 43 years ago in I Corps. The days were filled with both memories that stirred both laughter and tears and also tales of the years after our paths parted ways. Almost invisibly the bonds we shared during our months in the field began to strengthen once more. It was pure magic.
Even more magical was the way the bonds began to extend to our wives and other family members who were sharing the reunion with us. Suddenly all the questions they may have harbored for so many decades began to be answered and as they did so they too became part of the organism that was “Bad Boy.” My wife found it strange to hear me addressed by the only name I knew for a year—-“Doc.” In fact she admitted that at least on a couple of occasions she almost called me “Doc” as well.
Then sadly came Sunday and we–as we had done so during our year in Vietnam–one by one began to take our leave of the group and to travel the many divergent roads that led us back home. But there was a difference. During the interim that fell between last year’s reunion and that of last week’s, we maintained the bond through our communications on Facebook. Triumphs were heralded, physical concerns were shared with and by all, and prayers were said for strength, hope, and recovery and in so many cases our prayers were answered. New arrivals were oohed and ahhhed over, the rambunctiousness of grandchildren were recalled and laughed at, recipes shared, and the bonds became strengthened even more.
Then, last week, we met again and the magic that had been so apparent at last year’s reunion was even moreso at this year’s event. Luckily our ranks were increased with other members of the unit and their families as well. But there was something there this year that transcended the magic of last. It was both a feeling and a sense of family. Yes, once again we were brothers, but this time that deeper sense of closeness was much more palpable. And it was made even deeper with the presence of Troy Woody, the son of our late brother Tommy and the brother of one of our own who so tragically was killed during the war. This sense of family gives one a degree of hope that perhaps as the years go by and as we –one by one–lose our light like stars in the sky, our places will be taken up by our children, grandchildren, and perhaps even great -grandchildren.
So, Edwin Starr, perhaps you ought to rethink the answer you gave to your question so many years ago. Perhaps, there are some deep and lasting positives that can be found in such a maelstrom that is war. Isn’t it ironic that the pages of Facebook are filled with announcements of coming reunions and group photos of those that have taken place. Reunions that areP of those who served and fought so many years ago. Yet somehow, I have never driven by a Holiday Inn that announces “Welcome Ohio Draft Dodgers of ’69” or “The Fraternal Order of Flag Burners?” Isn’t it funny that the bonds of brotherhood never were forged among them. I would imagine that since they were only serving their own self-interest after that was satisfied there was nothing left to maintain. Kind of dispels the old “Hippie” notion of communalism doesn’t it?
So again, Edwin Starr I would ask you to perhaps at least modify the answer to your question “War” “Houh” “What is it good for?” It is good for the preservation of freedom and the bonds of brotherhood.
Thanks to Bud for the information – Hooah