A BRIEF HISTORY OF C/1/22 REUNIONS
by Bud Roach
In early March 2003 my sister sent an email with a link to get information about the Fourth Division. The link eventually led to the 1/22 website where I found Jim Murray’s name in the guest book. I sent Jim an email that said “do you remember me.”
If you had asked me prior to that email if I would go out of my way to make contact with my Vietnam veteran friends I would have said no. This was special. Jim and I were medics attached to C Company, First Battalion, and Twenty-Second Infantry (C/1/22). Jim lived in northwest Arkansas and was traveling often to San Antonio to Brook Army Hospital for treatment. In his travels he would be just a few miles from me so a face-to-face meeting was planned.
Our families met at a motel where Jim was staying. Let me add that the butterflies in my stomach were about the size of a Huey when I pulled into the parking lot. Jim was outside his room waiting when I got there and met me with a hug and handshake. We spent the evening filling in the blanks left by the thirty-five years since we had seen each other.
Jim told how he had stayed in the reserves after he left active duty and was called up to go to Iraq in 1991. His unit was reactivated again in 2001. In the physical exam to go on active duty a spot was found on his lungs. It was cancer. Jim had not been officially reactivated so the army did not assume responsibility for his treatment and the reserves did not provide insurance. In addition, Jim did not qualify for any VA benefits even though he had been wounded at Kontum during Tet ‘68. If eyewitnesses could verify that Jim had been wounded in action he could qualify for VA medical treatment. Jim gave me a few names and leads of people who he thought could be witnesses. The list included Charlie Shyab, a third medic with C/1/22. It was the search for eyewitnesses that brought about the reunions.
It is easy to relate the physical things about our reunions…the dates we met…the places we ate…the tours we took…these are just a list of things. However, the intrinsic impact of the reunions is more difficult togive an account of. At first I was very hesitant about meeting and bringing up a part of my past that I had spent a lifetime trying to suppress. In addition, there was the question,“would they remember me kindly?” My fears have been relieved and I take great joy and satisfaction in the therapeutic qualities of the reunions for me and the large group who have attended our meetings. I take pride in watching a room full of men, in small groups, deep in discussions about a time when we literally depended on each other for our survival. The buzz of conversation and the air of excitement soothes my soul.
My first call was to Charlie Shyab. Charlie lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. We talked for a long time. In the conversation he said he would be in Texas during the summer. His daughter lives in Houston. Jim was scheduled to be in San Antonio for treatment and I live in the Dallas area. The three of us met in Corsicana, Texas. We shared pictures and stories that brought up names long forgotten. Charlie had copies of the “Ivy Leaf” from 1968. One article was about Jim treating a wounded platoon leader while he himself was wounded. The article was the proof needed that Jim was wounded and eligible to be awarded a Purple Heart. Furthermore, it would qualify Jim for VA benefits.
The first reunion ended and I drove home with a deep sense of satisfaction and a list of names to contact to enlist support for Jim. Over the next few weeks I made numerous calls to C/1/22 veterans. A common statement was,“we need to get together.” As a result of the phone calls a block of rooms was reserved at a motel in Plano, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.
On a somber note, Jim lost his battle with cancer on August 26, 2003. He had been awarded the Purple Heart for his wounds in Vietnam. It was on display at his funeral. The reunions are a legacy that Jim left behind.