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 to give 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.
2004 REUNION PLANO, TEXAS
Eight veterans and their families attended in 2004. Claudia Zimmerman, Bill Zimmerman’s widow, and June Murray, Jim’s widow, and his family were present. Very little planning went into the itinerary. Most of the time was set aside for visiting and getting reacquainted. The first night several stayed up all night. The stories just kept coming and the topics ranged from incidents in Vietnam to what had happened after coming home. Larry Konermann, Company Commander 1967-68, held a reception on Saturday afternoon. As a group we decided to meet again and keep the meeting informal. All of the reunions since have pretty much been in that format. The meetings are more like family reunions than military reunions.
2005 KILLEEN/FT HOOD, TEXAS
Ft Hood was selected for the 2005 meeting because it was the home of the 4th Division and the 1/22. The highlight of the weekend was a tour of Ft Hood hosted by the 22nd Infantry. We were treated like VIPs and given first class treatment. During the tour we visited the 4th ID museum. The group also spent Saturday night at a Central Texas German heritage community for Polka Music and dancing.
2006 GRAND LAKE ‘O THE CHEROKEES, OKLAHOMA
One of our group members had surgery and could not travel so the reunion went to him. Grand Lake is in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. It was a beautiful setting for a meeting. On Saturday night we enjoyed a meal and sightseeing from the deck of the ship Cherokee Queen. Later we sat around the pool at the motel and visited for hours. These impromptu sessions are some of the best memories from any of the reunions.
2007 WASHINGTON D.C.
Charlie Shyab hosted the 2007 reunion. At Arlington National Cemetery we presented a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and held memorial services at the burial sites of Bill Zimmerman and Lee Kleese. We placed a wreath at the Vietnam Memorial Wall as well. The first “Flames of Remembrance Ceremony” for our group was held.
2008 GILROY, CALIFORNIA
Jack and Kathy Chavez hosted the reunion in 2008. We were interviewed for the local television station and made the front page of the local newspaper. Brothers in Arms. The mayor declared C/1/22 day in Gilroy.
2009 NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Larry and Ann Konermann were the hosts for our stay in the big easy. We stayed in the French Quarter and enjoyed the night life, food, and atmosphere of the city.
2010 AND 2011 BRANSON, MISSOURI
For the first time we met in the same city for two years. Branson had so much entertainment for our age group and the community was very accommodating to veterans that we chose to return. Our group was recognized at every show we attended. The 2010 meeting had the largest attendance of any of our reunions. Kudos to Linda and Ray Warner for coordinating and hosting both the 2010 and 2011 reunions.
2012 SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
We welcomed Charlie Company veterans from the 1967-1969 era. Out 10th reunion was very successful with new faces and friendships. What a wonderful job of coordinating and hosting by Susan Stallings.
2013 TULSA, OKLAHOMA
Once again Linda and Ray Warner coordinated and hosted the reunion. Many felt it was one of the best yet. All reunions are special and generally there are great surprises. The attendees became closer during this reunion. One unforgettable experience was the police and sheriff escort on Route 66 into the town of Claremore.
2014 COLUMBUS, GEORGIA
WOW, Chuck and Claudia Zimmerman hosted our great reunion. We spent 2 days at Fort Benning (home of the infantry) with a bus tour. Our tour guide was a retired Lt. Colonel who knew almost everything about the fort. A special moment was dining with the Ranger Graduates and receiving a welcome from BG General Jim Rainey who had previously served with the 4th Infantry in Afghanistan.
The reunions will continue until there is no interest. It doesn’t look like that will be any time soon.
2015 Monterey, California
Kathy and Jack Chavez hosted our reunion. It was great weather high 60s and low 70s. Spent time in Big Sur, Carmel and surrounding areas. Bus tour of Fort Ord. It is now California State Monterey Bay University. There are still some troops and the entire base is under remediation for toxic weapons and shells.