Why Reunions?

I was personally touched by an article sent to me by Bill Poor. In an attempt to console and advise the mother of a returning Iraq war veteran, these Soldiers have, possibly unknowingly, hit on a theme that most of us after coming home, have buried for the past forty years as we proceeded to “get on” with our lives. I’m taking the liberty to take quotes from this article as I believe have meaning to us and this year’s reunion.

“I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I’m a different person from the one who went to combat. Not better, not worse—just different… It’s difficult explaining that to someone who hasn’t been there, which is why talking to other vets is so important. Being completely honest with you, combat changes not only a Soldier but all those who are close to a Soldier. Soldiers are presented with life-altering situations that 99 percent of society will not be asked to experience, so it is only natural for Soldiers to change through their experiences.”

Ray Kimball

We are all changed—no doubt about it. Vietnam was a defining moment in our lives that will always be there. It changed us. I think about other reunions I’ve attended where the attendees reminisce light heartily about the “good old days,” but nothing at these will ever compare to the look of raw excitement and true joy on the faces of comrades- in-arms seeing each other again after forty years–Al Poindexter and Don Loftis, Monte Caylor and Jim McGraw, and me and Bill McCoy, are just a few that come to mind—and many, many more that I’m not aware of. It’s a bond that will always be there.

“It’s not always so, but combat veterans tend to see anyone who is not a combat veteran as uninformed, naïve and just inexperienced. Douglas may not fall into this, but combat becomes an exclusive club of sorts. Therapeutic moments typically come in the company of this exclusive club.”

Ryan Neely

Membership in this exclusive club is the thread that makes our reunions different. With other members of this club, we are not guarded about talking to each other openly about times and events that quite frankly others would not understand, nor appreciate, but among ourselves we are not afraid to laugh, talk honestly, and certainly not threatened by shedding a tear with each other. 

“We are stewards of America’s bravest sons and daughters. Our Soldiers come from patriotic families and they return to them. We are privileged to train, inspire, and lead them as best we can.”

Peter Kilner

The patriotic mantle of this country could not be in better hands than those of the patriots who answered their country’s call, and were chosen to defend it with their lives. Last Veterans Day, I was privileged to sit between two WWII Veterans who had fought together in the Battle of the Bulge. I wanted ask them a deluge of questions, but they seemed more intent on questioning me. They were good stewards to a combat veteran who followed them—as we should be to those that follow us. Our strength, as it did nearly forty years ago, comes from each other. We have a need to share with each other, and a duty to share with those who follow us. And that is what this 2009 reunion is all about. SEE YOU THERE!

Hank Collins

SG 46 1966

PS. The complete article can be found at:


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Monte Caylor