108th Artillery Group

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2010 Branson, Mo Reunion Photos

2010 Branson, Mo Reunion

Comments From Reunion Attendees  

From Marty Binz 

Just returned home after a 1200 mile drive through the corn belt. It took a day to decompress and relax. Marie and I just wanted to drop you a line and say that we had a fabulous time and that you throw one hell of a party. We are already looking forward to the next gathering no matter where it's held to reunite with friends old and new. I got an e-mail form Bruce saying that he was sorry he couldn't make this one and sent a video message stating that he was glad we all had a good time. Talk to you later.

Marty


From Chaplain, Don Neely 

First Thoughts

Part of me is home and yet a significant part remains in Branson, MO. "How can this be?"  I ask myself. The 108th FA Group was only a tiny sliver of time in our lives. We were not together very long and we ARE so different from one another. How could we have picked right up where we left each other forty-two years ago?

We were extremely diverse in geography, culture, ethnic origin, race, religion, politics, education, rank and military experience We could not have intentionally put this group together in our wildest imaginations. Yet, the 108th FA Group became "a group"... A group that was like no other group... A group, whose members admit that they were not the same after they returned from Vietnam...A small group of people ..."one of a kind" to the rest of the world.

I suppose all military units feel the same about their uniqueness.  So I asked myself, "What brings such diversity together as one, with such intense feelings, even after a long period of time?" The answer is obvious. We became a "group" because a common experience transcended differences and welded us into one. That common experience was combat.

Combat taught us many lessons. It leveled the playing field. In spite of rank or position, we shared the same fears, frustrations, loneliness, pain and uncertainties. We also shared common dreams about what we would do when we returned home to loved ones, interests and jobs. It profoundly taught us how dependant we were on each other, even for our very lives. No, we were never the same after Vietnam. It just wasn't to be. We had experienced the most intense year of our lives, and could never completely return to the past.

So why did it take so long to come together? There are many reasons. Many were so glad to get out of uniform and home, that a reunion would not have been successful. Many wanted to forget the experiences and hoped they would just "go away" A reunion would only intensify the pain. Most of us wanted to get on with our lives and raise our families and enjoy our loved ones. Before we knew it, time had slipped away. As we began to look for each other, we realized the task would not be easy. Thank goodness for Google and other ways of communication.

Ty asked me to share some of my thoughts, not only about the reunion, but about our Vietnam experiences as well. As many of you know, I kept a diary while we were in country. Some have asked that I share excerpts from that writing. I do so with some reservation.

The diary was written through the eyes and mind of a Chaplain. I was not a line officer, commander or tactician. My work took me to the religious and counseling side of our combat experience.

 My journey also took me to the side of the wounded, dead, or grieving. Some of my experiences won't be included, even though they were profound and I wrote about my feelings at the time.  I will soften the words as best I can in the instances that I do refer to them. I don't want to bore you, but I am who I am. You can always ask Ty to "unsubscribe' you from the writings if you wish.

It is hoped that the diary will serve as a chronological record of our journey from Ft. Riley to the middle of June 1968 (When I transferred to the 48thTransportation Group.) It is also hoped that some of the humorous moments will be remembered as well. The diary does document the days of incoming and could serve as a reference to substantiate events and dates. It does list KIAs (We might not include names if the group does not want that) The writings were "on the spot" feelings and must be viewed in that perspective. I have changed my views on some issues.

At any rate, I will bounce this off to Ty and see if he wants to send it on to you. If it is published, I will send excerpts to Ty as time permits. I hope it will be of interest and information to you.

It was great to see many of you at Branson. I had some reservation about opening up my feelings, even after so long a time. Those who were there, allowed me to heal and enjoy the ones who shared a most significant part of my life.

 There is an old saying about people who walk different trails for long periods of time, but are never far apart. My Vietnam comrades have never been far from me. I have thought about this group every day since I returned to the States. I was glad to see the different trails merge. I hope we can meet again next year.

WELCOME HOME BROTHERS.

Don Neely


From Larry Upton 

Hey Ty,

Larry and I just want to thank you and every body that work on getting this together it was wonderful. We are looking forward to the next one. Larry and I felted it was a honor to be with you and the guys wives.

God bless you all, and we love you all.

Larry and Ruth


From Frenchy Lirette

Our thoughts about the reunion

First I would like to say ,that Ty did a great job planning this reunion. I know he said others helped but he went beyond planning.  He did an awesome job. Thanks again Ty.

I am sure everyone of us thoroughly enjoyed every minute we spent with each other.  Catching up on our lives, getting reacquainted with each other and meeting the wives.

This reunion was long overdue and we are looking forward to the next one.

Frenchy & Elaine


From Charlie Boese

Ty,

It's been two weeks since the reunion in Branson and I haven't stopped thinking about just how wonderful it was. The time spent there will be remembered most fondly by Laura and me all the days of our lives. I only wish more of our Brothers could have attended. Hopefully, there will be many more faces in attendance next year, to which we are already looking forward to.

I want to personally thank you for all that you did in bringing the guys together in Branson. I know what it takes to plan, coordinate and carry out such a task and you did a tremendous job. I know that others (Bob, Jack, Bruce, etc.) helped, but the most credit goes to you. Thank you for a job well done. You can be justly proud of the work you did in bringing us all together again after 42 years. If I had to do it all over again, I couldn't think of anyone I would rather serve with than you and the men of the 108th who sailed on the William Weigel.

I think that Don (Chaplain) Neely said most eloquently what most of us felt upon our return home from Branson, so I need not add additional verbiage.

Thank you, and Welcome Home.

Best regards,

Charlie Boese
.

From Dave Rylott
.
The 108th's first reunion was a complete success. After all these years it was like we were never apart. Old friendships were rekindled, the joking and story telling started like it was just yesterday that we were together. There were tears, there was laughter, and there was a comradery that only comes from men experiencing war. It was much more than I expected. Ty did a great job in planning and executing this campaign. Bruce if it wasn't for you this might never have happened. Thanks to both of you. I can't wait till next year.

Regards,

David Rylott
.

From Howie Berlinski

THIS IS PROBABLY THE BEST REUNION I HAVE EVER BEEN TO.  IT WAS JUST GREAT SEEING EVERYONE AFTER 42 YEARS, CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE. HOPE TO SEE MORE OF US.

Howie Berlinski


From Harry Nakatani

Hello Ty,

This reunion was one of the top ten things that has happened in my life!!!  I want to thank everyone who was involved with the planning of this time for us.  It was just one short time in our lives that I will never forget.  I want to just go back tomorrow and start over just to say hello to everyone again. Thanks for your efforts TY.  If you need anything Ty, just call me or email me and you got it.

Take care Ty,

Another Brother, Harry


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