After Action Report 2017 Charlie Troop + Reunion Gettysburg, PA

Posted on September 23, 2017

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Charlie Troop 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry Regiments 2017 Reunion After Action Report
Gettysburg, PA   17-19 September 2017

Charlie Troop has concluded it’s 2017 annual Reunion. It was an amazing success.

On September 17, 2017, we started our reunion with the introduction to the New Charlie Troopers, that is those who had never been to a Charlie Troop Reunion conducted by my wife Carol and I. The following Troopers, Troopettes and family made their first but not last reunion:

Al and Sally Demailo 70-71
Dexter and Donna Evans 70-71
Percy “Doc” Hipple 68-69
Loyd Kelley 66-67
John and Hiesook Sacca 68-69
Herb and Coney Skinner 71
Frank Turner & Margaret Yanetti 67-68
Ed Evans 67
Ron Cepek 69-70
Jennifer Tuttle daughter of Mike Tuttle and niece of John A. Jelich
Greg and Elaine Allcut 69-70
Bruce and Sandra Campbell 70-71
Robert nd Debbie Lemasters 70-71
Terry and Heidi Washburn 68-69

We also welcomed a new Gold Star Family. They are the Family of John A. Jelich who was a Scout Pilot in Charlie Troop in 1968/69.

John returned to Vietnam on a 2nd Tour of Duty with Delta Company 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion. John’s helicopter was shot down on April 1, 1972 resulting in John’s and his door gunner, James D. Owens, death. With us at the reunion was:

Cecelia “Tina” Tuttle Jelich Frost, John’s widow.
Dierdra “Dickie” Jelich Langworthy the daughter of John A. Jelich with her Husband Cort and son Vaughn.
John “Jake” Jelich II, the son of John A. Jelich with his wife Elizabeth
Maggie Jelich Corcoran, the sister of John a. Jelich
and as mentioned before Jennifer Tuttle the daughter of Mike Tuttle who served in Charlie Troop 68-69 as a Scout Pilot with John A, Jelich who became John’s Brother in law.

We were also Honored to have a friend of mine and Carol’s, Sgt Francis Chesko, a WWII Veteran.

We honored Francis with a Certificate that read:

Francis entered the Army in February 1943. After his advanced training, he was shipped off to England. From England, Francis landed on Utah Beach on June 7, 1944 as part of the 148th Combat Engineer Battalion. On July 19, 1944, Francis was wounded and sent back to England to mend.

Returning to the war, Francis was assigned to the 7th Armored Division in Holland. Here, Francis narrowly missed being wounded again when an 88mm mortar shell landed above his bunker but did not detonate.

Francis’s unit was dug in at the town of St. Vith, Belgium when the Battle of the Bulge broke out. The Germans attacked on December 17,1944. His division was told to hold it’s position for three days. They held it for five.

Francis said for Christmas Eve, all his unit had to eat was snow.

After the Battle of the Bulge, Francis’s unit helped build the longest bridge of the war. It totaled 1,300 feet over the Rhine River.

As Francis and his unit pushed into Germany they helped liberate 1,200 American Prisoners.

God Bless Francis Chesko, One of our “True American Heroes”.

The certificate was read and presented to Francis by Ed Gruetzemacher.

We also present Francis with a Plaque.

 Photograph by Alex R. Martin Victorian Photography Studio.

On the Plaque was a Hummel Figurine “the Soldier Boy” and a Plaque that read:

Sgt Francis Chesko
A Proud Member of the Greatest Generation
and a Proud WWII Veteran
Charlie Troop 1/9 Cavalry
Thanks you for Our Freedom.

This was presented to Francis by Carol Bieneman.

Upon completion of the presentation, Ed Call all Troopers to their feet. He then gave the order of Attention and the commands to Present Arms and then Order Arms as our final display of Honoring Francis.

I then introduced the “Josh Allen Band” that was going to entertain us all evening with songs from the 60’s. The band was highly praised by all in attendance for their playing and singing ability.

  Photograph by Alex R. martin Victorian Photography Studio

 

At one point, my niece, Lucy Bieneman sang “These boots are made for walking” with the band.

  Photograph by Alex R. Martin Victorian Photography Studio

 

 

Needless to say, a great time was had by all. There was a lot of dancing, laughing and some crying as Trooper who had served with John A. Jelich talked to his family as well as when some of the Trooper got back together.

The morning of the 18th came early as we had to eat at 6am and be on the buses by 7am for our “Journey to the Wall”. We arrived at the Mall around 9:15. Everyone departed the buses. We had 140 Cavalry Yellow Roses. Over 125 had a Purple Heart name tag. The name tags had the Troopers Name Date he became a casualty and the Panel and Line number of where he was located on the Wall. We also had a 1st Cavalry Wreath with Always Honored and Never Forgotten on the ribbons.

  Photographs by Alex R. Martin Victorian Photography Studio

 

Our “Little Brothers of Charlie Troop” (the Boy Scouts from Smiths Station, Alabama) led by carrying the US Flag, and Max Pressman and Jack McKibben carrying th C Troop 1/9th Guidon between them. They were followed by Jerry Duckworth (67) and Dutch Florez (69) as Front Guards, then came Artie Sanders (68), James Tyler (70) and Tom Betts (66) carrying the 1st Cavalry Division Patch Wreath, and the Jerry Schmocholocha and Herb Skinner (70) representing the Rear Guard. Then came, Galen Rosher and the Gold Star Families with the Troopers to follow. We all marched to the wall. The Little Brothers placed the Wreath at the center of the two walls. When all of the Troopers were lined up, Galen called the Troopers to Attention and then gave the Orders to Present Arms and Order Arms. The Professional Photographer we had with us (Alex Martin of Gettysburg) then took photographs of the Troopers and Gold Star Families and then the Troopers with our Little Brothers.

       Phorgraphs by Alex R. Martin

    

 

         

 

              

     

 

 

   Thinking of the meaning of that Rose.

It was now time to lay the Roses and Honor Our Fallen Brothers.
Many of our Troopers asked for specific names. They were given those roses to lay. A Rose for Every Fallen Brother of Charlie Troop plus five for Fallen Brothers of Delta Troop and several special requests were now laid. We had asked them to Say the Name out loud as they laid the rose and everyone did.The roses each had a name tag with the Troopers Name KIA Date Panel and Line Number:

Alex Martin, our Professional Photographer, continued to take pictures to include special requests by any and all Troopers. Alex took photographs at the Meet and Greet, at the Wall and at our Honors ceremonies on the night of the 19th.

Afterward Troopers were given time to see the Three Servicemen Statute, The Vietnam Women’s Statute and the Korean War Memorial. We then departed the Mall for lunch at Union Station. After the completion of lunch and at a designated time we reloaded the buses for a return to the mall but this time at the WWII Memorial. Once again, our “Little Brothers” led the formation with the US Flag. Jack McKibben and Max Pressman once again carried the C Troop 1/9th Guidon between them. Then came George Vansant (67) as Front Guard, Don Coshey (65) and Herb Skinner (70) carried the Red, White and Blue Spray with a ribbon that read “The Greatest Generation” with Dutch Florez as Rear Guard. Behind then was Francis Chesko and daughter Sue, then came Gene Smith and the rest of the Troopers with families. Our “Little Brothers proceeded to the Atlantic side of the WWII Memorial to the “Battle of the Bulge” site. Here they Posted the Colors and the Spray was then Placed.

   

 

Gene Smith (65) read the following:

We are here today to honor the Men and Women of the United States Armed Forces who served during WWII. These are the Men and Women who are called “The Greatest Generation”.

God Bless Francis Chesko, one of our “True American Heroes”’

In your Honor, Francis, we are placing this Spray as a memento of out Appreciation for the Sacrifices that you and all of the members of the Armed Forces gave in order to secure our Freedoms.

He then called all Troopers to Attention, Present Arms and then Ordered Arms.

                 

This concluded our ceremonies at the mall in Washington, DC. Shortly afterwards we loaded the buses for our return to Gettysburg.

That evening, we had our Meal at 7pm. The room once again the room was filled with talking, laughter and tears. What a great evening it was.

The morning of the 19th we began with a Troopers Meeting. Carol discussed with the Troopers the status of our “Trooper Fund and our Reunion Fund. We can honestly say that we are in very good shape. She also explained that we now have a separate Checking and Savings Account for our Charlie Troop funds.

I followed up with talking about next year’s reunion. It will be held in Pigeon Forge, TN September 23,24,and 25th. We will be holding it at the Holiday Inn.

I also told the Troopers about a C Troop Committee I set up. This Committee has been tasked to decide what to do with the monies in the Charlie Troop accounts should something happen to myself and Carol. If no one steps up to continue the reunions then the committee will decide what to do with the funds. They will send out an email asking the Troopers what to do. If they don’t get back a response or too many then the committee will make the final determination. The Committee Chairman will not have a vote unless there is a tie as there are 7 members. The committee consists of:

Pete Guthrie (67-69) Chairman
Don Coshey (65-66)
Tommy Betts (66-67)
Jerry Duckworth (67-68)
Crae Carpenter (68-69)
Cecil Smith (69-70)
James Pressman (69-70)

Our assistant Book keeper, Susan Jones, would then have a cashier’s check drawn for the total amount and place it in Pete Guthrie’s name and the name of the new reunion organizer or to a charitable organization name so it will require two signature.

We adjourned and the day until 5:30 when we had dinner was free for Troopers and families to see the area.

After dinner, we began our ceremonies for the evenings. The “Little Brothers” posted the colors and then my niece Lucy sang the National Anthem

This is our “Stetson Table”. All Stetsons are placed on this table during dinner and retrieved afterwards and before the ceremonies begin.

 Photo by Alex R. Martin Victorian Photography Studio

 

Up first was our ceremonies to Honor the Troopers who arrived in Charlie Troop in 1967. This is their 50th Reunion of joining Charlie Troop. I am going to admit right up front that I made one big mistake. Trooper Ed Evans was at our reunion and even though I had 67 after his name I did not include him in the ceremony. However, those whom we did honor were:

Jeff Libby
Pete Guthrie
George Vansant
Frank Turner
Larry Oestringer
Jerry Duckworth
Robert Fellin
Don Viningre
David Blouin
Jim Hohman

The above Troopers were presented with a Certificate and a Souvenir Coin. Photos by Alex R. Martin

    

          

       

       

 

It was now our time to Honor our Gold Star Family members. To start we Recognized Teri Nave ( a Gold Star Family member herself) as our newly appointed Gold Star Liaison. We then Named the Gold Star Family Members present:

Cecelia (Tina) Tuttle Jelich Frost Widow of John A. Jelich
Dierdra (Dickie) Jelich Langworthy Daughter of John A. Jelich
John (Jake) Jelich Son of John A. Jelich
Maggie Jelich Corcoran Sister of John A. Jelich
Jennifer Tuttle Niece of John A. Jelich
Danny Walton Son of Louis E. Walton
Teri Nave Daughter of Billy J. Nave

I then called Ilah Rosher, Teri Duckworth, Therissa Duckworth and John Sacca up to read a poem. I had found this poem in and old Bullwhip Squadron News Letter. It was noted as “Author not known”

Ilah began:

I am a caring mother
My son has gone to war
My mind is filled with worries
that I have never known before
Everyday I try to keep my thoughts from turning black
I may be scared, but I am proud
My son has your back

Teri then read:

I am a strong and loving wife
with a husband soon to go
There are times I’m terrified
in a way most will never know
I bite my lip and force a smile
as I watch my husband pack
My heart may break but I am proud
My husband’s got your back

Therissa read (Therissa is the 8-year-old grand daughter of Jerry and Teri Duckworth):

I am a small and precious child
my dad’s been sent to fight
The only place I’ll see his face
is in my dreams tonight
He will be gone too many days
for my young mind to keep track
I may be sad but I am proud
my daddy’s got your back

John Sacca finished up by reading:

I am a soldier serving proudly, standing tall
I fight for freedom yours and mine by answering this call
I do my job while knowing the “Thanks” it sometimes lack
Say a prayer that I”ll come home
It’s me who got your back

  Photo by Alex R. Martin Victorian Photogrpahy Studio

 

Then I called up:

Peggy Carpenter
Rose Cairns
Brenda Merritt
Gail Guthrie
Gwynn Smith
Ginny Blouin

The above ladies read the names of 111 Fallen Brothers of Charlie Troopers and 5 Delta Troopers

 

 Photo by Alex R. Martin

Anne Smith was next. Anne came up and read the “Meaning of the Gold Star Family.

  Photo by Alex R. Martin

I called Teri Nave up. Teri read a story she had written about being a child in a Gold Star Family entitled “The Door”.

  Photo by Alex R. Martin

Teri then called up Cecelia “Tina” Jelich Frost who read a story she had written called “ A Giant Flag… The Biggest Flag, which talked about her time after her husband John’s death.

 

  by Alex R. Martin

Teri then called Maggie Jelich Corcoran up. Maggie told the story about a package she received from John just before his departure to return to Vietnam. It was a funny story as he had sent her a package containing a baby diaper full of poop. She said John was a jokester and she loved it.

  Photo by Alex R. Martin

I read my modified version of the Missing man table that I call the Missing man/Fallen Brothers table.

I called Billie Williams, Pete Guthrie and Don Coshey up front. Then Teri Nave came up and called the Gold Star Family members (one family at a time) to come up, stop at the Missing man/ Fallen Brother’s table, Light a candle in memory of their loved one, take a moment to reflect and then proceed down the line where they received a Certificate, a Gold Star Banner with their loved one’s name, date of death and the unit embroidered on them in Gold and a Coin. Then Danny Walton followed as did Teri Nave.

         

As they were lined up, my niece Lucy sang Amazing grace. Teri Duckworth went out to the front desk and asked for 3 boxes of Kleenexs and passed them out. Billie Williams then call all Troopers to Attention and gave the Orders to Present Arms and then Order Arms.

 

   Photo by Alex R. Martin Victorian Photography Studio

I next called up our “Little Brothers of Charlie Troop”. We had new members that we gave certificates to inducting them in the “Little Brothers of Charlie Troop” as well as thanking all of them for posting the Colors at the Vietnam Wall, WWII Memorial and at the beginning of our Ceremonies.

                 Photos by Alex R. Martin

Next it was time to call up Therissa and Jerry Duckworth. We inducted Therissa into our “Little Sweethearts of Charlie Troop”. Therissa helped hand out roses at the Wall Ceremony and read the part of the Poem.

  Photo by Alex R. Martin

The last ceremony of the night was to induct Scotty Viningre as an Honorary member of Charlie Troop. Scotty’s Dad, Don Viningre had bought purchased Scotty his own Stetson and placed it on his head at the end of the ceremony.

        Photos by Alex R. Martin

We closed our evening of Ceremonies with my niece Lucy singing God Bless the USA.

The rest of the night was spent talking, laughing and yes once again crying.

Everyone is looking forward to our next reunion.

I want to Thank so many I hope I don’t forget anyone.

All of the Troopers who participated in the ceremonies.  The Ladies for reading the names of our Fallen. Ilah Rosher, Teri Duckworth, Therissa Duckworth and John Sacca for reading the poem.  My beautiful niece Lucy Bieneman for her singing. Amazing Graze had everyone crying. Grace Sanders for saying Grace before our Dinners. Teri Nave for being our Newly Appointed Gold Star Family Liaison and for printing our programs, name tags and so much more. Therissa Duckworth for keeping everyone entertained with her dancing.  Everyone who came to this Reunion, new Troopers as well as old. I want to Thank the wives for love and support they give their husband.  I want to Thank the Jelich Family for attending their first of what I hope is many reunions.  Most importantly, I want to Thank God for the great weather and the safety of the Troopers/Troopettes and Gold Star Family members getting home safely.  I also want to thank the most important person in getting these reunions up and running, My beautiful wife, Carol Bieneman.

 

 

 

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