2021 Charlie Troop 1/9th Cav Reunion After Action Report

Posted on October 3, 2021


2021 Charlie Troop 1/9th Cavalry Regiment

 Thirsty-six+ Reunion AAR

The Charlie Troop 1/9th Cavalry Regiment+ conducted their 8th Annual reunion in Columbus, Georgia September 25th,26th and 27th at the Double Tree Inn. Carol and I arrived September 22nd to make sure everything was set up right. We made sure that the Hospitality and  Reunion rooms were ready to go when we needed them. This was to include (in the Hospitality room) that we had ten table set up for at least 8 people each. That the Missing man/ Fallen Brothers table was positioned right and that our Remembrance Table was also in the correct position.  The reunion room had six table for 8 people each and 11 long tables. Two were for sign in and the selling of Tickets for the two picnic baskets. Each basket had a bottle of red wine, white wine, and Champagne. There we also two wine glasses and two champagne glasses. A picnic blanket and lantern if the picnic was at night. We also had a Certificate for a free night at the hotel and a $25.00 certificate for use in the hotel diner.

Friday, we went to the bakery to have our cake made for reunion.

 After we unloaded everything at the hotel, we began to arrange those items that we had brought with us. A lot of Troopers and Troopettes arrived on Friday and helped us start rearranging the Hospitality Room. They were a great help and truly appreciated.

Saturday morning and until about 3pm was sign in time. As each Trooper signed in, they were given an Itinerary and a challenge coin chosen by Carol. They were also given the opportunity to by 50/50 tickets, tickets for the baskets, and to purchase books, caps, and other items for a donation to our Trooper Fund.

At 3:30pm, all Troopers began filling up the Hospitality room. The ceremonies began at 4pm. After welcoming everyone, I introduced the first-time reunion attendees. This included Lisa and Jesse Burner, Don Coshey’s daughter and Granddaughter. Shane, Missi, Lillie and Ellie Jones and Jeremy, Missy, Jolie, and Delanie Brazier. Shane and Missy are Gordon Jones’s son and daughter his daughter-in-law Missi, and son-in-law Jeremy and his four granddaughters.  Of course, Susan Jones was also in attendance.  Doc Hock, his daughter Nicole and son-in-law Jim Bowman. We also had Galen and Ilah’s son Greg and daughter in law Emily. Don and Angela Gresham. 

Our reunion opened with the Posting of the Colors. Then 6-year-old Zachary Titchenell lead us in the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the playing of National Anthem. I then called the Titchenell family up front to read the poem “It’s me who has your Back”.

At our Remembrance table, we  proceeded to honor our Brothers and Sisters that we lost since the last reunion. We honored: Larry Banks, Keith Owens, Mike Tuttle, Donald Coshey, Gordon Jones, Cleveland “Julio” Rogers, Cecil Smith, Carol Hockenbury, wife of Doc, Gina Nelson, wife of Vincent Nelson Jr, and Dorris Williams, wife of the late Billie Williams. A family member or Trooper went up to the table, lit a candle and said a few words if they wanted to.

Next, we Honored Ed Gruetzemacher and Doc Hockenbury for their participation in laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown in 2019.

On Sunday, we went to the National Infantry Museum. The Patriot guard lead our buses from the hotel to the walkway leading up to the “Vietnam Wall” behind the Museum. Our ceremony started with the Posting of the Colors by three Troopers, Terry Washburn, Frank Turner, and Dave Blouin. Next, we had three more Troopers, Ed Gruetzemacher, Armond Salazar, and Tommy Betts place the 1st Cavalry heart shaped wreath between the American and 1st Cavalry Flags.

Paul Davis gave the invocation and our Bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” to perfection. I then played “If you’re reading this” by Tim McGraw. The names of our 113 KIAs and 5 of Delta Troops KIAs were read by Teri Duckworth, Ginny Blouin, Ilah Rosher, Heidi Washburn, Jean Gruetzemacher, and Alice Helms.

I called for our Gold Star Families to come up and received a Cavalry Yellow rose and a 4’x6” American Flag from our “Little Sweethearts” to place at the Wall. As they started up, I played “He’s not just a name of the Wall” by the Stadler Brothers. We then invited everyone to come forward and receive one of the 122 Cavalry Yellow Roses and a 4”x6” American Flag from our “Little Sweethearts” to place at the Wall. I played “Taps” and we concluded this ceremony. We went into the Museum for lunch paid for by Charlie Troop and to view the exhibits inside.

Sunday night we inducted Lillie and Ellie Jones into our “Little Sweethearts”. Both young ladies participated in the handing out of roses and flags, to our Troopers and Troopettes at the “Wall”.  Lillie and Ellie joined their cousins Jolie and Delanie Brazier and Kayleigh Viningre as “Little Sweethearts”.

Edd Hogeboom was planning on making his first reunion in many years. However, four weeks before the start of this year’s reunion, Edd’s Leukemia came back. Edd passed away on this Sunday evening. I am not sure whether it was before, during, or after Charles Blevins and I read a poem for Edd that he had wanted to read for himself. Here is that poem:

I can’t tell you of ever finding God in church and I can’t remember feeling he was near me when I went there.

I do remember seeing a lot of friendly smiling faces and people dressed in all their nice clothes, somehow, I always felt uneasy – too many people too close.

No, I don’t remember seeing God in Church but I hear his name there constantly, some ask me “Have you been born again? If so, When?” And I don’t understand!

I did feel God In Vietnam – Almost everyday.

I felt him when, after an all night fire fight, He sent the sun to chase the rain away; and the rain would return with majesty the very next day,

He was there when I collected Sgt. Moore’s body parts to put in a body bag.

He was there when I wrote a letter to his widow explaining how he died.

He was behind me when I heard Sgt. Sink’s last dying gasp.

He helped me carry Sgt. Swanson down a hill in the An Lo Valley.

I caught a glimpse of God when I felt the heat of Napalm called in on our own position, May 27, 1967.

I felt him around me when the chaplain would hold field services for our dead.

I saw his reflection in the faces of my men when I told them to save one bullet for themselves as we were about to be overrun one hot steamy day in a Nam far away.

He led me in the “Lord’s Prayer” on every air assault as we stood on the skids coming in at Treetop level. When we set up our night ambushes and I couldn’t see my own hands because of the darkness, I would feel his hands.

He sent me loneliness to guarantee the fond memories that always appear later in life.

I’ll always remember the strength God gave to the orphans – the children of war, he made them strong, but they didn’t understand.

I know after 25 years, we sleep under the same star.

He sent boys to war. They returned young men; their lives changed, proud to protect the land of the free.

I don’t know if God goes to church, But I know He goes to War.

This was written by Barry L. McAlpine after his return to the states. He served in B Troop 1/9th Cav.

On Monday, we began our ceremonies at 3:45pm. I began by talking about the real unsung Heroes of Charlie Troop. The Pilot and crew members of our Lift platoon. Everyone needed to know that these Troopers put their lives on the line almost every day. They flew into and out of “Hot” LZs and PZs. They flew above fire fights to bring the Blues more ammunition when needed. CW3 Jim Reid and his team flew a platoon of the 1/8th into LZ Betty, at night, under extreme enemy fire. They did this with two choppers at a time. They also returned with ammunition and water. Because of their bravery, the lives of the troopers of Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie Troop Blues were saved.

Our next Honors were direct towards Galen Rosher. I read two excerpts from Randy Zahn’s book “Snake Pilot”. If you haven’t read this book you need to buy it and read it. Tin these two excerpts Randy talked about how (then) Major Galen Rosher grew “another foot taller” in his eyes. After I finished, Ed Gruetzemacher related two stories about Galen. We then presented Galen with a Hummel figure, the “Soldier Boy” for his dedication and love for his Troopers.

Our last ceremony of the night was to honor our Wives. We had honored every Trooper who went to Vietnam on their 50th Anniversary of going to Vietnam. Now it was the time to honor our wives.

We began the ceremony with Ilah Rosher reading the poem “A Veteran’s Wife” written by Heather M. Tabors. Here is that poem”

A uniform I do not wear,

A gun I do not carry.

But I serve my country proudly,

Through the man I chose to marry.

I may not wear a Dog Tag, But I have a mission just the same,

My husband defends freedom, and I defend his name.

A Purple Heart I will never wear,

No ribbons adorn my chest.

But this ring upon my finger,

Shows that I am truly blessed.

My husband is a warrior,

Both in battle and at home.

He loves and guards us fiercely,

No greater love I have never known.

When the shadows of his darkest days,

Come back to haunt his mind.

As his wife, I will faithfully stand beside him,

And love he will always find.

A veteran’s wife I am proud to be,

No greater honor could I know.

Than to proudly Love and Honor,

My Husband, My Hero.

Next our DJ, Toby Tyler, played the song “Stand by your Man” sung by Tammy Wynette.  

Charles Blevins read of the wives having to try and confirm in their children’s minds that Daddy was okay while she wasn’t sure herself. He talked about how PTSD had not just affected the Trooper but the family as well. Charles summed it up by say “Their love, faith, compassion, and determination are what makes them the great wife and the Heart of Charlie Troop. He then called up each Trooper who, with his wife at his side, came up front. There they received a Cavalry Yellow Rose and a gold box containing a 1st Cav necklace and a lapel 1st Cav pin from our “Little Sweethearts”. After all of the Troopers and their wives had received their rose and box, the couples danced to George Strait’s “I cross my Heart”

After the ceremonies, we had dinner and then proceeded to talk and dance some more.

The reunion was once again a total success.  Everyone is wanting to know where the next reunion will be held. I do not have an answer for that yet. Everyone left for home and so far, the majority have let me know they made it home safely.