Members of the 191st Assault Helicopter Company:
WOW, here we go again. I want to start by thanking Larry Miller, our host, and his family and friends that were so supportive at this reunion. I thank as well the staff of the Holiday Inn in Tulsa for bending over backwards for us to accommodate our every need. They were GREAT!!
On Thursday, unit members began showing up in the hospitality room, and the brothers began to meet again. Without a doubt, this is a Family of Brothers that remember the times long ago, as well as the cost of the effort. While my personal goal was to have a hundred unit members present, we had about half that, and a record turnout. I cannot tell you how pleased I am at that.
With the members of the 191st, we were privileged to have the families of Norman Kidd, and Tommy Sandefur. The families had expressed some trepidation at coming, but they came anyway. What they found in Tulsa, was this old Band of Brothers, and nothing less than love. While a few tears were observed, most were tears of joy, and the happiness of a family joined again.
On Friday, the Family met again in the hospitality room. We were favored with good weather, and though the room was too small to accommodate everyone, we had the luxury of expanding the meeting out onto the patio by the pool. That night was capped by a steak dinner at the American Legion Post, and a sock-hop back at the hotel with a band.
Saturday began with brothers blinking back sleep so they could get up and meet with old friends again. We departed the hotel at 10:30 for the Memorial service that was held at the gravesite of our brother, Tommy Sandefur to honor all the lost of the 191st. At that ceremony, the most amazing things occurred. The service itself was a thing of beauty, and Father Ken expressed his admiration for the lost of the 191st, the families that suffered those losses, and we that remember them still. While the planned things all happened, including outstanding vocal efforts by members of the Sandefur family, the twenty-one gun volley, and taps, there was an unexpected low-level flyover by a flock of Canadian geese in V formation. Then at the last words of the benediction, the beautiful bells of the park sounded as if to remind us that this service was complete.
At the business meeting of the members, it was decided that the next reunion would be held in Branson, Missouri. John Davis offered to host that reunion, and the offer was accepted immediately. It was decided as well, that an association, or not-for-profit organization should be established.
Volunteers came forth at the effort to put together an organization for the 191st members, and they are these:
President - Bud Patnode
Vice President - Stan Cherrie
Vice President of Communications - Bill Janes
Secretary - Roger Stickney
Treasurer - John Davis
The effort to formalize the organization that we already stand for is underway.
On Saturday night, came the banquet. The agenda included a welcome by Larry Miller our host, followed by the introduction of the missing man table by Jack Tiesing. We then were treated to a Saint Crispin's Day recitation by Don Williams from Shakespeare. We are, most of all, a Band of Brothers. Then came the video tribute created by Terri Beckham, and what a tribute it was. Father Ken led is in a short prayer before a remarkably good repast of hotel food, and the night went on. After dinner, we were treated to the introduction of Colonel Bud Patnode by General Stan Cherrie. Colonel Patnode's address filled us with pride and memories of the 191st. Later, there was a rendition of "Danny Boy" by Kevin Kenny that brought the house down, and Larry Miller's original song did too.
Looking back at this two years of work to bring this together, I want to thank those that gave their all for it. I won't mention names because you know who you are. But most of all, I want to thank the guys that came and brought with them their families, and their love. That is the greatest gift of all.
See Ya in Branson in 2006..