20th Annual Reunion
11th Armored Cavalry's
Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia
August 4 - 7, 2005
Reunion XX---Colorado Springs, CO 4-7 August,
By Chuck Schmidt, President & Dave Tessier Reunion XX Co-Chairmen
Courtesy, 11th ACVVC at 11thCavNam.com
Colorado Springs proved
to be a great venue for the 20th Annual Reunion of the 11thACVVC. One of only two
locations in the United States with an 11th Armored Cavalry Regimental Memorial, as well
as being a major destination vacation spot, the Springs offered an ideal setting for more
than 1,000 members, family, and friends to gather for the four day event. Although
Colorado Springs boasts about 300 days of annual sunshine, the 56 golfers who entered the
tournament on Thursday were hard to convince because it poured down rain well into the
afternoon in 50 degree temperatures! The golfing diehards would not let that deter them
and they journeyed the short distance to Fort Carson and teed off on schedule. As the rain
continued, most called it a day after 9 holes but a few hardy Troopers went for all 18!
The luncheon and awards ceremony allowed everyone a chance to dry out, and the weather
will give fodder for stories for years to come. One report is that on some drives the club
slipped from the golfers grip and flew further than the ball!
On Thursday while the golfers were getting soaked, Troopers and their families began
arriving in earnest and by evening the Bunker was alive with activity.
Although the Bunker closed at 12:00 midnight, reliable reports indicate that
the 11th Cavalrys Vietnam Veterans shut down the bar in Rickenbackers Club
well after 2:00AM on this and every night through Saturday. As the weather began to clear
in the afternoon, many took advantage of unscheduled time to begin their vacationing
sight-seeing and participation in various activities offered in Colorado Springs and
surrounding mountains. Never say that we do not move around the country---last year at sea
level on the white sands of Daytona Beach, FL, and this year at over 6,000 ft elevation in
the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Next year, we will split the difference by heading off to
Kansas City, MO.
Fridays scheduled activities included bus trips to Cripple Creek, the 4th Annual
Veterans Seminar, and a great Bunker Party that lasted well past the
scheduled closing time of 12:00 midnight. About 200 took the sojourn up to 9,000+ feet to
try their luck at the slots and tables of the historic gaming and mining town.
Word is that there were a few winners, and more who returned with less money than when
they departed the Sheraton. The Bunker Party was well attended with all the
tables set for 750 occupied during the evening. This was a wonderful way for friendships
to be renewed with plenty of food and drink to keep everyone happy.
With the Bunker Party going well past the midnight hour there were a number of
bleary eyed Troopers at the Annual Business Meeting which convened promptly at 8:30AM on
Saturday. The agenda for the meeting was jam-packed with reports from the Secretary, the
Treasurer, and the numerous volunteer committees that keep our great organization
functioning efficiently. Committee Chairmen covered the past years activities and
accomplishments and discussed future planned activities. Of particular interest was the
progress made by Allen Hathaway on the verification of our list of KIAs. It was pointed
out that we were down to verifying the last Trooper, and that we had another 11th Cavalry
soldier added to the Wall on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day this
year. Allens important project has resulted in changing the list of our fallen
comrades from 768 to 726 KIA due to inaccurate reporting from the field in Vietnam as well
as subsequent mistakes at the Department of the Army. We are now 99.9% sure that our
records are accurate and we can proceed to update and upgrade our Memorial Monument
located at the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, KY. The plan is to correct all data on the
plaques on the monument and to list names of our Troops who made the ultimate sacrifice by
Squadron and Troop/Company alphabetically for easier identification and location by
The Welcome Home party planned for our Regiment as it returns from a year-long
deployment to Iraq was discussed by Jerry Hensley, and members present at the meeting
voted to provide $15,000 to show our support and appreciation of the 11th Armored
Cavalrys role in fighting this war. Members of the 11thACVVC remember the lack of
such actions upon our return, and vow it will never happen again and that our soldiers
will know that their service is an honorable way to demonstrate devotion and dedication to
the ideals and values of their grateful Nation. All 11th Cavalry Veterans are invited to
attend this celebration which is being planned for Fort Irwin, CA in April 2006. Specifics
will be announced in future editions of Thunder Run and on the www.11thcavnam.com website.
Elections were held for President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary and Director.
Incumbents, Charles L. Schmidt (President), Ollie Pickral (Treasurer), Frank Cambria
(Secretary) and Robert Moreno (Director) were re-elected for their present positions. Gene
Johnson, current Vice-President, decided not to run for a second term and Allen Hathaway
was elected to that position. With Allen changing jobs from Director to Vice-President a
vacancy was created and Rod George, current Quartermaster, was elected to fill the
remaining year of that term of office. All positions become effective on 1 January, 2006.
The final item on the agenda was to pass the hat for the Trooper Reunion
Assistance Fund and $1,114 was donated.
Following lunch, reunion attendees boarded busses to the Shrine of Remembrance
for the annual Memorial Service. The Shrine is the location of the 11th Armored Cavalry
memorial tank, plaque, and Medal of Honor acknowledgements. More than 500 enjoyed the
outstanding weather and beautiful setting to pay honor to our fallen comrades and to
remember those of our ranks who passed away this past year. Adrian Vaaler played
Taps following a 21 gun salute to our never forgotten Brothers by
Troopers of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment stationed at Fort Carson, CO. 11thACVVC
Chaplain, Larry Haworth, once again arranged a superb tribute to our Troopers who paid the
ultimate price in service to their country. Jim Holt sang some inspirational songs fitting
the solemn occasion.
The Saturday evening banquet topped off the formal activities for the day. The program
included an update on the Regiments deployed units by Major Christopher Emond,
former CO of the 58th Combat Engineer Company, recently returned from Iraq. Major
Emonds presentation included two video clips from the theater of operations by
Colonel Bayer and Command Sergeant Major Pring, Regimental Commander and CSM respectively.
Lieutenant General (USA, Ret) Thomas M. Montgomery was the guest speaker for the evening.
General Montgomery spoke of his time in the Regiment in Vietnam as Commander of
H Company, 2nd Squadron, in Vietnam in 68-69 and how that
experience with the soldiers in combat served to allow him to make a decision to make a
career in the US Army. He went on to elaborate on how his time serving with the Troopers
set the stage for his successive command positions culminating in command of operations in
Somalia in 93-94. General Montgomery stated his firm belief that our war in
Vietnam played a crucial part in winning the Cold War in the late 90s,
and that 11thACVVC members can stand proud of their service to the Nation.
The highlight of the evening came when Major General Richard Rowe, Director of Operations
for Headquarters U. S. Northern Command, which is responsible for the Homeland Defense
Mission, presented three soldiers from A Troop Bronze Star Medals w/V device
for valor in combat during operations in March 1970 in Vietnam. Troopers Francis
Bud Smolich, Bill Daniels, and Donald Dush were all belatedly cited for
bravery in fighting the enemy during what has been dubbed the Anonymous
Battle. Our congratulations to these Troopers who finally are getting their
recognition more than 35 years after the fact! A tip of our hat to John Poindexter, then
the CO of A Troop, who has spent hours researching this battle, writing the citations,
coordinating the paper work and doggedly pursuing just awards for his soldiers!
Other awards that were presented during the banquet include the Jack Quilter
Award that was passed from John Effinger to CSM USA (Ret) Donald Horn for safekeeping over
the next year. The award is presented to a Trooper who has exemplified the values of the
11thACVVC over a period of time and who has contributed to the enhancement of the Regiment
and our organization and members. Since this was the 20th Anniversary Reunion, research
showed that five of our members have attended all 20 reunions from the first in 1986 to
this years gathering. Jim Haines, Bill Lewellen, Larry Haworth, Mike Cricco, and
Bill Squires were surprised to receive recognition in the form of a 20 Year Plaque. In 20
more years, we hope to see all of them receive a 40 year version! Outstanding
Trooper Awards were presented to Tony Doc Balas, Gene Johnson, and Dave
Tessier for their contributions over the past few years, and the Trooper of the
Year award went to John Poindexter for his support of the 11thACVVC programs and his
untiring efforts to pursue recognition for his soldiers involved in the Anonymous
The final activity of the banquet was to recognize our Scholarship winners for 2005 and
draw the winning raffle tickets for this years fundraiser. Four scholarship awardees
were in attendance, and each drew and announced one winner. Winner of the $1,000 prize was
Ron Jackson from San Pedro, CA, followed by Joe Vela (L Troop) of Sag, MI, for $500, James
White (Air Cavalry) Caledonia, MI, for $300 and fourth prize of $200 went to Terri
Christian (K Troop) from Copperas Cove, TX. Congratulations to our Scholarship winners and
to the raffle winners!
The evening concluded with the always emotional Vietnam song by Jim Holt and the
outstanding Blackhorse Salute followed by dancing to a DJ til midnight.
Chaplain Haworth held a well attended worship service on Sunday morning, and farewells
carried well into the day as the 11thACVVC concluded another successful reunion. See you
all next year in Kansas City, MO!
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