Daytona Beach, FL -
The Adam's Mark Hotel on Daytona Beach was the scene of the 19th Annual Reunion of the
11th ACVVC. In spite of bad weather over 900 attended the three day event.
11th cavalry veterans came from across the country to spend time together with their
buddies. Old friends renewed acquaintances and new friends were made. This
reunion was the first one for many - a hopeful sign.
My wife Hellen and I arrived on Thursday afternoon and registered with the hotel.
We were met in the lobby by dear friend Debra Gay, wife of K Trooper Ken Gay.
We dropped off our bags in the room and quickly made our way to the bunker.
Already, many were gathering. We sipped a few suds and gabbed until about 11:00 when
the crowd started to thin.
Thursday's events included the annual golf tournament, this year won by K Troop's Terry Cioffi. The "Early Bird" party in the
bunker was well underway. The Quarter Master store remained open from 10:00 a.m.
until 6:00 p.m. and at various times throughout the reunion By the end of the
reunion close to $25,000 in merchandise was sold.
Friday morning we rose early and had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and made an
acquaintance of our waitress, Marilee. Marilee would serve us our breakfasts for the
remainder of the reunion. Now fortified with a hearty meal we went to the
registration table, ably run by Bob Moreno. We check the sign in roster to see who
had checked in. There was a little confusion about who was suppose to check off the
names so I checked Hellen's and my name. We realized that this was not a good method
of seeing who has arrived because some were checking off their names and others weren't.
Friday morning was hazy, hot and humid so we donned our swim trunks and headed for the
beach, just a hop, skip and a jump from the patio/pool area of the hotel. The water
was warm and the waves were calm. We swam to the north end of the beach where the
National Life Guardsmen were conducting their annual best-of-the-guard competition.
We watched as lifeguards competed in the distance swim. The group we watched were
the 14-16 years old group.
The pool area was surprisingly quiet. We expected to see more Blackhorse colors
there but didn't. We skipped lunch in favor of the Veteran's Seminar conducted by
Blackhorse trooper Rick O'Dell. This seminar began promptly at 1:00 and concluded at
3:00 with refreshments of coffee, cold drinks and cookies. This seminar was widely
attended with an estimate of about 150 present. The usual questions of filing claims
with the VA were discussed.
After the seminar we returned to the bunker with friends of ours, Ken and Debra Gay of
Rincon, Georgia. They drove to the reunion. Along with Bill and Bonnie
Lewellen, the Gay's invited us out to dinner. We found a wonderful seafood
restaurant and dined until about 8:00 at which time we returned to the bunker. Four
tables were set aside for K Troop but soon it would be clear that another table or two
would be needed as about 40 guys were there. We again sipped the suds and then some
more and was enjoying the company of our buddies from the days we spent together with K
Troop in Vietnam.
Saturday morning came and so did the rain and I mean rain. Florida was caught in
the middle of huge tropical depressions having said goodbye to one storm and welcoming two
new hurricanes. The ocean water was churning and we put our bathing suits away.
Hellen attended the women's meeting and I went to the member meeting. The
three and a half hour meeting concluded with a vote for director, turning down an
amendment to the bylaws to more closely link us to the Blackhorse Association and voting
on the 2006 reunion site. Proposed were, Baltimore, Phoenix and Kansas City, MO.
Kansas City won hands down.
Following a light lunch of cheeseburgers and fries at the Starlight Dinner just down
the road we attended the memorial service at 2:00 conducted by Chaplain Larry Haworth.
This service reminded us of our fellow Blackhorse troopers who did not come home
and gave us a pause to reflect on their sacrifice. The service concluded with a
tearful message by retired Army General James Leach, the 40th Commander of the regiment.
Jimmy, as he is known to his friends, recounted the air mission the he flew with
retired Command Sgt. Maj. Don Horn. The planes was strafed with bullets and one man
in the group was killed. The men who were on the rescue mission were lined up
forward and recognized for the success of their mission in bringing Col. Leach and the
others to safety.
Cocktails were served at 6:00 with two cash bar open. Guests arrived in their
finery ready to enjoy more conversations with friends and to share a meal. The
dinning room doors opened shortly after 6:00 and the crowd quickly spilled over into the
room looking for their troop or company tables. K Troop's tables were along the left
wall of the hall.
After a few remarks by Pres. Charles "Chuck" Schmidt, Col, USA, Ret.,
Chaplain Hayworth offered the blessing. Food was arriving on huge trays and soon,
everyone was enjoying prime rib roast of beef or chicken marseilles. The guest
speaker was Command Sgt. Maj. Don Horn who served with the Blackhorse Regiment in Vietnam.
His remark were "pithy" and brief. Don was not a great speaker, as
he said of himself, but he managed to engage us all with his remarks of courage under fire
and the dedication of the soldiers of the Blackhorse.
Following the keynote address, presentations of Awards were made. Bill Lewellen turned
over the Jack Quilter Award to John Effinger of L Troop. He will keep the award
until next reunion when it will fall to him to make the presentation to the recipient he
so chooses. Scholarships were awarded to 22 young men and women. The raffle
winner were announce and the grand prize winner of $750 was in the house.
The slide show, "Blackhorse Salute" was presented once again. Drawing
upon Billy Joel's, "Goodnight Saigon" the show brought tears from many an eye
and evoked hugs from wives and sweethearts. This presentation seems to get better
and better every time I see it. Following Blackhorse Salute, Chaplain Hayworth
offered the Benediction followed by taps.
We then retired to the dance floor for some dancing and music by the DJ. Around
about midnight we retired to our room in order to rest for our early morning flight back
A wonderful reunion, perhaps one of the best. Many first-time attendees
participated. We hope that they will return for many more. Until reunion 2005
- Colorado Springs . . .
The Schedule of Events
The Banquet Program
The Winners Are! - To Be Announced
2005 - Colorado Springs, CO
2006 - Kansas City, MO
Visit the 11th Armored Cavalry's Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia at 11thcavnam.com.