Monday, September 19, 2011

Back from Kokomo...Vietnam Veterans Reunion part 2

Heavy rain this morning, it must have started just after 4am when I let the old Airedale, Reagan, out for her morning break.  I gave her a biscuit, headed back to the sack, and when I awoke at 7:30, it was pouring pretty good.  Over the weekend I worked 5 games, 3 football and 2 baseball, and my legs, especially the right hamstring, feels it.  Between the officiating and sleeping in the van during the Kokomo Reunion, the age shows, and the pain takes longer to subside....neck, legs, back, plus a slight cold, and cold sores on my lips{from being out in the wind and sun}....tells me, I need another break...but I know that won't happen anytime soon.  JV Football at Celina tonight, probably in the rain, and a 8th grade game here tomorrow....with the rest of the week looking busy, but the weather appears to be cooler and dryer from here on out...after today's 100% chance of moister.

Kokomo, the arrival on Wednesday____

I packed up the van on Tuesday night and was ready to head the 85 miles west early Wednesday morning...gas tank full, a large 24 oz cup of coffee from the Marathon Station, and I was on my way.  12 miles to the Indiana border then the back roads from there, I arrived at the Howard County site on Indiana 26, at 10:30 Wednesday morning, paid my fee, and worked my way through the tents, golf carts, and campers to the Boar's Next site on the far south end of the field.....West 162 is the address.

I found "Sweetie Pie" the stuffed boar {see yesterday's night photo} but no Tom or Sam were in sight....that didn't matter however, as I was greeted by Mike, Dewey, and Jerry....

Mike Fitzgerald is not a Vietnam Veteran, but the southern Indiana policeman has more invested in the Vietnam war than many of us who served.  Mike's father John W. Fitzgerald Jr, was Killed In Action in December 1967.  Mike has made it a life's work to honor his father and his memory with as many photos and pieces of archival information in a tent at his and Dewey's campsite.  Mike points out the only photo of his dad that he had(Mike was about 10 when his dad was KIA), then showcases the other information, letters, and photos, that were shared with him by those that knew his dad during that tour.....quite an impressive tent, with mountains of memorabilia and photos that he shares with those that stop by.

http://www.virtualwall.org/df/FitzgeraldJW01a.htm

Sitting drinking coffee with this trio before Sam Lewis and Tom McCandless, the "curator" of the Boar's Nest returned....Jerry introduced himself, asking where I was from in Mercer County, as he had noticed my license plates.  "Celina" I answered, "Where you from"?  "Antwerp" was the answer....I then realized I had met Jerry before at my aunt's funeral and a family wedding.  Asking the usual question I do with anybody from that small northwest Ohio town..."Do you know my Uncle Jack, or as you guys call him John DeVore"?  "Of course" was the reply..."We are good friends"...everybody knows my Uncle Jack and his family.  I would see Jerry and down a drink or two with him a few more times before I left Friday afternoon.

Soon after Tom and Sam returned, and I was treated with stories of the early part of the weeks do-ins'.  Seems some of the gang had gotten an early start on Monday night, and took Tuesday to recover, they would be ready to go again Wednesday night.  Sam had arrived from Virginia on Sunday night, and Tom arrived early Monday afternoon...

That's the great thing about the reunion....although it doesn't start officially until Friday morning at 11, the regulars, and retired folks, arrive much earlier...some as much as a week early, or even more.  That crowd is pretty well in full reunion/party mode by the time the weekend arrives.  Thousands of campers are already on site and the preliminary fun has began, before the raising of Old Glory on Friday Morning....in addition to the campers, you have the local vets who stay in town, along with those that fill up the local hotels and motels, nary a spot is to be found at the campground, overflow grounds, or local sleep locations.


Plenty of "War Stories", most done with humor, were swapped and shared throughout my 50+ hours at Kokomo this year.  Despite the rain on late Wednesday afternoon and evening, the HCVVO board opened up the bar space under cover and several hundred of us partied well into the night...I just wish I had taken a photo of 6 of us heading back to the Boar's Nest on a single golf cart....that would have been priceless!

As it is, I will have more photos from the Wednesday night outing on tomorrow's blog.....along with Don Davidson's poem about returning home from that conflict many years ago....

back later>>>>


Photos-Tom McCandless the Mayor/Curator of "The Boar's Nest" at the HCVVO Reunion...a fellow "Sky Cop" who served his entire tour with Big Sam Lewis at Phan Rang....Swapping "War Stories" at the tent at the Boar's Nest on Wednesday afternoon.  Mike Fitzgerald and his display honoring his day John Fitzgerald Jr., from Louisville, Kentucky, who was Killed in Action on 13 December 1967.  And from Wednesday night, at the moved indoor DJ Carl's Musicfest..."Antwerp" Jerry having a ball, and me(looking more than a bit intoxicated) and my buddy Sam Lewis listen to the music...we even got in a few rounds of pool, which, if I remember correctly, we both won a game or two.

4 comments:

Sam said...

One of the highlights of the whole reunion for me was the BS session we had with "Tom" the ole 101st vet. of a thousand exprssions . That guy was a trip.

Sam said...

Second Pic Down, what a way to spend a rainy afternoon !

Sarge Charlie said...

Kokomo must have been a hoot, I have never attended one of those.

PRH....... said...

Sarge, you are always welcome to stop by and spend a few hours at the Boar's Nest....Next year the gang will be there. The official dates are Sept 21-23, but we will be(God Willing) there a few days early.