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Walt's Daughter

Future Engineer's Reunion - Please voice your opinions!

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Dear vets, families, friends and colleagues (in other words my extended VI Corps family):

I've been doing a bit of thinking lately about reunions or the lack of them. As far as VI Corps is concerned, the 540th had their last reunion two years ago and the 36th had to cancel theirs due to lack of registration this past October. I was revved up and ready to meet all the great vets from the 36th Combat Engineers, when I got the tearful email from Capt John Fallon; the reunion had been called off. Sigh!

I received another letter from John Fallon this week and I guess they are hoping to have a "scaled-down" version later this year. That's when the light bulb went off in my head. I thought, why not try and combine the reunions? I don't know, it's a thought. Maybe have a regular VI Corps reunion and have everyone attend. It might work.

Then I got to thinking some more. If not this year, maybe we could have an extended VI Corps reunion. It would be a great way to meet all the people that I have been corresponding with over the last 9 months or so. This of course would include the VI Corps Engineers, engineers from other regiments, their interested families, other WWII vets, webmasters, historians and other friends. I know some of you are already attending your own reunions, so you might not be interested, but it might be something to consider for others.

I would like to hear your thoughts, suggestions, etc. Wouldn't it be wonderful if some of us could actually meet in person? It's not impossible, but would take some planning. A fine way to carry on the tradition of our fathers and grandfathers and the vets we so admire.

Looking forward to hearing from you and a Happy New Year to all. As the engineers say, Essayons (let's try!)

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Well things are off to a great start in just a few short hours this evening. I've already heard from about a dozen people and the responses are overwhelmingly in favor of trying to pull this off.

 

The initial suggestions were to encompass VI Corps, 5th and 7th Armies. Another idea was to include all Combat Engineers in the ETO. We have a lot to discuss, so don't be shy. I'm open to suggestions.

 

I will post the responses here tomorrow. The message board will allow us to exchange ideas and keep everyone on the "same page".

 

Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions. Stay tuned for details. Wish me luck.

 

Essayons!

:D

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Okay here we go. Lots of good ideas. Below you will find comments from many of the people I've heard from in the past 24 hours. Each person's reponse will be in a different color. Thanks to everyone for responding and I really do appreciate, want, and need your thoughts and advice. B)

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Dear Marion:

Thank you for your letter regarding a reunion of th 6th Corps Engineers. My thoughts - you might consider a reunion of all families of Army Engineers in the ETO during WWII.

As you may know, I've written a book "Bridges to Victory - Story of the 1306 Engineers in WWII" and have been contacted by over 50 families of the veterans of that regiment. Unfortunately I found only 8 or 10 living veterans.

I sent each family a free copy of my book and they have sent me over great 400 photos and stories relating to their fathers. Consequentally I am now working on another book which will include all these stories and photos and will call the book "Builders at War - An Anthology of the 1306 Engineers in WWII."

Our regiment was part of Patton's 3rd Army and our companies were attached to various infantry and armored divisions in the III, VIII and XX Corps.

What are your thoughts?

Sincerely,

Max Schwartz (formerly M/Sgt S-3 Section 1306 Engineers)

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Reunions are sometimes tough to organize. Ours go pretty smoothly because WE know WE have a group that knows each other, and most of the ones that came last year will come next year. If they are still alive. Hotels are expensive and WE came to the conclusion long ago that some just cant stand $100 a night room fee. A West Point friend said his class,1958, is meeting in San Francisco & the rooms are $180 per. He will not attend. You might get a pretty good turnout of "History or Military Buffs" The Vets are few and old. WE will meet in Dayton Ohio next September 12--15 (on or about) I missed the last on in Portage Wisconsin. Reports are it went very well without me. Four Star General A.J. Goodpaster attended. He was our great battalion commander in Italy. Max Jonah, our secretary, said he had a great time. He is 89. He was President Eisenhower's Defense Advisor..You might think about visiting with us in Dayton!!! Too bad the 540, 36, 39, 19 cant meet with us, or at least at the same time & place. Boy am I rambling, I really just meant to say good idea. If I can help. AL

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Great idea I MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO ATTEND BUT I MIGHT DONATE A FEW BUCKS SO THE OTHERS CAN ENJOY THIS SUMMER WHERE I WORK THERE WAS A FELLOW THAT HAVE THERE REUNION IN I THINK HE SAID IT WAS DOWN BY GULF OF MEXICO SOME WHERE DOWN THE GRAND CHILDREN AND THE CHILDREN OF THE VETS WERE PUTTING ON THE REUNION FOR THE OLD FOLKS TO KEEP IT GOING HOW ABOUT THAT HE WANTED MY STORY TO TAKE DOWN THIS WINTER ,GOT A MESSAGE FROM MR HORRELL HE WANTED ME TO SAY HI TO YOU WHEN WE TALKED AGAIN SO HERE WE GO HI HOPE NEW YEAR BRINGS MORE STORIES HWHITING

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Dear Mrs. Chard,

I believe you have an excellent idea!!! But if I may suggest, why not open it to any one of the Fifth Army. The more the merrier!!!

My wife & I would like to attend, as long as it is east of the Rocky Mtns. Also, why don't I put together a bibliography, as per Engineers, Fifth Army, etc. for attendees to take for future reference.

If you would like, I could put together a few seminars on various topics related to Fifth Army. Or, I could do one on how to research your loved ones role in WW 2. In other words, give people my trade secrets that I use to make a living. LOL

Jan & I think it is a great idea. We are not the leader type, you do that. We're more the worker bee type, so give us the tasks & watch the dust fly. LMAO

 

Sincerely,

Richard V. Horrell

WW 2 Connections

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Hi Marion,

 

Good idea. I've been a member of the website www.wildbillguarnere.com that attracts anyone and everyone who liked the TV Series "Band of Brothers". They have a forum where there is a lot of discussion about the paratroopers as well as small talk. Well, they have reunions of just the members of the website/forum. I've never been as they have always had it in Pennsylvania area. Sometimes, a few or a group will meet at an anniversary event or a living history weekend event.

I just thought I would mention this. You might go on their website and discuss with them how they pulled this off. They may have some tips that would ensure a large turn-out to your reunion.

The members of the forum are ranked by their Army Rank. You need to drop a line to one of the 3-Star Generals or above. Someone who has not only attended their event but helped plan it. They (or I) could get you in contact with the Web Master, Gino, who is the grandson of Sgt. Bill Guarnere---the veteran depicted in the Band of Brothers.

I attended the reunion of the 339th Infantry Regiment, 85th Division. They voted on the question of whether to have another reunion or not. I'm glad that they choose to have one in 2006. The word is that the 337th Regiment had their last reunion this previous October. Of course, many of these Vets have mini-reunions with guys in their state or such. These veterans are getting too frail to do much traveling. It is really hard for them. Maybe its time to send out a call for the 2nd generation.

I know that a you might get more people if the reunion was scheduled with a national event. The Dedication of the WW2 Memorial drew a lot of reunions to DC at that time. Don't forget that the 60th Anniversary of the end of WW2 will be coming up this summer. I would love to remember it with a trip or gathering of some kind. I probably would not attend a gathering of the VI Corps Engineers. But who knows.

 

Just some thoughts.

 

Steve Cole

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Ms Chard:

Your suggestion of joining forces for reunions is well worth discussion. The 3 Regiments of the 70th Division operated as Task Force Herren for several months upon first reaching the ETO. During that time we were assigned to the 36th and 45th Divisions and later, when intact, the whole Division was in VI Corps much of the time we were in the 7th Army and, of course, many VI Corps units supported us as well. So there is historic validity for this outfit to entertain such a proposal. The 70th Infantry Division Association has been meeting on a biennial basis on even years, and will meet next in Fall 2006 in St Louis, MO. I suggest you direct an inquiry to our current President, Paul Sumner.

The Western Region of the 70th IDA meets each year (next will be April 13-17 2005 in Los Angeles) and it might be of interest to VI Corps members living in the Western States to join us for a "come see" visit. The formal invitations will be mailed very shortly with program, cost and registration material which can be obtained from Bob Hall. Feel free to tell either of them that I provided their names if you wish. The 70th IDA has a strength of little more than 1000, but we lost 260 over the 2002-04 biennium so the handwriting is clearly on the wall. Frank Ellis

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Hi Marion; Received your e-mail about combining reunions. I know you are full aware of how many VETS are "returning to their maker" each day. We read about how desperate the different Vet's organizations are, that they are asking family members of Vets to join up, just to have enough people to warrant keeping the halls open. Not too many more years down that short road and there will be that one lone soldier left; the last surviving Vet of WWII. And when he or she is called up, that will be the end; only to be replaced by Vets of WW's to come.

 

Marion; What do you think of the possibility of combining all Corps of engineers together, and having reunions across the country. Why does it have to be restricted to ; 540th here---36th there etc. Thinking back when we were just a fledgling country made up of English, Irish, French , Germans, Poles, Asian, African etc; What made us great, was , we took the best of each one and ran with it. Was the combat engineer in North Africa or Europe any different than those on Wake or Bougainville. Can you imagine the stories they would have to tell each other.

 

Man; listen to me raise the flag, but I'm not ashamed to do so. Now that I am

off my soap box, I would like to say one more thing.--- If there is one person that could pull it off, my vote would go to that little girl in Alger, who believes her DADDY was the greatest. I'll drink to that!!!

 

Well Mare; If you read between the lines, you will see what I'm really trying to say. Sixty some years have passed, and that is a long time in most of our lives.

I thank GOD that I didn't see combat, and am indebted to those who did. I read

accounts of their experiences and wonder if I could have measured up. There

I go again.-----Good luck Mare; My money is on you.

chucktoo

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Noble idea.

 

I think it would depend on location, time of year, etc - from a turn out perspective. Hard for me to plan much in advance, but the notion of hopping on my motorcycle and riding off to spend at least one day amongst some of these guys is appealing for sure!

 

The Project Manager in me would want to do a quick demographic study and try to pick a place that was easiest for the bulk of the potential attendees. Then, look to a time where kids would be out of school for a 3 day weekend, makes it easier to deal with. You are right, would take a fair amount of planning. Good to get the feelers out like this.

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Great initiative, Marion!

 

I've come to realize (at my great age!) that contained enthusiasm and interest in these things is very hard to sustain. The magic ingredient over time and generations is new blood. You, my dear, are new blood. My sincere congratulations.

 

Keep at it, broaden it if that what it takes, get the kids and grandkids involved. It's about the history -- initially the family history, then the unit history, but ultimately it's about the history of people who were born in freedom and were not willing to let evil from the other side of the world intimidate or win.

 

But of course, you know all that. That's the quest you've been on, isn't it?

 

Good for you! I hope you can get some folks together. It will be rewarding, I'm sure.

 

Best,

 

BK

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Dear Marion; In regard to reunions among the Engineer Groups in the VI CORPS. This has been of concern with the smaller units of WW-II lately as their

numbers diminish, but some still wish to attend reunions.The small numbers

make it impossible for that unit to take advantage of the hotel room rates

offered to larger groups.As well as reduction in other amenities. Some units have collaborated to take advantage of such offerings.even though

the units may be navy and army..Your suggestion is very plausable and should

be considered. On another take, have you considered your three Engineer Groups joining with

the Battle of the Bulge Reunion.? After all they fought in the BOB and some

of your groups belong to that Org. The VBOB Org. has in the past made this consideration...Our next reunion is

in Pittsburg, PA Information will come out in the Feb. issue of the BULGE

BUGLE. Perhaps some of your members receive this publication. The VBOB could make a provisiion to exclude membership status to your guys

for them to attend the reunion.I'm sure they would be most welcome.It might

even be an added advantage to the VBOB to include them......hotel rates etc.

. Furthermore we would be glad to meet with you all. Think about it.... Mac.M-347

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Good thinking Marion. I have opportunities galore to reunite-with my WWII regiment, with my WWII Division, with the Anzio Beachhead vets, with the ROA and the MOAA, the American Legion, the DAV and more. But I make only the local meetings due to mobility restrictions, physical problems. But I make them electronically-submit greetings, send prayers and messages, encouragement and then follow up with e mail and snail mail.

The important thing is to keep the respect and history alive. Why not consider a VI Corps reunion? I can't promise more than moral support but I encourage your generation to hold high the torch. Russ Weiskircher

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More responses and thanks to everyone who has responded so far. Every little thing helps me and makes it seem not so overwhelming. :wacko:

 

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My dad's Air Corps group did a similar thing about four years ago..it used to be just their bomb group (468th), but the number of people who could attend dwindled to the point that they moved the organization up one notch...now it includes the entire 58th Bomb Wing...turnout for that has been pretty good. Even at that, they are appealing to the children of the veterans to join the organization so that they can keep the reunions alive.

 

So, yours is a good approach...the larger crowd you can draw from, the more likely it is that you will have some success.

 

Good luck.

 

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Well it sounds great to me but it depends on when and where, if I could make it or not. I would love to meet you, and it would be great to meet some of the vets and talk to them and hear there stories. Keep me posted, and if I could help in organizing it or not, let me know. What kind of response have you had from others? Well later--- Glory

 

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Here are some excerpts from BK:

 

...But in truth, the organization of such an event is no more complicated than arranging a long weekend at a resort for your family (let's say, of four). You just have to multiply the bodies, sort of. Give yourself plenty of advance time, say 4-6 months. Also, get a tag-team partner to help with the project (maybe another child of a vet - preferably someone with good org skills!) -- you will need it at the event.

 

First order of business, choose a city (senior-friendly, centrally located, nice weather, easy access by air from all corners). Second, get a nose count (in the process, develop a complete contact list with snailmail addresses, phones/ faxes, e-mail). If you call up the Catering/ Events Managers of three choices (mid-range as regards price, lots of vets are broke) and they'll do the work of producing the info about the venue. You would negotiate the great room price based on the number of rooms required. Add ten more than your estimate; you can adjust it within 6 weeks of the event.

 

The Easy Reunion stuff was very nice looking because Susan produced it herself. Included in a 2-page newsletter was all the information about the hotel and its environs, all the details about how to book their accommodations (all make their own-you only reserve a block of rooms at that great price you negotiated). I seem to remember a return (to you) postcard with their choices ticked off -- maybe that was done to get the nose count.

 

Anyway, that's all I know. It takes time but with good initial organization, it should be okay. The oldies without kids who want to come along will probably require a bit more attention making the deadlines, etc., but other than that just one thing at a time!

 

Good luck! I'm sure you'll have a great time, from start to finish!

 

...The Easy guys used to get together with no probs, Bill did the coordinating. They'd pick a city, show up and hang around and yuk it up for 2-5 days. After the series, it got to be too cumbersome with all the interlopers...

 

... My point is, the reunion used to be a big hospitality suite with beer and cocktails available nearly all day!! -- some nibbles (Bill always provides his AWFUL stinky Italian cheese!! LOL), etc. The Saturday evening was the "banquet" night and they'd dress for the evening, have some rubber chicken and dance to canned music. Bill would make some announcements and Company business would be discussed, but otherwise, all they ever did was sit around and jaw and sip whatever. They didn't need an Access Pass like rock stars or nametags or any of that stuff which came into play after the miniseries to keep out the groupies.

 

Since you have several groups involved, you will need them, but they're a snap to produce and distribute at the door when people sign in. You just need to think through how each day will go and then you can see easily what needs to be done or produced...

 

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...Sounds like you have several answers to your idea of the reunion, it would be fun to see all these people, but like I said Archie probably wouldn't go even if I wanted him to. St Louis wouldn't be so bad, have been there to a Auxiliary Convention. Like some of the others money is an object, with hotel rooms costing so much. I don't know why they have to be so expensive. We can get a room in Kearney for $41, that isn't so bad, but $100 is just too much to pay.

 

Let me know what you receive about the reunion...

 

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Wonderful. Glad to see the reception to the idea. May I suggest that you keep prodding and posting, but after some time, broadcast to all of the responses and call for volunteers for committee and organizational work.

-Have them name their area of interest-like location, publicity, program, whatever. Ask them to indicate their connection and their identification and address information. Get a representative committee and I suggest that one major reunion among all of VI Vorps would be quite an undertaking. If and when it happens, prepare to fragment into regions, North-South-East-West-Midwest---move it around.....

Just random ideas. Russ

Edited by Walt's Daughter

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Hey guys and gals, WE really need your input/thoughts/feelings/ideas...you get the drift...

 

As we all sadly realize, our time with our veterans is quickly transpiring, and as many of you know, I began talking about this very topic, many years ago. Many groups are no longer holding reunions, and those of us who still are, are watching our numbers dwindle.

 

From the start I have stated that we cannot let this tradition fall by the wayside, so I suggested that the sons and daughters, grandkids and other interested parties, keep this going. Whether it begins as a 6th Corps Engineer's reunion, or a full blown Engineer's reunion, we cannot let this fall by the wayside.

 

So, please, let me hear from ALL of you. If we held such a reunion, would you attend?

 

Thank you for reading this and for your thoughts.

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Hi Marion,

 

I totally agree that some thought is needed on this before the annual reunion ceases to exist by default!

 

No one is here to make the decisions for us any more but we have proved by the 2016 reunion that it is possible that when a number of interested and dedicated people pool their efforts an amazing outcome can be achieved.

 

There is already a core of enthusiastic, relations, friends and those that wish to be associated with the 36th/540th in an annual get together. So why not widen it to include paying a yearly tribute ALL engineer vets, but keeping the current format/location?

 

Colin.

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Can't wait to hear from more of you, over the next few weeks and months.

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I, for one, say keep them coming. As Colin says, the "younger crowd" in the room certainly has a great time and I don't see why that wouldn't continue. I would think that opening the invitation to a, shall we say, wider echelon of units (e.g. all of VI Corps) might be appropriate but how wide may depend on what the intent is. I have liked the family atmosphere of what I have seen in 2011 and 2016, and I would hate to see that go. Keeping these things as a "family" event of combat engineer families would be great if perhaps a little difficult to find new families of veterans who served in those units. It could, however, start being sort of like a WWII convention. I don't oppose that necessarily since on a conscious level I would love for that many people to be interested in WWII history to have one. That would, however, take away from the closeness of the folks that have been coming to the 36th Engineer reunions. Sorry if it sounds like I'm babbling a bit. Anyway, there's my two or three cents worth.

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Totally agree. I would not like to see it become a convention-like atmosphere, for there are other events out there, that cater to that "type" of thing. I too, love the family-type atmosphere and the exchange of conversation. It's an intimate group and I would want it to continue that way. I'm sure others would agree with the sentiment.

 

It should be for those "proud" sons and daughters, etc., who want to be there to represent their family members, in a respectful manner. Again, thinking of those people out there like "us", who no longer have the opportunity to attend.

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I must admit, I thought we would have heard from a lot more people. I also posted this on our FB page, and heard from two individuals. Are we the only ones who want to keep this tradition going? That would be so sad... :armata_PDT_23::tearyeyed:

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Are we the only ones who want to keep this tradition going?

I certainly hope not, but it may be. People today seem to have such short attention spans that they can only think of something if it is TRENDING. I suppose that is because there is just too much stimuli to keep track of. It's like the kid with so many toys that he only plays with the few he is liking at the time. You draw his attention to the Legos in the back of the closet and all of a sudden they are being played with again. Perhaps the Hacksaw Ridge movie will get people interested again - if only for a while. . .

 

That would be so sad... :armata_PDT_23::tearyeyed:

Yes, indeed. . .

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Ya, even though we got several LIKES on FB, regarding my question, only two people responded; one was Colin and the other was Mike Shilling.

 

It just makes me sad. The apathy makes me sad.

 

What can you do though? You can reach out and make the effort, but beyond that...

 

Hey, it if only winds up being a dozen of us, then so be it. We will carry on and raise our glasses high and remember and honor our loved ones. Essayons!

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Well I think 12 would work but I make it 15+ and the one thing a lower number would affect is our relationship with the Crowne Plaza's attitude to room discount and hospitality suite. Perhaps we'll end up in a B&B???

 

Maybe we now leave it till the new year and than start a positive drive to recruit people for 2017. I think of people like Nancy and those who respond on FB but don't attend?

 

Your last paragraph holds the key Marion!

 

Colin.

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Oh sorry I meant a dozen for the "new" reunions in the future. I don't think we will have a problem with reunion 2017.

 

But I thought about that too. Renting out a house or getting a BnB, something of that nature. That way it remains an intimate setting. I like that.

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