|On 18, 19, & 20 April 2003, in Charlottesville, Virginia, there was a
Yankee Clippers, Silent Preachers, and Killer Spades
Army Helicopter Pilots: "... God's own lunatics!"
... Joe Galloway
This narrative cannot begin without acknowledging the hard work and resourcefulness
of Walt Levering and his family in making this reunion an unforgettable event. The
ONLY way it could have been improved would have been by the presence of those who
could not be with us. Many thanks, Walt, Karen, and family for all you did for us on
this very, very special occasion.
We were priviledged to have two of our Company B Commanders in attendance --- Vel Varner
and Rocky Lane. Although not our Company Commander, another super leader was among us ---
Platoon Leader, Ken (Hardcore) Hamburger. What a thrill to be with these great soldiers,
Speaking of VIP's, several of the guys had their ladies with them. These lovely ladies sure
added class to the group!
For the benefit of those who could not be with us, I will attempt to recap the activities to
the best of my memory:
Friday, 18 April
As we entered the lobby of our hotel, we were greeted by a large photo of Rocky Lane,
sporting a steel pot and a case of beer. A few of us bumped into each other in the lobby, but
the real reunion began a little later in the hospitality room. Mostly, we were able to put
names on faces right away. There were a few that required a hint or two, but it was a lot
easier than I thought it would be. We had a blast getting re-acquainted. Mike Ward
presented each of us with a gift by which to remember the occasion. He's still taking care of
Later that evening, we assembled at a nice restaurant (arranged by Walt) for a fine dinner
and drinks. There were a couple of short "speeches," plenty of war stories (none even slightly
embellished), toasts to our fallen brethren, and toasts to those of you who couldn't join us.
Entertainment was provided by our own Tom "There I Was .... ," Harnisher. He wasn't
scheduled to entertain .... it just happened. It was rumored that he was vaccinated with a
phonograph needle. He kept us in stitches most of the night.
Saturday, 19 April
We met at Walt & Karen's newly acquired property near Charlottesville for our Saturday afternoon festivities. Ole "Three Lima" thinks of
everything .... as we approached the site, we saw two Army GP Medium tents waiting for us. They even smelled familiar! One tent served as a
gathering place for us to sit around and chat. The other contained various beverages, a table with memorabilia, and a perpetual slide show of
old pictures, put together by John "Mouth" Pierce.
As the afternoon wore on, we suddenly heard the familiar "whup, whup, whup" of a Huey. I thought, "What a great coincidence ... a Huey is
going to fly right over us!" It was no coincidence, because Ole "Three Lima" was up to his tricks, again. He had arranged for a UH-1 to be
flown all the way from West Virginia for our reunion. What a treat! Goose bumps and watery eyes all around! The crew were made honorary
"Clipperpreacherspades," and I believe they would have fit right in thirty-something years ago.
A little later on, Rick Beaver made a short speech, and then had all the menfolk assemble at one end of the tent to serenade the ladies. We
sang (sort of) "You are So Beautiful" as our way of saying thank you for all they contribute, past and present, to our lives.
It was difficult to leave, even for one night, but we got together once again the next morning.
Sunday, 20 April
Brunch at the Levering's lovely home! It was advertised as coffee and doughnuts, but no one was surprised to find a variety of casseroles,
pastries, and fruit. It was wonderful!
As the morning progressed, Walt told us that the visiting Huey had developed a maintenance problem, and that help was on the way. A few
minutes later, we heard another Huey in the distance. Then we saw it. We stampeded to our vehicles, and rushed the few miles back to the
new Levering estate. We got there in time to chat with both crews, and then see them off. They gave us a fly-by, we saluted, and a little of
our past flew away. We hung around for the rest of the afternoon, telling more stories and reminiscing. Most of the guys had left earlier to
make their way home. The rest of us decided to go out to dinner one more time. Once again, we had a blast! We said goodbye at the
restaurant, and went our separate ways. I was surprised at how hard it was to say goodbye.
Following are photos I took at the reunion. Hopefully, other folks will send some of theirs to help document an unforgettable weekend in
beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia. I hope you enjoy them .... you are welcome to download any or all of them.
|Mingling in the
|Army GP Medium Tents, Arranged
by Our Host, J. Walter Levering
|Charlie Eaton and Joan Paris
|CLICK ON PHOTO FOR A LARGER IMAGE.
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Air Force Service:
Basic & Flight Tng.
Air Force Years