Avel Far North, 263rd Maintenance Co. (LEM), Avel North, 614th Maintenance Co. (LEM) and Avel Central were well represented. We did have one attendee from Avel South. – Come on Avel South and 317th Maintenance Co. (LEM), we need to see more of you at the next reunion. Believe me, you won’t regret it!
We learned a lot from this reunion and promise to make every reunion better and better. We had some great constructive suggestions and will closely evaluate each and every one.
The reunion was held at the Holiday Inn Riverview, 301 Savannah, Charleston, SC 29407. Our point person at the hotel was Brandy Olson. Brandy did a fantastic job and took care of all the old vets who attended. The staff at the hotel was most accommodating and bent over backyards to take care of our every need. A big “atta boy” to Brandy and her staff!
Our Reunion Committee consisted of Eric Haase, Jerry Mahanay, Russ Mason and Jack McCabe. They worked hard to make this a great reunion. Unfortunately we lost Eric early in the year.
The reunion itinerary was as follows:
The hotel gave us the Sumter Room to use for our Meet & Greet room and general meeting room. Set up started Wednesday evening. On Thursday we put the beer on ice and checked the projector for the slide show. Roger Shiley arrived early with a load of liquor for all the troops. THANK YOU ROGER! Pat Mason brought in the painting she did of a Huey Charlie Model Gunship preparing to make a low level gun run with one of those beautiful orange Vietnam sunsets in the back ground. It is truly a beautiful painting and would be auctioned off at the reunion banquet. THANK YOU PAT! There was a package delivered from Hawaii that contained a HUGE assortment of Hawaiian snacks all donated by Dennis Kanetake. THANK YOU DENNIS!
Russ Mason was the Avel Point Man in Charleston and he did a great job with everything. And, let me tell you there is a lot to do when setting up a reunion! THANK YOU RUSS!
The Avel Vets started filing and the fun began. The old friendships were renewed and new friendships began. It was really a very moving experience. We played a slide show of most of the pictures that had been sent in – approximately 1,600 of them!
A table had been set up for artifacts and souvenirs. There were many books, uniforms, photo albums and orders on display. It was great fun!
A group of intrepid golfers left early for the First Annual John Veers martini Golf Outing. The morning was chilly, not like those steaming days in Vietnam but things warmed up when John Veers put the old magic to work and mixed up a batch of Gin Martinis complete with olives! John you haven’t lost your touch in the last 40 years!
Golf was basically ugly – Jack McCabe couldn’t hit a ball after the first drive and Marvin York kept blading the ball. But, we had a great time! We finished the outing with Martinis in the parking lot! Jerry set up the outing and we had a ball! THANK YOU JERRY! Pat Mason hand painted martini glasses and presented them to all participants of the golf outing. I don’t know about anyone else but I am doing my best to break this in properly! THANK YOU PAT!
The rest of the day was spent exploring Charleston or chatting and reminiscing in the Sumter Room. I think I can speak for everyone and say we all had a great time.
Friday evening a large group of Vets and wives were transported to Marina Variety Store and Restaurant for a delicious meal! Even Jack ate oysters! Afterwards people congregated inthe Sumter Room for another cocktail and sharing of old war stories.
We held a 10:00 o’clock business meeting in the Sumter Room and it was well attended. I think almost everyone was there. At the meeting we discussed several topics and everyone including the wives contributed. THANK YOU ALL!
Next year’s reunion. Las Vegas and San Antonio were discussed as possible sites. We wanted to hold the next reunion out west so everyone would have a chance to attend especially the guys from Hawaii and Alaska. It was decided to send an email out to see what the interest was in either of these two sites.
It was also suggested that we should plant the reunions 2 years out so people would be able to plant on attending. So, we will be planning the next two years reunions in the next couple months.
Ladies Activities: The ladies suggested we have some activities planned for them while we swap tall tales about the war. Guaranteed ladies, we will have planned activities from here on in. Lady volunteers would be appreciated – anyone???
Website enhancement: It was decided that we need more keywords to draw vets to our website. I am sure a lot of guys are looking for Avel connections but can’t find them. We will work on that.
These were the main topics of discussion. Please email me with any other ideas or thoughts.
Everyone then explored Charleston on their own. Jerry took some of us on 5 mile hike to some the best bars in Charleston. Although we had sore feet we were happy campers when we finished! THANKS JERRY!
The banquet was held in the hotel in the top floor restaurant. The weather was perfect and the view was fantastic. The itinerary was as follows:
Opening remarks: Russ Mason gave us a warm welcome to Charleston. He did a super job as host! Jerry Mahanay made some remarks also. Jerry was the XO of this shindig and did a great job. Russ and Jerry presented Jack McCabe with an engraved canteen cup which said: “Jack McCabe / Avel Central / Phu Loi, Vietnam / 1970 – 1972”. Some will remember Jack drinking John Veers Vodka Martinis out of one of these! Russ also presented Jack with an ashtray from the 128th AHC Tee Pee Club. Jack flew with the 128th as a door gunner when he was young and stupid! THANKS GUYS, I WILL TREASURE THESE ALWAYS!
Bell Fesus led us all in a blessing before dinner.
Roger Shiley gave a talk about Avel and the things we accomplished.
Gene Herron spoke to us about our VA benefits and how we should make claims.
Bill Bussey gave us some closing remarks.
Jack McCabe played a slide show/DVD about the Avel and Avionics troops that died in Vietnam as well as our brothers who died since.
Pat Mason’s painting of the gunship was auctioned off with John Peacock being the lucky winner. Pat donated the proceeds to the Avel Reunion fund.
The evening ended with everyone rising and saying the Pledge Of Allegiance.
We then adjourned to the Sumter Room for finishing cocktail and conversation. Andy Yancy brought out a bottle of Crown Royal he bought in Vietnam in 1970 and never opened. He and his comrades enjoyed a touch of Vietnam memories long past. The slide show played and we all shared last memories.
The Sumter Room was open and many shared a final goodbye before heading home.
Until next year my friends – WELCOME HOME!
The 2011 Avel Reunion Attendees
Avel Far North/263rd LEM
Ricky & Kathy Elias, Keith Marston, Mike Selleck, Gary & Vada Timberlake and Marvin & Gale York
Avel North/614th LEM
Aaron & Judy Bass, Leon Chlebowski, Jim Conway, Fred & Carla Enslen, Orbin Hall, Jerry Hicks, Richard Kelleher & wife, Bud & Gitta Parish, John Peacock, Frank & Mei Repinski and Andy Yancey.
Pete & Bianca Biancalana, Bill Biggs, Bill Bussey, Gary Clark, Dennis Cole & Delma Gardner, Chris Cullifer, Richard Dees, Harold Emde, Bill Fesus, Greg & Gayle Garrison, Leon & Sandra Graffeo, Gene Herron, Dale & Marsha Link, Jerry & Debbie Mahanay, David Martin & wife, Russ & Pat Masosn, Jack & Pat McCabe, Russ Overheu, Manny Ramose & Sam Torres, Lynn (Rock) Rothrock, Dennis Siebelt, Bob & Linda Smith, Roger & Jane Shiley, Larry & Ann Sossamon, Tony & Jean Stribling and John & Jane Veers.
Avel South/317th LEM