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Reunion 2013 - The Wall

All Avel Reunion 2013 After Action Report

The 2013 Reunion was one for the books. The Hospitality Room was filled with fun and laughter but everything turned serious and introspective on Saturday when we all went to The Wall.

The reunion was held at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center Hotel, 5000 Seminary Rd., Alexandria, VA 22311. Our point person at the hotel was Torre Newman who did a fantastic job and took care of all our need in a professional fashion. We can’t thank them enough!

We had a great turn out including 3 ex-Commanding Officers of AVEL Central and one from AVEL North! Everyone had a great time.

Fortunately the government shut down ended in time so all activities went off without a hitch. No one went to jail for climbing over barricades at The Wall.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

A registration table was set up in the hotel lobby and was manned on a rotation basis by several of our AVEL vets and their wives. Everyone received a registration envelope that contained their reunion ID badge, a Reunion program, Capitol Tour information for those who signed up, Metro map and DVD of the photos of their respective company.

Our hospitality room was located in the Executive Retreat Building, room Lakeside 1. Refreshments were set up as well as a running slide show of the 2,600+ pictures that have been submitted over the last 5 years. USARV patches were out for anyone to take as well as the four different AVEL Company pocket patches. Once again Dawn Blatt made up a large number of Vietnam key chains which were also available to those that wanted one.

Roger Shiley once again brought liquid refreshments as did John Veers who brought 5 gallons of his home made Red Irish beer. Donations were received from several other members to help defray the costs of the reunion as well as a good start for next year.

Tables were set up for the display of artifacts, photos, souvenirs, etc.

Over the course of the day people filtered in and by evening the room was packed.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Thursday was a day to explore Washington DC. The Capitol Tour we had arranged went as planned because the government shut down had ended.  Some people visited the monuments and others Mt. Vernon.

The Hospitality Room was buzzing, especially later in the day into the evening.

It has become a Reunion tradition to send a piece of Birthday Cake sent to one of our members at dinner even though it isn’t their birthday. Roger Shiley was the lucky recipient this year.

Friday 18 October 2013

The golfers of the group left early for the Third Annual John Veers Martini Golf Outing. It turned out to be a beautiful day and John did not disappoint anyone when he made his famous martinis at the first tee and several tees after that until the booze ran out. The course was Ospreys at Belmont Bay. It was a beautiful but tough course especially for Jack McCabe who lost 22 golf balls.

The veteran team of Bill Biggs, Marvin York, Orbin Hall and Aaron Bass retained their title of Avel Champion once again!  The second place team was Dan Owen (a friend of Jerry Mahanay), Ed Ardell, John Veers and Rick Elias. The team of Jerry & Debbie Mahanay and Jack & Pat McCabe were skunked again!

The rest of the day was spent exploring Washington or chatting and reminiscing in the hospitality suite. I think I can speak for everyone and say we all had a great time.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Saturday was an incredible day. Everything went according to plan.

Jack & Pat McCabe, Russ & Pat Mason, Jerry & Debbie Mahanay, Tom McCabe and several other went to The Wall early to open the chain fence (whether the Park Service liked it or not) place the wreath in the assembly area and set up the PA system. The leader of our military color guard (which included members of all branches of service) approached and details of the ceremony were finalized. We did not know if we would have a color guard due to the shut down but they were there right on schedule.

The busses picked up the group at the hotel on schedule. As the group left the busses they were greeted by the reunion committee and received a handshake and “Welcome Home”. The group was led to our designated assembly area.

The ceremony began with a heart felt prayer written and read by Bill Fesus (a copy is attached below). Pete Poirier then read a speech he wrote that was highly charged with emotion (a copy is attached below). Pete called us all to Present Arms and we saluted the wreath.

The Company Liaisons – Marvin York, Orbin Hall, Mike Blatt and Dave Lyons then approached the wreath. Jerry Mahanay took his place at the front of the column with the flag and led the wreath and liaisons down to the apex of The Wall.  The Color Guard and our bugler, Jari Villenuava were waiting on top of The Wall at the apex. There was quite a crowd of tourists gathered who all stopped to watch.

When the flag and wreath approached the apex the Color Guard stood at attention. As the wreath was placed Jari played Taps and we all saluted. After Taps was finished Jack McCabe and Jerry Mahanay folded the flag and dismissed the detail.

The group then enjoyed the sights in the area. There were a large number of World War Two and Korean War veterans around and we were all able to shake their hands and thank them for their service. We then formed back up for group photos. The photos were taken by Tom McCabe who donated his time to the reunion.

The Hospitality Room was opened when the group returned but most went back to their rooms to rest up after a very emotional morning.

The banquet was held in the hotel Magnolia Room. At 5:00 PM the group assembled in the Upper Foyer where we had a cash bar set up.in the Chardonnay Room. At 6:00 PM everyone moved into the Magnolia Room and sat down.

The program began with opening remarks by Russ Mason. He gave us a warm welcome to Washington DC and introduced our speaker David Wood. David is a journalist with the Huffington Post. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 10 part series on the severely wounded of Iraq and Afganistan.

Jack McCabe then played his slide show “AVEL - In Memoriam”, a salute to AVEL and avionics soldiers who died in Vietnam and all the vets he found who have died since that time.

Pete Poirier then gave a short talk on Agent Orange and presented us with orange wrist bands to raise awareness about the many veterans who suffer from the effects of that. Pete then introduced Marcus Guy who played his original song “Soldiers Song”. He also played several other of his songs for us.

Jack McCabe presented the flag we folded at The Wall to Dennis Kanetake. Dennis traveled from Hawaii to join us at the reunion.

We then had a wonderful dinner – the best banquet mean we ever had. After dinner we adjourned to the Hospitality Room for final conversations.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Everyone said their goodbyes and headed home.

Until next year my friends – WELCOME HOME!   

The 2013 Avel Reunion Attendees

Avel Far North/263rd LEM

Ricky & Kathy Elias, Keith & Sheila Marston, Jerry & Nancy Osgood, Pete & Marylee Poirier, Dave & Debbie Riffle (Dave’s brother and his wife joined in), Gary & Vada Timberlake, Graham Weiland & Cheryl Fonner, John and Marvin & Gale York

Avel North/614th LEM

David Abrahams & daughter Rachel, John Andes & Wanda Bennett, Aaron & Judy Bass,  Gary & Jan Bloedorn, Jim Conway, Bob & Kathryn Crutchfield, Fred & Carla Enslen, Jeff Grodell, Orbin & Carolyn Hall, Jerry Hicks & Pamela Harrell, Richard Kelleher, Joe Kilrain & Karen White, Bud & Gitta Parish, John Peacock, Frank Repinski, Bob & Son Craig Swanson and Andy Yancey.

Avel Central

Frank & Elida Anzaldua, Ed & Darla Ardell, Warren Beneville & Monica Tervoort, Pete & Bianca Biancalana, Bill Biggs, Gary Bishop & friend Gary Kent, Mike & Dawn Blatt and their niece Missy White, Tony & Susanna Candamil, Dave & Patti D’Alonzo, Richard Dees, George & Kim Farkas, Bill Fesus, Greg & Gayle Garrison, Dennis Kanetake, Dale & Marsha Link, Jerry & Debbie Mahanay, Russ & Pat Masosn, Joe & Joan Matos, Jack & Pat McCabe, Paul Moore, Russ Overheu, Manny & Nilda Ramos and daughter and grandson, Lynn (Rock) Rothrock, Jay & Pat Sarajian, Roger & Jane Shiley, Bob & Linda Smith, Larry & Ann Sossaman, Tony & Jean Stribling and John & Jane Veers.

Avel South/317th LEM

Terry & Marguerite Beal, Albert & Lucille Buchanan, John & Sarah Chapman and their guests Bill & Leak Snyder, Dimitri (James) Gurkweitz, Carl Hagenstein, Roger Kientz, Dave & Karen Lyons, Ted Schwalm and Bruce Siefers.

Non-Avel Veterans

Gary Kent (Army Vietnam Vet, guest of Gary Bishop), Bill Snyder (USAF Vet, guest of John Chapman), Don & Rosalie Cook (198th Light Infantry Brigade), Ray Mahoney (28th Signal Co.) and Tom McCabe (USMC Vietnam Vet guest of Jack McCabe & photographer).

Photographs - 2013 Reunion
Dedication at The Wall - The words of Pete Poirier
"The Walk To The Wall" a poem by Brigitta Parish
"The Wall" - a poem by Marcus Guy
Ceremony at the Wall by Brigitta Parish
Dedication at the Wall
Avel Ceremony - Taps
Folding the Flag at the Wall