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I just got in from Ft. Sill a couple of hours ago. Ron Curry and Dan Mitchell were both there. The event was way beyond anything I was expecting. There were over 500 veterans and family members.
We met at 0900 Friday in the parking lot of the Field Artillery Museum to check in and get our bus assignment and meal ticket. At 0945 proceeded to the Rinehart Fitness Center. The entire route was lined with soldiers, marines, civilian motor cycle clubs, civic organizations, and other civilians just wanting to show their appreciation. Even the construction crews stopped what they were doing and stood at attention. Then there was the best and loudest, the kids of Geronimo Drive Elementary School.
When we reached the center the family members were sent into the gym to take their seats. This was a rather large gym and the bleachers were filled to capacity with both soldiers and civilians. When the veterans entered they were met with what can best be described as THUNDEROUS applause and cheering. And it went on and on. They tried to start the program but everyone was still applauding and cheering. The veterans were never seated. They just stood on the gym floor. Finally it got calm enough that the program could begin. The speaker was General McDonald and he was excellent. He got straight to the point with no wasted words or time. He was brief but thorough in his praise and thanks. The line I remember best was, "This is a homecoming that was 40 years in the making". When the program was concluded, soldiers and civilians alike poured out of the bleachers to shake hands and express appreciation to the veterans. We even got a few FFT hugs (Hillbilly Slang) from some of the ladies.
From there it was on to the Patriot Club for a very nice lunch. Then on to the Old Post Quadrangle where we browsed a little until the 1400 Retirement Program for about 15 individuals. There we had a nice visit with Ted and Marilyn Janosko. The spokesman here (I believe it was the Post Commander but not sure) also demonstrated that he could speak with thrift and paid adequate praise and congratulations to all retirees individually in a matter of minutes. We were then rewarded with a "pass in review" complete with the Half Section, donkey "Deuce", and goat "Short Round". Someone said that Short Round had recently been busted a stripe for biting Deuce's ear. I was unable to verify that but I don't doubt it. Later 1/30 commander LT. Col. Krieg hosted Ron, Dan, and me at happy hour at the Patriot Club.
I wish all of you gentlemen could have made the trip. It was truly a memorable event.
Jim Harris
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