Rattler/Firebird Reunion 2004
From April 28th through May 2nd, over 300 former Rattlers, Firebirds, and family members came together at the Doubletree Crystal City hotel in Washington, D.C. to reminisce, to celebrate, and to pay our respects. The 2004 Rattler/Firebird Reunion is now history. During those five days we laughed, we cried and more importantly we revisited a comradeship that we experienced more than 30 years ago. We saw old friends and met new ones. We learned that, like fish stories, war stories improve with age.
Wednesday was mostly devoted to travel and setting up the various displays and the association store.
Thursday was a day to reminisce and we took great advantage of that. We drank beer and told lies, old and new.
Friday saw a city tour and the Firebird Freefire Golf Outing. The really great story about the golf outing was with Jim Pfister's story about getting there. I don't know whether the directions given to Jim and Frank Anton were wrong, or they were misunderstood, but the trip from the hotel to the golf course turned into a quest that can only be properly described by the participants. The noteworthy point was that the last time Pfister and Anton got lost together, they were gone for five years while being held prisoner! Fortunately, Rev. Eric Kilmer was traveling with them on this day and they did eventually find their way. Thanks to Eric for whatever pull he had with higher powers to accomplish that.
Saturday we held a memorial service for those of our unit members who lost their lives while serving with us. The service was held at the Vietnam Memorial and was a touching and very emotional tribute to our fallen friends. The association business meeting was held when we returned to the hotel. It will come as no surprise to those familiar with the association that Ron Seabolt was unanimously re-elected as National Director. Saturday evening, we held our banquet. Good food, good drink, and good friends. It just doesn't get any better than that! John Wiklanski was awarded the “Rattler Legend Award” by his best friend Kelly McHugh, whose life was saved by “Ski’s” action in combat.
Sunday, all too soon, it was over. It hardly seems possible that the time passed so quickly. I, like I'm sure most of you, are already looking forward to the next one in 2006.
While the main purpose for attending a reunion is to see old friends, while at the reunion, some of us took advantage of the opportunity to make a few side trips. Here are a few pictures from some of those trips:
Finally, we'd like to thank those who made it possible.