Rattler/Firebird Reunion 2018

When & Where

2018 Reunion Recap

We did Nashville again! You guys cannot keep on saying, “This is the best reunion we have ever had!” I feel like a very good time was had by all who attended.

At the Thursday women's meeting, Paula O'Quinn reported an attendance of 40 with a very good time had by all. The grand prize of a $50 gift card was won by Gloria Reis.

Friday night almost 200 of us went to the Grand Old Opera for a fun time (in 2010 we were not able to be at this facility because of the floods and had watched the show in a Baptist church).

Our Saturday morning Memorial Service once again paid homage to our fallen brothers we will never forget.

The Association business meeting held Board of Directors elections with David Hunter (EM 69-70) leaving the board due to term limits and Don Lynam (OF 70-71) being elected in his place.

The group photo followed and our people went on the boat tour.

Our Saturday night banquet was attended by 276 people. Ron Seabolt's Platoon Leader, Rattler 1-6 George Jackson had an astounding 26 family members counting himself at the banquet. Chuck Carlock's family and friends totaled 23 by itself.

Our own Firebirds provided the Color Guard and again did a fine job. Especially touching was former POW Jim Pfister doing the honors with the POW/MIA flag.

At the close of the meal the drawing was held for our five prizes. The first winner was Dewayne Williams who chose the tail-rotor chain bracelet. This item is valued as high as $1000 on the internet. The second winner was Mila Veeningen who chose a $200 gift card. The third winner was Kathryn Halsey who also chose a $200 gift card. The fourth winner was Doug Starkey who chose the Joe Kline print “;Have Guns, Will Travel”. The final winner was Sandy Spencer who took home the Joe Kline print, “;Magic Carpet Ride”.

The program started with the recognizing of special guests starting with our single WWII and Korean War veteran in attendance Jerry Meader (OF 66). All other wars were called out along with Army Nurse Larue Keller.

First time attendees Paul Flannery, Dean Lind, Tom Pudlo, Tom Semmes and Kilfred Walley were called forward and presented with envelopes with a cash bonus over $100 from a new donor for the purpose of encouraging more first-times in the future.

The Jesus Nut Award went to Rich Lohman for coming the longest distance to the reunion of 2269 miles from Madras, OR.

The Unsung Hero Award, which honors someone whose primary job was not as a flight crew member, went to Richard Rodriquez for his fine work on the aircraft we had to fly on every day.

The Rattler Legend Award was presented by Frank Anton to his fellow POW Jim Pfister for his unrelenting attitude in horrible conditions which kept Frank and others alive for over five years in captivity. As Frank said, Jim refused to allow me to die!”

A number of years ago when Joe Galloway spoke to us at New Orleans, we had stumbled upon the recording of Galloway's “;God's Own Lunatics”. Boy, did it touch a nerve with flight crewmembers and many others. I (Ron Seabolt) vowed to NEVER have a speaker come to the podium at a Rattler Firebird Reunion banquet without that being his lead-in as long as I had a say in the running of the banquet. It just means too much to us who lived it.

“;God's Own Lunatics” was played and Chuck Carlock introduced Frank Anton. Chuck told of how Frank had just returned to Vietnam from R&R and was due to take a few more days getting back to the company when he learned of his buddy and schoolmate Mark Leopold, had been shot down. Frank bribed his way onto an aircraft going to Chu Lai to get back into the fight. This was January 4, 1968. Frank was shot down on January 5th and captured on the morning of January 6th. Thus began over five years as a POW, three of which was in the mountain jungle camps west of Chu Lai.

Anton spoke to us from his heart of the deaths he witnessed and his own very near death. The audience seemed spellbound with the first person stories of people who had so little to live for. When the NVA decided to move the POW to North Vietnam, it took nine months for Frank to make the journey due to his extreme poor health.

Once in the north, the prisoners no longer feared starving to death but that did not mean it was easy by no means. Then the peace accords were finally signed and in March of 1973, Frank began his way back to the world.

Our banquet was closed by our Chaplin Eric Kilmer. The 2018 Reunion was in the books.

Attendees

See who attended the reunion on our Roster of Attendees page.

Tours and Activities

Information about available tours and activities are on the Reunion Activities and Tours page.

Map and Directions to the Hotel

Map and Directions are available on the Map page.

Nashville, TN Weather

Nashville weather is available on the Weather page,