November 1993 Letter
Rattlers and Firebirds,
Your 1995 reunion will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday, May 5th through Sunday May 7th. We cannot get a quote on exact prices until about 330 days beforehand, which will be next June. We have contacted a travel agency in Newburgh, New York (through David O'Quinn) that can make all our reservations, no matter whether you are driving or flying. All who are interested in using this travel agency should let David O'Quinn know as soon as possible. The more people we have, the better rates we can get, and David has agreed to be our liaison with the agency. David's address is P.O. Box 740, Cornwall, NY 12518. Phone (914) 534-4072.
Charlie Rains, who is executive director of the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Members Association (VHCMA), has invited our company to have a mini-reunion with his outfit next June 29th through July 3rd in Philadelphia, PA. We have located many new people from this area of the country and this could afford all who are interested an opportunity to meet before our '95 reunion. R.J. Williams, who lives in Philly, has volunteered to be our Host-In-Residence. The Holiday Inn, Center City, is the reunion site. Room rates are $65.00 per night for a double. This offer from the Crew Members Association is open to anyone who wishes to attend. Just be sure and tell the reservations people you are with the VHCMA to get the lower group rate. Call (215) 561-4484 for reservations. A Friday, July 1st, bus trip to The Wall in Washington is being offered at $12.50 per person. This will be an all day affair. On Friday night the VHCMA will host a pilots party for any of the pilots in town for the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association reunion who wish to attend. Their hotel is three blocks from the Holiday Inn.
Our group continues to grow. We now have over 255 names and addresses of our fellow comrades, but we can sure use your help. We are desperate for copies of any type of old orders you may have from our company that contain the names and serial or social security numbers of our people. This information is our prime method of tracking people down. If you like what we are doing and wish to see more names in our directory, please dig these old orders out, copy them and send them to Ron Seabolt. This is very important. By all means, if you move, please inform us so you can stay on our mailing list.
We have some special requests for information (especially social security numbers) on the following men: Conrad Howard - 1st Plt., W-1 in '66-'67, Robert Falk - 1st Plt., Crew Chief in '67, Rex A. Robertson - 2nd Plt., W-1 in '67-'68, David W. Graham - 2nd Plt., W-1 in '68-'69, Raymond Foley - Firebird E.M. in '67-'68, Jimmy Wadell - 1st Plt., E.M. in '68. If you can provide any clues to the location of these men, it would be greatly appreciated.
The second page of this letter contains info on 58 new men we have located and a few address corrections. Some of you who have the newer version of our old address directory may have a few of these addresses already, but this page will make everyone's directory up to date to the best of our info.
On a sad note, I have learned that two men we have been searching for are deceased. Donald J. (Jug) Haid, who was the second Rattler "6" in Vietnam died of lung cancer in 1978 and Boyce Wyatt, who was a Firebird pilot in '66-'67 died of a heart attack in 1986. If any of you desire to pass any messages to these men's widows, I would be glad to do this, as both are here in Dallas County.
FYI - The Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 457 of San Angelo, Texas has been given an old "D" Model Huey by the U.S. Army that flew many missions with our old 2nd Platoon. The tail number is 65-09889 and Bill Gross was the Crew Chief of this A/C when it was brand new. Bill took a lot of pride in keeping his A/C looking sharp, including the fact that this ship had no combat damage patches. But Bill went on R & R and Old Magnet Ass (yours truly) had his A/C in maintenance on May 26, 1967, so I crewed 889 that day. We took 3 hits and Bill Gross was mad at me from then on. If any of you have any stories about this particular A/C, I will be glad to pass them on to the new owners. I would love to see this A/C returned to its "Rattler" configuration. They plan to set it up as a permanent exhibit once it has been repainted. This chapter is open to any offers to help them in repairing the A/C for exhibition.
In our last newsletter, we informed everyone that we were selling Rattler, Firebird and 151st Patches at $5.00 each to raise money for our organizing expenses. These patches had been purchased by Chuck Carlock and given to us to sell. The patches are of excellent quality and all colors match the originals we used as patters perfectly. We still have plenty if you wish to order some. Everett Jeffcoat, who was a 2nd Platoon Crew Chief in '68, came up with copies of the 1st and 2nd Platoon patches that were used during his tour. They are known as the "Widow Maker" and "F Troop" patches. Everett has purchased 50 of each patch and given them to us to sell at $5.00 each. Examples of all our patches are on the reverse side of our directory update. If anyone orders a patch and is dissatisfied with it, return it to me and I will gladly refund your money. I am very proud of the workmanship in these items. At a future time, I hope to be able to offer a "Co. A, 501st" patches in addition to our 71st Rattler patch. I have all our patches on a jungle fatigue shirt, ready for our next reunion.
Many of you who purchased patches from us added extra money when ordering. I wish to thank all of you for any assistance you have given. Some names have to be mentioned for special thanks though, and I consider these men to be on our honor roll for their help: Chuck Carlock, Everett Jeffcoat, Jim Baragona and Joe K. Bell. Their assistance is an inspiration to me and all who benefit from these efforts owe them their thanks.
Our Las Vegas reunion is less than 18 months from now. From all indications, I have, this will be a considerably larger reunion than our Memphis reunion. From my experience with our first reunion, I can tell you, you do not want to miss this meeting.
I would like to wish all of you a joyful holiday season and a prosperous 1994.