Chapter 6: The Reunion
While reading Gary's letters and researching online, I discovered websites for my brother's units in Viet Nam. The 178th ASHC, The Boxcars and the 132nd ASHC Hercules. I immediately called a telephone number that was listed on the site. Discovering that a reunion was to take place in September of 2009 in Ocean City, Maryland, I made travel arrangements to attend. It was by lucky chance that I checked websites for these units and had amazingly good luck that the reunion was yet to come.
A moving experience, I watched tough grown men cry as they told their stories and weep as they met one another for the first time -- in some cases -- in 40 years. "Brothers Forever" was a phrase I often heard and saw written in the photo albums commemorating their time together in the war. The men in the unit were most welcoming to me and I felt comfortable in their presence. They were all very kind to me and some spent considerable time looking at and explaining the photographs I brought with me. They shared their stories of the war with me and explained things that I could never have imagined on my own. I made my own discoveries while looking at their photographic albums. For example, one of the veterans had just returned from a recent trip to Viet Nam and had a photograph of a statue of the Buddha. For most of my life I had a photograph of Gary standing next to that same statue but I had never known where the picture was taken -- Long Son Pagoda in Nha Trang, Viet Nam. By visiting with these men at the reunion, I was brought infinitely closer to understanding what it meant to go to war in that country.
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