Pass It On is a new, bi-weekly peek inside the heart and mind of Francis Pass…
Walking The Same Ground
The “Great Gathering” of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia was held September 6th thru 11th in Birmingham, Alabama.
This year was our 37th reunion.
We meet in a large room called “The Bunker.” Each Troop had a table marked with their own flag. I served with Charlie Troop from May 4th, 1967 to May 4th, 1968.
Charlie Troop had 21 Troopers and 20 guests in attendance along with one Gold Star family.
Our numbers have diminished as most of us are in our seventies. Every reunion includes a memorial service for our 730 Troopers who gave their all.
I’m often asked... what do you fellas do or say at these reunions?
We discuss the past. We talk about the present. And we hope and pray for the future.
Some troopers bring old photographs to see if anybody in the room remembers a face or a name. Sadly, I don’t recognize many of the men in those pictures. The fact is, only two other Charlie Troopers at the reunion were there at the same time I was. This made me one of the oldest guys at the table.
Most of the other attendees arrived in Vietnam after I shipped out. But when I look at their photos and listen to their stories, one thing stands out: We had walked the same ground.
As we talked, I learned these men knew of the battles I had been a part of, even those that happened before their time. And as they told tales of their own conflicts, I knew exactly what they were describing. Honestly, they didn’t even have to say a single word. The expressions on their faces and the looks in their eyes told the whole story.
We were there. We spoke the same language. We walked the same ground.
As always, when we parted, we vowed to see each other again.
And we will.
Maybe not in a big hotel ballroom. Maybe not in a VFW hall. And maybe not even on this earth.
But I will see my brothers again someday.
To the veterans that have served... in wartime and in peace... at home or abroad... thank you for your service. I’m honored to have walked the same ground as you.
Be well. Stay well.
P.S. – Happy Veterans Day.