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Some Thoughts on Reunions
By Dale Baker 1969-70
Posted: February 5th, 2006 @ 6:11pm
I have to admit that I hated the Army. Being drafted less than a week after my daughter was born really racked my life. After cobra repair school, I remember standing in that small Indiana airport, Nam orders in hand, thinking; “What the hell am I doing here and what is the F*ing Army doing to me now?” I had no clue I was about to become a member of an elite organization that would change my life.
Larry Barton and Dale 2005
I’ve always been proud to be a Blue Ghost. I used “Blue Ghost” as my “CB handle” for several years while driving I-94 daily. I’ve run into infantrymen over the years who told me they would not be here if not for Blue Ghosts.
I’ve attended the last three reunions, and can’t imagine missing another one, barring some tragic, unforeseen circumstance or someone hosting the reunion in some extremely-hot, disease-ridden, rat-infested, triple-canopy third world country, like...well...you know. (Las Vegas?) My lifetime affiliation with the VFW (twice past commander) and American Legion doesn’t compare to one reunion with the men of F/8. I’m serious.
You can’t imagine my delight the first time I plugged “Blue Ghost” into a search engine and found not one, but THREE, web sites, all dedicated to our proud unit and its soldiers. I read everything I could download into the wee hours of the night, devouring every word. I was wishing I had access to this information years earlier.
I immediately posted my e-mail address and, with the much-needed help of Dan and Donna Delor, got my web page up on “blueghosts.com” www.blueghosts.com/baker.htm). Buddies I had not heard from in 30 plus years began to pop up in my in basket. Letters and pictures began flowing through cyber space, and continue still.
My first reunion was Kansas City (I hate big cities) in 2003. My wife and I left our home in Indiana the Sunday before and wandered Lewis and Clark country slowly across Missouri discovering some great microbreweries, wineries, and Daniel Boone history along the way.
I have to admit I had a few butterflies as we approached the hotel, but I honestly don’t know why. Some of the first people I ran into were Dan and Donna, Rich Dubois, Joe Loadholtes, Dick Crawley, Tim Lafayette (an old hooch-mate), Hector Mendoza, Doc Anderson, Bob Drury, Mario Cruz and Carl Smith. Honestly fellows, if you don’t feel good being with these folks and your other comrades, you left something more than blood, sweat and tears in da Nam!
I met and re-met several other fellow Ghosts over those 4 days, and the tour of the Harley plant was inspiring. Bob Drury, Hector, and I shared some memories that are priceless.
My second reunion was Nashville (I really hate big cities!) in 2004. I looked forward to this one with a passion. I met and re-met more comrades than I can remember. (The mind grows older along with the body) I may not remember all their names, but I remember their faces and probably their MOS. Al Novak, John Harris, Dan Buckley, Wes Moss, Phil King, Galinski, and golly fellows – I just can’t recall them all.
Doc, Linda, Donna and I took a riverboat dinner cruise on the General Jackson. Another night we ate at the 101st AirBorn Restaurant. Derrick Henry was back safe from Iraq. These were good times, filed in my memories banks forever.
The last reunion attended to date was this past year (05) at Ft. Mitchell, KY, very near Cincinnati, OH. (Did I mention that I hate big cities?) A former hooch-mate, Tim Lafayette, and Carl Smith (party on!) hosted this one.
Highlights included lunch at the Hof-Brau-Haus German restaurant (where I turned the guys on to Heffeweisen beer) and we toured an exquisite aquarium on the Ohio riverfront.
My good friend, cobra school classmate, and former hooch-mate, (went over together-extended together-came home together) Larry Barton and his wife Lori attended this one and made it special.
Again, I can see their faces but the new and re-acquainted names escape me. Most of the regulars were there, and I enjoyed seeing them again, missing the ones who couldn’t make it. I took some more great pictures to add to life’s memories.
In closing, I have to borrow a line from Dan Buckley, because I could never say it better. “Those of you who have not attended a reunion, you owe it to yourself to shake the hand of the guys You were willing to risk your life for.” One weekend a year, one or a few weekends of your life; it can make you humble, it can make you proud, again.
Yours in comradeship,
BLUE GHOST - Dale Baker