History of the 68th AHC Reunions
Oklahoma in 1998 to Boise in 2016
68th Assault Helicopter Company
1998 – The first reunion, which is probably better described as a get together, took place at the home of Stan Christian, in Oklahoma. Stan decided to start calling some old friends from the 68th to invite them to his home for a weekend party. Stan’s former wife started searching the internet trying to locate some additional members of the 68th. So the first reunion was formed with about 12 former members of the 68th and a few spouses spending a very hot weekend at Stan’s home. While they were at Stan’s they decided to have another reunion in two more years, during which time they would begin searching for other members of the 68th. Doug Gooch volunteered to head up the next reunion, thus starting the bi-annual reunion of the 68th Assault Helicopter Company. Bob Crain set up the first 68th website after the reunion which was helpful in locating other members.
2000 – Doug Gooch selected the Shangri-La Resort in Afton, OK as the next reunion spot. The resort was located on a lake and had a golf course nearby, so members would have some outside activities to engage in. The first hospitality suite was Doug’s suite at the resort. We also had our first Saturday night dinner together. About 19 members and a few spouses attended and had a great time, which was mostly spent in the hospitality suite telling war stories. Three of the members, Sandy Noyes, Dave Holloway, and Jim Radcliff, were reunited for the first time in 32 years and spent most of their time together telling some outrageous stories, thus they were named “The Three Amigos.” At the Saturday dinner we had our first business meeting and decided to keep the reunions going every two years. Lee Daniels volunteered to organize the next reunion. A location was not selected but Lee told everyone he would select a location and let everyone know when and where it would be. E-mail addresses were exchanged and Bob Crain put information on the website about the reunion. Everyone agreed to start reaching out to other members in an effort to get them to come to the next reunion.
2002 – The Hampton Inn in Pensacola Beach, FL was the site for this reunion. By this time the reunion was beginning to take on a more formal format. Howard Smith attended and brought the memorabilia from the Florida VHPA. Most members attended an informal dinner on Friday night, and we again had a formal Saturday Dinner at a nearby restaurant. Attendance continued to grow and we had about 32 members plus guests at this reunion. A lot of old friendships were reestablished and through word of mouth and the internet more and more people were finding out about the reunions. Rich Furness agreed to head up the next reunion and the members selected Nashville, TN as the site for the 2004 Reunion.
2004 – By this time the reunion was becoming more organized. The hotel was in downtown Nashville within only a few blocks of Nashville’s entertainment district. A lot of new faces showed up for this reunion and we had over 50 members plus guests in attendance. Howard Smith again brought the memorabilia and had a room set up for viewing. The Saturday Night Dinner was held at a local restaurant in the entertainment district. There was plenty of time for exchanging war stories in the hotel’s lounge. At the Saturday business meeting Bill Tighe offered to be the reunion organizer for the next reunion, which would be in Las Vegas.
2006 – The Gold Coast Inn was the hotel selected for this reunion. Las Vegas offered a lot to do, almost too much. Most members headed off in small groups to visit the “Strip” and see the local sites and do a little gambling. The Saturday Night Dinner was becoming a tradition and was becoming more formal with a planned program, including some light hearted stories from a few members. We again saw some new faces at this reunion, with just over 50 members plus guests in attendance. The members selected San Antonio, TX for the next reunion site and Joe Matusz volunteered as the reunion organizer.
2008 – The Holiday Inn located on the San Antonio Downtown Riverwalk was the hotel selected. The Riverwalk offered a lot of things to do and places to gather for meals and sightseeing. We had our first hospitality suite in a hotel meeting room and Howard Smith again brought and set up the Vietnam memorabilia in another hotel meeting room. Again we had just over 50 members plus guests attend the reunion. During the business meeting Joe Matusz informed the members that the association had been formed as a Veteran Non-Profit Organization under IRS Section 501c-19 in 2007. In so doing it was necessary to have a board and officers for the organization and that Ron Sheffield had been appointed as the association’s President. Ron was elected to serve as president for the next two years and would head up the next reunion, with Howard Smith being the reunion organizer. The membership selected Orlando, FL as the next reunion site.
2010 – The Lake Buena Vista Hotel & Resort, just across the street from downtown Disney World was the site of this year’s reunion. Reunion attendance again exceeded 50 members plus guests. Once again we had hotel meeting rooms for our hospitality suite and memorabilia room. Ron Sheffield did video tape recordings or many of members talking about some of their experiences during their tour in Vietnam. Several members from the 65-66 era were in attendance and had some great stories about how the 68th was formed and brought over to Vietnam. The Saturday Banquet took on a more formal setting with a cocktail hour and photos of each member and their guests. Debby Rouchon, the sister of Alan “Mike” Rouchon, KIA 6/19/69, also attended the dinner. At the business meeting Dave Holloway was elected president and would head up the next reunion in Atlanta, GA.
2012 – The Hilton Hotel and Conference Center in Marietta, GA was the site for this reunion. The hotel was just a short distance from Marietta Square which offered members a large variety of shops, museums and restaurants. A golf course located on the hotel property made it easy for those wanting to play. The Saturday morning Huey rides were definitely the highlight of the reunion. Linda Hingson, widow of Paul Hill, KIA 5/12/68, attended the reunion and was a special guest at the Saturday Banquet. Retired Brigadier General Weldon Honeycutt, the first CO of the 68th was also in attendance. Forty-four members plus guests attended this reunion. At the business meeting Dave Holloway was again elected president and will head up the next reunion in Charleston, SC.
2014 – The Holiday Inn Charleston/Mt. Pleasant was the site of the 2014 Reunion. Charleston turned out to be an excellent location for our reunion. Forty-six members were in attendance. Many of the members took the opportunity to do some sightseeing in the area, including Historic Downtown Charleston, Charleston Harbor, Ft. Sumter, Patriot’s Point, and a few of the Plantations located near Charleston. Restaurants were in abundance with their southern cuisine, so no one went hungry. Eighty-four people attended the Saturday Night Banquet including former CO (Ret) Col. Dick Daum. The banquet opened with the Citadel Honor Guard presenting the colors, followed by “The Missing Man” ceremony, which concluded with a Citadel Band member playing “Taps”. The opening ceremony was quite moving and left many members in tears. The members again showed their support for the “Tiger Fund” by making very generous bids during the Silent Auction. The members re-elected the same Officers & Board Members, with the addition of R.J. Smith who will be the Point of Contact for the 2016 Reunion in Boise, ID.
2016 – The Riverside Hotel in Boise, ID was an excellent site for this year’s reunion. I don’t think the weather could have been any better. The hospitality suite, better known as the Clint Eastwood Suite, with a large patio made visiting with friends quite enjoyable. Several of the members took advantage of nearby attractions including, whitewater rafting, visiting the Birds of Prey, and the Saturday downtown market. Everyone enjoyed the trip to the Warhawk Air Museum to visit one of our old choppers that made it back from Nam in one piece. As always the Saturday banquet was a fitting end to three days of fun. Grace Smith did an excellent job in leading us in singing the National Anthem. She has already been booked for 2018 in Louisville. The members re-elected the same Officers. New Executive Board members are Dennis Patterson, Stoney Burke, and Vernon Baker. Steve Gillespie will be the Reunion Point of Contact person.
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