"MAIL CALL", Letters and Emails into our website ........
Our Charlie Company Website gets many emails and letters sent in to us. These Vets are expressing what it has meant to them to be re-united with their old combat unit and their old buddies. We believe that it is very important to our collective healing process to post them (with their expressed permission) for all to see, and this will start a healing dialog going within our group. We also get lots of emails from Vets who were not even with the 2nd/506th, but have a closely shared combat history in South Vietnam. Our website is having a positive impact on all Vietnam Veterans that come across it, and this is one of our goals. _________________________________________________________
As we find our old combat buddies, and as they find us through this website, it brings forth many of the old suppressed feelings within them that many of us have had since the day that we were sent home from Vietnam. During our tour of duty in South Vietnam, we went through some hard times and horrific actions. Incredible bonds of trust and friendship were developed in the heat of battle, these bonds are much thicker than blood. We knew that the men we served together with were covering our backsides, and we covered theirs. We were each other's life-line to going home and getting out of Hell. When one of our guys was killed-in-action (KIA) or severely wounded (WIA) they were suddenly gone and missing from our ranks. The communication with them was immediately cut-off and those bonds of brotherhood were also suddenly broken-off. This created, on both ends, an empty void, all we had left was the memories of each other. For the guys that were left to stay until our tour of duty was over, this only drove us closer to each other for protection and the bonds of brotherhood deepened. For the wounded guys, they were suddenly pulled away to a series of hospitals. All of their personal items were left behind and never sent to catch-up to them. That history was just gone for them. For many years we were all left wondering what happened to our friends. . .
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Mail Call 5/21/16: 2016 506th Association & Charlie Company Reunion this May 12th - 15th
Just wanted to post my thanks and gratitude to the organizers of the 2016 Reunion. I have attended several gatherings over the years of my first unit in Viet Nam (199th LIB) but never hooked up with any of the guys I had actually served with. This year’s event at Clarksville was my first with the 2nd of the 506th and it certainly was my most memorable. The Charlie Company was well represented and I got to see several of my squad members for the first time in 45 years. It was an emotional and healing weekend for me. It never would have happened without the dedication and hard work of the people that made it happen. I won’t try to list names but you know who you are. You are the people who always step up to the plate to volunteer your time and money to make events like this happen. Thank you again.
Billy Orsak, 1st Platoon, Oct '70 - April '71
Email from our Brother, Steve Manthei. . . . Mail Call
A sleeping giant has been awakened in this great country. Real veterans, real patriots and real family leaders. Lead by the Vietnam veterans, the greatest of their generation. Who came home from their war, proud, happy, and excited for the future and hurting from the physical and mental grind that is war. Already diagnosed and treated for injuries and conditions, including battle fatigue. Open and honest with employers and unions. Only to find the government run VA had lost our records. That loss of records opened the door for legal discrimination in the work place and union halls. The fair employment act at that time gave the veteran 180 days to file a complaint. No records, no complaint could be filed. No law protecting them from this kind of treatment and behavior. The kind that has and will lead to suicides.
When records were found, they were meaningless and insignificant. Indifferent, not hardly, atrocious. Democrats and Republicans did not fail us. They used and abused us.
A long time ago a bunch of people reached a general consensus as to what is real and what is not and many of you have been going along with it ever since. Those days are over. It’s we the people. Freedom is not free. Payed for with the sacrifice and blood of patriots.
Stay loud stay proud.
Co.C 2/506 INF, 101st Airborne Div (Ripcord, Currahee)
Great idea! Being able to express themselves is in their own way is of utmost importance to veterans and especially combat vets such as us. We are the experts and what we have to say is meaningful, and it comes from the heart to boot! No arm chair expert can express it like we can. What we have to say is very educational to all who bother to listen.
Because of who I am and where I come from, I have been out front telling our story since I returned home. because of the hate and disrespect, that I received right at the beginning, I was never able to suppress or black out what happen to us and my personal experiences. My battle fatigue, aka PTSD, is connected to the March 16, 1970 and July 2,1970 events. Today is March 16th, and it's a tough day for me. We all have tough days. I am at peace with "THE NAM" as best as it's going to get. I can't stop it from coming back, but I can control it verses it controlling me. That was made possible for me first and foremost by my parents, brother, grandparents, other family members, close friends, and other Veterans such as our own RT, and many other Brothers belonging to Company C. And some great doctors who were not bought and paid for. So I understand the problems we have, and the politics. The politics is why I am rated along with the events before mentioned. If it was not for the politics I would not have the problems I have and reason for being rated. Bullies in leadership positions were a big problem then and still is a problem today, obviously. If we are to survive today we need to come together like we did back then. When that happens meaningful progress will happen and we can further educate people to help all vets not just the Infantry.
If someone would have told me back then that being open and honest, and doing things the right way could destroy the quality of my life, I would of laughed in their face, but that's exactly what happened. It was all nice and legal at the time it happened.
For the record. I came home for good in march 1971 and after only two weeks I returned to work at the auto plant in Janesville, Wisconsin. Prior to returning to work, I informed both the Automaker and UAW local 95 leadership of all my injuries and conditions that had already been diagnosed and treated while still in the service. Those being knees that were injured, jungle rot, hearing loss, shrapnel, and battle fatigue (PTSD) related to March 16 and July 2,1970 events. I also contacted my family doctors for appointments and the Veterans Service Officer for our County to secure appointment at VA, in which he did. It was at this appointment I learned my VA Records were missing. When the VA'S findings came in the form of a letter all my claims were denied, it completely stunned me. I could not believe it. I showed the letter to my General Foreman at the plant and my Union Rep. I told them my records had to be somewhere and sooner or later they would show up. Later I was off work for a couple days under a Doctor's care for sleep problems and stomach problems related to March 16,1970. I been having Flashback type nightmares. I came back to work and they asked what the problem was? So I told them about Steve's death and my taking him home. They called me a liar and said I was lazy and didn't want to work , and all I needed was a good Head Shrinker. Then they wrote me up for Steve's death and Funeral. I lost my job because of that. Since the Wisconsin VA said they had lost my records, I couldn't verify what I was saying was true. At the time the fair employment act gave anyone discriminated against 180 days to file a complaint. But with no records, no complaint could be filed. It was all completely legal, and it sucked!! My question has always been how does a Combat Vet like me get written up for doing his job while in service to his Country and lose his job?
When my records were finally found, thanks To Paul Franz a "DAV" Rep., and when submitted to those involved, I was told that because of the late filing date it was meaningless and insignificant. Nobody wanted to tackle the issue no matter how simple it was. Very telling to say the least. So if you want to know one of the reasons for suicides within our ranks you can look no further. All documented.
When this all happened I learned from other Vets from Wisconsin that I wasn't alone. We banded together in ways that only real vets can understand. That's what kept us alive and moving forward. Just like in the Nam. They are all my guys too. That's what we do.
I have lost 3 close veteran friends to suicide, guy's that were good friends of mine well before the Army days. One friend I have known since I can remember, one friend I have known since the 2nd grade, and another friend that I have known since 9th grade. A lot of them said the same types of things. The way they were treated on the topic of the Nam after returning home was devastating to them. When you develop friendships early in life it makes it easier to confide in each other later on. If you're a vet that's a important point in regards to understanding each others pain. They where my friends before they we became vets together. The same can be said about Bob Radcliff, Bob Tarbuck, Steve Stanley, and Myself all came into Army together as cherries. You're not a war vet till you actually use your training in regards to doing your job. Top Outfit, Top Guns, Proud to serve with them all. Only regret is not being able to do more for those we lost.
But here's the thing, a lot of Vets were saying the same things. So how was a person to know, who would take their life or not? Impossible! And it's still going on today. The only difference is more people are starting to understand and they are willing to step up and be heard. For those vets like myself, I will tell you we paid a heavy price. All of it documented, but never the less, we are the ones still standing and educating folks. Back in the beginning we were called whistle blowers and a lot worse. I remember being inducted, and someone saying "it was the most honorable thing you could do for your country" and, "if anything happened to you while in service to your country, this country will take care of you." I still believe that! The problem is with the ones that are hearing what we said happened to us while we were in service to our country!!
Steve Stanley's given name, was James Steven Stanley. But he went by "Steve". Even his Mom and Dad called him Steve. His name-sake is James Steven Stanley II. Young Steve came to a Reunion of some of our guys in July of 2005 which I held here. One other note; Steve was "Soldier of the Month" just before he was KIA. Further damage done to the Steve Stanley's Family was devastating. His Mom and I continued to talk for a long time, till all of a sudden it stopped. In talking to some of Steve Uncle's and James Steven Stanley II, I now know why it stopped.
As you know well, many of us had nickname's given to us. Steve dubbed me "Wild Jacob". Some just called me "Big Jake". And I dubbed Steve, "Wild Henry". He had a Zippo lighter inscribed for me and I had one made for him. I still have it. We were going into a business venture together when we got home. Right here in Janesville. That's why his parents knew me, and asked for me to be the one to bring him home. they knew I'd tell them the truth and I did. Steve and I were the best of friends and Veterans. The reason I say that is because we were friends before we were vets and close friends at that.
Awhile back, I sent you an article that I wrote to the local paper. I hope you get a chance to use it.
The best to you and ours, CURRAHEE, Steve Manthei
Steve Manthei, Doug Taylor, and Steve Stanley
Randy, LOVE IT!!
Again how can we thank you for all you do. This is another webpage where people can share the healing that comes from the reconnection of our Currahee Brothers.
We all seemed so lost and the memories seemed to capture our very being when we returned home. I can't remember a single day during the first 20 years that I didn't relive that part of my life. But I also kept a promise to myself from early on, I would repeat the names of my brothers who I served and spent so much time in the jungles of Vietnam. I didn't want to remember the tragedies, but I needed to hold tight to those names. Who would have ever dreamed that so many of those names have come together again, just like we had talked about when were in Nam. "One day we are going to get together when we get home", just words from a bunch of young boys, yes we were, but now we have come together as men holding on to such a brotherhood.
We will be coming together in just a few days and I can't wait to embrace each and every one of them when they walk through the door in DC. What amazing reunions we have experienced so far, but this one will be the one to be remembered. Yes, it will be hard to face the "Wall", but thank God I will be standing there with my Currahee Brothers. Yes, I know there will be moments of sadness as we face that wall etched with so many of our Brothers names, but we faced worse days. The reunion time will pass way too fast for us, but at least we will begin looking forward to the next reunion on the last day of this reunion.
Currahee and Thanks Brother, Gary Gilliam
Here is a Letter from Lt. Ken Pitetti. As many in Company C know, Ken was badly wounded by a booby-trap land mine on the day we made a combat assault into a new area of operation. The LZ (landing zone) hilltop on which we landed on was laced with booby-trap land mines. I believe that we lost four guys within an hour that day from two platoons. For many years, the Charlie Vets have thought of Ken offen and wondered if he even survived the wounds infected upon him, and if so, how is he doing today. Ken was reunited with us a little over one year ago. . . . Ken Pitetti's Letter; _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Randy and Denise, ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
It has been a little over a year since I "rejoined" Charlie Company and it was through your Charlie Company Web Page that I was reacquainted with the past. I had buried the past for a long time, for reasons only you and the men of Charlie Company know so well. No one want to hear about Vietnam. So we came home and went forward, some successfully, some not so successful. I was fortunate, with the help and support of my wife Carol Sue, I continued with my academic life (Ken is now a Professor in Physical Therapy at Wichita State University). But very day, I remembered. I so wanted to rejoin the men of Charlie Company, especially the men of the 3rd Platoon, who I had the honor of leading. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________
My Friends, My Family, Colleagues, and many of my Students have sometimes asked, "What was it like?", and "Do you have any pictures?". How do you answer the first question? So I just said something along the lines of "It was not fun". I had lost just about everything on that day I was wounded. After I was medivaced out of the bush, they literally "cut-off" my uniform and threw away everything I carried. I had one picture, but it faded and became unrecognizable. So I had no momentoes, nothing to show. ___________________________________
Now, because of the Charlie Web Pages, I do, and friends, family members, colleagues, and students that I have shown it too are very, very impressed. Now I am able to show them our faces, and the areas we worked, and the YouTube Videos'. I am able to point to those young faces and tell them: "For that moment in time we were truly, a Band of Brothers". __________________________________________ __________________________________________ ______________________________
I know that keeping this Web Page up and running is not without cost. In no way can I or anyone in Charlie Company pay for the time, effort, and dedication that you and Denise have given o us. But please accept this ($ donation) as a "Thank You" and please, please, if any more funds are needed to keep his site going, do not hesitate to put out a call to us. _____________________________________________
Thank you both so very much. _________________________________________________________________________________________
Currahee, Ken "Lt" Pitetti
I apologize for falling off the map. Been around the globe again and landed as the Battalion Command Sergeant Major for 2nd BN, 7th U.S. Cavalry, GARRYOWEN. I sat the other day and thought about my time in a Battalion at Ft Campbell that had no identity, trying to find one for my new organization. My thoughts brought me to the reactivation ceremony and the day COL(R) Seitz and Gary Gilliam presented CPT Sugars and 1SG Rosemore the CURRAHEE flag. Jealous as I was, I tried to keep the faith with those who came before me and do the right thing for those old(ER) Troopers as well as my current Troopers. Each of you that came to Ft Campbell has left a profound impact on my life, so much so that I have contacted the 7th Cavalry Association to get their support and attempt to recreate what has happened to C/2-506, reunite friends, recall fond and not so fond memories and continue a healing process 40+ years in the making. I have thus far found one former CAV Trooper who is willing to go to the mattresses with me. We know former GARRYOWEN Troopers are out there.
It is because of guys like Cal (photo Op), Bago (THE joker), Tom W. (reserved until the stories come out, unofficial historian), Mr. Beebe (who did not want to talk initially and impacted me more than he knows), Jim Roesch (always smiling), Frank M. (Class clown), Mr. Bob von Almen (what a job you undertook), and of course COL(R) Seitz and my mentor in all things reunion Gary Gilliam, you all showed me what it meant to be a "Band of Brothers" I am sure I missed a few, but it was a true pleasure to recommend and see the bulk of you be recognized as Distinguished Members of the Regiment". Outside of the retirees, Campbell, Elderfield, Gallagher, Moors, No Neck Nick, Tews, Jimmy, Hapney, Huntington (they're on your tuff box), LTC Sugars, Mike Rosemore, etc...the list goes on.....They made me successful.
I attached the two things most important in my office. The guidon presented when I left C/2-506 (never call it Golf!!!), and the Dietz print my loving wife recently surprised me with. If I thought I could have my Charles Daly custom .45, engraved to me by my Afghan Brothers I would, it is THE most precious thing anyone has given me outside my children.
I trust this email finds you CURRAHEE, and in good spirits if not good health. I miss each of you tremendously. All the best to you from Michele and I. If you EVER make it near Killeen/Ft Hood (run faster) look us up, you will always be welcome.
KERRY N. BASSETT
2-7 CAV Command Sergeant Major
CPT Jeff Wilcox has asked me to pass this along to Charlie Company.
To the Men and Wives of C Co:
Receiving my framed guidon was touching and moving . I am grateful to all of you for my acknowledgment.
Katherine has said that the guys who ran the raffle should have their own game show. Lots of laughs. It was at the Legion Hall where I learned about the Big Brother program. It was gratifying to see the young'uns and to see guys sign up as Big Brothers. Just listening to these guys will be so supportive. I want to acknowledge all of you for keeping your group together over these years. It just gets better and better. You were so welcoming of us. The bell ceremony was moving.
We attended the Currahee Rendezvous Ball in Nashville. We thought we might be put at the old folks table and, instead, we were seated with the C Co CO, XO, 1st SGT and Platoon SGT and their wives at a table in front. We had terrific conversations with them and found them very respectful and in awe of what the Vietnam veterans went through. One guy specifically mentioned their night vision gear and how they can see everything that moves. I always say that is the one thing they have these days that I would have given anything to have in our day.
I was in a Vet Center rap group in '81 and felt hopeless about my future. One of the guys had been a squad leader in the unit that attacked Hamburger Hill. Except he was on R&R at the time and he returned to find his entire squad had been killed. He declared that he was never going to smile again as a tribute to his dead buddies. In that moment I realized that I was going to live the life I would have wished for my dead comrades - full of love, friends, happiness, and prosperity. I declared myself a "Living Memorial" and am working every day to be that.
We learned when we were working professionally in the veterans community in the early '80's, that being together with people who shared your experience is healthy. We also proved that, when you take something on together, it is an even more powerful experience that allows a transcendence of PTSD. I think this is the source of all the memorials around the country. Gary Gilliam is a shining example of this and he is an inspiration to me. I bet Randy Parmley also gets a great deal of purpose and satisfaction from being the web-master. Ken Pitetti is now taking on a mission to get folks to The Wall, another great purpose.
I am undertaking a project to network support for the West Michigan Veterans Assistance Program (WMVAP), an all volunteer non-profit consisting of veterans, spouses and friends. They are dedicated to assisting homeless and about to be homeless vets and families in our region. There are about 200 homeless vets in Grand Rapids MI alone and many more spread throughout the six county region that WMVAP serves. Twelve percent of homeless nationwide are vets; 48,000 Iraq/Afghanistan vets are homeless. Many of them are alcoholics/mentally ill and a great many are just down on their luck. WMVAP is dragging wounded from the battlefield.
Katherine has a project regarding non-pharmaceutical healing of PTSD and related healing stories. She has been in touch with COL Jill Summers (Ret) who was charged by the Joint Chiefs with de-stigmatizing PTS and they are working together on the project. Check out www.vethealing.net. I think a lot of you have contributions you can make.
Now that we are retired, this is our mission. I would like to hear from other vets and families who are taking on projects that make a difference. We can share ideas, commitment and cheer leading!
With respect and admiration,
From: Jerry Moyer
To: Gary Gilliam
Subject: Re: My Acknowledgment - Please pass this on
I thought I would pass along some things I have done that helps me and my community. For the past 4 years at our local grade school (K-4th) I have started a Veteran Days program at their school and at our local Veterans Wall of Honor. I then go to each and every class in the school (700 students) and talk about being a soldier and living in the jungle for weeks at a time. I have a box of ''C's" to show and the teachers can't believe that little roll of toilet paper is all we got. Also they have never seen the money we had. It takes me about 3 days to go to all the classes.
At the end of the school year (May) I lead the school in a Flag Retirement program. I show them how to display our Flag, how to fold it and how to inspect it for retirement. We then go outside and each class brings me a folded Flag, and I say who has the honor of presenting me this Flag for its final ceremony. We then burn the Flag and most of the children are crying. The Principal of this school says this is very important for the children to learn this and wants this done each year.
This is my relief valve, and I enjoy the children very much.
Sgt. Jerry Moyer, C Co. 2/506 Hill 902