Post reunion report
September 21, 2097
Registration: We were privileged to have the Daughters of the American Revolution–General Marion Chapter (DAR) handling the registration at Hotel Eleganté (5 to 7pm). The Patriot Guard honored us by holding strategic positions with flags to assist with directing participants to the hospitality room. The DAR further assisted by setting up and running the hospitality room.
Welcome Home: At seven o’clock, the Summit room was opened and the wives and friends of the veterans entered. The veterans were requested to stay outside in the public area until called. The Patriot Guard formed two lines and the Sons of the American Regulation (SAR) Honor Guard guided the veterans into the room to the sounds of the Washington Post March and The Stars and Stripes Forever and the cheers of the wives and guests, waving American flags.
The SAR posted the Colors. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance sang the National Anthem. This year’s reunion chairman, Rick Martinchalk welcomed attendees and introduced honored guest, Brigadier General Rich Heltcamp. The veterans were called forward, one at a time to be honored by General Heltcamp as he pinned the commemoration pin on them and presented their certificate. At the end of the pinning ceremony general Hiltcamp spoke, explaining the importance of this event and welcoming back all veterans from the Vietnam War.
September 22, 2017
Memorial Service: Busses left for the Air Force Academy at 10:30am. The first stop was the Southeast Asia Memorial. A lot of time was spent looking at the various plaques and videos, especially that of Bien Hoa.
The next stop was the Visitor’s Center, where one could view the 21 minute video talking about the history of the academy. The gift shop was open for purchasing souvenirs.
The final stop was the Academy Chapel where we held the memorial service for those that were KIA at Bien Hoa. The buses were allowed to drop the reunion participants close to the chapel. At the same time the orchestra and began setting up.
The service began with the playing of Pia Jesu and the entrance of the reunion members. When all were seated, Melissa, daughter of a Bien Hoa Airman KIA, was presented with a corsage and three academy cadets escorted her to her seat.
Master of Ceremonies, Rick Martinchalk began by inviting Chaplain Captain Street to open with prayer. Following the prayer, Wally Cangas presented the remembrance address.
A cadet read the name of each fallen Airman, another cadet said, “absent sir” and third cadet rang a bell. 178 Airmen remembered.
The Lord’s Prayer was sung by Charles Rand and then Taps was played Jessie Procter. Then Sharon sang Hallelujah (Veteran’s version). Martin Stones made the closing remarks. The cadets escorted Melissa Leblanc to the rear of the Chapel. Once she was there the exit began for the congregation. There were very few dry eyes at the end of the service.
Finally, a group picture of the veterans was taken on the steps of the AFA chapel.
Upon returning to the hotel we went to the hospitality room where we made a toast to the fallen from the wine that was donated by “Wine Till Sold Out”.
September 23, 2017
Several meetings were held on Saturday morning, including a meeting with a Mike Martin and Chuck Golba explaining how to navigate the Veterans Administration when applying for benefits.
Becky Golba organized a gathering of the wives to discuss post-war-related issues they face. (Col. Patricia Blassie joined the women.)
The third presentation was made by Martin Strones talking about his visit to Bien Hoa Air Base in April of 2017.
The fourth presentation was given by Ray Cloninger on the Bien Hoa disaster of 1965.
We met for the banquet in the Summit room at the hotel. The evening began with Barry Ward singing songs that he wrote for Vietnam Veterans. The Cañon City Community Baptist Church Orchestra provided music while we ate. They played a variety of music and most attendees clapped at various songs and almost always gave an appreciative clap at end of the song. After the meal, Rick Martinchalk introduced key note speaker, Col. Patrice Blassie.
Col. Blassie presented a very interesting speech about her family’s experiences as they worked to get her brothers remains removed from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Her brother, 1st Lt. Michael Blassie was shot down while flying an A-37 out of Bien Hoa
Finally, we held the general business meeting. Rick Martinchalk, President of the Bien Hoa Air Base Veterans Association, gave a brief explanation of what happened since the last reunion. The Reunion Committee wrote By-laws, applied for a LLC, and applied for and received a 501c3 from IRS to make us a tax exempt organization. Rick further explained the structure of the organization: a main body with a President, Secretary and a Treasurer. There are two branches; Reunion and Historical.
Several proposals were made: First was the adoption of the logo which was unanimously accepted as the logo for the organization. (The logo was created and donated by Graphics Designer, Dianne Greene-Walsh.) Second, was the vote for the President, Secretary and Treasurer. Rick Martinchalk-President, Chuck Golba-Secretary and Suzanne Martinchalk-Treasurer were voted in by the membership to fill these positions.
A proposal was made and seconded to have the next meeting in San Antonio, TX. The proposal was overwhelmingly approved by the membership. Rich Scholes will be the reunion committee chairman for the 2019 reunion.
The position for Historian chairman was not filled at the meeting and a place holder will assigned until the next meeting.
Reunion update April 11, 2017
The reunion committee is moving along with the final details of the reunion. In the next couple of weeks, we hope freeze the agenda.
We are very pleased to announce that our organization has just been approved to receive the U.S. Vietnam War Commemoration. We have arranged for reunion attendees to receive the Commemoration pin. These pins will be awarded at the Welcome Back ceremony on September 21st. (You must be present to receive the pin.)
We hope you’ll plan to stay connected and informed of upcoming events between now and when we have our next reunion in Colorado Springs, CO, in 2017, by using this website and our Facebook page: Bien Hoa AB Reunion Group.
The dates for the 2017 reunion will be Sept. 21-24, 2017 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We will be adding more information to this page as it becomes available. Below is a link to the registration form.
A memorial service will be held at the Air Force Academy (AFA) Chapel On Sept 22 at 14:00 to 13:00 for those that were killed while assigned to Bien Hoa Air Base.
We would like to invite family members of those who will be remembered at the Academy memorial service. We think it would be quite meaningful for them to experience their loved one being formally honored. If anyone knows of such a family member, please contact them and extend an invitation. Also, let a committee member know if they will be attending. They will also be welcome to join the other reunion events. (Although there is no cost to attend the memorial service, the costs for the other events will be the same as for other attendees.)
Hotel information can be found at the link below.
Bien Hoa Air Base Veterans Association
2017 Reunion Agenda
Day 1: September 21
8:30 AM — Golf outing by Pete Piazza (Valley Hi Golf Course)
5:00 PM — Registration at Hotel Eleganté
5:00 till 7:00 PM — Social time
7:00 till 7:05 PM — Welcome by Chairman-Hotel Eleganté Atrium
7:05 7:15 PM — Reunion Activity Overview
7:15 PM — Posting of the Colors in Hotel Eleganté Atrium
Pledge of Allegiance
7:17 PM till ? — Welcome Home Ceremony:
*Brigadier General Heitkamp
Social time – Hospitality room
Day 2: September 22
10:30 AM Leave for USAF Academy
11:00 AM Till 12:00 Arrive at the Doolittle Hall, the Heritage trail and SEA Memorial Pavilion
12:00 till 1:30 PM Lunch, Visit USAF Academy visitors center & Gift Shop
12:00 PM (IF possible, watch cadets march to lunch}
Visit the Honor Court in the Cadet Area
2 PM till 3 PM Memorial service in Academy Chapel
Leave for hotel after service has been completed
Day 3 September 23
8:30 AM — VA benefits counseling: Chuck Golba & Mike Martin
10:00 AM — “Visit to Bien Hoa Air Base, April ‘17”: Martin Strones
11:00 AM — Video: “Acronym: Cross-generational Battle with PTSD”
5:00 PM Bryan Ward Musician and song writer
5:15 PM Banquet meal
7:00 PM Patricia Blassie Keynote speaker
8:00 PM General Meeting
Next reunion location
Hotel information can be found at the link below.