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15th Field Artillery Regiment
1917 - 2008

15
The 15th Field Artillery motto - ALLONS - Let's Go!
Allons!

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15th Field Artillery Regiment crest

15th Field Artillery Regiment
1917 - 2008

15
The 15th Field Artillery motto - ALLONS - Let's Go!
Allons!

WW1   WW2   Korea   Vietnam
  Panama   Bosnia   Iraq  Afghanistan

'Fighting 15th'

15th FDC
Home    Links
Site map
Search site
Terms of use
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Commo
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  [2]
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[2] [3]
[4] [5]
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Decorations

Diary

Big Guns

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Montagnards
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 REUNION 2001 

Hosted by Virginia & Luis Cantu
Ft. Sill, Oklahoma

 135 people from 27 states 


INDEX
Story by Gary D. Harrington

Photos of the reunion

   

Luis back in his war days

Reunion 2001 host Luis Cantu in
his Vietnam War days


   

2001 REUNION OF THE
7th BATTALION,
15th ARTILLERY

 FORT SILL, OKLAHOMA 

By Gary D. Harrington

   

This has been my third reunion with the 7th Battalion, 15th Artillery and each has been a totally different and unique experience.

Having missed the very first reunion, my first one was at Fort Campbell in Clarksville, TN.  Being my first, it was the most emotional one-- not having seen or heard from any of these people for almost 25 years and not knowing what to expect.

But my fears and uncertainties were soon laid to rest when I found my old gun sergeant, Tom Griffin. Tom had been a career soldier and commanded the first gun I served on.  He had been my mentor and inspiration during my first few months of combat experience.

Then there was Bob Payton.  Bob was a quiet and reserved young man back when we had been on the gun.  But he was the kind of guy that was always there to lend a hand and do his part and a pleasure to serve with.

It was at this reunion that I was also to meet Bob Donnan.  Bob had started the Reunion Association -- beginning with just a list of names he had brought home from the war and spending many hours on the telephone and looking through old army files and records.

His hard work had paid off when he held the first reunion in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.  There had only been a hand full of guys at that very first one, but with their hard work and persistence the number had almost tripled by this second reunion.

It was also in Clarksville that I first met David Holdorf.  Davo, as he likes to be called, had been a mechanic with C Battery.  It was at this reunion that he had gotten the "fever", as he likes to call it, and took over the Reunion Association Newsletter for Bob -- and started to help with the monumental task of searching for those that had served with the unit during its five years in Vietnam.

There was also Norman Forsythe, who was to be thanked for hosting this second reunion.  Big Daddy, as he likes to be called, brought the unit over and held it together that first year in Vietnam.

Dan Gillotti also joined the team as Association Historian.  Dan had gone over with Big Daddy, and after completing a career in the Army had dedicated his time to chronicling the history of the Artillery in Vietnam.

It was there, too, that I met Chuck and Susie Alexander.  They were to host the next reunion in Louisville, Kentucky.  The reunion in Louisville was even larger.

With its tour of Fort Knox, and the hospitality of the City of Louisville, there were many more old friends to meet and new friendships to form.

It was here, (at the third reunion (my second)) that I met with Bill and Juanita Goombi.  Bill, a Native American from Oklahoma, served with me in B Battery in 1969.  Also, there was Pete Peterson who was the gunner on gun one.

"The Family" was growing.

It was decided on, at the Association meeting, that the next reunion would be at Fort Sill and hosted by Luis and Virginia Cantu.  It was a good choice and over the next three years the Association would spend endless hours looking for lost members, starting a website and branching out to include all those that served with the 15th Artillery from World War I until the present day.

About a year before the Fort Sill reunion, I was to experience my first mini-reunion.  I received an Email from a guy named Ron Joseph.  The name, at first, did not ring a bell; we mostly used nicknames over there, and I wouldn't have remembered him by name.  So I asked him if he had a photo.

He replied that he had one on a web site, Mong-Boys, and gave me the information I needed to look it up.  And there he was, I had pictures in  my photo album of us at LZ North English.  I had even written about him in my book -- A Time of Innocence:  A Time of Confidences -- about how we had been caught taking a can of soda from the battery ice chest late one night -- although the soda had been paid for, they still tried to reprimand us, but we proved our innocence and they let us go.

I sent Ron a copy of the book.  Ron had told me that he remembered very little about Vietnam except for me -- because I had been the first one to befriend him.  The guy he had replaced had been wounded in action and the impact of that had made the guys on his gun crew reluctant to form a new friendship in fear that this would happen again.

We made arrangements to call each other on the phone, then spent about an hour talking.  Ron only lived about a hundred miles away from my house so we set up a date, and he and his wife, Cindy, came on over.  I pulled out my slides of Vietnam and we relived old times.

About a month later, Ron called and agreed to come along with me to the reunion at Fort Sill, so we contacted the 15th Artillery Association and began to make plans.  About a month or so later we heard from a Captain Duane Geisen.  Captain Geisen had taken over B Battery after Captain Hunter and he too remembered very little about the war.  So he arranged to meet with Ron (because he would be visiting his sons who were living in the same town as Ron) -- and from there more plans were made to meet at the reunion.

Ron agreed to drive -- and he would come by my house a couple of days early so we could put my slides onto a video tape that we could share with the others at the reunion.  So we had a good time playing with the video equipment and visiting.

The day before we were to leave I received a phone call from Dr. Janet White-Mountain.  Janet's husband Michael Mountain had passed away the year before the reunion and she had wanted him to go.  So she prepared a Memorial Book in addition to his photo album for me to take along so he would be represented at the reunion. This I gladly agreed to do.

So Ron and I set off on the morning of June 27, after loading the video, memorabilia of the Vietnam War, and the Memorial Book for Michael
Bruce Mountain LTC, USA, (RET).

The reunion wasn't to start until the next morning so we drove through to Wichita Falls, Texas about 50 miles from Fort Sill and set in for the night. The next day we woke early.  Clean and refreshed we set off for our journey to the past. We arrived around 10 AM at Allin Hall and checked into our rooms. Then, it was Up to the Hospitality Room to renew old friendships and begin new ones.

The Hospitality Room was on the third floor of Allin Hall, part of Fort Sill Lodging Complex, a hotel on Fort Sill that accomodated military and
civilian guests to the post.  The Hospitality Room was just off the elevator and Luis and Virginia Cantu, our hosts, had prepared it as a reception area where we signed in and received our name tags and goody bag (with maps of the Fort Sill area and information on attractions, restaurants, and places of interest).  They had graciously prepared a table with snacks and beverages.

There was a room off to the side, where guys who had brought their photo albums and memorabilia could display them.  I put out the stuff I had brought and the Memorial Book for Lieutenant Mountain, A Battery 7/15th Artillery.

Then, I went to get me a cold one and talk to old friends.

The first ones I see are old Sergeant Griffin and his wife Suzy.  It's always good to see the old Sarge.  Captain Hunter and his wife Birgit were there, as well as Bill and Juanita Goombi.  Bill told me the sad news that Bob Payton had ended his own life sometime around last Christmas.  Bill had been talking with Paul Battaglia, who heads up Point Man International Ministries, and acts as our reunion Chaplain.  I told Paul about the Memorial Book for Lieutenant Mountain and we took some time to remember those that were no longer with us or sick and unable to attend.

Bob Donnan was there and quite proud of this being the "4th" reunion since starting them nine years ago with just over a dozen guys at the first one -- this reunion having more than One Hundred. 

Dave Holdorf told me that he'd like to get someone else to do the Newsletter so he could have more time to search for guys that had served in the unit for the next reunion.

Captain Geisen and his wife Donna came in.  It was interesting to see him and Captain Hunter together, Captain Geisen having taken over command of B Battery from Captain Hunter.  Since the unit stayed in Vietnam for five or six years -- with the change of command every six months, so went the history and caricature of the unit.

We got a group together and decided to meet and go out for dinner around 5 PM.  The day had passed quickly for there had been so many people to meet and so many stories to tell and hear.  So about 4:30, I returned to my room to shower and change, then went to the lobby to wait for the others.

While there, I struck up a conversation with a young man who had asked me about my name tag.  It seems he was a West Point Cadet and was at Fort Sill for summer assignment and was interested in the Vietnam War and the part the Artillery played in it.  And through this conversation, I could see the importance of this reunion as more than just a meeting of old friends, but a way of conveying and passing on our part in history.

After everybody had gathered, the Goombi's being native Oklahomans, led the way.  We were going to a place called Meers Store and Restaurant and it was way out by the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.  The Goombi's took the scenic route and I rode with Sergeant Griffin and Suzy.  Sergeant Griffin kept insisting there was shorter way, having been there before.  But, the ride was beautiful, with its winding roads and piercing mountains, reminiscent of Vietnam's Central Highlands.

The restaurant was a hodgepodge of buildings at the foot of a mountain that seemed to be a part of a bygone era.  The specialty was good old fashioned Bar BQ.  The food was wonderful and the conversation delightful and the ride back faster taking Sergeant Griffin's shortcut.

After returning to Allin Hall and taking a short nap, I returned to the Hospitality Room where I ran into Bob Donnan.  Bob introduced me to Ronald B. Frankum, Ph.D. of Texas Tech University Vietnam Archive.  The Texas Tech University Board of Regents established The Vietnam Center in 1989.  Its principal function is to encourage study of all aspects of the American
Vietnam experience.  The holdings of the Vietnam Archive include a variety of subjects related to the political, military, cultural, social and economic nature of the Vietnam War.  Along with a collection of documents and memorabilia related to the Vietnam War, are the collective experience of those affected by the war and its aftermath.  They employ a full-time Oral Historian to collect oral histories from veterans and others whose lives paralleled the War in Vietnam.  For more information, you can call (806) 742-9010. Website: http://www.ttu.edu/vietnam

Friday morning, 29 June, 0800.  We loaded onto the buses for our tour. Ron and Captain Geisen stayed behind to play a few rounds of golf.  The first stop was the Old Post Quadrangle to attend a retirement ceremony.  This was done with real military flair and style.  Lead by the Fort Sill Marching Band, the soldiers of today's Army passed in review, followed by the Fort Sill Half Section, the Army's last horse-drawn field Artillery unit.  And with the distant sound of Artillery on a far off firing range, those that had served our country were honored.  Many of those among our group had already served this honor and one could see a sense of pride about them.

Our next stop was to see the Artillery of today. These systems were high tech and modern with improved speed of firing and propulsion.  But, it was the men behind the guns, who have carried on the tradition of "Artillerymen" that impressed me most.

That brings me to our next stop.  The Guns and Rocket Cafe -- what we used to call the Mess Hall, is now a dining facility, with an assortment of good food and comfortable seating areas -- a far cry from the box of "C" Rations and "Sandbag" that we had in Vietnam.  But today's Army has a renewed sense of professionalism that I felt we lacked during the Vietnam War.

After lunch we were off to the Fort Sill Museum. There, we strolled among rows of old cannons dating back to the First World War and on each I could picture a gun crew, now long gone.  And at the end of the walk was the "Proud American," a 175mm self-propelled howitzer -- the kind we of the 7/15th fired in Vietnam [Photo]. There we paused for one last look and to touch our own past for one last fleeting minute. [Story]

We boarded the bus one more time, and were transported back to the time when buffalo roamed the plains.  The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, a 59,020-acre reserve set aside by President William McKinley in 1901, is now teeming with buffalo, elk and prairie dogs.  We returned to Allin Hall, tired yet invigorated by all we had seen and done.

That night, I stayed up in the Hospitality Room until almost one o'clock in the morning just listening to the stories -- one person would start it and another would finish it.  Stories of long ago yesterdays would come alive again through rekindled memories and take on the image of a hologram as one teller would relate his part of the event.

Saturday, 30 June, 0900.  Bleary eyed, I made my way to the Observation Post Restaurant.  This was on the first floor of Allin Hall, as was my room.  I found a cup of coffee and made my way to a table to sit with Sergeant Griffin and Captain Hunter.

It was time to start the meeting.  Paul Battaglia gave us a splendid sermon on how we as Vietnam Veterans had stood in a time of great opposition and had defended an unpopular cause -- and for this, perhaps history will look upon us as true patriots.  Then he asked us to remember those that fell for this cause.  We read the list of names of those that fell in the line of duty and we remembered those that have passed on since.  Bill Goombi stood and remembered Bob Payton and I remembered Michael Bruce Mountain for his wife and comrades.

Next, we voted to keep the Association "informal" -- as opposed to a large, formal organization.  I think, as Vietnam Veterans, we tend to shy away from large, formal organizations and trust in the power of the individual.  But this meant that somebody would have to help take over some of the duties.  So I volunteered to take over the Newsletter from Davo so he could spend more time searching for "lost survivors".

We also voted to hold the next reunion in two years instead of three as we are all getting older and would like to meet again while we're all still around.  And we voted that the next reunion would be at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and hosted by Ray and Vandy Gatti.

We Hope You Plan To Attend!

That evening we held our Banquet.  The colors were presented by the Buffalo Soldiers, an organization, started by a group of guys like us, who got together for their own reunion.  And now that they are all gone, their "tradition" is being carried on by their descendants.

We took time to thank Luis & Virginia for their kindness and hospitality, Davo for his steadfastness, Bob Donnan for starting the whole thing, and all the others for making this the memorable event that it was.

That night we said our good byes and expressed our hopes to meet again in two years at Fort Bragg.

At 0600, 1 July, Ron and I loaded up his car and headed home.  But we will always remember the home of the Field Artillery.   


   
click thumbnail photos to enlarge
   
15th Artillery Reunion Group
   
Reun2001.JPG (153056 bytes) REU2001z.JPG (163063 bytes)

15th Group
with Paladins
   

15th Group
near Allin Hall
   

Fort Sill Retirement Ceremony
June 29, 2001
   
Re2001c.JPG (43550 bytes) Re2001d.JPG (55556 bytes)

15th reunion
group section
   

The colors
on review
   

Re2001e.JPG (46679 bytes) Re2001f.JPG (21951 bytes)

Ft. Sill
half section
   

Ft. Sill
water tower
   

Ft. Sill, Oklahoma
Reunion Group Tour
   
Re2001g.JPG (37818 bytes) Re2001h.JPG (34190 bytes)

Paladin
155mm
   

Artillery
projectiles
   

Re2001j.JPG (40926 bytes) Re2001i.JPG (38341 bytes)

MLRS
system
   

MLRS
pods
   

Re2001a.JPG (36013 bytes) Re2001b.JPG (36406 bytes)

105mm
Howitzer
   

Artillery
maintenance
   

Fire! Former members of B Battery listen up

Future
cannoneer?
   

B Battery
gets the tour
   

Artillery walk
   
REU2001d.JPG (23100 bytes) Re2001m.JPG (31562 bytes)

Tour
briefing
   

"Atomic
Annie"
   

Re2001o.JPG (36399 bytes) Re2001p.JPG (17115 bytes)

Refurbished
2/32 - M107
   

175 "PROUD
AMERICAN"
   

"PROUD AMERICAN"

The original PROUD AMERICAN in Vietnam
Photo: Mike Cronan
   

Re2001q.JPG (52098 bytes) Re2001r.JPG (35973 bytes)

Pete Peterson
reflecting
   

Davo with
newer 8-inch
   

Bus tour
   
Re2001s.JPG (19044 bytes) Re2001t.JPG (24829 bytes)

Two tour
buses
   

Enjoying
the scenery
   

Re2001u.JPG (33672 bytes) Re2001v.JPG (23373 bytes)

Reunion host
Luis Cantu
   

Ft Sill from
2,600 feet
   

A few of the participants
   
Zack the "iceman" taking a bubble break REU2001e.JPG (9735 bytes)

Reunion hostess
Virginia Cantu &
"Iceman" Zack
   

Davo presenting
a well-earned
award to Luis
   

Reunion hosts being recognized Guns and Rockets cafe

Virginia and Luis
receiving award
for job well done
   

Guns & Rockets
Cafe - the new
style 'mess hall'

REU2001c.JPG (12261 bytes) REU2001b.JPG (9075 bytes)

Gary Harrington
- new editor of
'The Highlander'
   

15th webmaster
briefing the
cyber troops
   

REU2001f.JPG (11094 bytes) REU2001g.JPG (6840 bytes)

Former gunbunny
Paul Battaglia
of Arizona
   

Dave Holdorf
leading the
meeting
   

REU2001h.JPG (26091 bytes) REU2001i.JPG (9838 bytes)

Saturday morning
meeting and
memorial

   

Nolan Putman
remembering Lt.
Gray [poem]
 
   

Re2001w.JPG (34703 bytes) Re2001x.JPG (24776 bytes)

Carol and
Mike Donley
   

Paul Hunter &
Jack Boggs(r)
   

See ya'll at Fayetteville in 2003!
   
 

   

15th Reunion Pages
  Reunion Homepage
  1992 Reunion - Pittsburgh, PA
  1995 Reunion - Clarksville, TN
  1998 Reunion - Louisville, KY
  7/15th Mini-Reunion - Kenosha, WI
  2001 Reunion - Ft. Sill, OK
  2/15th Reunions, Fort Wainwright
  2003 Reunion - Ft. Bragg, NC

      

______________________________________
   

[Complete list of US Army Vietnam artillery units]
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Attention 15th Field Artillery veterans!

Contact Davo with your unit information.
   
Copyright 1998-2009   LANDSCAPER.NET   All rights reserved.
Last modified 03 December 2012

______________________________________
   

[Complete list of US Army Vietnam artillery units]
[home]  [site map]  [contact us[
guestbook]  [welcome]  [search site]  [terms of use]
[WW1]  [WW2]  [Korean War]  [Vietnam War]  [Iraq War]
[what's new]  [links]  [announcements]  [15th reunions]
   

Attention 15th Field Artillery veterans!

Contact Davo with your unit information.
   
Copyright 1998-2009   LANDSCAPER.NET   All rights reserved.
Last modified 31 October 2016