Here’s the official itinerary for the 2017 Reunion in Colorado Springs, CO
Message from Harley Brinkley:
Jim Brick and I have a tee time at The Broadmoor Golf Club at 9:30AM on Thursday, October 5th, under my name. The Director of Golf waved the residence rule to play. Two or Three years ago Patricia and I stayed at the Broadmoor just so I could play golf, but the rains in Colorado were causing floods and mud slides everywhere. I could not play due to the water on the course.
If anyone would like to play with us, please contact us. You can check The Broadmoor web site for prices, etc.
Harley L. Brinkley
LTC, EN (Retired)
9416 E. 117th Street So.
Cell: (918) 859-7362
Reunion in Colorado Springs is fast approaching. If you have not made your reservations at the Elegante, please do so immediately. Cutoff date on the discounted rate is August 18, six days from today. See attached memo for more information on this and other items related to our reunion.
I encourage you to make the reunion if possible. The next one is two years away, 2019, and we’re not getting any younger or healthier. Let’s keep getting together as long we can to continue to share our stories on our time together and since then.
Our 31st Engineer Reunions have been as follows:
At our reunion, we will be entertaining suggestions and deciding on the 2019 reunion site. Be thinking about where you would recommend we go, the benefits and attractions of the place, transportation (airport), etc. The idea of a host couple proximate to the location is always beneficial to the planning. We’ve had a couple of calls for somewhere in the mid-west or somewhere east of the Mississippi in fairness to our folks in the eastern part of the U.S. I have been contacted with an .of interest by the Visitors Bureau for the Fort Jackson area.
Received a text message from our buddy Elliot Mock. He was our Bn Maintenance NCO promoted to WO in Black Horse and has had a perfect attendance to our reunions. He has cancelled out of Colorado Springs having had a heart attack in March and during recovery had an aneurysm in his left aorta artery in July He says to “give my very best to all our veteran brothers”. Let us each offer our prayers for Eliot’s full recovery and that he is able to resume his with us in our reunions. His phone number is (601) 870-6148.
Regards to all,
August 12, 2017
MEMORANDUM TO: Fellow Veterans of the 31st Engineer Battalion, Vietnam
FROM: Leo Farias, Executive Director, 31st Engineer Battalion Association
SUBJECT: Reunion Information
REUNION DATES AND PLACE: 5-8 October 2017, Colorado Springs, CO., Hotel Elegante
HOTEL RESERVATIONS. If you haven’t made your reservations and are planning to attend, make them now. For reservations call the Elegante at 800-981-4012 and mention you are with the 31st Engineer Battalion Reunion. Cut off date on the discounted rate is August 18, 2017 after which date rooms will be released to the public and may or may not be available. If you are not sure, you may make your reservation anyway since cancellation can be done no later than 24 hours prior to date of arrival to avoid a cancellation fee of first night’s charge and tax.
HOW IT’S SHAPING UP.
Room Reservations. Looking good at this point. As of a few days ago, 47 rooms (of the 65-room block being held for our reunion) had been reserved. As mentioned above, please take action now if you are planning to attend.
Banquet Reservations. The contract calls for advance Guaranteed Attendance to the Elegante. Please make your banquet reservations now, soon, but no later than September 22, 2017. Please refrain from showing up without notifying us on your banquet need and submitting payment. Cost of banquet is $45 per person. Make checks payable to: 31st Engineer Battalion Association, and mail to Warren DuBois, 906 W. Virginia Ave., Salem, MO. 65560.
Reunion Tasks. We are fortunate that volunteers in our midst and even relatives/friends of our members have stepped up to the plate to help. If called upon, avail yourself. Some of the tasks, just to mention a few are: Hotel recon, selection, and banquet coordination; Color Guard and speakers; Hospitality Room; audio-visual; sign-in; Missing Man Table; name tags, shirts and caps, info on local attractions; etc. There is much to be done between now and reunion dates.
Membership Dues. $25 for 2017-2018 (2 yrs) due now or at the reunion. Make checks payable to 31st Engineer Battalion Assoc., mail to Warren DuBois at afore-mentioned address.
Battalion Website. Google or go to website directly….31stengineerbattalion.com. “A site to behold”, words from good friend Fred Webb. Much information on our history, past and current posts, reunion information, information on Colorado Springs, etc. Webmaster June Robbins has done a fantastic job. Thanks, June. Her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fellow Vets,A reminder that our reunion in Colorado Springs, 5-8 Oct. 2017, is fast approaching. As we announced in the December 2016 invitation, this is an opportunity for veterans of the 31st to “reunite, rekindle the bond of brotherhood and the stories of our service together and enjoy the tourist attractions and spectacular beauty of scenic Colorado Springs”. Those of you planning to attend, make your reservations at the Elegante Hotel not later than 18 Augustby calling 800-981-4012 (mention 31st Engineer Association Reunion).Our banquet will be Saturday evening at a cost of $45 person. You need to make your reservations in advance by making checks payable to : 31st CBT ENGR BN ASSN. Mail to Warren DeBois, 906 W. Virginia Ave., Salem, MO. 65560, Additionally, membership dues of $25 for 2017-2018 (2 yrs) are payable to Warren, unless it is your preference to take care of this at the reunion.Hope to see many of you at the reunion.Sincerely,Leo FariasAssociation Director
Dear fellow Vietnam Vets,
No doubt you and I, and all the men of the 31st share a brotherhood, and a special bond based on our experiences, our accomplishments, and our service to country during one of the most turbulent periods in modern American history. As our 2017 Reunion draws near, I am reaching out to former members of B Company, 31st Combat Engineer Battalion, Vietnam.
In 1968 during the Battalion’s first year of deployment to Vietnam, Camden McConnell and I each served in succession as Company Commander. In friendship, Camden and I respectfully encourage your attendance and participation in the 2017 Reunion, October 5-8, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The location is Hotel Elegante Conference and Event Center, 2886 South Circle Drive, Colorado Springs, 80906 or on-line www.hotelelegante.com. If you know of others who served with you and might be interested in attending the Reunion, please reach out to them or contact me and I’ll do everything I can to connect with them. Other points of contact are Leo Farias, Director, 31st Combat Engineer Battalion Association, (361) 815-7749. Leo is overseeing the 2017 Reunion and has planned an attractive program of events and accommodations.
One other point of information: PBS (public television) will broadcast a documentary about the Vietnam War on affiliated stations across the country in mid-September. Filmmaker Ken Burns has produced many notable and award-winning documentaries. Two of his most significant are “The Civil War,” and “Baseball” – both were well-researched, and presented the perspectives of the common man. As a former member of the board of directors of PBS in northern California, I conveyed my views to Mr. Burns and his team last year. In response, his team asked for a couple of images of the men of the 31st in a noncombat setting. They are attached to this email. I don’t know if they will be used or not in the film or in promotional materials, but I wanted you to see them. I believe the pictures were taken around April-May ’68.The location is Black Horse Base Camp, Xuan Loc, headquarters of the 31st and the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment. You may recognize some of these men.
In closing, I hope you hold your service and your memories as dear as I do.
I look forward to seeing you in October.
Stephen L. Johnson
Twenty six men of Company C 31st Combat Engineer Battalion became the first engineers to reach Cambodian soil on May 5th. A bridge destroyed by a stunned and retreating enemy kept the 11th Armored Cav. from encircling the enemy sanctuary. After combat assaulting with the 11th ACR into the dense jungle, they were able to clear the mangled bridge away.
The first of a three bridge section assembled in Quan Loi by the 79th Engineer Company was brought in by Sky Crane to be wrestled into position by Charlie Company Engineers.
While the road to Memot was inching its way forward, other engineers including Charlie Company were building their way to Snoul chasing the NVA back toward their headquarters. Then the word was received that “The City” had been found. Company C 31st Engineer Bn and 557th Engineers were dispatched to begin ripping a trail while under enemy fire to “The City” and “Rock Island East” then began removing tons and tons of NVA supplies, destroying what was left.
Many Engineers were killed or wounded during this operation. For their action, Charlie Company 31st Combat Engineers was awarded a Citation for Valor.
John Lough served with the 31st Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Army) and was wounded during the Cambodian Incursion in 1970. He is a Purple Heart recipient.
If you served with the 31st Engineer Battalion and have an experience to you’d like to share, please email the editor. Thank you.
Submitted stories are not verified for historical accuracy; they are personal accounts as told by those who experienced them. Comments are welcome.
Fellow Vets/Association Members,
An invitation to a ball appeared in our blog from LTC Charles Gray, the current Battalion Commander for the 31st Engineer Battalion, Fort Leonard Wood. Please send him a message or call him if you are able to make the ball!
Good afternoon! My name is LTC Charles Gray, and I am the current BN CDR for the 31st EN BN at Fort Leonard Wood. I’m looking for Veterans of the 31st who live in close enough to FLW to possibly attend our upcoming Ball on 03 Dec 16. This is the first one we have done. I know this is not early enough notice to have folks fly in but would welcome Veterans of the 31st who can make it. My cell phone number is (417) 848-2415. I look forward to discussing!V/R,LTC Charles Gray
The 31st Association’s mission is to encourage our 31st Engineer Battalion Veterans family to reunite again, rekindle our brotherhood, share stories about our time together then and now; to enjoy fellowship with old friends and new; and to enjoy the tourist attractions and amenities. Our next reunion is in Colorado Springs, Colorado in October 2017.
The 2017 reunion is less than a year away… start making your plans now!
After much research by the planning team, a hotel has been selected: Hotel Elegante Conference and Event Center. We have secured a Sales Agreement with the Hotel Elegante. The hotel appears to be an elegant and military-friendly.
Details to follow shortly. Look for an email this week from our Executive Director, Leo Farias! We look forward to seeing you in Colorada Springs!
HHC, 31st Engineer Battalion (Combat), US Army, Vietnam
Our battalion of the 31st Engineers was attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at Blackhorse base camp in 1968, during the Vietnam War. Base camp was about 6 miles from Xuan Loc village, which was about 30 miles east of Saigon. During our first few weeks we were busy with our regular duty as well as trying to improve our living quarters (Army tents stretched over wooden frames) which was referred to as “the hooch”. Our hooch provided a home away from home for me and my buddies James D. (“JD”) Gillis, Douglas Leo Neely, Sam J. Van Riper and Joseph P. (“Joe”) Shahum.
After duty hours we typically spent time cleaning gear and weapons, writing letters to loved ones back home and reading letters after mail call. We spent time just talking with our buddies about the day’s challenges as well as what the next day might bring and routinely drank a few or more beers. In base camp time passed slowly and we constantly sought various ways to avoid the boredom. We had some fun playing poker, talking, laughing and reliving the events of the day.
On evening before dark I noticed a couple soldiers outside, playing catch. I walked over to them and mentioned to them how smart they were to bring their gloves and a ball. They told me they got the gloves and ball from the supply section. The next day I went to supply to see what kind of equipment they had. I was surprised to find gloves, balls, catcher equipment, bases … even a home plate! They had everything you needed to play a softball game.
The next morning I excitedly mentioned what I’d found to Lt Leo Farias, the company commander and suggested that we capitalize on the find by building a softball field for the troops – it would give us something to do in the evening, help keep us in shape, great for morale and would be fun and a distraction from the war.
Lt Farias was immediately supportive, but wondered where we would find an area that could be used for the ball field. Having already checked out several potential areas, I showed him the best one I’d found and explained how it could be done. He agreed that it would be good for the morale of the men and arranged for me to present the proposal to Colonel Patterson, the Battalion Commander.
Farias jumped right on it and a short time later he informed me to report to Headquarters to talk to the commander. Colonel Patterson listened intently until I was finished and then responded, “That sounds good to me, but where can we find space for a field?” I gave him my thoughts and he asked me to show him the exact area. I pointed out the area and a few trees which we’d have to take down and showed him how we could lay out the field. He asked me if I could get enough men to volunteer their time to accomplish and I assured him that I could. He said “OK; approved! You are in charge of getting it done ASAP” and that he would arrange to have a grader at our disposal the next morning at 0700 hours to remove the trees. He finished our conversation with, “I’m looking forward to playing some softball myself, Sharp; as I’m sure the men will.” With an emphatic “Yes sir; thank you, sir!” I was quickly out of his office headed to pass the good news to the rest of the guys.
A number of men from Headquarters Company promptly volunteered to help build the ball field and work began immediately. We worked on the field as time permitted and all had fun doing it. It was only a few days later that we had finished the field, complete with a chain link back stop, wooden benches and lime to mark the foul lines. What great excitement we all shared working on this together!
Our first game began with 2 teams: Officers versus enlisted men! The game was marked by varying levels of athleticism and lots of good sportsmanship. We urged our team on and razzed our opponents, laughing and kidding all the while. That first game on our new ball field provided us a venue and sport just like we’d find if we were back home, even though we were very far from home.
That was just the beginning of our ball games. As the word spread, other teams comprised of 31st Engineer Battalion soldiers were formed and the great fun continued, long after I left my buddies to go back home. We all said it didn’t matter who won and I suppose that was true. At the end of the game both teams left the field with heads held high, still discussing the high and low points of their efforts that day.
I will always remember that softball field and the times we played ball in that very tough place during that very hard time. You learn a lot about a person during an athletic endeavor and our efforts on that field taught me much about those with whom I served, regardless of their rank or years of service. The undertaking provided substantial exercise in which all the men could take part – on an equal basis. It increased morale, built esprit and provided a positive focus for what would follow a tough day operating heavy combat engineer equipment in the hot southeast-Asian sun.
Those games on that ball field brought us all closer together. I will always remember my comrades and buddies, young as we were; but also those we did not know so well, but lived and served with us in Vietnam – the great officers, NCO’s and men we were with every day. We laughed with each other and we cried for all those who were wounded and those who died. Although far from home, we cared for all who served with us at Blackhorse base camp no matter what rank, color, or religion.
We were a Band of Brothers, eternally bonded with those who served our country in the past, those who serve now and those who will serve America in the future.