USMC, 1st Radio Battalion, Vietnam Veterans

Stories - Parris Island

Dave Ekardt - Reunion - May, 2002
Well it has come and gone, and we had a great time! We had18 show up and that is a record so far. John Heikkala, James Leake, Rick Swan,Bob Eisenhauer, Dan Ingersoll, Will Easley, Terry Sarner, Sergio Kapfer, BobRatliff, Roger Baldwin, Kevin Breslin, John Cook, Clark Slade, Lyndol Butler,Jack Pfaff, Bob Straight, Dave Ekardt, Howie Stove.

The weather was great; the visit to Parris Island was nice - not much has changed (except maybe the language is a lot cleaner). We visited the base museum, gift shop and PX, plus some of the guys took an extended drive around the base. The woman in charge of the gift shop had been a WM warrant officer in charge of the WM mess hall when some of us went through and did our week of mess duty in boot camp. She was a great help and had directed us to two very good restaurants.

The sound of a DI’s voice carried across the base bringing back many a memory as we strolled around. As the latecomers showed up we managed to get them onto base to see what they could. Late Friday night as we knocked back a few beers and swapped afew stories, we got a very static-filled call from Clark Slade and Jack Pfaff.  They were flying in Clark’s plane and had to make a landing at a little country airstrip about a hundred miles north because of a storm. They really wanted to relive the Marine experience as they enjoyed a night hike through the back roads of South Carolina to get to a motel. They tried again in the morning, however the weather would not allow, so we rescued them.

Some of the guys enjoyed a boat ride around the bay, and the others enjoyed the food festival in Beaufort. Again, the best story was the Gorilla Story as told by our consummate story teller, Will Easley. Many thanks to those who helped keep things running, Will, Jim, Roger and others for the transportation, Ike for the challenge coins from 1st Radio Bn, Kevin who made tee shirts for everyone, and those who picked up the occasional tab for food, Jim, Sergio, and Bobby R for the room, and those who pitched in for snacks and beer (hope I didn’t forget anyone).

A special thanks goes to John Cook, who provided a copy of the orders of one of the two large contingents of the battalion as it re-deployed to Hawaii, which provided the names of 85 more guys for us to try to find. Bobby R thinks he has a copy of the second contingent, so we have the possibility of reassembling the entire battalion for the next reunion!

After much discussion for next year, the plans are to hold it the first weekend in May, in Quantico, VA. The tentative plan is to see the Marine museum there, and possibly the IwoJima Monument, the Vietnam wall, and if we’re real lucky, the Friday colors ceremony at 8th and I, put on by the Marine Band and Silent Drill team. Sergio, Bob Straight and Bob Eisenhauer are going to try to set things up for this one. Once again, it was great getting back together with everyone, and look forward to next year. For you guys that missed out, try to get there next year. Semper Fi.