709th Maint. Bn. & 99th CSB Assoc.

2009 Reunion Photos


2009 Reunion After Action Report

2009  709th & 99th Reunion Photos

Page 1

By Steve Fetty

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2009  709th & 99th Reunion Photos

Page 2

By Steve Fetty

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2009  709th & 99th Reunion Photos

Solders Stories

By Steve Fetty

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2009  709th & 99th Reunion Photos

By EJ Fetty

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2009  709th & 99th Reunion Photos

By John F. Howard

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2009  709th & 99th Reunion Photos

By James Lambert

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2009  709th & 99th Reunion Photos

By Mike Palmeri

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2009  709th & 99th Reunion Photos

By Pat Weachter

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2009  709th & 99th Reunion Photos

Sun Flowers

By EJ Fetty

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2009  709th & 99th Reunion Photos

Group Photos

By Steve Fetty

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2009  709th & 99th Reunion Photos

Over Head Photos

By Steve Fetty

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2009 Reunion After Action Report


Thank You Notes Below


(From Jim Bury, Assn VP) 


The 2009 5th Annual Reunion got underway Wednesday afternoon as “brothers” of the 709th Maintenance Battalion and 99th Combat Support Battalion started gathering at the beautiful countryside home of Dean and Kathy Ayres near Baltimore. Plenty of refreshments were available throughout the day as we reconnected and began 3+ days of reminiscing and “catching up”. Our anticipation of what Dean would serve for dinner was well rewarded with his customary first night whole roasted pig, along with broccoli salad, chili and Maryland crab soup!!


Thursday morning weather was heavy clouds and a few sprinkles as about 35 of us boarded a bus to Arlington Cemetery.  Our favorite driver, Howie, met us at the Hampton Inn parking lot (what service!) and did his usual great job of driving by some of the sites on the way to Arlington: The Capitol, Smithsonian, National’s baseball stadium, Capitol Mall, etc. Kenny Foss was our tour leader and did his stellar “adjutant’s” job of keeping things moving, often adding bits of military history. It took about 90 minutes to reach Arlington, and once there we hopped on a tour trolley for a stop at the gravesites of President Kennedy and his brothers Robert and Ted, all within a few steps of each other.

We then went directly to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for changing of the guard. Immediately following the ceremony we had a terrific presentation in the amphitheater by one of the current sentinels. He seemed so young and full of “P&V”--probably what they said about many of us 40+ years ago. We had a lot of questions-- How one becomes a sentinel? His recruiter steered him that way. What the duties entail and how long one serves? Generally until you train someone to succeed you or if you screw up and are relieved. It was very interesting to learn that once you become a member of the Old Guard, you are a member for life—the responsibility never ends. But if you foul up, generally through careless behavior, you’re history. Today the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier includes the remains of 3 soldiers--1 each from WWI, WWII and Korea. A few years ago, the remains of a Vietnam War soldier at rest in the Tomb of the Unknown were exhumed, identified through forensics and turned over to the family. Since our visit I Googled the Tomb of the Unknown and found a lot of additional extremely interesting information and I recommend all of you do the same—very interesting stuff. (Also see Kenny Foss’ e-mailed recap of the Arlington trip)

In addition to his arranging the sentinel presentation, Kenny Foss attempted for many weeks to get us a tour of the stables area. But that was not to be, so we spent a little more time with a stop at the Arlington House, which for many years was the home of Robert E. Lee, the famous Confederate General who married into money and was a high-ranking U.S. Army officer before he resigned his commission to join the Confederate forces in the Civil War. The summit on which the house sits offers a spectacular panorama of DC--many of our cameras were clicking.

Around 2PM we returned to the bus just as rain started and opened a “picnic basket” Dean provided—plenty of refreshments and BBQ chicken. Boy, did that hit the spot as we had been on the road since 8AM. While many of us visited on the way home a few were able to catch a nap, likely in anticipation of an evening of visiting as more “brothers” would likely have arrived at Dean’s during our DC bus trip. On the return trip, Howie drove by the popular Inner Harbor area, which is a major attraction in downtown Baltimore. We returned to the Hampton about 3:30PM. Later we all headed to Dean’s for more visiting and dinner of pit beef, sausage, scalloped potatoes, baked beans and coleslaw.


Friday dawned with clearing skies and continued throughout the day. We started to gather at Dean’s at 10am and at noon had another terrific meal—pit beef, pork, SOS, chili and Maryland crab soup.

Later in the afternoon Kenny Foss kicked off 2+ hours of Soldier Stories with a presentation on the meaning of the 9th Infantry Division Octofoil insignia. Soldier Stories is always a highlight and seems to get better every year, as we seem to “open up” more as time goes by. This year we encouraged stories about experiences after the war as well, and also invited wives to share their stories. We heard stories of “everyday everything was new” for the 1966 first wave; struggles w/PTSD and Agent Orange symptoms following the return home; lack of recognition for service and few questions asked, even by close family members; wives thinking the worst when mail from Vietnam was slow or “past due”; not realizing what a “big deal” the war was until marrying a Vietnam Vet and coming to our reunions; being married 10 days before going over; retracing steps from Ft. Riley to the 1966 CA debarkation point; Vietnam war Memorials around the US; wives encountering verbal abuse by college campus anti-war protestors; wives’ view of married life on base; taking 2 years to muster enough courage to talk during Soldier Stories and how it took weight of the shoulders. And, of course, there were numerous accounts of in-country experiences.

Dinner that night was BBQ chicken, steamed broccoli/cauliflower, pasta and broccoli salads. 


Saturday was a gorgeous and sunny day as weather peaked for the final day of the reunion. For the week, weather generally improved each day and was cool in the AM, warming throughout the day and then jackets/sweaters at night.  At noon Dean served grilled fresh-ground burgers, potato salad and coleslaw.

Later we held the annual Assn Meeting, which lasted about 2 hours.  President Wendell Schafer was not able to attend the reunion as a result of his father’s health. In his absence, I chaired the meeting.  Jack DeLong presented the Treasurer’s Report and we discussed finances at length as the treasury has declined in the past few years. We approved a $5 increase in annual dues effective 1/1/2010 and we agreed that reunions should be managed to break even. Jack reminded us that a donations envelope was available throughout the reunion. After John Blanchette’s Membership report, we discussed ways to maintain and increase membership. All of us will attempt to contact 1 or more association members who appear to be letting their membership lapse. Mike Palmeri then recounted how he and other ‘68-’69 HQ&A Armament Section members recruited 2 new members who attended this reunion (there are now 6 from that group—WOW!!!). Amazingly 2 new members from E Company arrived during the meeting (that membership discussion sure paid off early).  Some months ago, Dean Ayres indicated he would prefer to host the reunion every other year. After lengthy discussion, we agreed to join the 9th Infantry Division Society for the 2010 reunion to be held in May or June in Nashville TN, where Dean also does some BBQ. At the end of the meeting, Dave Sennick presented the Association a thank you letter received from his local councilwoman in appreciation for donations he had made throughout the year on behalf of the 709th/99th for “care packages” to our troops in the Mideast. We applauded Dave for this terrific contribution as an excellent example to follow. Secretary Roy Frances will publish complete minutes of the meeting when he gets back home to California following his cross-country jaunt to the reunion.

Late in the afternoon, a number of us enjoyed a long, nostalgic hayride (even a bit of singing) provided by one of Dean’s neighbors. The rest of the afternoon was devoted to continued camaraderie and visiting. For dinner, Dean served the usual final night’s mouth-watering NY strip steaks, baked potato, steamed asparagus w/melted butter and mushrooms/peppers/onions. (I took an extra cholesterol pill at bedtime that night).

We enjoyed stunning fireworks a little after 8PM, and immediately thereafter held the closing ceremony under the tent. We paid tribute to all attending Association members and guests for making the past 3+ days another successful reunion. We also gave special recognition to members and wives who shared very personal thoughts and feelings during the Soldier Stories on Friday; to Dean and Kathy Ayres for their incredible hospitality, hard work and cooking; and to Dean and Kathy’s crew and volunteers who served such wonderful food, maintained facilities and provided other services. The poem “Old Soldiers Never Die”, written by our own Frank Montoya, was read as a tribute to Larry “Short-round” Mattera, a dear brother who died in early August and who was a relentless worker for the VFW.  We read the roll call of our 10 brothers who died while on duty in Vietnam, and Jim Lambert then led us in a closing prayer.


Treasurer Jack DeLong has reported that contributions at the reunion totaled $500—a huge THANK YOU to all who contributed.


After spending 35 years working and raising a family it seemed I finally had time to do some things I always wanted to.  For years I had not reflected a lot on my military service. But in recent years events and interests started bringing back memories of my Vietnam experience. The Iraq War gets lots of press, especially on the 10PM news here in Mpls.-St. Paul when a unit deploys and returns. That has led to follow-up stories about the Vietnam Vet, many of whom quietly went to serve and quietly returned--no fanfare/no bands/no flag waving/alone-ignored. In addition, in recent years I attended a few air shows, went on a few military day trips--Pensacola Naval Air Museum/DC War Memorials--and watched Band of Brothers more than once.

In mid-2007 I joined the American Legion and started watching the Reunions section of the monthly magazine.  About 9 months later there it was—709th/99th. On 6/30/08 at 9:27PM I e-mailed the listed contact-Dean Ayres. At 8:43AM the next morning I received a reply from Dean that “they were looking for me”, “we moved you from the lost to the found list” and ”did you know we have a website-Always Able?”  I checked the website and saw pictures of men I had served with, places I had seen and things I had done 40 years before. I cried.  That evening I received an e-mail from Frank Montoya—a hutch mate w/709th HQ&A for most of my tour. One week later, Sherrill Chaffin, my CO in Vietnam, sent e-mail. Dean had spread the word. This is what happens when you join this group.

2008 was my first reunion and it was overwhelming. Men I had served under and men who served under me—men who served before me and men who served after me—career soldiers who served multiple tours and draftees/volunteers (like me) who just wanted to do their job and go home. But we all share a common bond—our service in a land far away from home, with the same outfit, and our reliance on each other while there—we had our mission, our customers, and we had each other—a band of brothers.

To those of you who have attended our reunions, thank you for your active participation in our Assn and adding to the camaraderie we enjoy. You are the Old Reliables-Always Able-the Active Support.

To those of you have not been to a reunion, please consider attending one as soon as possible. You will be taken back 40 years during Soldier Stores, have personal conversations around the tables, enjoy terrific meals and take bus trips to interesting destinations. But more importantly, you will partake of the camaraderie and spirit of your band of brothers.

I hope to C-U in Nashville!! 

Jim Bury

Assn VP

HQ&A 67-68


2 weeks away from my own bed , sure feels good to be back home.
2300 miles of driving for a guy who hates driving is to much. I may just stay more grouchy then normal for a few days. LOL

Dean, Kathy, Beth and crew, THANKS for another GREAT reunion!

Hope more of the guys here and on the Octofoil site will be able to attend next year in Nashville. You will love it!




Maureen and I are now back home.

We wish to thank you and your wife and family for opening your home for the reunion.

We truly enjoyed ourselves.

I hope you are able to make it to Nashville if the gathering is here next year.

I have been inspired to convert my slides to digital format.

I will send you a copy whenever that task is complete.

John Organ


To All,

We had a great time at this years reunion! As in previous years, Dean, Kathy and family provided us with host and hostess with the mostess. 

For those of you who couldn't attend this gathering, we had a couple of firsts. First, many of us visited Arlington Cemetery, some for the first time. The bus trip was excellent with Howie as our driver. (How can a guy stay so cool and collected with all the traffic?) As we arrived at Arlington, we ticketed on the Tour Mobile through the cemetery grounds. POV's and buses are not allowed unless it is for a funeral and there are many of those every day. There are 27 to 31 funerals every day at Arlington! The mobiles stop at three locations. They are: The Kennedy grave site, The Tomb of the Unknown and finally Arlington House (The Custis-Lee Mansion). At the Kennedy plot besides the President and immediate family, adjacent you find the graves of his brothers Bobby and Ted. John John his son is not buried at Arlington. In fact, his remains were cremated and scattered in the Atlantic Ocean.  

Behind the Tomb of the Unknown, we were provided a behind the scenes briefing by a tomb guard. He was what you would expect of a Tomb guard...tall, intelligent and a perfect example of what a soldier guarding the Tomb should be. It made every one of us proud to see the heritage of the American soldier. Cpt Kegel, our host for this brief along with another female soldier from the Old Guard, 3rd Infantry Regt., also were present to answer any of our questions. 

Next first, Dean had a bucket lift operator visit the property for an aerial photo of the grounds and we, who gathered next to the flag pole. Each of us received a copy of the photo taken by Steve Fetty, a glossy 10 by 14? We also received a copy of the official group photo taken yearly. 

The food was outstanding as is always the case. We had the pork pull, side of beef, hamburgers, chicken and steaks on the grill as in previous years. There were some changes in menu when it came to the side dishes. All was delicious, thank you! 

We had the traditional hay ride and of course the "professional" fireworks display on Saturday night. We finished the reunion with remembrance and prayers provided by Jim Lambert. 

Wish that more brothers could have attended this years gathering. But I must add that Company E "originals" were well represented. A surprise visit on Saturday came our way with Lionel Graves and Al Smith joining us for the first time from the Fort Riley contingent. There were six of us "originals" at the reunion. We had in addition to the above named guys John Blanchette, Jack DeLong, Roy Francis and me, Kenny Foss. 

Guys, please feel free to add to this discourse. This old soldier doesn't remember everything. 




We just had our fifth 709th reunion.  It was a good gathering of the guys that served in Vietnam during our time frame.  We contacted a few new members from Charlie Company.  Our company supply clerk, Mike Caywood joined us from Indiana.  He is now a elementary school Principle. We had a good visit with he and his wife, Nan.  

We would like to get you back in the fold and it was noted that your membership expired in January 2009.  Would you please consider rejoining.  The fee is a nominal $40.00 for a three year membership, although it will increase after the first of the year because we badly need to raise some capital. 

Our next reunion will be held with the 9th Infantry Division near Ft. Campbell Kentucky.  This is not far from Nashville.  Your might want to consider coming.  It will probably be sometime the middle of May. 


Frank Szusatk


Dean and Kathy, 

As always this past reunion was a great success.  We deeply appreciate all the work that you and your staff put into making this event so successful.  Everyone had a great time and probably went home five pounds heavier.  Fortunately the weather cooperated.  Jim Bury, Kenny Foss, Jack DeLong, and our membership chairmen all did outstanding work.  I hope we can get good participation for our next reunion.  It was a pleasure to see you both again.

Frank and Mary Ann


Thanks again for all you and Kathy and the rest of your family do for all of us. We greatly appreciate all your efforts.  See you next year.

 Frank and Ruth DeWert


Hi Dean, 

Just a note to say Donna and I had a safe trip home. Many thanks to you, Kathy and Beth for another wonderful reunion. Getting together with the new E- Company brothers made it even more enjoyable, if that is possible. 

Thanks again, 

John Blanchette


Thank you for the wonderful time we all had this past reunion.  This also includes Kathy and your daughter and everyone else as well.  Both Linda and myself feel greatful for all you have to do.  And I do know that you will miss doing this next year.
Linda and I want to also wish you and Kathy a very happy anniversary.
Again, thank you for a marveleous gathering.
Shelly and Linda Marcus



Just returned from 4 days of being wined and dined compliments of our host Dean Ayres and his family. The camaraderie at this reunion was among the best I've seen in all travels. The food was, well what can I say, you just had to be there to enjoy the smell and taste of some real fine cooking. The fellowship was extraordinary, I came there as a newbie and left feeling like everyone there was a long time friend. Those of you who missed out on this fabulous reunion will have to wait until the 2011 reunion, when Dean has graciously accepted to host it again. My thanks to the Ayres family and all the brethren who were in attendance who made this a very very memorable reunion.

Tony Stabinsky
HQ & A Co 709th (1967)  

Page Started 6/6/10

Last updated 6/6/10