Kilo 3/7 Ninth Annual Reunion was
held in Plymouth Meeting, PA at the Doubletree Suites Guest Hotel
640 West Germantown Pike
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
Recently I attended the 9th annual Kilo Company Reunion in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, I've attended every Kilo Company reunion and I still stand
in awe each year by the men who attend and that I had the privilege to serve
beside. All of us are in our 60's now, but for those 4 days we were 19 and
20 years old again. We embrace each other as brothers because, after all,
that IS what we are. I wish you all could know and feel the gratitude I have
every time I stand in your presence.
A memorial service is held to read the names of those Kilo Company members
that we have lost. As I stand with my brothers while those names are read,
tears roll down faces and we all say a quiet thanks for those still around
us. It is a huge part of who Kilo Company is and will always be.
Philadelphia was our biggest reunion so far. We keep growing from year to
year. All of us that were there owe our reunion hosts Joe and Jeanne McLenigan
a lot of thanks for all their thought and efforts that went into making our
stay in Philadelphia an enjoyable and memory filled time. Our attendance
this year was just under 225. Six of our gathering were our beloved corpsmen.
Seventeen members of Kilo Company made it for the first time.
Just like we did with Mike Company
in 1999 and 2000, Kilo 3/7 Iraq joined with us in Philadelphia in their quest
to start a reunion of their own. Besides Major Trent Gibson, the Battalion
Commander of 3/7 Iraq, there were 8 Iraq War, Kilo 3/7 vets present; an Iraqi
interpreter and Kinney Fontecchio with her son Elia J. Kinney's husband was
K.I.A. in Iraq.
Coming to our reunion from all over the United States to be with us, Jerry
Christensen and his wife Diane traveled the farthest as they came into join
us from Palmer, Alaska.
This year's memorial service started with Kilo Company boarding 5 busses
that would take us to the U.S.S. New Jersey. Along with the busses were over
40 motorcycles from "Warriors Watch Riders" and a similar amount from the
"Leathernecks MC" that escorted our column, front and rear, to the battleship.
Leaving the parking lot, our busses were led, and followed, by cars from
the Pennsylvania State Police. Arriving at the U.S.S. New Jersey, we had
an area set aside for our memorial service where Major Trent Gibson gave
a moving speech and we proceeded to honor our fallen brothers. Leaving the
memorial service and going on to our banquet was a different story. Getting
to the banquet this year was quite an experience. As with a lot of the things
we did while in Philadelphia, we took the bus. I've been in taxis in Japan
and those drivers had nothing on our bus drivers. They did the seemingly
impossible feat of maneuvering a too large vehicle through a too small space.
The spaces were so confined at times that one car coming our way had to pull
onto the sidewalk to get out of our way. The oncoming driver, and his passenger,
ceased their attempts at an altercation when they found out that every bus
was full of Marines.
The banquet itself was at the Polonia Hall. Bob and Georgiana Siksay are
members there and suggested it as our banquet site. The hall is a neighborhood
meeting place that served us a great meal, buffet style, and generally, made
us feel quite at home. The dance floor stayed full most of the night as a
talented D.J. played a nice mix of music that everyone seemed to like. A
side note on the banquet: Joe and Pat Miller lost everything in a home fire
earlier in the year, and unknown to them, a collection was taken over the
year for them. During the events at the banquet, Joe was presented with a
check from Kilo Company for over $1,200.00. Thanks right now to all of you
Our raffle always turns into something special and wouldn't be the same without
the help we always get from Dolly Condrey. She always makes things look so
easy and organized. Besides the regular raffle, a special raffle was held
to raise money for 2 Kilo projects. At the business meeting we decided to
open 2 separate accounts to donation. One would be for a "Tree Memorial"
at the Marine Corps Museum and the other will be for assisting a Kilo member
in need of the funds to travel to our reunion. There were 2 items donated
for this raffle; a print entitled "The Grunt", donated by Major Trent Gibson
and a print of the first flag raising at Iwo Jima, donated by Rick Ivy. Bill
Rolke will be in charge of those accounts. Anyone wishing to donate to the
fund can mail a check to Bill at: Bill Rolke, 4300 South Victoria Circle,
New Berlin, WI 53151. Make your check out to "Kilo Company" and specify "Museum"
or "Travel Fund" in the memo line of your check. Thanks.
At our business meeting we also voted on future reunion locations for 2009
and 2010, so get out your maps and calendars. For 2009, Colorado Springs,
Colorado got 50 out of 81 votes. We will be meeting there August 20-24, 2009.
For 2010, Portland, Oregon got 44 out of 84 votes. We will be meeting there
September 16-20, 2010. None of our reunions would be possible without the
efforts of Smitty and Peg Smith who do so much to make things happen. There
are others, too, behind the scenes that help in many other ways so a big
thanks must go to them as well.
Our reunion keeps growing and growing. As the years pass, more and more personal
link-ups are being made. Last year in San Antonio it was Jerry (Doc) Walker
and Henry Fletcher meeting up again after last seeing each other on 28 July,
1968. This year, it was Ken Lubawski and Walter Fay who had the same experience.
If you haven't been to our reunion, be sure to know that there is a friend
looking for you. A Final Thought: We meet to keep alive fading memories of
another time; a time in our lives which many have never experienced and others
would rather forget. Our reunions are a celebration by the survivors and
a commemoration, sadly, for those that did not return; a remembrance of those
past deeds that should never be forgotten.