Pleiku Reunion History
1988 saw the beginning of what was to become the Pleiku Air Base Vietnam Veterans Association. This is a brief history of each reunion.
Please click on the individual reunion boxes to view the description
Reunion 1 - 1988, Location: Coopersburg, PA, Number of attendees: 4 members
The first reunion occurred in 1988 when a group of transportation veterans from Pleiku met in Pennsylvania. It was a small gathering of four veterans: John Pike, John Riley, Bob Edwards and Terry Csanadi. Terry hosted the group in Coopersburg PA. The men shared memories of their time in Pleiku and vowed to find other men who had served at Pleiku. Plans were made to hold another reunion hosted by Bob Edwards in Franklin PA.
Reunion 2 - 1989, Location: Franklin, PA, Number of attendees: 11 members
In 1989, seven other men joined the four original members: Steve Trosper, Mike Mattingly, Bob Dougherty, Ray Chenier, Herb Richardson, Rich Barnhardt and Dennis Masa. These men came from various parts of the country to meet at Bob Edwards home in Franklin PA. The group visited a local war memorial in South Park and held the first memorial service.
Reunion 3 - 1990, Location: Bowling Green, KY, Number of attendees: 40 members
Steve Trosper hosted the reunion in 1990 in Bowling Green KY. In only the third year of the gatherings, the number of attendees jumped to 40 that included the veterans, and spouses. A picnic shelter was the site of the reunion and the men shared memories of their time at Pleiku.
Reunion 4 - 1991, Location: Dayton, Ohio, Number of attendees: 40 members
The Marriott hotel in Dayton Ohio was the site of the 1991 reunion. Forty veteran and spouses attended the reunion. This reunion was a 4-day event and included tours of the local area and a planned dinner at the hotel. The group paid tribute to the men who did not return home from Pleiku.Reunion Photos
Reunion 5 - 1992, Location: Cape Cod, MA, Number of attendees: 12 members plus spouses
The Fourth Cliff Family Recreation Center operated by the USAF out of Hanscom Air Force Base was the site for the 5th reunion. Events, happening over the four-day reunion, included a picnic, an old-fashioned New England clambake with live entertainment and a dinner. The memorial service included a laying of a wreath, taps and a salute to those airmen who did not make it home.Reunion Photos
Reunion 6 - 1993, Location: Philadelphia, PA, Number of attendees: 13 members plus spouses
The 6th annual reunion was held in the historic district of Philadelphia. Veterans and their guests were able to do some sightseeing in Philadelphia and Camden NJ. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial near Penn Landing was the site for the memorial service with the wreath laying, and playing of taps along with a special A-10 fly over to honor those who did not make it home. A dinner and dancing concluded the reunion on Saturday night.
1994 - No reunion was held
Reunion 7 - 1995, Location: Washington, DC, Number of attendees: 13 members plus spouses
Members travelled to Washington DC for the 1995 reunion. A visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was the highlight of the reunion. The dinner included a speaker from the National League of Families, an MIA-POW organization who spoke about the MIA issues.Reunion Photos
Reunion 8 - 1996, Location: Nashville, TN, Number of attendees: 14 members plus spouses
The 1996 reunion was held in Nashville, TN. Activities included a night at the Grand Ole Opry and a dinner at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Lodge. For the first time in many years, a group called the Starlighters of Pleiku AB reunited and played some of the songs from 1968. This group played at many different firebases and areas that USO performers could not reach. Members of the group are James “Bull” Durham, on guitar and lead singer, Marshall Whitner on guitar, Ray Course on guitar, and Steve “Mad Dog” Trosper on drums.
Reunion 9 - 1997, Location: Niagara Falls, NY, Number of attendees: 12 members plus spouses
Niagara Falls was the site for the 9th annual reunion. The memorial service was held at a monument site near Buffalo NY. Sightseeing and a dinner at the hotel rounded out the activities. The group enjoyed an encore performance by the Starlighters playing those old tunes once again.Reunion Photos
Reunion 10 - 1998, Location: Las Vegas, NV, Number of attendees: 14 members plus spouses
This reunion saw a smaller number of attendees. Fourteen members attended along with some spouses. The host hotel, located off the strip, was Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Center. The site for the memorial service was the Southern Nevada Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery near Boulder City, NV. Dinner was held at the local VFW with the Quartermaster of the post as the head chef. Members were able to do some sightseeing and attended several Vegas shows.Reunion Photos
Reunion 11 - 1999, Location: Baltimore, MD, Number of attendees: 17 members plus spouses
This year saw an increase in the number of attendees. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was the site for our memorial service this year. The hotel was located in Timonium Maryland. Members and their guests road the MARC train to the Inner Harbor for shopping and dining. This year saw an added surprise to the reunion. Hurricane Floyd, a Category 3 hurricane, passed through the area. This was the beginning of one of many natural disasters that seem to follow the group.Reunion Photos
Reunion 12 - 2000, Location: Dayton, OH, Number of attendees: 18 members plus spouses
The group decided to return to The National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The location of this reunion was the Howard Johnson Express Inn.
Reunion 13 - 2001, Location: Pittsburgh, PA, Number of attendees: 22 members plus spouses
The 2001 reunion was bittersweet. The reunion dates were September 12 through September 15 only one day following the day that will live in history in our country – September 11, 2001 when our country was attacked. There was much discussion about canceling the reunion however, the board decided to continue with the reunion to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11 as well as our fallen comrades. The Green Tree Radisson Hotel was the host hotel with the memorial service being held at the Soldiers and Sailors Hall in Oakland, PA. Despite, the events of the time, there was a good turnout for this reunion with 22 members attending in addition to their spouses.Reunion Photos
Reunion 14 - 2002, Location: Indianapolis, IN, Number of attendees: 23 members plus spouses
The Medal of Honor Memorial in the heart of downtown Indianapolis was the site for this year’s memorial service. The host hotel was the Clarion Waterfront Plaza Hotel in the Speedway section of Indianapolis. Twenty- three members attended along with spouses. This year, major storms and a tornado came through town while we were in residence.Reunion Photos
Reunion 15 - 2003, Location: Winston-Salem, NC, Number of attendees: 21 members plus spouses
The Hawthorne Inn and Conference Center in Winston-Salem NC was the host hotel for the 2003 reunion marked by Hurricane Isabel, a Category 2 hurricane. However, 21 members and their spouses braved the hurricane to attend the reunion. Our outdoor memorial service again paid tribute to our fellow brothers that did not return home with us.Reunion Photos
Reunion 16 - 2004, Location: Philadelphia, PA, Number of attendees: 20 members plus spouses
In 2004, we returned to Philadelphia to the Holiday Inn International Airport in Essington PA. This year Hurricane Ivan, a Category 3 Hurricane, greeted us on Friday and Saturday. The memorial service was held at the hotel due to the hurricane but the final wreath service was held on Sunday morning at the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Twenty members and their spouses attended.Reunion Photos
2005 - No reunion was held
Reunion 17 - 2006, Location: Bowling Green, KY, Number of attendees: 37 members plus spouses
This was one of our biggest reunions with 61 people attending. The Ramada Inn was the host hotel for the 2006 reunion. Attendees enjoyed a causal BBQ by the pool of the hotel. The memorial service remembered our brothers who did not return home.
Reunion 18 - 2007, Location: Branson, MO, Number of attendees: 47 members and spouses
This year we traveled to Branson with 61 people attending. Our host hotel was the Welk Resort. A tour of Branson was offered to attendees with stops at the Veterans Memorial Museum, Branson Landing, the Titanic Experience and then in the evening a show - the New Shanghai Circus. The memorial service this year was held at the hotel. The reunion closed with a banquet on Saturday night along with a group photo.Reunion Photos
Reunion 19 - 2008, Location: Fredericksburg, VA, Number of attendees: 27 members plus spouses
In 2007, the members selected Frederickson VA as the reunion site with the Fredericksburg Hospitality House Hotel and Conference Center as the host hotel. Fifty-five people attended the reunion. The highlight of the reunion was a trip to the Air Force Memorial in Washington DC for the memorial service. When we arrived at the Air Force Memorial, Colonel Oliver Cellini, the first 551st Wing Commander, Korea, 1954 was visiting with his family. He and his family were very appreciative of allowing them to join our service. After the memorial service, we traveled to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. A box lunch was served on the bus trip. Reunion attendees had 3 hours in DC to view some of the memorials. There were several firsts at this reunion. Attending members received a packet with two 3” patches, a challenge coin, a key ring, and stickers. Also for the first time, we recognized a member for traveling the farthest to the reunion. This year it was Larry and (wife Ethel) Hough.Reunion Photos
Reunion 20 - 2009, Location: Myrtle Beach, SC, Number of attendees: 49 members plus spouses
The host hotel for the 2009 reunion was the Landmark Resort on the Ocean’s Edge on the beach. This was one of our larger reunions with close to 80 people attending. The group attended Le Grand Cirque at the Palace Theatre. Guest speaker for the Saturday night banquet was LTGEN John B. Sams, Jr., USAF Retired. He was the commander of the 15th Air Force, Travis Air Force Base, California. During the Vietnam conflict, he flew more than 700 hours on 100 missions as a C-7A pilot. The memorial service was held at War Bird Park.Reunion Photos
Reunion 21 - 2010, Location: Columbus, OH, Number of attendees: 42 members and guests
The 2010 reunions took place September 8 to 12 at the Doubletree Hotel in Worthington Oh. This was one of our best-attended reunions with over 80 members and guests. On Friday, we traveled to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force to dedicate a plaque in honor of the Pleiku Air Base, Vietnam. The plaque was the first in the museum garden that included the POW/MIA flag on the plaque. Individual members of the organization donated a total of $2,205 to support the construction of the plaque. Each member received a copy of the plaque as a remembrance. A combination of the plaque dedication and the memorial service was held on a sunny day in September. We were able to have the Color Guard and a bugler from Wright-Patterson AF Base to participate in the ceremony. In addition, a release of doves concluded the service. After the ceremony, the members and spouses were treated to lunch at the Officer’s Club. Then we were able to secure tickets to the restoration section of the museum where many of the Air Force One planes were located. We were able to tour these planes and view the section of Air Force One that transported President Kennedy’s body back to Washington, DC.
Another activity that several of the members participated in was a bus trip to the Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio on Thursday of the week. At the Saturday night banquet Colonel Donald Gene Kirkland, the commander of the newly formatted 633rd Air Base Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis was the speaker. His aide, Wing Senior Enlisted Advisor, CMSgt. Charles V. Anderson, accompanied Col Kirkland. Many of the members mentioned that this was a special reunion and one to remember.Reunion Photos
Reunion 22 - 2011, Location: Newport News, VA, Number of attendees: 66 members and guests
In 2011, the reunion location was Newport News, VA with the Omni Hotels and Resort as the host hotel. We had 66 members and their spouses attend. We selected Newport News as the 633rd Air Base Wing is assigned to Langley Air Force Base nearby. The wing was re-established at Langley AFB in 2010. Langley AFB Memorial Park was the site for the memorial service on Friday with Col. Auch, CM Sgt Howell, and Lt. Col Scott Foley, Commander of Security Forces attending. The base Honor Guard participated in the memorial service. After the memorial service, our members and guests had a tour of the base and then lunch at the Officer’s Club. We were also treated to a demonstration of the Security Forces stationed at Langley-Eustis of weapons, K-9 training, and the firing range. Several members were able to actively participate on the firing range. Col. Reggie Austin, Deputy Commander of Joint Base Langley-Eustis was the guest speaker at the Saturday night banquet.Reunion Photos
Reunion 23 - 2012, Location: St. Louis, MO, Number of attendees: 30 members and guests
In 2012, we traveled to St. Louis Missouri and stayed at the Crowne Plaza. Some highlights of the reunion were a bus trip to different parts of St. Louis that included a visit to the Gateway Arch. A slight fire occurred on the bus after we left the Anheuser Busch brewery. A few of our members were injured while leaving the bus and needed to be seen in the local emergency room however all were able to return to the reunion. There was a Mississippi Dinner Cruise on Friday night that was a success with no mishaps. The memorial service that year took place in downtown St. Louis at the Soldiers Memorial in the Court of Honor. For the Saturday night banquet, “They Call Me Mr. Bunker” treated members and guests to entertainment. This was an interactive comedy routine based on the All in the Family Television show.Reunion Photos
Reunion 24 - 2013, Location: Rapid City, SD, Number of attendees: 26 members and guests
The Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City was the host hotel for the 2013 reunion. Attendees had the option of a bus tour to Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park on Thursday. The South Dakota Air and Space Museum was the locations of the memorial service on Friday that included a tour of Ellsworth Air Force Base. Friday night the group was treated to a dinner and show at the Old West Town Dinner Show at Fort Hayes.Reunion Photos
Reunion 25 - 2014, Location: Charleston, SC, Number of attendees: 35 members and guests
The 2014 reunion saw us gathering at the Town and Country Inn in Charleston, SC. On Thursday, we had a tour of Historic Charleston with time at the Old City Market for shopping and lunch. The location for the memorial service on Friday was Joint Base Charleston followed by tour of the base and lunch at the base club. Dinner on Saturday night was held at the hotel.Reunion Photos
Reunion 26 - 2015, Location: Lexington, KY, Number of attendees: 39 members and guests
Our host hotel for the 2015 reunion was the Hilton Suites in Lexington KY. The Thursday tour included a visit to Keeneland Race Course, a drive through Donamire Farm and a visit to Magdalena Farm where we were able to meet some of the thoroughbred horses. On Friday, the memorial service was held at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort, KY. After the service, we made our way to Buffalo Trace Distillers for a box lunch, a tour of the distillery and some “tasting”. A pizza party along with Kentucky Derby pie and bourbon balls and another “tasting” concluded the day at the hotel. Our banquet was held at the hotel on Saturday night.Reunion Photos
Reunion 27 - 2016, Location: Gettysburg, Pa, Number of attendees: 41 members and guests
The Hilton Garden Inn was the host hotel for the 27th reunion. We started the reunion with a “North vs South” Miniature Golf Tournament followed by Ice Cream Social. Thursday, the members had the option for a tour to the Seminary Ridge Museum and a driving tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield of Gettysburg with lunch included. Our memorial service on Friday was held at the Eternal Peace Light in Gettysburg Cemetery. Friday night a social with a light dinner was held at the hotel. At our Saturday night banquet, our guest speaker was General Robert E. Lee and Mrs. Lee (Mr. and Mrs. Frank Orlando) who entertained us with how things were at Gettysburg during the civil war. Reunion Photos
Reunion 28 - 2017, Location: Jacksonville, FL, Number of attendees: 8 members and guests
The number of final attendees at the 2017 Jacksonville Reunion was small. We originally had 48 members and guest register for the reunion however, Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, was primed to reach Jacksonville during our reunion. Our host hotel was the Crowne Plaza. A small but stalwart group stayed until the very end. The Dixie Swim Club, a dinner show staring Morgan Fairchild, was the highlight of Thursday. Friday we had the memorial service at the Veterans Memorial that has a section for Pleiku. We followed the memorial service with lunch at the River City Brewing Company. Matt Cresta, our president, invited a small group of Navy veterans to our Saturday night banquet as they were also slated to have a reunion at the hotel at the same time but were displaced by the hurricane.Reunion Photos
Reunion 29 - 2018, Location: Branson, MO, Number of attendees: 28 members and guests
The host hotel for the 2018 reunion was the Stone Castle Hotel. On Thursday, we had a bus tour of Branson. Multiple inches of rain were predicted for the area from Hurricane Gordon but for once, we were spared. The Branson War Museum was the site for the memorial service on Friday morning. Members were then able to view the museum after the service. A pizza party was part of the social on Friday night. The banquet was held on Saturday evening.
Reunion 30 - 2019, Location: Dayton, OH, Number of attendees: 42 members and guests
This year we returned to Dayton Oh and a visit to the National Museum of the Air Force. The Marriott at the University of Dayton served as the host hotel. This year we had seven new members and their wives attend the reunion. The first stop on the Thursday tour was the Carillon Historical Park that included a stop to see the Wright Flyer III. The group then proceeded downtown to the 2nd Street Market for lunch and then on to the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and the Wright Cycle Company. The last stop on the tour was the Woodland Cemetery, the resting place for the Wright Brothers and Erma Bombeck. Friday morning we visited the National Museum of the Air Force and had a group picture of the members taken at the A1E Sky Raider. We then proceeded to our plaque in the memorial garden for our service. After that, members were free to tour the Museum. Friday evening, after a sandwich and cake social, several members went back to the museum to attend a concert by the US Air Force Band. The hotel was also hosting another military meeting at the same time and the men were paid a visit during the business meeting on Saturday morning. Brigadier General John P Ross who served in Vietnam as an Army Lieutenant gave a presentation to commemorate the service of the members and to honor the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. He presented each member with a Vietnam War Veteran lapel pin. At the banquet on Saturday night, the new members were introduced and presented with a challenge coin.Reunion Photos
2020 - No reunion was held
The coronavirus pandemic put a halt to the 2020 reunion. The Board Members of PABA determined that the risk to the health of the members was too great and rescheduled the reunion for September 12 – 15, 2021 in Harrisburg, PA.
Reunion 31 - 2021, Location: Harrisburg/Hersey, PA, Number of attendees: 46
I wish you all had been with us at the 2021 Harrisburg/Hershey reunion!! We only had 46 attendees, but it was a great time with good food, good conversation, lots of old memories and the making of some new ones. On Sunday evening we began festivities in the Hospitality Room with an ice cream social. Very tasty!
The next day we went to the Hershey Chocolate World. We took a trolly tour of the town of Hershey then had the opportunity to shop for candy and "make your own candy bar" . delicious and fun. I'm not saying how much chocolate was eaten or purchased that day!
We traveled to the Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA on Tuesday for our memorial service. As always, we had a respectful service for the 73 Pleiku veterans who were KIA or MIA. This year we added the placing a white rose to honor those PABA members who have passed away. Following the memorial service, we had a great lunch catered by Mission BBQ then toured the Center's interactive military museum. We then headed back to the hotel for more camaraderie in the hospitality room.
The annual PABA member meeting was held on Wednesday morning. The Ladies Auxiliary joined the meeting for discussion of next year's reunion (see the information in this newsletter for details). The banquet was held that evening at the hotel. After the meal and a prayer, the always fun raffle was held. Thanks to all those who provided terrific raffle items!
After hugs and goodbyes everyone left for home on Thursday morning. The 2021 reunion was a success and I hope that we have a huge turnout for our May 2022 reunion at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware!!