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Reunion success thanks to 1-13th volunteers

Maj. James Attaway III (right), 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment, speaks with 13th Combat Aviation Battalion veteran Richard Burns before they take a ride on a Bell UH-1 Iroquois Saturday during a brigade reunion. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Maj. James Attaway III (right), 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment, speaks with 13th Combat Aviation Battalion veteran Richard Burns before they take a ride on a Bell UH-1 Iroquois Saturday during a brigade reunion. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: May 22, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 22, 2014) -- Fort Rucker has seen many units come and go with the time and changing Army mission, but one such unit, the 13th Combat Aviation Battalion, was able to reunite May 16-18 thanks to the altruism of Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment.

The men and women reunited were mainly Vietnam veterans. And although the 1-13th hosts a reunion every two years, new faces can always been seen, according to event organizers.

“We set up tours, with various groups on the installation, where they can see how Army Aviation is changing every year with equipment and training,” said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Ballard, D Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment. “It’s fun to watch them learn about some of the large advancements that the helicopters have made since they were in the service. They want to be able to see what the future of our Army is and what future generations get to tinker with.”

The weekend activities included an Aviation military occupational specially tour, Helicopter Overwater Survival Training tours, night vision device tours, Seneff Simulator Complex tours, socials, dinners, picnics, a memorial service and more.

Around 20 Soldiers helped make the reunion possible by organizing the weekend over the last few months; setting up venues and breaking them down; escorting veterans around the installation; and helping plan, facilitate and make possible a memorial service at Veteran’s Park on Sunday.

“This unit is our legacy unit so we want to make sure that they are taken care of in any way we can,” said Ballard. “We are trying to keep the traditions of our units alive.”

Ballard volunteered for the last reunion and wanted to do so again because it is a “great way to give back to those who where forgotten during their time.”

“They share their stories so we don’t forget what happened in the past, so we can apply what they learned in the years to come,” she said.  “I have Family that was also in the Vietnam War so I get a sense of what they accomplished through these veteran’s eyes.”

The event not only helps reunite Soldiers from a decommissioned unit, but it also supports veterans and ensures that legacies go on, said 1st Sgt. John Yalch, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment.

“It helps ensure that they can see the future of the military and provides a means of story sharing,” he said.

There would have been a reunion if 1-13th didn’t plan one for them, but it would have taken place in a civilian setting without the military traditions, said Yalch.

“A reunion of this nature takes them back to when they were operators or Aviators and they can reminisce and see how the military is changing,” said Yalch. “A reunion like this has a lot more value for them because we can tie their service back into what service members are doing today.”

Yalch said if Soldiers don’t keep tied into their history then they lose touch with it and they forget where they came from. And if they don’t know their history, then they can’t see the future.

“It’s nice to be able to give these guys the ability to tie back into the military atmosphere for the weekend. When you sit down and talk to these guys, what they have to say is amazing,” he said. “Many of their stories closely mirror things I have done in my own 21 years of service. This event keeps me tied down and grounded to where I came from and to where I am going.”

This article was originally published at

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