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Friendships from the Jungles of Vietnam

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Alpha Company Warriors in Vietnam 1968. (L-R) SSG. Dennis Phillips (AK.), SSG. David Lockwood (NY.), SSG. Barney Tharp (KY.), SSG. Cary Voss (MO.), SGT. Stewart Butters (CA.) and SPEC 4 Milton "The Greek" Galimitakis. On the battlefield or in the basecamp, our special bond was built on the backs of brothers. (Photo by Barney Tharp)

These are some of the most wonderful American heroes - the Alpha Company who served in Vietnam with our deceased hubby/father, Cary Voss. After 40-something years, these incredible heroes still take the time when in St. Louis to spend an evening with our family. We are so blessed to have this extended family! (Photo by Cary-Michael Voss) 
 

This story begins 44 years ago in the jungles of Vietnam, where the men of the Alpha Company were joined together to fight to defend human rights and freedom for all.  All were young men in their late teens and early twenties that left their families and friends when our nation called for duty.  Each trained and became the finest of fighting machines that braved the most dreadful of jungle conditions, harshest weather, and most ruthless enemies known to mankind.  They shared life experiences that few could imagine. Through it all, they relied on each other to survive and each troop took his responsibilities very seriously. They were, and still are a formidable Band of Brothers. 

The military service ended for each at a different time and place.  There were some that never made it home and others that returned home war-torn and damaged from the experiences they faced.   Not one of the men had a clue as to what their future would hold. And, when they said good-bye, they never knew if they would see each other again.  They did know one thing for sure, their survival was because they had each other to depend on.

Nine years ago, just three short months before Cary Voss succumbed to lung cancer, suspected to be directly caused by a chemical defoliant used in the jungles of Vietnam known as Agent Orange, many of the soldiers met in St. Louis for a special reunion.  The reunion was life-changing for all in attendance and our fortunate family who played host to these great American heroes.  Old friendships were rekindled and new friendships were made. The memories were added to those of 35 years prior.

Remembrance of our veterans is a true mark of patriotism, but cannot be only one generation deep. It is so important that it be passed down and instilled in our children and their children. Future generations are the torchbearers of truth about our noble cause. Pictured is Mikey Schmitt (MO.) thinking of his grandfather (and my "Nam" brother) SSG. Cary Voss on Veteran's Day 2008.  (Photo by Jayne Voss-Robinson)


These amazing men and many of their family members joined together with other members of the Alpha Company for a reunion at the Airport Renaissance Hotel over the first weekend of June, 2012.  Once again, these great American heroes planned special time to be spent with the family of their deceased comrade, Sgt.  Cary Voss.  Some new faces were in attendance at the BBQ held at the Voss-Robinson Family home. The youngest of the new additions were the grandchildren of Sgt Voss, who had the remarkable opportunity to meet the men that served with a grandfather they had heard so much about, but had never met.

Sadly, since the last reunion, the Veterans lost one other comrade, Ed Reiser, and also the daughter of beloved comrade, Sgt Barney Tharp, Betty Jo Higdon.   The losses sent a ripple of sadness through this special Band of Brothers and their families and inspired a new focus from Sgt. Tharp. This year, the son of Ed Reiser attended the reunion with his mother, Ann.   Sgt. Tharp attended with his wife, Judy and son, Brad.  Then both were introduced to the son of Sgt Cary Voss, Cary-Michael Voss.  It is Sgt Tharp’s hope that the family bonds continue through the next generation.  His wish came true.



Barney Tharp is pictured with his precious deceased daughter,

Betty Jo Higdon. (Photo by Barney Tharp) 

The rest of the story can best be told through the many Facebook photos and captions shared by Sgt Tharp.  We hope you enjoy … and relate to the memories shown ... for these memories and relationships are a significant example of the 'best of the best' that came from some of the worst of times.

God Bless Our American Heroes!  


 

The pain of missing my Vietnam War Brother, SSG. Ed Reiser of Channahon, IL., is lessened somewhat by holding and hugging his wonderful family. They are such a large presence in my life ! Ed's daughter, Jenni, Ed's son, Chris, and Ed's wife, Ann made my 2012 St. Louis Army Reunion extra special. 
(Photo by Barney Tharp)
The most important part of our Army Reunions is the "talk around" sessions. Each veteran is handed the microphone at some point in these sessions. Some stand and deliver ; Some stand and can not speak ; Everyone's message is received with love and understanding. Each veteran's moment is rewarded with a round of appreciative applause. Pictured is my "Nam" Brother, Harry Warren (IN.), speaking with his lovely wife, Dolly, seated beside him.  (Photo by Barney Tharp)
It is always an honor for me to reunite with this "mountain of a man". Captain Alan Anderson, from Guemes, WA., was our Alpha Company Commander in Vietnam in 1968-69. He is the reason that so many of us lived to tell these war stories. He was sent by God, but delivered by helicopter, to us in the middle of a battlefield. (Photos by Barney Tharp)

Having family members of the Vietnam Veterans at the reunion always makes it extra special for us all. Some come with their veteran ; Some come in honor of their fallen veteran. Pictured are two of SSG. Ron Bishop's family members. Ron perished in Vietnam in 1969. His sister, June Adams (CO.) and his niece, Linda Schmidt (CA.) joined us at the last two reunions.
(Photos by Barney Tharp)
Alpha Company's Dan Ebbole (GA) visiting " Doc" Nazabal's grave in California in 2007. Neither distance nor death can keep us apart. LEST WE FORGET.
If anyone from the reunion has a memory or photo to post with this story, please send in jpeg format to jayne@TheScoopNewspaper.com.