Heavy Haulers Gathering 2015 Laughlin, Nevada - October 20, 21 & 22, 2015 ---
After Action Report
This year's Gathering in Laughlin was another ROARING success, but with a sad and tragic finish.
We lost two of the original members of the original HMH-463 group that went to Vietnam in late '66 and early '67. We knew that Orlando "Buzz" Busby had terminal cancer but the loss of Dale "Hoot" Gibson less than 48 hours after the Gathering came as a real shock.
Dale took the Color Guard back to Miramar on Friday and stayed over night in San Diego. He drove home to Pahrump on Saturday and called me at the Grand Canyon at 10:19 AM, we talked for just short of ten minutes and his last word to me was "Shalom". That was the way he ended every conversation we ever had.
His wife Paula came home on Saturday October 24th about 3:30 in the afternoon and found him on the kitchen floor.
Dale could be called the original founder of the Laughlin Heavy Haulers Gathering. After the 2006 Pop-A-Smoke fiasco in Fort Worth, he called me and said: "Why don't we do something on our own for the Heavy Haulers?". He then came up with Laughlin as a location and the Colorado Belle as a venue and it was a success.
Buzz Busby passed on Friday October 30th after loosing his battle with cancer.
On Friday November 6th a group of more than a dozen old friends from the 463 Vietnam group attended Dale's funeral in Boulder City NV and the Memorial Service in Pahrump NV.
Among that group was Bob Wemheuer who had also attended Buzz's funeral in California the day before. Ooh-Rah! Bob!
This year we had 107 folks pre-register and 102 actually show up at the Gathering.
That said, we had a surplus of $3000 remaining after the Gathering and it was divided equally between each of three groups, $1000 went to the Semper Fi Fund and $1000 to the Fort Worth Aviation Museum for the restoration of "Patches" BuNo 153715, a CH53 of the Vietnam era being restored there. The remaining $1000 was used partially to purchase memorial bricks for Hoot and Buzz at the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico. It was suggested that the remaining funds be set aside as a continuing Memorial Fund for our membership.
When we get confirmation of these donations, I will post and bring them to the next Gathering.
The winner of the mahogany 53 at the Wednesday night banquet gave it back and it was auctioned off to Rich Houghtaling as the high bidder. Retired Sgt Maj Dick Hamilton won the gray painted 53 model at the Thursday night banquet.
Additionally, we have a number of people to commend for their dedication and support in making the 2015 event the success it was. Steve and Sandra Maxwell, along with Brook & Stacy Stevenson, Charley Chase & Errol Ortego are all to be thanked for their work in making the Hootch a success and for donating raffle items. Also to Brook for his video support at both of the banquets and the Hootch. Additionally Jack Lane and Skip Burns are to be commended for their support in making the Gathering a success.
Two years ago we had folks that hadn't seen each other in 43 years. Each time we do this, we get folks to attend for the first time. We need to keep it up.
Lastly, we cannot fail to thank the folks at the Colorado Belle & Edgewater hotels for their help and support. The two banquets were well received by all.
One final item, so far I have received over 500 pics to sort thru and have not yet received the CD from Steve Maxwell of all of his pics. Be patient with me and I'll get them posted.
It was my honor and privilege to host and MC this event and I was pleased to see how the attendees enjoyed themselves. My wife Jan and I also had a grand time.
Last but not least thank you for coming. Without those who attended there would not be a reunion. We had a few that had to drop out because of illness and that makes it just that much more necessary to have these. Seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
Keep an eye here as we already have a consensus to do this again in 2017.
Thanks Again and Semper Fidelis!