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Old 03-27-2005, 04:36 PM
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MORTARDUDE MORTARDUDE is offline
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Default Interesting letter I received from my 3/22 25th Div. brothers

Guys, Shorty Menendez is going to be on TV. Here's what he sent me about it, asking me to send it out to all you guys, which I'm very happy to do.

DAVE, YESTERDAY I WENT TO GAINESVILLE AND SPENT 2 1/2 HOURS FILMING AN INTERVIEW FOR "THE HISTORY CHANNEL." IT WAS ON THE VIET CONG AND NVA USING TUNNELS IN VIETNAM AND MY EXPERIENCES. IT WILL AIR ABOUT FEB.2006. I WAS ABLE TO MENTION OUR UNIT TWICE IN HOPES IT STAYS IN THE FINAL EDIT. I WORE A 3/22 LAPEL PIN ON MY SUIT ALSO. I FIGURE THAT WAY WE'LL ALL GO DOWN IN HISTORY. THIS EVOLVED IN JUST A TWO WEEK PERIOD AFTER THEY CONTACTED ME BY E-MAIL. THEY SAID I WAS THE ONLY TUNNEL RAT THEY COULD FIND IN MILITARY RECORDS AS A TRAINED TUNNEL RAT. BUT THEY COULDN'T TELL ME WHERE THE RESEARCHER CALLED. I GUESS I JUST GOT LUCKY! COULD YOU E-MAIL THIS LETTER TO THE GUYS ON THE ROSTER FOR ME. I ALWAYS SCREW IT UP SOME HOW.

THANKS , SHORTY


I just finished reading Shorty's book and recommend it to everyone in our group. His descriptions of his first phone call from Stuart Simonson and his subsequent first reunion, his feelings about those events should be read by everyone, those who have attended a reunion, and especially those who have not yet attended one.

bill
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Old 03-27-2005, 04:38 PM
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The Union-Recorder Milledgeville, GA.

Vietnam veterans gather to console, talk about war


Eight veterans from the Charlie Co. 22nd Infantry Division gathered at Bobby and Katie Goins' house Saturday. On back row, from left to right, Sen. Faye Smith, D-Milledgeville, Nick Dragon for Michigan, Steve Todd and Jim Benhamon from Florida, Bobby Joliff from Missouri and Mike Johnson from Georgia. On the front row is John Meadows from Ohio, Bobby Goins from Milledgeville and Shorty Menendez from Florida. (Contributed photo)
By Payton Towns III - The Union-Recorder
In the late 1960s, they served their country by fighting in Vietnam. More than 35 years later, they gathered in Milledgeville to talk about their experiences and remember those who served in Charlie Co. 22nd Infantry Division.

Eight veterans gathered at Bobby and Katie Goins' house Saturday afternoon for a reunion. They had time to talk with each other and eat barbecue. Bobby Goins was a member of Charlie Co. 22nd Infantry Division and said there were many he had not seen since 1970.

"This is great," he said. "I'm glad they chose to come here when they decided to have this. I think this is an honor that we can host this. A lot of places in the town have donated things."

Sen. Faye Smith, D-Milledgeville, was invited to stop by and meet with Nick Dragon for Michigan, Steve Todd, Shorty Menendez and Jim Benhamon from Florida, Bobby Joliff from Missouri, Mike Johnson from Georgia and John Meadows from Ohio.

"I'm glad I got the opportunity to come out," Smith said. "... It has been rewarding to me. Any time I'm at the war veterans home and they ask me to say something, I'm in tears before I start and I'm in tears when I'm done. ... I wonder how they made it through. I wonder how they endured it."

Many of these veterans, except for Dragon, served at the same time.

"We all served there together in 1969 and 1970," Menendez said, adding that Dragon was in the company a year before them. "This is why we've got together. I haven't seen many of these guys for about 35 years now. ... During your year in Vietnam, it's like being married. You depend on each other. You sleep near each other and do everything together. You develop such a type of a bond, that no matter how many years go (by), once you get back together, it's like you've never been apart. That's what we are doing here. ... We wanted to get together and renew our friendship."

One of the reasons for the reunion is to give each veteran a chance to talk about the memories of the Vietnam conflict.

"Many of the veterans are still in a shell," Goins said. "... We'll look at pictures that will flash back to a memory. I was around 19 when I went into the war. We were all around that age. We were young but we were doing what we were told. Back then we were drafted and we were told to go kill and go do that or that."

Menendez said many veterans still have problems with the war.

"The ones who know about the bad memories can console the others," Menendez said. "Now as we are getting older, and our kids are leaving the nest, one thing to have is our friendships. What better friendships can you have than one that started 35 years ago in a war."

The veterans sat under a tree trying to see if anyone knew about other veterans who were not at Saturday's event.

"We've been picking each others brains, asking if we remember so and so," Menendez said. "One person has heard where so and so is and we try to get them together."

Menendez said being short led him to being the one chosen to go down in tunnels in Vietnam.

"To me, it was a very honorable position," Menendez said, who wrote a book entitled "Journey Into Darkness: A Tunnel Rat's Story. "Being a little guy, you never got to be the football star or none of that stuff. It was like a badge of honor. The bigger guys could not fit down there."

According to Menendez, who is a Tampa Bay police officer, going down into a tunnel was a mixed blessing

"It was super-scared apprehension," he said. "There was a point where there was no more fear, but you are so overwhelmed with fear, courage and duty that you do your job. You know there is something in there. I took my (handgun) and a flashlight my mother sent me from Kmart. I just hoped to God that I'll be able to take care of anything that might be a trap. The whole time you are in there, your heart is beating doubles and there is no air down there. But you still have your job and you do it."

Dragon drove to Milledgeville from Michigan on Saturday.

"I've been going to reunions since 1995," Dragon said. "It took me 12 hours to get here because of all of the wrecks and bad weather. It has been worth it. It has been helpful and beneficial to everybody because we're carrying baggage and we'll be carrying it to our graves. Talking with the guys helps ease it up a little bit so that the nightmares aren't so bad."

Even though he didn't serve with the men gathered at Goins' house, Dragon has gotten to know them from other reunions.

"We went through the same stuff, just different times," he said. "We are all brothers."
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