7th Annual 5th Maintenance Reunion New Orleans, 2011

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Jadz and I left Providence RI at about 9:30 AM on 23 March 2011 for New Orleans. We called for the hotel shuttle when we stopped for a connecting flight in Tampa. We arrived in New Orleans in the early afternoon and after two more calls to the hotel we finally got our ride to the Sheraton. Seems we got there a shift change. We got to our room freshened up and headed to the lounge to meet with the others. We had a few drinks and headed to City Diner, a short walk away. We headed back to the hotel where we met Rachel Hardin Patterson, daughter of SSgt Kenneth Harden who lost his life in the April 1968 sapper attack on the 526th CC&S. I had been in email contact with her for a couple of years and was happy I could finally meet her.
Thursday, a bunch of us went the the WWII Museum. Chuck Beegle drove Ken, Deb, Jadz and me.We dropped Jadz and Debbie off on the corner of Canal St and St. Charles and Chuck, Ken and me continued on to the museum where we were met by one of their representives. We were told what we would see at the museum and were led to the theatre. The movie was an overview of the war from a few years leading up to it to it's conclusion. From there we went to the actual museum and looked at artifacts from both theaters of war. There were also first person accounts of different battles. Hero's all!

Chuck Ken and I left the museum again with Chuck at the wheel. He's better in traffic than I would be, I freak when I get in traffic in unfamiliar territiry. Anyway, Ken called Deb and after a bit, we, and by we I mean Chuck and Ken, found a place to park and we met the girls in the House of Blues where we got something to eat. I was hoodwinked into an alligator sausage pizza. I was told after I ate some of it. I never would have known. Earlier the girls went to Café du Monde on Decatur Street for Beignet and café au lait. In the evening we went to Ristorante Filippo, a short walk from the hotel. The spagetti and meatballs were unusual in that the meatballs were the size of baseballs. Most of us were in a room off the main dining area.

Friday, we all, one way or another, made our way to the New Orleans Riverwalk where we would board the Creole Queen for a two and a half hour cruise to the Chalmette Battlefield, site of Battle of New Orleans, and back. I had a hand full of tickets for us and handed them out as everyone trickled in. I was standing with Bill Gallivan when Jesse Creech and his party finally made it after finding parking spots. After handing out their tickets, I had one left, which, with a big grin, Bill said I should scalp. He had me convinced and I looked around for a victim, when it occured to me that it was mine. The Colonel got a good laugh and I guess that's why he was a colonel and I was only an Sp4. After we returned, we took our annual group pictures. This reunion topped the others in attendance as can be seen in the pictures

Friday night on the schedule, was our banquet which was a buffet. The food was good and I think I had a little of everything and went back for a little more of a couple of things. Before we ate I got everyone to sign a banner I had made with the names of the men of the 5th who lost their lives in Vietnam. This was later presented to Rachel. We then held a raffle of items brought by everyone who attended. A winning ticket allowed the winner to chose an item from the table until they we all gone but the bottle of 5th Maintenance Battalion Merlot. Jesse Creech was the lucky winner.

Saturday morning Ken, Debbie, Lance, Jadz and I took a cab to the French Quarter to have a look around. Very interesting place. In the afternoon. We walked around, took some pictures and just took in the sights. We stopped at Central Grocery for a Muffaletta which is a lot like what we call an Italian grinder or sub up here in New England. Only it's on a big round bread and has an olive relish type of thing in addition from the cold cuts and cheese. Lance was looking for a hot dog but the muffaletta was big enough for him to have part of ours instead of buying his own. We headed back to the hotel so Ken and Debbie could catch the shuttle to the airport. This was a break in our usual routine. In past reunions, we would meet for coffee in the morning for a bit before we went our separate ways. I missed it. Saturday evening, Bob Barnes, Roger Bland, Jadz and I went to Bourbon Street. We stopped in acouple of jazz clubs and listened to some music. Not what I expected, I liked it! We drank a few beers and Roger and I did a little tequilla in a blues bar. AND we saw things!!!

Jadz an I had decided on staying an additional day so on Sunday morning we were going to get a cab downtown and find something to do. We met Gary Dunn in the lobby and he saved us a few bucks. It seems that someone at the hotel got the info they gave me over the phone wrong. The shuttle did indeed go to the top of Canal St. Gary had already been downtown in the morning, came back for camera batteries and was ready to return. We shuttled to the top of Canal St and rode the street car to St Charles. We went into a place that sold sightseeing tours and got one to Oak Alley, a plantation about an hour west. We had some time to kill so we got on the St Charles St. trolley and rode it to a little past the Garden District. We got off and caught the next one back to catch the van for the plantion tour.The ride was through what I had imagined what Louisana would look like. The highway was elevated through swamps with a lot of moss hanging from the trees.We got out of the AC equipped van into 80°-90° humid air. We toured the house and grounds and even tried a mint julep. We weren't all that crazy about it and weren't that upset cause it never found it's way north.

Monday morning we left the hotel and shuttled to the airport. Going through the xray and body scans was quick and painless. We got our usual preflight bloody mary and boarded the plane. That was the last thing that happened as planned. We had a plane change in Orlando with a 40 minute wait that turned into 4 hours. It was pouring and the connecting flight was late getting in. We finally boarded and got a bumpy ride for about half the way to Providence. Better luck next time.

All in all it was a great reunion, we saw old friends and met new ones. Thanks go to John Brown for the hotel, Richard Clinton for the Museum arangments and some other guy for the river cruise. I think it was the best reunion so far and I look forward to the next one!

Jack Pin's reunion pictures