REUNION 2017 is now History
Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel Atlanta
September 14 – 18th 2017
We will met Sept 14th (arrival) through 18th (departure) 2017 at the iconic Westin Hotel in Downtown Atlanta, Georgia. This first class hotel dramatically lowered their rates for us to a special price of $119 a night, plus taxes (currently 16.9% + $5.00 per room/per night State of Georgia Hotel-Motel fee). Their downtown location turned out to be ideal for Atlanta sightseeing and the hotel facility and meeting rooms are first rate.
The $125 per person registration fee included: your reunion badge, meeting space, hospitality suite, audio/visual support, internet in your room, hotel lobby and our meeting room, food service and gratuity for our Saturday Luncheon and Sunday Closing Banquet and Missing Man ceremony. Besides the luncheon and Banquet, all other meals were on your own. There are numerous downtown restaurants near the hotel.
On Friday morning, Keegan Federal welcomed us to Atlanta with a fine speech that included a history of Atlanta. We then had a talk from DVIDS, Defense Video Imagery and Video Distribution. DVIDS is the main outlet for “cleared” media from all the Armed services and is headquarted in Atlanta. Two marines. SSG Morrison and SGT Silvano came out to explain how DVIDS worked and demostrated its website.
Friday afternoon began with an inspiring talk via video phone call with LTC Lan Dalat who was born in Vietnam and has since built a career in the US Army. We showed LTC Dalat’s film history of the 1st Signal Bde and then his personal story called “Journey to Freedom”. With good humor, LTC Dalat captured our attention and admiration as he told us his story from Vietnamese boatperson to his successful Army career and his interest in Army photo. We then showed the lastest version of our own History of the 221st Signal in Fifteen minutes. This was followed by a celebration of sorts to commerate the 50th Anniversary of the 221st first packets (1967) to Vietnam.
Saturday morning brought us a special talk by the 982nd Combat Camera (Airborne) led by SSG Justin Morelli. The 982nd is a reserve unit that trains monthly near Atlanta, and is one of only two Combat Camera units active in the Army today. SSG Morelli brought 8 of his unit personnel so all of us had opportunity to meet some of them. This was followed by Dr. Carolyn Clancy from the Veterans Administration. Dr. Clancy who is currently Executive in Charge, Veterans Health Administration, a position with the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Under Secretary for Health. We were highly honored to have such a high ranking official from the VA speak to our modest sized group. She spoke frankly and informatively about current problems and solutions for the VA. We came away impressed to say the least. This was followed by a group photo taken by the 982nd with the use of their cameras and light kit. And this was followed by our luncheon with each table having as their guest a member of the 982nd Combat Camera. We then adjourned for the rest of the day, leaving Saturday afternoon for us all to enjoy nearby attractions of Atlanta like the Civil Rights Museum.
Sunday monring we had a video phone call with Dr. Erik Villard of the Center for Military History. Dr. Villard spoke about the newNational Museum of the US Army. He was highly encouraging as to the role the 221st might play in this newNational Musem that is currently under construction. We came away hopeful that Combat Photo would take its’place in the halls of this new Museum and that the 221st in particular would have some recognition. Sunday afternoon we showed an all military documentary assembled in country from AFN sources in Afghanistan in 2010 by Marine Sgt Jeremy Vought. This piece was of particular interest since much remains the same today and the hope to turn things over to the local people mirrors our own experience in Vietnam. Sgt Vought then joined us via Video call from his current duty station in Washington DC to answer questions and bring us more information of the state of Military photo today. This was folllowed by a few slide shows from our own members.
Sunday evening we held our Missing Man/Fallen Comrade Ceremony. It began with a color guard from Johns Creek Veterans Association presenting the colors and a video of the US Army Band and Chorus doing the Star Spangled Banner. Keith Essen and Frank Lepore shared duties in conducting the ceremony to honor our fallen. SSG Justin Morelli or the 982nd did us the honor of attending, in dress uniform, our Missing Man Table. After the ceremony, dinner was served and we said our farewells in the hopes of meeting again when the National Museum of the US Army opens in 2019.
Westin Hotel Downtown Atlanta
Sept 14th (Arrival), 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th (Departure) 2017