Vietnam War vets reunite after 44 years

Retired marines reunite in Onalaska

Retired Marines from places like Illinois, Wisconsin and as far as California traveled to Onalaska, Saturday to reunite with those they served with during the Vietnam war.

“We are a band of bothers,” said Dale Gryder, a retired Marine at the reunion.

This band of brothers first came together serving in the Combined Action Program station near Hoi An, Vietnam.

“Their job was to answer the threat of trouble inside of a village,” Lt. Col. Lester H. Williams said.

Their  work required them to learn Vietnamese, befriended villagers and then train natives how to fight the enemy.

“We were always a target so we were in combat usually every night somewhere,” Williams said.

An estimated 50 percent of men in the Combined Action Program were injured or killed; that number has stuck with Williams.

“I think all of us wonder sometimes why we are standing before you today instead of some of the men we loved and our brothers in combat,” Williams said.

He and the rest of the Marines used Saturday’s reunion to get closure over what they went through overseas.

“It requires some thought processes and coming to grips of just what happened, when it happened, why it happened,” Williams said.

They got closure through each other’s support.

“They know what I’ve gone through; I know what they’ve gone through,” said Dale Gryder of the Combined Action Program.

They were also able to share in the joy of being able to create new memories with their band of brothers 44 years later.

“It’s like a big happy family, seems like we are just picking up from where we left off,” Gryder said.

If you’d like more information on the reunion call 715-597-2371.