A Look Back to the Beginning
A History of our Reunions
The first meeting of former D Company Marines was the result of efforts by Al Mackin, a former C.O. of the company. He began a letter to some dozen former D Company Marines: "Greetings, Magnificent Dogs!" This was the "unofficial" beginning of a group that grew to become Dog Seven Association.
The ball began rolling, recipients of the letter called others and, per Al's suggestion of tying the meeting in with the 34th Annual 1st
Marine Division Association Reunion scheduled for mid-August, 1981, in Kansas City, Missouri, by May 1, the response was 12 committed
and one possible. Nine Marines; Matt Davis, Fred Frankville, Ron Klein, Bob Squires, LLoyd Stevens, Hugh Habighorst, Otis Lee and Al
Mackin, attended this reunion with their wives. Many hours were spent, talking together about old times … and sharing photographs.
"Let's do it again!" was the prevailing departing remark as they returned to their homes.
The second get-together was in 1984 at the Matt Davis ranch in Texas, hosted by Matt and Jimmie Lee, and organized by Al Mackin and Jimmie Lee. This time 14 attended, including wives, as well as Peter Mozzone who was from Corpsman Richard DeWert's hometown of Taunton, Mass. Mozzone wanted to write a book about DeWert, who served with D Company and was killed in Korea and posthumously awarded the Medal Of Honor. Mozzone wanted to meet with Dog Company members.
Attending were John Duck, Gonzalo Garza, Evan Thomas, Otis Lee, Hughie Habighorst, Al Mackin and, of course, Matt Davis. Some of
the activities were at the St. Anthony's Hotel and some at the Davis ranch where "a devil twister (storm) came up and we had to move inside,
"Jimmie Lee recalls.
At the suggestion of Al Mackin, Pete Mozzone sent out a flyer inquiring about a reunion in 1985, but that one didn't materialize. Mackin and Fred Frankville traveled to Korea in 1985 and visited Hill 439 where DeWert was killed.
In the meantime the first reunion of the Chosin Few was held on November, 1985 in San Diego. Many Dog Company members were there,
too, including George Crotts, John M. Bruce, Matt Davis, Thomas Cassis, Al Bradshaw, John Christiansen, and Corbit Ray.
The interest in having another Dog Company reunion grew.
On December 16, 1986, Dick Humphreys sent out a letter and a questionnaire to see if there was enough interest in having another reunion.
There was! By March of 1987, the list had grown to 62 and a reunion was subsequently planned for July 23-25, 1987 at the Embassy Suites in
Austin, Texas. Gonzalo Garza was the host.
Tom Cassis, who contributed much of the information about the successive reunions, said the reunion was "a smashing success, with much credit going to Gonzalo." Cassis said, "That reunion set the standards from which we have grown." About 31 Marines and their spouses attended.
During the business meeting in Austin, a second annual "official" reunion was planned to be in San Jose, California, with Lee Wimpee,
host. Paul Mullaney suggested that Cassis volunteer his legal services to formalize a D-2-7 organization. Cassis heard from Dick Humphreys
suggesting he prepare a set of proposed bylaws to present to the members.
The San Jose reunion was held at the Red Lion Inn, July 15-17, 1988. Pete McCloskey, Col. USMC, Ret, a former US Representative from the San Francisco Bay Area, was guest speaker. Pete was a Platoon Leader in the Fifth Marines in Korea in 1951 and a Basic School mate of Brendan O'Donnell's.
At that meeting D-2-7 was approved as a non-profit corporation under the name Dog Seven Association. The Articles of Incorporation state
that the initial Board of Directors shall be FIVE (5) as follows: John Christiansen, Fred Frankville, Gonzalo Garza, Alvin Mackin and Lealon
Wimpee with Thomas Cassis named as the Incorporator.
Prior to incorporation, the reunion host served as chairman and/or president of the organization.
By the third annual reunion at the Park West Hotel in Marlboro, Massachusetts, officers of the Association were elected. They were as follows: Al Mackin, president; Gonzalo Garza, vice president; Dick Humphreys, secretary, and John Christiansen, treasurer. Paul Mullaney was chairman of the reunion, held Oct. 6-8, 1989.
Guest speaker was Thomas Hudner, a Navy pilot awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Chosin campaign on Dec. 4, 1950. A highlight of the reunion was a visit to HN Richard DeWert's (USN-MOH) hometown, Taunton, Mass., arranged by Paul Mullaney. The group visited the Korean War Memorial there where Dick Humphreys gave a most moving account of DeWert's heroic actions.
A ceremony to dedicate the "Hospitalman Corpsman Richard D. DeWert Memorial Interchange" held in Plainsville, Mass., was attended by
several Association members.
The fourth reunion brought the group to the Embassy Suites Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, from Oct. 4-6, 1990 under the outstanding leadership
of Al and Jeanne Bradshaw. It was thought to be the largest gathering to date. Over 63 members plus wives attended. Many ventured up the
elevator to the top of the magnificent St Louis Gateway Arch and rode down the Mississippi River on the paddle wheel steamer for the first time.
Many who put off a visit to the Gateway Arch were disappointed when a "government shutdown" closed the monument to visitors.
The Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC, was the site of the fifth reunion. Richard Humphreys was chairman. 64 members and an equal number of spouses or guests attended. One of the highlights was to see the Sunset Parade at the Marine Barracks, 8th and I. It was the first time many of the veterans had seen the famous silent drill team in action. A common comment was, "unbelievable." Afterwards there was some talk of "shipping over for six."
In addition to reminiscing and sharing pictures, arrangements had been made to travel by charter buses to see Marine Corps related attractions
including Quantico Marine Base, the Iwo Jima Memorial and the site of the Korean War Veteran's Memorial, then still in the planning stages.
Keynote speaker at the reunion was Brig.Gen. Thomas V. Draude from Headquarters Marine Corps. Also, the late General Richard Stilwell, USA
(Ret) addressed the group as chairman of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board. Upon Gen. Stilwell's death some months later,
Gen. Raymond Davis, USMC-Ret (MOH), Korea, was named in his stead
The great Pacific Northwest was the locale of reunion number six. From August 20-23, 1992. Dog Seven members met at the Sea-Tac Marriott, Seattle, Washington, under the direction of George Flood and his capable aide, Toni Thomas. There were 67 members plus wives.
Once again some great tours were planned including a boat ride to Tillicum Village for a salmon bake, Native American Indian style.
What a treat! Keynote speaker was Gen. Raymond G. Davis, MOH, Korea, who with his wife, Knox, were guests for the entire reunion.
For the seventh reunion, 84 members plus 79 guests traveled to Corpus Christi, Texas on October 28-31, 1993. John and Debra Bruce were the hosts and had planned many activities, including a tour of the King Ranch. A highlight at the banquet was the silent tribute to deceased brothers and the introduction of Dick Humphreys' "A Toast! They fought at Chosin." Guest at the reunion and speaker was Congressman Dongill Kim of Seoul, South Korea. Congressman Kim's moving address (Link) stressed his belief that "we" had not lost lives and limbs in Korea but had given them so that the people of South Korea might live and prosper in peace.
Congressman Kim extended an invitation for Dog Seven Marines, Corpsmen and families to visit South Korea as guests of the South
The next reunion, number eight, was one many Marines had been waiting for, a return to South Korea. Twenty one members plus 20 wives or guests attended. Ki Kim and John Christiansen coordinated the trip with The Korean War Veterans Association hosting the event at the Hotel Sofitel Ambassador in Seoul, South Korea from Sept. 27-Oct. 2, 1994. Forty years earlier Dog Seven had entered Seoul and engaged the enemy North Koreans in it's first battle, Sept. 26. This time they were treated like kings. All expenses were paid by the KWVA, except air-fare, and everything was done first class. A bus trip to the DMZ was included and many thanks were heard from Koreans who remembered the sacrifices the Americans had made.
A certain amount of free time enabled two important side trips - the first by members who were successful in locating and visiting the site
of Sodaemun Prison, where D Company first came under enemy fire and suffered heavy casualties in late September, 1950. A "younger" group
hired a van and driver and travelled to Chunchon for a two day tour. While there, with the aid of Lt. Lee Wimpee's maps and a much younger
ROK lieutenant, they were able to locate and revisit former Kansas Line (1951) positions atop a "Gee, it seems a lot steeper" hill there.
Because many of its members were not able to attend the reunion in Korea, a mini-reunion was held in Reno, Nevada the same year
from October 27-30. Hosts were Lee Wimpee and Al Mackin with 58 members plus 45 spouses and guests present. Many sightseeing
activities were enjoyed, including a bus trip to South Lake Tahoe.
Our ninth reunion was held in Washington, DC, July 26-30, 1995 in conjunction with the dedication of the Korean War Veterans Memorial, a long awaited event. Dick Humphreys started the ball rolling, but, for health reasons, had to pass the job on to Lee Wimpee who carried on to the completion of another very successful reunion. There were 104 members with 103 spouses, family members and guests.
Keynote speaker at the banquet in the Stouffer Concourse Hotel would be Brig. Gen. Ed Simmons, USMC, Ret. Brig. Gen. Jim Lawrence,
USMC, Ret., also spoke. One of the most memorable events was Dog Seven's participation in the huge parade down Constitution Avenue.
Many commented that the unit looked really sharp.
Orlando, Florida was the setting for our 10th reunion. It was another history making event. Ed Garr and Ron Klein, co-chairmen, put in
many hours of planning to make it all come together. With many attractions in the Orlando area, free time was the rule, although the "organized"
visit to Kennedy Space Center was made by many - and, for many of whom the sight of a real, live "gator" was a thrill. A poolside Luau, plus the
traditional Saturday Night Banquet, were memorable highlights. Over 200 members and guests attended.
Missed Opportunities and "Old Haunts"
Our 11th annual reunion was held in San Diego, California. Headquarters was the Holiday Inn by the Bay ... within sight of the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Training Center.
Friday morning found members, families and guest gathered early at "MCRD" for the Morning Colors ceremony, at which 27 former D Company Marines, who went off to war without benefit of "boot camp", were awarded certificates of graduation in a moving ceremony.
The group then gathered to witness H Company's recruits receive their official and long awaited greeting from the Commanding General ...... "Good Morning, Marines!".
Saturday saw Dog Seven again on Marine Corps buses, this time heading "back" to Camp Pendleton where they, along with members of the 1st Marine Division Association and the Chosin Few, were honored at the unveiling and dedication of a Korean War memorial stone at 1st Marine Division headquarters. MajGen Admire, USMC, gave a stirring address that was preceded by a poignant and moving Invocation delivered by the Division Chaplain (link). Marines of Fox/2/7 - Twenty-nine Palms, gave up their Saturday off-day to put on a weapons display for Dog Seven members.
The Saturday night banquet was headlined by an address given by guest speaker, MajGen Kenneth Haughton, USMC-Ret. An evening highlight was the playing of the National Anthem and Marine Corps Hymn by the Marine Band, MCRD.
Yet another bus ride took all on Sunday morning to a San Diego park ground where the local Korean community, including the Korean
War Veterans Association, hosted members, family and friends to lunch and demonstrations in Tai Kwon Do and folk dancing.
The 12th Annual Dog Seven Association reunion was held in the Chicago area, with the Schaumburg Hilton as our reunion center. Plenty of free time enabled wives and other family members to visit the nearby mall, one of the largest in the nation. Friday saw the group traveling to Chicago for an all day visit; a tour by bus to and through many interesting areas of the city; a break for lunch aboard a cruise boat, where we enjoyed a damned fine buffet while seeing Chicago sky-scrapers from a totally different perspective (backside). After sailing down river, we turned and went back up, through some locks and into Lake Michigan for a completely different view of the city and it's tall buildings. The cruise also gave us an all too close view of the undersides of too many bridges, some of which we'll probably not comfortably travel over in the future.
About 160 members, wives, family members and guests enjoyed another outstanding Saturday night banquet.
Guest speaker Col Hugh O'Neill, USMC, gave us all a look at the modern Marine Corps - it's training and equipment - complimented by an impressive "slide show". More than one Dog Company Marine was heard to mutter, "If only we'd had gear like that ....".
Toast honorees were Bob Wahlbeck, Col. Hugh O'Neill, USMC, Larry Hickey, Ron Klein, Ron Speechley and Bob Knapp. Each, except Col O'Neill, who stood in for his father, served in one or more of the Korean War campaigns.
Col O'Neill also represented his father, SSgt John O'Neill, USMC (KIA, 26Sept50, Seoul, Korea), among five other D Company Marines, during a Toast to our brothers who served and, in too many cases, died during each of the Korean War Campaigns.
All "hands" agreed it was just another outstanding "too-few" days and nights together.
Our 13th Annual Reunion was held in Buffalo, New York, at the Adam's Mark Hotel. Reunion Committee Chairman Chuck Curley had a very good schedule of activities laid out for D Company Marines ... Bus trips to Niagara Falls and surrounding areas and then another bus trip to Old Fort Niagara ... an historic site for any and all Americans.
We paid a visit to Old Fort Niagara ... at one time an American and then a British outpost against the fledgling American nation. Across the river stood a British Fort against whom the Old Fort's defenders battled. To many of "us" who are Westerners, this "old" history is mindboggling!!!
Yesteryear, to "us" who've been born and raised west of the Mississippi, think of "old" as dating back to the Forty Niners and a bit earlier. 1750s??? Ancient!!!
Our Annual Banquet Guest Speaker was MajGen Kim Seong-Sup, AROK-Ret. He gave a most moving
speech in honor of all D Company
Marines. He, too, like our Corpus Christi Guest Speaker, Congressman Kim Dongill, was "liberated" from NKorea by our presence in North
Korea during the bitter winter of 1950.
The site of our 2000 Reunion was the Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina environs. The weather cooperated nicely and a pretty good time was had by all. Fred Fletcher did a great job pulling it all together.
Several who had never before attended a reunion were able to attend this one, possibly due to the opportunity to see old haunts at Camp Lejeune. Many D Company, 7th Marines departed Camp Lejeune in August of 1950 as members of D Company, 6th Marines, then part of the 2nd Marine Division.
The gathered Dog Company Marines, family and guests, enjoyed busing from here to there and there. A pretty darned good Cookout and,
as always, our Saturday night banquet, held at the Camp Lejeune Officer's Club, were both memorable. And, as always, the Hospitality Room
at the Onslow Inn proved an excellent staging area.
San Antonio, Texas, was the site of our fifteenth annual reunion. Joseph and Mary Alice Correa and their outstanding team organized, with typical Texas hospitality, a great several days in and around this old Southwest community. The tours were great, and interesting, and a good time was had by all. Guest speaker Colonel Randolph Lockwood, USMC-Ret, our battalion commander in late 1950, was a pleasant surprise to many.
One stop of note was the San Antonio Korean War Memorial. Many in Dog Seven Association contributed to this memorable effort through
purchase of bricks, which made up the walk area around the monument. Joseph Correa was among many Texans who organized this worthy
Dog Seven Association's sixteeth annual reunion was held at the Holiday Inn Holidrome in Lafayette, Louisiana. Frank and Polly Garber hosted the outstanding affair. Several interesting tours ... Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center, a cruise to the Atchafalaya Swamp and a tour of the Tabasco Bottling Plant on Avery Island. A Friday night meal with good food, music and dancing at the Petroleum Club was also a highlight. And, of course, the annual Saturday Night Banquet at the Hilodrome. Gonzalo Garza was our Master of Ceremonies.
Our Guest Speaker was Capt. Thompson, (AUS), of Broussard, Louisiana. A helicopter pilot, he earned a belateded Soldier's Medal for his
actions in stopping the massacre at My Lai, Viet Nam. The Captain is a true American Hero.
Our 17th annual reunion was all that it could be. Herb and Kathy Stelzer and their committee (the Graski's and Hietala's, plus Stelzer siblings and kids) had things totally under control and well planned out. They did keep us busy, well fed and entertained with sights and sounds.They all deserve a resounding applause. And a thunderous … OoooorrahhhhHHH!!!!
On our many travels, we saw all the makings for the song, "Oh Give Me a Home, where the buffalo roam ...". Quite a few deer and antelope, even Rocky Mountain goats and sheep. And burros, descended from pack animals abandoned by long since departed miners. But the only "buffalo" we saw were mounted heads on various walls.
It is pretty easy for "us" who live elsewhere to ignore the rich history of this far North world. The Black Hills, the Badlands, the many monuments and old towns. It is definitely worth another visit.
A couple of Marine Corps attributes come to mind when taking in this overwhelming undertaking. Dedication and Commitment. The always awesome Mount Rushmore and The Crazy Horse Monument; a work still in progress but now by family members of the original sculptor.
Marine Vietnam veteran and local newspaper reporter John Tistrian served as Guest Speaker for our banquet.
Brendan O'Donnell, ably assisted by wife, Betty, and daughters Adrienne and Megan, did an outstanding job of organizing and then delivering events and service to our visitors to Mystic.
Obvious, too, was the eagerness that local folks happily contributed to ensure that Mystic is a site we all will be visiting again.
Headquarters for our Minneapolis Reunion was the North Country Inn, owned and operated by the US Airforce. It was a great venue and a
great choice by Reunion Hosts, Jack Lawrance and his wife, Marlene.
Ki Kim and his lovely wife, Young Sue, hosted the reunion, enlisting the assistance of the local Korean Community.
A somber memorial service was held at the Memorial Park on Mt Soledad. Visits to the USS Midway Carrier Museum, Camp Pendleton and Mira Mar Marine Corps Air Station were popular.
An Appreciation Dinner diners were entertained by Korean Dance and Choral groups and a Taikwon-Do team. The traditional Annual Banquet
concluded the reunion.
The accommodations at the Sheraton Park Ridge Hotel, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania served as the Association Command Post.
A nearby mall provided shopping for the ladies and many restaurants for casual dining.
However, a noticeable thinning of our ranks with the absence of many long time attendees.
Thursday a tour of Philadelphia, the birthplace of our Nation and our Corps was most enlightening. A visit to Independence Hall was inspiring.
All should be grateful to the citizens of Philadelphia for the outstanding preservation of building and historical locations. Unfortunately the birthplace of our Corps, Tun Tavern, no longer exists.
A welcome dinner at the Sheraton was fun and relaxing.
A tour of Amish Country on Friday was enjoyable and educational as to the Amish lifestyle. The tour was highlighted by a home style lunch at an Amish restaurant. The fried chicken and home made ice cream were outstanding.
On Saturday a Memorial Service was held in the Washington Memorial Chapel Valley Forge.
The reading of Taps by Ric Barron brought to mind the thinning of our ranks.
Our guest speaker, Lt. Col. Glenn Guenther. Inspector-Instructor, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Decorations include, Bronze Star with "V", Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Combat Action Ribbons.
Thanks to Tom Cassis, Ric Barron and Perry Dickey for the photos
2008 brought us back to Corpus Christi. Although there were fewer of "us", the activities were reflective of an outstanding job done by hosts John and Debra Bruce.
Unfortunately, a photographic record of members enjoying the sights and activities were not forthcoming. Suffice to say, all had a very good time.
Sixty-one Marines and family members made registration roll call. Not our best but certainly not our worst attendance.
The scenery was outstanding, the weather great and the hospitality shown by Salt Lakers was notable. And, the job done by Host Gale Jensen and his crew was memorable. Banquet Night. The Guest Speaker, and new Honorary Member, was Lt.Col. John M. Reed, USMC. Lt.Col. Reed is the current 2/7 Battalion Commander, Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Corps Base, California.
No visit to Salt Lake City would be complete without a visit to the Mormon Temple and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The Dayton/Fairborn Holiday Inn served as Dog Seven's 2010 Reunion Headquarters.
It was a perfect venue.
The registration desk was open both Wednesday and Thursday, however reunion activities began officially on Thursday morning, beginning with a tour of the city.
Some of the tour points of interest were the Civil War Monument, a flyover at the sculpture of flight, the Korean War Memorial, the Ester Price Candy Company and the National City 2nd Street Market, housed in the block-long former 1917 B&O Railroad Building.
The schedule for Friday was dedicated to a visit to the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
Saturday was an "on your own" thing culminating in the Cocktail Hour which preceded the Annual Banquet
Several speakers addressed the Dog Seven family. Gonzalo Garza, who issued an invitation for an impromptu gathering in the future, President Bob Knight read The Toast, honoring all Marines and Navy Corpsmen who served. As is the custom, Marines from all phases of the war served as symbolic representatives of their comrades.
This years honorees were, David Amos, Larry Elwell, Fred Fletcher, Clyde Scott and Charles Tielbur
Our guest speaker and New Honorary Member, Captain Jason M. Schrage, USMC, gave a stirring address and convinced us all that the Corps is in good hands. He commands MP Company C, H&S Bn, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Wright Patterson AFB.
Thanks to Bob and Susie Weisenbarger for the photos.
The 25th Silver Anniversary and final formal reunion of Dog Seven Association was held October 11 through 16, 2011 at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia. 141 Marines, Navy Corpsmen, families and friends attended this Silver Anniversary reunion -- a welcome increase over the past several reunions.
Arrangements for the Reunion were not without incident. After a year of negotiations with MC Base and the Crossroads Inn, last minute hectic changes had to be made:
(1) A Generals Symposium being held the same week as our Reunion took over many of our room reservations at the Crossroads Inn. Fortunately, we were able to acquire last-minute reservations at the Comfort Inn, Dumfries. No small task.
(2) The Base buses we had relied on were not available -- a last minute scramble for buses from a local busline, at an additional cost, saved the day.
(3) It could be said that the good Lord was with us on the night we were to hold our "Welcome Dinner" at the Globe & Laurel -- a couple of tornadoes hit over or near the site, resulting in a power outage which necessitated a change of dining venue. We returned to the hotel for a Pizza Party.
One of the Highlights of the Reunion was meeting General James F. Amos, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps. We were advised that because of his tight schedule he could only meet with us briefly. Much to our surprise he met with Dog 7 for over an hour during lunch at O'Bannon Hall. Photo ops were prevalent.
The crowning moment was our Banquet held at the Marine Corps Museum. Brig. General William Weise was our Guest Speaker and the final "Toast" ceremony was rendered by Robert Knight.
It was a memorable moment -- an evening we will always remember shared by friends, families, Marines.
Dog Seven Association will live on through several informal get-togethers planned over the next several years.
We will not forget; they will not be forgotten. . . .
Semper Fidelis and God Bless Us All.