It’s been three years since the men of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 173rd Quartermaster Co. gathered for a reunion.
And it’s been 50 years since the Greenwood-based company returned home from Vietnam.
co “reminisce of what went on in the time that we were over there,” said Ray Nash, 75, one of several men from the company who still resides in the area of Leflore and Carroll counties.
The reunion at the Hampton Inn will start at 5 p.m. Friday and run through noon Sunday.
The company was the only Army Reserve unit from Mississippi to be activated during the Vietnam War. Its tour of duty lasted from September 1968 to August 1969.
The men were tasked with hauling various types of fuel — gasoline, diesel and helicopter fuel — through combat zones, said Dwight Randall, who was a company cook.
“It’s not like we were stuck in the base safe and secure. We had people on the fields every day,” Randall said.
The company suffered no casualties. Randall, 74, said that the 173rd avoided the guerrilla-style combat that defined the Vietnam War.
“I really just feel for the people who were in those type of conditions when they were face to face with the enemy fighting,” he said.
Ladonna Landers, the reunion coordinator, has been planning the event since December. She said about 80 to 100 people are expected to attend, including servicemen and their families.
Landers was the girlfriend of the company’s commanding officer, the late Capt. John B. Looney Jr.
Meals will be served Friday afternoon and Saturday. Landers said activities then will shift to the American Legion Hut on East Claiborne Avenue for the 1 p.m. unveiling of a marker honoring the 173rd.
Allan Hammons, whose advertising firm designed the marker, said its style is similar to that of a marker near the Legion Hut for the band The Gants.
The 173rd’s marker, which will be installed later in the week, will include images from the time of service as well as a description, he said.
The $4,800 cost of the marker was split between the Greenwood City Council and the Leflore County Board of Supervisors.
The public is invited for the unveiling of the memorial marker, Landers said. Other events are only for the former servicemen and their families.
Aside from the 50th anniversary, Landers said the significance of the reunion is to honor those who served in Vietnam.
“The Vietnam War was not popular. It was quite disturbing that they were never welcomed home,” Landers said, referring to the anti-war sentiment among Americans at the time. She said servicemen who came back to Greenwood from the war were warmly received: “Our community stood behind the boys and did welcome them home.”
Randall said that he noticed no anti-war sentiment when he came back home but found an interesting dichotomy when he then attended Delta State University.
“When our first group came home, nobody bothered us. I came back from Vietnam and enrolled in college, and that’s where all the protest was coming from — college-age kids,” he said.
Randall’s still grateful for the support from the Greenwood community and is excited to reunite with his longtime buddies in the 173rd.
“The people are always excited to come back and see their brothers,” he said. “We became very, very close when we got to Vietnam. After all of these years, everybody is always glad to see those that come back to visit.”
•Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.