Dennis E. Haines
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND, 2006
My trip to DC for Memorial Day weekend and the holiday this year were the best ever. Each year that I think they can’t get any better, they do. My unit reunion was the same weekend and we spent from Friday through Tuesday morning there. Saturday we went to Arlington and spent a lot of time there. Sunday was the ride to the Wall as 500,000 motorcycles made their way from the Pentagon parking lot to the Vietnam Memorial. This takes over three hours and we watched it for a while before going to the Rolling Thunder concert across from the Lincoln Memorial. We were able to get me all the way down front and under the Rolling Thunder hospitality canopy to the right of the stage. Thankfully I was able to get out of the sun; it and the heat were brutal.
I had suspicions something was going on, but not sure what. My buddy Ray was disappearing a lot and as we approached the concert area we passed the bus that Paul Revere and wife, Sydney came in. They were both outside and Ray whispered something to Sydney as she came over to me to give me a great big hug and a kiss. She was thrilled to see me and thought I looked really good and did feel better not having to take my injection that weekend.
I noticed Ray talking to Paul Revere and he didn’t come over to me the way he usually does. Under the Hospitality canopy, Nancy Sinatra was standing not far from me getting ready to go on stage. I thought she saw me, but appeared to be getting herself prepared for her part of the concert. During Nancy’s performance Paul Revere and wife Sydney were sitting not far from me. When Nancy finished and came off stage, Paul Revere got up, came over to me we shook hands and hugged.
It was at this time that Ray suddenly appeared by my side along with Holley Watts, a Red Cross volunteer (Donut Dollie), and close friend. At that time Paul Revere, said he’d go get Nancy Sinatra. When he came back with her, I saw Holley get a package out of her purse and give it to Ray. Then Paul Revere standing by my side with Nancy Sinatra and Sydney close by too, that’s when Paul said, “Your buddies from your unit and squad in Vietnam have something they want to present you.”
At that time Ray hands me a case and as I open it, inside was my Bronze Star that I was put in for and never received. I became so teary eyed and emotional that the three guys from my squad would do this for me. Nancy gave me a big hug and a kiss, as did Sydney, Paul’s wife and then everyone gathered around me for pictures of my presentation. It was such a wonderful surprise and I was totally blown away by it.
That evening was our Brigade banquet and then Monday we attended the Memorial Day ceremonies at the Wall. The heat and sun that day were very oppressive. It was a wonderful reunion, Memorial Day weekend and holiday. Time spent with my buddies from our unit is always so very special as is meeting up with and having time with Nancy Sinatra, Paul Revere and Sydney. It’s great that we’ve become such good friends with them.
©Copyright July 27, 2006 by Dennis E. Haines
Nancy Sinatra, Paul Revere, Ray Heikkila, and Dennis (front) Washington DC - May 28, 2006