Reuniting the unit

Published 2:16 pm Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Over scrapbooks and fading photographs, last week in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., my husband Ken and 12 old Army buddies relived their time together in Japan 50 years ago.

Ken shipped out for Japan less than two months after our wedding. When he came home two years later, we had a 16-month-old son.

While he was away, Tony called all photographs “Daddy.” For several weeks after his daddy returned, he called him “That one.”

As members of the 326 ASA (Army Security Agency) Company, operating in Momoyama, Japan, much of the group’s activities was highly classified.

“But now,” one vet said, “You can read all that stuff on the internet.”

Another member of the group, who married a girl from Japan, took her back for a visit a few years ago. Part of the wall that enclosed the Army post is still there, he said. But apartments have been built where the barracks and quadrangle were located.

The wives, too, have memories to share at the reunions, about life while husbands or boyfriends were away, or about how they got together after the men returned. And everyone has stories to tell about children and grandchildren.

Although many things have changed through the years for the men of the 326, there is still a strong bond between them. And they still have fun together.

Three years ago, one of the men and his family hosted the reunion at their home in Anniston. As part of the entertainment he arranged for the group to tour the Talladega Raceway and Museum. After the tour we were taken to the infield to watch time trials then, for those brave — or foolish — enough, a spin around the track at 135 mph.

When Ken asked me, “Do you want to go?” I quickly said, “No.”

Then just as quickly, “Yes, if for no other reason, so I can tell my children and grandchildren that I did it.”

Our three-day-trip this year to the Pigeon Forge reunion was spent a little more leisurely. We visited and shared memories, walked around the beautiful countryside and relaxed by the pool –where I sat to write this week’s column.