Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Viet Nam Veterans Reunion in Branson 2012

     Though there are times I sit here and make angry faces at my computer; you know, those days when it is running slow or just won't do what you want it to do!  But we were glad for modern technology in early March when Eddie got an email about an upcoming Viet Nam Veterans reunion to be held in Branson.  It is always good for us when events are in Branson; it is close and we can use our time share for accommodations.   So we made reservations and prepared to attend.  The event was sponsored by Branson Veterans & Reunions.  We've known the Director of this group, Arlen Lipper for a number of years.
       The attendance was good for this being the first reunion of this type. (Several years back Branson held a Welcome Home reunion in the summer)  We enjoyed the vendors area.  And of course it is always good for the men who served in this war to be together...welcoming each other home.  We saw old friends and met some new ones....AND Eddie had a surprise at one of the events!
        The first night several of us attended the Hamner Barber Show.  We ALWAYS enjoy this show and have seen it many, many times.  In fact once Jim Barber said he just knew we had figured everything out!  No Way!  Dave Hamner's illusions are amazing!  Both men are very talented and have talented folks working on the show.  The tribute to Veteran's is the best one in Branson and we never get tired of seeing it.
    The second evening we joined many of the veterans on the Branson Belle for an evening dinner cruise.  There was a special tribute planned for us hosted by one of the Southern Belles.  She definitely enjoyed posing for a picture with Eddie!  Yup....typical "flirty" Southern Belle!  After the tribute we boarded the Showboat for a great dinner and show!

      There was a parade planned and Eddie was asked to ride in one of the vehicles.  He is always ready and willing to do what ever is asked to support our veterans and participate in the events in Branson. 

     And now to back track to the opening ceremonies.  Saved this for last because it was special day for Eddie.  During the intermission a man came over to talk with Eddie.  He had been in the same beach landing at Chu Lai on May 7, 1965 as Eddie!  Small world!  This doesn't happen often.  Eddie has only re-connected with a handful of buddies from his time in service.  Below is a picture of Eddie and Arnold Foreman.  Needless to say this was an emotional time for both of them. 

     The reunion was a success and Arlen assured us that the planning was already under way for next year.  We were glad to hear that as my brother Michael was unable to attend this year...but plans to be with us next year.  We certainly hope many more Viet Nam Veterans will attend next year.

Connie Beesley

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Grit Together 2012

We arrived early in order to be sure to get a parking place where Ed could utilize the lift as he took the ibot chair with him for the days activities!  This was the 9th Grit Together and we have made all but one...(a family reunion of Ed's was on the same day.....needless to say  that they have chosen another date...This Marine let them know he wouldn't go for that when they planned the reunion on the same date the following year and he chose the Grit Together!)

We didn't plan on selling many books as most of those who attend already have a copy...but we go each year because we enjoy seeing all of our Marine family!  It is always an enjoyable day for those who attend.  There are activities for the children, a band, exhibits as well as lots of great food.  Sgt Grit out did himself with the food this year....not the usual hamburgers and hot dogs!  We had Indian Tacos, corn dogs and BBQ sandwiches!  I'm not supposed to tell, But Ed had seconds on the Indian Tacos!  They were "yummy".  In addition to all that...the shopping at Grits is the best!  His motto is that if he doesn't have it ....Chesty wouldn't want it!  This has to be Ed's favorite place to shop!  I have even found a few things  just had to have!

Each year Sgt Grit has a challenge coin for the event...AND you know Ed is sure to get one for his collection of coins.  We have filled two coin holders and we are working on the third.  I got an extra to send to a great nephew who is serving in Afghanistan. 

Ed with Sgt. Grit! Having a great time!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Getting the ibot.

A lot late, but here is a picture of Ed with his ibot taken while we were in Las Vegas! What a treat to see him at eye level! We are so very grateful for the chair!
This was when Tony Orlando first presented the chair to Ed at the NCOA convention.   Mary Eisenhower also played a part in getting the chair for Ed as well as the Huey 091 group. 

Snowball Express 2011

We were asked to be volunteers for Snowball Express 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  Without any hesitation...no looking at our scheduel...we knew we'd make time for this and immediatly said "yes".

What a privilege it was for us to be there with these families who have paid such a high price for the freedoms our nation enjoys.  I don't have the exact figures but there were over 1,000 of our nations precious children who have lost a parent in the War on Terror in attendance. 

On the first day Eddie and I were put in the area where these arriving families would pick up their luggage!  It was an ALL day job as the planes were coming in from all over!  We smiled, welcomed them and then helped them find their luggage and sent them on the way to their rooms before coming back down for something to eat.  I tried to sit between arrivals and got through the first day!  Tired but so glad to be here.

I have slept some since being there but will try to cover some of the highlights of the events laid out for the Snowball families.

As they arrived and all throughout the event there were celebritites and costumed characters to inter-act with.  The Green M & M took a real liking to Eddie!  Other Characters were there from Six Flags.  

We were bused to a convention sight...actually where the Dallas Mavericks play....  The team was there to greet the families and show off their trophy as Baskeball Champs.  (They won't have one from 2012 as our Thunder beat them...) 

Martin Plowman an Indy race driver talked to the families and was on hand through out the event to meet and take pictures with the families....he also had his car there for them to sit in and take pictures.....You know the children loved this!

Randall McDamiel formerly an NFL player for the Vikings was there to greet the families and sign autoghraphs...He fell in love with the Snowball families.

 I got autographed photos for our two youngest grandsons who love to play football!

Outside the convention center all of the children released lots and lots of red, white and blue balloons!  A tribute to thier parents.  Many of the children were wearing T-shirts with thier parents picture.

 After this event they all loaded up in buses....a very long line of buses and headed out to Six Flags.  Eddie and I knew we wern't up to riding all those rides so we headed back to the hotel for a little rest.  Later that evening I managed to get up to the 38th floor in spite of my fear of being up so high.  The elevator ride up and down waa terrifying...but I made it!  While helping play with the younger ones I made sure to stay far away from the windows but cringed when ever one of the children got close.  Eddie was in his ibot chair and had to keep making it go up and down. 

Gillys closed to the public for one evening and hosted a special party just for the Snowball families.  They had games and foods....lots for the families to do!  And to top off the evening Gary Sinise was there with the Lt. Dan Band to play for them!  What a night!

Have other pictures but as usual...getting the pictures and words in the right places seems to not be so easy for me!  Maybe some day I will learn how this is done.

The entire week end was so rewarding.  We are truly blessed to be able to do what we do.  We plan to volunteer again for this year...even though we came home very tired...we will do it again and again as long as  we are able.  You can google Snowball Express and learn more about this organization and how you can help if you would like to.

Connie Beelsey