POVA Biennial Reunion 11-14 August 2016
Fayetteville, North Carolina
POVA held its Biennial Reunion in Fayetteville, NC from 11-14 August 2016. It was a tremendous success, capped by a successful picnic at a lovely outdoor venue, a tour of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum (ASOM) in Fayetteville, an excellent tour at Fort Bragg of certain PSYOP/MISO units on post, an excellent banquet and awards ceremony, and comments from some very special guests. At its conclusion, POVA awarded its first-ever "Exemplar of Military Psychological Operations" awards to COL-Ret. Alfred Paddock and MAJ-Ret. Raymond Ambrozak, both POVA Life Members, and introduced POVA's first President Emeritus, Michael Stoeckert, who has worked so hard for the past eight years to bring POVA to its current future-focused Association direction. Reuniting with friends and families, both from our pasts and anew, was a wonderful experience
2016 REUNION PHOTO GALLERY
NOTE: Click on pictures BELOW to see larger version with caption.
12 August: Airborne and Special Operations Museum (ASOM)
POVA visited the Army's Airborne and Special Operations Museum (ASOM) in Fayetteville on Friday 12 April. As we assembled, we were surprised by ASOM Executive Director Paul Gallagher and his staff, who called together all of POVA's Viet-Nam war veterans in a quick award ceremony in the Museum's main lobby. This was a complete surprise to all in attendance. After introductory comments and the delivery of a strong message of thanks and appreciation to all of us who served in that war, Paul and his staff presented each veteran with a 50th anniversary pin commemmorating the start of the Viet-Nam War. We were not only surprised, but moved by this demonstration of appreciation and respect. It was appreciated very deeply by all in attendance, even several dozen Museum visitors who crowded around us for the presentation.
12 August: Business Meeting
Following the surprise recognition and acknowledgement of the Viet-Nam veterans in attendance, POVA conducted its business meeting. During the meeting, Joseph Meissner gave a presentation on his recent trip to Dien Bien Phu, site of the 1954 defeat of the French by the Communist Viet-Minh. Our meeting then proceeded to approve several amendments to our Constitution, approved funding of a joint fund administered by POVA and POA to help PSYOP soldiers and families, and elected a slate of officers for the 2016-2018 Biennium. Finally, POVA recognized outgoing President Mike Stoeckert as President Emeritus for his strong efforts to maintain POVA for the past eight years. POVA gave Mike a commemmorative gavel in a hand-crafted walnut chest.
12 August: Welcome to Fayetteville Picnic
POVA held a reunion picnic at the Special Forces campground south of Fayetteville on the evening of Friday 12 August. The grounds were lovely, and were provided to POVA by the Special Forces Association for the evening. Piper Doug Elwell piped us to dinner. We enjoyed an excellent catered meal, and enjoyed the friendship of friends both old and new. As it was a very warm evening, we concluded before nightfall and left with great memories of friends from old and friends anew.
13 August: Fort Bragg Visit: 6th Battalion
Our reunion group visited the headquarters of the 6th Military Information Support Battalion (MISB) (Airborne) on post at Ft. Bragg on Saturday afternoon 13 August. We were met by Battalion Executive Officer MAJ Tony James, a POVA friend and active duty POVA member, who gave our group an excellent briefing on the Battalion's current operational activities and deployments. For those in attendance who had served in the 6th Battalion when it was the "6th PSYOP Battalion," it came as an amazing transformation of a battalion formed and blooded in combat over 50 years ago. MAJ James' presentation was very much appreciated by all in attendance.
Note: The battalion flag (in the left picture below) carries the battle streamers that the Battalion earned from its 1966 deployment to Viet-Nam, and streamers for all campaigns since Viet-Nam. Many of the PSYOP veterans in attendance were serving overseas when those battle streamers were earned.
13 August: Fort Bragg Visit: Merkel Center
On Saturday afternoon 13 August, our Reunion group bussed to Ft. Bragg to visit the 3d Military Information Support Battalion (MISB) (Airborne), home of the Michal Merkel Media Center. Named in honor of 1LT Michal A. Merkel who was killed in action during the Communist Tet Offensive in Viet-Nam in March 1968, the Merkel Center is a high tech wonderworld of communication and production technology designed to provide extremely high quality, high volume and highly effective PSYOP messaging in multiple methods and formats. Hosted by COL Robert A. B. Curris, Commanding Officer of the 4th Military Information Support Operations (MISO) Group (Airborne), parent organization of the 3d MISB (A), POVA's group was taken on a thorough tour of all sections of the Center, and introduced to technologies and capabilities that could only ever have been imagined by most of the PSYOP veterans in attendance. The tremendous quality of the center, its staff and soldiers, coupled with the outstanding messaging technology in use today, was incredibly impressive. Although we were unable to take pictures within the facility, we were deeply impressed by the work and commitment of the members of this fine group of Soldiers.
13 August: POVA Reunion Banquet and Rose Ceremony
Our reunion banquet and award ceremony was held on the evening of Saturday 13 August at the DoubleTree hotel in Fayetteville. We were "piped" to dinner by Regimental Piper Doug Elwell, who brought us all together in our banquet room. Following seating and invocation by POVA Chaplain John Cheney, we conducted our "Rose Ceremony" to remember all our PSYOP soldiers who died while serving our country overseas. This year, in addition to a red rose for each lost veteran, POVA introduced its "Soldier Cross" ceremony. The cross is composed of a combat rifle on a bayonet, set amidst a pair of combat boots surrounded by an Army camouflage poncho liner. Positioned on the upended rifle is a combat helmet. As new President Emeritus Mike Stoeckert read the roster of our lost soldiers, a dogtag for each name was placed on the rifle by POVA Board members Chad Spawr, Howard Patrick, and Rich Hosier. At the conclusion, a hand salute was rendered to their memory. It is a very moving and meaningful ceremony.
Our guest speaker at dinner was Major General Daniel R. Ammerman, Commanding General of the US Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC). MG Ammerman spoke of the need for continued close relations between the active and reserve PSYOP components as they both were critical to supporting American Special Operations and conventional forces during combat deployments.