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Charlie Company reunion in Harrisburg celebrates 50 years of camaraderie

  • Oliver Butler, left, of Harrisburg, gives directions to other fellow Charlie Company veterans at a 50th anniversary reunion at his home on Saturday.

    Oliver Butler, left, of Harrisburg, gives directions to other fellow Charlie Company veterans at a 50th anniversary reunion at his home on Saturday.
    Travis DeNeal/Harrisburg Register

  • Vietnam veterans from Charlie Company gathered over the weekend at the home of Oliver Butler of Harrisburg to celebrate a 50th anniversary reunion.

    Vietnam veterans from Charlie Company gathered over the weekend at the home of Oliver Butler of Harrisburg to celebrate a 50th anniversary reunion.
    Travis DeNeal/Harrisburg Register

 
 
updated: 9/12/2017 5:56 PM

HARRISBURG -- When a group of young men all were drafted into the Army on the same day in 1965, they didn't know what the future might hold for them.

They certainly didn't imagine they would stay together as a company the entire time they were in service.

But Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division maintains that connection through the present day, one member says.

"It's a rarity for the Army that we got put into a unit and were never separated from the time we went in until we came home from Vietnam," says Oliver Butler of Harrisburg. "We had guys from Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington and California."

During last weekend, around 34 or 35 members of Charlie Company gathered at Butler's house south of Harrisburg to catch up on old times in what was Charlie Company's 50th reunion, Butler said.

"In 1987, we had our 20 year reunion, and we've tried to have it every five years since," Butler said. "In 1997, we had it in Illinois for the first time. What's always amazing is, every time we have a reunion, we migrate back to the same groups we had back then."

This year was special, he said, because a few new members were able to attend for the first time. Plus, they located the man who was their former company commander.

"He was amazed there were that many of us still here," Butler said.

What's more, the men gathered for the reunion took the opportunity to help others as a group.

"We had a little money from donations left over, and we were going to put it toward the next reunion," he said.

However, Butler suggested taking half of that money and donating it to hurrican victims in Houston, with a match by Charlie Company members. The former soldiers did more that simply match it, though.

When all the money was tallied up, they had $2,200 they since have donated to the Illinois Baptist Relief Fund, earmarked for Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, Butler said.

"These men are just a great bunch of guys, and I'm proud to be a part of it," he said. "And, we can't wait for the next reunion."

The next Charlie Company reunion will be in Hastings, Minn. in 2019.

"Some of the guys who had never been before who came to this one said, 'We don't care where the next one is. We don't want to miss another one,'" Butler said.