Back to Home Page 

A-2’s Grand Re-Opening of Company Activities

Shortly before his passing which saddened us all, Jack Zimmerman [1939-2021] with his typical concern for his A-2 family, wanted our Class to learn of A-2’s grand re-opening of their Company activities. In some ways the words that follow may now be read as Jack’s farewell posting.

Photo: Mary Frances & Hank Kenny; Sandy & Jack Zimmerman; Thomas Jefferson; Sue & Paul Devries; Bobbie& Jim Blesse

Jack’s report: Our A-2 Company ’mates rose to the occasion to gather for another of its now traditional style mini-reunions. The venue was the highly regarded Wintergreen resort high in the mountains of central Virginia, and by coincidence very reminiscent of the locale for earlier A-2 minis we held at Ellie & John Skillman’s [1939-2014] mountain retreat near Roanoke. Bobbie & Jim Blesse carried out the top-notch planning, allowing for an easy and wonderful five days.

Our A-2 'mates explored and marveled at the beautiful countryside of central Virginia. We all explored a bit of the history that resides in this still rural region. A day long visit to the National D-Day Memorial reminded us that here stands a grand monument dedicated to the men and women who became members of the “greatest generation” on their “longest day.” It is located in Bedford, VA in part to recognize and commemorate that this small town was the home for many of the men of A Company, 1st Battalion 116th Infantry Regiment of the “Blue and Gray” National Guard 29th Infantry Division. Being first on Omaha beach that day, the 116th suffered disproportionately heavy casualties, about 90% by the end of the day. Significantly, nineteen of Bedford county’s thirty-two sons in A Company died as they stormed the beach and pressed forward to the overhanging cliffs fiercely defended by Hitler’s war machine.

On the days that followed we took appropriate rest breaks in order to pay our respects to the renowned wineries and pub breweries along our chosen route of march. Of course we paused allowing adequate time and resources for sampling the unique specialties of the growing number of fine dining establishments. Each was special. Topping our listing is Nellyford’s Italian restaurant. [Perhaps recalling another of A-2’s ‘mates no longer with us, Joe Paone [1938-2007]. With all of these thoughts in mind, no doubt, Jim led the way into the fun filled crowd of diners, dancing to the music of the guitar band. All of this cheery activity added to and guaranteed each of us “mini-reunioners” a wonderful time laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Then on our last day we met with “Thomas Jefferson” and to tour his uniquely designed home, Monticello. Touring his self-designed home gave us a glimpse of Mr. Jefferson’s brilliance and magic. Another highlight for us was a public session with him. In the form of a gifted actor and historian who assumed the president's persona, Mr. Jefferson exhibited the expected eloquence of the founding father who granted the founding of our alma mater, and in his assumed role responding fully to our comments and questions.

Our epilogue: We opened our gathering on 7 June 2021... exactly sixty years since we graduated. So, with that recollection in mind yet looking forward to our official 60th reunion in Orlando, we closed our evening with a pause for a silent moment to allow time for each of our band of sisters and brothers to recall their own as well as our collectively storied pasts. We raised on high our goblets of the fruit of the vine and in unison reflected on that day seemingly not so long ago, along with the thousands of days since then. Some wed only hours after receiving their diploma. Others raced into the four winds and others just enjoyed the freedom that came with graduation, and all of the years since.

After five days it was agreed a good time was had by all. Stand by for more!!

In remembrance: Jack’s funeral took place at Arlington National Cemetery, 9 February 2022.