GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — They’re known as the “Screaming Eagles” and with veterans going all the way back to World War II, there’s a lot of stories to be told.
Members of the 101st Airborne Division met in Grand Rapids this year for their 69th annual reunion, according to executive secretary for the Airborne Randal Underhill.
For members who attend, like 94-year-old WWII vet Edward Hallo, each year offers another chance to keep their memories and stories alive.
“Oh gosh, over and over again you meet people, and just to get together and bring back old times,” Hallo said.
“I’m the only guy left alive today that contacted the enemy in the Battle of the Bulge for the 101st Airborne and the enemy didn’t know they were only 10 yards in front of us in the middle of the night.”
Hello says he’s one of only about 8 or 9 others guys left in the entire division who fought in WWII. The majority—about 90 percent—of the 101st members now are Vietnam veterans.
But no matter what war they fought in or how long it’s been since they’ve fought, Underhill says each one has a story to tell.
“Sometimes it gets emotional where a guy sees people he hasn’t seen for 30 or 40 years or sometimes more, and it’s a good time for comradeship and fellowship,” he said.
“Probably one of the most important things they do everyday is we run a hospitality room for about 12 hours and they just sit down there and mingle, they sit down there and reminisce and talk about all their different things.
And for vets like Hello, while the memories may fade for a lot of the guys over the years, the pride in what they did and the country they served doesn’t.
“We’ve come a long way and we’re proud of it,” Hallo said.
The 101st Airborne Division has more than 7,000 member nationwide.