The April 2017 USMLM Association Reunion was an unqualified success. Held in Arlington VA at the Holiday Inn at Ronald Reagan Airport, the reunion, believed to be the fifth held, drew over a hundred attendees. Key Note speakers were BG Randy Greenwalt (US Army retired) who skyped in from Colorado and MG Roland Lajoie (US Army retired) who attended in person. BG Greenwalt gave an excellent review of the importance of the work of USMLM during the Cold War and MG Lajoie spoke of the tragic killing of MAJ Arthur Nicholson and its meaning to all of us.
Attendees began arriving on Friday, the day before the reunion dinner, and shared stories and memories in the break room in the hotel. COL Tom Spencer, (US Army retired), the first Association President, arranged for the Oral History Project out of West Point to interview USMLM veterans about their service and experiences. These histories are now posted on the web and available for all to hear. The attendees observed a moment of silence for Werner Hindrichs, USMLM Association Vice President, who passed away earlier in April.
Three former Mission Chiefs, MG Roland Lajoie (ret), BG Randy Greenwalt (ret), and COL Don Stovall (ret) participated in the event. Mrs. Mimi Naab represented COL Dick Naab (ret) who was away in Iraq. Former Air Force Tech Sergeant and linguist, Mel Ratz (USMLM 1959-1963, 1969-1974, 1985-1990), was recognized as the USMLM veteran with the oldest service dates in attendance.
As part of USMLM Association business, attendees were asked to elect a new association president and team to carry on the fine work done by MSG (ret) Larry Schwab (USMLM 1974-1978, 1984-1988) and Marilyn Soukup-Jones (USMLM 1973-1977) over the past 17 years. Larry and Marilyn received the first ever USMLM Association certificates and the thanks of all the association members whom they served these many years. Association President, BG Kevin Ryan (US Army retired), relinquished his role to Dr. Stephen Hoyt (USMLM 1976-1978, 1983-1986), who was unanimously elected the fourth president of the association (following Tom Spencer, Bill Burhans, and Kevin Ryan). Steve, who volunteered as a candidate, was not able to attend the reunion, but accepted his new role with gratitude to the association members.
Kevin Ryan recounted to attendees the very successful memorial service for MAJ Arthur Nicholson organized in Ludwigslust, Germany in March of this year by former Mission Tour NCO, SFC (ret) Thomas Favia (USMLM 1989-1991). This was the fourth ceremony that Tom has conducted at the site where MAJ Nicholson was killed in 1985. Tom suggested that another service be conducted in spring 2020, the 35th anniversary of MAJ Nicholson’s shooting, and that the association conduct a mini-reunion at the same time in the Berlin area. Reunion attendees supported the idea and planning will begin soon.