Valley Center Vietnam veteran reunites with company after 50 years

Local

PARK CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – After nearly 50 years apart, Ed Archer, a Valley Center Vietnam Veteran, has finally reunited with old friends from the battlefield. 

Saturday, Archer and 12 of his company members who mostly served from 1970 to 1971 in the Americal 23rd Division 196th Delta 2/1, gathered at the Best Western in Park City. 

“I told the wife these are going to be the friendliest people you ever meet and she said they were,” said Archer. 

They spent the day looking at old pictures from Vietnam stirring up memories of the camaraderie in the U.S. Army infantry division.

“In the field, you become very close your life depends on these other guys,” said Gary Nace, Vietnam Veteran from Virginia, with tears in his eyes. “These guys are like my brothers.” 

A brotherhood that carried them through some difficult times. 

“We already knew the U.S was pulling out of Vietnam, and it was a very unpopular war at that stage,” said Jim Rhodes, Vietnam Veteran and Lieutenant from Wyoming. “I have profound respect for all the men I served with.” 

They’ve traveled from six different states just to reconnect with their battlefield brothers this weekend.  It’s the third reunion for this company but first one in Kansas and with a larger turnout. 

Archer reached out to his company member Jerry Lenox after reading a newspaper article online about the first reunion held in Wyoming three years ago. He asked if this year’s reunion could come to the Wichita area.

“I figured Wichita is central that way they all wouldn’t have as far to drive,” said Archer.

The company can thank three pieces of paper Lenox passed around the bunker in 1970 that sparked the reunions all these years later. He had all 31 men write down their contact information. His mom saved it in a box.  He found it recently and started locating those men listed on the papers.  

“Every gentleman that is here is very thankful they signed it, “said Lenox. “I have not a clue why I passed it around.”

But he’s glad he did.

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