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85 attend South Padre mini years ago

85 attend South Padre mini reunion

Eighty-five attend South Padre mini

     Members of the 99th Infantry Division Association have come to expect a good time when the Texas Rio Grande Valley contingent hosts at a mini reunion.

     They weren't disappointed Feb. 17-20 while attending the third mini reunion on South Padre Island with Charles Eubanks as host.

     There was a tour to Matamoras that included shopping and a fine dinner as well as sight-seeing. Driving by the maquiladora district (industrial plants that manufacture products for U.S. companies) was an eye-opening experience.

     The customized farm tour included a visit to an irrigation pumping station where the irrigational use of waters from the Rio Grande River was explained by the "water master" and a visit to a citrus farm where plenty of samples of grapefruit sections and orange juice were enjoyed. Citrus also was available to buy for taking or shipping home..

     Sam and Seann Sparks invited the group to enjoy lunch at their lovely rural estate near Santa Rosa. In the park-like atmosphere the 99'ers and their wives enjoyed a box lunch and hot tamales under the palms.

     After lunch, Sam took the entire group to the Crowley Sugar Mill warehouse nearby where a mountain of raw sugar is stored. Everyone was able to scoop up and take home a sample of the sugar.

     The row crops were impressive sights and on the return, everyone was given a bag of pinto beans from Colorado, compliments of John and Lil Vasa.

     There was a wine and cheese reception Thursday evening. A Border Buttermilk Event held Friday evening seemed mysterious at the outset, but proved to be an enjoyable reception with a South-of-the-Border motif, mardi gras beads for everyone (compliments of Joe and Elder Hebert of Louisiana), and of course that "buttermilk" which turned out to be tequila punch. It was delicious.

     Sergeants Wendell Williams and Dwight Ford from the newly re-flagged 395th Regiment at Fort Hood TX were in attendance and participated in reunion events.

     The banquet Saturday night provided a visit from a "famous lady" Kathy Eunice, who gave a great imitation of, and informative talk about that historic landmark in New York Harbor.

editor was asked to say "a few words," and obliged.

     Seven "99th All Stars" presented short anecdotal accounts of events they experienced during their time as soldiers of the 99th in the Battle of the Bulge. Whit Whitmarsh, George Lehr, J.R. McIlroy, Bob Gabriel, Warner Anthony, Vern Swanson, and Earl Wiseman were the "99th All Stars." Their accounts were meaningful and impressive.

     The evening ended with Kathy Eunice singing an emotional and rousing version of "God Bless the U.S.A."

     All present agreed that it would be great if Charlie Eubanks and Marge Flados ("Marge, the Sarge In Charge") would agree to host another mini reunion as soon as they can muster the energy to do so. "We'll be there! Thanks, Southern Contingent, for a great time!" was the message Sunday morning as they departed for homes around the natiion.