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First reunion material discovered

First reunion material discovered

     I am the daughter of John King Heyl. He was in the 99th, leaving from Camp Maxey on Sept. 10, 1944, only eight days after he married my mother. He was from Pittsburgh PA. Sadly, he died Sept. 27, 1962, in a car accident in Baton Rouge LA. He was only 46 years of age.

     I was going through some of his belongings and rediscovered something of interest:

     My father was the general chairman of the first Battle Babies reunion held in Pittsburgh PA. It was held the weekend of June 23-25, 1950, at the William Penn Hotel.

     I have the newspaper clipping with a photo and also the original program, which is shaped in the manner of the Checkerboard emblem. The program reads: "Welcome-1st Annual Reunion" and there is a schedule of events for the weekend and the luncheon and dinner menu.

     There is a page that tells the story of the Checkerboard insignia. There also is an acknowledgment page. The last few pages of the program are for autographs.

     I know he worked hard and long hours to get that first reunion accomplished. He'd be proud to know that initial effort of his has continued as a tradition.

     Also included in his private papers is a long letter written to him from Major Gen. Walter Lauer, and of course, there is a copy of Lauer's book.

     I assure you, my father was a fine man — always kind, always of the highest character, always loving, and always giving. It breaks my heart that his life was cut so short. He did not talk about the days of his service. Even when we studied about the Battle of the Bulge in school, he hesitated to talk to us about it. What I do know is he promised the Virgin Mary if he got home alive, he'd never smoke another cigarette — and he kept that promise. He smoked a pipe!

     I look through my father's WWII photo album and I see smiling, youthful faces and wonder how many of the guys actually survived. And, then I look at my own husband's album from his days in Vietnam — and he points out the ones who did not make it. I see that he has a strong bond with these men. I guess it is the same for all of you battle babies and that is a good thing.

     Let me know if you would like to archive the first reunion material if you do not already have it.

Mavis-Marie Heyl McClung

(daughter of John King Heyl)