2019 Reunion Update

Dear Fellow Handlers, I am posting a letter I drafted for the upcoming newsletter and the announcement for the 2019 reunion in Springfield, MO. I realize the letter is a bit redundant for those who are on Facebook, or for those I have their correct email addresses for, but there is some new info in the letter. Thanks to all for your support.  You can make your reservations now.  

Dear Fellow Sentry Dog Handlers, my name is Gary Smith. I need to catch everyone up on our reunion 2019 in New Bern, NC. Hurricane Florence decimated New Bern mid September, 2018. The Doubletree Hotel in New Bern assured Lee Ruth the Reunion Coordinator that the hotel would be ready to receive guests by the time of our April reunion. Several weeks ago the hotel called Lee to tell him the hotel would not be ready for us in April. Lee coordinated with the hotel for September 20-22, 2019 for our reunion. A few days ago Lee was told by the hotel staff that the hotel would not be accepting any guests in 2019. Lee and Larry Majeski, and I had to make some quick decisions. Do we not have a reunion this year and wait till 2021. We have a gentlemen’s agreement with the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association (VDHA) that we host our reunions on the odd year and they host on the even years. The other choice was see if we could have our reunion somewhere else.
Lee did not believe he could host the reunion anywhere near where he lives. I checked with one person who had mentioned he would like to host the reunion again near where he lives. Due to time constraints he was not able to host it this year. I checked with Ramada Oasis Hotel, Springfield, Missouri. I had hosted our 2013 reunion with them. They are able to accommodate our reunion September 5-8, 2019. I then checked with everyone that I have a correct email address for to see how many were willing to make the change. The numbers were promising so we agreed to have the reunion in Springfield, MO. Rooms will be $105.00 during our reunion. They will honor that fee 3 days before and 3 days after the reunion.
For those who registered with Lee and paid the reunion registration he is personally contacting each handler and offering to refund their registration fee or transfer it to me for the Springfield Reunion. If you elect to switch your registration to Springfield, there will be no increases. I do need to find out from each handler if they want to go back to Fort Leonard Wood, MO for either an all day tour or a shorter tour. We are all getting older, some have mentioned they would like to go to Fort Leonard Wood but not for the same tour we did in 2013 because it was too long.
For those who have not registered with Lee, the registration fee will be $125.00, the same as what Lee was using. At the time of this writing I do not believe it will be necessary for an additional charge for the tour busses to Fort Leonard Wood. If there is no additional fee then that means I will refund the amount that would be charged for the tour to those who do not go to Fort Leonard Wood. If you have any questions please call or email me at 713-614-2503, puppypusher@att.net

WHEN: September 5-8, 2019
WHERE: Ramada Oasis, Springfield, Missouri
WHAT: September 5th: Free time and mingle at hospitality room.
September 6th: Tour of Fort Leonard Wood, MO (FLWM) (an additional cost may or may not be incurred) or free time and mingle at hospitality room
September 7th: Free time and mingle at hospitality room
6:30 PM – ? : Banquet
September 8th: Goodbye Breakfast
HOTEL ROOM: $105.00 per night
Hotel Info: Ramada Oasis, 2546 Glenstone, Springfield, MO 65803 Toll Free: 888-532-4338
Registration for Reunion Please return completed to: Gary Smith, 31239 Kensington Park Drive, Spring, TX 77386


GUEST(S) NAMES:_________________
UNIT/YEAR GROUP:________________
AMOUNT REMITTED: _______________
QUESTIONS: GARY SMITH AT 713-614-2503, or puppypusher@att.net

Proposed Change to Location for VMPSDA Reunion 2019

January 24, 2019


Dear Fellow Handlers,  Lee Ruth has told me that the hotel in New Bern, NC will not have repairs completed before our planned reunion.  I am sure you are sadden as I and Sandy are.  Lee is contacting everyone who was registered for the New Bern reunion to let them know. 
Rather than cancel the reunion, I would like to propose having our reunion in Springfield, MO.  If the membership is okay with this I would like to coordinate the reunion.  We can use the same hotel we did in 2013.  We could arrange for a tour of Fort Leonard Wood, MO home of the Military Police Corps.  I believe costs will not exceed what we were expecting to pay in New Bern.  Those that have sent in their money to Lee we would either apply it to the Springfield reunion or refund the money if you are not going to come to the reunion. 
The dates I am looking at are September 5, 6, 7, and the 8th  2019.
What I envision is we meet Thursday September 5th in the hospitality room.  We tour Fort Leonard Wood, MO by commercial bus either on Friday September 6th or Saturday September 7th.  I would have to leave that date open for Fort Leonard Wood, MO to accommodate us.  Whatever date we do not go to Fort Leonard Wood, MO we use that day for mingling or going out to see the local sites.  Saturday evening September 7th we would have our banquet.  Sunday morning September 8th we would have our goodbye breakfast. 
I am sending this out to only those who I have an email address for.   If you know of anyone who does not use email and you want to let them know please do.  You can either pass on to me their response or they can call me on my cell 713-614-2503.   I am requesting from you a response that you are okay with the solution and that you may or may not be coming to the reunion.  I do not want to sign a contract and then have to back out when I find out no one wants to come.  I hope you understand.  I also need numbers of who will be coming ie. Spouse or children, friends or whatever.  I also would like to know if anyone wants to tour Fort Leonard Wood again.  Again I need numbers for the tour.  If it is a go I will send out a registration form for us to register.  I need to hear from you as soon as you can to lock in the hotel if it is a go.  
If we do not have a reunion in 2019 we will be forced to wait till 2021 because of the agreement we have with the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association (VDHA) to host our reunions on the odd years.  Gary Smith 981st 71-72

Remembering Ralph Hamblin

Memorial Service pamphlet

Top’s 2003 obituary, Army Times
Top’s eulogy by son Ralph Jr. pg 1

Top’s eulogy by son Ralph Jr. pg 2

Top’s eulogy by son Ralph Jr. pg 3

Top’s eulogy by son Ralph Jr. pg 4

Top’s eulogy by son Ralph Jr. pg 5

Top’s eulogy by son Ralph Jr. pg 6

Top’s eulogy by son Ralph Jr. pg 7

Top’s eulogy by son Ralph Jr. pg 8

Top’s eulogy by son Ralph Jr. pg 9

Repost of Remembering Ralph Hamblin

Version:1.0 StartHTML:000000245 EndHTML:000162696 StartFragment:000117414 EndFragment:000162550 StartSelection:000117449 EndSelection:000162435 SourceURL:https://www.facebook.com/groups/VietnamSentryDogAlumni/permalink/1354025597980665/ (13) Vietnam Military Police Sentry Dog Alumni

Remembering Ralph Hamblin

(April 28, 1928 to April 15, 2003)

Ralph Hamblin — known as Top, the generic nickname for a First Sergeant — was the person at the 981st whom I worked with most closely. I kept in touch with him too at Christmas until his death in 2003. He was a highly experienced noncommissioned officer, a center of calm, and an example to others at 981st headquarters in Cam Ranh Bay and at the unit’s detachments.

A few things I remember about him: He used to write to his mother Lula in Kentucky regularly. When I went to Hong Kong on R&R, he asked me to bring back two silk mandarin pajama sets, decorated with embroidery, for his wife Anna. He also once told me how concerned he was that his children would not be able to attend middle school and high school without being subject to the kinds of substance abuse temptations that were beginning to be rampant in the US at that time. I know he worried about this since he was frequently absent overseas while his three children were growing up.

I also knew he had met his wife when he was stationed in Germany and that her family had had a hard time in WW II, suffering wartime displacement and other losses and indignities. He and his wife both loved dogs and at the time I knew him had a small white poodle at home that Top insisted had a genius-level understanding of the English language. And while he liked our unit mascot Foxy, he devoted most of his attention to his own unit mutt named Homer — sad to say not at all proficient in the English-speaking tongue.

He was close to 1SG David Sam of the 630th MP Company just down the road from the 981st, and looked forward to receiving the generic Christmas letter that Sam and his wife sent to their friends. He also knew and liked SSG Fleming, our Staff Sergeant responsible for the conduct and
detail assignments of new dog handlers arriving in-country. Fleming, who had very erect military bearing and was of Native American background, I believe had worked with Top at an earlier post where they had first become friendly. Top also pointedly disliked loudmouths, braggarts and windbags, of which in Vietnam there were many.

An example of Top’s unflappable personality and ability to lead: SGTs Rush Mortimer and Arnie Price in CRB decided to help Top celebrate his birthday at the local NCO watering hole, which that night had a band in attendance. Top was agreeable but when Price thought it would be rousingly appropriate during intermission to empty the contents of their beer cans over Top’s head — as a sort of celebratory baptism by alcohol — Top quietly but firmly told the two that it would not be a good idea to do this. The two young buck sergeants thus received a benign lesson in personal dignity, which they absorbed by example, while Top avoided a patently unwelcome Pabst Blue Ribbon beer shampoo on his day of birth. And so the three wound up drinking their beers together and enjoying them as the birthday evening wore on. That being said, Top also spent much of his free time in the second-floor lounge in the barracks building he occupied — a place where drinks flowed freely, soldiers could unwind, and stag films could be watched.

On a personal note, Top helped me out on the day I was to be pinned by the colonel as a SGT E-5. On that morning a dog handler up-country had gone AWOL with at least one missing weapon. I had received the phone call on my office phone and had as a result been engaged for the better part of three hours in trying to find out how many people and weapons were involved, the extent of any injuries, etc. It was a bad connection that was intermittently cut off, and since no one wanted to take me off the phone I missed the pinning ceremony. Top went in my stead, though, and explained my absence to the colonel, who then arranged to pin me with my stripes later in the day. He at that time queried me about the incident and praised me for my perseverance — and I then understood that the colonel’s interest was a result of what Top had said about me and how he had said it. Top’s words had been a reflection of how he viewed his subordinates and what they had done or could do for the good of the company. It was something I’ve always remembered about him, as well as an illustration of his quiet good sense in both word and deed.

Top also had the opportunity to attend a TO&E strategy and planning meeting that took place while he was in-country. The meeting was called to modify our unit’s basic Table of Organization & Equipment, since our sentry dog company was different from other MP units. It did not meet frequently so this was an important opportunity whereby to plan for having our unit’s future needs met. Top’s input here was both offered and valued.

Top died in 2003, shortly before his seventy-fifth birthday. Many people he worked with remember him, what he did for the 981st, and the remarkable way in which he did it. I was honored to work closely with him and as a result I liked him a lot. Top, the time we knew each other was all too short. But I’ll take this opportunity to thank you now for all you did. You were figuratively and literally at the top of your profession and an inspiration to those of us who knew and admired you. And now, your work being done, may you rest in peace.

Submitted by Steve Dragovich, Company Clerk, 981st, 70/71.6 Comments9110Steven Dragovich, Larry Majeski and 8 othersLikeShow more reactionsComment

John Hill

John Hill I remember him very well. My first child was born while I was at the 981st, 14 Sep 70. He gave me the night off. He help promote me to E-4. He arranged a prisoner escort from LBJ to Levensworth for me. He said , “You better come back” and I did. Top was a soldier you would follow to hell if need be. Slow salute, Taps, RIP my friend.Manage33LikeShow more reactions · Reply · 1y

Rush Mortimer

Rush Mortimer I had served under two TOP’s that should never have been one. As I compared 1st. Sgt. Hamblin to other senior NCO’s those two came to mind a lot. I was a 20 year old green kid when I made Sgt. And not once did TOP berate, undermine or try to intimid…See More22ManageLikeShow more reactions · Reply · 1y

Ken Claflin

Ken Claflin I remember seeing him on a daily basis when I was in HHQ Platoon, when I first got to Cam Rahn. While we were retraining with new dogs they asked if anyone had experience drafting. I raised my hand as I had two years in H.S. and a semester in a Tech Sc…See MoreManage22LikeShow more reactions · Reply · 1y

Ralph Mance

Ralph Mance Yes I remember he made me burn sxxt the last 9 days I was in V.N. I LIKED THE GUY .33ManageLikeShow more reactions · Reply · 1y

Monte Susan Adams

Monte Susan Adams Top Hamblin what a guy. He looked tough on the outside but on the inside I realized he was just one good guy. One day he came to me and asked what was wrong? I said nothin why? That’s bull**** he said. He was right there was a problem back home, for o…See More44ManageLikeShow more reactions · Reply · 1y

Gary S. Smith

Gary S. Smith This is just posted on our website from 1SG Hamblin’s son, Ralph Hamblin.
I thank you all for the kind words about my dad.
Our family was in Texas while he did the two tours in Vietnam and when he came back in 1971, he had orders for Addis Ababa. At …See More33ManageLikeShow more reactions · Reply · 2w

Ken Claflin

Ken Claflin Makes me wish that I had went to Germany after my tour in Vietnam. I would have liked to meet up with him again but would have been in another Sentry Dog assignment.22

Reunion Rescheduled Sep 20th-22nd 2019

Due to the hurricane we have been forced to move the 2019 Reunion from April to September 20, 21, & 22. If you have already made reservations at the hotel they will be automatically changed to the new dates. I will be meeting with the hotel shortly to confirm all details and update the contract. I am in the process of notifying everyone that has registered with me. I hope this causes no major inconvenience to anyone that was planning to attend.

Passing of Robert William Clark, 981st 69-70

It is with sadness, Robert William Clark, 981st 69-70 passed away Dec 18, 2018. His funeral is scheduled for Jan 5, 2019. I am trying to get this out as soon as I can so if anyone lives near Robert wants to attend the funeral. I would ask if you know anyone who knew Robert please let them know. I can only let the ones who I have email addresses for know. As a side note Robert attended the last two reunions, so some folks outside the normal unit year group might know him. If you have pictures of Robert please post them here. Here is the link to the obituary and funeral info:

Donald (Don) J. Therolf 212th 65-66

Donald Joseph Therolf
Born: January 29, 1943
Died: September 20, 2009
Location: Tonawanda, New York
Greco Funeral Home Inc
2909 Elmwood Ave
Kenmore, NY 14217
Tel. (716) 874-4400
Tribute & Message From The Family
THEROLF, Donald J., September 20, 2009; beloved soul mate of Agnes Hulpiau; father of Jimmy Therolf; brother of Barb (Harold) Dumain, Rita (Ron) Hanson and Larry (Lynn) Therolf; step-father of Deborah (Jim) Wehrfritz, Don (Cindy) Hulpiau, Sue Rockwell, and Ken Hulpiau; also survived by 10 grandchildren, one niece and many nephews. The family will be present Thursday 2-4 and 6-8 PM at the Greco Funeral Home, 2909 Elmwood Avenue where prayers will be offered on Friday at 10:15 AM and followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 AM from St. Timothy R.C. Church. Don was a retired E.C. Deputy Sheriff, Veteran of Vietnam, Life Member in the NRA and Master Instructor of Hunter Safety courses. Flowers gratefully declined. Share your condolences at www.GRECOFUNERAL.com