Reunions are times to reconnect with family and friends, swap stories and share memories.

For members of the Fire Support Base Ripcord Association, many of the memories shared at the group’s annual reunion are heartbreaking, but sharing stories with others who experienced one of the deadliest battles of the Vietnam War helps them heal.

Lee Widjeskog, who helps Fred Spaulding of Fishers, Indiana, plan the reunion, said for many of the soldiers, the memories of what happened March 12-July 23, 1970, are fuzzy and talking with others helps fill in the blanks. For some, the guilt of surviving while 148 soldiers were killed is a burden eased by talking with others who feel the same.

“They understand what you’ve gone through and you can talk to them,” Widjeskog said. “Everyone treats everyone like their long lost brother.”

The next reunion takes place Oct. 7-10 at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center. About 90 veterans and 60 family members and friends are expected to attend.

Widjeskog, who lives in Rosenhayn, New Jersey, will be among them. He plans to reconnect with soldiers who were in the infantry platoon he led and others who were there during the horrific battle chronicled in books, movies and documentaries.

For more information about the reunion, the association and the battle, visit

For more information about group events brought to Springfield by the Convention & Visitors Bureau, call 417-881-5300. The CVB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to boosting the local economy through growth in travel and tourism.