Vietnam War Veterans Honor Fallen Battalion Members At SLC Reunion

Apr 18, 2020, 10:36 PM | Updated: 10:58 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has interrupted our lives in a big way. We can’t attend weddings or graduations; we can’t travel as freely as we once did or drop in and see friends and relatives. For now, everything is on hold.

But before the days of social distancing and face masks, members of the U.S. Army’s 34th Engineer Battalion that fought in the Vietnam War held a reunion to reconnect and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“These are all our brothers, only people here who actually know Vietnam, as soon as I met them, I knew them forever,” said Bill Brisby, who was in the unit.

A few months ago, Brisby and dozens of members of the 34th held the reunion in Salt Lake City, along with their wives and other family members.

They’ve held the reunion in different parts of the country for nearly 30 years now. People who had relatives or knew of someone in the 34th would host and organize the event.

“I was a company clerk in this engineer battalion. Accounting clerk was my main job — in a war, you do lots of things,” Brisby said. Sort of like Radar O’Reilly from the old “M*A*S*H” TV show.

It’s a fun time for everyone to gather and reminisce about the good times and even some not-so-good times, as was the case often during the war.

“These fellows right here, were our casualties, the ones that didn’t come home with us,” said Harold Woodward as he looked through old photos. “They came home before us in body bags. The earliest one was around 1968.”

Harold Woodward salutes as members of the U.S. Army 34 Engineer Battalion remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Vietnam War.

Woodard, who’s from Louisiana, started attending the reunions about five years ago and said these events have helped him cope.

“Got a lot of memories that we need to deal with. I’m like everyone else, when I came home from Vietnam, people didn’t care too much about, for what we did,” he said. “I put all of my Vietnam stuff in the closet, locked the door and forgot about it.”

During their three-day visit to Utah, members of the 34th toured some of the state’s major attractions: Temple Square, watched the Tabernacle Choir rehearse, took trolley rides through downtown and visited Park City.

During their three-day visit to Utah, members of the 34th visited downtown Salt Lake City.

The reunion changes from year to year. New members join, while others are too ill to attend or pass away. Everyone here looked at the gatherings the same as getting together with family.

“It’s sharing memories. We sit around, we tell stories, we remind each other what we did and there’s always something new that comes out of that,” Brisby said. “We share pictures we’ve taken.”

And each time the 34th gets together, they always hold a special memorial service to honor those who have passed on or never came home.

“The belief is (that) some of those guys are remembered only by us,” Brisby said. “Their parents are probably gone by now. Their other relatives are probably gone by now. We may be the only ones who remember those guys and the sacrifice they made for our country.”

The United States ended its military presence in Vietnam on March 29th, 1973. More than 58,000 soldiers died. Members of the 34th Engineer Battalion hope we never forget.

As Woodard put it: “I would want them to know we do this for these guys, as a memorial to them. And it’s good for us as well.”

The 34th will hold its next reunion in Branson, Missouri, in September.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus: Stronger Together

Utah COVID testing site. Getty images...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

New mobile COVID-19 testing sites open in Utah

With the summer travel season underway and a steady stream of people still testing positive for COVID-19, Nomi Health opened several mobile testing sites across Utah.
22 days ago
The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19...
Ashley Moser, KSL TV

Hospital ceremony honors survivors, healthcare heroes as U.S. hits one million COVID-19 deaths

The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19, those who survived it, and the caregivers and healthcare workers who cared for the sick.
1 month ago
Debbie Worthen, KSL TV

Utah County couple gives Minky Couture blankets to medical team at Utah Valley Hospital

Russell Greene doesn't call himself a COVID-19 survivor, he calls himself a COVID-19 miracle. His family thanked medical workers for saving his life.
4 months ago
Salt Lake City's streets were deserted in the early days of the pandemic. (KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero, KSL TV

A reporter looks back on two years of pandemic in Utah

Two years ago on March 11, 2020, the world changed for many Americans as COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Today, things are slowly getting back to normal. 
4 months ago
(KSL TV)...
Jed Boal, KSL TV

U Hospital staff ‘moving mountains’ to beat back omicron surge 

Unlike other parts of the country, the surge in omicron cases has not peaked yet in Utah. According to a top doctor at University of Utah Hospital, the facility was full, and staffing was thin but caregivers remained determined in their mission. 
5 months ago
The Window Rock formation is illuminated on March 17 in Window Rock, Arizona during an event to rem...
Heather Simonsen, KSL TV

Frontline health care workers of color bridge racial gap in time of COVID-19

Lack of trust and access to services has caused devastation during COVID-19 for Utah's communities of color.  
7 months ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Vietnam War Veterans Honor Fallen Battalion Members At SLC Reunion