Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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September 12, 2011

Veterans gear up for annual reunion

3-day event expects to bring in thousands from around the world.

When people arrive at the Howard County Vietnam Veterans grounds for this year’s annual reunion, they will see an awe-inspiring memorial for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

More than 2,900 footprints bearing

the names of those who were killed will line the fence surrounding the eastern Howard County property.

Along with remembering those who perished on 9/11, veterans at the 29th annual Vietnam Veterans Reunion will pay their respects to eight nurses who lost their lives in Vietnam during Saturday’s opening ceremonies.

“People are already coming in to help get this thing rolling,” said Dennis Chapman, chaplain of the Howard County Vietnam Veterans Organization, which puts on the reunions.

“We’re getting the property all squared away and ready to go.”

The reunion begins Thursday with a pre-reunion concert featuring the band Lemon Wheel at the campgrounds on Ind. 26, 8 miles east of U.S. 31. Opening ceremonies kick off the activities both Friday and Saturday morning, and closing ceremonies wrap up the weekend Sunday.

Chapman said the property’s more than 900 campsites are full as the reunion nears.

Each year, the 22-acre field — once home to the Howard County Airport — transforms into a mini city of tents filled with flags, military Jeeps, motorcycles, and thousands of veterans and their families.

The three-day event features several bands, speakers and mini reunions honoring veterans from all wars, with the main focus on those who served during the Vietnam-era.

• Mike Fletcher, Tribune reporter, may be reached at 765-454-8565 or via e-mail at mike.fletcher@kokomotribune.com.

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