Making History Project
"Preserving Veterans' Stories"
501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization

82nd Airborne Archive

Day Three: 508 PIR Association Reunion

508PIR Banquet

Rock Merritt and Ernie Lawson

Oral History Presentation

Veterans Day is the perfect day to share an update for last Saturday’s events at the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment Association Reunion.  On that day, I conducted an audio and video presentation to the membership.  My presentation focused on the progress of my oral history interviews and why preserving the legacy of all Veterans is important.  After my presentation, I filmed a panel discussion of 508 PIR Veterans and current service members.  The panel discussion focused on comparing and contrasting experiences and military service across the different eras.

508 PIR Oral History Interviews

Continuing that busy day, I later had the privilege to complete two oral history interviews.  The first interview was with Brodie Hand, a World War II Veteran who served in 508 Company C, 82nd Airborne Division.  Corporal Hand participated in the Normandy campaign as a paratrooper and subsequently was captured and became a POW for the rest of the war.  The second interview was with Justin Graham, an active duty service member with the 508 PIR, 82nd Airborne.  SSG Graham has been deployed three times to Afghanistan, in 2010, 2012, and 2014.  It was fantastic that these two heroes took the time to speak with me.  I was equally delighted to be able to compare and contrast a World War II Veteran with a current soldier.  What I can say definitively is that they both love their country, want the best for their country, and believe in the duty, honor, and respect.

508 PIR Dinner Banquet

The 508 PIR Association Reunion concluded that evening with a wonderful dinner banquet and was attended by a color guard of the 82nd Airborne as well as by many of active duty service members in their “dress blues”.  Looking forward to more good times next year when we meet again in Fort Bragg for the 2017 Reunion.  Airborne all the way!


508 PIR Oral History Inteview for Brodie Hand

CPL Brodie Hand


508 PIR oral history interview for Justin Graham

SSG Justin Graham

Day Two: 508 PIR Association Reunion

The Citadel

The Citadel

Visit to The Citadel

On the second day of the 508 PIR Association Reunion, we all visited The Citadel, a private military university in Charleston, South Carolina.  A mantra of The Citadel is “Honor – Duty – Respect”, a message we all can take to heart.  We received a very nice and informative tour of the campus by a Citadel Cadet.  This happened to be the 50th Reunion for the Class of 1966.  Afterwards, we were all treated to a twilight Parade by the Cadets which takes place on every Friday.  All 2,200 Cadets march in formation on the parade field that makes up the center of campus.  The World War II Veterans in our group were able to mix with current members of the 82nd Airborne as well as the Cadets of The Citadel.

Citadel Campus WWII Vets with Citadel Cadets Ernie Lawson with LTC Browning WWII and 82nd Airborne Citadel Twilight Parade


Day One: 508 PIR Association Reunion

508-pir-logoParatrooper Reunion

Spent a wonderful day in Charleston, South Carolina with the 508 PIR Association for its 10th Anniversary Reunion.  For the first time, current members of the 82nd Airborne joined and participated in the festivities along with other paratroopers from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Central America and our current conflicts in the Middle East.  We all got an early start at 8:00 am with an invocation from CSM Kenneth “Rock” Merritt and the presentation of the Colors from a Color Guard of the 82nd Airborne.  LTC Browning, Battallion Commander for the 82nd Airborne provided perspective from across the generations through his guest speech.  From there, we were off to visit the famed aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown CV-10.  The day was ended on a high note with a brief cruise and tour of Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.  Met many old friends (Rock Merritt, George Shenkle, Ernie Lawson, Gene Garren, Richard O’Donnell, Ellen Peters, and Chris Harris) and many soon to be new friends.  Looking forward to Day Two.

Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter

USS Yorktown CV 10

USS Yorktown