| More than half a century
after he first cut his teeth as a soldier, training with horse-drawn artillery,
Bob Bement took a gander at the Army’s latest Friday, a multiple launch
"It looked like that one gun could do what it took us a whole battalion to do," said the retired colonel, a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge whose 155mm howitzer battalion in the 77th Field Artillery Regiment was among the first to meet Russians at the Elbe River in the waning days of World War II.
Bement, from Mancos, Col., was among members of the 77th Field Artillery Association who toured Fort Sill as part of the association’s annual reunion.
It had been about 55 years since the Colorado rancher had been to Fort Sill.
"I remembered the block house on Signal Mountain, but that was about the only thing I could remember about Fort Sill," he said.
He did recall training as a "shavetail" second lieutenant at the post’s Field Artillery School prior to shipping out for World War II. In those days, he said, the idea of a fire direction center was just being advanced among field artillerymen. Bement remembered his training at Fort Sill as tough, but he said it prepared him to act and react quickly and correctly in the war.
On Friday, there was no training for Bement; only good times and memories shared with friends, including retired Master Sgt. Troy Bunn, of Texas, who also served in the 77th FA Regiment during World War II.
Many of the reunion attendees were Veterans of Vietnam. Among them was Lawtonian Roger Gray who served in the regiment’s Battery C in Southeast Asia
| from 1967 to 1969. The regiment
fielded 105mm air mobile howitzers back then, often sling-loaded and carried
into place by Chinook helicopters.
"There are a lot of 77th members around the country," Gray said.
He said a few others may reside in the Lawton area. The 77th FA Association reunion is to continue through Sunday. The Lawton Holiday Inn is serving as the association’s center of activities.
The event’s organizer was Robert "Doc" Bosma, of Boonville, Mo., who served as a medic with the regiment in Vietnam and at Fort Hood.
"We’ve got 2,000 members in a data base and we’re still finding people," said Bosma’s wife, Joanie.
Bosma said it was only natural to hold a reunion of the 77th at Fort Sill, home to the largest concentration of field artillery in the world.
Bement said the reunion has brought back some fond memories and that he has enjoyed meeting up with old friends. He said the post rolled out the red carpet for reunion-goers.
"We’re just getting awfully good treatment," he said. In addition to observing a field training exercise by the 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, association members also toured a motor pool of the 6th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery. They got to see the Field Artillery Training Center, where many of the Army’s basic trainees now cut their teeth as soldiers. They received a briefing on Army modernization and a demonstration by Fort Sill's Field Artillery Half Section.
Various other activities were on tap for the group in Lawton over the weekend.