Dutch and Joe

This is a beautiful memory that Dutch Degroot and I share.  It took place 16 year ago at the Texas Welcome Home parade in Houston and I have told the story a number of times over the years.  More than 10 years after the event, Dutch recognized me at the New Glarus, Wisconsin, reunion and this year (2003) we agreed that it is time to share this story with the world.  Below is Dutch's memories, some pictures and then my memories with pictures.  At the end are thumbnail photos which will allow you to see more of the party.

MAY - JUNE 1992

In 1985, my old pal John Crowley who, after many years of trying to get me involved in Vietnam stuff, finally convinced me to go to the Chicago parade. It was there that I found out about the Americal Division Association. Since then I have made numerous friends and acquaintances. Being at that time one of the only 23 MP's in the organization made me stand out from all of the grunts. I decided to go to Houston in 1986 or 87, over to another parade. While there a few of my friends approached me to tell me they had brought another MP to keep me company. His name was Joe and although he didn't serve with the Americal, non the less, was a bona fide Vietnam MP. At this the time I was enthusiastic to meet one of my own kind, and yet always on the alert for MP bashing from those fun-loving hard-living Grunts. I asked "where is he?" It was then that Jerry Feldman (196th LIB) produced this box which indeed contained the mortal remains of Joe. I said "unbelievable!" They explained "he's here for the parade as he would have loved it". His brother gave him to us with the instructions "have a good time but don't the lose him." He would want to be there with you guys. The rest was history. We decorated the box with the proper materials including the Crossed Pistols of the MP corp. He was the hit of the reunion and went wherever we did. It was considered an honor to buy him a beer even at other Divisions that we visited. It probably brought a smile to Joe. As he saw that there were 20 or 30 beers lined up in front of his box at every watering hole that we stopped at. The best part is he never even had to buy a round back.

 As Emily will attest it was quite the time and I'm sure Joe was smiling from wherever he was. Great way for this trooper to go out. Enclosing a Photo of Joe, having a beer and a smoke.


Joe and Dutch

After the parade, there were bands playing in a bandshell in a park and there were many Nam Vets feeling like their service to their country had finally been recognized.  It was there that I struck up a conversation with Dutch and he told me about Joe.  I was really touched by how much he cared about a man he had never met in life.  He told me that he was going to take Joe to every party because he knew his spirit was there with us that day.  That evening I told the other Donut Dollies about Dutch and Joe and we decided that we should all go to the Americal suite and pay our respects to Joe.  When we walked into the suite, there was a look of amazement on the faces of the men in the room, amazement that so many Donut Dollies had shown up for no apparent reason.  I told them that we were there to see Joe.  One of the guys smiled and said that Joe was downstairs partying in another room but he would call down and ask him to come up.  When he called, Dutch  told the other party goers that the Donut Dollies had come to see Joe, so they had to leave.  Soon Dutch and Joe appeared.  We all toasted Joe's life and had our picture taken with him.  Like Dutch said, I'm sure Joe was smiling down and enjoying every minute of his party.

Obviously the guy taking this picture was more interested in getting a picture of the Donut Dollies since he is showing a lot of wall above but leaving out Joe who was sitting on the table with my arm around him.

Here he managed to get in a half shot of Joe.

Click on the small photo to see it enlarged.

Sometime that week-end Dutch gave me his crossed pistols MP pin which I still wear proudly on my boonie hat.  In DC this Veterans' Day he gave me an Americal Division patch and said that he could bestow upon me no higher honor.  He is a caring, giving guy and I am grateful for his friendship.

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