7th Army Symphony Orchestra
The 2004 Reunion -
Minneapolis, Minn. - July 16, 17, 18
Reunion Report

Thanks to R.A. Jones & David Furholmen for authoring and sending this manuscript.
You will enjoy it whether or not you were at the reunion.

7th Army Symphony Orchestra Reunion
Minneapolis, MN
July 16-18, 2004

49 alums and their 26 guests (that's 75 people total) rekindled old and
created new friendships at the Marriott Minneapolis Airport Hotel, which
was within walking distance of the Mall of America.

RA Jones was chairman and instigator of the reunion. 

Clyde Anderson worked on the hospitality committee along with his wife,
Judy,  Doug Overland and Alan Kagan.   Many 7ASO posters, photos and other
memorabilia were on display in the hospitality room.

Tom Slattery, the Bob Hope of the 7ASO and M.C. of the Saturday banquet,
was in charge of the program and enlisted two powerful and entertaining
speakers for the event.

John Canarina told the kind of 7ASO stories that always generate laughter.
The main story he told was from his book "Uncle Sam's Orchestra."   The
7ASO went out on the firing range and humiliated the rest of the army
units by turning in the highest scores of any unit at Patch Barracks
making the MP's come in second. 

 "So shocked was the Post Commandant that he ordered every company on the
 base (except the Symphony) to requalify.  'If that bunch of sissies can
 outshoot you, then you guys obviously need a lot more practice!' 
 Naturally this endeared the Symphony even less to the other units, and
 its members felt it prudent to walk about the post in groups, for fear of
 bodily harm if they did so individually."

 Not publicized was the fact that fellow orchestra members were the score

Ben Hord spoke of how his life changed when he became our escort officer
in  1958.  He entered our world as a drawling 22 year old, shiny and
polished, creased but not wrinkled, with an impressive swagger stick under
his left armpit.   Finding out that the majority of the orchestra was made
up of college graduates including some with advanced degrees who were
unimpressed with his college experience as a "drum major," Hord displayed
his most valuable asset - flexibility - as he changed his tactics, lost
the swagger stick, and became chief defender of this rag-tag, mostly
non-bloody musical mash unit.

Several of the stories he told described problems related to the humorous
antics of the orchestra and of little known episodes of cold war spying by
7ASO members! 

Other stories related to the problems and successes of tours to Italy,
France, Nurnberg, Frankfurt, Berlin, and of course, Hamburg,  where there
was front page news coverage in the OVERSEAS WEEKLY of pictures of U.S.
Army buses bearing signs of the 7th U.S.ARMY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA  
photographed near the Reeperbahn.  This was another case where Lt. Hord
was recalled to Stuttgart to answer, "What were you thinking?"  

A critical change came in Ben Hord's life after the 7ASO when he was sent
to Viet Nam and later became an undercover agent as he thought  he might
avoid further bullets in combat.  But he experienced severe trauma via a
land mine.  Some 57 medical operations were required to patch him
together.  Hence, his talk with us was entertaining, informative and

 RA Jones presented Ben with a new swagger stick  from the 7ASO so as to
 remind Ben of the fond memories of the old days and "Maake Yur Baed."

David Furholmen did a great job coordinating the playing groups.  Four
ensemble groups performed before and after the buffet feast.  

* Felix Skowronek and Bill McColl performed a flute and clarinet "Jazz
Set" by Wm. O. Smith.  

* Fred Shoup, Anita & Dan Thomason, & R.A. Jones performed part of a
Mozart string quartet and an arrangement of Panis Angelicus.  

* Ted Kruzich, Ed Lindquist, Jeff Fraser, and David Furholmen performed a
short Scott Joplin arrangement, then part of the Haydn string quartet opus
33, #3.  

* The woodwind quintet was composed of Sheridon Stokes, Don Draganski, Jim
Shoush, Helmut Nestler, and Harlow Hopkins. Their program included
selections by J. Haydn, Morton Gould, Don Draganski and concluded with a
Klezmer music encore.

During an open mike session, Keith Bryan gave an emotional tribute about
what life in the 7ASO meant to him.  It certainly echoed how many of us
feel about the unique experience offered by our being in the 7ASO.

CD's of the 7ASO symphony concert of Sept. 2001, courtesy of Regis
Cronaur, were given to those alums in attendance that had not received one
at the last reunion.  Photos of the Minneapolis Reunion are already being
posted on the website and many more will be available soon.  Videos are
being edited based on the statute of limitations.

Mel Ponzi stood up and volunteered to host a reunion in Columbus, Ohio, in
2006.   Mel will send information to Ron Rhodes for the website.  Contact
Mel if you desire to give him input or volunteer to assist.  (Ben Hord
said as old as we are, maybe we should plan to meet every 6 months!) 

The 2004 Reunion Committee wishes to thank all those who helped put this
together and make it another memorable experience in our 7ASO repertoire.

-         The attendees who came on faith, sought association with
friends, and brought souvenirs to share.

-         The women who didn't just stand us by but who worked hard. Clare
Slattery, Judy Anderson, Marilyn Montzka, Rose Jones, and Allison Albright
- the mother of RA Jones's youngest grandson.  (Allison did the table

-         The Marriott and their employees that allowed us to do so much
on so little by providing us with excellent facilities and food.  The
rehearsal rooms were soundproof and close to the restroom!  The shuttle
service was fantastic and entertaining. (See Rose Jones about "Mary Had a
Little Lamb!)

-          The Twin City Grill that adjusted quickly if not that easily
when the lunch reservations grew from 43 to 57.  They provided a gourmet
meal that included the Minnesota classic - Beer-Battered Walleye!

-         The speakers and musicians who so thoroughly entertained us. 

-         The Alfred Publishing Co., and Lauren Colin who provided us with
the handy name tag holders.  We all became "Alfreds" in the pictures.

-         And thanks to Minneapolis, which provided the opportunity to
hear the Minnesota Orchestra, to see the Mall of America where Merlin
Lehman rode the roller coaster, to visit the great restaurants which
overfed us, and to enjoy all of this in great weather!

See - We didn't cancel, did we!

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