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 keepers. 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 emotional. 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 decorations) - 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!