Charlie Company Performs Memorial Service In Texas

June 02, 2022

Charlie Company Memorial Team is made up of men who all served together in Charlie Company 2/506th Infantry 101st Airborne Division in 1970-71. The team recently provided a memorial service for their fallen brother CPL Arthur Hernandez.

CPL Hernandez was killed in action on April 1, 1971 in the last major battle in Vietnam (Lam Son 719).  

Gary and Debbie Gilliam of Potosi, along with 9 other team members and their wives from 8 states met in Big Spring Texas on Saturday May 21st at 10 A.M. for the memorial service.  There was a crowd of well over 100; not counting the team, in attendance. We had a beautiful memorial with a large group of veterans who joined in to pay personal respects.  We had many of Arthur's family and friends; along with, the VFW/AMVETS, Patriot Guards and many individual veterans who came to the service.  

The preparation of the Battlefield Cross was provided by R. Christiansen , J. Krupiczowic and G. Mountcastle.  The Flag Setup prepared by G. Shuman, C. Kato, J. Minahan and J. Harris. 

Rolland Christiansen then opened the ceremony by introducing Gary Gilliam of the Charlie Company Memorial Team. 

Gary Gilliam welcomed the family and friends and recognized the large group of veterans who were in attendance. He then called on Jose Villagrana to provide the Invocation Prayer. 

Tom Weides told why it had taken 51 years and our journey to get to Big Spring Texas to remember our brother CPL Arthur Hernandez.  Cal Kato then read the poem Soldiers Reflection about what life was like in Vietnam and with Charlie Company. A very close friend and classmate; Santos Lujan, told of what it was like growing up with Arthur. It was very enlightening and humorous at times as he described all the great adventures he and Arthur had gotten into.  Bill Orsak then told of what life with Charlie Company was like in the mountainous jungles of Vietnam, along with the bond and brotherhood that continues to hold us together, "Arthur was a friend and brother". Rolland Christiansen told of the days leading up to April 1st and what took place in the hours leading up to Arthur's death along with his 3 brothers in arms.  A letter was presented from Don "Doc" Kemp; a medic from N. Dakota, describing the tremendous effort to save their lives. The letter was private and presented to the family. Presentations to the family by Tom Weides, Jerome Minahan, Bill Orsak, James Harris, Glenn Shuman, Cal Kato, John Krupiczowicz and Gary Mountcastle.  

Sergeant Christiansen then called the company to order and roll call was given.  Upon all the men responding present; he called for Hernandez, CPL HERNANDEZ, CPL ARTHUR HERNANDEZ!; there was a notable silence, as Gary Gilliam stepped forward and called out "HE IS HERE SERGEANT! HE LIVES WITHIN US!".  Glenn Shuman then read Live Brother Live poem of how we who returned home must continue to live for our fallen brothers. 

The team then laid their coins (Quarters); symbolizing they were there when Arthur died,  upon Arthur's tombstone and each paid their respects to CPL Arthur Hernandez.  Upon the 10 men making up the team returning to formation, Sergeant Christiansen then extended the invitation to the other veterans to come forward and pay their respects.  Tears flowed from the eyes of the crowd and those veterans who came forward and paid their respects.  An older veteran from the Korean war got everyone's attention as he struggled unsteadily to come forward using his walker. He then not only came forward but he managed to kneel before the battlefield cross and showing his great respect. Everyone watched with tears as he stood and saluted his brother in arms. 

The Honor Guard from Fort Hood then came forward, unfolded the American Flag and as they held the flag proudly opened, TAPS was played. The flag was then folded and prepared for the family. Upon the finish of the Honor Guards folding the flag, the Honor Guard presented the flag to Bill Orsak who inspected the fold, turned and presented to Sergeant Christiansen who once again inspected the fold and then presented the American Flag to Susie the sister of Arthur. Jerome Minahan and James Harris then folded and presented the 506th battle flag to the family.  

The memorial team then attended a lunch provided by the family.  

The family now addresses Charlie Company as their new extended family.

The Team: 

Calvin Kato – California 

Gary Mountcastle – California 

Bill Orsak/Donna – Texas 

John Krupiczowicz/Michelle - Illinois 

Jerome Minahan/Laura - Arkansas 

Glenn Shuman/Denise– Oklahoma 

James Harris/JoAnn – Wyoming 

Rolland Christiansen/Pam – Missouri 

Gary Gilliam/Debbie - Missouri 

Tom Weides /Cheryl– Nebraska 

The Charlie Company Memorial Team have now visited 23 grave sites and provided memorial services for their Charlie Company men who were Killed In Action in 1970-71. They hope to finish the last 3 within the coming year.