Former members of the 216th Engineer Battalion have invited other former members of the unit and their families to a reunion at noon June 7, at Portsmouth Shrine Club, 14864 U.S. 52 West, West Portsmouth.
"Anybody that belonged to the National Guard from 1957, and before really, is invited," said Claude W. Duckworth, who served in the unit for 35 years.
He served in the U.S. military for a total of 43 years.
"I joined the Navy on my 17th birthday, and went straight to Korea for three years and retired from the Reserves on my 60th birthday," said Duckworth, who retired as a first sergeant.
Duckworth, who along with Greg Thompson is organizing the reunion, said it was the first gathering of former members of the 216th.
"We are expecting from 200 to 300 people to be there," he said. "We are just looking to bring the people back together. It seems like the only time we get together is at a funeral, and we all need to get to know one another."
Duckworth said the unit became an engineer outfit in 1960.
It remained the 216th until late in 2007, when it reorganized to become the 1191st Engineers Company.
"I go to flea markets, and I run into two or three former members every day," he said. "And I call somebody, and when I do, they give me two or three more names. So we have been contacting people in places like Felicity, Chillicothe, Circleville, Ironton and Manchester, as well as all across the country."
Duckworth said many of the former members of the 216th are well-known in the Portsmouth community.
"I think of people like Al Oliver, Larry Hisle, Mickey Warsaw - the list goes on and on," he said. "And to think there has been no communication with each other in 50 years."
Duckworth said the event is free, and hot dogs will be furnished and grilled by Life Ambulance, and the Pepsi-Cola Company will provide Pepsi products.
"But you can bring anything you want to in your own cooler, and we are asking everyone to bring a covered dish that goes with hot dogs," he said. "We'll have basketball courts, horseshoes, cornhole games and a place for softball. So those who want to participate should bring balls, bats and gloves."
Anyone needing more information can call Duckworth at (740) 456-5645, or Thompson at (606) 932-2273.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.