When Veterans come together, there are undeniably countless stories to be swapped and shared, and many lessons to be learned for those of us who did not get to experience what they went through. Veterans usually forge a strong bond amongst themselves, as they see each other through tough times in the field; long after they have hung up their camos and returned to civilian life, their brotherhood and camaraderie still remains.
Still, there will come a time when there aren’t that many left to swap stories with, such that there is no other option but to close shop; this was true in the case of the Central Texas Basha of the China-Burma-India Veterans Association.
The group is officially dissolving, according to a feature on the Navy Times, six years after its national organization bid adieu. Only four members, accompanied by their respective families, came together for a final toast – made with Tsingtao beer.
Bill Hoover of Waco, Texas, shared: “We’re dying out and it’s getting too difficult for some of us to travel… This will probably be the last time we see each other. Though we’ll almost certainly keep in touch.”
They are all in their 80s now: Jim Garvin of Killeen is 89; Bill Henderson, also of Killeen, is 86; Matthew Constantino, the lone Marine, is 86; and radio/LORAN operator Bill Hoover is the youngest at 85. They all went on missions in the China Burma India Theater, considered as the “forgotten theater” of the Second World War.
Hoover shared further: “We CBIers were at the tail end of the longest supply line in the war… The CBI had the worst terrain — including the Himalaya Mountains, jungles, swamps — the worst living conditions and more pestilence and disease than any other place where Americans served.”