For the past 13 years, a retired Soldier in San Antonio has been holding an annual reunion for former members of the Lance missile community.
The first reunion drew 75 participants to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 2006. Retired Sgt. 1st Class John Williams expects nearly 200 at this year’s event, Oct. 10-12, in San Antonio.
“I have research materials and artifacts from years of serving both Lance and MLRS,” he said. “For the last 13 years, the reunion has been my vacation and labor of love.”
Besides Lance alumni, the reunion includes those who served with the Multiple Launch Rocket System and their support people as well. Williams, 58, was in the Army from 1978-2004 and subsequently became an educator. He spent most of his military career supporting the Lance missile system and MLRS, an offspring.
“All my training was at Fort Sill, Oklahoma,” Williams said. He started as a Lance missile crewman, a private, and became a platoon sergeant in Lance and he subsequently served as a MLRS instructor and launcher chief.
The retired educator and his wife, Petra, held the first reunion at Fort Sill with the help of retired Staff Sgt. David Nuncio, who has since died, and retired Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Cole, who is an MLRS instructor at Fort Sill. Mike Gajeski, a former Lance instructor at Fort Sill, has also helped Williams for years with the reunion.
The event has grown annually, rotating between Fort Sill and San Antonio. But after this year, because of the cost involved, Williams said the reunion will be held every other year and the site will always be San Antonio.
“We miss the guys,” he said of the reason for the gathering. “The comradeship we had. We’re a small community.”
Lance development began in 1956; and training for Soldiers on the system began in the early 1970s. The Lance missile, which deployed to South Korea and Europe, was part of the Army’s inventory until the 1990s.
“Anybody that was associated (with Lance or MLRS), that was involved at any level are welcome, including family members,” Williams said of the reunion.
The event is Oct. 10-12 at the Holiday Inn, SeaWorld, in San Antonio. Because of limited space, those planning to attend should email Williams as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org. He said his reunion planning and preparation are always finished three months before the event to give him time for adjustments. For reservations call the Holiday Inn, SeaWorld, at 210-451-6888; tell the clerk you are making reservations for the Redleg Lance and MLRS Veterans 2019 Reunion.
After this year, the next reunion is 2021 in San Antonio during the Columbus Day weekend.