Veterans often point to camaraderie as one of the things they experienced within the military, and for one group of veterans, this sense of fraternity goes even deeper.
They were members of the 319th Transportation Company, an Army Reserves unit with a rich history, dating back to the 1920s in New York. The group was relocated to Augusta in the 1960s. The unit has been activated into active duty several times in its history.
“There were 130 men from the CSRA, and we went to Vietnam. We all knew each other,” said Edward Heath, one of those 130 men who served together. “We hauled ammo and food. We were a more cohesive group. We had a mission to accomplish.”
Heath served from 1964 to 1969. The 319th was deployed to Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. During their time in Vietnam, they lost one member - Roy Miller.
Even almost 50 years later, the group still keeps in touch and has regular reunions, keeping those relationships alive.
“We try to have a reunion as close to Aug. 14 as possible every year,” he said.
That’s the date in 1969 when the unit returned to Augusta. Soon after they returned, the unit was reverted back to its reserves status.
The Vietnam veterans of the unit also keep busy in other ways. Several years ago, they raised money to renovate a home for another wounded warrior.
After he was discharged, Heath went to work for Southern Bell, where he spent 36 years. When he retired, he started Heath Telephone and Data, a cabling company working with telephone and fiber optic cables.
His company has been in business for 18 years.
In addition to keeping ties with his servicemembers from the 319th, Heath is a member of American Legion Post 192 in Evans, and he’s a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars although he’s not affiliated with any particular post.
Heath looks forward to each Veterans Day and is thankful for the service of others.
Veterans Day “means freedom,” he said. “All of the men and women who fought in other ways for that.”
He makes a point to attend the annual ceremony in downtown Augusta to say thanks to all those who’ve served.