Photograph taken at the 1957 U.S. Marine Raider Association reunion. All of the photographs contained in this article were taken by LIFE photographer Francis Miller and were accessed via the LIFE Photo Archive hosted by Google.
Later this week I will be attending the 2019 U.S. Marine Raider Association reunion, which will be held in Arlington, Virginia. Thirteen WW2 Raiders (all combat veterans of the Solomon Islands), now in their nineties, from across the country are slated to attend. The Raiders have been holding reunions since the end of the war. The reunion I will be attending will be quite different from the reunions held back in the heyday of the WW2 generation when hundreds of Raiders gathered, and when it was only confined to themselves, their spouses and girlfriends. By all accounts, the Raider reunions back in the day were quite wild affairs where little sleep was had and copious amounts of booze consumed! The November 1958 issue of The Raider Patch (the newsletter of the U.S. Marine Raider Association) offered this description of the first night of the 1958 reunion, which was held 1 to 3 August in Indianapolis: 'That evening, the more cultural minded, attended the Broadway musical, "Rosalinda", less cultural minded settled down in the Raider Slot Shute, our private bar, the entire sixteenth floor of the hotel, and conversation, singing, witty stories, odd performances, and picture taking were continuous... to bed at 5:30 A.M. Reveille - 6:30 A.M.' A glimpse into these Raider reunions of the past can be seen in this unique treasure trove of photographs taken by LIFE photographer Francis Miller at the 1957 reunion. The 1957 reunion was held 9 to 11 August in Chicago at the upscale Shoreland Hotel, and all of these photographs were taken in the Crystal Room during the banquet dinner. According to the "Reunion Rattle" printed in the May 1957 issue of The Raider Patch, 'The plans for the Raider Reunion are beginning to take definite shape... Plans are being made for 500 Raiders plus their wives.' Following the reunion, the September 1957 issue of The Raider Patch reported: '257 Raiders, wives & guests enjoyed the Banquet Dinner in the Crystal Room. Dancing followed.'
Upon my return, a AAR of the 2019 reunion will be posted. Gung Ho and keep an eye out for my report!
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'The very atmosphere of a battle defies description and eludes the imagination. Words cannot convey even a suggestion of the sounds heard and the emotions felt, when every faculty is heightened, when every nerve is tense.'
--- Charles Dowie, Great War veteran