The Far Eastern theater, 12,000 miles from the US and last on the list for supplies, reinforcements or mail, was called the “forgotten war.” But those who served never forgot. After the war, a group of Milwaukee China, Burma, India vets started a local social club.

The Milwaukee Basha, named after the bamboo and thatch huts where CBI vets lived overseas, became the China-Burma-India Veterans Association in 1948, gathering a national crowd of 325 including three generals and the governor of Nebraska. Fittingly, over 1,000 members returned to Milwaukee for the 50th anniversary of the first reunion. For a few, it was their first reunion, but many attend regularly, keeping treasured friendships alive and strong. Lester Dencker, 83, the association’s first national commander, remarked “They all come to their first reunion hoping to find their buddies, but they come back because they’ve made new friends.”

A highlight of the gathering is the Puja Parade, some of the participants sport the uniforms of their youth, others don garb characterizing the far-east countries where they served.