54TH Troop Carrier Wing


December, 2003

Reunion news from groups serving under the54th
Troop Carrier Wing:
The 2nd CCG, 5th CCS no longer holds reunions, but still the members do keep in touch with the 5th Squadron Newsletter written by Merl Lehenbauer.

The 2nd CCG, 6th CCS held its "every-other-year" reunion at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, Oct 1-5, 2003.  Those who attended were very happy with their spacious suites and enjoyed the hotel's pool, hot tub and exercise room.  At their banquet they honored 5 members who had attended all 16 reunions starting back in 1955.  Twenty squadron members plus their families attended.  Several brought 6 or 7 family members, or perhaps the family members brought them.  Wheelchairs, walkers and canes didn't keep them home.  However, unlike some earlier reunions, bedtime came about 11pm, and not 2:00 to 4:00am as in earlier days.  Their next reunion?  Time will tell!

The 2nd CCG, 7th CCS held its 17th reunion Oct 7-9, at the Crockett Hotel in San Antonio, TX  with 15 squadron members plus 30 wives and family members present.  They enjoyed a visit to Howard's Classic Automobile Museum. In addition to the old cars, there is a display of hundreds of paintings of aircraft from WWII and later.  During their business meeting, a letter was read from Jean-Marie Otto, daughter of M. D. King, inviting them to Oklahoma City for a reunion next fall. Some, feeling discouraged, had previously decided maybe this should be their last reunion, but after the invitation, and remarks from some family members that they wanted to keep going, they quickly changed their minds.  So they will meet in 1904!

The 2nd CCG, 8th CCS held its 15th reunion  Oct 3-5, 2003, at Bay Beach Inn, Gulf Breeze, FL.  Twelve vets plus 18 family members enjoyed the Biloxi Casino and Navy Air Museum with impressive Imax shows.  Music by a Celtic music trio was the high light at their Sunday dinner.  They hope to meet in Phoenix, AZ next year.

The 317th TCG, which now includes the HQ, the 40thand the 41st TCS's, had a very successful reunion in Long Beach, CA September 11-14.  Jeff Miller, son of Pete Miller, was the host to eighteen "Jungle Skippers" plus twenty-one family members.  The group visited the Boeing Factory where each got to board and sit in the cockpit of a C-17 Globemaster III.  They also toured the Queen Mary and enjoyed a luscious Champagne breakfast. In addition, some went to Catalina Island and/or the local aquarium.  Next year's reunion will be hosted by Leonard & Fran Stolz and their daughter Suzie in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 9-12, 2004.

Just learned that the 317th TCG, 46th TCS has been having reunions.  Connie Constantine writes that they held their 24th this year in Lousiville, KY.  They started with just four vets but kept finding members yearly.  In 1986 they had 96 members and wives.  However, since then the numbers have declined until this year they had only ten members and some of them were in poor health.  They have decided to join the 317th TCG's reunions in the future.  Several of their members went to Australia in June to attend the 60th memorial service of the B-17C crash at Bakers Creek that affected so many of their group. Col Benson of the Australian RSL was at their last reunion.  He was instrumental in erecting a memorial at Mackay to the crash victims and is continuing to hold annual services at the site.

As announced in the June Newsletter, the 374th TCG, 33rd TCS's  "every-other-year" reunion will be April 15-17, 2004 at the Adam's Mark Indianapolis International Airport Hotel. B J and Naomi Plog  will be hosting, and they are extending an invitation to others who might like to join them.  Mention the 374th, 33rd when you call the hotel (800/444-2326) for your reservation. Rooms start at $70 + 12% tax.  Contact B J Plog  to let him know your are coming.  His address is P O Box 332, 4 West Paris, Ridge Farm, IL 61870-0332, phone 217/247-2491.  No e-mail.

In more recent notes from the 33rd scribes, they announced that reservations are coming in from some  6th  and 22nd  squadrons members as well as the 33rd and Headquarters.  Maybe the 374thwill become one integrated group soon.

Bob Moody, 375th TCG, 57th TCS, says he knows of no reunions for them.  He is in touch with only three other members. However, in Walpole, MA, his home town, the veterans celebrate Memorial and Veterans' days on the Town Common.  On Nov 11 their celebration included army vehicles, a fly-over and landing of a Huey helicopter.

The 375th TCG, 58th TCS met last September 26-27at the Hope Hotel & Conference Center at the WPAFB.  They took time on Friday afternoon for a salute to their Troop Carrier friends at the 375th TCG memorial.  Although only 13 members were present, one member said it well, "The group was small enough for all of us to have a good visit with each other---Memories are remarkably good, somewhat embellished and only the narrator's version is correct."

In Bill Woznek's report on the reunion he included this that various psychologists have said about memory:  Over time people may forget things that did happen and remember things that didn't---there's a willingness to recall things that make sense or should have happened even if they didn't.


Wonder whether these psychologists have attended any veterans' reunions?

The 433rd TCG held a great reunion Oct 7-13, 2003, at the Radisson Hotel, San Antonio. TX.  Despite rain problems, on the third try, they took a boat ride on the Riverwalk.  At Lackland, the home of the 433rd, they saw a film about the present 433rd and were swamped with young pilots who wanted to talk to the "old-timers". They went aboard a C-5, walked through a Simulator, lunched at the Officers' Club, and visited Hangar 9, the oldest in the US.  Finally, they had the Champagne Brunch at the Randolph officers' club!  What an agenda!
Next year they are going to DC and carefully picking a date, considering the big election and the opening of the WWII Memorial, May 29, 2004.
The 333rd SC met in Chicago, October 10-11, 2003. They finally decided it had to be their last as only four members plus wives and one daughter and son-in-law, and one widow of a member were able to attend.  Your editor had loaned Jack Harrier a copy of "Moresby to Manila" and he had copies made for the members of his group.  What a nice thing to do!
Is your group's report missingDon't be leftout!  Please contact your editor between now and June, 2004.

1. A son of a veteran helped this year and a daughter of a veteran will help next year to host the reunions for the 317th TCG. Some other groups have already learned to call on the younger generation to keep their reunions going.

2. Call the local newspaper and the Chamber of Commerce and/or Convention Bureau in your reunion city to let them know you are coming.  The 317th did both.  They got a nice article and picture in the Long Beach Press Telegram and a representative from the Long Beach Convention Bureau greeted them at their banquet and distributed gift bags of city-themed merchandise.


From our US mail, e-mail, and phone calls:

Charles Channell found our 54th website and wrote that his father, Lynn Channell, was in the 21stAir Service Group of the 54th TCW.  In 1999 Charles went to Biak to hunt for places where his father had been.  He has great pictures and stories to share on his website--- http://home.earthlink.net/~21st_asg/  (Note:  there is an underscore between 21st and asg)  His e-mail address is channell@pop.earthlink.net. Lynn is the first member of the 21st we have found.

Brandon Tienken asks if anyone knew his great-grandfather, Lester Peatrowsky, who was in the 2nd CCG, 7th CCS.  He died Jan, 1945, and was buried in 1950 at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.  Brandon's e-mail is bdt89f@umr.edu
Bob Kost, 374th TCG, 6th TCS, found us and isnow on our mailing list.  His address is 4000 Park Newport #311, Newport Beach, CA 92660.  His e-mail is prkost@aol.com
Jim Rubolina, after finding our website, sent his father's name, hoping to find someone who knows him---Joseph H Rubolina, 374th TCG, 22nd TCS, whose address is 907 Greenwich St, Philadelphia, PA 19147.  Jim's e-mail is Jim2450@aol.com.
Don Ayres, originally in the 374th, 22nd, under the 54th, 5th Air Force, writes that after the war he was still in the 374th, 22nd, but later in the 13th Air Force until at least July, '47.  He would like to hear from any who might have served with him.  He also is looking for aerial shots of Nichols and Clark Fields in '46-'49.  His addresses are PO 5472, Corning, CA 96021 & e-mail - ranchorockinaye@dm-tech.net
Laurel Shaffer, would like to hear from anyone who knows her father, Walter (Bud) Harrold, who served in New Guinea with the 375th.  Her e-mail address is Lafaneyes@aol.com
Jack Heyn, photographer with the 3rd Bomb Group, 5th Air Force, wrote after finding our 54th website.  He has been trying to help a friend find about a WWII relative and so far has batted zero. This led him to plead that all veterans should write or record their stories before it's too late.  He has written his and is giving copies to family members this Christmas.  GOOD IDEA!
(Incidentally, your editor did that last Christmas.  Luckily, Glenn wrote his bio before he became ill and with the encouragement of our children and grandchildren, I also wrote mine.  Remember it's not just WWII veterans that should tell their stories.  Those on the home front also have tales to tell.  (How many of you wish you knew more about your parents, grandparents, etc.?)
The 317th Veterans Group includes those "Jungle Skippers" of WWII and all who served afterward through 1993 in the successor groups to the 317th TCG.  A plaque was dedicated in September at the WPAFB in Dayton honoring all 317th vets.  JerryMatarazzo, 317th TCG, HQ, designed the crest on the plaque.
In August the plaque honoring the 317th TCG, 40th TCS was accepted by a general at WPAFB museum in Dayton, Ohio.  Herman Ogren coordinated the project and 69 members participated and contributed funds.  The cost was $1800.   Is your group and/or squadron honored there and/or at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs?
Sam McGowan, a Vietnam War pilot, has an interest in all "troop carriers". He has a very extensive website with lots of pictures and a history of "Air Lift" activities.  He includes our 54th at http://members.aol.com/samblu82/tcc.html.  Also http://hometown.aol.com/semcgowanjr/homepage.html  has more interesting info and lots of pictures.
Gary Auxier, whose father was in the 2nd CCG, 8thCCS, sent a long article on Baer Field which is now the site of Fort Wayne International Airport.  Baer Field was built before WWII and during the war greatly expanded in size to 1,000 acres, 250 buildings and three runways, each 6,300 feet long.  Baer Field's job was the processing of crews and planes for duty overseas.  They dealt with B-26's, C-46's and C-47's.  Long range fuel tanks were installed, the size depending upon the plane's destination--two 100 gallon tanks for England, four 100 gallon tanks for Africa, eight 100 gallon tanks for the Pacific.  Extra oil was put into a 50 gallon drum with a hose to each engine through the wing.  When the oil level got low more would be hand pumped into the engine's oil tank. (I'll wager some of you already knew all about the above.)
Somewhere Ed Feichtinger found our address and wrote an interesting letter.  He joined the 9th TCS on Saipan, Jan '45 under Naval Command.  Before they could land on Iwo Jima, they flew there to drop blood plasma and machine gun barrels.  They also had C-47's equipped to spray mosquitoes, flies, etc. on the islands.  In Jan '46 he flew into Tokyo to pick up Japanese army rifles which were given to troops on Saipan as souvenirs.  Before he came home in May, '46, his squadron got some C-46's.  He said the C-47's were being classified as "war-weary". Some of you did your part to wear them out!
About those parachute drops! (see the June Newsletter) Bob Moody, 375th TCG, 57th TCS, says he can't understand why Nadzab doesn't count.  There are several good pictures of it in their squadron book.  They also planned a glider landing, but it was scratched.  Once when he went back to one of their bases during the war, he saw abandoned gliders with kunai grass grown all around and through them.
Curt Krogh thinks saying "Corregidor" was the only drop is an insult to the 503rd Paratroopers, the 11th Airborne and the 317th TCG.  He lists these six drops: Nadzab, Sept 5, 1943: Noemfoor, July 2, 1944: Tagatay, Feb, 1945: Corregidor, Feb 15, 1945; Los Banos, Mar, 1945 and Aparri, Apr, 1945.  The Los Banos drop on prison grounds freed 2,146 allied prisoners who had been there 3 years.
This story has been going around about the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washinton, DC.  Many of you have watched them march day and night with metronomic precision, back and forth, until their hour is over and it's time for the changing of the guard.  Last summer when hurricane Isabel hit viciously, the Regimental Commander, fearing for the safety of the guards, ordered them to seek shelter.  They disobeyed the order.  One said," I've got buddies getting shot at in Iraq -- I don't want to be known as one who let them down  -- couldn't stand a light breeze and shirked his duty."  When a reporter asked one guard if he wasn't taking a silly purposeless personal risk, he said, "I wouldn't expect you to understand.  It's an enlisted man's thing."

In Memory

John W Drahos, 54thTCW, HQ------------------2/02

Eugene DeLange, 54thTCW, 2ndCCG, 6thCCS-4/03

Phillip Collins, 54th TCW, 374th TCS…………6/03



Dodie Amundson, niece of Harry Dingman, is looking for a photo of the C-47 "Lookin fer Trouble", the plane Harry flew from Hamilton Field, CA to report to the 22nd TCS in Port Moresby in May, 1943.  Her e-mail  kdodio@earthlink.net
Books to read: Curt Krogh recommends "Custer and Crazy Horse" by Stephen Ambrose, and "Meeting the Enemy" by Arthur Rathburn.  JimMoon says "Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer is equal to "All Quiet on the Western Front".
New Book Release:  Bob Kelly AFC (Royal Australian Air Force, retired) after 20 years of research, his completed Vol 1 of "Allied Air Transport Operations-SW Pacific Area-WWII".  It has 400 pages and 80 photos and covers 1907-1943.  It includes operations of the 374th TCG.  The price is $42+$17.50 postage. Vol 2 is due out in late 2004.  Send questions and orders to Bob & June Kelly, PO Box 192, Buderim, Queensland, 4556, Australia.  Their e-mail is bobnjune@powerup.com.au
Insignia questions:  For some reason your editor has recently received several inquiries (as yet unanswered) about a patch or insignia for the 54th TCW.  After Vince Krobath received a copy of "Moresby to Manila via Troop Carrier", he phoned wanting to know the meaning of "vincit qui primum gerit" under the insignia on its title page.  The following information was found on the Internet: "The design is based on the approved aircraft markings and distinctive insignia of a large bird, carrying a paratrooper holding a tommy gun, representing the command's mission to deliver quickly soldiers into battle.  The Latin motto translates to 'he conquers who gets there first'.  Activated 4 July 1942 at Stout Field, Indiana." Perhaps Richard Jacobson, editor of the "Manila" book can tell us more.

From you editor:  A special thanks to all who upon learning of Glenn's death, sent notes of sympathy and words of appreciation for the Newsletter. I look forward to your group Newsletters, and all phone calls, e-mail and "snail mail".  Only when I hear from you, can I share with others.  The next Newsletter will be in June, so keep that in mind and let me hear from you before then.

Parting thought:  A good friend is one who sees through you and still enjoys the view.

My wish for you in 2004 is that you will have many good friends and other rich blessings!
Happy Holidays!

Darlene McMurry, 8944 Krueger St, Culver City, CA 90232-2437, Phone: 310/559-8331  mcmurrys@bigfoot.com