Colorado Springs Reunion Report:
Although we missed many of our regular reunion attenders, those who came had a good time. They were: Raymond and Rosemary Bobber, Art Criswell, Max Elliott (our on-site host), Frank Hathaway, Tony and Eleanore Judson, Harry and Sandra (Bobber's daughter) Kroll, Glenn and Darlene McMurry, John Murphy and friend Gabrielle Durb, Tommy Thompson, Jim and Dorothy Hearon, Al Miziura and son Lloyd, Hal and Rosanna Roche. Bill Weedin and his wife, who spend their summers in Colorado Springs, joined us for the first evening. Richard Korthals and his wife, who live there, stopped by a few moments. They are getting ready to host the 317th TCG next year. If you haven't been to Colorado Springs, you might want to join them.
We spent Thursday evening in our hospitality room snacking and sharing WWII memories. Each was given a sheet of questions to jog his memory, such as: Where were you on Dec 7th, 1941, When did you join the Army Air Corps, Where did you train and for what, When and how did you get to the South Pacific, Where did you land, etc. Then we looked at the places the 54th served as it went from Moresby to Manila and beyond, and shared experiences. Later that evening we called Colonel Imparato and congratulated him on his new book.
Friday we visited the USAF Academy. At the Visitors' Center, we saw a film showing the variety of courses and activities the students have available. Can you believe 29 majors are offered, the campus covers 18,000 acres and about 1200 students enter the Academy each year? The unique architecture of the Chapel always seems to be highlighted in all photos of the Academy. However, one has to go inside to really appreciate the building. It is in the Protestant Chapel, which is the largest, that the beauty of the many tall narrow stained glass windows between the familiar outside wings is displayed. The Jewish and Catholic Chapels are also beautiful. The floor of the Jewish Chapel is paved with stones from Jerusalem. As there was a wedding rehearsal in the Catholic Chapel, we were allowed only a quick look.
After a drive through the Garden of the Gods, we had lunch at Giuseppe's Old Depot Restaurant. The depot was built in 1887 and served as a passenger depot until 1966. Now freight and coal cars still use the tracks beside the building. A long train went by as we were eating and it seemed to literally shake the depot. The floors in the main dining room still have the original tiles and the original oak doors welcome today's guests. The depot served as a whistle stop for both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt and for Harry Truman during their presidential campaigns. Giuseppe's was truly an interesting place and the food was delicious.
After a drive through Old Town, those who wished to go to Cripple Creek Gambling Resort were taken to where they could caught the shuttle. Although all seemed to enjoy their time there, sadly none hit a jackpot. Someone reported that as he left the machine where he had spent his money, the next person did! How revolting a development!
Although it had snowed some at the Royal Gorge on Friday night, when we got there the next day the sun was shining and we saw only a few spots of snow. The bridge over the gorge is truly an engineering feat. Glenn enjoyed riding all the way over and back on his electric cart. The vertical railroad down to the bottom of that very deep hole was fun to ride. However, the thought of swinging along in the aerial tram over that hole scared off all except three of us. Art, Lloyd and Darlene wanted to ride, but the tram left several minutes before the posted time and they missed it. They registered a complaint with the front office, but, of course, nothing could be done about the affair and there wasn't time to take the next trip over. Art and Darlene settled for a ride on the Merry-go-Round.
The speaker at our Saturday night banquet, Major (ret.) Robert Swanson,
USAF, served in WWII and
and in the Korean Conflict. Afterward he flew Military Air Transport overseas routes, including South Korea and North Africa He flew 102 Air Rescue missions to Southeast Asia. However, the time he spent in the Antarctic was what he spoke about. He showed slides and explained about life down in the ice and snow. He has a fine reputation as an aviation artist. We understood why as we enjoyed looking at a number of his very large paintings mounted on easels in the dining room.
During the evening we took time, as John Murphy read their names, to honor and remember those of our number who had died since our 1996 reunion.
Sunday morning we had breakfast at the hotel or at Denny's across the street, and said our good-byes, wondering when or where we might meet again.
In a note from Bob Monson, 374th TCG, 33rd TCS, he comments on Jim Coutt's information in our last newsletter about trying to get their "turtle" logo accepted by the Air Force ho claims they didn't submit a proper form in the 1940's or 1950's. Now a 33rd Flight Test Unit has been formed, and that is causing more trouble. He has a book "Combat Units of the Air Force, World War II" by Maurer Maurer that shows the emblems of many other squadrons.
So far no one from 54th Troop Carrier Wing HQ has ever informed us about a logo for the Wing. The sign someone painted "over there" as shown in the "Moresby to Manila Book" is on the back of this newsletter. Let's hear from other groups and/or squadrons who have an officially recognized logo or have tried to get theirs made official.
Daniel Brennan----------Aug, 1998
Elvin Merle Carper------Jan, 1998
Harold Lindley-----------Jan, 1998
Danny Neff---------------------- 1998
Carl Preto------------------Jan, 1998
Robert Steele------------May, 1998
Hal Roche sent some clippings from his VFW newsletter and one that had appeared in 1945 in his local newspaper, where he has been a reporter. The newspaper clipping had a picture of him and Al Miziura when they met in the Philippines during the war. Hal didn't go overseas until late 1943, but had the interesting experience of taking part in the first air evacuation of prisoners in Japan proper. There they picked up 20 very sick, malnourished prisoners, 10 yanks, 9 British, & 1 Dutchman. One had only one foot and another was blind from malnutrition. Hal was also in charge of public relations for the WING for six days at Atsugi, having arrived there on the same day General MacArthur arrived. By the way, Hal worked on the "Moresby" book with Richard Jacobson. (Let's hear from more of you about your experiences?)
More e-mail; addresses:
Stanley Butler ------------- firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Harral ----------------- email@example.com
Frank Hathaway -------------- fragarway@aol
Bud Malmstone --- firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Zarkos -------------- email@example.com
The following have send info on their reunions:
317th, HQ & 41st, Dayton, OH, Oct 8-11, 1998
374th--21st & 22nd, Ruidoso, MX, Oct 8-10, 1998
374th--33rd, Las Vegas, NV, Apr 27-29, 1998
375th, Council Bluffs, IA, Oct 6-9, 1998
375th-55th, 56th & 58th have been meeting, but don't have details. Haven't heard about the 433rd since 1995, and have heard nothing from the 2nd Combat Cargo or 333rd Signal Company for a long time.
A magazine article recently predicted that in another five years all us WWII guys will have quit having reunions. Now we know we are going to prove that person wrong. Among us are still lively 80+ year olds as well as some spry youngsters.
Advice found on the wall at an auto repair shop:
We cannot change our past --- we cannot change how some people will act --- we cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, that is, our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. You are in charge of your attitudes. (author unknown)
From our mailbox and phone calls:
Al Miziura sent a newspaper article about Daniel Brennan's death in August. As he had for other reunions, Dan had been among the first to send his reservation for Colorado Springs. From the clipping we learned that he was vice president of the Operating Engineers Local 399 and had founded the union's health and welfare program, serving as its executive director before retiring in 1990.
Shortly before our reunion, Robert DelBuono called to cancel because of his wife's health and the day we arrived George McCloud, who has attended all our previous reunions, called to say his doctor had nixed his coming.
Earlier we had heard from Ervin Fox who hesitated to leave his ill brother to come to the reunion; Emilio Parese, George Salih &Stan Zakheim who, because of their wives' ill health are needed at home; Mel Mergenhagen, Dick Loach, Robert Ahlers, Sol Gross and Virginia & Frank Mato, who are having health problems.
We wish for all of you better days ahead!
On a happier note Earl Gunnels, Jr. couldn't come because of a 25 day trip to Europe in October.
Dorn Samlaska wrote about his days as an aerial engineer from Nadzab to Japan. He remembered crewmembers Seymour Mark and Hubert Blount (both deceased). He also told about his Australian friend Captain Norm Wild and wife Eileen, who had visited him and Danny Neff (now deceased) during the 1950's.
Thanks to all who replied to the May newsletter to say you want to stay on our mailing list!
In an earlier Newsletter Steve McDevitt asked for information about his uncle, Lt. William Randall Crecelius. He wrote to say Thank You to all who sent him information about the crash December 19, 1943, in which his uncle was killed. His address is 3815 Wellington Ct, Owensboro, KY 42303. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frank Hathaway sent addresses he got from Don Hebbel's widow for three 374th, 6th comrades: Art Zarkos, Bill Harral, & Stan Butler. (See e-mail addresses for them on the preceding page)
All of us should keep searching for others!
A phone call recently from his daughter put us in touch with Robert Haggerty, 54th TCW, HQ. She had found our listing on the internet. Naturally, he and Glenn had a long talk. He lives at 16 Vinning Rd, in Sandy Hook, CT 06482.
If you have any access to the internet, be sure to look for our 54th TCW page and see pictures from our last reunion. (www.gregssandbox.com/54th)
Just a call to say I'm living
That I'm active and well fed
Though I'm occasionally forgetful
When something else is in my head.
Like the times I can’t remember
When I meet you on the stairs
Just what name to call you
Though I truly know it's there.
You see my mind is active
Filled with wonder and unrest
And names don't always surface
At the time it would be best.
So when you think my mind's a blank
Or that my brain has gone away
I may be only thinking of how
The world is new today.
My memory's been changing
As I've grown upon the earth
I've lost some of the crispness
Of recall - but not the worth.
Instead of lightning speed
For citing faces. names and places,
I tend to think things through
And try to find new clues and traces.
My memory has lots to store
And acts much as a miser
It works on what's important first…
That's part of Growing Wiser.
Dan Brennan is no longer with us, but we will still
remember him each time we use a quote from his
note pad of Irish Toasts, such as this one:
May you have the hindsight
to know where you have been,
And the foresight to know
where you are going,
And the insight to know
when you have gone too far.