54TH Troop Carrier Wing


June, 2000

News from groups under the 54th TCW:

The 2nd CCG, 7th Combat Cargo Squadron's reunion will be at the Holiday Inn in Dearborn, OH, October 17,18,& 19. Contact their newsletter editor, Curtis Krogh, 601 Indiana St, Racine, WI 53405-2227,cakrogh@execpc.com or phone 414/633-4373


Their "Hot Flashes" bulletin announces the next reunion of 2ndCCG, 8thCombat Cargo Squadron. It will be in Birmingham, AL from Sunday, Oct 15 to Tuesday, Oct 17 with Jim Cobb as host. For more info contact Paul Vaughan, 4916 Wortser Ave, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423, (818)784-2218.


The 317thTCG, HQ & 41stTCS, will hold its reunion in St.Louis, MO, from Thursday, October 5 to Sunday, October 8, at the spectacular Radisson Hotel - St. Louis Airport. The cost is $70 per night. Call 314/291-6700 for hotel reservations. The contact person is Vince Krobath, 22 Lantana Dr, St. Louis, MO, 63123-1016, (314)842-2484. Al & Trudy Conrow will assist in the planning.

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Gene Diemand, 375th TCG, announced in his last "Contact" newsletter that there will be no more "Group" reunions. Declining numbers of those physically able to attend and the harsh demands of hotels to guarantee certain numbers of attendees, or be fined, were cited as reasons. Also the 55th, 56th and 58th Squadrons are still planning reunions this year. They have all said that other vets, especially HQ and 57th members of the 375th are always welcome—see info below:

Bill Cunningham is chairing the 55th TCS reunion in Tucson, AZ, Thursday, October 19 to Sunday, October 22 at the Holiday Inn, Palo Verde. Contact him at 4201 Cimmaron, Granbury, TX 76049, by e-mail billcunn@itexas.net, or phone 817/326-4304.

The 56thTCS has tentative plans underway to meet in Branson, MO. Contact Jim Tucker, 5100 John D Ryan Bl, #643, San Antonio, TX 78245.

Hopefully the 58thTCS will be announcing plans soon. Contact Jim Fielder, 6763 Windward Hills Dr, Brecksville,OH 44141.

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Your editors attended the 374th TCG, 33rd TCS reunion at Dallas, TX, April 6-9. Mo and Vera Berg certainly did a great job as the hosts. A few from the 21st also attended, and according to Vera, without a few of us "outsiders" they would have been in trouble with the hotel because of too few hotel rooms used. On Friday the Ft.Worth bus trip included a tram ride down the long, long assembly line room at Lockheed-Martin, lunch at Moreland Hall on the Naval Air Station, and a drive through the historic section of Ft. Worth. On Friday the Dallas bus trip took us to the JFK Museum and the American Airlines Museum. We also enjoyed a delicious Texas style BBQ at a nearly Ranch and a banquet at the beautiful new Embassy Suites Hotel. At the banquet our hosts' talented granddaughter sang "The Star Spangled Banner". Their daughter and their sons also helped with registration and transportation. What a great family!!! Their 2002 reunion will be in Denver, CO and Earl Kohler will be the host.

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Don Willey, 415th Signal Aviation Battalion (Signal Corps) will host their reunion Sunday, July 16 to Tuesday, July 18 at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Call the hotel at 800/634-6966 by June 20. You can’t beat the room rate of $29 plus tax. Contact Don for further details of the 2000 Reunion Celebration Dinner ($30.50) and Champagne party ($5). His e-mail address is willey222@webtv.net, his telephone number is 661/250-0728, and his mailing address is 26385 Oak Plain Dr, Santa Clarita, CA 91321.

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We recently received an invitation (and we’re sure that includes any of you who wish to come) to the "Reunion 2000" of the 433rd Troop Carrier Group Association. It will be in San Diego, CA, Wednesday, October 11 to Monday, October 16 at the Inn Suites Hotel. Room rate is $75 per night, plus 7.5% tax. Call 877/343-4648 for reservations. The cost for any who are not dues-paying members of the 433rd TCGA, is $97, plus $23.40 for the zoo. Attendees will see an air show at Miramar Marine Air Base, tour a naval vessel at the Coronado Naval Base, and visit Balboa Park with its famous Zoo and Aerospace Museum. Contact Ted Casper at 4164 Inverrary Dr. 12-414, Lauderhill, FL 33319, (954)484-7230, or by e-mail at tedellie@aol.com.

(Editors note--We aren't too far from San Diego, so we hope to attend this reunion and meet some of the "433rders." How about some more of you joining us! It’s been years since we visited that great zoo.)

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Bit and Pieces from here and there:

When Lord Kelvin – the great physicist – was invited to join the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1896, he responded with these words: "I have not the smallest molecule of faith in aerial navigation other than ballooning, or of the expectation of good results from any of the trials we heard of. So you will understand why I would not care to be a member of your society." A couple years later Thomas Edison – the great inventor -- voiced this opinion: "It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere." In 1901 – two years before Kitty Hawk – Wilbur Wright said to his brother Orville: "Man will not fly for 50 years."

These stories prove Casey Stengel’s point that "Predictions are difficult, especially about the future."

(A quote from Harry Stonecipher, CEO of Boeing)

Veronica Mato sent a clipping some time ago about the burial in Arlington Cemetery of 2nd Lt. George Gaffney. In 1944 while serving in New Guinea in the 41st Fighter Squadron, his P-47 Thunderbolt was lost somewhere in the jungles. His daughter, who had been born shortly after the news reached her mother that the pilot was MIA, has all these years longed to know something more about her father she never knew. When she learned from a TV program that crash sites were still being uncovered in New Guinea, she found more about the researchers and in 1995 was even able to go to Gusap, the now-abandoned air base where her father had been stationed. There she buried a box of mementoes in the kunai grass her father had written about long ago. Continuing her search, she contacted Fred Hagen, who while seeking for the wreckage of his great-uncle’s plane in Nov 1997, had found a B-25 bomber and remains of nine men of its crew. Since villagers had told him of another wreck a four-day walk on into the mountains, he returned the next June. There at 8,000 feet he found the P-47 and the remains of its pilot, who was later positively identified as Lt. Gaffney. At his funeral in Arlington last June, his daughter Patricia, who had searched so long, said, "I feel victorious, really. I’ve been able to bring my father out of the past and into the present. It’s bittersweet. My time with him was very short."

John Cantando, former S/Sgt of the 820th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron, sent interesting info about his squadron. It was activated at Bowman Field, Louisville, KY, Oct, 1943, and deactivated at Tachikawa Air Base, Japan, Feb. 1946. It served under the 317th TCG and at the end of the war was absorbed into the 804th MAES. Their historian was Captain Howard Gratis, but unfortunately, after his death in the ‘70’s, the history he had compiled was destroyed. The 820th started in New Guinea, evacuating American, Australian and Dutch military personnel. After the liberation of the Philippines, they flew POW’s from the USA, Australia and Great Britain to hospitals and R/R areas. Later they flew out many POW’s from Japan proper. They lost about 10% of their flying personnel during their five campaigns starting at New Guinea and ending with occupational duty at the war’s end. Their quarterly newsletter is called "The Flying Duck."

Bob Monson, 374th TCG, 33rd TCS, sent an interesting story about the patch of the 22nd TCS. In 1995 the 33rd attended an air show at McConnell AFB near Wichita, KS during their reunion. They noticed the shoulder patch on one of the pilots of a C-5a plane. It said "C-5 Galaxy, 22nd MAS" and had a picture of the old 22nd Squadron’s grey donkey with a red blanket on its back. He learned that the pilot was stationed at Travis AFB in Oakland, CA. Then in 1997 he went to an air show at El Toro Marine Base and again saw the same C-5a unit displaying one of its planes. He walked through the plane and there behind the cockpit was a table with bottles of wine for sale. The labels had the donkey logo and the words "22nd Airlift Sq, Travis AFB, CA". Of course, he bought a bottle for $15 and sent a picture of the bottle to George Wamsley. He knew that George lunched regularly with Mel Clack and Joe McIlvain of the old 22nd.

"Now for the rest of the story." That picture was not enough for George. He phoned Travis AFB, and asked if he could buy two bottles of wine. The lady who answered decided he was some kind of nut and offered to connect him with the military police or the quartermaster. Quickly before she hung up he asked to speak to the commanding officer of the 22nd. The captain answered and George explained about his friends in the 22nd in WWII and his desire to get the wine for them. The captain was very understanding but said he was rather busy as he had a trip to make. However, he agreed to look into the matter later. He said he and his crew were leaving in five hours for Hickam Honolulu then on around the world to Germany and back home. Believe it or not, in a short time George got a package with two bottles of the "22nd" wine and a note saying, "It was a tuff trip—we made it OK. Here is your wine."

John Murphy, 54th TCW, HQ, is part of a group who travel together to various places around the world. Last fall they went to Ireland. The next scheduled trip was to Australia & New Zealand, with an optional three days in Fiji or Tahiti. John writes that it sounded nice but he doesn’t like the long plane ride. He told the planners that Uncle Sam paid his way to Australia in 1942 with side trips to New Guinea, the Philippines and beautiful Biak. He might just be satisfied with that! He included this little thought related to our decision not to try for more 54th HQ reunions:

"Bygone days and happy times are never lost. In truth, they grow more wonderful within the heart that keeps them."

A C-47 Story: It seems a movie crew had ordered some clothespins. When they submitted the bill, the finance department refused to pay. They apparently thought someone wanted the clothespins for personal use. The crew then submitted a bill for the same amount of money and labeled the item "C-47’s." The finance person, thinking a C-47 must be some new gadget they needed on the set, paid the bill. Our son, who is in the movie and TV production business, says crews are wise now and if they want to buy some plain old clothespins they need for any job, they just asked to be reimbursed for C-47’s. I wonder how long it will be before someone investigates just what a C-47 is. Many of you could give them a good description of a real C-47, couldn’t you?

C-47 Pictures: (not clothespinsJ )

Fred Hill, 71st Recon Grp, 17th Recon Sqd, was the photo-lab chief when his squadron was assigned to cover the air attack on Corregidor by the 503rd RCT. He says that within his group of avid photographers it was customary to make 17 extra prints of spectacular events. After the end of the war he got permission to make these available to veterans. He will sell 6 8"X10"glossy prints, three showing C-47’s, for $50 or $10 for a single. Write him at 400 Sunset Dr, La Grande, OR. or phone him at 541/963-5438.

Robert Kraft and wife Margie report they are happy in their maintenance-free, no-steps condo at 2801 Shakespeare Ln, Avon OH 44011-1980. Moving there, to be near their daughter, meant leaving Peoria, IL where they had lived for 50 years. In case such a move is threatening some of you, take heart. It can be done, and even in a strange, new place, amidst health problems, life can still be good!

Barbara Harper, daughter of Gerald Anderson of the 333rd Signal Corps, is trying to learn more of her father’s 20-year military career for their family history. They especially want to know about his time during WWII in the South Pacific. He was a cryptologist/decoder. He left for Biak from somewhere in CA on the USS President Polk and was in New Guinea and Luzon. He was on the 13th plane out of Luzon to Japan. She says the 12th one crashed and burned at take-off. If any of you knew him, please contact her at P O Box 150274, Austin, TX. 78715-0274 or send her an e-mail note at barbarah@ecpi.com.

Dick Loach sent holiday greetings and good news about a Leiomyosarcoma tumor that was removed from his left thigh and proved benign. Statistics say that only two people in 500,000 have such an experience. He reported that his wife always knew he was a "rare bird." His leg was OK but the tubes in his throat caused him to have a cough for a long time. He was glad to recover in time to sing in the Christmas Cantata at his church. He says his church has an active prayer chain and he believes it more important for a church to be "prayer-conditioned" than to be "air-conditioned."

By the way, Glenn is wondering who on our mailing list might have been at Biak for Christmas 1944. That was the year there were some women so that he could organize a regular choir for the Christmas program. There is a picture in the "Moresby to Manila" book with this description: "For the first time in the Southwest Pacific area, a Christmas tableau was put on by the Wing. Scenes were painted, "snow" arranged and a choir of mixed voices rehearsed. Master Sgt. McMurray in shown leading the choir." (As usual, McMurry is spelled wrong in the book, page 196)

Wondering whether any of you have read the rather recent biography of Lindberg, called just "Lindberg". Our grandson-in-law, who teaches high school English and Literature, was showing us the part about his time in the South Pacific during WWII. He must have been around when some of you were, but, of course, his presence there was kept rather hushed. It's a shame that his talents weren't used to the maximum!

Ben Reed sent an interesting account of his time as an A&E mechanic in the 339th Airdrome Squadron. He labeled it "My history of the 2nd Cargo Group". He explained his connection with the 2nd CCG this way: the four Airdrome Squadrons of A&E mechanics, 336th, 337th, 338th, and 339th served the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Combat Cargo Squadrons. His group trained on C-47's and C-46's before shipping out from Camp Stoneman, CA in Nov, '44 on the US Gen. Hershy. After a hot, miserable zig-zagging voyage, they landed at Finschhafen, New Guinea. After moving on to Biak, Leyte, Okinawa and, finally, Yokota, Japan he got to sail back home in time to spend Christmas, 1945 at home. In 1978 he and his wife got to see a very different Yokota while visiting their daughter, a music teacher who had a DOD job there for five years.

* * * * * * * * * In Memory * * * * * * * * *

John Crandell's son Mark sent a note about his father's death Sept 2, 1998. He said John went quietly in his sleep as a result of heart failure. They are grateful that he went quickly and without apparent pain. Mark, upon seeing our last Newsletter, must have realized we hadn't been told of his father's death.

Howard Revelle's son Don sent an e-mail message about his father's death in August last year at the age of 90. He had previously fallen at a nursing home and broken his thigh. The doctor tried to mend it, but didn't have hope that he could walk again. His son said, "We are comforted in knowing that he has moved onto a better place. I know that he always enjoyed reminiscing about his army days."

"To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die."

"Time" magazine named the American G.I. as the most influential person of the century. General Colin Powell wrote an introduction to the award. This is a very brief summary of his thoughts on the subject of G.I.'s: He sometimes got in trouble with some of his colleagues for using the term G.I. Earlier the Army officially excised the term as unfavorable since it was derived from "government issue." However, the media used it, the G.I. Bill was a successful education program, G.I. Joe action figures became the most popular boy's toy ever, and then there's G.I. Jane also. G.I. is a WWII term that still conjures up warm and proud memories of a noble war that pitted pure good against pure evil--and the good triumphed. For most of the G.I.'s, WWII was the adventure of their lifetime. They were warriors of democracy, saving the world from its own insanity. Many died to bring democracy as the ascendant political system of our world. G.I.'s wanted nothing more than to get the job done and return home. All they asked from those they freed was to help them become part of the world of democracy --- and just enough land to bury their fallen comrades, beneath simple white crosses and Stars of David. Near the top of any list of the most important of the 20th century must stand, in singular honor, the American G.I.

New and/or changed e-mail addresses:

Al Clemmens (33rd TCS)- alclem@jps.net

Dan Grabin (33rd TCS)- dgrabin@webtv.net

Ed Flore (22nd TCS)- eflure@earthlink.net

Ben Reed (2nd CCG)- benbetty@juno.com

B Jo Plog (33rd TCS)- bplog@soltec.net

Editor's note: Thanks to you who entertain and inform us via the US mail and with e-mail notes. Now that we are no longer having 54th TCW HQ reunions, we need to know if there is enough interest in a 54th Newsletter for us to keep it going. We realize that each group has its own Newsletter, and we feel that may be all that's necessary. We certainly will not feel bad if you also feel that way. Unless we get loud protests, we plan to make our December issue our last.

Our continuing feature - an Irish Blessing from Dan Brennan's Irish Notepad:

Wishing you always:

Walls for the wind And a roof for the rain

And tea beside the fire. Laughter to cheer you.

And those you love near you,

And all that your heart might desire.