54TH Troop Carrier Wing


June, 2002

Reunion news from groups serving under the 54th Troop Carrier Wing:

After the successful reunion last year, members of the 2nd CCG, 6th CCS were asked for suggestions of a place and a time for their next.Tentative plans are being made for the Phoenix-Scottsdale area first week in October, 2003.Contact Tilson King at 848 Silver Oak Ave, Lady Lake, FL 32159, phone 352/750-2014, or e-mail tilsonking@aol.com

The 2nd CCG, 7th CCS will meet Oct 3-5, 2002 atBay Beach Inn, Gulf Breeze, Fl.Hal Spears, the planning committee chairman, can be reached at 765/643-6794 or e-mail hnspears@indy.net.Remember last year their contact person, Curt Krogh, had a heart attack just before their reunion. It’s good to know he’s doing well with his good diet and exercises.

The 2nd CCG, 8th CCS will hold the 2002 reunion at Lawrence Welk Resort in Branson, MO Oct 13-16 with Chuck and Betty Tobin in charge.Monday they will enjoy a dinner cruise aboard the Branson Bell on a nearby lake. Contact Tobin’s at 5010 N Isabell Ave, Peoria, IL 61614; e-mailbettytobin@hotmail.com -- Ph 309/691-5605

The 317th TCG, which now includes the Hq, the 40th and the 41stTCS’s,will meet Sept 24-29 at the Holiday Inn Eisenhower Metro, Washington, DC. (rate $89, phone 1/800/Holiday)The Reagan National Airport has shuttle service to the hotel.Tours are being planned to Air & Space Museum, Mt. Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, and maybe more.Remember last year, because of 9/11, the reunion had to be canceled.Hats off to Ellen McCoy-Comstock, who despite the loss of Glenn and her father within the last year, has continued to do the reunion planning.She also had to spend many hours last September canceling tour and hotel reservations, and refunding money to all who had registered.Contact Ellen at 20 Washington & Lee Blvd, Stafford, VA 22554-6434, Ph 540/720-2808, ore-mail -gcoms2000@yahoo.net

The 374th TCG, 33rd TCS, soon after you receive this Newsletter, will be “reunioning” at Aurora, CO, June 20-23, with Earl Kohler as host. We hope to get areport to publish in our December Newsletter.

News of the 375th TCG:

The 55thTCS had made tentative plans to meet at Charleston, SC in Oct, 2002. No further details, but hope they will report about their meeting so others will know whether to try Charleston sometime. Contact Charles Lemons at 6340 Cuesta Pl NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120, orLemonsCF@aol.com

The 56thTCS plans to return to Branson in October.For info write Joyce Chrisman at 2510 NE 78th Terr, Kansas City, MO 64118 or e-mail her at jchrisman@sprintmail.com

According to Bill Woznek, the 58th TCS will meet Sept 26, 2002 at the Amerisuites Hotel, Fort Wayne, IN.They are planning a simple family type gathering, with dinner at the Old Country Buffet the first night. For more info, contact Bill atmailto:wwoznek@planets.bloomu.edu or 906 Hill Road, Bloomsburg, PA 17815-8542

The 433rd TCG will meet Sept 3-7, 2002, at the Chateau LeMoyne, French Quarter, New Orleans, LA.Jeanne Nash, the group’s vice-president was raised in the area and knows the interesting spotsand best eating places.She will make a good tourist guide.Contact Carmen Kight for more info at 369 Sandalwood Ct, Lakeland, FL 33813 or e-mailCKight8887@aol.com

The 820th MAES chose a bad time for their reunion last year, Sept 11-16.Although only four vets plus some family members made it, they did some interesting things, such as visits to the Warplane, the Harris Hill Soaring and the Corning Glass Museums, the Glenora Winery, and the Civil War National Cemetery. Near Elmira is a farm where Mark Twain wrote many of his stories and today is a depository for MT memorabilia. They were given a guided tour by John Cantando’s son-in-law, who is a professor at Elmira College and a recognized authority on Mark Twain.(Doesn’t all this make you want to reunion in Elmira?) 

Not discouraged by last year’s poor attendance, they plan to meet in Salt Lake City this year, Sept 18-21. For more info contact Ralph Collett, their host, at 385 Maxwell Ln, Salt Lake City, UT 84115 or Sal Mistretta, editor of “The Flying Duck” newsletter, at24 Wilshire Rd, Kenmore, NY 14217

Members of the 820th would like to find vets who served in the 801st and the 804th MAES’s.Can anyone help? 


Note from your editor:It is our hope that by including reunion information, groups can get new ideas for their reunions, and will try to keep them going.We enjoy getting Newsletters from many of you and look forward to reports to share with others after you meet.If your group is missing this time, please contact us in time for the December issue.


As this Newsletter was being prepared, two special dates went by: June 14th, Flag Day, and June 6th, the 58th anniversary of D-Day.

The idea for Flag Day is believed to have originated in 1885 by a school teacher in Wisconsin to honor the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes.Through the years various people followed his example, especially in New York and Pennsylvania schools where children celebrated in various ways. Woodrow Wilson in 1916 issued a proclamation establishing Flag Day, but not until 1949 was June 14th finally established by an Act of Congress as National Flag Day.(Internet users, see http://www.usflag.org/flag.html)

D-Day --As most of you know, Stephen Ambrose has written a book about D-Day. Since he made no mention of the part Troop Carriers played in that important battle, some have been unhappy, especially those who were a part of D-Day. Lew Johnston, 314thTCG, 61stTCS, says that today’s “pop historians” write very little about the role of Troop Carriers anywhere. He is preparing a 74-page booklet to remedy the situation, called “The Troop Carrier D-Day Flights into Normandy.” He also sent Tilson King an article by Sam McGowen on the importance of the Troop and Combat Cargo Carriers in all WWII theaters. He says it was Troop Carrier squadrons, groups and wings who made military airlift into a weapon and that between 1942 and 1945 USAAF Troop Carrier crews proved again and again they were combat crews in every sense of the word. He tells the story of the 21st, 22nd and 6th TCS’s which later became the 374thTCG. He believes the 5th USAAF Troop Carriers had their finest hour at Wau. Sam’s e-mail address is <samblu82@aol.com>

Recently in the Dayton, OH. Air Force Museum’s“Friends Journal,” tribute was paid to the work of

C-46’s in Germany and Korea.Ernie Hoda, 2nd CCG, 6th CCS, sent a polite reminder that they were also important in assisting MacArthur in the Pacific.Good for him!If any of you see any such omissions, speak up!You were there!

Lew Johnston, (see story above) is a prime moverof a“Salute to Troop Carrier” event, tentatively planned for April 27-30, 2003, by the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover, DE and the civic leaders in Dover and Kent Counties.Plans include a tour of the Museum, tours inside C-47, C-133, C-5 and C-141 planes, a medal to be presented to each veteran at the banquet, and an opportunity for each group to have time to meet separately.The reunion headquarters will be at the Dover Sheraton, room rate $89 per night April 25, May 2.Van pick-up can be arranged at the Philadelphia Airport.

If this sounds like an exciting plan for your group reunion next year, contact Lew Johnston, 2665 Chestnut St #11, San Francisco, CA 94123, Phone 415/567-4717 or e-mail mailto:LewJtn@aol.com

www.gregssandbox.com/54th, the webpage for our 54thTCW, brings interesting mail.Phillip Bradley, who is writing a book about the Australian campaign in the Ramu Valley, from the landing at Nadzab in September, 1943, to the fall of Shaggy Ridge in February, 1944, says that the entire campaign was predicated on the use of C-47 transports.He wants to learn more about pilots who flew those missions. The operation of Sept 17th, 1943, when 13 C-47’s landed an Australian commando company on the river flats above the Leron River, east ofKaiapit, is of special interest to him. He was given a radio broadcast tape from the time.On it a Captain Payne says he would fly up the Ramu Valley on the “ground floor,” close enough to the dirt just to miss the coconuts. (Your editor wondered if that could be Colonel Samuel Payne of the 317th TCG pictured on page 268 in “Moresby to Manila,” whom we know to be deceased)Can any of you give him or us any further information? His address is 46 Survey St, Lennox Head 2478, Australia, e-mail address is http://www.thursdayplantation.com/

In Memory
Frank M Mato, 54th TCW, Hq, died January 5, 2002, after a courageous battle with cancer.A Mass in Celebration of Life was held January 9th at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, where he had been a faithful member.An inurnment service with full military honors was held at Arlington National Cemetery April 22, 2002.

Trude White, 820th MAES, died October 12, 2001.Her funeral mass was held at the St John Apostle Catholic Church in Oregon City, OR and burial was at Willamette National Cemetery.The inscription on her marker is: “Flight Nurse WWII: I’ve Flown Home.” 

Doug Southgate sent this about Harris Stewart, Jr, 374th TCG, 33rd TCS, who died last year in Coral Gables, FL.He had a distinguished career after the war. After earning his doctorate atPrinceton U, he worked at NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) and Old Dominion U. He was the author of several books.


Can you imagine what it would have been like when you were in the South Pacific if you could have had e-mail, not V-mail or US postal service letters that took weeks and then often had holes made by censors?

Tilson King has been receiving e-mail from a missionary couple in New Guinea, Jim & Judy Burdett. The closest city to their compound is Kundiawa.They say one of their main problems isdirt, rock and mudroads (still?)One road near them has had a big landslide on it for sometime.It seems the natives won’t move any of the dirt until the government agrees to pay they. Also the people, themselves, are a road hazard—on, beside and crossing the road, asking for rides and occasionally attempting armed hold-ups.Mrs. Burdett, whose parents were also missionaries in New Guinea, was born in Wau.She says when she was young they could enjoy the beaches.However, now the mainland ones are so polluted that people must go to Madang or Wewak to swim.The airport at Nadzab is open, but the one at Lae is now part of a road. The Burdetts are translating the Bible into the Dom language and finding it difficult at times.

Jim Benson has been searching for information about his father, Edward H. Benson, Jr., who was a member of the 1562nd AAF, 54th TCW.He died on Biak, March 22, 1945, maybe during an air raid. Did any of you know him or do you recognize the 1562 designation? Jim’s address is 220 Mountain View Dr, Bridgewater, VA 22812 or e-mail him at jbenson@Bridgewater.EDU

The Silent Wings Museum, which was located in Terrell, TX, has now been moved to Lubbock.It will be dedicated during the Glider Pilots Reunion, Oct 17-20, 2002.They are interested in all Troop Carrier memorabilia.Contact the curator, Joe Hays, at the Museum, Rt 3, Box 393, Lubbock, TX 79403-9710, Phone 806/775-3126

John Murphy, 54th TCW, Hq shared a memoryabout his 30 day leave back home after being overseas for two years.On the way home General Quarters sounded and he came up from five decks below to find all lights on and foghorns blasting.He was thinking “Japs,” but finally out of the fog came a friendly ship, lights on and foghorns blasting.They passed each other safely, but were so close they could see people on the deck.Then on his way back one of our own planes started making daring dives over the ship.Finally, the pilot in his two-seater training plane, made one dive too many and hit the ship, killing himself, his passenger, and three sailors on the ship.The ship then had to stay in position for over two weeks waiting for repairs.John wished he had been able to spend those extra days at home, instead of on the Pacific.

Jack Harrier, 333rd SC, has an interesting hobby. His daughter’s ’52 GMTD needed a new engine so he put in an ’89 Volvo one, going from 40 to 140 horsepower. They belong to a GM club and he is now the club president.Do we have any other “old” car enthusiasts?Tell us about any interesting hobbies you have!

Eugene DeLange, 2nd CCG, 6th CCS, has written an interesting story about his “Road to Syracuse.”He details the steps it took to become a pilot and get assigned to the 6th at Syracuse, NY, and then sent to the SWPA.His training was mostly in C-47’s and included glider towing, glider pick-up and night formation with gliders.Again we urge all of you to write your stories! 

The 41st TCS of the 317th TCG recently had the squadron’s plaque installed on the Memorial Wall at the Air Force Museum at Dayton, OH.The 40th TCS, which is now joining the group to attend reunions, is also looking forward to having a plaque made for their squadron.The 433rd TCG is also considering a memorial.According to Vincent Krobath, the cost is about $1600.Any other group interested?Contact Vince at 22 Lantana Dr, St Louis, MO 63123-1016.

Sam Cammisa, 374th TCG, 6th TCS, wrote about a scary flight while dropping supplies to Dobodura inlate ‘42.One bale caught and dangled on nylon ropes about three feet out the doorway.The C-47 was in danger of crashing.John Stofocik lay flat on the floor, and asking the radioman to hold his feet, reached out and cut the nylon cords with his bowie knife, saving the plane and crew. John was then sent back home to help with war bond drives.

Good advice: Keep thy airspeed up, lest the earth come from below and smite theeWm Kersher

Jim Frew, 374th TCG, 6th TCS, wrote about their gettingtwo C-46’s at Tacloban.In one they flew to Yohohama with radio equipment needed to land the 11th Airbornebefore the formal surrender. On the way back they flew over Nagasaki at 500 feet, witnessing devastation beyond belief.Reading about Finschhafen in the last Newsletter reminded him of flying there from Leyte to check out a pair of BT-13’s for instrument training, and having a hairy time when they landed at a guerilla field in Mindino to re-fuel.Sadly, one of the BT-13’s ground looped and was destroyed only two weeks later.


Bob Monson, 374th TCG, 33rd TCS, recommends the book “A Missing Plane” by Susan Sheehan.It tells the story of the discovery of a B-24, which crashed during WWII.

Harold Henneke, 2nd CCG, 8th CCS, sent info about two books byJill Rutan Hoffman, thedaughter of Dick Rutan.He along with Jeanna Yeager were the first to fly around the world without stopping or re-fueling.Jill, being in an “aviation” family, says she thought everyone built aircraft in their backyards. From age ten she was taken to AirVenture Oshkosh,(WI) each summer.It is sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Assoc. and attracts 750,000 people and 12,000 planes.One book is “Oshkosh Memories, Reflections on the World’s Greatest Fly-in.” Jill’s second book, “First Flights,” has over 80 stories about both aviation legends and regular folks.Profits from both books go to “Looking Skyward,” a foundation that sends teens to aviation and space camps.

Gary Auxier, whose search for information about his father was reported earlier, has located some copies of “Moresby to Manila” in antique book stores.They are the short version without the last picture section and sell for $150 and $250.One is signed by 100 vets. It’s in Cadman Bookstore, Carmichael,CA The other is in Fourth Street Book Store, Royal Oak, MI.Just thought if you live near, you might like to see them, or even bargain for one.

Wedding Anniversaries-We like to report 45th, 50th ,55th , 60th , ? etc.

Oliver & Betty Marheine, 50th , Jan 12, 2001

Bob & Grace Haggerty, 55th, May 1, 2002

Health concerns:

From Gerry’s Christmas note we were sorry to learnthat Mel Mergenhagens is now in a nursing home.

From your editor:Knowing that I, Glenn’s wife, now do all the correspondence, several have asked about Glenn’s health.He suffers from vascular dementia caused by one big stroke years ago, smaller ones that followed, and also natural aging, , I suppose.He’ll be 85 in August.He walks with a walker, but has found his electric cart too demanding for the last year.He surprises us remembering things that happened long ago, but asked him about yesterday, and he is confused.When we hear from any of you about those days in the Pacific, he is always happy to recall them. Unfortunately, he has lost his typing and piano playing skills, and talking is difficult at times.However, he goes swimming for a short time at the YMCA a couple times a week and usually feels up to going to church with me on Sunday.We still have many blessings to count each day.

Thanks to all for your letters, cards and e-mail.Keep interesting information and stories coming.

Glenn & Darlene McMurry

8944 Krueger St

Culver City, CA 90232-2437




Parting thought:

The happiest is not the one who has the most, butthe one who needs the least.Anon.