54TH Troop Carrier Wing


June,  2004

Reunion news from groups serving under the54thTroop Carrier Wing:
The 2nd CCG, 5th CCS at last report have ceased having reunions.  Their contact person is Merl Lehenbauer, 5801 N Oakland Rd #E313, Enid, OK 73703-9303.  His phone is 580/242-4452.
The 2nd CCG, 6th CCS hold their reunions every two years--that is, they have so far.  The next one is in question at this time.  However, Tilson & Dortha King do a great job for the squadron.  They sent three mailings last December and another in March to share news they had gotten from their members.
The 2nd CCG, 7th CCS will have their 18th reunion October 19-21, 2004 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Oklahoma City, OK. Jean-Marie Otto, daughter of M.D. and Joan King, who volunteered at their last reunion, is planning the event. (Another example of the next generation helping all the old timers)  Curt and Agnes Krogh, scribes for the squadron, will be sending details in their next 5x5 Newsletter.  If you have questions, contact them at 601 Indiana St, Racine, WI 53405 or e-mail at <cakrogh@execpc.com>
The 2nd CCG, 8th CCS will be holding their 16th reunion October 1-3, 2004 at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 1515 N 44th St, Phoenix, AZ.  For the reasonable rate of $79 (plus tax) they will enjoy complimentary breakfasts, a two-hour beverage reception each day, and free transportation to and from the airport.  For further information contact Bill West, 329 S Mansfield Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036-3058 (323/939-2683.)  Perhaps they were influenced by the good report the 6th CCS gave after meeting at the same hotel.
The 317th TCG "Jungle Skippers", which now include HQ, 40th,41st and 46th TCSs, have an exciting time planned for their reunion September 9-11. It will be at the Sheraton FourPoints Hotel in Milwaukee, WI.  The room rate of $85 (plus tax) includes three full breakfasts.  Their hospitality room will be stocked with Wisconsin specialties, such as sausages, cheeses, beer, wine and ethic desserts. They will visit the Experimental Aircraft Association Museum in Oshkosh, Basler's DC-3 Refurbishing Plant, and the Miller Brewery. HermanOgren, who has built his own Lancair, has offered rides to those who want to come by Racine on their way to or from the reunion.  Hosts are Len andFran Stolz with the able assistance of their daughter Susie. If you missed their mailings, call them, 414/541-1464, or e-mail, schich@wi.rr.com, for more information.
The 374thTCG, 33rd TCS held their reunion as planned at the Adam's Mark Indianapolis International Airport Hotel, April 15-17.  According to their scribe, Bob Monson, "'Twas a Fine 20th Reunion" which was hosted by B J and Naomi Plog. Counting veterans and family members, 47 enjoyed their Saturday night banquet. At their business meeting they voted quickly to continue holding reunions.  Some thought they should start having them every year instead of every two years as has been their custom. No definite plans were made.  Although they extended an invitation to the members of all other squadrons of the 374th, only one member came.  Too bad, as no other squadrons of the 374th seem to be able to get reunions going again.
The 375th TCG, 55th TCS, held their October, 2003 reunion in Ft Worth, TX as planned, but Charles Lemons, their scribe, sent his report too late for the December 54th TCW Newsletter.  He had a good excuse for his late note.  A lady drove her Plymouth through the wall of his office, destroying his computer, among other things.  For their reunion activities in Ft Worth, see the June, 2003 Newsletter and you will want to go there for your next reunion! On their last day, they took a bus to Granbury, TX, hometown of their host, Bill Cunningham.  There they had a delicious lunch at the Granbury Country Club and enjoyed a live theatre performance by the locals, making the hour-long ride well worth their time.  There were 39 in attendance, including the daughter and granddaughter of Ernie Radcliff.  He was one of the five-member crew in the C-46 that in May, 1945, disappeared on a flight from the Philippines to Palau. They made Patricia Temte and daughter Kristin honorary members of the 55th.
The 55th's 2004 reunion will be September 19-22 at the Grand Plaza Hotel in Branson, MO.  They have a bus scheduled for all day Monday to take them to the Branson Veterans' Museum, the Stone Hill Winery, and the Shoji Tabuchi Show.  On Tuesday they will enjoy the Buck Trent Show and have their business meeting at the evening banquet.  There they will discuss, as it seems all do, whether to have another reunion.  Chances are they will say "Yes" and if so, they will probably go to Washington, DC with activity around the new WWII Memorial. (Sounds like a great idea for each group sometime soon)
Although the 375th TCG, 58th TCS have no plans at present for another reunion, their scribe, Bill Woznek, does a great job sharing news he receives from all the various members.  He sent Newsletters with pictures, cartoons, etc. in January, April and June.  I even received one the other day dated August!  How's that for being up-to-date!  What a labor of love, especially for those who feel they are unable to attend reunions.  Here's a quote from one Newsletter: "Write or phone your old buddies, swap some stories, tell some lies about your wartime adventures.  We are a loving and caring family."
The 433rd TCG will hold their 2004 reunion at the Sheraton, Crystal City, Arlington, VA, Sept. 2-7.  Of course they will plan to see Washington, DC sights, especially the new WWII Memorial.  The room rate is $89 plus tax and there is a free shuttle from the Ronald Reagan Airport.  Reservations can be made by calling toll free 1.888/627-8209. The 433rd's scribe, Carmen Kight, has done the planning using her telephone and what she calls her "precious" fax machine.  Since she needs 38 reservations to get a free hospitality room, be sure to make your plans soon.  Contact Carmen for further info at 369 Sandalwood Ct, Lakeland, FL 33813 or e-mail carmenbk@aol.com.
A few more groups are missing from the above list each time.  One by one they make the decision that the time has come to stop holding reunions.  As I hear plans from those who are still meeting, I wonder how many really appreciate themany hours it takes to plan a reunion and/or keep members of your group informed.  Hopefully, all who are lucky enough to still have a reunion planner and/or a scribe, will remember to express your THANKS.  In a recent newspaper article about a reunion of the 75th Bomb Squadron who served in the South Pacific, one veteran was quoted as saying about his fellow squadron members, "This is more of a fraternity than a fraternity itself.  You'll never get this close to anyone in your life."

The World War II Memorial

At a fish fry in February, 1987, at Toledo, Ohio, Roger Durbin, who had served under General Patton, asked Representative Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, why there was no memorial for WWII veterans.  Representative Kaptur soon introduced legislation to get one built.  After surviving 17 years of legislative, legal and artistic entanglements, the monument was finally dedicated May 29th this year.  One month before the dedication the American Battle Monuments Commission allowed the monument to be opened to allow more veterans to see it.  The man who had asked the question of his representative died in 2000 so didn't get to see the beautiful memorial that he had wished to have built.  Of the 16 million who served in WWII only 5.7 were counted in the 2000 census.  With some 1,150 veterans dying each day, many others will never see the monument.  Of course, 400,000 lost their lives during the war.  They are honored on a wall with 4,000 gold stares, each representing 100 who didn't get to come home.  I hope that as many of you as are able will get to Washington, DC to see this memorial built in your honor.  I'm sure through the years of its construction, many of you have sent a monetary contribution to help with the cost, and hopefully you have sent your name to be included in the honor roll that has been compiled.

BITS & PIECES from you who are kind to write, call, or e-mail:
Three books recommended by some readers are:  "Washout" by Col. Charles Warty, who was a cadet at Lemoore Naval Air Station. (Lemoore, CA) "World War II Prairie Invasion" by Gloria Clark.  This is the story of the airmen, paratroopers and glider pilots who trained at the Alliance Army Air Base and the effect that this base had on this small town in Nebraska.
"The Troop Carrier D-Day Flights into Normandy - 6 June 1944" by Lewis Johnson, who with Bob Cloer keeps lists of contacts for all Troop Carrier Units of WWII.  (54th TCW groups and squadrons are all on his list)  Filling the void that most WWII historians leave, Johnson has written about the planning of the flights and the role of Troop Carriers. It seems that the 821 C-47's and the 4,500 men in the flight crews have not been given credit for their roles in the invasion. His book is being published by the Air Mobility Command Museum Foundation of Dover Air Force Base, DE and he receives nothing from the sale.  He says by writing this book and its supplement he is a "volunteer", a status that began for him at a USAAF recruiting station in Ohio the day after Pearl Harbor.  Order from AMC Museum Store, Book Orders, Box 02050, Dover AFB, DE 19902.  The cost is $30 plus $5 shipping and handling.
Gene Diemand and Bill Woznek, 375th TCG, have donated their memorabilia to the Air Mobility Command (AMC) Museum, Dover AFB 19902, which is the official Air Force Airlift Museum.  Diemand says he hated to part with his treasures but wanted them preserved rather than being thrown out when he passes on.  He suggests others do so rather than wait too late. In last year's TCW June Newsletter is a report from Woznek about the "Salute to Troop Carrier" celebration he attended at Dover AFB.
William Thompson, 374th TCG, 6th TCS, who signs his e-mails OLDPILOT TOMMY, wrote that he is going to Russia, June 11, with Habitat for Humanity. At 83 he is the oldest of the sixteen- member crew who will be building a house.  This organization sends teams all over the world to build homes.  He says this is the first to go to Russia.  This is a very worthwhile group with which to spend volunteer hours.
Ken Euart, 374th TCG, 22nd TCS, who has his own copy of "Moresby to Manila" book, called to asked where he could get a copy for his friend.  Your editor's suggestion was to go to one of the big chain printers. Tell them that the book is now out of print, and you should have no trouble.
Art Criswell, 374th TCG, 6th TCS, called in December on his 80th birthday. He has recovered from a triple-bypass and hopes to keep traveling in his motor home.
Dan Geisenhof sent an e-mail after finding our 54th TCW web page.  s mother, 1st Lieutenant Mary (Gravelin) Geisenhof, who died in 1997, was a member of the 804th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron, 54th TCW. He would like to hear from anyone who might have information on the 804th or might have known her.  His e-mail address is <dannickhj@earthlink.net> and his P.O. address is Maj. Daniel Geisenhof, 4710 B Quarters, Quantico, VA 22134.
No word from the 820th MAES since a planned reunion in San Diego in October 2003. Are any of you 820th members still around?  Sal Mistretta once asked if we had heard from the 801st or 804th MAES's.  The info above is the first we have received.
Frank Hathaway, 374th TCG, 6th TCS, who is working on his personal history, wrote that he would welcome any memories from others who were with him "over there".  Contact him at 50257 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, 831/667-2368, or e-mail <fragarway@aol.com>
(Are you following his example? Your family will appreciate your efforts.)
Harold Schultz, 374th TCG, 22nd TCS, sent information about insignia for various WWII groups, confirming the validity of the Troop Carrier one pictured in the December Newsletter.  He also included this about the Fifth Air Force from the book, "Shoulder Sleeve Insignia of the U.S. Armed Forces--1941-1945", by Richard Smith:
The Fifth Air Force was formed on February 5th, 1942, with headquarters on Java in the Netherlands Indies.  t had originated as "Philippine Department Air Force", September 20th, 1941. On November 16th, 1941, it was re-designated the "Far East Air Force".  Although most of its men and aircraft were lost in defense of the Philippines after December 7th, some reached Australia late in 1941.  They were then sent to Java to delay the Japanese advance in the Netherlands Indies.  Although named Fifth Air Force, they didn't actually function as an Air Force because at this time Army Air Forces organizations in the Southwest Pacific were under the joint U.S.-British-Dutch-Australian-Command. (This later be-came the Allied Air Forces.)  The Fifth Air Force Headquarters was finally renamed and formally re-activated on September 3rd, 1942 with Headquarters at Brisbane, Australia. During WWII the Fifth was credited with 13 campaigns. It moved troops and supplies, and evacuated the wounded.  It destroyed 6,298 enemy aircraft at a cost of 2,494 downed by the enemy.  It flew 415,979 combat sorties and dropped 232,496 tons of bombs.  AND--since the 54th TCW came under the Fifth Air Force Command, all of you had a part in its illustrious history.  After Japan surrendered, the Fifth moved to Japan for occupation duty and became a part of the Far East Air Forces.
The QMG approved the shoulder patch of the Fifth Air Force on March 25th, 1943.  The smaller stars are in the form of the Southern Cross, which is in the area where the Force received its baptism of fire.  The comet design is taken from the unit's former aircraft markings, and the three tails of the comet represent bombers, fighters and Troop Carriers.

Emilio Parase, 54th TCW, HQ, has finally retired from his auto shop.  Incidentally, after the war, he used a car decorated to look like an airplane to call attention to his business.  A little nostalgia there!

Stan Zakheim, 54th TCW, HQ, reports that his wife's back condition has improved. He is another former "northerner" who has moved to Arizona.  His yearly phone calls are always appreciated.
Betty, wife of Oliver Marheine, 54th TCW, HQ, wrote that she read the last Newsletter to Oliver as he was in the hospital.  He was recovering from a couple surgeries and hoped to be back home in a few days.
John Murphy, 54th TCW, HQ, had quite a 2003.  In addition to some heart problems, he took a fall and had to have 11 stitches in his finger!   Ug!
Arthur Criswell, 374th TCG, 6th TCS, called to express his appreciation for the Newsletter. He phoned on his birthday, December 13, which, incidentally, was two days before your editor's 83rd.
E H Brown, 317th TCG, 40th TCS, and Douglas Southgate, 374th "TCG, 6th TCS sent  "Thank You" notes.
Veronica, the wife of Frank Mato, 54th TCW, HQ, sent a couple letters.  She lives near DC so was planning to see the WWII Memorial as soon as it was open to the public.  Veronica, herself, is a WWII veteran, having served in the Marines.  She recently attended the Woman Marines' 61st anniversary luncheon.
In Memory
Joseph Leslie, 317th TCG - The executor of his estate informed us about his death from a heart attack in April, 2003
Don Yeske, 374th TCG, 21st TCS, called to let us know about the death of his son, Alan, April 7, 2003.  He had originally planned to attend the 374th reunion in Indianapolis.
Bob Moody, 375th TCG, 57th TCS sent the sad news of the death of his wife the day after Christmas.  He was, however, pleased to report that they had been able to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary just two weeks earlier.

(Keep writing, calling and e-mailing)

Darlene McMurry, 8944 Krueger St,
Culver City, 90232-2437

Phone: 310/559-8331