NOTICE: "...I am on a committee for a membership drive for Veteran's of VP-26. We have sent out many letters to past squadron members and have only received a few replies. We have seen a smaller amount of attendance each year for our Reunions. It was voted on at the last Reunion to have them every other year. We also have a web site: http://www.vp26vets.org/. We invite all former Shipmates to visit our site!..." Contributed by BUELL, Bob email@example.com [28OCT2014]
REUNION: "...The 38th Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Reunion will held September 22-26th, 2013. See http://www.vp26vets.org/ for additional information..." Contributed by BALOG, AE2 Gene firstname.lastname@example.org [16JAN2013]
Be strong in the Lord
SEE: The Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Association Summary Page [Updated 16JAN2013]
REUNION: "...The 37th Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Reunion will held on September 16-19, 2012 in St. Charles, IL. Details are still in the planning stage but you can contact the host, Jerry Schroder, at email@example.com later for details and contact information...BALOG, AE2 Gene firstname.lastname@example.org..." [05OCT2011]
SEE: The Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Association Summary Page [Updated 05OCT2011]
REUNION: "...The 36th Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Reunion will be held on September 25th through 28th, 2011 in Williamsburg, VA. Further details will be coming out in future newsletters. You can contact me via e-mail in the meantime for additional information...BALOG, AE2 Gene email@example.com..." [20JUL2011]
SEE: The Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Association Summary Page [Updated 01MAY2011]
REUNION: "...The 35th Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Reunion will be held on September 12th through 16th, 2010 at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Syracuse, NY. Further details will be coming out in future newsletters. You can contact me via e-mail in the meantime for additional information...BALOG, AE2 Gene firstname.lastname@example.org..." [26JAN2010 | 09OCT2009]
SEE: The Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Association Summary Page [Updated 26JAN2010]
REUNION: "...The 2008 Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Reunion was held in September in Rapid City, SD and a great time was had by all. This is a heads up notice to let fellow Shipmates know that the 34th Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Reunion in 2009 will be held in Portland, Maine from October 4-7. Further details will be coming out in future newsletters. You can contact me via e-mail in the meantime for additional information...BALOG, AE2 Gene email@example.com..." [10NOV2008]
SEE: The Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Association Summary Page [Updated 09OCT2009]
REUNION: "...Our 2008 Reunion will be held in Rapid City, SD on September 21-25, 2008. More details coming out in the January Newsletter (SEE: VP/VPB-26 Bilge Pump)...BALOG, AE2 Gene firstname.lastname@example.org..." [31OCT2007]
SEE: The Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Association Summary Page [Updated 10JAN2008]
REUNION: "...Our 2007 Reunion will be held in Concord, California on September 27-30, 2007. More details coming out in the January Newsletter (SEE: VP/VPB-26 Bilge Pump)...BALOG, AE2 Gene email@example.com..." [04OCT2006]
SEE: The Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Association Summary Page [Updated 25APR2007]
REUNION: "...Our 2006 Reunion will be held in Dayton, Ohio and it is planned to have the 2007 Reunion in Concord, California. You former Shipmates of VPB/VP-26 who are not part of our organization and would like more information please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org...Gene Balog email@example.com..." [09OCT2005]
SEE: The Mariners of VP/VPB-26 Association Summary Page [Updated 05OCT2006]
REUNION: "...VP/VPB-26 will be holding its Annual Reunion this year in Chattanooga, Tenn. September 25-29. Those of you on the mailing list will get the registration form in the May newsletter. If you are not on the mailing list and are interested in getting more information please contact me via e-mail and I will give you additional information once things are finalized...Gene Balog firstname.lastname@example.org..." [19JAN2005]
"...2005 VP-26 Reunion..." Contributd by REARICK, LT Anderson (Andy) Retired email@example.com [28OCT2005]
Once again those grizzled survivors of the 1952-55 period of VP-26 operations met this year at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside hotel to renew old memories and retell old stories. There always seem to be new or different variations every year which keeps things interesting. Under the able leadership and direction of Bob and Dorrie Tomenendal we had a really great time. There were so many interesting activities I am not sure I can get them all down in chronological order.
Of course the first afternoon involved getting checked in and getting settled. Your writer was pleased to have a nice room on the ninth floor with a small balcony overlooking the huge harbor. Some spent the afternoon checking out the local sights within walking distance such as the Nautilus Maritime Center and the USS Wisconsin (BB-64) or just strolling along the waterfront walkway.. Of course the next project was to finding the "Ready Room" (well decorated and equipped by our host and hostess), meeting other arrivals and deciding where to eat the evening meal. We ended up going to the near by Crab Shack where there was a large sign advertising "FREE CRABS TOMORROW." Of course tomorrow never comes. I kept looking for Sponge Bob but he never showed either. We then returned to the "Ready Room" and hung out until tired enough to admit it was "bed time."
Chan von Schrader (captain of the 1953 VP-26 Championship basketball team both in NAS Keflavik, Iceland and NAS Brunswick, Maine dropped by and left a copy of an old photo album that, among other things, recorded the tragic loss of one of our P2Vs and several crew members at NAS Brunswick, Maine in April, 1952, just before your writer reported on board. A grim reminder of how fortunate we all have been.
The next morning we were up and raring to go by 8:00am as a large and comfortable bus transported us to the Wright Brothers National Museum at Kill Devil Hills, the actual scene where those first flights were made. I think we were all amazed as we learned during a lecture of the hardships endured and the scientific expertise involved as these two men endured physical hardships and overcame tremendous logistic and scientific problems to earn the recognition and honor of being the first to experience controlled flight.
From there we journeyed to Nags Head where we ate lunch, saw one of the world's largest sand dunes and discovered some interesting shops -- and bought some interesting souvenirs -- if one so desired. Our leader (Bob Tomenendal) kept us entertained on the bus with revealing games and quizzes while we traveled.
Returning to Norfolk we freshened up and went out to eat a very pleasant meal at an un recalled restaurant where the manager seemed a bit upset that we came in the wrong entrance, seated ourselves when we got no attention, and generally messed up his system. The food was good and we had a great time anyway!
Wednesday morning after breakfast we walked to the Mac Arthur Memorial Museum where we enjoyed an interesting film presentation regarding General Mac Arthur's life and a personal tour of the museum lead by John McLaughlin, Education Coordinator at the museum, who would later be our speaker at the closing banquet.
After lunch at a nearby "Food Court" we headed over to the waterfront where we enjoyed a two hour cruise along this busy area of the Elizabeth River and on past the largest naval base in the world. What a display of naval power. War ships of all shapes and sizes and for many specific purposes. Very impressive.
Returning to the Ready Room we again relaxed and enjoyed each others company until it was time to prepare for our closing banquet that was attended by the following:
John McLaughlin, Guest Speaker
Bob and Dorrie Tomenendal
Leigh and Mary Lou Benner
Bill and Dotty Mill
Andy and Ann Rearick
Ted and Dolores Bochniarz
Tom and Marge Cass
Don and Marion Weisel
Chan von Schrader
"Regrets" were noted and received from:
Dale and Maxine Johnson
Russ and Bonnie Vollmer
Jake and Nan Kertz
Norm and Carol Berglund
Joe and Helen Sharkey
Ray and Pat Boatman
Joe and Bubbles Schettino
Dick and Jan Coy
(Rev.) Andy Rearick opened the banquet with a moment of silence in remembrance of those no longer with us, the reading of a Psalm, and a prayer of thanks for our freedom and seeking God's continued blessing on our service men and women and on all those present and accounted for.
Following a very good meal our speaker, John McLaughlin, brought an interesting talk regarding the origin of the Medal of Honor and some of its recipients.
A pleasant surprise was a visit via a video recording by our "Mother Superior" Estelle George, seated in Skipper P. J. George's office, expressing her regrets at being unable to attend the reunion and wishing us all well.
Discussion was then held regarding the feasibility of continuing to organize these reunions. After much discussion it was decided that a simple gathering would be planned for next year at Sebasco, Maine (near Brunswick NAS) with the emphasis of just "hanging out" and enjoying each other's company. Tom and Marjorie Cass volunteered to look into this possibility.
Blessings on you all...
"...VPB/VP-26 wrapped up it's 30th Reunion in Chattanooga, TN on September 30th. Approximately 82 were present and a good time was had by all...Gene Balog firstname.lastname@example.org..." [09OCT2005]
"...The May VP/VPB-26 Newsletter was sent out earlier this month and contained all the information and registration for the upcoming reunion in Chattanooga, TN in September. If you did not receive your copy of the newsletter please e-mail me for a resend. If you did receive the newsletter please don't put off sending in your registration. We need to confirm how many will be attending ASAP in order to secure all arrangements. See you in Chattanooga...Gene Balog email@example.com..." [29MAY2005]
REUNION: "...VP-26 Reunion will be held in Panama City Beach, Florida, September 22 to 26, 2004. You can contact me for information. Also, if you would like to be added to the VP-26 mailing list in order to receive the newsletter that comes out about 3 times a year, send me your name and home address...Gene Balog firstname.lastname@example.org..." [E-Mail Updated 13SEP2004 | 08FEB2004]
"...VPB/VP-26 had a successful Reunion in Panama City Florida despite the threat of hurricane Jeanne. The trip to the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola had to be cancelled due to damage at the base and also the damage to Interstate 10 near Pensacola. However we managed to have a great time despite all the weather problems. Next years Reunion will be held in Chattanooga, TN. in September 2005. Details will be published in the January newsletter. Those of you who did not attend missed a great time to once again gather and enjoy the company of fellow Shipmates. Try to make it next year. If you are not on the mailing list please send me your home address and I'll add you to the list...Gene Balog email@example.com..." [28SEP2004]
REUNION: "...VPB/VP-26 Reunion September 9-12, 2004 Reunion Report..." Contributed by REARICK, LT Anderson (Andy) Retired firstname.lastname@example.org [16SEP2004]
A gathering of officers and wives from the VP-26 years of 1952-55 was held at the Sheraton Suites, Alexandria, Virginia with the following present:
Jake Kertz, Host with the Most
Bob & Pat Babcock
Leigh & Mary Lou Benner
Ray & Pat Boatman
Ted & Dolores Bochnairz
Tom & Marj Cass
Dick & Jan Coy
Jim & Mary Dewachter (Joan's son & daughter-in-law)
Bill & Dotty Mill
Andy & Ann Rearick
Bob & Dorie Tomenendal
Don & Marion Weisel
Our host appeared a little lost at times without his wife Nancy, who helped so much with the planning, - but he still did an outstanding job. (Their Florida home was still without electricity after two weeks.) Several other Floridians were also "excused" in view of their current hurricane circumstances.
Estelle George, the Skipper's widow, was also missed as she has decided she can no longer travel but hopes all will feel free to stop by and visit if and when they are in Dallas. She made her well wishes obvious and her presence felt by furnishing the wine for the closing banquet.
Several had arrived early to get a running start on the "Sight Seeing" but all gathered in the "Ready Room" on Thursday evening as we caught up with past activities, bragged on our new grand children, and then headed across the street where we had a delicious Italian meal. Many returned to the "Ready Room" and stayed up late swapping yarns.
Friday morning we took off for the National Air and Space Museum (Udvar-Hazy Center) and walked ourselves bow legged taking in the various displays. After a box lunch we headed for Mount. Vernon where we had a special tour of the mansion, the out buildings and the grounds climaxed with the laying of a wreath by our group at Washington's Tomb.
George Washington's prayer for his country, adapted from a letter he sent as Commander in Chief to all the Governors of the States following the war of Independence, was read as follows:
"I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have the United States in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Fields, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation." Amen!
(The spelling and capitalization are from the original. The address to specific states was changed to "the United States." )
After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance we found our way back to our bus. Returning to the hotel rather footsore and weary the majority of the group took a bus provided by the hotel and enjoyed some seafood at "The Sea Food Restaurant." (a name chosen at random!) Your correspondent went to bed with a bad cold.
Saturday was another beautiful day as we headed for the Naval Academy at Annapolis. We were greeted by a retired Captain (name un recalled) who had been skipper of VP-26 (among his other assignments) in 1960. He was congratulated on still being able to wear his VP-26 leather flight jacket. He briefed the group on some of the latest developments regarding operations and new planes for patrol squadrons. After viewing a video about Annapolis we toured parts of the campus and ended up in the beautiful Academy chapel and also entered the crypt where John Paul Jones is interred.
We then toured the dock area of Annapolis on foot, grabbed a bite of lunch here or there, and reviewed the entire Academy student body as they marched by in our honor. (Actually they were on their way to the football stadium where Navy beat Northeastern 28-24.) It was a very impressive day!
Returning to the hotel we prepared for our annual banquet, relaxed in the ready room or in our own rooms, and finally at 7:00 pm gathered in the Potomac Room for our banquet. After a moment of silence in memory of departed comrades your writer shared the following invocation and blessing with those present:
And in his mighty power!
Put on the full armor of God.
So that when the day of evil comes
You may be able to
Stand your ground
With the belt of Truth
Buckled around your waist.
And the breastplate of righteousness
Firmly in place!
And in addition take:
The Shield of faith
The helmet of salvation
And the Sword of the Spirit
Which is the Word of God.
And pray -- on all occasions
And in every situation!
Be strong and courageous
For the Lord your God will
Be with you
Wherever you go!
May God's might uphold you
God's wisdom guide you
And God's hand guard you
As you carry out your duties
As unto Him!
This we pray in the name of our Lord
Following the meal greetings were shared and the VP-26 Banner was draped across the shoulders of Bob Tomenendal as he and his wife Dorie accepted the responsibilities of planning next year's reunion.
REUNION: "...VP-26 Reunion is scheduled for July 28th to August 1, 2004 in Portland, ME. SEE: VP-26 Reunion WebSite: http://vp-26.zerr.us/index.htm or contact John Keating email@example.com for further information..." [19APR2004]
REUNION: "...VPB/VP-26 Reunion will be held in Corpus Christi, TX September 26-30, 2003 at the Omni Bayfront Hotel. All former officers and men are invited. Contact Charlie Meadors at (865) 482-9702 or firstname.lastname@example.org for details..." Contributed by Charles Meadors email@example.com [22JAN2003]
"...VP-26 October 9-11, 2003 Reunion Update..." Contributed by REARICK, LT Anderson (Andy) Retired firstname.lastname@example.org [17OCT2003]
Once again some of the "Survivors" of the 1952-55 era of Patrol Squadron 26, based at NAS Brunswick, Maine, gathered at the Sheraton Suites in Columbus, Ohio, to renew acquaintances and share stories…stories that seem to grow better with each telling. Those present were:
Leigh & Mary Lou Benner - Hosts
Ted & Dolores Bochnairz
Tom & Marj Cass
Jake & Nancy Kertz
Bill & Dotty Mill
Charles & Janet Paddock
Andy & Ann Rearick
Bob & Dorrie Tomenendal
Russ & Bunny Vollmer
MJ McMahon and her friend Rachelle Martin stopped by for a visit and went to dinner with the group on Friday evening. As always she brought a lot of life to the assembly and was drafted to help Jake and Nancy Kertz with the organization of next year's reunion that will be held at Annapolis, Md., (near the "Southern Maryland Small Boat and Barge School.")
Dick & Lois Grant (Lois recovering from eye surgery), Bruce and Patsy Morton (Bruce had sudden side pain, possibly kidney stone), and Don and Marion Weisel were prevented from attending as planned. Don Weisel has been in and out of the hospital for heart problems but called to report he was doing fine and they plan to attend next year.
The "Ready Room" was as busy as ever even with the reduced number in attendance. There seemed to be lots to talk about and quite a few photo albums to review. They had a real problem recognizing the people in one photo taken long ago by Don Weisel. It was of Marion Weisel of course, with the Coopers and the Rearicks. We all looked like High School kids.
Friday we spent most of the day at the United States Air Force Museum adjacent to the Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, OH. The main point of interest was the opportunity to tour all the Presidential airplanes used and retired since the days of "FDR." A lot of history involved with those aircraft.
The other exhibits were quite interesting also. One PBY on display had no descriptive data posted as yet and we were curious as to why it was there. There was also a very stirring exhibit memorializing the Holocaust. Ran into a guy who flew with VP-1 on the west coast. He recognized our distinctive baseball hats of course. It was interesting to compare notes.
Saturday we toured the Longaberger Homestead and the Longaberger "facility" where they make those very nice but very expensive hand made baskets of all shapes and sizes. It was interesting to stand on the elevated observation deck and watch the craftsman (men and women) form those baskets. You could even make your own (with supervision and assistance) and Ann Rearick and Dotty Mill did just that. I didn't notice any reduction in the price. The grounds were very picturesque and there were many types of exhibits and other products on sale.
Our Saturday evening banquet was well served by an attentive staff at the Sheraton and was quite delicious. Our guest speaker was Richard Barrett who attended along with his wife Margie. He has done extensive research into the history of aviation in and around Columbus, Ohio, and uses old post cards as a source of illustrations. I think all of us were glad we did our flying at a later time.
The "Mother Superior," Estelle George, was unable to attend but sent each one in attendance a pen inscribed "ESTELLE GEORGE/I LOVE YA!!" and a lovely 2004 calendar. She also arranged for a lovely gift (platter/tray - inscribed "VP26 Reunion 2003") to be presented to the hosts as a token of appreciation from those present and absent for all their efforts.
REUNION: "...2002 VP-26 Reunion (October 3-5, 2002) Update..." Contributed by Anderson M. Rearick email@example.com [12OCT2002]
Here is the report on the most recent gathering of those intrepid, and somewhat grizzled veterans of the 1952-55 era of the U.S. Navy's Patrol Squadron 26. (It is noted of course that none of the ladies present were grizzled.) Under the able leadership of this year's hosts, Don and Marion Weisel, 31 survivors appeared in the Squadron "Ready Room" at the Sheraton Park Ridge Hotel, King of Prussia, PA, by the evening of October 3rd. As always; it was great to see and greet friends from a past exciting and special time in our lives.
Those present were:
Don & Marion Weisel, Hosts
Ray & Pat Boatman
Bob & Pat Babcock
Dale & Maxine Johnson
Norm and Carol Berglund
Jake & Nancy Kertz
Leigh & Mary Lou Benner
Bill & Dorothy Mill
Ted & Dolores Bochniarz
Bruce & Patsy Morton
Tom & Marjorie Cass
Charlie & Jan Paddock
Estelle George & guests
Andy & Ann Rearick
(Suzzane George Bailey & Patricia Collier)
Bob & Dolores Tomenendal
The following absentees sent greetings and/or regrets:
Merv & Lou Davis
Cecil & Bob Edison
Joe & Chuckles Schettino
Jake & Frances Stevens
Joe & Helen Sharkey
Russ & Bunny Vollmer
As always the "Mother Superior" (Estelle George, our Skipper's wife who will soon be 82) was there to make sure that everyone was properly greeted, briefed on our planned activities and enjoying themselves. A highlight of the Saturday banquet was a 20 minute video of pictures of her life from childhood to the present. Verrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting!
Friday morning found us on our way into Philadelphia, which, like every other major city I visit, seems to have all the main approach roads torn up so you never know for sure where you are going or if you'll get there. Once again we were amazed at the ability of our driver to maneuver that huge bus through the narrow streets, restricted spaces, and tight corners.
After a film presentation on the birth of our nation we visited the nearby Liberty Bell and toured Independence Hall. (I think everyone learned something new about the history of our nation and the price many paid for freedom.)
We were then taken to the famous Reading Terminal Market where we scattered for lunch. You could find just about every kind of food imaginable there. Inside this huge building was what we politely call a madhouse. After lunch we relocated our bus and a few stragglers and then drove around the city viewing various Philadelphia sights and scenes. We ended up at the very impressive Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Those who were "quick" managed to get in for a performance while those of us who were slow afoot spent some time touring the very impressive building itself. Our bus then took us back to our hotel with the climax of the day's trip being a low visibility 180 degree standard rate turn across five lanes of Pennsylvania Turnpike traffic to get us to the right exit. The normal route was blocked by the ever-changing construction.
Saturday morning we were off to the Willow Grove Naval Air Station where we were warmly greeted by the Captain and officers of VP-66, a reserve squadron that sees many active duty assignments. They draw their members from all over the eastern part of the country and (if I got it right) are an amalgamation of several reserve VP squadrons that are now inactive. We were briefed on some of their current activities and status and then toured a P-3 in the hanger. Each couple received a VP-66 shoulder patch featuring the Liberty Bell.
A group (name unrecalled) that restores military aircraft were pleased to have us see their latest accomplishment which was a restored Me 252 (the first jet to see combat). It is one of only nine of the original 1300 such planes made that are still in existence. Most never flew due to a lack of parts, fuel and trained pilots. A great many were destroyed by allied bombers while on the ground during the closing days of WW II.
After lunch on the base we again boarded our bus and traveled to Valley Forge National Park where we viewed a film that depicted in part the terrible hardships of that 1777-78 winter encampment. More soldiers were killed by disease and malnutrition than by enemy action. We toured the encampment area, saw replicas of the tiny crude cabins built by the soldiers and went through the headquarters building (a small house) used by George Washington and his staff. We then returned safely to our hotel.
Our closing banquet was, as always, enjoyed by all. A time of silence before the invocation, was given over to the calling out of the names of those who were our comrades and friends who are no longer with us. Appreciation was expressed to Don and Marion Weisel for all their work in setting up this year's reunion. Estelle George presented us with 2003 calendars and pens commemorating this year's event. Leigh and Mary Lou Benner will host next year's reunion at Columbus, Ohio. We trust all who can will make every effort to be there.
Andy Rearick firstname.lastname@example.org
REUNION: "...VP-26 Reunion (October 4-6, 2001)..." Contributed by Anderson M. Rearick email@example.com [16OCT2001]
Once again a group of VP-26 "Survivors" from the 1952-55 time period gathered for their annual squadron reunion. There were 30 present coming from such areas as Chicago (of course), Philadelphia, Pensacola, Virginia Beach, Memphis, Boston, Pinehurst, Dallas, Minneapolis, Worthington (Ohio), St. Louis, Albuquerque, Pittsburgh, Fruitland (somewhere in Florida naturally) and the thriving community of Hampton Falls, NH. We were all disappointed to miss so many who had been there in the past.
By Thursday evening, 10/4/01, the "Ready Room" at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Oakbrook, Illinois (just outside of Chicago) was abuzz with the renewing of old acquaintances and catching up on the latest family news (grandchildren, etc.) and other current activities. Of course the terrible catastrophe of September 11th was very much on everyone's mind.
Those present were:
Ted and Dolores Bochniarz (hosts), Bob and Pat Babcock, Leigh and Mary Lou Benner, Ray and Pat Boatman, Tom and Marjorie Cass, Estelle George and "cousin" Pat Collier, Dale and Maxine Johnson, Jake and Nancy Kertz, Bill and Dorothy Mill, Bruce and Patsy Morton, Ann and Andy Rearick, Joe and Chuckles Schettino, Bob and Dolores Tomenendal, Russ and Bunny Vollmer, and Don and Marion Weisel.
Saturday we boarded a bus for a general tour of Chicago. Our driver had the unusual name of "Fred Bassett" and spoke with a deep melodious voice as he described all the wonders of Chicago. (For your information the word Chicago means "smelly place" in the original Native American dialect, according to Fred.) How these guys get these huge busses through some very narrow and congested places is still beyond me.
We saw many points of interest and had a very interesting stop at an arboretum (don't ask me the name) where they had huge rooms of various fascinating herbal displays from tiny flowers to tree like plants. The "plant" ladies went crazy.
The highlight of the day was a 40 second trip to the observation floor (96th) of the Hancock Building where we took pictures and enjoyed the view.
Some later expressed more than a little anxiety and a feeling of being quite vulnerable as they looked out across the panorama of Chicago from the heights of that building.
We returned to our hotel and were left to our own devices. Your writer and wife enjoyed a swim in the indoor hotel pool and a relaxing time in the Jacuzzi. We had the whole place to ourselves. The "Ready Room" was, as always, abuzz with activity.
Saturday another bus picked us up and transported us to estate of Robert R. McCormick, former owner and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. We had a conducted tour of the mansion and walked the grounds where I was pleased to find a quantity of "Buckeyes" (Horse chestnuts) on the ground. I then expounded upon the game I played as a kid where you tied a shoe string through a hole in "your" Buckeye and took turns trying to knock your opponent's Buckeye off his string. It really sounded "exciting" in this day of complex computer games.
McCormick was a Colonel in the First Division (Big Red One) during WW I and established a museum dedicated to that division right there on the grounds showing its history from the Revolutionary War to the most recent "Desert Storm" campaign. It was a very interesting tour.
There were other activities going on through out the grounds including an antique and restored car show, which was quite interesting to some, who were not so interested in flora and fauna.
We then returned to the hotel and had a very pleasant closing banquet. Your reporter was called upon for the Invocation and shared this reading from Psalm 37:
"Fret not yourself because of evil doers, be not envious toward wrong doers for they wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it."
Appreciation was expressed for the efforts and planning done by Ted and Dolores Bochniarz in setting up this year's affair. Estelle George, the skipper's widow, presented each one present with a calendar for 2002, and a key chain commemorating this year's event. Don and Marion Weisel "volunteered" to host next year's reunion in the Philadelphia area. We hope you all will make the effort to be there if possible.
A scroll was presented to each one in attendance that read as follows:
Autumn leaves rustling together to the appointed place, the old warriors come.
Pilgrims drifting across the land they fought to preserve.
Where they meet is not so important anymore.
They meet and that's enough for now.
Greetings echo across a lobby.
Hands reach out and arms draw buddies close,
Embraces, that as young men they were too uncomfortable to give,
too shy to accept, so lovingly.
But deep within these Indian Summer days, they have reached a greater understanding of life and love.
The shells holding their souls are weaker now, but hearts and minds grow vigorous remembering.
On a table someone spreads old photographs, a test of recollection.
And friendly laughter echoes at shocks of hair gone gray or white, or merely gone.
The rugged slender bodies lost forever.
Yet they no longer need to prove their strength.
Some are now sustained by one of "medicines miracles," and even in this fact, they manage to find humor.
The women, all those who waited, all those who love them,
have watched the changes take place.
Now they observe and listen, and smile at each other, as glad to be together as the men.
Talk turns to war and planes and foreign lands.
Stories are told, and told again, reweaving the threadbare fabric of the past.
Mending one more time the banner of their youth.
They hear the vibrations, feel the shudder of metal as engines whine and whirl, and planes come alive…
These birds with fractured wings can see beyond the mist of clouds,
and they are in the air again,
chasing the wind, feeling the exhilaration of flight, close to the heavens.
Dead comrades, hearing their names spoken, wanting to share in this time if only in spirit,
move silently among them.
Their presence is felt and smiles appear beneath misty eyes.
Each in his own way, may wonder who will be absent another year.
The room grows quiet for a time.
Suddenly an ember flames to life. Another memory burns.
The talk may turn to other wars and other men and of futility.
So this is how it goes. The past is so much the present.
In their ceremonies, the allegiances, the speeches and the prayers, one cannot help but hear the deep eternal love of country they will forever share.
Finally, it is time to leave.
Much too soon to set aside this little piece of yesterday, but the past cannot be held too long,
for it is fragile.
They say, "Farewell…see you next year, God willing."
Breathing silent prayers for one another.
Each keeping a little of the others with him forever.
REUNION: "...VPB/VP-26 will hold their twenty seventh annual reunion at Branson, Missouri September 27 through Soctober 1, 2002. Please contact Bob Morieko, 407 Nowlan Rd., Binghamton,m NY 13904-3091 Tel. (607) 723-9120 or Charles Meadors by E-Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org..." [23MAR2002]
REUNION: "...26th Annual Reunion of VP / VPB-26 will be in Portland, Maine September 26 - 30, 2001. Contact Ken Rauschke 207/883-4378 or e-mail DONKEN58@aol.com; Charles Meadors e-mail - email@example.com; Dick Brodeur e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org..." Contributed by Ken Rauschke DONKEN58@aol.com [21MAR2001]
"...Just returned home after attending the VP-26 Reunion in Portland, Maine on Sept 26-29. A great time was had by all and we would hope that more former members of VP-26 would come and join the Reunions. My particular group was from the 1955-62 time frame and we were the "kids" of the group. It was great to associate with those who served earlier in WW2 but the organization will need more young blood coming in, in order to keep the organization going. It's for all, both former enlisted and officers are welcome. It was my first time attending and plan to attend next years Reunion scheduled for Sept. 2002 in Branson,Mo. I'm sure more info will be put on the VP-26 web site at the proper time. My thanks to the current C.O. of VP-26 for the great program he and his associates put on for us...Gene Balog email@example.com..." [22OCT2001]
REUNION: "...VP-VPB26 Mini Reunion Pensacola FL May 3-6, 2000. Contact.. Norm Polski Normpol@naples.net, CHR 941-992-3435, 9197 Coach House Lane, Estero FL 33928..." Contributed by Charles Meadors firstname.lastname@example.org [22MAR2000]
"...PATROL SQUADRON VP-26 REUNION - YEAR 2000 SUMMARY REPORT..." Contributed by Anderson (Andy) Rearick, LT USNR ret. email@example.com [07OCT2000]
Even though many expressed their regrets and 3 who had hoped to make an appearance didn't make it we still managed to have 37 present for our annual reunion which was held at the Sheraton Colonial Hotel in Wakefield, Mass. From 9/28-30/00, with the following present:
Tom and Marjorie Cass (Co-hosts)
Andy & Ann Rearick (Co-hosts)
Leigh and Mary Lou Benner
Ray and Pat Boatman
Ted and Dolores Bochniarz
Dick and Jan Coy
Joan Dewachter and son Jim
Estelle George and daughter Suzzane Bailey
Jim and Joyce Heermans
Jake and Nancy Kertz
Bill and Dorothy Mill
Bruce and Patsy Morton
Dick and Fay Roehrig
Joe and Helen Sharkey
Bob and Diane Snow
Bob and Delores Tomenendal
Russ and Bunny Vollmer
Don and Marion Weisel
We were so anxious to get the "ball" rolling that by Thursday afternoon just about all the above named were "aboard" as acquaintances were renewed and table games hotly contested in the "Ready Room." Special thanks go to Jim Heermans for setting up and maintaining the open bar. The Mother Superior (Estelle George) even lugged bags of her personally flavored oyster soup crackers all the way from Texas to add to the snack supply. In return she was kept supplied with all the Dr. Pepper she could drink.
On Friday morning 31 of us boarded a bus for a tour of Boston which would take pages to completely report. High lights were the visit to The U.S.S. Constitution ("Old Iron Sides"), its museum, The U.S.S.Cassin Young (a retired destroyer), shopping and lunch in historic down town Boston at the Quincy Market in the Faneuil Hall area, and holding our collective breath as the driver maneuvered our huge bus through the narrow streets of Boston up into the famous Beacon Hill section with its quaint buildings and historic gas lights. After returning to the hotel and renewing our energy all those hungry and interested traveled to a nearby restaurant for a delicious meal.
On Saturday we boarded a bus for Salem where we picked up a feisty tour guide (she was in her 70's, about 4'11", skinny as a rail, knew everything, and would walk right out in the street and stop traffic so we "old folks" could cross). Here we saw the coastal scenery, beautiful old homes, toured the "Witch Museum" which gives a visual presentation of the tragic witch trials of 1692, and then visited the very interesting "Peabody Museum" dealing with the maritime history of the area. (We could have spent the whole day there.). We also did a fast visual bus tour of the beautiful Marblehead area.
Ken Rauschke ("Ski") AD-3 aircrewman on the Captain George's crew (53-54) dropped by the "Ready Room" on his way home from the VPB-26 reunion and brought greetings from several of our compatriots who attended that affair which focuses on the PBM era of WW II.
As always the climax was our Saturday evening banquet at the hotel where several shared stories and memories from the past. I should have taken notes but this would run on forever. We did sing "Happy Birthday" to Estelle who will be 80 in November. We are already looking forward to our reunion in 2001, which will be hosted by Ted & Dolores Bochniarz some-where in the Chicago area. Hope to see you there.
REUNION: "...25th Annual VP-VPB-26 Annual Reunion New London CT Sept 25-29, 2000. Contact..Joe Zannelli CHR 860-443-3091 or e-mail Charles Meadors firstname.lastname@example.org Dick Brodeur (newsltr editor) (newsltr editor), 52 Community Drive, Penacook NH 03303-1640..." Contributed by Charles Meadors email@example.com [22MAR2000]
REUNION: "...Anyone who served with VP-26 during our WestPac deployment (1967 to 1968) intrested in Renunion, please contact Donald Stottlemyer Gezer65@aol.com..." [E-Mail Updated 19APR2000 | 07JAN2000]
REUNIONs: "...SUMMARY REPORT OF VP-26 REUNION HELD NOVEMBER 11-14, 1999..." Contributed by Anderson M Rearick firstname.lastname@example.org [27NOV99]
51 officers and wives (circa 1953-56) reported for duty in the "Ready Room" at the Holiday Inn, University Mall at Pensacola, Florida, for 3 days of fellowship and remembering and telling tales of days gone by. (Those stories get better every year.) Russ and Bunny Vollmer continued the tradition as the coordinators by doing an outstanding job of scheduling activities, providing transportation and essential provisions, and looking out for everyone. Estelle George (self appointed "Mother Superior") assisted by Alice Imholte, made sure everyone behaved themselves. (a lot easier job than it used to be.) She also gave small flashlights and personalized calendars (for the year 2000) to all those in attendance.
Your reporter brought a carousel of over 100 slides from the 1953-54 period which many enjoyed looking at while trying to figure out who these people were. Some (like Russ Vollmer) didn't even recognize themselves. Places covered were Brunswick, The Azores, Iceland, Paris, NAS Port Lyautey, French Morocco, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Gibraltar, and Crew 10's Mediterranean Familiarization Flight with Gerry Corrigan as PPC.
After the Thursday evening "warm-up" we took a bus to "Mainside" on Friday to see the air show featuring the Blue Angels. We enjoyed the vintage planes and the extreme aerobatics performed by "crazy" stunt pilots. It was a long but interesting afternoon as everyone rigged various creative (some very strange) methods of providing protection from the sun. It was also an emotional time as the Blue Angels performed many of their maneuvers with an empty slot due to the recent tragic death of two of their pilots during a training flight.
Saturday it was back to "Mainside" again as we spent the day touring the Naval Air Museum. Skipper P. J. George's picture and a summary of his Naval career could be brought up on a computer display. Found Ed Beeby's and Gerry Corrigan's names among those who started their pilot careers as enlisted men. Bill Mill climbed into an SNJ mock up but didn't get very far because no one could remember how to activate the hydraulic system to get the wheels up. Russ Vollmer gave us a personal tour of the Restoration Area where he spends many hours restoring old aircraft. There were two IMAX shows and most of those who attended one admitted that they dozed off at least for a few minutes after all that walking and gawking.
Thursday and Friday evenings various groups got together to try out local eating establishments in Pensacola and we all enjoyed a great banquet together on Saturday evening at the Holiday Inn. It was great to have Ted Bennet with us even though he is confined to a wheel chair. The Vollmers provided a Sunday breakfast at their home for those lingering but your reporter was many miles down the road toward Georgia by that time logging some of the over 3600 miles we traveled by car as we visited relatives and friends on our two week trip from Boston -- which by the way happens to be where the next reunion will be held sometime in October, 2000, hosted by Tom and Marjorie Cass, assisted by Ann and Andy Rearick. Tom says it is the other way around.
Dick Coy sent his regrets reporting that he and Jan had been traveling extensively in the Far East and were not aware of the reunion until they returned.
I am sad to report that Lu Aymond, who suffered a stroke the first evening of the reunion, did not survive. Our deepest sympathy and prayers are extended to her husband Walt. [27NOV99]
REUNIONs: "...VP26/VPB26 will be holding a combined 24th Annual Reunion next month from September 27th to October 1st, 1999, at the Holiday Inn Boardwalk Hotel, in Atlantic City, NJ, that is located at Chelsea Avenue and the Boardwalk. Contact the reunion chairman Sherwood Babst at (732)-283-0957 for details on the great package deal that he has put together with Holiday Inn. Reservations should be made no later than August 27,1999. If you wish to contact the Holiday Inn direct, mention the " Salute America Package" for the VPB26 Military Reunion. They can be contacted at (609)-348-2200, or 800-548-3030 A lot of us displaced airdales from the 50's era will be attending, but it is open to all years. Bring your scrap books and your memories, Oh yes the spouse is welcome too..." Contributed by Norman Kratfel email@example.com [10AUG99]
REUNIONs: "...San Francisco 20-24 May 1999 for PB4Y '99. Liberator and Privateer guys/gals, attend your own squadron reunion first. If you can't do that, then make good use of your limited time as many others have from the 50+ PB4Y squadrons and share those PB4Y Experiences with others who "speak" PB4Y. No translation necessary! All family, grandkids (Free & 1/2 price!) and friends are welcome! Please contact Ron Sathre (son of deceased Plane Captain Ray Sathre, VPB-121), Int'l PB4Y Association, 31262 San Andreas Drive, Union City, CA 94587-2856 (510) 487-PB4Y to register today. Visit the website for more information..." Contributed by PB4YGuy@aol.com WebSite: http://www.PB4Y.com [03MAY99]
REUNIONs: "...VP-26/VPB-26 All Years: Sherwood Babst (732)283-0957..." VFW Magazine May 1999 Page 53 WebSite: http://www.vfw.org/ [06MAY99]
REUNION: "...Squadron Reunion of VP-26 will be held 10/22-24/98, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Memphis, TN. Contact coordinator, Bruce Morton, 474 StonewaLL, Memphis, TN 38112, Phone 901-274-5582 for additional information...Anderson M. Rearick, Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org..." [16JUN98]
"...VP-26 has been having Reunions for quite a while...It is basically for the pilots who flew for VP 26 from about 1952-55, but they have mentioned that they would like to hear from others. Last year we met at Sante Fe, NM..." Contributed by Anderson M. Rearick, Jr. email@example.com [17JUN98]
"...SUMMARY REPORT OF VP26 REUNION 10/22-25/98...44 (mostly ex-officers & wives) gathered at the Downtown Marriot in Memphis, Tenn. to renew old aquaintances and make new friends. A detailed roster of those present will be printed up and distributed by our host couple, our own Bruce and Patsy Morton, who did an outstanding job of coordinating, planning the various activities, and lookimng out for everyone's welfare...Quite a few of the pilots from the 1956-57 era were tracked down and invited, and a good number attended on short notice. Dick Coy from the 52-53 era was also located and attended with his wife Jan. Estelle George (skipper's wife) provided all who attended with pocket knife keychains and red baseball hats emblazoned with the words, "VP-26 1998 Reunion, Memphis, TN."...The "Ready Room" as always was the center of activity with coffee and other "stuff" to drink, as we got up to date on current situations, & reviewed scrapbooks about former reunions and looked over some old crew pictures (1955 in Iceland) sent in by Norm Kratfel, who was the semi official squadron photographer at the time. Had a terrible time trying to ident those young whipper snappers in the pictures...We toured Memphis in small buses, stopping to visit the oldest home (1828), visited Beale Street, took a cruise on the Mississippi (2 hours with lunch), rode the antique trolleys around town, rode the tramway to Mud Island which houses the original Memphis Belle (historic B-17), an interesting museum about the river and its development, and a working model of the actual river from the headwaters to the Gulf....We also had a great banquet Saturday evening. The golfers got in a full round (no one was bragging too loud) the antiquers looked at antiques, the shoppers shopped, and of course the "Rock & Rollers" all treked out to Graceland to see the shrine to "The King" (Elvis Presley)...The weather could not have been better and the amenities at the hotel were very nice. We enjoyed working out on tread mills, swimming in the pool and lounging in the jaquzzi (sp?)...No definite time or place for the next gathering were set but it was my understanding that a questionaire would be sent out to all on the mailing list. Brunswick and Pensacola were apparently the front runners for next year...Great seeing you if you were there. Missed you if you weren't!..." Contributed by Andy Rearick (VP-26, '52-'54) firstname.lastname@example.org [28OCT98]
REUNION: "...VP-26 Officers, 1974-1978. Sept 25-27,1998 at the Capt. Daniel Stone Inn, Brunswick, Maine. Grandpa Pettybone will be there! Contact Ken Idol, 26 Parkside Blvd, LaVale, MD 21502,301-729-4709, email@example.com or Danny McClendon, 4224 Remington Park CT.,Flower Mound, Tx 75028, 972-355-2745. Please get us your current address. Formal mailing late spring. See you there!!..." Contributed by Kenneth Idol firstname.lastname@example.org..." [03MAR98]
REUNION: "...The next reunion for VPB-26 and VP-26 will be held at the Comfort Inn in Minneapolis, MN on Sept. 30 through October 3, 1998. Contact: Dick Brodeur 52 Center Street Penacook, NH 03303-1640, (603)753-4237, Fax: (603)796-7071. For information by E-mail, contact Charles Meadors at email@example.com..." [15FEB98]
REUNION: "Robert Emerson (423)247-9582...VFW May 1997"
"VP-26 Summary Page"