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These are items of interest to military reunions including reunions that have already happened so others can find their own reunion groups. If you have military reunion news, e-mail us. If you are listing your reunion, send the reunion name, date and place and the name, address, phone and contact person's e-mail address.

Australians commemorate an American tragedy
On 4 June, 2000 in the seaside city of Mackay, Queensland, Australia, the Australian Returned and Service League(similar to the American Legion) held its annual B-17C 40-2072 Memorial service near the aircraft's fatal resting ground. Only the Australians have remembered this US Army Air Force (USAAF) aircraft all these years whereas it has been forgotten in the US until now.

The service was attended by American representatives from the 5th Air Force, the USAF Air Attache to Australia, USN and USMC whose ships are in dock marched in the ceremony, US military retirees and one of the survivors of this aircraft.

This memorial is dedicated to the B-17C that crashed at Bakers Creek, outside of Mackay, on June 14, 1943 killing 40 of the 41 passengers and crews. It remains the worst Australian air disaster; it was the worst US military air disaster at that time and the worst single disaster of any of the 12,731 B-17s built. Sgt Robert Foye was the only survivor and his recollection of the crash had been limited due to injuries received; he now lives in Wichita Falls, Texas.
reported by Eugene D. Rossel

Lifesavers
The 1st Emergency Rescue Squadron (ERS) was formed in the summer of 1943, after intensive water rescue training and transferred to the Mediterranean to coordinate with Air Force bomber and fighter sorties. The following year they rescued 350-400 survivors from the USAF, RAF, allies and even German crews, often under extreme weather conditions, frequent fighter enemy action and shore battery shellings.

In late 1944 bomber bases moved north and there were fewer overwater flights. The 1st ERS was split, the 1st remained in Europe while the newly designated 7th ERS transferred to India, then Okinawa until war's end. Back in the US, the squadrons were deactivated.

Three years ago, the 1st and 7th met in Peoria, Illinois, for their first reunion in over 50 years. The event continues annually. Rescue dinghies made way for steamboat cruises, golf, antiquing and most especially three days of bull sessions – savoring enduring friendships.
reported by Chuck Dill, Peoria, Illinois

A wife views World War II reunions
by Charlotte Krepismann
I remember my shock when my husband said, "Those were the most important years of my life." referring to time spent as a navigator in the 100th Bomb Group in England during World War II. How could they be more important than the 38-plus years of marriage and our three sons?

Those words really hurt. I'd say, "You were an inexperienced kid caught up in all the hoopla about the war. How can you compare that to everything we've meant to each other and all we've built over the years?"

I began to understand my husband's feelings at the three Air Force reunions I attended with him. At the first reunion, I felt very much the outsider. I was confused by names: What was a group? A Squadron? A tour of duty? I enjoyed the spoofing, the camaraderie and special events, but was it so different from a convention of middle-aged businessmen? The answer came when I overheard an airman from another group say, "Yeah, that's the Bloody 100 - they had a lot of casualties."

I had nothing to say. I spent the war only slightly inconvenienced by rationing and brownouts. No one I knew well was killed. How could I relate to stories my husband told about waving to a friend in a nearby place during a raid as they watched a plane spiral to the ground engulfed in flames?

After the first reunion, we learned that one of the most popular fliers had died of a heart attack. My husband, who hadn't known him well, was nevertheless inconsolable. One of the "boys" was gone. I, too, was touched because I had a clear picture of him regaling us with wild stories of flying a B-17 over the rooftops of a Scottish town, waggling the wings in farewell to the shocked townspeople below. What crazy kids, I thought. It's amazing we won the war.

At my second reunion, I was more comfortable and even managed to remember a few we had met before. We had a good time because we became part of a group within a larger group. The old stories were pulled out again and I started to really listen. Could these aging warriors remember the exploits and bombing raids of World War II? Indeed they did in full technicolor: flak mushrooming all around them, fighter pilots desperately trying to keep the enemy planes away from the vulnerable big bombers and the sad tales of the men who were shot down or parachuted into enemy territory only to be pitchforked to death by farmers.

I listened enthralled to the oft-told story of how "Rosie," the amazing group hero and former command pilot, had duped the German Air Force into believing he was surrendering and then caught them by surprise by evading his escort and flying to safety. To me, this was better than war movies I'd seen. Looking through my husband's eyes, I no longer saw a middle-aged man with wavy gray hair who stood up to wild applause when they called his name. For a while, I was part of the loving circle and "Rosie" was my leader too.

But I still bristled when my husband continued his talk of those "happiest years" of his life. I granted him the deep love he felt for the men who 45 years before depended on him to get them to the target and safely home. I could even dimly realize that though these 19- and 20-year olds faced death every time they flew a mission, they didn't reject the war as obscene or crazy. They were held together by an almost mystical bond. They had seen awful destruction, played their parts and survived to meet again at these raucous four-day celebrations of victory over the enemy.

The third reunion for me was held only two years later. Only two years between reunions was tacit recognition that the years were going far too quickly now. There were again the hugs and backslappings, meetings and picture-taking and banquets celebrating old friends and admirers from overseas who knew these men as boys or Yanks. Finally I felt part of their history, though again my husband deferred to his buddies when I would have been happy to dance to the band playing the songs of the forties.

I sat with other wives as five navigators spun their tales of hair-raising adventures that to them had happened only yesterday. Years dropped away along with thinning or gray hair and stockier builds. Their voices rose; one pounded the table; another drew pictures to illustrate a point; and they all brought back the happiest days of their lives.

I'm glad I went. I'm glad I feel part of the group now. After all, those were my years too, dancing to Glen Miller and Benny Goodman bands, singing at the war-bond rallies and listening with nervous tension to all the news from the war front. Now I feel I can travel into the past at the next reunion with more knowledge and a sense of relief. After all, we won the war and I was married to a hero.

About the 100th Bomb Group
After training the 100th Bomb Group joined the 8th Air Force in England in May 1943. The unit soon became notorious as the hard-luck bomber outfit of World War II.

It lost it's first crew to enemy aircraft on a practice mission before it went on operations. In Germany, it lost six crews over Bremen, a whole squadron over Frankfurt. Only three planes arrived at their destination in Africa after the shuttle mission to Regensburg and only one plane came home from Muenster. In March 1944, 15 of its 35 bombers did not return from the bombing of Berlin.

Because of its unusually heavy losses in Europe, the group became known at the Bloody 100th. The group established one of the finest records for aerial bombardment during World War II and its crew are some of the most frequently decorated.

The group's notoriety and good records are celebrated in such books as Twelve O'Clock High and Flying Fortresses.
Excerpted from a text about the 100th Bomb Group by Harry Crosby.

About the author
Charlotte Krepismann taught high school English and retired early to pursue a writing career. Her stories and articles have been published in 40 magazines and newspapers. For the past four years, she has been Supervisor of Student-Teachers at Stanford University.

Epilogue
The author's husband, Lt. Col. Julius Krepismann died shortly after she wrote this article, as have several of his buddies. She suggests that "perhaps there really is a place where old fliers meet when they have flown their last flight."
Originally appeared in The Retired Officer.

Comment on an earlier article
Lee Bergfeld, Steeleville, Illinois, editor of the Corcaroli Courier, asked to reprint an article ("A wife's view of World War II reunions," spring 1998, V8N3) as a tribute to their "wives ... for their patient understanding of our emotions ..." He said the article author, Charlotte Krepismann, "compassionately describes feelings of wives accompanying ex-military husbands to reunions with mates during those most important years of their lives."

When enemies are friends
More than 56 years ago Lou Lovesky was on a bomb run over Berlin when his B-24, "Terry and the Pirates," was fatally damaged by flak. Then he collided with another B-24 and both aircraft crashed over Berlin with 13 crew members KIA. Seven were taken prisoner and liberated by General Patton on April 2, 1945, over a year later.

Harry Schuster who was a 16 year-old in a Berlin Anti-Aircraft battery on March 22, 1944 allegedly shot down Lovesky's B-24. Schuster said the "Terry" came down so close to the Flak Battery, they all had to duck. He then left his post to take pictures of the nearby wreckage.

On a vacation in Florida, Schuster made inquiries about survivors of the "Terry." A friend of a friend contacted "Barky" Hovespian, former President of the 466th Bomb Group Association, of which Lovesky was a member. The two "enemies" met in June, 2000.
from the Ex-POW Bulletin

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