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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.

Sunshine state soldiers reunite in Miami Beach
  All veterans of any branch, their families and friends are invited to participate in the fourth annual “Sand in Our Boots” WWII Veterans Reunion and Recognition event slated for December 6-8, 2002 in Miami Beach, Florida. The weekend will commemorate those stationed in Miami Beach from 1942-1945. Two groups spent time in Miami Beach during WWII. Nearly 500,000 troops trained in the Army Air Corps Technical Training Command (AAFTTC ). In addition, troops returning from overseas combat duty were processed through the Army's Redistribution Station on Miami Beach. The 2002 reunion will include activities of interest to anyone interested in WWII or who had parents or grandparents who served during WWII, not just the vets. Contact Dr. Judith Berson-Levinson, Edison Hotel South Beach, 960 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach FL 33139; 305-531-2744; jsberson@aol.com.

Rats of Tobruk reunite
  Surviving "Rats of Tobruk" from Australia and beyond had a last hurrah in Brisbane, Queensland in April. More than 300 attended, including partners and a few one-time enemies. They honored the memory of those who fought in the epic North African struggle sixty years ago.
   The 1941 Siege of Tobruk entered the annals of military history as the first time during WWII that Allied troops setback Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Axis forces. When they dug in, German radio propagandist Lord Haw Haw (William Joyce) mocked their resistance, calling them rats in holes. The term stuck.
   After a civic reception at Brisbane City Hall, attendees visited the Wall of Remembrance at Mt. Coot-tha and Enoggera Army Barracks near Brisbane. They also enjoyed a Brisbane River boat trip, a reunion dinner at the Carlton Crest Hotel, a parade through the city to the war memorial, an F1-11 fly-over and a memorial service.
America’s bravest reunite
  Some of our bravest war heroes reunited to share their part in history. The Northern Kentucky CVB hosted the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association (PHSA) reunion. PHSA members were on active duty on Oahu or within a three-mile limit of the island between 7:55 AM and 10:00 AM, December 7, 1941.
   Eleven men who survived the attack founded the group and had the first reunion on December 7, 1958. Along with meetings and memorial services, the group travels to schools to present their experience to children and stress the importance of keeping the US strong, so nothing like this occurs again. The group’s motto is "Remember Pearl Harbor – Keep America Alert."
   The group is down to 9,000 members, most in their eighties. When there are no survivors remaining, the group’s assets will be turned over to the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors, comprised of children of veterans stationed at Pearl Harbor.

Stalag XVII-B
remembered by TSgt Rick Parker
  About 400 survivors of the Stalag XVII-B Prisoner of War (POW) camp in Krems, Austria, met in Biloxi, Mississippi, for their 55th annual reunion. These veterans not only served our country and helped preserve freedoms we all share but experienced the harshest enemy treatment and endured reprehensible conditions. The ex-POWs reminisced about times long past when they were young men – teenagers at the beginning of World War II. They exchanged stories about how and where they were shot down and of treatment and conditions they experienced while POWs.
   They cruised on the Natchez riverboat in New Orleans, spent a day playing golf at Keesler AFB while the ladies had lunch at the Keesler Club and briefly toured the Heritage Museum on Keesler AFB. The reunion concluded with a banquet recognizing Stalag XVII-B group commander, Gary Stein.

Reminiscences at the reunion from Ex-POWs:
William Caruso "We were unfit to live with human beings after being in POW camps, we were half animal. A Gestapo guy was angry because he believed Italy and Germany were allies. He says 'you're an Italian,' I said, 'I'm an American,' he put a gun to my head, I didn't say anything."

Frank Bartlett "I got shot down on my 26th mission and we were only supposed to fly 25. I had flown over St Naziar, France, seven times, but I was shot down."

Allen Magee is listed in "Ripley's Believe It or Not" for having fallen the greatest distance and surviving. Sergeant Magee was flying over St. Naziar, France, when the plane was hit by enemy fire and rolled over. The corridors in the B-17 weren't big enough to fit parachutes through. He bailed without wearing a chute and landed on the glass domes of a railroad station. He suffered 27 fractures on his left arm alone, was wearing only one boot and his other clothing had been torn off. "When I went through the roof, all the struts holding the glass in place ripped off, and that's the way the Germans found me. I don't know what happened. I was unconscious."

Jack E. Jones and Ray Ellias were young NCO's who survived on "food" most people wouldn't touch. The bread was about 75 percent sawdust and the remainder potatoes. "We survived mainly by eating worms. The Germans occasionally gave us blood sausage, mostly pig teeth and hair. Most guys wouldn't eat it, but when the lights went out at night I did," Jones said. "They marched us some 290 miles east so they could be liberated by Americans because the Russians didn't take prisoners. We marched 19 or 20 days and were liberated in the town of Braunau, Austria, on the River Lech (Hitler's birthplace)."

Special events mark reunion
The Imperial Palace in Biloxi, Mississippi, hosted an eventful Stalag XVII-B Prisoner of War Camp reunion.

Donald Jensen waited more than 50 years and the Ex-POW now proudly wears his Purple Heart. Jensen, shot down, captured and held prisoner, had not received the medal for his service. After years of his family fighting for recognition, he was presented with the medal at the reunion.

Wedding bells also rang. With broad smiles, Roy Livingstone and Dorris Holliday exchanged vows. But this was not your normal wedding. Livingstone was held in the Stalag XVII-B Prisoner of War camp; Holliday's late husband was a prisoner in the same camp. A widower, Livingstone met Holliday, at a national Ex-POW Reunion. A case of love at first sight, they knew the perfect place to marry was at the Stalag XVII-B Reunion on May 4th, the day after the anniversary of the prisoners of war release in 1945.

Bloody battle
In many WWII histories, the fight for Palau – among the bloodiest campaigns on the Pacific front – is overlooked. But thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Japanese died in fierce combat on land and over water in three major military operations in 1944 and 1945. About 100 US planes and one minesweeper were lost. Many US aircraft were never found; their crews designated "Killed in Action."

Over the last seven years, Dr. Patrick Scannon has become the Indiana Jones of military archaeology, searching for missing WWII planes and crews in the South Pacific. "I'm filling in a page of history," says Scannon, "not just for the sake of what happened on some little coral islands 50-odd years ago but to make sure we don't forget any of the people who sacrificed their blood and sometimes their lives."

Among his most dramatic finds was a Corsair that crashed into an almost vertical cliff. Some reports said the pilot escaped but was mowed down by enemy fire. Scannon determined that no one could have survived the crash.

Scannon is interested in hearing from anyone with information about the air war in Palau. Write him at PO Box 170208, San Francisco CA 94117.

Women honored at last
Wearing medals and uniforms from the various armed services, they exchanged stories about World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm. Some talked about their college days in various service academies. Ex-test pilots talked about early flights. Gunner's mates swapped stories about harrowing moments. One of the individuals remembered the terrible days during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. All of the veterans gathered this day were women.

They were there to dedicate the Women in Military Service for American Memorial. Incorporating a part of the cemetery's stone wall, the memorial features rectangular glass panels upon which are etched quotations about military experiences. One of the quotations, from World War II Coast Guard Captain and first director of the women's unit, Dorothy Stratton, says simply, "We wanted to serve our country in its time of need. The Coast Guard gave us this opportunity and we did our job well."

from The Record, November 1997

Honoring Korean veterans
To observe the 50th anniversary of the Korean Conflict, the US Navy Memorial in Washington is encouraging Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Merchant Marine personnel, active service or veterans to enroll in the Navy Log.

The Log has collected names and service information of 245,000 present and former naval personnel. Enrollments form a part of America's enduring naval heritage, a permanent and publicly accessible video register. It is available for viewing at the Naval Heritage Center next to the Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue, midway between the White House and the Capitol or on the Memorial's web site, www.lonesailor.org.

Each Log entry contains entrant's name, date and place of birth, dates and branch of naval service, highest rate or rank attained, up to five top medals and awards and five duty stations. Log enrollments help support the Memorial's educational programs, which honor, preserve and celebrate America's naval heritage.

The Navy Memorial Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that receives no government support for building and operating the Navy Memorial and adjoining Naval Heritage Center.

For information, contact Jann Hoag, Navy Log Dept Y2000, PO Box 96570, Washington DC 20077-7685; 202-737-2300, ext. 714; Navylog@lonesailor.org.

Dear Abby
Ralph George, Fountain Hills, Arizona, wrote to Dear Abby about Veterans in the Classroom which started after a history teacher called for help teaching her students what war was really like. She wanted stories that cannot be found in history books. Now Veterans in the Classroom provides history storytelling.

A program panel includes one veteran from each branch of service and both European and Pacific theaters. Before the presentation, students submit five questions that interest them most. Each veteran covers the following topics:

  • A brief personal history from enlistment to overseas departure
  • Arrival overseas – where, when, major battles, etc.
  • A close-call story
  • A funny-experience story

There is always time for questions and answers. There is also a display of memorabilia students can view and discuss with vets, one-on-one. Programs are videotaped, so true stories, told firsthand by vets who experienced them, can be shown to future generations of students. Local press and TV are invited.

Dear Abby said, "by sharing stories, you walk into the classroom as strangers and walk out as heroes."

Contact Ralph George, Veterans in the Classroom, 14425 San Carlos Dr, Fountain Hills AZ 85268.

Pinetree Reunion 2000
The Pinetree Line, forty-four radar sites that stretched across Canada from sea to sea from the early 1950s to the late 1980s was once occupied by the Armed Forces of Canada and the US.

Many of these sites, now gone, are located in isolated areas. For thousands of service people and civilians from both sides of the border, these sites were home for more than thirty years. To celebrate the new millennium, American and Canadian servicemen and women once stationed at these secret installations will gather July 3-5, 2000 in Gimli, Manitoba. Contact Pierre Parent, 11 Eider Bay, Thompson, Manitoba, Canada, R8N OZ8; 204-677-2153; www.magma.ca/~lwilson/reunion.

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