Winter greetings to everyone! I’m pleased to inform all of you that the Bomb Group Association has been functioning well due
to the committed board members who are working diligently on your behalf. Our ongoing outreach efforts combined with our Treasurer’s outstanding organizational skills will ultimately result
in a comprehensively updated membership roster. The updated roster will be a valuable tool to better manage, and plan for, our financial resources and enable the Association’s fiscal solvency,
as well as to keep track of everyone, and maybe even to entice a few second or third generation memberships!
Once again, please mark your calendars for the second joint reunion to be held September 14 – 17, 2017 in New Orleans, LA. Thanks to our fellow bomb group reunion committee members from all of the represented bomb groups (451, 455,
461, 465, 484, 485, and 376), the planning effort is moving along nicely. The selected hotel for the reunion, which is only a few miles from New Orleans proper, is the Hilton DoubleTree New Orleans Airport, 2150 Veterans Blvd., Kenner, LA 70062, Front Desk: (504) 467-3111. Reservations for the reunion can be made NOW. The group rate is $99.00 plus taxes, including breakfast for two people per room between September 11 and 20, 2017. This expanded time period will allow reunion attendees to stay longer in the New Orleans region and explore other attractions which cannot be included in the reunion schedule due to time constraints.
To reserve a room, it is recommended that you call 1(800) 222-8733 and mention the Booking Code “BGR”. This is the fastest and easiest way to reserve a room (I know, because I just did it!) IF YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL REQUESTS (SUCH AS A ROOM CLOSE TO THE ELEVATOR, AN IN-ROOM REFRIGERATOR, HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE ROOM, OR ANY OTHER SPECIAL REQUEST, PLEASE CALL JONATHON HURST AT 1 (504) 303-3010 BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 8:00AM-5:00PM CST, Monday through Friday. To ensure that you get the room you want at the group rate, make your reservation before 3:00pm CST on August 25, 2017. If a reservation is being made after that date, call Jonathan Hurst. Any reservation can be cancelled WITHOUT PENALTY if cancellation is made 72 hours or more from the check-in date. If a reservation is cancelled less than 72 hours, one night’s room rent will be charged.
There is a free airport shuttle that runs to and from the nearby Louis Armstrong International Airport on a 24-hour basis. On-site parking is complimentary for our group. About 80% of the rooms have refrigerators, but if you need one, be sure to let them know when you make your reservation.
The event schedule is under preparation and it looks like it will be an interesting and fun-filled experience for all. Again this year, there will be various presentations given by guest speakers and veterans alike, a city orientation tour, shuttle buses to and from the WWII Museum and the French Quarter over two consecutive days, and a fabulous hospitality room in which to renew friendships. It’s not too late to let me know of any improvements or enhancements you can suggest for the next reunion based on your experiences from last year’s reunion.
The reunion registration form and program details will be included in the next Intelligencer, and will be posted on our website (www.armyaircorps-376bg.com) as they become available. Please show that you value the heritage and sacrifices of our veterans by not only attending the reunion, but by bringing along any friends and family, especially second and/or third generation relatives! I assure you their lives will be forever changed, as mine and my family’s have been. Remember, they don’t teach this kind of “up close and personal” history in school! Your participation is essential for the success of the event and the perpetuation of our organization’s mission.
I look forward to seeing each and every one of you at the next reunion, and welcome your communications for any reason.
Warmest Regards! Deborah (Heist) Sharpe
President, 376th BGA
Well they say time flies and they aren’t kidding. Started writing Christmas cards to say hello and stay in touch. Next thing I was on New Year’s resolutions; wrote to see if I was still anyone's valentine; now it's time to start thinking about the reunion. For those who haven't heard, the 2016 joint reunion, with five other bomb groups and the 461st doing most of the leg work, was a success. We have decided to hitch our wagon to that horse and try it again in 2017 at New Orleans – September 14-17. You can go on line to the 376th Veterans Association website or the 461st Bombardment Group website to get up-to-date information. Be sure to make your reservations no later than August 25, 2017.
No guarantees on rooms after this date.
Now, what are we gonna see and do? Well last year we had two days and more than a dozen speakers from all the bomb groups who told their stories and had you sitting up in your seat. Second time I've heard from a Tuskeegee airman. He said he knew our speaker at the Cincinnati reunion (Charles McGee) and would pass along our best wishes from the group. The 451st is in charge of lining up the speakers again and if Jonathon Tudor does even half as good as he did last year, no one will be disappointed. As for as the tours, we have a bus tour of the city planned and two afternoons set aside to see the National WWII museum. Instead of making you run from one end to the other to try and see everything and wind up sitting on a bench catching your breath, they decided to do it over two days and have time to see and enjoy. There may be some overlap with speakers at the hotel while we are at the museum. They are working on getting shuttle buses lined up so if you have seen enough museum and wish to go back to the hotel to rest or catch one of the speakers you will have that choice. They’re working on how many buses and what the cost will be, but your convenience and enjoyment are the main focus and priority.
I appreciate hearing from you and appreciate your generosity. Doris McDonald sent me a package of pictures of her husband (Bill) and an 8x10 black and white army info pictures. Pictures of soldiers in mechanic training, working on aircraft engines and machine guns. I look forward to bringing them to the hospitality room to share with everyone. Annemarie Kuehn sent me a letter saying she has a box of papers from her husband Frank. She wants the group to have them so I will be planning a trip to Indianapolis to see Annemarie, Ray Pankratz, and Eunice Leadingham. In the meantime, I went to Albuquerque to say thank you to the airmen of the 512th squadron that were our color guard and to tell their Commander what a great job they did. Hoping to spread some bread on the water and see if they can come back to New Orleans with us this year. We had some metal art at the reunion - a B-24 flying over clouds. They liked it so I had another one made. I also had the new 512th emblem cut out of steel. It’s similar to the original but with 512th at the top of the circle and flying skulls at the bottom. I think they will like it. They have a party the first Friday of the month so I plan to attend and give the group the metal art for their clubhouse wall and letters of thank you to the airmen who came to the reunion. I don’t have a smart phone or know that much about Facebook but if someone at the party does, you may see my picture with the 512th soon.
I’m trying to stay busy and not catch the flu. Hope you all are doing the same. Thinking about seeing you at the reunion already. Will be in John Ramey and Kenney and Cindy Hebert's stomping ground so maybe they can show us some special spots that aren’t on the tour bus route. You don’t want to miss it. Make your hotel reservations now and the registration packet for the rest will be in the next newsletter. Until then, take care and
Happy New Year.
Kim and Cass
At the 2016 joint reunion, there were several presentations. They were recorded and posted on YouTube. We have links to those videos on our website. Go to http://www.armyaircorps-376bg.com/reuions.html to see the list. All of the presentations have more than one part to them.
Our website continues to generate new contacts and new information sources. The following list is a list of them since the 2016 reunion:
Tom Badger’s diary
Kenneth Fouts photo album
Reinhard Harm’s son
Robert Lutzke diary
Meech Tahsequah’s daughter and grandson and Comanche council
William Wakefields photo album
Final fly-by – On a sadder note, we also receive notices of our veterans’ passing: Alexander F. Scheller – February 9, 2017
What it takes to be a leader…
“Every person makes mistakes, so it should come as no surprise that every nation of the world has made mistakes as well. Talk with a German national about the hope their country placed in Hitler’s rise to power on the heels of the Great Depression. Or consider our own nation’s internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and you’ll agree that the question is not whether a nation makes mistakes; the question is whether a nation learns from its mistakes.”1
Nations are made up of people and those who have the most influence in nations are their leaders. On a B-24 there is a chain of command. That chain of command starts with the pilot, moves to the co-pilot, other officers, then through the personnel who have trained for the various positions of responsibility. Everyone knows their leader. Every leader knows their responsibility. They may have had personal matters of concern, but when the crew gathered for a mission, they were individually responsible for having their stuff together for the sake of the team and the mission, no excuses; everyone’s life depended on each member of the team being fully prepared.
To “respond” is to “answer.” Correspondingly, to be “responsible” is to be “answerable,” to be accountable. Irresponsible behavior is immature behavior. The rigorous training a B-24 crew endured was intended to weed out the irresponsible and bring out the leaders who understood what it meant to be responsible. The members of the B-24 crews will themselves testify to the unswerving, demanding, and uncompromising thoroughness of their instructors. Those who didn’t wash out were teachable, that is, they accepted correction with humility for the sake of the team. It wasn’t about them, it was about the greater good. Their training was intended to drum out the innate selfishness of the human will and hammer it into a form unfamiliar to it, a form that was for something greater than themselves. Nearly everyone has an excuse when things go wrong. That does not cut it on a B-24 crew. There are no excuses, only taking responsibility and being answerable for that for which you were trained. Life or death was in the balance. Accomplishing the mission or failure was in the balance. The winning of a war and returning home with velour was in the balance.
We live in a time when leadership has become less and less responsible, that is, they will not take responsibility for their mistakes and have little capacity to learn from them. This is tragic. It must change. It is destructive to us all. It was an irresponsible Adam in the Garden of Eden who, when discovered to have
eaten of the forbidden fruit, laid the responsibility on Eve. And it was the irresponsible Eve who in turn laid it on the beguiling serpent. “She made me do it”/ “He make me do it” is an archetypal drama reenacted in every generation where siblings and playmates are called upon to answer for their misdoings.2
There is an adage that change starts at the top. That is true, but it may also be true that chance can start at the bottom and move up. Brandon Webb wrote the autobiographical book, The Red Circle.3 Brandon, an arrogant, narcissistic, young man joins the Navy with every intention of becoming a SEAL. After four years in the Navy his repeated requests are finally met with an affirmative. Off to BUD’S training on Coronado Island at the SEALS training center. The notorious physical training SEALS endure is set at an average person’s ability. It’s the mental and character aspects of the training that are exceptional. The Navy learned long ago that it’s what’s between the ears and in the heart that makes a leader. One after another the remarkably physically fit candidates rung the bell and quit. Those who died to themselves, their ambition and ego lived to make it one more day. When the day came to pin on their SEAL trident, their training created in them a heart and mind that was for the greater good.
Michael J. Cambon trained in 1942 to be a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He quickly learned how tenuous was victory and how momentary life could be in every hour of a combat mission. 4 After arduous training in subjects such as trigonometry and plane geometry and spherical trigonometry for celestial navigation, use of circular calculators to convert air speed, compass heading and wind drift into direction and speed on the ground; plotting instruments; and the sextant for celestial navigation along with learning Morse Code in case the radio operator was knocked out of action, his crew was sent to England with the 466th Bomb Group. Reading about his training helped me to appreciate my father, Col. John “Jack” Oliver’s training as a navigator. He never went into much detail about his preparation before joining a B-24 crew. After reading of Lt. Cambon’s experience I gained a great appreciation for his role on the crew.
This was one crew member, the navigator. Hours and hours of study, training, practice and practice again. Lives depended on his getting it right. Each man took his place of responsibility for the sake of the others on those remarkable B-24 crews, and many others beyond them in the formation, in the mission, in the 15th Air Force, in the Army Air Corps, in the United States Armed Forces worldwide, in the American effort to win the war that included every American citizen. It was a time when it seems the entire nation understood responsibility and each one took that place of accountability that was their own.
In 1917 William Tyler Page of Maryland won a nation-wide contest for the best summary of “American political faith.” The U.S. House of Representatives accepted it as the American’s Creed on April 3, 1918. The last paragraph is as follows: “I believe it is my duty to my country to love it; to support its Constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.”
Duty is basically responsibility and being responsible is to be answerable.
May our nation rise again to answer the call of God to live and die for something far and away beyond ourselves and our personal comfort. What made America great was not a slogan but a devotion to responsibility by men and women who laid their lives on the line for the greater good of what this democracy stands for. One nation under God, indivisible… committed to justice and liberty for all.
Robert B. Oliver
There are a few 50th Anniversary 376th Medallions left. If any of our
WWII vets (wives, children, etc. incl.) did not get a medallion, you may order one for $10 (incl. postage). Combat veterans from other WWII B-24 groups from Italy (and families) may also order the Medallions, as stated above, for as long as they last. Orders and payment can be sent to John (Jack) Oliver at 5890 West FM 436, Belton, TX 76513. A personal check will be accepted.
Name Squadron Date
Alexander F. Scheller Unk February 9, 2017
William S. Wildman 512th November 17, 2016
Paul F. Ross 512th November 22, 2016
Wallace J. Wagner 515th December 3, 2016
Kenneth Eaves 512th May 19, 2015
Harry W. Ebert 515th August 17, 2014
Emmett G. Mackenzie 514th February 25, 2012
William W. Roberts 513th August 1, 2010
Raymond G. Smalley 512th November 8, 2013
William F. Jones 512th May 30, 2009
E. P. Lethcoe 512th May 25, 2009
Jack McMichael 513th March 27, 2001
Harry D. Yoder 47th May 8, 2011
Paul L. Cox 514th September 17, 2012
Kermit Pete Hansen 515th October 4, 2009
Fred E. Ehmann 512th August 1, 2013
The organization’s account balance as of January 31, 2017 is $10,637.61.
Travis Maness, Treasurer
Membership dues are $40.00 payable on a bi-annual basis. Your dues help to defray the expenses of the Intelligencer and operational costs to administer the Association’s business and to support the legacy of the 376th Heavy Bombardment Group. Check the Identification Code next to your name on the mailing label affixed to the envelope for this issue of the Intelligencer. If the number is 2016 or greater, then your membership dues should be paid by January 1st of your renewal year. (For example: R2016 indicates that your dues are delinquent and should have been paid in January 2016; R2017 indicates that your dues are paid through 2017 and your renewal is due
January 2018.) Please send your dues payment, payable to 376th BGA, to Travis Maness, Treasurer.
If your dues are not current and you wish to continue receiving
the Intelligencer, please send your check to Travis, along with the Membership/ Donation Form on the back cover of this issue, as soon as possible.