1 August 2009
MEMO TO: MY FELLOW DEVIL DOGS AND VMB-613 FRIENDS
On August 15 we celebrate the 64th anniversary of VJ-Day. I’m sure that this was an important and memorable day in everyone’s life despite the fact that shipping lane and security patrols continued until 25 October 1945. As a recollection of that occasion I have attached a copy of the program for the Memorial Service that was conducted at the Richardson Theatre on Kwajalein on 15 August 1945. This program was provided courtesy of Charlie Knapp and can be seen on the last page of this newsletter.
HEALTH REPORT: During July I spoke with Charlie Knapp who is still at a skilled nursing facility in Colorado Springs. Charlie and I spoke for only about 15-minutes but it was very apparent that he was doing much better! Charlie indicated approval at my assistance with the Squadron Newsletter and asked me to pass to all hands that he truly appreciated the cards and well wishes from everyone. I closed with our best wishes for his continued recovery. Anyone who would like to call Charlie or to send him letters or cards may do so using the following address and phone number:
Emeritus at Broadmoor
615 Southpointe Court
Apt 403 - Charles Knapp
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
In early July I also received some bad news regarding Jim “JD” Garls from his niece. Jim apparently fell at his home on 28 June and was unable to call for assistance when his phone cord became disconnected from the jack. The following day his good neighbor noticed the door to his house was ajar and he entered to discover Jim still on the floor some 17-hours after his fall. Jim was then taken to the hospital emergency room suffering from liver and kidney failure, possibly due to a dehydrated state. Jim’s niece recently reported that his condition has stabilized and improved to the point where Jim now remains hospitalized to regain his strength and undergo some therapy. I contacted Jim a few weeks ago and passed to him our wishes for a speedy recovery. Anyone desiring to call Jim or to send him a card may do so using the following address and phone number:
600 South. 13th Street
Room 603 - James D. Garls
Pekin, IL 61554
NOTES FROM MEMBERS AND VMB-613 FRIENDS: I recently received a message from a gentleman by the name of John Black who wrote to say “hello” to all of our members. John grew up in Newport, Arkansas and had always wondered what the air base was like at its peak period of operation. Discovering the photographs of Newport on our website, John was able to learn some things as to the roll the airfield at Newport played during the Second World War. John also expressed his appreciation for preserving our history via our website and added that he would someday like to see a documentary movie made about Marine Bombing Squadron Six-Thirteen.
I had a lengthy conversation with ordnanceman, Robert Shock recently. Robert and his wife Betty are doing well and Betty is just about fully recovered from the broken leg she suffered last January. Robert asked me to pass his regards to everyone especially Herb Schwartz. During the course of our conversation Robert asked if anyone remembered the jukebox in the slop-chute at Boca Chica. He recalled that in addition to playing the music, it had a video screen of some type that displayed images of the artist singing the song that was being played. He remarked at how fascinating it was to him since television in those days did not exist and that he never saw another jukebox like it. Robert also commended the squadron’s cooks for the fine job they did in feeding everyone on Kwajalein. He recalled that they did a good job with what they had to work with and that the Spam prepared with pineapple was particularly good. His least favorite meal was always served on Sunday—chicken—or as he termed it, “seagull.”
After attempting to contact Nick Bozic a number of times over the past few years I was finally able to personally speak with him last month. Although Nick has difficulty walking, his memory remains as sharp as a tack. Having heard from many pilots and other members of Nick’s mechanical expertise with the PBJ, I was thrilled to finally be able to speak with him. Based on our conversation, I’m certain that Nick could maintain a PBJ in top notch flying condition even today—perhaps with a little help in areas where climbing would be involved.
Radio-gunner, Robert “RL” Marx and I also spoke this past month. He remains in good health and sends his best wishes to Jim Garls for a speedy recovery. He fondly remembered Jim for repairing his radio on Kwajalein so that he could listen to WXLG broadcasts. “RL” also clearly recalled hearing a song entitled “Don’t Fence Me In” being played each morning on Kwajalein. As we continued to chat I went to our website, and located that particular song on our on-line jukebox and played it for him. He chuckled as it began to play and said “Well I be darn, that’s it” adding that it always reminded him of the fence that surrounded the officer’s barracks area on Kwajalein.
I also received a message recently from Jed McClain, son of aircraft mechanic, Ralph McClain. Jed reported that his dad, now 86, remains in good health as does his high school sweetheart and wife, Mary Lou. Jed was thrilled to see a photograph of his father on our website and he indicated that since his Dad does not have a computer, he was going to print some photographs and information and take it to him. Jed also asked me to pass his personal thanks to all squadron members for their service to our Country as United States Marines during the Second World War.
Things down in Jupiter, Florida continue to go well for
radio-repairman, John Kennedy. John gave me a call to check on the status of the
VMB-613 ball cap he ordered. John and I chatted for a few minutes, but despite
my best efforts to talk to him about VMB-613 and his experiences, he seemed more
interested in hearing my rather mundane Marine Corps sea-stories.
Ordnanceman, Herb Schwartz and I also spoke during July. He and his wife, Annette, remain in pretty good health and have no complaints. I asked Herb to tell me a few things that he recalled about Boca Chica. He really was not too fond of duty there, and he distinctly remembered having to stand in chow lines at the mess hall behind civilians. He did of course enjoy liberty in Cuba while the squadron was at Boca Chica and he recalled visiting “Sloppy Joes” in downtown Havana. I then asked him if he recalled the video jukebox that Robert Shock mentioned being in the slop-chute. Herb did not recall seeing one, but after a few seconds he recalled that such a jukebox did actually exist during the 1940s! The morning following our conversation I received an e-mail from Herb in which he identified this jukebox as a Panoram. This device played music accompanied by a synched, filmed image and was popular within the United States during the 1940s. It displayed the visual images by playing a closed-loop 16mm film reel, known as a Soundie, which was projected onto a glass screen. Following the War these machines disappeared with the advent of television. Much thanks to Herb for solving this mystery!
Navigator, Bill Barber indicated he is doing well and he passed his regards to one and all! Bill added that although he is doing well he can no longer ride his bicycle like he did a few years ago when, at the age of 75, he rode it across the entire Country. Bill indicated that his daughter and nephew recently visited the VMB-613 website and that everyone enjoyed seeing all the photographs. He also told me that he was called back to active duty for Korea in 1950 and went overseas as a ground officer. In Korea he met and ate chow with baseball legend and Marine pilot, Captain Ted Williams. He clearly recalled how Ted tried to convince him to accompany his Marines on an evening foot-patrol but Bill would not permit it. Bill’s rationale was that he did not want be known as the man who got Ted Williams killed.
During July I received Mary Jane Lewis’ newsletter that she
publishes for the wives of squadron members. In her newsletter, Mary Jane
reported she is having a busy summer and that she enjoyed seeing her children,
grandchildren, and great-grandchildren on Independence Day. She also heard from
Buzz Packard who informed her that she and Jim are enjoying their weekly
concerts-in-the-park in Coronado this summer. Mary Jane does a great job on her
newsletter and I appreciate receiving it. Should any of the ladies like to
receive it, please feel free to drop her note at the following address to
inquire about the amount of annual dues and to request to be added to her
HC1 Box 996
Longville, MN 56655
During the past month I also heard from radio-gunners Tracie
Bell, John “Chico” Duarte, and Foster “Hoss” Cummings. Each of them is doing
well and were glad to hear that Charlie Knapp’s condition had improved. I asked
each about the photograph I published of the airstrip in the July newsletter but
did not receive a consensus as to it location. The one thing that all three
agreed on was that they were pretty certain it was not Kwajalein. Cliff Willis,
who I also spoke with, did not agree with the radio-gunners, feeling that it was
on Kwajalein near the site where the Fourth Marine Corps Air Wing headquarters
was located. Cliff’s opinion was based on the aircraft hangar in the photograph
and his beleif that the only airstrip in the area that could accomodate B-29s
was Kwajalein. Personally, I agree with him on his latter point although it does
not look like the end of the runway on Kwajalein. The mystery continues...
VMB-613 FLASHBACK: I wanted to share the following two photographs with those who do not have Internet access to our website. Both photographs were provided by Diane Hindy, daughter of our adjutant, Art Navarre. The first shows VMB-613’s PBJs aboard the USS Tulagi en-route to Pearl Harbor in November of 1944. The second shows the recreation area in the squadron compound. Visible are the Senior NCO Club, the squadron theater, the slop-chute, and the recreation hall.
QUESTION OF THE MONTH: What did you do during your off-duty time sitting in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean on Kwajalein? I know that swimming, basketball, baseball and listening to the radio were all popular activities, as was consuming the daily ration of beer. If anyone would like to share some of their recreational activities, we’d be glad to hear about them. To get this started, I’ll share an activity that my father told me about many years ago. He collected seashells and using wire and cotton, he fashioned them into jewelry to send home. I recall as a young boy seeing a box he brought home containing gold-ring cowrie shells. Now, tell us about your recreational activities, your favorite brand of beer (Schlitz, Lucky Lager, etc.), or perhaps something you constructed from items salvaged from the dump on Kwajalein.
OLD ASSOCIATION BUSINESS: Based on the orders for hats I received from members and VMB-613 friends, I have placed an order for twenty-four hats through Nathan LaRicca, grandson of squadron member Dale Faith. I expect to receive these hats from Nathan sometime this month and will be contacting those who ordered them once I receive them. Should anyone else like to order one or more, please let me know. The only restriction on ordering more is that they must be purchased in increments of twelve.
NEW ASSOCIATION BUSINESS: Any members having new business they would like submitted to the membership for consideration are asked to forward your items to me, as both Charlie Knapp and Jim Garls are still hospitalized and recovering. For those wishing to contact me via phone, please call anytime on the weekends, or after 6PM (Eastern), Monday through Friday as I’m at work earlier each workday. My contact information is:
Robert J. Yanacek
1718 Creek Street
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948-9481
VMB-613 ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP:
1. On behalf of the membership I would like to welcome aboard Brooke Ligon, daughter of pilot Robert S. Ligon and Chuck Boyers, nephew of navigator William N. Barber as associate members. Their support of the VMB-613 Association is greatly appreciated.
2. The following is a summary of VMB-613 Association members and friends:
44 Active Members
56 Inactive Members
39 Wives of Deceased Members
46 Friends (Includes Children & Grandchildren of Members)
3. Thanks again to those members who recently sent their annual dues to maintain their membership. Our annual dues of $20 are necessary as they defray the costs associated with the publication of this newsletter and permit us to send flowers on behalf of VMB-613 for the funeral of deceased members. Members are asked to check their records to ensure their dues are current. Checks should be forwarded to me and should be made out to the “VMB-613 Association.”
Robert J. Yanacek
M/Sgt, USMCR (Ret)