25 February 2010
MEMO TO: MY FELLOW MARINES AND VMB-613 FRIENDS
The 6th of this month marked the 65th anniversary of the loss of Bill Love and his crew on a bombing mission over the Japanese-held island Ponape. Although little of their aircraft remains today on Ponape, their sacrifice continues and will always be remembered by our members and the friends of our squadron. I received word from Robert Klinke, son of radio-gunner Alvin Klinke, that a family friend by the name of Jim Barr visited the grave of Bill Love and four of his crew while traveling in the Saint Louis, Missouri area. Jim located the grave at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, said a prayer for the men, and then sent us the accompanying photographs. The two other men who were killed during that same raid, photographer Dave Snider, and navigator William Farley, are buried near their homes in New Jersey and New York, respectively.
NOTES FROM MEMBERS AND VMB-613 FRIENDS: Mary Jane Lewis, wife of radio gunner James Lewis sent me a copy of her wonderful newsletter that she publishes for the wives of VMB-613 members. In her newsletter, Mary Jane reported that her New Year started off badly for her with a broken washer, a broken vacuum cleaner, and then a crashed computer. To make matters worse, Mary Jane’s daughter-in-law was then diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have immediate surgery. Please keep the entire Lewis family in your prayers during this very trying time.
From “God’s Country” in Swansboro, North Carolina, Jane Cotton, wife of pilot James Cotton, gave me a call after reading the January newsletter. Jane is doing fine and was thrilled to hear about pilot Lou Amber in the newsletter. She indicated that she was going to write to him to say “hello.” Jane recalled that back in 1943 she and some of her college girlfriends got “set up” with some MAG-61 pilots at Cherry Point on a date. Jane’s date that evening was a PBJ pilot who later served with VMB-614. That evening she met Lou Amber, Robert Brueggestrass, and her future husband, James Cotton. The rest of course, is history. In parting Jane invited me to stop by and visit her should I ever be in the area between Cherry Point and New River.
From Kwajalein, diver and VMB-613 friend, Dan Farnham, passes “Yowke” to all. Dan has been on Kwaj for the past two years serving as a firefighter. Recently, he was reassigned a new job there, and he will be staying on Kwajalein for probably a few more years. Dan, who is also a modeler, has volunteered to construct the 1/72nd scale PBJ model that was sent to me by Brooks Kaufman last month. I have seen some of his other model projects and I am sure he will do an outstanding job.
Brooke Ligon, daughter of pilot Robert “Arky” Ligon has been busy in Texas. Last year, plane captain, Sam Wolfe visited Brooke while he was traveling down her way. During Sam’s visit, he and Brooke went to a local museum and Sam gave her a guided tour of a B-25J Mitchell that was on display. Brooke took that opportunity to videotape Sam’s entire tour and she has finally edited it and made it available to me. I have viewed Brooke’s videotape and was amazed the amount of information that Sam recalled, specifically about the PBJ after so many years—he even recalled the number of gallons of oil for the engines that was held in each tank! Brooke’s videotape is not yet available to view on the website, but as soon as I have some time to compress it, I will add it to the website so that all may view it. Our thanks goes to Brooke—seen in the accompanying photograph with her Dad, “Arky”—for having the forethought to record this for posterity.
Apparently prompted by the photograph of the turret shop in last month’s newsletter, I received a phone call from Shirley Dudzik, wife of turret mechanic Frank Dudzik. Shirley called from Towanda, Illinois to say hello and to say how much she enjoyed the last newsletter. Shirley then surprised me by handing the phone over to Frank. Frank and I chatted for about thirty minutes on various topics relating to VMB-613. Having served in ordnance, Frank added that he knew my Dad, Paul Yanacek, real well. Frank asked me about one of his recollections regarding a crash of a transport aircraft, possibly an R5D, into the ocean off Kwajalein. I did not ever recall hearing about that particular incident, so if anyone has any details, please feel free to contact me with any additional information. Following my conversation with Frank I got back on the phone with Shirley and directed her to our website, then walked her through a few pages that would be of interest to both her and Frank. Before our conversation ended I provided Shirley with contact information for a number of guys from ordnance so that Frank could possibly get in touch with them.
Pilot, Vern Beggs, seen to the left, sent us a letter expressing best wishes one and all. Vern reported that the temperature in Inverness, Florida is the coldest it has been in over 30 years! Vern also indicated that both he and Anne are doing fine, although their travel is now pretty much limited to their local area.
From the other side of Florida in Port Richey, mechanic-turret gunner, Cal Russell wrote to send his greetings to everyone. Cal, seen to the right, enjoyed hearing about his old buddies, Chuck Cannato and Homer Anderson in last month’s newsletter. Cal recalled that he was good friends with Homer Anderson and that Chuck was also good friends with John Gavin. Cal also took a stab at the name of the woman who was part of Boris Karloff’s troupe and whose photograph appeared in last month’s newsletter. He suggested her name might be actress, Chili Williams. However I am quite certain is not correct. Chili Williams is the woman pictured to the right, along with actor Jack Carson. This photograph was taken in the recreation hall when Chili and her group came and visited VMB-613 compound. In closing Cal mentioned having Boris Karloff’s autograph and I wanted to comment on that. I recently learned while watching some program on television that Boris Karloff’s autograph is highly prized by collectors. I did some checking on the Internet and discovered that Karloff’s autograph is currently selling from between $350 to over $1,500—so whatever you do, don’t lose it.
Radio-gunner, Joe Yakawich wrote to send his best to all the 613’ers. Joe mentioned that all is well with him in Butte, Montana. Joe’s son, Lieutenant Colonel Yakawich, U.S. Army, continues his duties as an ROTC instructor and due to the proximity of his schools, is able to visit with Joe often.
From Nineveh, Indiana, corpsman, Willis Roose sent his greetings to all hands. Willis remarked that he remembered very well all of those mentioned in last month’s newsletter. He, like the rest of us, was saddened to learn of the passing of Jimmie DePasque. Willis recalled that Jimmie hailed from New Jersey and had an “exceptional” singing voice. He added that he even recalled Jimmie performing with a number of USO bands that visited Kwajalein from time to time. Willis also remarked on the photograph in the last newsletter of Charlie Maglaras giving Nick Bozic a haircut, adding that Charlie’s barber shop was adjacent to the squadron’s mail room. Lastly he indicated that the photograph in last month’s newsletter of Dave “Hen House” Snider was a “dandy” as he always recalled Dave having a smile on his face. I was a bit curious to Willis’ reference to Dave as “Hen House” so I contacted him to see if he recalled how Dave acquired that nickname. Willis did not recall, but he suggested that it may have been given to him at Newport by Earl “Ike” Jones of ordnance. If anyone can recall the reason, please feel free to let us know.
Pilot, Robert Litzau, seen to the left, wrote me a brief letter expressing his appreciation for the continued publication of the newsletter. Bob closed asking me to say “hello” to everyone.
Aircraft mechanic, Cliff Dotson, wrote to bring us up to date on the happenings in Birmingham, Alabama. Cliff continues to recover from his hip-replacement surgery he had last April and he still is not able to resume his activities on the tennis court. Cliff is, however, optimistic that once the weather turns warmer he will be in good enough to begin playing once again.
Earlier this month, I spoke with aviation supplyman and VMB-613 Association president, Charlie Knapp. Charlie continues to be doing well, although his back gives him pain from time to time if he moves too fast (probably from chasing the nurses around). Charlie says “hello” to everyone and sends his best regards for 2010. Those wishing to contact Charlie may do so at:
615 Southpointe Court
Apt 403 - Charles Knapp
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
MAP OF SQUADRON COMPOUND: VMB-613's compound is depicted with a white background. The areas with a yellow background were other units that were located adjacent to VMB-613's area. Note that in order to orient this map to existing photographs of the squadron area I have on file, north is at the bottom, placing the ocean side of Kwajalein to the left. Sincere thanks for this information goes to Jim Garls who sketched this map of the area shortly after the war.
The numbered buildings have been identified as:
Senior NCO Quarters
Showers and Head
Commanding Officer's Quarters
Executive Officer's Quarters
Intelligence and Operations
Senior NCO Mess
Enlisted Men's Mess
Enlisted Men's Barracks
Enlisted Men's Barracks
Enlisted Men's Barracks
Enlisted Men's Barracks
Enlisted Men's Barracks
Enlisted Men's Barracks
Enlisted Men's Recreation Hall
Fleet Marine Theatre
Senior NCO Club
Should anyone recall any of the unidentified buildings, please feel free to let me know.
PHOTO FLASHBACK: The below photographs are provided for the enjoyment of those without Internet access and show various personnel, scenes, and locations.
Intelligence Officer, Captain Corwin R. Mocine, briefs his staff on recent intelligence reports and aerial photographs.
Members of VMB-613 enjoy camaraderie and beer in the squadron's "Beergarden." In stock brands of beer included Schlitz and Lucky Lager.
The bar in VMB-613 Officer's Club was simple, yet well-stocked with "medical supplies." Behind the bar is the squadron, insignia, a photograph of a PBJ and caricatures of some of the squadron's officers.
Technical Sergeant Harry D. Nash drives a tractor onto VMB-613's flight line at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. The aircraft in the foreground in an H-model PBJ while the one in the background is a J-model.
MEMBER LOCATOR: If any member has an address or phone number for property NCO, Frank D. Borgese, please let me know so that I can send him a copy of the newsletter. If I recall correctly, he was living in New York the last time Charlie Knapp heard from him.
FACEBOOK: This month, I set up a webpage for the Marine Bombing Squadron Six-Thirteen Association on Facebook. For those unfamiliar with Facebook, it is a free social networking website that receives millions of visitors each day. Our page on Facebook contains a link to our squadron website and will provide a means of additional exposure for our association. You may visit our Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=294668159929&ref=mf
TAPS: Frank Dunaj, brother of, armorer-turret gunner, John Dunaj contacted us after spotting his brother’s name on our website. Sadly, Frank reported that his brother, passed away in 1979 at the age of 55. John was initially assigned to VMB-613, but was sent overseas as a replacement aircrewman where he was assigned to VMB-433. John flew missions against the Japanese with VMB-433 and was transferred later to VMB-443 where he served for the remainder of the war.
OLD ASSOCIATION BUSINESS:
1. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this newsletter through correspondence and telephone conversations. Your efforts are appreciated and make the newsletter more informative and interesting to all of our members.
2. Now is your chance to order some VMB-613 memorabilia items. These items also make great gifts for children and grandchildren of members, and are an excellent way to proudly display our squadron heritage. To the right are four items I currently have in stock. All prices include shipping. At the top is our license plate frame, priced at $5. It is constructed from red plastic and has gold lettering proclaiming “U.S. Marine Corps” and “VMB 613 WWII.” The popular VMB-613 ball cap is shown next and is priced at $12. On the bottom left is the VMB-613 pin which is one-inch in diameter and mounts with a clutch-back fastener. This pin can be ordered in either a pewter finish (shown) or a gold-plated finish with a hand-painted VMB-613 insignia and is priced at $5.50. Last is an official squadron patch. This felt and embroidered patch is six-inches in diameter and is an exact reproduction of VMB-613’s insignia that was used on Kwajalein. They are an excellent value at $7 each.
3. Remember, donations made to the VMB-613 Association are tax-deductible for individual federal income tax returns to the extent permitted by law. Our appreciation is, as always, extended to those who have contributed in this manner, as each gift helps to preserve our proud Marine Corps aviation heritage.
NEW ASSOCIATION BUSINESS:
1. Thanks once again to those who paid their annual dues to maintain their membership. Members who have paid their dues during February will find a laminated membership card enclosed with this newsletter. As membership dues are paid for 2010, I will include laminated membership cards in future editions of the newsletter. Checks for membership dues in the amount of $20 should be made out to the “VMB-613 Association” and forwarded to me.
2. Members wishing to contact me via telephone are asked to call anytime on the weekends, or after 6PM (Eastern), Monday through Friday as I’m at work earlier each workday. My contact information is provided at the header of this newsletter and I may also be reached anytime by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert J. Yanacek
M/Sgt, USMCR (Ret)