1 July 2009
MEMO TO: MY FELLOW GYRENES AND VMB-613 FRIENDS
I would like to begin by wishing everyone a happy and safe
Independence Day. I also want to fill everyone in on the status of Charlie Knapp
who has been in a skilled nursing facility as a result of a bad fall he suffered
over Easter weekend. Charlie’s daughter Caroline reported that he seems to be
doing well and that the doctors are trying to establish the causes of his rapid
weight loss and stomach pain. Charlie is still receiving oxygen therapy and is
experiencing short term memory loss. He does have a phone in his room, however
if you call, you may have to prompt his memory a little bit. Charlie seems to be
adjusting to his new living arrangement and both his son and daughter are very
are pleased with the staff and the care he is being given. Caroline also
reported that Charlie’s son, Ed, gets over to visit with him each day. Ed and
Caroline also set up his computer so he can receive e-mail, however Charlie has
not yet attempted to use it. Anyone wishing to send Charlie any letters or cards
may do so by mailing it to his address at the skilled nursing facility in
Emeritus at Broadmoor
615 Southpointe Court
Apt 403 - Charles Knapp
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
NOTES FROM MEMBERS AND VMB-613 FRIENDS: I received a phone call from Cliff Dotson this past month. Cliff contacted me to inquire as to the status of Charlie Knapp and to share some of his personal recollections. He also mentioned that he is recovering from double hip replacement surgery and that he hopes to be back to playing tennis very soon. During the course of our conversation Cliff mentioned fellow aircraft mechanic, Nick Bozic. Cliff indicated that they were good buddies but that he had not spoken to him since 1945. Cliff was pleasantly surprised when I provided him with Nick’s phone number and the phone number for pilot, Jack Barton. The following evening Cliff called me back to inform me that he had called and enjoyed conversations with both Nick and Jack. Cliff indicated, among other things, that Nick still sounds exactly as he remembers him in 1945.
Speaking of Nick Bozic, I received a letter from him expressing thanks for continuing the newsletter and providing Cliff Dotson with his phone number. Nick mentioned that he was crew chief of “8-Ball” and that Cliff Dotson was its first mechanic. Nick mentioned that his aircraft’s last flight was 11 October 1945, and when it was grounded it had a total of 783 hours on the airframe.
John Kennedy called to say hello and ask to continue the monthly newsletter that he has enjoyed for many years. John served in VMB-613 as a radio repairman. He asked me to pass his regards to one and all.
VMB-613 corpsman Willis Roose wrote to say hello and to pass
a message to Charlie for a speedy recovery. Willis added that he was glad to see
that Charlie was receiving 24-7 care and that it was probably equal to the care
he and “Waxie” Prankard used to provide to placate Frank Vanek’s in-grown toe
nails. He closed by noting that John Roberson has “upped” him once again with
his triple bypass—Willis only has a pacemaker.
I received a letter from Charles Cosbey. Charlie served as a member of the transportation department and he informed me that one of his primary duties on Kwajalein was keeping the mess hall, the showers, and the lister bags which hung throughout the squadron area filled with fresh water. He added that it was somewhat of a rugged job because the Army ran the desalination plant and often tried to cut the squadron’s water ration. When trouble ensued, Charlie received backup from ten or so of his Marine buddies. He proudly reported that when he was in charge, no Marine in VMB-613 went thirsty. The photo to the right shows Private First Class Michael D. Daniello filling a lister bag in the squadron area as Charlie used to do.
I received an e-mail from Betty Shock, wife of ordnanceman Robert Shock. A number of months ago Betty broke her leg and she wanted to let me know that she has been recovering quite well with her husband’s assistance. Robert is doing well and both he and Betty are looking forward to celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this October.
Radio-gunner, Lloyd McDaniel wrote to say “hello” and pass to us his experience at this year’s Indianapolis 500. Lloyd has worked at this race for the past 53 years. Each year before the start of the race there has always been a flyover of jet aircraft. However this year Lloyd heard the unmistakable drone of Wright Double Cyclones. Looking up he got a good look as a pair of fully restored B-25s flew down the straightaway at the speedway at an altitude of about 200-feet, then turned to the left before disappearing from view. Lloyd concluded by saying it brought back a lot of old memories and his only regret was not being aboard the B-25s during the flyover.
Pilot, Robert Litzau also sent a note to say hello to everyone. He reported that he recently had a physical exam and was in excellent condition as evidenced by the fact that that he weighed-in at his Marine Corps weight of 159-pounds!
During the past month, I also spoke to Carmine Nasta, Jim Garls, Robert Polakowski and “Hoss” Cummings. All of them seem to be doing well. During my conversation with “Hoss” Cummings he recalled that his pilot, Major Richard C. O’Reilly was an excellent pilot and that he frequently would use the cannon to attack targets—but was frustrated by the reliability of the AN/APG-13A radar gun director. Regardless, Major O’Reilly was deadly accurate with the 75mm cannon as evidenced by the hits he scored on Japanese ships and barges in the waters surrounding Ponape.
AMELIA EARHART: I’m sure everyone recalls hearing about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan in 1937 during her attempt to circumnavigate the earth. According to the official report, Earhart and Noonan simply disappeared in the Pacific while enroute to Howland Island. I recently corresponded with an Earhart researcher and he and many others believe that Earhart and Noonan crash landed on an atoll in the Marshall Islands and were subsequently taken prisoner by they Japanese who believed them to be spies. Further evidence indicates they may have been eventually taken to Saipan where they perished from disease or were executed by the Japanese. Although this theory has never been recognized by the U.S. Government, Admiral Chester Nimitz insisted that this was the case until the day he died. With that said, I would really like to hear from any members who recalls hearing these or any other details concerning the disappearance of Earhart and Noonan while on Kwajalein in 1945. Who knows, perhaps a member has information that can help solve this 72-year old mystery.
VMB-613 IN THE NEWS: Well, it has been over sixty-five years since VMB-613 was decommissioned at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar however the squadron remains in the news. Recently Dan Farnham, a resident and sport diver on Kwajalein, wrote an article that appeared in the Kwajalein Hourglass about VMB-613’s aircraft located at the bottom of the lagoon off Mellu Island. This article is attached for your enjoyment and includes two photographs of a PBJ that Dan discovered. Thus far, Dan and his dive buddies have documented a total of five of our aircraft. We extend our thanks to Dan for his fine effort in documenting an important part of our history.
HEALTH REPORT: There has been no additional information from Dotti Roberson updating us on John’s recent triple bypass surgery. We wish him a continued and speedy recovery. Those who wish to send John a card or note may do so by mailing it to:
209 North Jarvis Street
Troup, TX 75789-1206
VMB-613 FLASHBACK: I wanted to share the below photograph with those who do not have Internet access to our website. This photograph was provided by Diane Hindy, daughter of our adjutant, Art Navarre. I must admit this photograph has me perplexed as to its location. I initially thought this might be the runway threshold at the southern end of Kwajalein, but a few members have indicated they didn’t think so. The circular structure in the center appears to be an earth-covered bomb dump. Also visible is a hangar, a B-29 Superfortress, a PB4Y-1, a pair of R4Ds and two single-engine fighters. If anyone can identify this location, please let me know.
VMB-613 FLASHBACK: I wanted to share a second photograph with those who do not have Internet access to our website. This photograph was provided by Kwajalein diver, Bill Remick, and shows VMB-613 flight line on Kwajalein. At least five 613 PBJs are visible.
OLD ASSOCIATION BUSINESS: The following is an update on the business presented in last month’s newsletter based on input from the membership.
1. Do we want to fund the purchase of additional VMB-613 hats to be offered for sale? We currently have orders for about ten squadron hats. In light of that we should purchase no more than 25 hats. I’m fairly confident that with this number we will be able to sell all of these over time as more family members discover our website. I will be getting in touch with Nathan LaRica this month to finalize details on the order.
2. Should we continue the monthly newsletter, and if so, who should publish it? The membership has given me an overwhelming vote of confidence and instruction to continue the newsletter until further notice. You trust and confidence is greatly appreciated.
NEW ASSOCIATION BUSINESS: Members having new business they would like presented to the membership for consideration are asked to forward their items to either:
James D. Garls Robert J. Yanacek
824 Henrietta Street 1718 Creek Street
Pekin, IL 61554-3445 Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948-9481
Phone: 309-346-8492 Phone: 252-441-9026
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org E-Mail: email@example.com
VMB-613 ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP: Many thanks 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 made out to the “VMB-613 Association.”
Robert J. Yanacek
M/Sgt, USMCR (Ret)