1 November 2009
MEMO TO: MY FELLOW MARINES AND VMB-613 FRIENDS
Happy Birthday Marines! This month is special for all of us as we celebrate the 234th birthday of our beloved Corps on the 10th. Although I will not be attending any formal celebration this year since the birthday falls on a workday, I will certainly remember all of my special buddies from VMB-613 in the evening when I stop at the local slop-chute and drink a traditional shot of rum in your honor and for the continued success of the United States Marine Corps.
NOTES FROM MEMBERS AND VMB-613 FRIENDS: Last week I spoke with Charlie Knapp and he is doing pretty well. We discussed some routine Association business and Charlie encouraged me to “continue to march” with the newsletter. Charlie also mentioned that he recently spoke to Foster Cummings who is preparing for his annual Marine Corps Birthday celebration in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Should anyone wish to send a note or give a call, Charlie’s contact information is:
Charles F. Knapp
615 Southpointe Court
Colorado Springs. Colorado 80906
Scott Glowenke, grandson of the squadron's construction chief, Robert Augustine, wrote to say hello after visiting our website. Scott never met his grandfather since he passed away many years ago at the age of 34. Scott indicated that he has many photographs of his grandfather and would like to learn more about him from anyone in the squadron who remembers him. Should any members wish to share some of their recollections with Scott, please let me know and I'll provide you with the necessary contact information. Scott closed by thanking all members of VMB-613 "...for your courage, bravery and service to this country."
I received a very nice letter from Jane Cotton, wife of pilot, Jim Cotton. Jane wrote to thank us for sending her last month’s newsletter, and to inform us that she is doing well. She indicated that her husband retired from the Marine Corps in 1965 as a Lieutenant Colonel and passed-away from cancer shortly following their 50th anniversary in 1996. Although she receives a Christmas card each year from Quen Youngren, she has not had contact with any others recently. Jane fondly recalled visits with Bill and Marian Kehr and Alva and Trudy Maddox in past and added that for years Jim kept in touch with Bob Ligon, Lou Amber, Gordon Feid, and Wayne Youngren.
Speaking of pilot, Gordon Feid, I received a letter from him up in
Portsmouth, Rhode Island this past month. Gordon, seen in the accompanying
photograph to the right, indicated that he enjoyed reading last month’s
newsletter and that it brought back a lot of good memories. For those who may
not recall, Gordon stayed in the Marine Corps after World War Two and retired as
From Ponape, VMB-613 friend Stan Gajda wrote to say hello. Stan confirmed that a local Chinese scrap merchant went to the crash site of Bill Love’s PBJ recently and chopped up and removed the remaining aluminum wreckage. They apparently even took the propeller and spinner off the remaining engine. Stan reported that all that is left on the site now is an undercarriage, an engine block, and three 500-pound bombs. Stan recovered the other propeller from the site some time ago and has it safely stored in his small museum in the harbor town of Kolonia. Many thanks once again to Stan for his efforts.
In last month’s newsletter I reported that diver and VMB-613 friend, Bill
Remick, had just returned from Kwajalein. While on Kwajalein, Bill located and
photographed three of the squadrons PBJs that had not been previously located by
divers. Shortly after last month’s newsletter went out, Bill sent me a number of
photographs of his new “finds” in the lagoon off Mellu Island. I have examined
his photographs and compared them to the others I have in my collection and I’m
glad to say that I agree with him that the three aircraft he located recently
are indeed ones that have never been photographed before. Below are photographs
Bill sent to me showing two of the PBJs he recently located. Thank you Bill for
your work in preserving our history!
While going through some photographs in my collection recently, I came across one of aerial photographer, Ed Zitkus. This photograph had been sent to me some time ago by ordnanceman, Frank Acker. I sent a copy of that photograph, shown to the left, to Zitkus’ granddaughter, Jennifer Brady. Jennifer confirmed that it was indeed her grandfather and sent a copy to her mother with her thanks for passing it along.
Robert “Polak” Polakowski, seen to the right, gave me a call to say hello and tell me of his recent visit during October with Jim Garls in Pekin, Illinois. Bob indicted that due to a tight time schedule, he was only able to visit with Jim for about 45-minutes. However, he reported that Jim looked really good and that he enjoyed seeing him once again. A few days later I called and spoke to Jim, seen to the left. Jim was very glad to have been able to visit with Robert and only regretted the limited amount of time that “Polak” was able to spend. Jim reported that he is feeling pretty good, although he is looking forward to some warmer weather so he can go outside.
From up in Southbury, Connecticut I received a call from mechanic-turret gunner, Charles Cannato. Charles is doing well and asked me to pass his regards to all the guys and their wives. Per Charles’ request, I have included the below photograph of him and his fellow mechanic-turret gunners that was taken on Kwajalein in 1945. The men in the photograph are, from left to right: Front Row: Howard Raugh; Charles Cannato; Allan Dover; Louis Brosius; Frank Haddix; Theodore Adkins; Kenneth Hull; William Semple, and; William Wright. Middle Row: Calvin Russell; Richard Riggle; Thomas Bohannon; Harold Barnes; Adam Pietrovich; Donald St. Germain; Robert Dillon; Earle Walker, and; Charles Mikolajczyk. Back Row: Joseph Brais; George Gilman; Homer Anderson; John Gavin; Edward Krieg; Warren Ritter; Stanford Inman; Anthony Blaso, and; James Milhousen.
Radio-gunner, Thomas Lahart wrote to say hello to everyone and to report that he is doing fine. He is also glad to hear that Charlie Knapp is doing much better. Although he is having some difficulty with his right hand, he still enjoys taking a few day-trips each month to the local casinos.
From my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio I received a note from Josephine Prock, wife of ordnanceman, Marty Prock—seen to the right. Josephine enjoyed reading last month’s newsletter and is glad to hear that the VMB-613 Association remains active. Although she has difficulty in writing due to arthritis in her hands, she reported that she visited Nags Head, North Carolina this past June and would have passed within a half-mile of my house. I wish I would have known, as she or any member of VMB-613 is always welcome to stop by and visit should they ever get to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
From the opposite end of the Buckeye-State I received a letter from cook, Norbert Gibbs, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Norb wanted to tell us that both he and Betty are doing well, and that after all these years of meat-cutting and cooking, he has finally shifted to a retirement schedule—a 40-hour work week! Norb expressed disappointment that there may not be a reunion in Wisconsin in 2011, since both he and Betty were looking forward to it. Recalling his service with VMB-613, Norb indicated that while at Newport, Arkansas he was able to catch a train home to Cincinnati almost every weekend. The trip took 13-hours and cost $13. As for exactly how he was authorized to travel that distance—we’ll just smile and leave that to your imagination. Norb also mentioned that the base fire department at Newport must have missed us after we left for the Pacific since he and the other cooks kept them supplied with sugar and various other hard-to-get food items. Norb did have a question that he wanted to throw out since he has been wondering about it for the past 60-plus years. Who was the group of guys that made Raisin Jack in the barracks on Kwajalein?
Charlie Knapp and I were recently contacted by Edd Meadows, son of navigator Edward Meadows after he discovered his father’s name and photograph on our website. Edd’s father was a member of the Glenn-Klingman crew. Edd indicated that he was thrilled to locate such a large amount of information and photographs regarding the squadron. He added that viewing the website was as if his “father was talking to him.” I promptly e-mailed him our last three newsletters to bring him up to date on the most recent squadron news. A few evenings later Edd and I chatted on the telephone for well over an hour and I filled him in on some of the squadron’s history that he had not yet had the opportunity to read about on the website. During our discussion, Edd revealed that he had a number of items his father had put away for safe keeping that he was going to scan and send to me for addition to the website. These items included a silk survival map and a propaganda leaflet that was dropped over the Japanese-held islands to encourage their defenders to lay down their arms and surrender.
Helen Dunlap, wife of aircraft mechanic, Harold Dunlap, wrote and sent the accompanying photograph of three pieces of cowrie-shell jewelry her late- husband made for her while overseas. Helen has treasured these pieces since he sent them to her in 1945. She also pointed out that the photograph does not do the jewelry justice as its vivid colors look just as good today as it did when she received them so many years ago. Helen closed by thanking us for sending her the newsletter and added that every now and then she spots the name of one of the guys that she recalls her late-husband mentioning.
Aircraft mechanic, Cliff Dotson gave me a call this past month. All remains well with him down in Birmingham, Alabama, although he has not yet fully recovered from his double hip replacement surgery he had a number of months ago. Cliff hopes to be recovered real soon so he can get back to the tennis courts. During the course of our conversation, Cliff mentioned that he enjoyed seeing Sam Wolfe’s photographs in last month’s newsletter. He also inquired as to whether we had any contact information for line chief, Edward Ponder. I checked my records and discovered that, unfortunately, I had no information as to the whereabouts of Edward Ponder following the war. If anyone has any information on Ponder, please let us know.
Ordnanceman, Herb Schwartz and I and exchanged a number of e-mails this past month and then we chatted on the telephone for quite a while. Herb reported that he is doing fine, but that his wife, Annette, will have to undergo heart surgery this month. Please keep both of them in your thoughts and prayers. Herb also reviewed a photograph I had showing thirty-six Marines from Ordnance drinking beer in the slop-chute on Kwajalein, and was able to identify the faces of many of the guys. During the course of our conversation Herb mentioned that when the squadron was in California preparing to go overseas, he went on liberty in Hollywood to visit some of his relatives who were in the movie business. Herb showed up at the 20th Century-Fox Movie Studio and was given “the VIP treatment.” While there, he was personally introduced to the famous movie directors Ernst Lubitch and Otto Preminger who were in the midst of filming A Royal Scandal. That film, some may recall, opened in 1945 and starred Tallulah Bankhead, Charles Coburn, Anne Baxter, Vincent Price, and Eva Gabor.
From Seattle, Washington, navigator, Frank Kos wrote to tell me about some of his non-flight duties while on Kwajalein. Prior to enlisting into the Marine Corps Frank had worked as a welder. That skill proved to be rather valuable one day when at roll call, the squadron members were asked if there were any men who were trained welders. Both Frank and fellow-navigator John Lakatos stepped forward and were instructed to report to the Seabees’ office. There, both were issued Seabee uniforms and promptly put to work butt-welding stacks of piling, end-to-end. These pilings were then used in the pier improvement project to contain the coral and concrete fill material. Throughout this assignment, both Frank and John were permitted to eat in the Seabee mess hall. Frank recalled that the selection and quality of the chow at the Seabee’s mess hall was much better than that of 613 as they had a large cold-storage building and professional cooks.
Leigh Siergiewicz, granddaughter of John and Doris Siergiewicz ran the 34th Annual Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday, October 25, 2009. The 26.2-mile marathon started at Arlington National Cemetery and ended at the Iwo Jima Memorial. Leigh is a senior at Saint Anslem College in New Hampshire where she is majoring in Sociology. Congratulations Leigh on your accomplishment!
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM SAM WOLFE: Below are two photographs sent to me by aircraft mechanic, Sam Wolfe. The first shows Harry Nash and Sam on liberty in San Diego, California with an unidentified female friend. The second photograph shows Sam in the copilot’s seat running up the engines of “Mike Baker 12” during a routine morning pre-flight check. Barely visible in the window behind Sam is aircraft mechanic, Bill Atkin. Sam vividly recalled how Nick Bozic took this photograph after setting it up so that the rising sun would be to his back when he snapped the shutter of his camera.
TAPS: I received an e-mail from VMB-433 pilot Bill Parks, informing us that Robert C. Woten passed away peacefully at home on 20 October 2009 at the age of 94. Robert was a pilot and was VMB-613’s first commanding officer when the squadron first formed in October 1943. He was transferred from VMB-613 on 15 February 1944 and was subsequently reassigned to VMB-433 where he flew PBJs against the Japanese in the Southwest Pacific.
I also received word, via Randy Clow and Jim Garls, that radio-gunner James M. Nelson passed away during the middle part of October. No further information or details have yet been received at the time this newsletter went to print.
While conducting research on a newsletter that was recently returned, I discovered that aircraft electrician, James W. Squire, passed away on 15 August 2009 at the age of 85. James had been living in Marquette, Michigan since the end of the war and had owned a local business called Squire-Carmody until his retirement in 1989.
We extend our sincerest condolences to the Woten, Nelson, and Squire families. We hope that they may find solace with the knowledge of our thoughts and prayers for them and their departed loved-ones.
OLD ASSOCIATION BUSINESS:
1. Thanks once again to those who paid their annual dues to maintain their membership. Members are asked to check their records to ensure their dues are current. Checks for membership dues should be forwarded to me and should be made out to the “VMB-613 Association.”
2. Thanks also to those who have contributed to this newsletter through their correspondence and telephone conversations. Your efforts are appreciated and make the newsletter more informative and interesting to all.
3. 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.
NEW ASSOCIATION BUSINESS:
1. On behalf of the membership, I would like to welcome aboard our newest associate members: Patricia Klinke, daughter of radio-gunner, Alvin Klinke; Edward Meadows Jr., son of navigator Edward Meadows; Charles Duvall Jr. and wife Linda, son of cook, Charles Duvall, and; Linda Zack and husband Stan, daughter of cook, Charles Duvall. Your support is greatly appreciated.
2. Following discussion with the Internal Revenue Service, I am pleased to report that all donations made to the VMB-613 Association are tax-deductible for individual federal income tax returns. In January, those who have contributed to the Association through donations will receive an individual statement detailing their respective contributions. Our appreciation is extended to those who have contributed in this manner, as each gift helps to preserve our proud Marine Corps aviation heritage.
3. 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: email@example.com
Robert J. Yanacek
M/Sgt, USMCR (Ret)