1 October 2009
MEMO TO: MY FELLOW MARINES AND VMB-613 FRIENDS
Yowke from the Outer Banks of North Carolina! Even though the Outer Banks is not Kwajalein, I decided to open with “yowke”—the Marshallese word for “hello”—in light of some of the material contained in this newsletter. I hope that each and every one of you is doing well and will enjoy hearing about your buddies and the friends of the VMB-613 Association.
NOTES FROM MEMBERS AND VMB-613 FRIENDS: I recently received a letter from aircraft mechanic, Sam Wolfe. Sam indicated that he turned 85 in September and is doing pretty well except for two artificial knees and an arthritic ankle that somewhat impairs his mobility. He also stated how much he enjoys receiving each newsletter and hearing about everyone. In the past Sam and I have spoken on the telephone several times and one of those conversations pertained to VMB-613’s canine friend, Foxhole. Sam was particularly fond of Foxhole as they found each other on Eniwetok Island. From Eniwetok, Foxhole had his first ride in a PBJ being flown back to the squadron area on Kwajalein. From what Sam told me, Foxhole was well known and liked by everyone on Kwajalein. Sam indicated when the squadron left Kwajalein at the end of the war, he reluctantly had to leave Foxhole—entrusting him to the care of the black Marines who manned the antiaircraft guns from the 51st Defense Battalion. Sam sent me a few photographs of Foxhole along with some others showing various members from engineering. A few of these can be seen later in this newsletter.
Last week I spoke with Jim “JD” Garls and he seems to be doing much better now that he is back home. Although his ability to walk is limited, he remains in good spirits and sends his regards to everyone. Jim mentioned that he recently heard from radio-gunner Bob Polakowski and was looking forward to seeing Bob when he comes to central Illinois for a wedding this month.
Speaking of weddings, congratulations are in order for Robert and Betty Shock who will be celebrating their 60th anniversary this month. Bob and Betty currently reside in Ohio. I received an e-mail from Bob in which he shared some recollections of his time with VMB-613. He mentioned that overseas most of the guys he knew constructed bunk beds with two-by-fours and old inner tubes from airplane tires. For entertainment he recalled playing horseshoes with “Spike” Jones and Everett Wells on Kwajalein between the 2-story huts. He added that they always seemed to have a crowd watching them, and at times there would be $50 bets riding on the toss of an “I” shoe. Of course since Bob had been taught horseshoes by an old champion before he entered the Marine Corps, it was always a good bet to place your money on him. Bob also recalled some good beer that was on draft in Havana, Cuba. He thought the name was something like “HaTouhy” and he was wondering if any other guys recalled drinking a few of them during their liberty.
During September I spoke with Charlie Knapp on at least two occasions, and he sounds better each time I speak with him. Charlie remains in Colorado Springs, but is no longer receiving oxygen therapy. That certainly is good news since corpsmen Willis Roose and “Waxy” Prankard will not be needed to travel to Colorado to get Charlie “fit for duty.” Charlie also spoke with Foster Cummings and Robert Polakowski—both of whom are doing well. Charlie’s daughter, Caroline, also keeps in touch with me and has been following VMB-613 since I started sending her the monthly newsletter.
I received an e-mail from diver and VMB-613 friend, Bill
Remick. In last month’s newsletter I indicated that Bill was headed to Kwajalein
during September and had planned to do some diving up at the northern end of the
atoll to see if he could locate a number of the squadron’s PBJs that had not yet
been photographed. Bill reported that he located and dived on three of our PBJs,
and after comparing their coordinates with those of the previously eight
documented aircraft, he is confident that all eleven of the squadron’s PBJs have
now been located. Bill’s friend and fellow diver Gene Littlefield plans to send
the coordinates of all eleven of VMB-613’s aircraft to a third diver, Dan
Farnham, who may be able to get up there sometime and take some additional
photographs. As of yet, I have not yet seen if any of Bill’s photographs came
out since they had to be developed following his return. However, while on
Kwajalein and Roi, Bill e-mailed me the below photographs he took which show a
beautiful Marshall Islands sunset on the lagoon and a shark who undoubtedly made
diving a bit more interesting.
Jennifer Brady, granddaughter of squadron photographer Ed Zitkus, wrote to me last month to let me know she had the original photograph that I requested in last month’s newsletter. The photograph showed the squadron’s photographers and First Lieutenant Manning standing in front of the officer’s club on Kwajalein. Jennifer scanned the photograph and sent it to me via e-mail and it has now been added to the squadron website. Our appreciation goes to Jennifer for her assistance.
I also received two additional photographs from pilot, Brooks Kaufman. The first photograph, seen to the left, shows Brooks and George Bartlett following their reassignment to VMB-443 as a replacement crew. Brooks also sent a very large group photograph that was taken at Newport, Arkansas of all the squadron’s officers. I did not include this photograph as part of the newsletter since, due to its size, the faces would be unrecognizable. I offer my thanks to Brooks for sending me these photographic treasures as each one serves to provide additional documentation of VMB-613’s history.
Aircraft mechanic, George Deal wrote to say hello and to pass
his regards to “…all those 613 guys I hung out with.” George, seen to the right,
is now 87 years old and in good health as he still goes golfing once or twice
each week. George indicated that he has enjoyed the newsletters and that the
photographs have brought back a lot of good memories.
From Newport, Arkansas I received a note from VMB-613 friend, Ron Broadaway. Ron grew up in Newport during the war and recalls the high-tempo of operations on the base. Although the airfield is still there, it became a city airport after the war. Ron sent along the accompanying photograph of a marker that was erected at the airport to the officers and men who served there during the World War II. Ron also ordered and wears one of our squadron ball caps, so VMB-613 once again has a presence at Newport!
Robert “Polak” Polakowski sent me a note mentioning his anticipated visit with Jim Garls this month. He also informed us that he and Kim celebrated their 59th anniversary at the end of September. Bob indicated that he has put out some “feelers” about holding a VMB-613 reunion near him in Wisconsin, but it appears that there is little interest at this point due to health issues and scheduling conflicts. If any members are interested in getting together for another reunion, please feel free to let us know.
Ex-inhabitant of the “Kwaj Lodge” and corpsman Willis Roose wrote again to send his regards. Willis asked how many guys remembered Carmine Nasta diving off the George W. Julian into the Pacific. Well, it seems that at least Carmine does—he called and I asked him about it. Carmine added that his swim was a real challenge and, despite the fact that he was an excellent swimmer, he became concerned when he felt the strength of the current.
From Lundington, Michigan I heard from ordnance-gunner Robert Grice. Robert wrote to just say hello and to send his thanks for continuing the newsletter for everyone from VMB-613. His thanks, and those of many others, are greatly appreciated.
Mechanic-gunner Stanford Inman, seen to the right, sent me a note asking me to pass his regards to everyone, especially Charlie Knapp. He also wanted to let us know that he recently moved. His new address is: 14J Wiggins Drive, Simsbury, CT 06070.
Radio-gunner Foster “Hoss” Cummings wrote from Wakefield, Massachusetts to tell us he had a few good chats with Charlie Knapp recently and he was glad to report that Charlie’s condition has improved dramatically. He added that both he and Charlie really enjoyed the addition of photographs to the VMB-613 monthly newsletter as it makes it more interesting.
Radio technician, Verl Scott wrote to say hello. He and asked me to pass his regards to all the guys. Verl, seen to the right, recently turned 87 and is able to still get around pretty well although he can only work for a few minutes of time before having to rest.
Navigator-bombardier, Michael Brennan sent a note from Queensbury, New York to say how much he enjoys receiving the newsletter each month. Michael, some may recall, served on Wayne Youngren and Dan Haselnus’ crew. Sadly, Michael reported that he suffered a stroke in December 2005 which has adversely affected the entire right side of his body. As a result he has had to recently move to an assisted-living facility. Michael’s new mailing address is: 39 Longview Drive, Apartment 222, Queensbury, NY 12804.
Radio-gunner Donald “DC” Clay, also a member of the Youngren-Haselnus crew, wrote to say hello. He was very glad to hear that Charlie Knapp was doing much better and also expressed appreciation for my assistance with the monthly newsletter. DC also wanted to clarify a slight error I made in last month’s newsletter in which I referred to Jim Packard having a beer with Dave Snider the night before Dave was killed. DC pointed out that that would not have been possible—unless Jim and a long straw—since Dave was on Eniwetok while Jim Packard was on Kwajalein. What should have been written was that Jim Packard recalled having a beer with Dave Snider shortly before he was lost. Thanks DC for setting the record strait.
The final correspondence for the month was from mechanic-gunner, Calvin Russell. Actually, Cal’s wife, Joyce, wrote the letter, taking dictation from him. Cal sends his greetings to all members of VMB-613 from, as he put it, “hot as Hell Florida.” He informed me that he suffered a stroke in August of 2008—a few months after I met him at the reunion at Quantico. Cal indicated that he recovered quickly, but was recently admitted to the hospital for increased shortness of breath and cardiac problems. Although he is now continually on oxygen he is still able to walk, talk, and get around independently. Cal also mentioned what a great time he had at the last reunion, especially the party at the home of the Duvalls.
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM SAM WOLFE: Below are two photographs sent to me by Sam Wolfe. The first shows Farley Lund, Gil Peavy and Nick Dudo standing outside of the engineering office on Kwajalein. The second shows an early model PBJ flown by the squadron—“Mike Baker 152.”
TAPS: I received a letter from Lenore Morrell informing us that her husband, navigator, David Morrell passed away on 23 July 2000. She indicated that her husband always enjoyed receiving and reading the newsletters and only regretted that he had not known about the VMB-613 Association sooner so that he could have been more active. Lenore also expressed her appreciation for receiving the monthly newsletters and is collecting them for her twelve year old grandson who has a keen interest in the Second World War.
Quen Youngren also wrote to inform us that while reading her
local paper her eye caught an obituary for VMB-613 navigator, Clayton Erickson.
Clayton passed away on 22 July 2009 at the age of 87 in Palm Springs, California
following complications as a result of an automobile accident. His career
included over 40 years of service as a teacher, coach, and high school
We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Morrell and Erickson families on their loss. May they find solace in the knowledge of our thoughts and prayers, and may their departed loved-ones rest forever in peace.
VMB-613 FLASHBACK: The below photographs are for those who do not have Internet access to our website. The first photograph shows group of squadron members headed to the flight line at NAS Boca Chica They are: Front Row (L-R) Frank Lukasek, Joseph Tierney, Lynn Robinson, Paul Yanacek, Alfred Zachwieja, and Donald Johnson; Back Row (L-R) unidentified, Horace Hodges, Maurice Pippin, Frank Werz, George Worley, unidentified, Sam Wolfe, unidentified, unidentified, unidentified, unidentified Reino Martikainen, and John Peterson. If anyone can provide the name of any of the men who have not yet been identified, please drop me a note. The second photograph shows the squadron’s outdoor theatre on Kwajalein (don’t forget to bring your ponchos). The final photograph shows the squadron’s sign that hung outside of the officer’s club.
OLD ASSOCIATION BUSINESS: I recently placed an order for more VMB-613 ball caps. Six of them have been sent out to members who had requested them, leaving us with six. Now is your chance to order them while they are in stock. Remember, after the remaining ones are sold, I must place future orders in increments of twelve. These hats make great gifts for children and grandchildren and are priced, including shipping, at $12 each. In addition to the ball caps, I just received our stock of VMB-613 hat pins and VMB-613 license plate frames from Charlie Knapp. These items are also available to our members and friends. The license plate frames are priced, including shipping, at $5 each. The VMB-613 hat pins are priced, including shipping, at $5.50 each and are available in either a pewter finish or a gold-plated finish with a hand painted VMB-613 insignia. I will try to include photographs of these items in next month’s newsletter.
NEW ASSOCIATION BUSINESS:
1. Any members having new business they would like submitted to the membership for consideration are asked to forward your items to either me, Charlie Knapp, or Jim Garls. 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 provided at the header of this newsletter and I may also be reached by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Many thanks to those members who have contributed to this newsletter through their correspondence and telephone conversations. This provides me with excellent information to pass in the newsletter and it undoubtedly makes it more informative and interesting.
VMB-613 ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP:
1. The following is a summary of VMB-613 Association members and friends:
53 Active Members (Dues paid through 2009)
50 Inactive Members
40 Wives of Deceased Members
36 Children and Grandchildren of Members
8 Members of other Marine Bombing Squadrons
12 Friends of VMB-613
2. A number of members have written and inquired as to how many officers and men actually served with VMB-613 anytime from 1 October 1943 through 21 November 1945. Having gone over the official Marine Corps Muster Rolls for that period, I can confidently say that exactly 1,000 officers and men served with VMB-613 at various times that the squadron was active.
3. Thanks once again to those who paid their annual dues to maintain their membership. As you know, our annual dues of $20 helps defray the costs associated with the publication of this newsletter and also permits us to send flowers on behalf of VMB-613 to 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)