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These are items of interest to military reunions including reunions that have already happened so others can find their own reunion groups. If you have military reunion news, e-mail us. If you are listing your reunion, send the reunion name, date and place and the name, address, phone and contact person's e-mail address.

McCoskrie/Threshold Foundation (MTF)
    The Montagnards fought solely on the side of the US military throughout Southeast Asia. Their bravery, heroism under fire and loyalty to the American cause cannot be overstated.
They arrived from refugee camps bare-footed and in rags. The Air Commando Association initially sent money to procure housing and food. The McCoskrie/Threshold Foundation responded with an 18 wheeler ‘filled to the brim’ with clothing, furniture, pots, pans, linens, bicycles and much more. Air Commandos from across the country sent badly needed funds.
   Air Commandos have been staunch backers of humanitarian efforts for more than 40 years. Air Commando Association, Inc, PO Box 7, Mary Esther FL 32569-07. McCoskrie Threshold Foundation, Inc, PO Box 67, Mary Esther FL 32569-0067.

Pilots celebrate 40+ anniversary
   Pilots of the 8th Helicopter Company flew assault missions and deployed Vietnamese soldiers into combat zones. They slept together, ate together, laughed together and faced life and death together.
   "We spent literally 24 hours a day with each other," said former pilot Jim Walker of Tennessee. "You never forget the guys you experience something like that with."
More than 40 years after their 1962-63 tour, members of the company had a reunion. Host Jerry Manuel, Lacey, Washington, got the idea after having dinner with Jerry Dyer, former executive officer of the 8th Helicopter Company. It was the first time they'd seen each other since the war. Right then Manuel decided to search for the rest of the guys.
   After two years of searching on the Internet, Manuel reached enough officers for a reunion. Camaraderie was quickly rekindled after 40 years.
From a story by Kevin Kalhoefer in The Olympian, Olympia, Washington.

Together forever
  Lt. Col. Earle J. Aber Jr. and 2nd Lt. Maurice J. Harper fought together, were shot down together and are now buried together. Most of the wreckage of their plane, shot down nearly 60 years ago, was found in late 1999.
  The two were mistaken for a German plane flying a B-17 over England. They maintained control long enough for the crew to parachute to safety, but crashed into a river estuary, and only Aber’s arm was located. Now that their remains are found, Harper’s identifiable remains are buried in Alabama and Aber’s in England. The unidentifiable portions are buried in the Arlington National Cemetery. “They’ve been together so long, it was appropriate,” said Harper’s sister, Mary Elizabeth Lamberth. Aber’s nephew, Earle Williams, said this was an opening rather than closure. “We’ve gotten to know lots of people who knew my uncle,” he commented.
  Science has made much of this possible because it’s now easier than ever to identify remains. It is sometimes impossible to separate remains, group burials have become more popular.
From The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A unique way of encouraging attendance
     Leave it to our friends in the Beagle Squadron to find a great way to sway potential attendees who aren’t sure whether they should make the trip. Their newsletter features “A word from Grace,” which notes that the 90-year-old plans to attend the 2002 reunion. The newsletter goes on to say that all of the youngsters in their 80s have no excuse for not attending because if Grace can do it, so can they. Health reasons and family are valid excuses to the Beagles, but they also suggest that you bring family and friends because they can drive to the reunion and will have a good time because the veterans have good manners. The only question is, will it work?
From Prop Wash, the Beagle Squadron’s newsletter.

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America’s greatest airlift hub celebrates 50th anniversary
     When six F-84 Thunderjets landed on March 2, 1952, at Landstuhl Air Base (known today as Ramstein Air Base), few realized the historical importance. The landing of the Thunderjets marked the beginning of a half-century of US airpower in Europe. Since then, Ramstein has seen several different aircraft and missions, ranging from fighter operations to present-day airlift missions. Ramstein AB commemorated its 50th anniversary in March and will continue to emphasize its historical heritage throughout the year.
     Most recently, RAB has played a key part in various humanitarian relief operations. The latest, Operation Enduring Freedom, helped feed over two million Afghans. RAB is America’s “911” emergency responder, bringing virtually anything anywhere anytime. and will highlight these efforts throughout this anniversary year.
     To highlight the last 50 years, the 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office is searching for stories, photos and comments about memorable experiences from former military/family members, Host Nation employees, DoD civilians and NATO employees who were assigned to RAB between 1952 and 2001. Contact 86th AW/PA, Unit 3200, Box 330 APO AE 09094; (49) 06371-47-9197;

Smith looked death in the eyes
Friday the 13th, in October 1944 is one day Captain Luther Smith of the Tuskegee Airmen will never forget. Smith's all-Black 332nd Fighter Group, based in Italy, was protecting bombers returning from Blechhammer, Germany, until they crossed the Danube River near Budapest, Hungary.

After returning the group to the Danube, the fighters sought targets of opportunity. They flew over an air force base full of parked aircraft near Budapest. Smith, who destroyed 10 enemy aircraft in 132 previous combat missions, quickly destroyed two German bombers before sensing danger. He dove his P-51 close to the ground to begin a tight turn when he saw tracer bullets narrowly missing his wing tip. He waited for the impending fall of his aircraft, but made it through the protection of ground smoke.

Smith then spotted a freight yard of oil tank cars, followed another aircraft in and watched as his gunfire struck car after car. A fireball erupted in front of his plane, blowing out his cockpit windows, buckling the wing surfaces and destroying much of the tail assembly. As flames enveloped him 600 miles from his base, he abandoned his aircraft.

Before Smith could exit, the aircraft went into a tailspin causing him to fall partially out of the cockpit. His right foot was wedged between the rudder pedal and brake so he couldn't get into or out of the plane. After losing and regaining consciousness, he remembers seeing a badly torn parachute canopy. He had pulled the parachute rip-cord while still trapped in the aircraft. The parachute pulled him from the plane, but also fractured his right hip.

Falling headfirst, connected at the hip to the parachute by one strap, he awoke from unconsciousness crashing through trees. His canopy caught the top branches of the tree, preventing him from smashing into the ground.

He was suspended in a tall tree, unable to move with a fractured hip but alive after cheating death four times in an hour. He spent the last seven months of the war in German hospitals and prison camps. His injuries required 18 operations and three years of hospitalization.

Smith is a member of the World War II Memorial Architect-Engineer Evaluation Board which hopes to honor the 400,000 Americans who died in the war, the 16 million in uniform and a nation that united to defend democracy.

For information or to donate contact: American Battle Monuments Commission, World War II Memorial Campaign, 2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 501, Arlington, VA 22201 or 1-800-639-4WW2.
from World War II Memorial Newsletter

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