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Army Reunions

These are items of interest to military reunions including reunions that have already happened so others can learn from reunion experience. If you have military reunion news, a story or report about your military reunion or want to add yours to our list of upcoming reunions, e-mail us. If you are listing your reunion, send the reunion name, date, place and contact info. To add your reunion picture, see requirements.

30th Tank Destroyer Battalion reunion
Eleven veterans - out of 650 men who served in World War II as part of the 630th Tank Destroyer Battalion gathered in Savannah. Their stories were about experiences at The Battle of the Bulge and their campaign in 1944 which led them through France and into Bastogne, Belgium to battle the Germans.
They fought in five of the six European campaigns and were often recognized as the "fightingest battalion during WWII." They helped take down Hitler's Panzer Corps and clear the way for victory in Europe.
Bess Ramsey, Savannah, Georgia, whose father Major Gabriel McNair was lost in battle, went to France last summer to see her father's grave in the Normandy American Cemetery and was guest speaker at the reunion dinner.
"It is a beautiful and peaceful place, very historic. A lot of school children visit the cemetery each year," she said. "It is a reminder to the French the price we paid for freedom. There are over 600 graves."
Sarah Summers has attended all 30 reunions. Her late husband, Oscar Summers Jr., kept an extensive scrapbook of his experiences including newspaper clippings of member's achievements and obituaries. The scrapbook is a special feature at the reunions.
From the Savannah Morning News, Savannah, Georgia.

Elite World War II fighter group museum exhibit

The 406th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force, flew P-47 Thunderbolts during World War II to provide air support for Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army. There were more than 1,100 in its ranks in 1944, but only 20 attended a recent reunion.
The Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, is the home of the 406th's archives, which curators have been cataloging for 18 months. Materials range from personal military-career documents to personal narratives and military commendations and awards. The theme will be "A Day in the Life of the 406th."
Much of the cost was donated by Maggy Grossetta, wife of the late A.V. Grossetta, the 406th's commanding officer.
From a report by Brian J. Pedersen in the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Arizona.

Nostalgic salute to women of WWII

   Brenda Schleunes sees them as an unrecognized part of the Greatest Generation, these women who served during World War II.
   She aims to change that with her new play, Star-Spangled Girls, commissioned by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). Schleunes, founder of the Touring Theatre Ensemble of North Carolina, used UNCG's Women's Veterans Historical Collection at Jackson Library for source material. "These women were very much an unacknowledged part of the women's movement," Schleunes says.
   She read interviews, journals, telegrams and between 2,500 and 3,000 letters by and from women who served during World War II. She narrowed stories to about 35 key tales molded into five composite characters. The framework of the show is a 20-year reunion of the women as they swap stories of their time in uniform. The cast underwent a mini-boot camp with a military adviser who taught them the correct way to do things such as salute and march.
From an article by Leslie Mizell on, Greensboro, North Carolina.

Stalag III-C reunion
Former internees at Stalag III-C, Altdrewitz/Kustrin, traveled to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for their second reunion since 1945. The event opened with an evening reception. The following day, faculty and students at Hershey High School greeted veterans with a brief musical program. Eighty advanced placement history students met in small groups with the ex-POWs and their wives for discussion and question and answer sessions. A full day in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, included a morning tour of the Eisenhower Farm Historical Site and an afternoon tour of the battlefield. The highlight of the Gettysburg experience was a fireside chat presented by President Abraham Lincoln. Jim Getty, a Gettysburg native and Lincoln aficionado.
  The final day began with a Service of Remembrance at the Soldiers and Airmen’s Chapel at Fort Indianatown Gap Military Reservation. The group visited the newly dedicated Pennsylvania Veterans’ Memorial located in the National Cemetery. The reunion concluded with a banquet.
  from Ex-POW Bulletin

Return to Fort McCoy
  Fort McCoy, located between Sparta and Tomah, Wisconsin, has trained soldiers since 1909. It’s a popular stop for military reunions returning to relive their military experiences. They offer both step-on guided coach tours as well as tours of the Commemorative Area, History Center and Equipment Park.
  Narrated tours of the installation can be arranged for groups of 15 or more Monday through Saturday throughout the year. A tour without stops lasts about one hour and is free. The Commemorative Area, open only to groups of 15 or more, consists of five World War II-era buildings set aside to tell Fort McCoy’s unique story. These facilities, constructed in 1942, depict life as it was for soldiers during the 1940s. Administrative and dining facilities and one barracks represent the WWII era. Other buildings house informational displays highlighting WWII events, a chapel display and display of training aids. To make appointments call 608-388-2407;
  The History Center, also open to groups of 15 or more, displays memorabilia reflecting the installation’s role throughout WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Cuban Refugee Resettlement center operations, Operation Desert Storm and more. Contact the Public Affairs Office, 608-388-2407;
  The outdoor Equipment Park features historic and present-day equipment used on the installation, including more than 40 pieces of equipment from helicopters and howitzers to trucks and trailers. A park layout guide and information brochure are available onsite.
Ruth West, Community Relations assistant with the Public Affairs Office, said the reunion groups are her favorites that tour Fort McCoy. West does all the coordination for the groups and often serves as a tour guide.
  “I never tire of hearing their stories,” West said. “I learn as much about Fort McCoy back then as they learn from me about Fort McCoy now.”
Contact Public Affairs Office, 100 E. Headquarters Rd, Fort McCoy WI 54656-5263.

550th Signal Company reunion
   It all began nearly forty years ago when Frank De Angelo organized a reunion for the 550th Signal Company. They were a small, specialized, self-contained company that wasn’t attached to any other Army group. Eight officers and 120 enlisted men spent a year in Saipan, Marshall Islands, and were able to supply much needed Signal Corp equipment seven times faster than before.
The group has met once a year since 1964 and now includes relatives and friends among their ranks. Les Evory likens it to a family reunion. Last year Evory’s plane left New York City early on September 11th heading for Atlanta. News broke about the tragedy and they were forced to land in Augusta, Georgia. Evory rented a car and drove 200 miles to Charleston, South Carolina.
   Although some members weren’t able to get flights to attend the reunion, the group made the best of the situation. There was a boat trip to Fort Sumter and a memorial service for deceased members. An Army chaplain read names of dead members and rang a bell after each name as a tribute.

Following up on the 516th

   Back in our Spring 1995 issue, we printed an article about Edward Blinn’s search for members of his 516th Signal Company. At that time he was still relatively new to his search for members, but was having increased success by the day.
   In the seven years that have passed, Blinn has overcome the death of his wife of 42 years, has remarried and has found many more of the 516th group. It is now known that more than 975 men passed through the 516th from 1948 through 50, and 772 have been located (495 contacted and a memorial list of 277). Blinn has had success with Lycos and, but there are still 203 persons to be located. If you were part of the 516th or know someone who was, contact Edward J. Blinn, 526 Krikby Rd, Elmont NY 11003; 516-358-7852; fax 516-358-6094;

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