REUNIONs: "...VB-109 and VPB-109 Bombing Squadrons Reunion, October 9, 10 and 11, 2003, Pensacola, FL. Contacts: Chester F. Sommers, 35340 Maries Rd., 202, Meta, MO 65058, Tel: 573-229-4560 or Roy L. Balke, 1426 W 45th St., Erie, PA 16509, Tel: 814-866-6683."..." Contributed by BALKE, Roy L. firstname.lastname@example.org [30DEC2002]
REUNIONs: "...FIFTH ANNUAL REUNION of VB-109/VPB-109 will once again be held in Branson, Missouri, during the period 5 - 8 September 2002, at the Clarion Palace Inn. Along with the many hours of camaraderie, there are plans to attend the Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show as well as the Formal Squadron Dinner! We recognize Branson is an "old stomping" ground for the reunion but hope the pleasure of gathering together along with the exceptional entertainment will encourage all to attend! Detailed letter will be mailed to all by the end of January! POC are William R. Smith, email@example.com; Carl Snyder, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Cindy Garlock, email@example.com..." Contributed by Cindy Garlock firstname.lastname@example.org [18JAN2002]
REUNIONs: "...VB/VPB-109 WWll Patrol- Bombing Squadron will be having their annual Reunion on September 13-15, 2001, in Nashville, Tn. The contact person is: George Fairbanks, 3639 Rue De Renard, Florissant, MO, 63034-2349, Phone # 314-837-2651, e-mail: email@example.com. Each year, the reunion group has been larger than the year before, and we would love to see this year continue the trend. Your help in getting the information out is appreciated. Thanks! Tracy Parisi, daughter of George Fairbanks, contact ..." Contributed by George Fairbanks firstname.lastname@example.org [09FEB2001]
"...Reunion Report..." Contributed by George Fairbanks email@example.com [16OCT2001]
TO ALL VB / VPB Crewmen and Families / Friends:
The Fourth Annual Reunion of VB/VPB-109 was held in Nashville, Tennessee on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of September at Shoney's Music Valley Inn. Forty-seven crew members and seventy-one family members, totaling 118, made reservations in Nashville for tours and/or the banquet. Fifty-nine lodging reservations were made. On Sept. 11, thirty-five lodging reservations were cancelled after the occurrence of the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. At this point, what would have most certainly been a reunion with the best turnout ever, began to be a reunion that was a challenge to attend for everyone who had a plane reservation, as all airports shut down across America.
Seventeen crews were represented.
Seven crews were represented by two crewmen each. They were:
VB-9: Andy Halasz and George Mellard
VPB-2: Jackson Anderson and Fred Charles
VPB-4: Chet Sommers and George Hausmann
VPB-5: Roy Balke and Fred Beckmann
VPB-7: George Fairbanks and Pete Kinser
VB-6: Bob Carey and George Murphy
The crews with one member each present were:VB-1: Bob Schaffer
VB-2: Carl Snyder
VB detached: Norman Burton
VPB-3: Chester Cline
VPB-6: Andrew Hill Jr.
VPB-10: Ken Kurz
VPB-11: Bill Edwards
VPB-12: Bill Smith
VPB-17: Dallas Vickers
The best represented crew was
VPB-16 with Charles Dahl, John Gill and Dan Pendley.
The members, wives, and families enjoyed several tours. The first one, offered on the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 14th, was a trip down the Cumberland River on a paddle wheeler, the General Jackson Showboat. We were met at the dock with music and the sound of a modern-day Minnie Pearl shouting, "Howdie!", in her melodious, earsplitting voice. The ride began with a delicious dinner served on the lower deck, along with an entertaining show. Then, we were turned loose to peruse the upper deck which contained a souvenir shop, an ice cream parlor, and observation areas with tables and chairs. The top deck was a haven for music lovers as a three-piece combo played rousing sing along music. We also were invited to perform our favorite songs if we felt competent to sing in front of everyone. Although two people from the audience, including the bus driver from one of the other groups, did perform, our group members controlled their urge to be singing stars and we served as the appreciative audience, instead. The weather was so perfect for this cruise that even after two and a half hours, we were sorry to see the boat dock.
Our second tour was on Friday evening of that same day. We attended a live radio performance of the Grand Ole Opry, with Porter Wagenor serving as host. More than twenty-five Grand Ole Opry stars took turns introducing each other and performing on stage. We heard country, bluegrass, and gospel music, along with a few comedic spots. It was interesting to hear the commercials, as we watched the stage men prepare the stage for the next act. So many areas of action ware going on simultaneously. This was a special treat for those of our members who have been listening to the Grand Ole Opry on their radios for over 40 years.
On Saturday afternoon, Sept. 15, we were offered a sightseeing tour of downtown Nashville. We visited the Ryman Auditorium which is the restored former home of the Grand Ole Opry.. After viewing a film on the history of the auditorium ( which began as a church), we toured the building and even climbed the steps to the stage where we posed with guitars for pictures. What a thrill to stand on the same spot on which Patsy Cline and Hank Williams once stood. Our next stop on the tour was a visit to the Wildhorse Saloon. Above the dance floor there, life size statues of horses were hung upside down, so as to look like they were stampeding across the ceiling. Also, at various spots in the bar, life size horse statues were placed in such a way that you could sit right next to one, as if he were your drinking partner. These made for good Kodak picture opportunities. After a little dancing, the tour resumed with a visit to the Bicentennial Mall which depicts the history of Tennessee. The Mall includes a World War ll Memorial, dedicated to those who served during the War. This monument is a huge globe that sets on a curved platform of water which allows the globe to be rotated as one views different parts of the world. The beauty and size of the Mall are very impressive. We had just enough time to end our tour by driving past some celebrities homes, which included the homes or former homes of Minnie Pearl, Tammy Wynette, Ronnie Milsap, Brenda Lee, Donna Summers, and the Governor's Mansion.
At one time or another, during our stay, many of the group took an impromptu tour of the Opryland Hotel, which was right across the way from our hotel. Shoney's Inn provided us with a free shuttle ride to and from the Opryland Hotel, so it was most convenient to pop over there during a free hour. The Opryland Hotel has 2,800 rooms. In fact, this hotel is so large, guests get lost there often and wander for years. O.K., I'm exaggerating, they wander around the many hallways lost for a few minutes. The hotel has an area called the Cascades in which one can go for a boat ride on a miniature river built around the lush flowers, trees, and waterfalls in this tropical garden-like area of the hotel. Another area of the hotel is built to resemble New Orleans, containing buildings with balconies and scrolly ornamental fencing and fountains.
The options provided by Johnny Walker tours were topnotch for entertainment and ease of attending, with buses waiting for us right at our hotel door. This company refunded the tour money for those who were unable to fly in, which was not a part of their contract with us, but was very thoughtful and much appreciated.
Most who had flights were forced to cancel out . These included several from Florida and a number from the east coast. Three members made it via airlines, arriving as soon as possible once the airports reopened. These were George and his wife, Betty from L.A., George Murphy from Milwaukee, and Bob Carey from Las Vegas.
Throughout the Reunion, copies of Alan Carey"s books, "Above An Angry Sea, United States Navy, B-24 Liberator and PB4Y-2 Privateer", and "We Flew Alone, United States Navy B-24 Squadrons" were available for purchase. If you would like a copy contact Alan by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at: 1623 Sylvia Court, Round Rock, Tx 78681.
Prior to the banquet, on Saturday night, before any food was spilled on our fancy dress-up clothes, a professional photographer took a formal shot of all the crew members, along with any of their sons, or son-in-laws who were in attendance. A formal shot of the ladies was also taken which included wives, lady-friends, daughters, and daughter-in -laws. A shot of everyone in attendance, all together, as we took last year, was not taken because there were just too many to place in one photograph and be able to see everyone clearly.
Thanks to extraordinary efforts on everybody's part, sixty-two were able to be present for the banquet. After everyone filled their plates and were seated, the banquet began with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer led by Tony Parisi, (son-in -law of George Fairbanks). As we ate, Tracy Parisi made a presentation of gifts and expressed thanks to Cindy Garlock, (daughter of Bill and Lois Smith), and Roy Balke, who both helped immeasurably behind the scenes to make this Reunion successful. Although they were not officially on the Reunion committee, they contributed just as much with their unique talents, as did those of us who were officially on the planning committee. Roy and Cindy tracked down hard to locate members, seeing that the committee received their addresses, so they could be notified of future Reunions. Cindy planned and developed Memory Book ll, even leaving the fun at the Reunion to dash out and make the needed number of copies, so all who ordered the book at the Reunion could receive them at the banquet. Roy obliged us by taking informal photos of crew members who requested them after the banquet. He also contributed two sets of framed sign-in sheets which all guests signed, thus recording for posterity the names of those who attended the Fourth Annual Reunion of 2001. Look for one of the sets at next year's Reunion. Much thanks goes to them, both.
In thanks for heading up the Reunion committee for 2001, Roy Balke made a surprise presentation to George Fairbanks of a very large framed picture of his crew taken in 1945, prior to their leaving the states for Palawan, PI. George expressed his great appreciation of this gift which he said he would truly treasure.
A closing thought for the Reunion was given by George Fairbanks in which he mentioned family members in military service who are presently gearing up for another war. All concurred in belief that the performance of today's military men and their units will meet the same standards as those met by VB/VPB-109, and therefore the terrorist cultures will be vanquished.
The final order of business was lining up a planning committee, a location, and time of year for the 2002 Reunion. No volunteers, at first, appeared, but Bill and Lois Smith refused to let this be the final Reunion of the VB/VPB-109's. They offered to take it again with the help of Carl and Norma Jean Snyder and Cindy Garlock. You remember that they planned and carried out the fun filled 2000 Reunion in Branson, MO. Bill said that the Reunion will have to be in Branson again, because it has to be at a place they could get to and control. He also said that it would have to remain as a fall event, due to his schedule. We know that these five have the know-how to put together the perfect Reunion, and we suspect that this one will indeed have the biggest turnout of all our Reunions so far. So plan on being there, next September, for our Fifth Annual Reunion!
We look forward to seeing you all for another good time in 2002!
George and Mary Fairbanks Tracy and Tony Parisi
REUNIONs: "...VB/VPB-109 Third Annual Reunion of all crew members and their families will be held in Branson, Missouri, 5 - 7 September 2000. We are doing an active search via the internet's white pages to locate crew members who have not been seen or heard from since the squadron was deactivated in 1945. If you were a member of VB 109 or VPB 109 or if you know of someone who was, please contact: William R. Smith ((VB/Crew 5 and VPB/Crew 12), c/o C. Garlock, 5800 Sandshell Drive 7203, Ft. Worth, TX 76137, or email to: email@example.com..." [01NOV99]
"...As an update to the Reunion held in Branson, MO, during the period 5 - 7 September 2000:
The 109th had an absolutely outstanding gathering to celebrate the year 2000 and had the best ever turnout of not only crewmen but their families and friends as well! Forty-one (41) crewmembers and fifty-three (53) guests enjoyed the companionship of the days. There were fifteen (15) crewmembers from VB-109, twenty-one (21) from VPB-109, and five (5) who had served in both...but even better than that...there were fifteen (15) children or grandchildren present along with thirty-eight (38) wives, brothers, sisters, and friends! What a terrific gathering!
VPB-109, Crew 7, "Hogan's Goat" had the best turnout of crew with five attending: George Fairbanks (PPC), Marion Kinser, Robert Berry, Dean Johnson, and Donald Hamilton. VPB-109, Crew 12, "Blind Bomber", also had a srong contingent present with Leo Haas, Chester Rosell, Lowell Tiller, and Bill Smith. VB-109, Crew 7, "The Stork", had three attending with Roger Clemons, Sidney Metcalf, and Chester Rosell. There were many "newly located" folks present who brought a vitality and enthusiasm for the Reunion that endured throughout the three days!
George and Mary Fairbanks, along with their daughter, Mary Parisi, graciously volunteered to take on the challenge of the 2001 Reunion and began their coordination efforts the very next morning! Am certain you will be hearing from them shortly!
This Reunion had great food, outstanding entertainment, and heartfelt companionship! Even though it had been 55 years since VB/VPB-109 was decommissioned, it was crystal clear at this Reunion that the 55 years had not dimmed the camaraderie and the spirit of the indomitable crewmen of the 109th!
Our best to you all...thanks for making the 2000 Reunion so terrific...and see you in 2001!!
Bill and Lois Smith, Carl and Norma Jean Snyder, Cindy Garlock..." Contributed by Cindy Garlock firstname.lastname@example.org[17SEP2000]
REUNIONs: "...The second Reunion of VB-109 and VPB-109 Squadron Members and their families is scheduled to be held in Las Vegas NV September 14 and 15, 1999. Please send me your name, Squadron, Crew, U.S. mailing address and phone number, and I will send information. Also, you may call me, 814-866-6683...Roy L. Balke, Crew 5 email@example.com"
"...Attendance at this second reunion of VB-109 and VPB-109 Squadron Crewmen and guests was 63. There were 29 crewmen, 16 from VB-109, 9 from VPB-109 and 4 who had served with both squadrons. One item of attendance interest; there were four crewmen from each VB-109 Crew 1, VB-109 Crew 10 and VPB-109 Crew 5 and there were three from each VB-109 Crew 6 and VPB-109 Crew 14. Many of the attendees had not seen each other since separation 54 years ago. Just getting together to greet each other and exchange experiences was of most value but activities also included a tour of Nellis AF Base. All are looking forward to the next reunion, now in planning stage..." Contributed by Roy L. Balke, Crew 5 firstname.lastname@example.org[23OCT99]
REUNIONs: "...San Francisco 20-24 May 1999 for PB4Y '99. Liberator and Privateer guys/gals, attend your own squadron reunion first. If you can't do that, then make good use of your limited time as many others have from the 50+ PB4Y squadrons and share those PB4Y Experiences with others who "speak" PB4Y. No translation necessary! All family, grandkids (Free & 1/2 price!) and friends are welcome! Please contact Ron Sathre (son of deceased Plane Captain Ray Sathre, VPB-121), Int'l PB4Y Association, 31262 San Andreas Drive, Union City, CA 94587-2856 (510) 487-PB4Y to register today. Visit the website for more information..." Contributed by PB4YGuy@aol.com WebSite: http://www.PB4Y.com [03MAY99]
REUNIONs: "...ALBERT P VIDAL, STAN FRAZER & MYSELF WILL BE GETTING TOGETHER IN FLORIDA IN LATE MARCH OF THIS YEAR. WE ARE ALL CREW 11 VPB-109. WOULD TO HEAR FROM ANY OTHER CREW 11 MEMBERS..." Contributed by BILL EDWARDS BJEDWARDS1@AOL.COM [30JAN99]
"VP-109 Summary Page"