Pittsburgh Reunion 2005
The beautiful and historic Omni William Penn Hotel, in Pittsburgh, PA, located near the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers was the site of our 2005 Reunion, and it was another great one!
The Urban room served as the all-in-one room used for registration, visiting, PX, displays, the Historical Staff, and The Website Team. The Web Team was two short as Paul West and Charlie Cole were unable to attend. Harry Nelson had his computer up and running to show everyone the 100th Bomb Group’s awarding winning website www.100thbg.com. There was also a continuous photo display and a short film of Thorpe Abbotts and the 100th BG during their time there. The footage - the black and white shot by Doc Harding, and the color shot by John Schwarz, the base photographer, was a big hit. The camera he used is displayed in the museum at Thorpe Abbotts.
Reunion chairman William J. "Bill" Cully provided tours of the Soldiers and Sailors Museum, a delightful Riverboat dinner cruise, and an interesting and informative bus tour of Pittsburgh.
The Reunion Committee was also kept busy constantly. Colleen King ran the registration database and worked up until the last moment to enter all of those who were registered. She even had copies at the reunion desk for all to take. Marilyn Barbarita, Bud Valenti, Larry Garvin and Don Briggs ran the registration desk. Richard Shandor, Peggy Jessee and Susie Campbell did a great job manning the PX. Dan Moede and Ed Blanchard helped out all over, and Robert Larsen hosted the Generation Gathering.
Speaking of the Generation Gathering, not only did it last longer than anyone would have expected but also there were well over eighty people in attendance from all ages of the 100th. Dan and Ed were bringing in chairs as fast as possible as Robert touched on many subjects important to our future.
Fantastic volunteers ran the Pittsburgh Reunion, and we all owe them a huge amount of gratitude for the wonderful job they all did. With so much help, it is entirely possible that we have failed to recognize a few names, and for that we do apologize.
The two outstanding Historical Roundtables were truly highlights of this reunion. One was led by Jan Zdiarsky on the September 11, 1944 Air Battle over the Ore Mountains. This was the mission to Ruhland, Germany where the 100th lost 12 aircraft and was the subject of Robert Bailey’s Houston print. There are still a very limited number of copies of this print available from Jan Riddling.
The second roundtable was led by Ken Breaux on the William Lewis story. William Lewis was the P-51 pilot also lost on Sept. 11th, 1944 while flying top cover for the 8th AF. Ken has a book detailing the entire William Lewis story called Courtesies of the Heart that is due out soon.
Attending from England and representing the Thorpe Abbotts Museum was our dear friend Richard Gibson and our new friend Gary Hancox, both Museum Trustees. They report good things happening at the Thorpe Abbotts Museum including a very successful "Open House" that attracted a large crowd, and an increase in the amount of visitors due to the website and promotional activities. Richard and Gary pass on an open invitation, and look forward to as many as possible coming over for a visit.
Ralph Bradley presided at the Saturday morning business meeting. It is a joy to report that in 2005 the 100th Bomb Group Foundation is still going strong! It has been observed, even before the 2003 Houston Reunion, that many of the other groups had decided to no longer have reunions, or a newsletter, or in many cases, even an association! The 100th remains a formidable force!
In other business, the membership approved Nashville, Tennessee, as the site of the 2007 Reunion. Plans are already underway to make Nashville another great gathering place for the 100th Bomb Group Foundation.
The election of the new Board of Directors was also held, and Grant Fuller, Bill Woods, and G. Duane Vieth are continuing on in their positions as Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer, and Assistant Secretary/ Legal Counsel, respectively.
Our new President is Jim Bittle, son of Billy and Mary Barb Bittle, and our first second generation president. The passing of the torch to the new generation has been a hot topic of late in the 8th Air Force, and it good to see that, once again, the 100th Bomb Group leads the way with the election of Jim Bittle. We are the first 8th Air Force Bomb Group to elect a second generation president.
There are already several second generation members on the Foundation Board, including Paul West, Mike Faley, Jan Riddling, and Nancy Putnam. Joining them are Ralph M. Larson and William M. Woods.
The most important aspect of the reunion, as always, was the chance for our veterans, families, and friends of the 100th to renew old friendships and make new ones. A great number of entire families attended this year’s reunion, and it’s wonderful to see the children and grandchildren taking up the torch and honoring the 100th.
If you were unable to attend the Pittsburgh reunion, you were missed. It was a great time, and we hope that you’ll make every effort to attend the next reunion in 2007. In the mean time, for the sake of history, record your memories of the 100th. Splasher Six, the Historical Staff, and the Web Team are all available to record, preserve, and honor the legacy of the 100th, but it cannot be done without you, our Veterans and Families.