220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company

May 2003 CATCOM E-Newsletter

Catkiller plaque
and Family,
and all Friends
and Brothers in Arms,
in memory of those who have served


This information submitted by Charles R. Welsh (crwelsh@juno.com), former member of the original 220th:

"Colonel Charles L. "Woody" Woodhurst was a section leader/ Platoon leader in Hue. He had a distinguished tour. His platoon of bird dogs was over run by the VC once in Hue, and he was involved in an action in Ashau that earned him the silver star. However, he was never supply officer (correction to my earlier statement). Jay Weight held that job.

Because of this [above action], he was buried with full military honors at Arlington, horse drawn caisson, a company of honor guard, firing squad and a full military band. Just like JFK.

MG Jerry Curry (our first Co CO), BG Jim Morris, Col Stu Miller, LTC Mel Davis, Darl McAllister, Bill Welch, and me (the last three, all 747 Captains, retired from NW Airlines) attended.

Also an extra bit of trivia. The first group of Catkillers never had assigned individual call signs. We used "Catkiller" followed by the last three tail numbers, as we did in flight school. I wonder who changed that to coincide with what the rest of the army was doing, and when?

Charlie Welsh"


This is a repeat of the announcement that came in an e-mail from Kurt Gebhardt:

"I saw your comment on the Catkiller web site. My dad was Gene Gebhardt, Catkiller 6. He died in 1993 from cancer, only 61 years of age. I am a pilot because of him.

Kurt Gebhardt
Continental Airlines, Houston, TX"

From John Hillman:

"I spoke with Kurt last evening...told him some Catkiller stories about his father, Gene, and shared with him that we all held him in high regard. I furthermore invited him to the reunion, insuring him he would be most welcome to attend as he is a legacy to our bunch. We had a long pleasant conversation.... I also mentioned he would be included on the Catkiller E-News mailing list, which I see Don has already taken care of. Kurt is anxious to hear more stories about Gene. I assured him that would be no problem, since quite a few people who knew Gene would attend the reunion.


From Johnny Moore:

My name is Johnny Moore. I was a mechanic in the 220th Recon Airplane Co. in Vietnam in 1969. I remember your father well. I have several photos I can e-mail if you like. One you might especially like shows him getting dunked in the engine can we used to ice down the beer at a company party. Getting dunked was always a ritual at company parties toward the end when we all had a good buzz going.

Very sorry to hear about his passing. My condolences to you and your family. He was a well respected soldier [Johnny and John speak these words for all who knew Gene].

The Catkillers are having a reunion in Vegas in October. It would be great if you could attend.

Johnny Moore"


This is from Charlie Welch, too:

"I found the original roster of the 220th RAC, which included all of the officers, their wives and where they hailed from as of June 1955 . Notice Bill Everett. He was my next door neighbor at Ft Rucker. I consoled him when he got his orders for Viet Nam. A week later I got mine. He was my boss at Quang Ngai. See below, name, rank and home state (postal abbreviation), and [spouse]:
Curry, Jerry R., MAJ , WA (Now VA)
[Charlene "Kit")
Amberger, William J., CPT, NC
Bartolo, Anthony M., CPT, NY
Chancellor, Robert L., CPT, TX
Everett, William E., CPT, GA
Jones, John B., CPT, NC
Miller, Stuart A., CPT, MD
[Marion (Mike)]
Pepe, Michael J., CPT, PA
Perry, James P., CPT, ID
Quigley, Richard W., CPT, TN
(Deceased VN 1968?)
Richards, Robert E., CPT, CA
Rogers, David K., CPT, France
Teer, Robert H., CPT, TX
Tompkins, William G., CPT, IA
Weight, J. Orman, CPT, PA
Welsh, Charles R., CPT, WA
Woodhurst, Charles L., CPT, SC (deceased 03)
Batten, Thomas E. Jr., 1LT , FL
Bowen, Fred W., 1LT, NM
Chrobak, Walter J., 1LT, NJ
Davis, Melvin L., 1LT, AL
Grooms, Ronald L., 1LT, OH
Johnson, Donald L., 1LT, WA
Jordan, Robert J. Jr., 1LT, OK
Keathly, Jimmie F., 1LT, LA
McAllister, Darl, 1LT, WA
Moore, Don H., 1LT, WA
Morris, James M., 1LT, NY
Murphy, Dennis H., 1LT, ND
Phillips, Daniel A., 1LT, WA
Imel, Gary L., 2LT, WA
Behny, Donovan E., CWO, VA
end of list
Our advanced party, including myself, flew over [to Vietnam] early and understudied with the 74th RAC. When asked what we were supposed to do, they just said, "fly around until you get shot at, then call in artillery or air strikes."

About a third of the below were transferred immediately to other units, and then another fifth were reassigned to Bn to break up DEROS problems. On top of that, the unit was deployed in four widely dispersed areas, Hue Citadel, Phu Bai, Da Nang, and Quang Ngai. So we really didn't get to know each other very well, out side of the two months at Ft Lewis.

I will try to contact as many as possible, and give them your e-mail address. However, I must admit, you are doing a better job than we were able to do two year ago when we tried to get a reunion going. We were able to contact about a dozen.

220th Aviation Company - Fort Lewis"

Speaking of Mike Pepe, this note came from Paul Brennan, Reunion 6:

Spoke at length today with Mike Pepe (BG,ret) and former Catkiller from the original group that took the unit to Vietnam. He was interested in our reunion and will get back to me with an answer as to his attendance. [Looking forward to having you there, sir.]


This from [Redacted]:

"I copied twenty-one pages from Alan's 1971 yearbook to send your way. I am planning to send the book to Fort Rucker to the museum, along with a few other articles, but wanted to insure that your group has a record of these pictures. My thought was if you wanted to scan the photos into your website or if you wanted to take them to Las Vegas, it might generate some conversation, trigger some memories and maybe help to locate a few more of your Catkiller brethren."

[redacted] has graciously offered the loan of that 1971 annual, and Paul Brennan will carry it to Las Vegas. Of course, we will take care of it and insure it is ready for the museum upon return to [redacted].

Inside the annual are numerous photos, many unidentified individuals but with caption provided, that should be available when Heather and company make those photo CDs. The last April CATCOM Alert message contained a briefing on the annual, and the first names identified were: unit commander Captain David C. Sapp; First Sergeant Pedro F. Toves; first platoon leader Captain Randy F. Jones; and Captain Thomas J. Shaver the operations officer. Others on the first and last several pages were photos of:

CPT Stanley L. Cherrix, Section Leader CPT Richard P. Almond, Motor Officer CPT Larry J. Vanhorn, Supply Officer
CPT Norwood S. Sothoron LT Thomas H. Alrich LT Behrens
LT Wilcox LT Kirk M. Knight LT Douglas H. Schere
PFC Thomas PFC Graham PFC Edgar
SP4 Olivas SP4 Dyall SP4 Foggleman
PFC Burnett PFC Sanders PFC Ungate

Many of you have Catkiller plaques, and on the back of those you might find a listing of signatures or names of those who were in the unit as you departed. Please transcribe them if you can, and send the list to Bob McComiskie.

More to follow in later issues of CATCOM Newsletter.


"I posted a notice looking for CatKiller 39 on your site. Have had tremendous response from quit a few Catkillers and your friends, but still no joy on Catkiller 39.

I would like to post an invitation to you and your readers to visit our website at: Valor Remembered. There are two [Metal of Honor] MOH missions memorialized on the website - one is that of Roy Benavidez who helped rescue a SOG team trapped by a regiment in Cambodia. The AF FAC, Robin Tornow, did a fantastic job of keeping the NVA off of the team for several hours until they could be extracted. Much of the story is posted there and it is a great read under the Benavidez Memorial tab.

The other mission is Stephen Pless's MOH, August 19, 1967, by My Lai village. The FAC was less a factor in that mission, but after Pless pulled the survivors, he ran TAC Air for a couple of hours on the numerous AAA positions that were active. His BDA and estimation of the enemy situation helped assure the MOH for Pless - the area was crawling with dug in hard-core VC and an NVA Battalion. A few months later came the My Lai massacre. Many eyewitness accounts about the battle are on the site under the Pless Memorial tab.

I would appreciate any help you could be in finding CatKiller 39, and also in spreading the word about the memorial projects of Valor Remembered Foundation.

Thanks to all you FACs for the great support that we enjoyed from you.
Semper fi,

Mark Byrd
former USMC UH1E and AH1G pilot
HML 367, Phu Bai/DaNang, 1969-70"


The latest e-mail listing, Catkiller Group Mailing List, is available in text format, if needed. E-mail Bob McComiskie for a copy. The list is growing quickly!

We welcome Bill Everett (Catkiller); James R. Picket (CatkillerCommChief), 1970; Charles "Bud" Bruton (Catkiller); Kenneth Wiley (Catkiller 26), who is now on the e-list; Jerome W. "Jerry" Tastad (Catkiller66-67), LTC, U. S. Army, Ret.; Terry L. Scruggs (Catkiller17), Gary Wright (Catkiller69-70) of Salida, CA; Jim Vernon (Catkiller24), of Eureka Springs, AR;and Kurt Gebhardt (CatkillerKin).

Recent e-mail bounces were from: John Stokes, at jstokes57@cs.com

Anyone knowing the correct e-mail address for John, please forward it to Bob McComiskie

Here is a recent letter from Bill Everett:

"I served as the Platoon Leader of the 1st platoon, 220th RAC from April 1965 until March 1966. Stationed at Quang Ngai. From March 1966 until June 1966 I was the in charge of all the supply, maintenance, and housekeeping functions for the company. I replaced J. Weight who moved up to XO. Bill Schmale was CO, replacing Ralph Curry.
My Name: William E. Everett, Major USA Retired."

John Hillman, Reunion 5, sent in the names and e-mail address of several more Catkillers. Following contact, here are the results::

From Terry L. Scruggs, Lawton, OK:

"I was in the 220th from March 1968 until March 1969. I was in the third platoon in DA Nang for about six months After that the entire platoon moved to Phu Bai."

From James R. Pickett, Huber Heights, OH:

"I arrived at the 220th RAC, Phu Bai, in Jan 1970 , I served as the Communications Chief. From Jan 1970 to Dec. 10th 1970."

From Gary Wright, Salida, CA:

"I was in Phu Bai from Oct.70 to Nov.71, an SP5, and I worked a few different assignments. Started on the flight line as a mechanic and then was in that little arms room. I took care of the weapons, and, if I'm correct, checked out and secured the pilots' pistols-it's been so long ago. I do remember one thing: I was friends with a guy name Jerry (I think ); he was like the caretaker of the officers club. He lived in the back of the club, and I sure played a lot of poker in there after hours!!! I'll try a locate my pictures from back then. I had a lot of them."

From Gary Tragresser, Catkiller 33 in 70-71 time frame:

"I am trying to decide if I will ride my bike to Vegas or just rent one together with Jerry. That is beautiful country to scoot around in, once you get out of LV. I will retire this summer to become a full time dependent and lunch maker for my teacher spouse. She has always bragged how much younger she is than I, so working a couple of years to help me ease into the pay reduction seems fair. . .at least to me. All this to request that you change my e-mail address to my home. "gtrag@turbonet.com" Thanks again for all and will see you in October."

Follow Gary's lead, and let's go! Regardless of your reason for attending the reunion in Las Vegas, there will be something in or around the city to interest you and to make this a memorable event for all. Make those plans, be there, and have fun!


Have someone in a foreign land and need to make a phone call? Want to know the time in Hawaii, Vietnam, or LAS VEGAS?

Check this out: Time Zone Conversions


This is from Carl Drechsel:

Sandy and I saw an advertisement for the show on TV, and it was really good, so we would like to tell others about it in the newsletter:

Celine Dion's Las Vegas Show, "A New Day" is now playing at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Information regarding the show can be seen at celinedion.com; show dates for October have not been published yet. From the current schedule, it looks like there is one show per week; maybe we will get lucky and it will be playing when we are there. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. and lasts for 90 minutes with no intermission. Perhaps someone could call for information on Group Tickets (20 or more people; [they now say a group is 10 or more people]): 800/933-7110. Show information: 888/995-1555. Regular ticket prices are:

$200: VIP Orchestra
$150: Orchestra [now 162.50]
$127.50: First Mezzanine [now 140]
$87.50: Second Mezzanine [now 100]

Note: Celine does not perform on Monday and Tuesday, so that leaves only Sunday night for a show, or stay late and attend a show after the reunion.


Click here for photo of Catkiller Reunion Limo

To restate the specifics: 220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company REUNION


October 19, 20, 21, 2003


Palace Station Hotel &Casino
2411 West Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89102
(Reservations) 800-634-3101
To locate the hotel on a map, visit this site and type in the above address: Rand McNally Maps


Reunion 6 - Paul V. Brennan
Reunion 5 - John Hillman (Executive in Charge)
Reunion 4 - Jerry Bonning (Logistics) Rooms, hotel, meeting rooms, banquet
Reunion 3 - Jerry DiGrezio (Operations; notifications, etc.)
Keeper of the E-List - Bob McComiskie (send your changes and updates to Bob)
Newsletter- Donald M. Ricks
Golf One-Joe "Beans" Brett (Sundowner Yankee)

We have reserved a block of rooms under: "220th RECONNAISSANCE AIRPLANE COMPANY" (CATKILLERS). Please state this when you make your reservations. Cost of rooms: $69 per night. You can make reservations now. Contact Paul V. Brennan (Reunion 6) with questions, suggestions, and recommendations.

We know you guys and gals have heard of our own Charlie Finch. He has RETIRED and states that he plans to attend the reunion in Las Vegas. Regarding the reunion, Charlie said, "I am trying to work out the trip as that is my 37th anniversary and Nancy's birthday, etc.," so let's join in wishing Charlie and Nancy happy retirement and best wishes in making it to Las Vegas. It will be fun to help them celebrate, too!


Over a hundred on the e-list have indicated they will attend the reunion, and the verbal number seems to grow each day. While we are not filling up the reservation books at the Palace Station Hotel at a record pace, the hotel reservations office states we are about normal in numbers, this far out. However, we need to be more solid on our reservations made, especially by the end of May. First, we have a recon group headed to Las Vegas, at their own expense, in early June. They are going out there, as our representatives, to check on things, make arrangements, and generally gather information so that we can have a good time. Second, our goal is to have at least forty or more rooms on the reservations book, before they leave for Las Vegas.

What has been done so far represents a lot of work from the reunion staff. If we show hotel management and the reunion staff that we are serious, and they have the numbers to prove it while at their 3:30 appointment on June 6th with Tracy Pembroke, the convention director for Palace Station, we then have their attention and confidence. We can also make more solid our plans and arrangements. There is a lot to be done, but the most important part is yours: You must make your reservation and commit to being there in person. Please take the time to call and make your reservations, soon. Every one of you is important to and in this effort, and it is important that we get behind this sooner than later.

Again, their toll-free reservations number is: 800-634-3101. So far, there has not been a charge to our credit cards; and they can explain their very lenient cancellation policy and when and how you may pay for your room. Traditionally, bills are paid upon checkout, but if you have any concerns or questions, just give them a call.

Another note from Jerry Bonning: "Remind our group to check in under our group name. The Hotel knows us as 220th CATKILLERS. I don't know if we care but the Hotel computer ID is (PCI220T).

When I talked to Tracy last week, we found three that had made reservations but were NOT listed as delegates in our group".


Some members of the planning committee are meeting at Las Vegas in June, as an advanced party to gather information and make necessary arrangements, and anyone who wants to come is invited.  The dates are June 6-8, at the Palace Station Hotel. If you plan to attend and want reservations, just mention the Catkiller Reunion and seek the same room deal we have in October. For further information, contact Jerry DeGrezio, Jerry Bonning, John Hillman, or Paul Brennan.


Thanks to Scott Cummings for maintaining this site at:http://www.catkillers.org

Photo page:www.catkillers.org (contains a link to previously published newsletters and alerts).

Bob McComiskie's Photo Page


Next month's newsletter will include additional information on some nice golf shirts under consideration for production. Also, there are prototype stickers in the graphics shop being developed, based on our plaque or crest, so we should have photos and samples ready by next month.

Jerry Bonning has a briefing page on Catkiller logo golf shirts that should be available for order sometime in June:

Briefing and sample of shirts under consideration


This is from Johnny Moore:

"Pass on to the reunion S-4 that I will bring a Kodak Slide Projector for use and anyone bringing slides should have them loaded in rotary type trays [already to go]. We'll just need to arrange the use of a screen. If anyone has a laptop with Power Point, maybe they could bring it. The techno savvy guys could download their pics to CD and bring for showing on the laptop."

This from Jerry Bonning

"I will make sure that there is a screen. I will also see to it that a multimedia projector is available even if I have to bring it with me. We will find someone to bring a notebook computer" [If you can help, let Jerry know]

Details concerning slide shows, and presentations of this sort, will have to be worked out before the reunion. We have limited time and resources, and knowing there is a limit to the group's span of attention, we will, over time, brainstorm this for ideas on how best to accomplish your goals. If you have ideas, please send them along to Jerry Bonning.

Paul V. Brennan
Reunion 6
Atlanta, GA
Donald M. Ricks
Spring Hill, TN

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