220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company
September 2003 CATCOM E-Newsletter
and all Friends
and Brothers in Arms,
in memory of those who have served
Countdown to the Catkiller Reunion
220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company REUNION
October 19, 20, 21, 2003
Palace Station Hotel &Casino
2411 West Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89102
702-367-2411 [Hotel Group ID for reference is: PCI220T]
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, updates,
and requests for a copy of the official list to Bob)
Newsletter- Donald M. Ricks (for newsletter comments, info, etc.)
Golf One-Joe "Beans" Brett (Sundowner Yankee)
HOW TO CONTACT REUNION STAFF MEMBERS: E-mail Bob McComiskie or Don Ricks (at the above e-mail links), or John Hillman (e-mail link at bottom of page), or any staff member, if you know their e-mail address.
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, or
ask about their smaller garden rooms. You can make reservations
now. Contact Paul V. Brennan (Reunion 6), John Hillman (Reunion 5), or any other staff member, with questions,
suggestions, and recommendations. A link to John's e-mail address is at the bottom of this page.
As of this date, there are at near capacity on our rooms reserved, out of the fifty allocated to our group. If anyone has difficulty reserving a room, please let Jerry Bonning know. Let us try to work something out, before you give up and go to another hotel..
NOTE: This is an obscure mention of a not-before-approached-subject, but a question has arisen about
the expected dress code for the reunion. The Staff recommends that, as a minimum, shirts with a collar (consequently a Catkiller golf shirt is an excellent
option) is appropriate for all of our functions, especially the banquet and dinner.
|TIME||ACTION||LOCATION||DAY 1, OCT 19, 2003|
|1900-2100||NO HOST COCKTAILS||MEETING ROOMS||DAY 2, OCT 20, 2003|
|0800-1700||AMUSE YOURSELVES||LAS VEGAS|
|1800-1845||PHOTO OPS||BANQUET ROOM|
|1855-1900||OPENING REMARKS||BANQUET ROOM|
|2000-2030||BUD BRUTON, Vietnam Today||BANQUET ROOM|
|2030-2045||JOHN HILLMAN, Tribute to KIA/MIA and deceased Catkillers||BANQUET ROOM|
|2045-?||CARL DRECHSEL, CLOSING REMARKS||BANQUET ROOM||DAY 3, OCT 21, 2003|
|0800-1700||AMUSE YOURSELVES||LAS VEGAS|
|1800-2100||NO HOST DINNER, at to be determined||To be determined|
|2100-?||GET TOGETHER||MEETING ROOMS|
In case you might not recognize those daring men who performed the tasks that will bring the upcoming reunion together, below are some photos to help you identify them. Just click on the job title to see a larger version
of the photo:
Paul, Reunion 6
John, Reunion 5
Jerry, Reunion 4
Jerry, Reunion 3
Joe, Golf Six
This is a note from Joe Brett, Golf Six. He has spent considerable time and effort to set up for your golfing pleasure and needs your decision and response, soon:
"I need to know who wants to play golf [and when]. I have someone lined up to schedule us, but I do not know how many want to play. We have Monday and Tuesday scheduled for 8 players. If nobody chimes in, I will cancel and just make tee times at the reunion."
E-mail Golf Six (Beans)
Ray Caryl, Catkiller32/42, sent in an order for Catkiller stickers and wrote out his order on an unique stationary card. I asked him where he obtained the card and if it was all right if we could scan and use the front-leaf drawing in this newsletter. Here is his informative reply:
"Don: Thanks for the [e-mail] regarding the stationary....I took a drawing that a REAL artist had done and cut around it (a print shop will not copy copyrighted material), went to a paper supply store and picked out the color and type of cardstock I wanted and had about 500 of them printed up. I found the original pictures at Ft. Rucker years ago.....can't remember the name of the artist. Got some OV-1 and Blackhawk cards too........flew the Mohawks for the Georgia Guard and the Blackhawks for Customs. Never got rich but sure had a good time.....
What is Harold Vail's E-address [?].......ask "Combat" Harold about the time he almost shot himself down with his M-16 and a magazine full of tracers.....he also has a VERY interesting story to tell about the night Tet '68 started.......he truly led a charmed life.
Mike Sharkey and the half-million dollar volleyball court:
Seems that Sharkey, our VERY resourceful supply officer, took notice when the Seabees were resurfacing the overruns to the runway at Phu Bai with those alloy, rough-surfaced, inter-locking panels that were about 3ft X 6ft. One afternoon as a Seabee, who was driving a rather large fork-lift piled high with said panels, motored by the company area, Sharkey flagged him down and struck a deal. A couple of bottles of hard liquor (beer was rationed to all Marine and Seabee enlisted folks and hard liquor was NOT available to them) was negotiated in trade for enough alloy panels to make a very nice volleyball court right next to the CatKiller club. He even got them to install it.
Several weeks passed and many rousing games of volleyball were played on the new court (no more mud/dust/dirt/etc) and many of our pilots could be found suffering from twisted ankles (the gritty, non-skid surface was great for preventing aircraft tires from slipping but not so good for volleyball games played in combat boots). Injuries aside, the non-skid volleyball court was a great morale booster and Sharkey was elevated to the status of Local Hero First Class.
Then the inevitable happened. One evening a Marine Major or Lt. Colonel, who also just happened to be the Airfield Commander at lovely Phu Bai, was visiting the CatKiller club and wanting to relieve himself, asked one of us where the "head" was located (I guess in the presence of all of us civilized Army pilots he didn't want to just go pee in the corner). Somebody told him it was "straight out that side door." He walked out past the volleyball court (didn't even make it to the latrine), did a 180, walked back into the club and demanded to know, in a very loud voice, "who-the-hell-was-responsible-for-the-last-fifty-feet-of-HIS-overrun-being-located-right-next-to-the-club-with-a-volleyball-net-strung-across-it?"
Needless to say, we ALL rolled over and immediately pointed to Sharkey. Then to our absolute amazement, the silver-tongued, slick-lipped Sharkey not only talked his way out of a court martial, he got the Marine to agree to substitute concrete for the alloy panels. The next day an armada of Seabees descended on our company area, removed the panels and poured the beautiful concrete volleyball court that is probably being enjoyed today by some very grateful Vietnamese. Oh, yes, the incidents of sprained ankles diminished substantially. Seems you are not as prone to twist your ankle if your foot can slip just a little bit........
There are more Sharkey stories, many of them involving John Kovach, aka "Ro"...."
By human nature many have jumped ahead to view the stationary drawing, but let me roll the drums anyway. Here is THE scan of Ray's stationary [Thanks, Ray!]:
In a later e-mail, Ray also provided additional information and a bit of earlier history:
"Don: Just like to add a few comments regarding the Catkiller Eagle. I was in the 3rd platoon at Marble when I went to the jungle survival school at Subic Bay, in Sept 67. The 219th RAC had their Head Hunter statues that all of their personnel received when they left the unit, so I thought a Catkiller eagle would be something we could do. One of the 18th Otter platoon crew chiefs (located right next door) was a very good artist, so I enlisted his talent in drawing a CatKiller eagle that I could take with me to Subic. Gary "Spear" O'Shields and I went to Baguio City, and there I contracted with some master wood carvers to make the eagles out of Monkey Pod wood. The results were sent to us a few months later. I still have mine and I do not know if the tradition continued after I DEROSed.......Ray Caryl, Catkiller32/42
PS....I'm STILL wondering who got the picture of Ann-Margaret (Sacred Box) from our little O-Club.
Curt Perry recently shared with us numerous drawings depicting the effects Bob Hope had on our lives, some depicting the reception he must have had in heaven, and they all tell us that we lost a great comedian, a great man of love, and a great man of compassion. He has my vote for entertainer of the human race. Here is one of the drawings that about says it all:
For those who did not receive the announcement, there is an additional page at the Catkiller Photo Page.
Alan O'Hollaren's 212th CAB annual, published in 1971, contains this previously unpublished photo:
We welcome Tannie Walter Ellison, of Florence, SC; Charlrs R. Dudek (Catkiller32), of Eaton Rapids, MI ; Mark Duenow (Catkiller21), of River Falls, Wisconsin; Edward H. Miler (CatkillerCdr68-69); James L. Coryell (Catkiller66-67), of Lebanon MO; and James A. "Jim" Niemi (Catkiller16), of Orange Park, FL.
Mark Duenow will read this, along with the rest of you on the list, so this is public and private as well. Mark suffers from Multiple Scleroses (MS), which we reveal with firm intention and hope that it does not embarrass him. Moreover, our newsletter attempt to collectively speak for all of us might fail to express the exact degree of concern, compassion, and affection that some would in person. Mark has a lot of friends, especially those who served with him. With that in mind, below is an extract from an e-mail from Bob McComiskie which expresses a fundamental truth we all know and feel within:
"Mark attended the 50th Anniversary of the Birddog in Wichita in 2000. Jerry DiGrezio, John Hillman and I were there. As I understand it, Mark was reluctant to come, at first, but his brother-in-law talked him into it and drove him to the event in a van. I think Mark was a little 'embarrassed'. But after seeing his old buddies again, he realized that his affliction didn't matter. Not to us anyway."
Mark, we are ill-equipped to tell you how much we wish, hope, and pray for the best for you. If you are physically able, we invite you to come to Las Vegas. There, you will be among understanding friends and brothers.
If you wish to e-mail Matrk, just click on his blue, underlined name above.
This is a note from Jim Niemi:
"January 1971 to keystone in November. Randy Jones and "Little" Smithy were my roommates at the end of our tour. We served under Capt. Sapp. I finished my last two months of that, my second tour, in the "Blackcats" ACH at Marble Mt. (the luck of being dual rated). I'll be in Vegas for the reunion."
This following note from Bill Everett (Catkiller65-66), who recently had prostate cancer surgery, speaks of quite courage and determination. We wish you continued progress, success, and retention of that great attitude, Bill:
"First, the prostate cancer was diagnosed as a slow growing type, and, second, it was caught in the very early stage. Thanks to a yearly physical.
I elected to have the radiation seed implant (72 of them). And in the words of the oncologist, the prostate is really cooking.
So far I have two checkups, and the next is schedule for October 15. At that time I should be given my first PSA test to determined if the treatment is proceeding as planed (and hoped).
There is no free lunch, and there are side affects to any of the various treatments. However, it was the opinion of the two doctors (urologist and oncologist) that this was the least invasive [procedure] and would take care (hopefully) of the problem.
Sorry, I will not be able to make it to Las Vegas.
Regards, Bill Everett
This e-mail came from Edward Miler, former Commander 220th R.A.C, 1968-69, a few days ago:
I am honored and humbled that you guys took the time out of your busy lives to email me. Thank you, Andy [Anderson], for first contacting me. Thank you, Charlie [Finch], for writing and for all of the great photos. You haven't changed one damn bit! How did you do it? Thank you Don [Ricks], for sending me the links to the various Catkiller websites, and yes, I'd like to get the newsletters. Thank you Jesse [Morgan], for running the best mess hall in all of "I" Corps. I always looked forward to meal time. I am very sorry that due to health reasons, I will not be able to join you at the reunion in October. I wish you all God speed and always a following wind. I will never forget you and am privileged to have served with you. Please give my warmest regards to all of the men of the 220th RAC with whom you communicate.
Ed Miler, CK6 (1969)
PS. For your info, Russ Blanchard, my XO, was killed in an auto accident about ten years after we returned from RVN. em"
Tannie Ellison wrote this:
"I served as a CatKiller in 1969. I would have been better know, then, as Pee Wee. I bunked with Randy Brown and was an aircraft mechanic.
I have lots of pictures, mostly of the enlisted men. I would love to share them. Not sure if I can get all the names right, but with some help might could.
Thanks for the site-really brings back memories. We were so young then!!"
Bob Cortner has a new e-mail address, and [redacted] has moved. Both will be at the reunion.
Thanks to Scott Cummings for maintaining this site at:http://www.catkillers.org
(contains a link to previously published newsletters and
Leon Skeen, maker of our Catkiller T-Shirts, sent the following photograph as a surprise donation for our reunion gathering. One of you, or your kin, will be the lucky owner of this clock, but the details of how this will occur has not been finalized. However, you can see from the photo that it will be an unique piece and a great addition for your office or den (or anywhere else you are allowed to place it):
This clock is available from Leon Skeen, and here is a recent message the tells you about and how to order:
"The clocks are only $25 plus $5.00 shipping. Each is approximately 7.5 X 9 inches and hand made, so expect some slight differences from clock to clock. I ship them without the hands installed to avoid damage to the hands. Easy installation instructions are included and it only takes about 1 minute and a pair of small pliers to install them.
Here is the URL to my: Clock/Plaque Site . I am giving a discount to the Catkillers, so pay no attention to the prices listed on the website.
Just to let everyone know: (after September 3) I will be out of town until the 14th, so if they send orders and don't hear from me, not to be alarmed. I will knock them out on Monday (15th)."
I received an interesting e-mail from Dave Heffernan, of Windermere, Florida, and include it because of the possibility of another Catkiller Item of Interest. Dave's letter stands on its own:
Hello& I would like to introduce our new Custom Vehicle License Frames especially for Military Veterans. For example, I can make the top of a frame state, "L-19 / 0-1 BIRDDOG" [or CATKILLER "your number"] and the bottom could state, "VETERAN COMBAT PILOT". My frames are a great bargain and they look great! But the best part is that you don't pay a cent until they're on your car. There is a link below to my website so you can view images of the frames. Check the "Compliments" page on the website to see comments of other veterans!
I also have production frames for; Combat Door Gunners, Combat Helicopter Pilots, Combat Aircrew, Veteran Aircrew, Combat Crew Chief, Combat Veterans, Combat Helicopter Pilot, Combat Veteran, Veteran Combat Pilot, "Support Our Troops" and more.
These frames are a great way for veteran's to get well deserved recognition and let America know that there are proud Veterans in our communities! These frames look GREAT, and because of my trust in fellow veterans, you don't have to pay a cent until you have them in your hand or on your vehicle!
Veteran USAF Pilot (Son of Bob "Heff" Heffernan, F-4 Pilot, Da Nang, 69')"
You can view Dave's web site, which describes his Production Frame Examples, at this link.
In keeping with full disclosure of the truth, Jerry Bonning wrote this memo regarding our yet-to-be-finalized raffle drawing procedure, but his thinking out loud is close to the final word (more on that at a later but soon date):
" As far as the raffle goes, it looks like we can have two. With the big prizes being a sweat shirt and the clock [mentioned above]. I will make sure we have a sweat shirt, a polo shirt and a hat for the raffle. I will have both a L and XL of the shirts. If the winner is a [medium], I'll just have to order it, and they will get it later. [Leon Skeen will ship] the clock, [Don Ricks will have the] t-shirt and Stickers. I'm sort of thinking one would be Sweat shirt, t-shirt and stickers. The other Clock, polo shirt and hat. We would have three winners for each raffle. If we line it up this way the total prize amount is close. I'll come up with two different color tickets to sell. We will pull the prizes at the Banquet. Winner must be present to win! [but, you can always "arrange" with a second party]
Jerry Bonning has arranged to supply interested Catkillers with Golf Shirts, Catkiller Logo Denim Shirts, Cat Hats, and a nice Catkiller Sweat Shirt. Here is a recent comment concerning shirt orders:
"The next shirt order will have to be cut off before I go on vacation Sept. 16th. I will need orders in my hand by September 10th, to insure they are available at the reunion. With this order I will probably ship to the hotel and hand them out at the reunion [for those attending]. Ten Cat Hats are available, all L/XL. In blue and khaki.We will have samples of the shirts in the hospitality suite, and I will take one final order at the reunion (Catkiller Stickers will be there, too, if there are any left)."
For the R.A.C. Wear shirts, etc., visit the following URL:
To date, we have orders for twenty-five shirts. Those who committed to purchase T-shirts, please submit your order to Leon Skeen by the end of September. If not, well...I'm going to own a drawer full of shirts, which is no big deal. I just hate to lose our expected rebate return of $75, which we could forfeit if we don't sell the committed fifty shirts. Remember, these profits help pay overhead expenses at the reunion.
Catkiller T-shirts can be ordered directly from the producer, Leon Skeen. Please visit the following link for more information on how to order:
Reflective Catkiller sticker decals:
If you committed to purchase these stickers (or if you just want one or more), please submit your order by the end of September. While there is no minimum, I purchased these based upon the survey of interest. To date, and based upon per unit sold, we have raised $180 that will be given to the reunion staff to help pay expenses, such as the two hospitality rooms, and incidental charges related to the gathering. You will receive a full accounting of expenses and funds raised to pay them. These will be a treasure to have. Satisfaction guaranteed!
These are exactly like the logo at the top of this page, and they are ready for delivery. If you are interested in ordering visit the following URL.
We look forward to this gathering and the expected good times we will share, and we hope all have a safe and enjoyable journey. If anyone has a special need while in Las Vegas, and we can help in meeting that need, please let one of the staff members know. We will soon announce when Check-in at the Hospitality Suite will start.
Paul V. Brennan
John S. Hillman