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This is a repeat from previous quarterly newsletter, but the link is important enough to keep atop this newsletter. Our link to Catkiller group reservations page at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia is below the photo. You may begin making reservations using the link:
In the lower right hand corner of Hyatt Hotel wed site photos are usefuul links to further information. On the first page photo is a link to seventeen photographs of various hotel areas, and another to a nicely done fact sheet regarding the hotel. Look around the site, and when you see a photo, check the same lower corner area for other links.
Make your reservations anytime you desire, the earlier the better.
Sandy Drechsel has provided a very useful and important interactive communication site for reunion business and information. Please click on the link below. This site contains the original announcement, a survey, and will in the future contain any other official announcements or initiatives in support of the reunion committee's efforts:
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Sandy Drechsel published the 2010 Catkiller Reunion Registration Form, and you will need Adobe Reader—which is a free download. If you don’t have Adobe Reader, please click here, download the free software, and install it to your computer; then you should be able to open the file with no problems. If you can’t open them and would prefer them faxed or mailed, please contact Sandy at this link. She can also answer any additional question regarding the reunion.
When you have firm plans to attend the reunion, please send the editor, Don Ricks, an e-mail and he will add a red star beside your name on the online roster—which indicates you will attend. Your support and attendance could mean others will want to also attend and meet with you. We are going to have a great time!
Thanks for all your hard work, Sandy!
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Regrettably, our Reunion Committee Chairman, Bud Bruton, informs our attendees that due to recent family medical advice General Curry and his wife, Charlene, will not be able to attend the reunion. He asks you to pray for the entire Curry family, as they face this serious life challenge. General Curry also regrets he will not be your co-guest speaker and provided this statement and asks that we share his comments with you:
"My wife's cancer has just returned with a vengeance and she cannot travel. I will be spending all my time taking care of her. The two of us were so looking forward to the reunion. It hurts not to be able to come. Please cancel our reservations, and give our very best regards to that fine group of Americans called Catkillers. We will stay in touch. Warm Regards,
Our guest speaker will be Jim Hooper, who will (of course) talk about the Catkillers. Jim is a widely respected photo—journalist and accomplished author. Mister Hooper's most recent work compiled and published accounts of Catkiller activities in the late 1960s, in his acclaimed book A Hundred Feet Over Hell, Flying with the men of the 220th Recon Airplane Company over I Corps and the DMZ, Vietnam 1968—1968.
For more information about Jim Hooper, visit his web site at: Jim Hooper, Author
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I recently had a long conversation with Dr. Tom Banit about his desire to interview pilots who fired the New Jersey during their time in Vietnam.
Dr. Banit will be at the Hyatt on Friday, June 25, from 10am till 3pm, and would do personal and group interviews. The interview takes about one hour and is taped. Our coordinator indicates we have a quiet room available for filming and interviewing within Hyatt's Penn's Landing Hotel. Check in at the Hospitality Suite for the location.
If you are interested in being interviewed, please contact Sandy Drechsel (email@example.com) to be placed on the interview schedule.
Dr. Banit is a professor at Kean University and is a Vietnam Vet with the Marines in the An Hoa area, the area called the Arizona southwest of Danang.
Charles W. Bruton, Jr.
2010 Catkiller Reunion Chairman
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Please check the unit roster, as there have been several additions during the month of May.
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I received the below message and two books from Gary Dolan, author of a well-received book titled, Of Their Own Accord. These will be available for raffle at the reunion.
One of more than a dozen five-star reviewes of Gary Dolan's book at Amazon.com states this, as a recommendation for the book: "I strongly recommend this book. It is action packed. It is true. It was written by a very, very good man who just happens to be a West Point officer in the Untied States Army (Tony Foster)." As I scanned and read portions of this action-packed book, I could not help but realize how fortunate I was to have served in the aviation arena while serving in Vietnam. I respect these guys who sacrificed, fought, and lived constantly in a very dangerous environment. That this brave officer (who aptly represents many others just like himself) would out of the blue send us these books and acknowledges our service to their operations is amazing to me. Thank you for the donated books, Gary, and I wish you continued success with your excellent book:
As I do not know if I will be able to attend the Catkiller Reunion, I would like to donate a couple of autographed copies of my book for you to give away or auction as you deem appropriate.
The Birddog pilots who flew front seat for us in Nam were our Angels in the sky! Check out the pictures at my web site.
Company C (Ranger),
75th Infantry (Airborne)"
Of Their Own Accord web site [contains many excellent photos]
One of our 2010 reunion staff members, dashing and debonair Bob McComiskie, attended the wedding of his son, Sean, on May 22. Noticably happy, Bob stopped to pose, rather nonchalantly, for a photo of his big grin—sportingly in the uniform of the day for Dad and company, with this caveat:
"The wedding featured a bagpiper—and the groom, best man, father of the groom (Bob) and the groom's seven month old son (named after Bob) all wearing kilts!"
Congratulations, Sean (and Bob)!
My name is Rob Whitlow. Live now in Tampa, Florida. Former Marine lieutenant/captain. Flew a couple of hundred missions as an AO (1st Marine Division) in "Cat Killer" birds from Marble Mtn and Chu Lai during 1967 and early '68. Actually was sent to Chu Lai in early March '67 to replace another lieutenant who was killed in a 220th Bird Dog at a place called Duc Pho on the I Corps southern border. While at Chu Lai( March, April, and May '67) flew with a detachment based about twenty miles away in Quang Ngai City.
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Would like to locate a couple of 220th pilots if you have their contact information: Captain Dave Lattimer and Capt Nate Stackhouse. Both were stationed at Marble Mtn Air Facility during the summer of '67.Please let me know if you have information on either.
Thanks to your members for all the wonderful support the 220th provided the understrength and overworked Marines in central "Eye"Corps during that period. The story of the tireless and at times heroic support "Cat Killer" pilots willing provided the Marines has never been told.
Semper Fi ,
Rob Whitlow [Rob's e-mail address is on file with the editor.]
God bless our men and women who make the trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other dangerous locations around the world. God bless their spirit, their families and us, if they should make it to Arlington or other places of rest and honor. An ex-military friend in Virginia composed this video, using Trace Adkins' song, Arlington. Thanks, Leona Skeen, for taking time to help us visualize the incalculable cost of freedom:
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A history section is now available (but under construction) from the Cat Bar. The link is titled "Catkiller History." When you click on this link, you access an index to history, which I organized into seven separate pages. All history relating to any of the seven years of activated service for the 220th RAC will eventually rest with the appropriate year's page. Find the link atop the Cat Bar, included under Site Links.
Only the first three years have any data within the pages. As time permits, other informatiuon will be moved into these pages. There might be appended photo pages for some years, especially if there are numerous photographs.
I ask for your assistance in this project: If you have previously submitted historical information and can help to pinpoint the appropriate year of your information, please let me know. You might also specify on which current site page your information and history resides. I plan to move certain entries found in various newsletters to an appropriate history page.
If anyone wants to volunteer to help arrange this information, please contact me.
Donald M. Ricks, CATCOM Editor
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To everyone who has bugged me since I ran out of stickers, we now have another source for products you will want and enjoy. We have a separate page for Catkiller-related items, accessible from the "Specials" section of the Cat Bar. Click on the "2010 RAC Wear" to read Jack's new page. Jack makes it easy to order.
Two photographs from Tempe, Arizona, show two old Catkillers, Jack Bentley (CK16) and Lynn Bumgardner (CK14/9), soaking up the sun and fun with their wives. In the first photo, both are wearing one of the black Catkiller baseball hats shown at Jack's RAC-Wear page. Those guys were down in Tempe attending Spring Training games with the Angles, with breakfast and dinner last Saturday and Sunday. Nice sun, nice ladies, and nice smiles all around. Jack and Bum said their outing was a lot more fun than 41 years ago. I believe Virginia and Cathy would agree:
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I reviewed General Curry's book, From Private To General in the last quarterly newsletter. Fortunately, I also have a copy of Charlene Curry's book, shown above. Like her husband, Mrs. Curry lived in a small community and grew up in a stable family environment, although there were challenges. Charlene married her childhood sweetheart, Jerry Curry, when Jerry was a lieutenant. From that point she joined her husband on a long and challenging journey into increasingly demanding travel and assignments. Her education was exceptional as she served beside her husband.
While I thoroughly enjoyed Jerry Curry's book, when I started reading Charlene's book, I realized that here was the "rest of the story." The wonder of a man loving a woman and a woman loving her man is evident on each page. She made him complete, as she served along beside him, and he made her life meaningful as a good husband. Charlene was not afraid of the Gospel, and she used its message to share her man's life is a special, instructive manner with family and community. This lady is an amazing person.
Charlene Curry's well-written accounts were more personal than her husband's, so in the whole of the two books, the reader will gain amazing insight into the personal, living witness of the other. Those around them benefited from their example, strong marriage, patriotism, and willingness to work hard in every assignment. There were struggles, but those events strengthened both man and wife for what was to come, and the result was a partnership that benefited the United States of America. You will enjoy this book of courage, strength, thankfulness and determination, and I recommend it highly. I would like to publically thank both General and Mrs. Curry for their exceptional service to our country.
Donald M. Ricks
To purchase Charlene Curry's book, The General's Lady, God's Faithfulness to a Military Spouse, visit any number of online book stores, an example of which is Amazon.com
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This newsletter item came to our attention via Jan H. 'Smitty' Smith (Catkiller41). Thanks for the e-mail, Jan.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is reaching out to inform wartime veterans and surviving spouses of deceased wartime veterans about an under-used, special monthly pension benefit called Aid and Attendance. Visit the VA web site that provides a brief on this program, as a starting place:
Another non-govermnent site that provides assiatance (costs involved are unknown) is below:
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Dr. Dennis L. Dolan, Ph.D., U. S. Army Command and General Staff College, wrote an interesting review of Jim Hooper's book, A Hundred Feet Over Hell (Click on the article image for a larger, readable view):
Another interesting viewpoint regarding Jim's book was well-stated by David Mitchell in his review titled: Long Ago But Still Remembered.
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"At 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906, the people of San Francisco were awakened by an earthquake that would devastate the city. The main temblor, having a 7.7–7.9 magnitude, lasted about one minute and was the result of the rupturing of the northernmost 296 miles of the 800-mile San Andreas fault. But when calculating destruction, the earthquake took second place to the great fire that followed. The fire, lasting four days, most likely started with broken gas lines (and, in some cases, was helped along by people hoping to collect insurance for their property—they were covered for fire, but not earthquake, damage). With water mains broken, fighting the fires was almost impossible, and about 500 city blocks were destroyed. The damages were estimated at about $400,000,000 in 1906 dollars, which would translate to about $8.2 billion today."
Four days before that earthquake, a company mounted a movie camera on a trolly car proceeding down their main street towards the far tower building, which still stands. The recording resulted in this movie (film shipped immediately to New York via train, thus the film survived). After extensive evaluation and research, authorities determined the date of this film's interesting and historical recording:
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My Fellow Catkillers (and friends who served there):
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The following information concerning Agent Orange may be unknown to you. To
celebrate Veteran's Day in 2009, the Department of Veteran Affairs announced
that it will add several diseases to a list of medical conditions that are
presumed to have been caused by the defoliant named Agent Orange.
In researching this topic, I have determined that all military personnel who
served on Vietnamese soil are now presumed to have been exposed to that
herbicide. Studies have suggested that the dioxin in the formula may be
related to several types of cancers and other disorders, such as Type II
If you are unfortunate enough to have any of these particular conditions, (or
become afflicted in the future) please know that you are entitled to a monthly
monetary payment, as well as treatment and free medications for the rest of your
life. You do NOT have to PROVE CAUSATION from dioxin to be eligible. The
presumption is automatic after November 2009.
The list includes: cell and lymphocytic leukemia, type II diabetes, prostate
cancer, hodgkin’s disease, ischemic heart disease, multiple myeloma,
non-hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, soft-tissue sarcoma, and
The only qualification is you must have served in-country with "boots on the
ground." The presumptive disability will be considered to be ‘service
related.' You only need to provide a medical diagnosis along with your
evidence of service in ‘Nam.
You can apply for this disability benefit online. The VA calls it 'VONAPP' for
Veteran's online application. The process can take a couple of months but is
retroactive to the date of application. If anyone has further questions, my
email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help.
This is an attempt by the VA to be more "responsive" to people who have served.
The benefit is significant and could make a huge difference in someone's life!
If this information was previously unknown to just one person, I will feel
satisfied (and justified) in having sent it.
Gene Frey, Catkiller 22/31, 1967—68
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM JACK BENTLEY:
Wanted to thank Gene for the timely and accurate information and add some of what I have learned as well. Six years ago my family doctor began to express concerns about my blood glucose levels during semi annual physical exams. There was nothing in my family history or lifestyle to suggest type II diabetes. She finally put me on medication that keeps my blood sugar in the normal range and diagnosed me with diabetes.
During that time I had a conversation with John Hillman and he encouraged me to go see the VA as they had recognized type II diabetes as one of the diseases caused by exposure to agent orange. I also found out that the State of Arizona had a Department of Veterans Affairs staffed by former military members who acted as advocates on behalf of veterans so you don't have to "go it alone" when confronting the VA bureaucracy. My advocate is a female, retired lieutenant colonel (Army Aviator) with the tenacity of a junk yard dog! She knows the system inside and out and doesn't take no for an answer.
I have since learned that many States have the same or similar programs so I would suggest you might want to check with them first. The VA now handles all of the costs associated with my diabetes and provides a monthly disability payment as well. The system is sometimes cumbersome, but overall I would rate them as adequate. At least I have the peace of mind knowing that as the disease runs it's course it will not bankrupt my family. Hope this helps someone.
Jack Bentley, Catkiller 16/17, 1968—69
The Catkiller top header graphic shows our Catkiller crest, plus supported units while the unit served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1971. Aerial Observers from the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division flew with us for an eighteen month period, so their creast has been added to the top graphic. Thanks to Peter Henderson for bringing this support role to our attention. A history statement is at the unit history page for 1968. Additional information welcomed. Editor.
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LTC (Retired) Ed Miler (Catkiller 6, 1969), contributed history and made a kind offer regarding a pictorial account of his time with the Catkillers. Please view the 1970 history page for more information.
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"Any members of the Catkillers living in NC/SC/VA might enjoy attending our June 19th EAA1114 meeting here in Apex, NC (near Raleigh). Jim "Nomad" Lawrence (mentioned in Jim Hooper's new book) will be our speaker. Sam Dawson of the IBDA is helping us get some Bird Dogs on the field for this meeting. The plane and its pilots mean a lot to our Vietnam veterans.
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Any who can get here on the morning of June 19th will be well fed and well appreciated. One of our members has invited a friend, Rucker Tibbs of New London, VA, to come down in his L-19. We're sure to have a couple of Bird Dogs on our field (NC81) the morning of your talk in June, thanks to Sam Dawson, president of the International Bird Dog Association (www.ibdaweb.com).
President, EAA1114, Apex, NC
The following article is an amazing story in itself, but Eleanor Ruth Buffum Kitto also braved hot weather during a grueling Constitutional Walking Tour during her stay, keeping up with all the younger attendees, demonstrated well her character, determination, and stamina. Another amazing purpose of her visit to Philadelphia and to attend the Catkillers 2010 Reunion with her daughter, Jean, and son-in-law, Rod, was not known to us on the walk but revealed in the article. Mrs. Kitto kept up with the pace, smiled all the while, and showed her true grit. Congratulations, Mrs. Kitto, for letting us and your family that you are made of the "right" stuff!
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