220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company

Third Quarterly 2006 CATCOM E-Newsletter
updated October 5 (morning), new photo of Mike Donnick
Houston Bound!!!!

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


This is a personal message to everyone who was ever a part of the 220th Recon Airplane Company. You are a Catkiller, and this site seeks to bring all of our historical members onto a common and level ground, as members of an unique organization. These pages address each of you and honors each of you for the service and sacrifices made, especially those brothers who did not return or who have died since Vietnam. Whether you served in the unit on the original morning report date in the states and moved with the unit to Vietnam, or were there when the unit stood down; drove a truck; flew a plane; fueled a plane; turned a screw; or typed a letter (whatever!); You are a part of this history, and we all want you with us in Houston. We are together in this reunion effort, so come and join the fun in Houston and get to know some who served before or after you. See you there! The Reunion Committee.


To the pilots

From Rich Buster on behalf of the crew chiefs:

"We salute you"

On behalf of all the crewchiefs present today and the ones that couldn't make it, we want to thank you, the pilots, our brothers for everything you all did in Viet Nam. Our jobs as crew chiefs were not only a privilege and an honor, but an experience that we've carried with us throughout our lives. We had the front row seats to a drama that America would never see.

We saw your faces when you returned from each of your missions. We saw the death and horror reflected in your eyes. We also felt the triumph and glory when you did. We shared the sorrow of our brothers being killed and we worried and grieved along side you as another is lost to the jungles. We shed tears together.

Though you all faced death on a daily basis and never knew if you might be next, you never showed any sign of weakness or fear. You are the warriors and the heroes that made the "Catkillers" a legend to be proud of. We salute you and thank you each and every one. We're grateful to walk beside you as your brothers.

We are the crew chiefs.......... We are the "Catkillers"


This note and photo came in a message from Charles Finch. It is certain to extract from the hearts of our pilots a hearty "Hear, Hear!!"

"I have been trying to locate some of our crew chiefs so I could send them a DVD and got lucky today.

Mike Donnick on the left is alive and well in Marshfield, Wisconsin. His phone number is 715-384-8582. EMAIL is: sd90mac1967@yahoo.com.

Crew Chief and Catkiller Mike Donnick

You that flew out of Dong Ha will remember his "buddy holly" eyeglasses, his accent (which has gotten like those who spoke in the movie FARGO) his incredible strength and energy and most of all he NEVER complained and was always there for us. We never took these mechanics for granted but we still never got them better quarters than the LINE SHACK on the Dong HA runway. We never got the 108th to provide beds for them, or hot showers or whatever. It was Ned Wilson who finally got a shower for them at the line shack.

Men like Mike Donnick were never fully recognized for their contributions but we all know our mission up north would not have been as successful had it not been for the Mike Donnicks, Al Lopezes, Dennis Jenkins, Rich Buster and all those others who supported us so well at the 220th.

We will drink a toast to them in Houston in a week but I wanted you to see this photo and remember Mike today.

I will send another photo in the next email of the other crew chiefs that we did honor in 1969.

Charles Finch


Here is a recent photo of Carl L. Drechsel wearing the newly designed Catkiller reunion shirt that is now available for order. The digitized Catkiller patch is a nice feature on this shirt, and you will be proud to wear it! Order yours by using the new registration form link provided below:

Registration Form, including shirt order section

Carl Drechsel wearing newly designed Catkiller shirt

folded newly designed Catkiller shirt (2006)

Don Ricks in a new Houston-2006 design

Acquire the immediate above design from Leon Skeen only (see the photo for his e-mail address).

Same design as the shirt above, available from Leon Skeen

Reunion coffee cup, available from Leon Skeen

Reunion coffee cup, available from Leon Skeen

Re4union coffee cup available from Leon Skeen


Countdown to 220th RAC Reunion 2006!!

Reunion 2006, October 6 - 8, 2006. HAVE YOU RESPONDED YET???

Hello Catkillers,

It is now less than 30 days until we will meet in Houston for our much anticipated Reunion. We have had a great response and have been working very hard behind-the-scenes to make this one of the best Reunions ever.

If you have not mailed your Registration Form and your check to Carl Drechsel, please do so now. We have to pay the Resort 72 hours in advance of the Reunion. So, your advance payment is very much appreciated. The Registration form is attached for your convenience.

Here are the latest details:

South Shore Harbour Resort & Conference Center
2500 South Shore Blvd.
League City, TX 77573

Transportation to/from Resort:

Directions to Resort:

After you check into the Resort:

Reunion Schedule:

Your Catkiller Reunion Committee urges those of you who have not yet committed to join us as we celebrate the friendships established long ago (and to swap stories) to make your Resort reservations and send in your Registration Form and check NOW.

This promises to be a great Reunion so please don't be left out. We have attached a list of those who have made reservations at the Resort; those who have sent in their Registration Form and those who have indicated at one time or another throughout this past year that they intend to come to the Reunion.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to call or e-mail me at: 281.333.8328 (home); 832.721.2871 (cell) or cdrechsel@houston.rr.com (e-mail).

See you in October!

2006 Reunion Committee:

  • Carl L. Drechsel, Catkiller 30, Chairman
  • Jerry Bonning, Catkiller 33, 44
  • Paul V. Brennan, Catkiller 3
  • Bud Bruton, Catkiller 18
  • Ray Caryl, Catkiller 32, 42
  • Charles Finch, Catkiller 19
  • John Hillman, Catkiller 46/3
  • Robert McComiskie, Catkiller 33
  • Sandy Drechsel, Reunion Event Coordinator

    These following documents are the Reunion Registration Form and the Clear Lake Shuttle Bus Schedule:

    Clear Lake Shuttle Bus Schedule

    Reunion Registration Form

    Scott Cumming's web site has brief comments concerning MIA and Catkiller Major Donald Lee Harrison, but to view specifics concerning how he entered into MIA status you must search the internet for Lee's name. Here is one link that contains considerable information, less Lee's callsign:

    MAJ Donald Lee Harrison, MIA

    Steve Harrison, brother of Major Donald Lee Harrison, will attend the Catkiller reunion in Houston October 6 - 8, 2006. We look forward to our visit with Steve and his wife, Ann.

    If you served with Lee, in or out of Vietnam, and plan to attend, please contact Carl Drechsel, Catkiller 30, Reunion Committee Chairman (cdrechsel@houston.rr.com; 281.333.8328).


    For those of you who don't know Jerry Bonning, he is one of our reunion committee persons, and recently he had a medical concern. Below is a brief, written by our good man, Jerry Bonning. We are indeed thankful there are miracles reported each day, and we are also very pleased that Jerry is still with us and will attend the reunion:

    "June 6th an x-ray reveled a mass on my right lung. This mass was confirmed by a CAT Scan. The resulting Bronchiscopy and PET Scan indicated that the mass was cancerous. On August 8th I underwent surgery to remove the upper lobe of my right lung. Unfortunately after three attempts the surgeon was unable to complete the operation (seems I kept trying to die on him) but he was able to get 7 large samples of the mass to biopsy. I have to thank all that prayed for me and wished me well because the pathology came back negative for cancer.

    Update, The cancer board at University Hospitals has determined that what ever I have is not Metastatic, Yeh!!! The board thinks it might be fungus based. They have turned me over to Pulmonary Medicine. My Pulmonologist is putting me on 3 months of an anti fungal to try to clear up the mass. Let us hope my liver does not fall out first. Had a CAT scan last Monday. The Pulmonary guy was able to measure the mass before the operation and last Monday and the mass is about half the size it was six weeks ago. More good news, Yeah!!!!!!!!! To my untrained eye the mass also looked less dense but that is just my opinion. Am recovering form the operation very well Started work last Monday. I am just now pretty much able to get through a whole day. See you guys soon. "

    Jerry Bonning
    Catkiller 44


    Larry Oltjenbruns forwarded an interesting graphic of an American icon, John Wayne (producer unknown), and imposed on the graphic is a sentiment with which many of us would agree. You be the judge:

    John Wayne graphic (author unknown)


    Charles Finch sent in a few photographs of a Florida meeting between Doc and Brenda Clement, Nancy and Charles Finch, and Gene Frey. Gene worked for the FBI and lives in Florida:
    Charles Finch and Doc Clement Nancy Finch, Doc Clement, and Brenda Clement
    Gene Frey, Doc Clement, and Charles Finch


    Nancy, Charles, and Stephanie

    Charles and Sarge in Georgia


    Jerry DiGrezio sent in a contact in his area:

    I recently was contacted by Roger Bradley who was a crew chief that deployed with the unit. He works as an aviation mechanic at the Nashua airport and we are getting together to swap lies very shortly. His phone number is 603-464-4971.

    Charles Finch sent this information on two Catkillers:

    "Finally heard from Fred Willis, a Catkiller during time frame '68-'69. He is an evangelical preacher (Baptist orientation) on the road with his wife, Ann. He called me from Oshkosh. He will spend most of the next year preaching in Alaska. He does not have email, will not come to the reunion, and only has a cell phone. He did not know that his former roomate, Terry Scruggs, had passed away. He only gets mail that is sent to his daughter in SC. I believe he is in an RV doing his preaching.

    Dave Rogers, one of the original Catkillers of the '65-'66 era, is still undergoing treatment for Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and cannot come to the reunion, but said you could mention him on the web that he is 73 years old, and still getting around fine.

    I am still trying in vain to run down other Catkillers, but I have been down more blind alleys than I would like to say, Charles Finch"

    Richard (Dick) Bielot, of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, checked in and inquired about the Catkiller reunion in Houston. We look ford to seeing you, Dick!

    "I was a member of the 2nd platoon, 220th Aviation Company in HUE, from June 1966 to June 1967, call sign "Cat Killer Echo" and then "Cat Killer 21".

    Catkiller Vernon Seybold checked in with this message (vernon.seybold@us.army.mil), Seybold, Vernon W CIV NGNH:

    "I have been visiting this site for some time and decided to write. My name is Vernon Seybold, and I served with the 220th from March '68 to October '69 in Phu Bai. I worked in the engine shop with Frank Fatera. There's a lot of soldiers names I cannot remember. These are a few:

    SFC Johnson was the Maint Sgt, Sgt Faust, Sam Cooper Airframe. My favorite, Cpt Kovach, hell of man, not very good at Volley Ball, which we use to play when there was time. Have to go back to work. It's always interesting visiting the web-site.

    Vern S."

    Catkiller 5/33, Donald E. "Gene" Wilson, checked in with a nice note and some important unit history. It was good to read your note, Gene:

    "Hello Don (and Carl),

    I just read the reunion update and I had neither seen nor talked with another Catkiller in many years until I just stumbled onto the web site a few weeks ago. Now I have already swapped a few emails and had a super time talking with Roger Putnam, the one and only "Catkiller Provider" and 3rd Plt Sgt in DaNang, on the telephone. He lives in San Antonio and I believe that he will be at the reunion in Houston. I wish that I could be there, but our calendar this year just has too many things to do already on it. However, I do want to say that all of you who are involved with the web site and the reunion are doing a fantastic job!

    I checked into Phu Bai in early June 1966 and took Jay Weight's place as "Catkiller 5". Bill Schmale was the CO - he had extended after being Jerry Curry's XO from the very beginning - from Fort Lewis to Phu Bai. With a change of command and an influx of new Majors [At that time I was a CPT(P)], I became "Catkiller 3" when George Woods arrived in October as the new XO and stayed there until my 3rd CO, Major Courtney Smith, "stood me down" on my birthday on May 27th before my DEROS o/a June 2, 1967. CPT Walter "Chico" Fernandez had been the Operations Officer, and I had hoped to become "Catkiller 26" or "Catkiller 46", so that I could give him his job back, but it was just didn't work out that way. But I must say that we made a great operations team for the time that we were together. For the past few weeks since combing over the web site and my "stuff" that has been buried for years, I have been "collecting" my me mories of Phu Bai and my Catkiller days of 1966-67. If anyone would like to compare notes, I will be glad to share what I have.

    Please give my best regards to all the Catkillers at the reunion. I would also like to talk to Carl Drechsel about getting one of those good looking Polo shirts!

    Donald E. "Gene" Wilson
    7620 - 98th Avenue SW
    Lakewood, WA 98498-3271
    (253) 582-9249


    Charles Finch sent in a few old photos, with captions:


    "Best Maintenance Officer (John "Bear" Kovach) in the 220th and one heck of an IP. We were blessed to have him serve with us. The Officer's Club LIVED because of John and his bouts with Mike Sharkey.

    Charles Finch

    Roger Bounds, on the USS New Jersey

    Since none of us have seen this young Army Aviator since 1969, here is a picture of Roger Bounds on the USS NEW JERSEY where he and I spent Christmas with Bob Hope, Ann Margaret, the Gold Diggers, Les Brown and you know all of the rest.

    I had a cheap camera. He had the big expensive NIKON. He took TONS of pictures, but to this day has NEVER, EVER shared them with me. Maybe he can bring some of his pictures to the reunion in Houston.

    Roger was one of the best. Had no fear and would kill as many with the lethality that brings a smile to my face.

    Charles Finch"


    Please say a prayer for Joe Mead's brother (see message below, dated 7-13-06, and you can e-mail Joe at: themeads@optonline.net):


    I will not be attending but I wanted to pass along a bit of personal information. My oldest brother is 80 and is not expected to survive this night. He has been very ill since November. He was Navy/Aviation in WW2. He was on anti sub patrol in NA, SA, Af, EU and the Pacific. He signed up out of high school and reached the rank of petty officer.

    He was so proud of me when he learned that I was assigned to an aviation unit in Vietnam. All of you guys gave me some respect and I want to thank you.

    Home is the sailor, home from the sea.

    Joe Mead
    Montvale NJ

    Joe sent this message the following morning, July 14:


    John passed away peacefully early this morning.

    I have in front of me the telegram my Dad sent to him on the day I was born Jan. 31, 1945. It is addressed to J P Mead AOM3/C. I looked it up - Aviation Ordnance Man, Petty Officer 3rd Class (E-4).

    As he directed, the remains will be creamated.

    On Thursday next week we are going to have a funeral Mass in Toms River, NJ for the family only, to include a piper and 3 choirs. My sister Rose will play the organ. This will be a day we will remember for a long time.

    Thanks to all for your prayers and thoughts.

    Joe Mead
    Montvale, NJ


    Here is a picture of Bob McComiskie, Curt Perry and I having dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Lawrence, Mass., on September 15:

    Bob McComiski, Curt Perry, and Jerry DiGrezio, Sept 2006


    Whatever your class year, we all received a message from this Statler Brothers tune. Thanks to my friend, Chuck Goodrum, for sending the link, and the web page master for this special treat!

    The Class of '57 Had Its Dream!
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