2012 Reunion

2012 VS 29 Officer Reunion 

Phil Oppedahl and King Graham in the VS29 Ready Room

 To all VS-29 LAS reunion attendees, and the less fortunate sole's who missed out on a great time:

What a great time we all had at the recently concluded reunion in Las Vegas. It could not have been as good as it was without significant contributions from several folks who need to be acknowledged here. We all are extremely grateful to Harlan Howard for providing the vast majority of the booze consumed at the reunion. He brought a trunkful with him, all premium brands, and has even pledged to do the same for the next reunion - provided it is not too far away for him to drive there. Despite our valiant efforts to do so, we were unable to consume all that he brought (must be an age related deficiency) so he took home the rest and will bring it next time.

In addition, there are several others I need to thank who provided immeasurable assistance to me. First and foremost, huge thanks to Phil and Karen Oppedahl. Through their contacts in Vegas, we were able to arrange for and use a beautiful, large suite as our ready room, at a significantly reduced cost. Besides that, they accompanied Cathy and myself on each of the 3 "scouting missions" to Vegas for the purposes of researching, planning, and organizing. Phil was the wordsmith and art creator of the "VS-29 Noir" umbrella gift that each family received at the reunion. Karen made all the gift bags and name tags. Without their invaluable assistance, throughout the planning process, and the reunion itself, the reunion would not have been nearly as successful as it was.

Special thanks also to Bob and Gayle Cook, who accompanied Oppedahl's and Graham's on several of the pre mission planning visits to Vegas, and who provided so much needed assistance during the process of purchasing and stocking the Ready Room with the goods we had there. I know I might be forgetting to thank some who deserve thanks, but everyone should know that I truly appreciate all who helped me make this an extremely successful reunion. In the end, the amount of money collected turned out to be enough, and the small residual left over will be turned over to Bob Cook as seed money for the next reunion, which he has so graciously offered to head up, in Branson, MO. I will let him fill you in on those details as he sees fit.

For those who were unable to attend, know that we missed you all, talked about you all, told many stories that included you all, and we hope that you all will be able to attend the next reunion. At this time, I do not know of specific dates for the next one, but there was some talk of late Sept/early Oct, of 2013. I am sure that Bob Cook will fill you in on those details as they are conceived. The feeling is that it is better to have these reunions closer together now, as we seem to lose a few of us between each of these events. Please give strong consideration to attending the next and future reunions.

On reunion Wednesday, after our group dinner at Lombardi's, I told everyone that I would attempt to put together a contact list for VS-29 folks using the latest data I could find. I have started on this project, as reflected in the Microsoft Excel attachment to this email. Hopefully, you are able to open this attachment - if not, let me know and I will attempt to find a different way to get the information to you. I feel that quite possibly there are some errors in this list, so I would ask that you look closely at the data contained, and let me know by return email of any errors. Some of you have multiple addresses. If that is the case, please let me know which address is preferable to be included on this list, or if you wish to add all of them. You will see that there is some missing data on some of these entries. If it is missing, I could not find it, and would ask that you please provide me with that information so I may include it. Some of this information was gathered from pretty old contact lists, and I suspect the data is no longer valid - please correct it for me. In addition, if for any reason you do not want to be included on this list, prefer restricted access to it, or have some specific information that you do not want included, let me know and I will comply.

During our many discussions at the reunion, several remarked that previous reunions that we have held have concentrated on the core group of VS-29 pilots that were in the squadron from about '63-'67, and participated in one or more Westpac cruises in '63, '64, '66, and '67. We all know that the squadron was in existence from the very early '60's, and it ended its existence in 1974. Although our previous reunions have concentrated on the core group of pilot families in the mid '60s era, it was felt that it would be beneficial to all to attempt to include VS-29 pilot members from the later years - say from '67 on. Unfortunately, I do not have much, if any information on those pilots, and therefore would rely on those of you who have some to provide me with that info. Therefore, if you have contact information for any of those pilots not appearing on this list, please forward that to me, and I will try to expand this contact list to add them so we can attempt to include them in future reunions.

From a compilation of previous contact lists, compiled by previous reunion organizers, and from Elmer Beardshall's lists, and lists from RAFS, here is a list of previous VS-29 pilot names that I have no information on - other than their name. Most of them I did not know, nor do I know when they were in the squadron. Stan Arthur (I did know him), John Bell, Jim Bitting (early CO), Butch Bostick, Harry Bourland, Jim Clanin, Gerry Cleason, Bob Colvin, Ken Dickey, Mike Drake, 'Duff' Fowler, Lee Gaffrey, 'Izzy' Gammon, Larry Gorski, Dave Hall, Brian Havey, Tom Hults, Ken Hutchinson, Jerry Jerimiah, Bill Kennedy, Lee Levinson, Vern Listol, Al Macdiarmid (knew him), George McCauley, Beverly McColloch, Herm McGrath (previous CO and previously listed as deceased but is not - perhaps living in Pensacola area), Bill McClaughlin, Gary McMahill, Lee Moore, Bob Morganfeld, Bob (Jedd) Munn, Jim Nelson, Bruce Nelson, Paul Piche, Stan Rice (knew him), Dave Riley, Chuck Rockcastle, R. Rodriguez, Bob Roethler, Ray Ross, Clifford Sims, Wayne Stoeckel, Dave Teachout, Hohn Thomas, Al Thresher, Steve Todd, Jim Vohr, Al Vold, Bob Watkins, Que Wilhemi, Clyde Willis, Wode Woiwode, and Newt Youngblood. Hopefully some of these names will ring a bell in your memories and you will be able to assist in the gathering of up to date contact information for as many of these as possible. When my list is completed, I will send a copy to each of you, to Gordy Bonnel at RAFS, and to Elmer Beardshall, the designated keeper of the VS-29 contact information.

As you will see, I have included information on some of our squadron mates that have passed on. I did this to provide contact information for their spouses, who continue to be active in our reunion gatherings.

Thanks for your responses to this email, and for providing, correcting, adding any additional information toward the completion of this very important list.

Best personal regards to you all,