Seeing old friends, some for the first time in
30-50 years can be an emotional and really
gratifying experience. We have this at school
reunions, but when the previous relationships
were under hard working conditions including
preparation for combat or combat itself, the
reconnections become incredibly meaningful. This
is what happens at 13th Bomb Squadron Reunions.
One pilot reunites for the first time in 35
years with the navigator he flew 65 combat
missions with in Vietnam and that reunion
becomes electric. Similar happy events like this
occur every year at the annual Association
reunions which rotate to different parts of the
country where members and their wives, family
members and friends enjoy tours and happenings
in each location and especially the camaraderie.
The last 16 gatherings of 13th Eagles took place
in 2016 San Diego (visit the USS aircraft carrier Midway, take the San Diego/Old Town trolley tour and a harbor dinner cruise), in 2015 Branson, MO (entertaining shows and dynamic speakers), in Providence, RI ( Newport Tour, The
Old North Church and Quincy Market), in Reno
(National Car Museum and Bucket of Blood
Saloon); before that it was New Orleans (World
War II Museum), Washington, DC (Air Force
Memorial Service), Tucson, (Pima Air Museum),
Colorado Springs, (Air Force Academy), Hampton,
VA. (F-22), Kansas City, (B-2), Dayton, (Air
Force Museum), San Antonio, (River Walk), St
Louis, (The Cards and The Bud Suds), Seattle,
(Boeing Museum), Nashville, (Grand Ole Opry),
and Abilene, TX. (B-1B).
Prior commitments prevented the 13th CO Lt Col
Robert Makros and some of his Reapers from
attending the 2014 reunion. But our senior
member, Ed Connor took the podium and gave us a
first hand account of his World War II
experience as an 18 year old gunner/radio
operator in a B-25 at the beginning of the war
in the Southwest Pacific. On one of the many
missions he flew in New Guinea, his aircraft had
been damaged and they were heading home over the
mountains. To give them a chance to clear the
range ahead of them, crew members threw out much
of their equipment to lighten the plane -
including guns from all the turrets except one.
Immediately afterwards, they were attacked by
three Japanese Zeros. Ed was able to man the
remaining guns in the belly turret and
successfully shoot down the first attacker and
drive off the other two fighters, allowing the
B-25 to clear the mountains and limp on home.
For his heroism under fire, Ed received
the Silver Star medal and a lot of praise
from his crew members. He also received a
standing ovation at the end of his talk from all
of the reunion attendees who were filled with
C.J. Brown, President
13th Bomb Squadron Association
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
To All Reapers,
As many of you know, several of the Association's members, including me, recently visited Whiteman AFB, the home of the current 13th Bomb Squadron and its fleet of B-2s. We started the day with a meeting with Brigadier General Paul Tibbets IV, who is the current 509th Bomb Wing Commander, and who is himself a Reaper, having served as the Squadron DO earlier in his career. (I'll tell you.about this meeting later.)
One of the purposes of the trip was to present a pictorial history of the 13th to the current squadron to add to its historical collection of 13th artifacts, which we did at a 1513:13 squadron Roll Call. This part of the trip was preceded by an up-close look at the B-2; and it is an impressive sight. Before that was a trip to the simulator and a half-hour ride, including air refueling, a low-level penetration and a bomb run, then concluding with a visual landing back at Whiteman. The simulator is as close to the real thing as you can imagine.
The primary purpose of the trip was to meet with Gen. Tibbets and gain his support for the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 13th-which occurs on 14 June 2017. We could not have asked for a better response. Gen. Tibbets was eager to help as we discussed venues, quarters, celebratory ideas, participants, special guests, etc. I cannot reveal at this time whom one of the key participants may be, but each of you will be pleased if he accepts our invitation. In short, we settled on location-Whiteman AFB, MO, and the dates-14 June through 17 June, 2017. So mark your calendars and make your plans now. I will serve as the Association POC and, with help from all of the 13th Association officers, will assist the Wing POC with detailed planning. I will keep you posted as major milestones are complete.
During our stay, everyone in the Wing treated us like royalty, and spent a full day attending to our every request/need. Just so you'll know, the Wing and its two squadrons are in good hands, the leadership is top notch, the aircrew and the ground crew members are professional in every way; and they all seem to be very enthusiastic about their airplane and their mission. If all the units in the Air Force are this well prepared, and have this much esprit, then we are in good shape--at least from an Air Force standpoint.
Perhaps the finest pictorial album ever assembled of the 13th Bomb Squadron was presented to Squadron Commander Lt Colonel Robert H.W. (Stab) Makros on July 24, 2015, in the squadron room, on the flight line, at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. The volume of three-hundred pictures begins with the inception of the squadron on June 14, 1917, and continues through nearly one-hundred years of aviation history, chronicling the famous unit known by the emblem of Oscar, the Grim Reaper.
This historic book is a gift created by 13th Association member Robert S. (Scott) Lindley, of Browns Summit, North Carolina. Scott's painstaking work began twelve years ago while he was a member of the A-26 crew, The Spirit of North Carolina—a crew that traveled around the country in a beautiful Invader aircraft with 13th Bomb Squadron markings. Since the plane was depicted with the color and emblems of the 13th, these flights were to show and inform the public of the role the aircraft and the squadron played in combat missions.
Upon receiving the album, Lt Colonel Makros, on behalf of the squadron, expressed his pride and appreciation in receiving this amazing document for the men and women of the squadron. He placed the book on the squadron coffee table, which is a B-2 nose wheel, on its side, with a glass top. The pilots stepped up around the table and were still looking through the pages of pictures an hour after the meeting had adjourned.
Scott’s hope that today's Reapers would be able absorb the squadron's ninety-eight year history, and feel a part of an even larger family of past 13th members, was certainly realized on that day, and his efforts will continue to inspire 13th members long into the future.
A second presentation that day, at the 1513 Squadron Roll Call, was the gift of an autobiography, An Airman's Story, by association member Edward D (Ed) Connor. Ed is our World War II Era Board Member who also flew missions during the Korean War in a B-29. He later served with the CIA, in Southeast Asia, and has written an intriguing book of his military experiences. Ed was the guest speaker at the 2014 reunion in Providence, RI and gave us a personal account of combat, including a mission in 1942, over New Guinea, when he saved his B-25 by shooting down one attacking Japanese Zero and driving off two others--a mission for which he received a Silver Star. All squadron members in attendance expressed their appreciation and thanks to Ed for his thoughtfulness and for his heroic service to our country.