August 1997
Sunsetter Gazette



Several months ago I received a telephone call from Jim Vande Hey, my former CO from the 78th. It is always good to hear from old friends. I haven't seen Jim since the late 70's when I stayed with him at his home in Lakeway, but I was completely unprepared for the gist of the conversation. After finding out how I was feeling, how my golf game was, he asked if I would consider becoming the new President of the Association.

It didn't take me long to get over my surprise at his question and I said I would. He told me he would poll the directors and get back to me. A few weeks later a letter arrived stating that I was approved. I was and am, flattered and humbled by this new position.

I have not been active in any of our reunions in the past, In fact, in 1978 or 79 1 wrote a letter to Jim Tapp explaining my reasons for not attending any of the meetings held in prior years. The main thrust of what I said was that there didn't seem to be any reason for my attending or any purpose for having an association. How wrong I was. There are reasons for staying in touch and there is a definitive purpose for our association.

I can only relate my own experiences during and after the war. When I returned to the States in October 1945, I buried everything that had happened and never let it surface. I am quite sure that my life would have been easier and less stressful had I faced the war, met and spoken to my fellow squadron mates, shared my experiences with my wife and four sons. I didn't do any of those things until 1987 when my youngest son announced his intentions to marry a Japanese woman. The period from then to now has been one of transformation, healing and great reward. Transformation from hatred to acceptance to grandchildren, healing of my wounds, real or imagined, and a sense of purpose in my life. It is that purpose that I believe is important for all of us in the 7th Fighter Command Association.

Knowledge gained and not shared is knowledge lost. Knowledge brings understanding, understanding brings acceptance and acceptance brings unity and harmony. Each and every one of us who served in WWII has gained a lot of knowledge, then and now. The reality of our lives is that we are slowly leaving this world. In so doing we are taking away important lessons that might be worth sharing with future generations.

And that is what my purpose in life has become, to share what I have learned with younger people. I have been doing just that for several years, here in Fairfield at the high school and middle school. I have hundreds of wonderful letters from the students and teachers. Letters that reflects new understandings of what war really is. Insights into my life have given these students an insight into themselves.

Now I would like to ask for your help, our association's help. I would like to expand my limited experiences to include yours, to expand my horizons beyond small town Iowa to the entire nation. I would like to edit a book tentatively titled "Memories of War, Our Legacy to Future Generations."

This book would include personal histories of veterans, what effect the war had on their lives, what they would like to leave as their legacy to the future. This would be, in my opinion, a genuine boon to the world. Who better than us can begin the process of eliminating war, the potential destruction of humanity?

I truly believe that everything in life has a purpose, that Nature influences our lives in ways we cannot understand. I would like to think that my purpose for our association could become yours as well. I ask that you let me know if you would like to be a part of this project. Please help by responding to the questionnaire at the end of this newsletter. Since I also serve as editor of the Gazette, I will include some comments from that perspective too. This is your publication and can only function with your input. The editor always needs articles and stories. It cannot function without your suggestions for ways to make it better. I am new at this business and welcome your help.

Although we have no regularly scheduled dues as part of our association, we do have ongoing expenses. Bob Russell keeps me informed of our financial condition from time to time and, it seems we have a need for additional funds at this time. If you can, please send a small check to Robert V Russell, 732 Broadway, Vero Beach, FL 32960. Thanks very much

By the way is it time for a reunion of the Association? If so, where and when? Would Orlando in the off season be an option? Or anywhere else at some other time? The next issue will come out in February 1998. So if we want to have a reunion in 1998 we do have enough time to plan it. Please let me hear from you regarding these matters.

I am deeply grateful for the confidence that has been placed in me by the Board of Directors. I accept the challenge with pride and a sense of responsibility. I hope that I can serve you as you wish to be served and I look for forward to hearing from you with your suggestions. Thank you.

Jerry Yellin



Like most of us, Fred Bauman, 78th Fighter Squadron pilot, collected souvenirs on Iwo. Among them, a Japanese battle flag he kept in a closet for years. In 1991 a Japanese sailing crew came to his Yacht Club in Rochester, New York for a meet. Fred, after much soul searching approached one of the sailors and gave him the flag. Following, is a letter Fred received from Kazunori Komatsu of Yokosuka, Japan:

Dear Mr. Bauman,

 I hope you are well. My wife and I finally found the only surviving member of Michio Ishii's family, the man whose flag you gave to us. It took three months of research with the help of the Yasukuni Shrine office. Fortunately, Yasukuni Shrine kept excellent records of death and war veterans.

Michio Ishii was born in 1913 and died on Iwo Jima in 1945 near the end of the war. He was married and had one daughter. His wife has since passed away. His daughter is his only living survivor and, although she is married, has kept the family name of Ishii for her present family. She was one year old when her father died and as a result, never had the opportunity to know him.

Surprised would be an understatement when she was informed of the presence of her father's personal flag. On December 6, 1991 she received the flag. She was emotionally overwhelmed with so many feelings and memories of the past. As she studied the flag more closely, she recognized family names of people that have passed away or that are still members of the community today.

Mrs. Ishii is truly grateful for the priceless gift that you have given to her. It is difficult to explain how deeply you have touched her heart. My wife and I are also grateful for being a part of your quest to return Michio Ishii's flag to his family.

I must admit, that at first, returning the flag seemed to be an almost impossible task. Now that the task has been accomplished, the reward is sweet. My wife and I have experienced great pleasure in sharing Mrs. Ishii's joy. It is my opinion that you are a good and kind man, Mr. Fred Bauman. I am happy to have had the pleasure of meeting you. You, in your own small way, have promoted Peace between our two countries. My wife and I pray for your health and that we never again experience another war.


Kazunori and Mariko Komatsu.



Larry Reineke was a 37 year old Captain on Iwo Jima from March 26, 1945 until the end of the war. He was the only combat intelligence officer for the B-29s that made emergency landings on Iwo. Following are his recollections of the first fighter mission. Larry lives in Middletown NY.

On April 7th, 1945 over Tokyo, Japanese interceptors faced a new adversary. Their wasp-ish friends, the P-51s on the first fighter-escorted bombing mission, accompanied the B-29s over Japan.

About a month earlier, the Mustangs arrived at Iwo. They flew strafing missions for the Marines, Combat Air Patrols around the island and went up daily to Chichi Jima and Haha Jima to bomb and strafe.

Meanwhile, the pilots were anticipating the day they would fly over Tokyo into the big league, especially since March 26th when their Command had been hit hard by a Japanese banzai attack. They were eager for revenge. Three B-29s provided navigation for the fighters.-The big planes took off first. They worriedly circled the island like fussy mother hens watching their chickens. Then the Mustangs roared down the runway, heavily loaded with extra gas and ammunition. It would be the longest over-water escort flight The bombers and fighters hit the rendezvous point perfectly on time and started in over Honshu.

About a hundred and twenty five Nip fighters took to the air. There was fierce opposition. The bombers' target was the Nakajima Aircraft Engine Company's big plant at Musashino. The Japanese attackers struck the bombers a few miles away from the initial point, Mt. Fuji, trying to destroy the bombers and still evade the Mustangs. The Japanese usually attacked singly while the American fighters flew in teams.

The air was chaotic over the target. B29s and the P-51s were knocking down enemy planes. The sky was crowded with parachutes. The Japanese were attacking from above and ahead, using the sun for surprise. A bomber on fire exploded. Another bomber piloted by Capt. Andy Cardone, a Japanese suicide plane targeted A-45. The Japanese dived down, hit and knocked out the #3 engine, bounced off the engine nacelle and sheered off half the horizontal stabilizer. Another engine failed on the way home but Cardone made it to Iwo where he landed safely, one of the 63 B29s landings on Iwo that day. Mustang Pilot Robert Moore got behind 4 Japanese fighters flying line astern. He shot down the two trailing Japanese planes before they knew he was on their tails. Major James B. Tapp, who became the first P-51 ace, got off to a good start by nailing three Japanese planes on this mission.

The P-51s did a superb job of keeping the enemy off the bombers but when their gas ran low they had to head for the rally point and back to base. This left the last two groups of B-29s without escort to face over four hundred vicious Japanese fighters.

On the way home, Lt. Ayres realized his gas wouldn't last to Iwo so he decided to enjoy a little Navy hospitality. When he reached the site of the next air-rescue destroyer he rolled his P51 and dropped out. The vessel soon picked him up.

Another Mustang pilot separated from his navigation escort picked up a heading from a B-29 and flew that course until nearly out of gas. As he was preparing to bail out he brought his plane through the overcast and upon breaking out he was astonished to find he was over Iwo. He landed, gas tanks completely empty.

All kinds of Japanese planes were encountered in the air battle. Nicks, Tojos, Tonys, Hamps, Zekes, lrvings, Jack, Myrts were the most common. When the fighters score was added up, twenty-one enemy planes were destroyed, sixteen probable or damaged. The B-29s accounted for fifty destroyed, plus fifty-eight probable or damaged. Our losses were light in comparison, three B-29s and two P-51 s. The escort mission was successful.

During the fighter interrogation Lt. Charles Heil, a P-51 pilot, was silent. He couldn't seem to check with any of the details the other Mustang pilots were giving. So he started to ask questions and discovered he was the first P-51 over Nagoya. He spotted three B-29s and thinking they were the navigation B-29s for the fighters he had tugged along with them. But unknown to the fighter pilot, they were part of a Superfort task force headed for targets in Nagoya, Japan's third largest city. His engine began acting up. He was in trouble and the bombers radioed him to come into their formation for protection. He flew in, guarded on all sides by Superforts, He earned the distinction of being the first fighter over Nagoya with bomber escort.



I am Beth Walker, younger sister of Capt. Joe D Walker, who was killed in action over Honshu, Japan, July 20, 194S. Joe was a member of the 45th Squadron and was one of the original pilots to land on Iwo Jima in March of 1945.


I am striving to re-construct something of my brother's military career, as all of his records seem to have been lost in the fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. I have gained some information through my Congressman, Lamar Smith, but just not much available out there. After I finish getting all the information I possibly can, Randolph Air Base here in San Antonio will help me to make a new file for Joe.

At the same time, I am writing a biography of his short life for two nephews that were named for him. This is an ongoing thing for me. I work on it a while, get discouraged but always come back and start again. I hope I have not waited too long as some members of the 45th Squadron are probably not around now.

I am interested in any photographs of the 45th and especially interested in corresponding with any one who may remember any details about him, and who may have been on that flight on July 20, 1 945. I have the Mission Report on that VLR showing the Group Leader to be Major Wells, 19 aircraft from the 45th, 17 aircraft from the 47th, and 20 aircraft from the 78th were dispatched. Also lost this same day was Lt. Jack Collie of the 78th. Both casualties occurred over Okazaki Air Field; the report says that Capt. Walker's plane was hit by AW & MG fire, burst into flames and crashed about 1 mile south of the air field. He was leading the second section, but I do not know this terminology.

I have collected quiet a bit of information from different areas, but as a researcher I know there is always one more paper or photograph out there. Any help from anyone would be deeply appreciated by my family and myself. I am hoping that you would put a small article in the forth coming Gazette to help on this project. MBWalker@aol



My father, Daniel P. Murphy, originally from the Bronx, NYC was an Aircraft Maintenance Officer with the 457th Fighter Squadron, 506th fighter Group on Iwo Jima, and held the rank of captain.' I have always been curious about his youth, and am grateful for the opportunity of finding some of his former colleagues.' Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1980, and died in 1987.' 1 was twelve years old when his illness was discovered, and his memory slipped away so fast that there was no time to ask any questions about his youth and his experiences in World War 11. I remember my father clearly from my childhood; a tall, handsome man with dark hair and green eyes that match my own.' He had a smile that lit up his whole face, and a habit of snorting when he laughed, which I was terrified I would inherit and now I could hear again.' Dad loved to laugh and would twist any simple statement into a silly song or phrase to get a giggle out of my two younger brothers or myself.' He loved to grow vegetables in the garden and to fiddle with electronic equipment.

'My father's time in the Air Corps awakened in him a fascination with airplanes.' After his discharge, he attended New York University and earned a degree in aeronautical engineering.' He spent most of his adult life working for Curtis-Wright Corporation in Woodridge, NJ He married my mother, Mary, in 1967.' They had three children, myself and my brothers Danny and Kieran.' My dad did not speak often of his experiences in the war.' I remember receiving my first science lesson from him as a child when he explained how he chilled beer on Iwo Jima: tie a string to the neck of the bottle, dip it in gasoline, and swing it in big circles overhead until cold. I overheard him tell a friend one time about the treat their unit had when an Australian supply plane brought in refrigerated beer.

'Dad had a souvenir paperweight in the shape of Iwo Jima, and would try to show me where his tent was, where the planes landed." During his illness, Dad would occasionally speak about "waves of them just coming at us from the ground" which I now recognize as part of the continuing battle to take over the island.' After his death, my mother found his fatigues and a bomber jacket in an old footlocker in the basement, along with a copy of a letter awarding his fighter group the Distinguished Unit Badge.

I am hoping that someone who reads this article knew my father and is willing to correspond with me.' I have a number of old photos of my dad and his buddies, which I am willing to share and make copies of for anyone interested. Thank you.

Please write to Mary Ellen at 75 Parker St., Apt 321, Quincy, MA 02169



I am seeking anyone who may have information on or may remember serving with Lt. Keith C. Lovell in the Army Air Corps during WW2.

Keith graduated from Moore Field, Mission Texas, class of 43-J. He served as an aerial gunnery and transition instructor in P-40s and P-47s with the 13th Fighter Squadron, 53rd Fighter Group, 3rd Fighter Command at Venice Army Air Field, Venice Florida from December 1943 to October 1944.

In October, Keith transferred to the newly forming 414th Fighter Group, 437th Fighter Squadron at Selfridge Field, Michigan to help them train in the new P-47Ns. In June of 1945 he shipped out to Iwo Jima with the group as a P-47 fighter pilot, flying escort and ground attack missions until the end of the war a few months later.

In September of 1945, Keith transferred to the 78th Fighter Squadron, 15th Fighter Group and began flying the P-51. When the 78th FS disbanded in November of 1945, Keith transferred back the 414th FG (as did a few of the other 78th pilots). In January of 1946, the 414th FG moved to Clark field in the Philippines. Keith stayed with the group until March 1946 when he shipped back to the states and separated from the Air Corps.

Any information on Keith or the group's activities would be greatly appreciated, especially from his combat time with the 414th where he earned two battle stars and the Air Medal.

I can be reached at: Craig Lovell, 5917 Meadowood Drive, Madison, WI 53711 (608) 271 3581 E-mail

Also, to all the members of the 15th FG/78th FS, let me express my sincere appreciation for all the hospitality the group extended to me over the weekend of the reunion. Everyone I met, members and wives, were very friendly, endured my endless questions with a smile, and provided hours of interesting conversation. Whether you knew my father or not, your memories and accounts of the squadron's activities during WW2 gave me closer look into that part of my fathers personal history that no-doubt shaped how he conducted the rest of his life. These connections are important to me and I thank you all again for helping me fill in some of the blanks of this period, Many thanks go out to Ken Sweet for keeping me up to date on the groups events and inviting me to come to the reunion. Particular thanks go to Joe Fahey who, along with Ken, took me under his wing, introduced me around, and addressed a steady stream of questions and pictures. I only wish I had the time to meet more of you. Sincerely, Craig Lovell


Jules A. Stelly of Houston writes; "I would like to find out if there is enough of a demand for the out of print book, One Damned Island After Another to warrant a reprint." If you would like to see that happen, please contact Jules at 283 Glazebrook, Houston TX 77060 or call him at 281-448-8703.

John M. Fitzgerald of New Prague, MN writes, "Early in the fall of 1945 I purchased an aluminum casting of Iwo Jima with a super imposed 'SunSetter'P-51 on it from a GI or a Sea Bee, I can't remember which. The casting is 5 Q inches long and 3 inches wide. I was told it was made from a propeller from a Japanese airplane. I had never seen one like it at our reunions. Imagine my delight when I saw one at a flea market in Burnsville Minnesota recently. The only difference was that this was one was made from lead and did not have' Sun-Setters' on it, I suspect it might have been the prototype for the aluminum casting. I certainly would like to contact anyone who has a similar casting or who knows anything about the one I saw in the flea market. I can be reached at 201 Sunrise Ave. New Prague, MN 56071."

Maili Frost Yardley of Lawai, Hawaii has written a book "Hawaii's Glamour Days" It is an appealing book to both kamaaina and malihin of nostalgic memories of pre WWII and post-war days of Hawaii. It also has a brief history of some of the island's more popular rulers Those who yearn for an extraordinary trip down memory lane will revel in Maili Yardley's telling of all so lovingly and with great insight of a colorful past. To order the book call 1-808-676-0116 ext. 206.

Mark Stevens writes to mention that the new Internet address for the 78th home page is. He can be contacted at



Spring, 1997

Dear Fellow Iwo Survivors, Family and Friends, As most of you know, this past February we enjoyed an outstanding 52nd Anniversary Reunion in Irving, Texas. Many of our regulars indicated that this was definitely our best one. We were privileged to have with us some of the most distinguished special guests in the world - both military and civilians.

Here is a partial list that shared this time with us; Retired Air Force Brig. General Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., Pilot of the Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima; Richard I. Nelson, General Tibbets radio operator; Retired Air Force Major General David M. Jones, pilot on the Doolittle Raid; David W, Pohl, crew-member on the Doolittle Raid; Charles ("Chuck") Lindberg, last of the living Iwo Flag-Raisers; Retired Army Major George E. Wahlen, Medal of Honor recipient as a Corpsman on Iwo; Retired Marine Brig. General Robert E. Galer, Pacific Medal of Honor recipient as a Marine pilot; Mrs. Winfrey Willis, widow of Iwo Medal of Honor recipient John Harlan Willis; U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson, spent nearly 7 years in a Vietnam RO.W. camp; Ms. Sarah McClendon, noted D.C. journalist, lecturer and author; U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Brent Bennitt, Commander Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific fleet; Dr. W. Buford Usry, Iwo Purple Heart recipient and distinguished minister; Sgt.Major Ott C. Farris, retired Marine; Dr. Thomas Brown, a surgeon on Iwo; Retired Army Major General C.M. McKeen, Jr., U.S. Marine Major General Ray L. Smith, representing the Commandant; Retired Marine Major General James R. Jones, an Iwo veteran; Major General Charles Bond, member of the Flying Tigers, and about 50 delightful Pacific EX-RO.W.S. 'What an honor and privilege it was to get to meet and hear from these great American heroes that played such an important role in shaping our future.

Present plans are to have annual Reunions at least through the year 2000.The dates for the 1998 and 1999 Reunions will bc February 21,22, and 23rd, with registration to start on the afternoon of the 20tb each year.

The 1998 Reunion will be Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites- Wichita Falls, Texas TRAVELTIME, a travel agent in Wichita Falls, can help you with the best possible rates on air fares, car rentals, shuttle service, etc. Mention you are with our Association. Toll free number is 1-800-654-7542. The Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites (formerly Ramada Inn) in Wichita Falls has been completely remodeled with all new furnishings. A beautiful facility.

It was an honor and privilege for our Association to help General Tibbets celebrate his 82nd birthday (on Flag-Raising Day) at our 1997 Reunion. Plan now to join us in 1998. See you there.


David G. Wente was listed in "Taps" in the last edition of the Gazette. Edward Mikes has since had conversations with David and wants all of his friends from the 506th to know that he is quite well.


Vaughn E. Sowers, 485th Sq., 506th Group, on August 20, 1996

Harold Baccus,47th, February, 1997

Emmett "Pilot Ben" Kearney, former CO, 78th, 15th Fighter Group, April, 97



May 15-18, Wright Patterson AAF Base, Dayton, Ohio,. Unveiling of a bronze plaque in honor of all those who served in the 19th Fighter Squadron during WWI. Please make it a must to attend with your family. Those who served in the 19th prior to and after WWII are welcome. Contact: James G. Weir, 321 Kittanning Pike, Pittsburgh. PA, 15215. Phone 1-412-963-8131.


September 18-21, 1997 in St. Louis, MO. The reunion will take place at the Adams Mark Hotel. A limited number of rooms at the reduced rate of $109 a night are available. Contact the hotel directly. For more information, contact Gery Rettberg, 1424 Mayfair Rd. Champaign, IL, 61821. Phone: (217) 356-4466


September 11-13, 1997 in Bossier City, Louisiana, The reunion will be at the Holiday Inn, 2015 Old Minden Road. The hotel is located near Barksdale Air Force base, current home of the 47th Reserve Squadron. Reception, Sept. 12 at the Holiday Inn. Banquet, Sept. 13 at Barksdale AFB Officers Club. ladies Luncheon, Sept 12. Visits to the 47th FS and the 8th Air Force Museum have been arranged. Contact Gerald M. Wenner, 1801 Williams Avenue, Natchidoches, LA, 71457-5320. Phone 318-352-9264. 


Thank you for taking the time to think about and answer the following questions. Please take your time and answer them as fully and as meaningfully as you can. Please write your answers on one or more separate sheets, or if you wish, speak your thoughts into a tape. We can also arrange for a personal interview by telephone, if you prefer. Don't worry about form; it is the content that is important to us.

1. Please tell us about the most significant lesson about life that you learned from the war?

2. If there were other lessons, would you elaborate on them as well?

3. Please share with us the ways in which your participation in the war influenced your life?

4. Please describe the effect that the more recent U.S. wars have had on you?

5. Can you elaborate on the influence those conflicts had on your thinking and your lives.

6. We would be very interested in hearing any experiences that you might have had with your enemy after the war was over?

7. Could you please elaborate on how those experiences reshaped your thinking and feelings about the war, about peace, about humanity in general?

8. Please tell us about any experiences that your children had with those whom you fought against in the war

9. Please elaborate on how those experiences influenced the way that you feel about WWII and your old enemy?

10. Please tell us about any "spiritual" influence that may have changed your outlook on war or your old enemy?

11. What "legacy" would you like to leave to future generations?

12. Anything else that you might want to add?

Please also list the following information: Name,

Address, City, State, Zip, Telephone Number(s),

Career/Occupation plus Rank, Outfit and

Assignment during WWII.


Please return to:

Jerry Yellin,

PO Box 1824, Fairfield, IA 52556. Or call 515-472-8886




Jerry Yellin is the editor of the Gazette, Please send materials to him at PO Box 1824, Fairfield. IA, 52556. e-mail: Website:



Bill Eustis was taken prisoner by the Japanese after a mid-air collision over Truk in January of 1945. He was held as a RO.W. at Ofuna, Japan until August 29, 1945. He has written a number of beautiful and profound sonnets about his wartime experiences. We have received permission to reprint them, and will include them in this newsletter as space allows.

An Army Air Corps P-39 fails to rejoin its flight following a raid on Mille, Marshall Islands, January 1, 1944):

His ship veers off, a soft wide spiral turn

As if some vortex point his new-found tomb.

The long flight home forgot, of no concern

To one whose abject fate is to assume

A beggar's choice: to sway in hapless shrouds

Wind-spun, to lap the sea in gentle splash,

Or rend the shrieking air and cleave the clouds

In one horrendous headlong plunging dash:

To end it with a scream or sigh. The sea,

Uncaring, waits. The flight's receding drone

Fades in the towering skies, home-bound, free.

He falls unmarked, untended, unbearably alone.


His only words, "So long, old friend," still race The swirling parapets of selfless grace.


by Bill Eustis

Bill Eustis

Executive Committee



Jerry Yellin


Robert L. Krueger (386th)


Ivan Veirs (72/318)


Robert V. Russell (46/21)


Tom McCullough (78/15)


James B. Tapp (78/15)


Jerry Yellin



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