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8th Air Force Reunion 2016

My intended subject for this week’s post was Budd Peaslee, the first Group Commander of the 384th Bomb Group. However, it is not ready for publication, so I shall detour this week to the subject of the 2016 Eighth Air Force Historical Society Reunion. This year’s reunion will be held at the Sheraton Westport Lakeside Chalet in St. Louis, Missouri between October 19 to 22.

I have not attended an 8th AF Reunion before, and I am looking forward to my first. For me, it will be an exploration into WWII as well as the Civil War. I’ll explain more about that in a minute. But first, a look at the reunion schedule.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Today, Reunion registration is open from 1:00 to 6:00 pm

1:00 pm Memorabilia/Gathering room opens and remains open throughout the reunion. Also, the 384th Bomb Group will have our own hospitality room.

6:00 to 7:00 pm Welcome Reception, followed by dinner on your own

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Today, Reunion registration is open from 8:00 am to noon, and from 1:00 to 6:00 pm

7:30 to 8:30 am Continental Breakfast

8:30 to 9:45 am Individual Group Meetings

10:00 to 11:30 am American Indians in WWII presentation

11:45 am to 4:00 pm Our Military Heritage tour (additional fee), including box lunch

Our Military Heritage Tour includes the Missouri Civil War Museum and a driving tour of Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. A boxed lunch is included.

Your first stop of the day is the Missouri Civil War Museum. Originally designed and built as an athletic and activity center for soldiers, it was later transitioned into a troop barracks for World War I and World War II. After abandonment in 1964, it took 60 years for a restoration project to transpire. Through grassroots efforts of fundraising and hard work, the Civil War museum came to fruition. Enjoy viewing the artifacts significant to the Civil War efforts in the Missouri Area.

Enjoy your boxed lunch while driving through the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. The 4th largest cemetery in the nation, it was established after the American Civil War in an attempt to put together a formal network of military cemeteries. It started as the Jefferson Barracks Military Post Cemetery in 1826 and became a United States National Cemetery in 1866. The cemetery is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs on the former site of Jefferson Barracks. It covers 331 acres and the number of interments as of 2014 is approximately 188,000. The cemetery is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Cost is $45 per person—includes box lunch.

6:00 to 9:00 pm Cash Bar Open

7:00 to 9:00 pm Rendezvous Dinner, separate banquets by Group

Friday, October 21, 2016

Today, Reunion registration is open from 8:00 am to noon, and from 1:00 to 6:00 pm

7:30 to 8:30 am Full Breakfast

9:00 am to 1:00 pm Gateway to St. Louis City tour (additional fee), with lunch on your own

Your Destination St. Louis certified tour guide will trace the history of St. Louis beginning with the city’s original settlement, Laclede’s Landing. It is now a nine-block historic district filled with renovated turn-of-the-century buildings housing shops, eateries and offices. See the famous Gateway Arch, the Nation’s tallest monument, which commemorates the gateway to the west for thousands of 19th century pioneers.

Enjoy a view of the Old Cathedral, the oldest cathedral west of the Mississippi. Across the street is the Old Courthouse, the setting for cases involving slavery, the fur trade and equal rights. Of these cases, the Dred Scott Freedom Trial is the most notable. You will pass Busch Stadium, home of the 2011 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Continuing west on Market Street, you will pass several of St. Louis’ civic buildings and plazas, as well as Citygarden, a unique urban oasis blending art, architecture and landscape. St. Louis Union Station, once the busiest rail terminal in the world. Today, Union Station has undergone a magnificent renovation and is home to a luxury hotel and restaurants. Next, enjoy a stop in the Central West End for lunch on own. The Central West End is filled with century-old homes, sidewalk cafes, shops, and galleries.

Cost is $25 per person.

2:00 to 3:30 AAM Duxford presentation

3:45 to 5:00 pm Q & A – WWII Vets

6:00 to 9:00 pm Cash Bar Open

7:00 to 9:00 pm Dinner Buffet and author Donald Miller presentation

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Today, Reunion registration is open from 8:00 am to noon, and from 1:00 to 6:00 pm

7:30 to 8:30 am Continental Breakfast

8:45 to 10:15 am General Membership Meeting

10:30 to 11:30 am Researchers/Webmasters Meeting

11:30 am to 4:30 pm Anheuser-Busch Brewery/Grant’s Farm Tour (additional fee)

Experience a visit to Grant’s Farm, the 281-acre estate of the late August A. Busch, Jr., which is operated by Anheuser-Busch Companies. The adventure begins at Grant Station where you will board a tram for a tour of the grounds. The 20-minute tram ride will wind through the Deer Park – a game preserve where antelope, buffalo and other animals roam in a natural 160-acre habitat. Pass Grant’s Cabin, a log home built by Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States, and former owner of the land where Grant’s Farm is today. Your tram will then stop at the Tier Garten where you may enjoy elephant and bird shows. Then stroll to the historic Bauernhof which was built in 1913. Here you will have a chance to enjoy refreshments while viewing the elegant stables and the Busch family’s world-renowned carriage collection. A visit to the Clydesdale stallion barn will complete your visit.

En route to the King of Beers – the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, your Destination St. Louis tour guide will familiarize you with the rich history of the colorful Busch family. Situated in a 100-acre complex with over 70 red brick structures, the Brewery buildings are known for their unique architecture and several are National Historic Landmarks. During the 45-minute walking tour you will see the World Famous Clydesdales, the Beechwood Lagering Cellar, the Brew House, and the Bevo Packaging Plant. After visiting the Bevo Packaging Plant, a trolley will take guests back up to the tour center. No visit would be complete without sampling the family of Anheuser-Busch products during the tour!

Cost is $37 per person.

6:00 to 9:00 pm Cash Bar Open

7:00 to 10:00 pm Gala Dinner and Program

Sunday, October 23, 2016

7:30 to 8:30 am Full Breakfast

Sad goodbyes…

So, about the Civil War…

I was not a history buff at any point in my life until I started researching my dad’s WWII experiences. Now I devour any information I can find on the air war in WWII. But the Civil War? Never was a Civil War buff either. And I had relatives that fought on both sides of the war.

Recently, I have been researching those relatives and creating a family tree on Ancestry.com. When I got to one of my great-great grandfathers, Emeric Chase, I found that he was a cousin and follower of Salmon P. Chase, President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury and founder of the Free Soil Party. The party was dedicated to keeping Kansas and other territories free of slavery.

Emeric Chase had married the former Nancy Winn, and by the start of the Civil War, they had six children. Emeric left home to fight with the Union Army in Company F, 9th Kansas Cavalry. Nancy and five of their children (one had died in infancy) moved back to her family’s home in Meigs County, Ohio.

Great-great Grandpa Chase did not die a heroic death. He died from an unknown (to me) disease in the Union military hospital in St. Louis and was buried in the Jefferson Barracks Military Post Cemetery. To make the situation even sadder, his wife had died several months earlier and with Emeric’s death, they left their five children orphans, ranging in age from three to thirteen.

In reviewing the tours I could take during the reunion, I did not find any particular interest in visiting the Jefferson Barracks Military Post Cemetery. But now that I know I actually have a relative who fought in the Civil War buried there, I will be taking the tour and hope the bus will stop long enough for me to pay my respects to my great-great grandfather, Emeric Chase, who now resides in Section 33, Site 3147.

More Reunion Information

The cutoff date for registering for the reunion is September 15, less than a month away. Complete information about the reunion, fees, and hotel reservations is available at the Eighth Air Force Historical Society reunion page: click here.

Fred Preller, 384th Bomb Group Webmaster, emphasized a couple of points for 384th Bomb Group attendees to the 8th AF Reunion:

  • Be sure to mark “384th BG” on your reunion registration form (in the “BG or FG Affiliation” blank). The Society uses this to allocate banquet space and hospitality rooms.
  • When making your hotel reservation, be sure to specify the Sheraton Westport CHALET, as there is another Sheraton that is serviced by the same number on the hotel info sheet.
  • Attendees are NOT required to be members of either the 384th BG or the 8AFHS to attend this reunion.
  • For those who plan to come, be sure to reserve your hotel room NOW. Remember, the reservation can be canceled up to two days prior to arrival without penalty – but if you delay, you may have to stay in an overflow hotel “down the road someplace” (I don’t know where that would be). You can delay registration until September, just don’t forget…
  • WWII Veterans who register for and attend the reunion will receive a check from the 8th AFHS for $250 when they check in at the registration desk. This just about covers the registration fee and the cost of meal package #1! The Society is doing this to honor all WWII Veterans, and to encourage their attendance.

Christopher Wilkinson, fellow 384th BG Nexgen, offers this invitation and additional information to 384th BG family and friends:

For all of those new and re-found 384th BG family members and friends: please seriously consider attending this event. Many of us only began attending in the past 10 years or less, so you will have fast and strong friends with similar experiences at this gathering. We are a warm group, not nosy but inclusive of those who are supporters in the heritage and legacy that the men of the 384th BG created. You’ll be in great company, and we’ll make sure you’ll feel welcome. Please join us!

This reunion is for a combination of the 8th and the 384th. Reception happy hour is usually without a meal, but might have some light snacks. 384th BG are having our own separate meeting room for our own “stuff”, drinks and memorabilia. The 8th AFHS have their own separate room for their “stuff”. This might seem confusing, but the 384th do this so that we can have a specific place to see each, talk and learn about 384th specific topics. I’ve never been to an 8th AFHS reunion, but the 384th BG reunion participants bring 384th memorbilia, uniforms and other ephemera to share with others. I assume that’s what the 8th AFHS is also doing. Its like a mini, temporary museum about the 8th Air Force. Like the 384th’s memorabilia, its on display for the duration of the reunion.

See you in St. Louis?

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

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