For Your Information






06 Sep 2015

Received from Betty Huff:

We have had another Firebird fly west. Colin Bell (RAF) passed away August 30, 2015 from cancer.  Jerry King e-mailed the news on September 3.

Doris Cliver, wife of a WWII crew member, is deceased, 2013, she was 91 yrs young.

I hate to be the bearer of this kind of news.....Betty Huff

Robert Guy Bramble passed away, May 12, 2015.    He was 93 years young. Bob supplied much of the information found in the 17th TCS WWII history on the Firebird Website.  He was an original crew member of the 17th TCS in World War II. His job was flying crew chief.  Duties very similar to the contemporary flight engineer.


25 Dec 2014

Richard L. W. "Dick" Henry

Received the following message from Dick Dodge….

It is with great sorrow that I have to report that Dick Henry flew West on December 25, 2014, after fighting a noble battle against Parkinson’s Disease. Arrangements are pending. Please disseminate this info to the troops.



04 Dec 2014

Bruce Powell Huff

Bruce Powell Huff, Master Sgt., USAF (Ret), was born September 3, 1933, in McGregor, Texas.  After a year-long illness he slipped away peacefully on December 4, 2014.

Interment will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday, January 2, 2015, at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen.  Memorial service will be at 11:00 a.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Hewitt, Texas, on Saturday, January 3, with a lunch following.


18 Oct 2014

Thomas Earl Huddleston

Thomas Earl Huddleston fought his final battle on Saturday, October 18th 2014, surrounded by his loving wife of 65 years and family. Earl was born on the 9th of April 1922 in York, SC the oldest of thirteen children. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps at the beginning of WWII. Earl served with the 4th Marine division of the 25th Regiment, with landings on Roi-Namur, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo-Jima. After Korea, he returned home to attend Georgia Tech where he earned his electrical engineering degree. Earl joined Lockheed Aircraft as a C-130 field service representative, and worked in many places around the world including Alaska, Zaire, Greenland, Okinawa, Peru, Texas, and Atlanta.


25 Oct 2014

Jay B. Walker

Former Firebird Loadmaster, and Firebird Association President, Jay Walker, peacefully passed away on October 22, 2014, in Vidor, Texas.


25 Oct 2014

Lt. Col. William Mead Nichols,  61st TCS C-130D pilot, Sewart AFB, TN.

April 20, 1930 - October 19, 2014

William (Bill) M. Nichols, Lt. Col, USAF, (Ret,), age 84, of Jacksonville, Arkansas was called home to the Lord and joined his wife and best friend of 55 years, Priscilla M. Nichols, on Oct 19, 2014. He was born April 20, 1930 in Groton, New York to the late Ambrose F. Nichols and Laura G. Nichols. He is survived by his sons, William L. Nichols (Carole) and Douglas M. Nichols and grandchildren, Andy (Katie) and Rachel Nichols.

Bill married his high school sweetheart, Priscilla, in 1952. He proudly served his country for 28 years in the USAF flying B-25's, T-28's, C-47's, C-54's, C-119's, C-124's, AC-130's, and C-130's. Bill was stationed throughout the U.S., Europe, and the Far East, including two tours of duty in Viet Nam. He retired in Arkansas to a life of golf, fishing, gardening, and church fellowship.

Bill was a wonderful, loving, caring, faithful husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend and Christian who put family, friends, and God first. He will be dearly missed.

In lieu of flowers the family wishes donations be made to the American Diabetes Association 320 Executive Ct, Little Rock, Ark. 72205. (501) 221-7444.

Memorial services will be 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home. Arrangements by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home & Crematory (501) 982-2136.



19 Jul 2014

Retta M. Lavoie, wife of Firebird Lionel “Chuck” Lavoie, passed away this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in Cantonment, Florida.  There will be no services.  Her remains will be cremated and sent to her children in California. 

Memorial Service For Retta


Retta's memorial service will be at 10:00 AM on Saturday, July, 26.


East Lawn memorial Park

5757 Greenback Ln.

Sacramento, CA 95819



16 Feb 2014

Former Firebird First Sergeant Howard Mulanax has passed away.  Just received a call from former Firebird flight engineer Richard Burr.  Sergeant Mullinax’s daughter called him and said that her father passed away.  According to her, Howard will be cremated and his ashes will be spread over the Kenai in the Spring.  If anyone finds his obit, please advise.  Thanks!

Sgt. Mulanax was the First Sergeant when the Firebirds were transferred from Dyess AFB, Texas, to Elmendorf. 

“Howard Mulanax, 85, passed away at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage on February 14, 2014.   Howard was born on May 24, 1928.”


17 May 2013

Firebird Association member Robert "Boomer" Mearns, and family, survive tornadoes. 


One of the  tornadoes in Hood County,  in and around  Granbury, TX, passed between Boomer's (Robert Mearns) and Lori's home and his place of employment. They and their children survived with relatively minor damage. They have some hail damage and will most likely need a new roof.  They do have insurance coverage.


The tornado that devastated Granbury, Texas, had winds up to 200 miles an hour and killed at least six people. It was one of the tornadoes that hit North Texas Wednesday night .  The National Weather Service in Dallas-Fort Worth said 16 tornadoes were confirmed to have ripped through north Texas.  The tornado that hit Granbury Wednesday night (May 15, 2013) was rated an EF-4 by the National Weather Service, meaning that winds reached between 160 and 200 miles per hour. In Cleburne, east of Granbury, storm spotters told the NWS a tornado that was estimated to be a mile wide tore through the town.  Rescue crews continued their search for victims Friday after a wave of 16 tornadoes crashed through the region, ripping homes to pieces and laying waste to large swaths of the area.




26 Oct 2012

Wanda Jean R Liskow, age 83, passed away on Friday October 26, 2012. She was born August 5, 1929 in Breckenridge, Texas. She was preceded in death by her parents Ulysses Redmond and Lillie Bess Redmond Grimes and husband of 54 years, Wm. F. (Pat) Liskow, Jr. She is survived by her daughter Sheryl Liskow of Houston, son Rick Liskow of Laguna Hills, CA, son and daughter-in-law Curt and Cyndi Liskow of Cypress, seven grandchildren, five great grandchildren, brothers Alton Redmond and Jearld Grimes, and sister Anieca Perry, and many nieces and nephews.

Wanda moved to Houston when she was young and attended Austin High School Class of 1947, where she was a member of Austin's Scottish Brigade. With Pat's career in the Air Force they lived in Abilene, Texas, Anchorage Alaska, Charleston, S.C., and San Antonio, Texas. She was an avid bridge and poker player and world traveler. After Pat's death in 2002 she had her turn to see the world. She returned to Houston in 2011 to be close to family.

Services will be held at Forest Park Lawndale, 6900 Lawndale Street, Houston, Texas 77023. Visitation will be 12pm-2pm followed by celebration of life at 2pm October 30, 2012. Interment will be at Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her memory to MD Anderson Cancer Center or the American Cancer Society .

Wanda’s husband, Pat Liskow, was a Firebird crew member at Dyess and in Alaska.



23 Jul 2012

Sent: 7/23/2012 9:11:18 P.M. Central Daylight Time
Subj: Richard P. Keida and his wife Jeannette


Hello Nolan,


An old long-time Firebird  Rich Keida and his wife Jeannette were involved in a head- on crash on the Parks highway last Thursday, July 19th  just south of their home in Willow, AK.  They have survived so far and a website has been set up by another old Firebird,  John Dieffenderfer,  to chronicle their care  and progress,  I've listed it below.  Since they know so many members, I thought you might like to add it to the updates file.   Thank you very much.      

Kevin Knutson



06 Jun 2012

Jay Walker, immediate past president of the Firebird Association, is in the hospital with acute pneumonia. 

“Shortly after leaving the Galveston Reunion, our immediate past president, Jay B. Walker, was hospitalized with acute pneumonia and is still confined at present.  He is responding to medication but is not out of the woods.


Jay was ill while in Galveston and most in attendance were not aware of his condition.  He just wanted to make it through the reunion. Some of us did know, and kept a close eye on him.  Put him in your prayers !”


Betty Huff



15 Apr 2012

Former Dyess Firebird pilot passes away. 

“I just got word that my friend and former aircraft commander Lt. Col. Robert Bartunek passed away this evening. Bob was my aircraft commander on the C-130 flare mission out of Ubon, Thailand, in the spring of 1966. He has had serious health problems for some time. While I can't say I wasn't expecting it, I am very sad nevertheless.” Sam McGowan


26 Feb 2012

Clement Doherty, Firebird Stan Eval Loadmaster, passed away on 26 Feb 2012.  See “Taps” menu.



14 Feb 2012

Latest news from the Redcoat!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012, 9:38 AM

A short note to bring you up-to-date with our news.  Since my last note to you a whole lot has changed at "Chez Furlong."  Last September Barbara was diagnosed with breast cancer, and since then has had three lots of surgery and is now halfway through the chemo.  She has coped very well so far, despite being well on the way to losing her lovely hair.  Her last chemo starts on April 19th and since she usually doesn't feel too well for the first ten days or so, this has put an end to any hopes we had of coming to join you all at the 2012 reunion.  We are expecting a complete recovery once the treatment is over, so perhaps we will be able to come to the next one.

Anyway, we are both in good spirits and looking forward to a resumption of a more normal life.  Hope the re-union is as successful and enjoyable as usual.  Please give our best wishes to all our friends.

Charles Furlong 

(Note:  RAF Exchange Pilot who was affectionately given the nickname of “Crash” Furlong due to historical reasons.)


Charles and Barbara Furlong in South of France, October, 2011. 

Editor’s Note:  Seems those French rascals are continuing to steal the socks of unsuspecting tourists. 


11 Oct 2011

Joyce Honey Marcus Obituary  (Wife of Former Firebird Pilot, Sid Marcus)

Mrs. Joyce Honey Marcus, 77, of Mobile, AL, died Sunday, October 9, 2011, in Mobile.

Mrs. Marcus was born in Braddock, PA and had been a resident of the Gulf Coast since 1975. She was a member of the Order of The Eastern Star, a former member of the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue, and a current member of Ahavas Chesed Synagogue.

Mrs. Marcus is survived by her husband, Sidney Marcus; two sons, Joel Marcus and his wife, Elisabeth, and Jeff Marcus and his wife, Toni; four grandchildren, Logan Marcus and his wife Carrie, Lauren Marcus, Leanna Marcus and Hanna Marcus; and her beloved canine, Maggy May.

In lieu of flowers, the family request that memorials be made to the American Cancer Society , 417 Security Square, Gulfport, MS 39507.

Funeral services will be 11:30 a.m. today, Tuesday, October 11, 2011, at Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home, 2511 Pass Road, in Biloxi where friends may visit from 11:00 a.m. until service time. Interment will follow in Biloxi National Cemetery.

Read more:


07 July 2011

Dell Parker passes away.   -- Wife of former Firebird Commander John Parker—

The much beloved Dell Parker passed away on the evening of July 7th, at the family home in Junction, Texas.  She experienced a massive heart attack.  Everyone who has had the privilege of knowing Dell, John, and the rest of her precious family, is aware of the magnitude of the family’s, and the Firebird Association’s, loss.

The Parker family said their private goodbyes to Dell, and she was cremated.  John will scatter her ashes in three of her most favorite places at a time of his choosing.  A memorial service in Dell's honor has been planned for, on or about, August 13, 2011, at a place to be decided later.  John will keep us informed.  He deeply appreciates all of the thoughts and prayers that have been expressed.    Phone calls are welcomed.

Dell is being taken care of by the Heritage Funeral Home in Menard, TX.  Phone (325) 396 4595, for an indeterminate amount of time . 

For your convenience:  

John  Parker

HC-81  Box  341

Junction,  TX  76849-6816

Phone:  325  446  2044



28 Feb 2011

Former Firebird Pilot Dick Semple


You may need to post this.....

Bruce had a long conversation with Cathy Semple, (Mrs. Richard), just to check on Dick.  His health is deteriorating, he is struggling to overcome a blood clot in his lungs,  is very week, doesn't speak, he needs help to sit, and does not stand.  Bruce asked Cathy to remember the Firebirds to Dick.  Cathy will relay any messages to Dick and can be reached at   (509) 466 9825.



Betty Huff  (Mrs. Bruce)



William C. Christian Obituary Posted on Taps page.



I am sorry to report that my good friend 1972-1976, Firebird Paul Smith died last night about midnight Anchorage time.  Services will be next Tues & Weds in Anchorage.  I'm so glad he was able to attend the Firebird Reunion this past Spring and if you didn't already know him, hopefully you were able to get acquainted with him then.  If there was ever a reason to attend a reunion, THIS IS IT.  I'll send the obit to Nolan for posting on the Firebird site when it is published.  I can fill you in on the details sooner--just ask.

Gene Ramsay


5 Jun 2010

Col. Wilbert Turk Memorial Service.                 

Wednesday, June 9th 2010, at 1:00 p.m.

Southern Memorial Funeral Home and Crematorium
Montgomery, AL 36107


Interment at Arlington National Cemetery

September 15, 2010       

1100 Hours  (11:00 A.M.)


5 Jun 2010

Col. Wilbert Turk Passes Away.  Just received news from Firebird Gerry Aycock that the revered Commander of the 61st Troop Carrier Squadron passed away yesterday, 4 Jun 2010.  As some may know, the Colonel was the first commander of a C-130 ski model squadron, and made the first C-130 ski landing at the South Pole.  He is legend.

For those who would like to express their condolences, please contact Gerri at the following address and phone number.  Information for the memorial service is incomplete at this time.  Plans are for him to be buried in the Arlington National Cemetery.

Mrs. Gerri Turk

842 Sommerset Dr

Montgomery, AL 36117-8231

(334) 271-6626

For more information contact Gerry Aycock at  830-598-9717




Missing information…to be added




July 22, 2009

Ada Grapes

Just a quick update.  Things have been rather hectic around here,  so sorry it’s been a while.  But, Ada passed away  last night about 8:15pm.   She is now in the loving hands of the Lord and finally found her peace.  As it turned out, all of the family were here at that time.   We have been working with the Funeral Home and the Church getting the process going.  They have done a wonderful job.  More meetings tomorrow.  But,  the time element is getting short.  There will be a “ Rosary “ viewing Thursday night…6 – 8pm at the Funeral home.  The Mass will be on Friday at 2pm at the St. Williams Catholic church here.  She will be laid to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery..D.C on August 31st.  The Obit info won’t be out until Thursday’s paper,  so time is short.   If you special folks think of someone, please pass this along.  God Bless    

Elton Grapes


24 APR 2009

Jasper “Pat” Patterson

Sorry to hear that Pat passed away today at approximately 2:30 pm.


27 MAR 2009


Jasper “Pat” Patterson Near Death


Firebird Pilot at Dyess and Elmendorf in 1960’s


Dear Family and Friends,


To those of you who have been following Jasper's illness, the following will hopefully explain his diagnosis. For those of you who are just hearing of Jasper's illness, I am so sorry to have to give you this information about my Jasper.


The Neurologists, Internal Medicine doctors and Infectious Disease doctors at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center have arrived at a unanimous diagnosis, which they call Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which they refer to by the short title of CJD. There is no treatment or cure for this disease. It is not the result of a bacterial or viral infection. It is a protein that has developed incorrectly--the literature says "folded incorrectly". The disease is rare, depending on where you look on the internet it is 1 in 1,000,000,000 but there are some indications that it is more prevalent than was first thought. No one knows for sure how the disease begins, however some people develop it by eating infected meat from animals, and then there are medical errors and heredity. In 85% of all cases it is never determined how it was acquired.


The doctors say Jasper's case is textbook classic. It now seems that what was earlier diagnosed as a stroke was probably the beginning of the attack on his brain. The disease is very hard to diagnose and is frequently misdiagnosed. There is no absolutely sure way to tell, not even after death, but the progression that Jasper has experienced mirrors the symptoms that you can find online. I feel sure this is the correct diagnosis.


Today the doctors told me that they thought Jasper would probably live one to two months. Of course there is no date or time, just their opinion.  I pray the Lord ends his suffering and takes him home soon. Jasper is just going on ahead of the rest of us and we will join him one day. We should bear this in mind lest we let sorrow consume us.


Your love and support are sustaining to me.  I so appreciate how kind and supportive everyone has been.  God has surely blessed me by giving me such family and friends during these dark days. I ask that you continue to support me. And please remember Jasper as he was, what a great life filled with a wonderful family and high achievements. He is truly the love of my life.  Please remember that I will be at the hospital every day as I have been for six weeks and unavailable for the most part for calls.  Your thoughts will fill me with love.


Love to All, Jayne



16 FEB 2009

Jo Sommerville

Josie Sommerville gave up her struggle today, about noon, February 13,2009.  Plans for a memorial service have not been completed.  She has been cremated and will be held in reserve for burial in The New Veterans Cemetery at Abilene, TX.   Construction on the cemetery will not be completed until May.

I should have more information in a day or two.

Tom has asked, in place of cards or flowers, to please send a memorial in Josie's name to The American Cancer Society.

Betty Huff



Jo Eddie Sommerville, 71 passed away Friday February 13, 2009. Jo was the youngest of three daughters born to Edward and Idabelle Nitzschke on February 24, 1937 in Limestone County TX. Jo grew up in Marlin, TX and graduated from Marlin High School in 1955. She continued her education, graduating from Four C Business College a year later.

Jo married Tom Sommerville in Waco, TX on June 1, 1958. She was a devoted mother and military wife. Jo and Tom have been residents of Graham, TX for 11 years and are members of the Salem Crestview Methodist Church. She was preceded in death by her mother, father and one sister Mildred McCarver. She is survived by her husband Tom of Graham, TX; sister Norma Cuviello and husband Pat of Waco, TX; son Richard Sommerville of Billings, MT; two daughters Terry Hayhurst and husband Randy Davis of Clyde, TX and Tracy and husband Mike Hayes of Rangely, CO; six grandchildren Travis Sommerville and wife Leslie, Monica Wright and husband Josh all of Odessa, TX; Trent Sommerville of Billings, MT; Shelby and Hillary Hayes of Rangely, CO and Skyler Hayhurst of Clyde, TX; one great grandson Tavon Sommerville of Odessa, TX; four step-grandchildren Rachel and husband Daniel Wauson of Abilene, TX; S.Sgt. Juda Davis of Albuquerque, NM; Jon Michael Davis of AZ; Seth Davis of Abilene, TX and many beloved nieces and nephews.

Josie loved gardening and traveling. Memorial services will be held at Salem Crestview Methodist Church in Graham, TX on March 14, 2009 at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made in her name to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123 or Solaris Hospice of Graham, 507 4th Street, Graham, TX 76450.



26 Dec 2008

Former Navy Pilot Needs Help


Dear Sirs,

            I am searching for further information regarding a search and rescue effort in Greenland in 1967. I was a Navy helo pilot flying a single engine Kaman H-2 Seasprite aboard the Coast Guard ice breaker Southwind operating at various location around the coast of Greenland in 1967. We operated from Thule down and around to Kulusuk. While at the latter location during the Summer of 1967 doing an annual re-supply of the DEW Line station, we received an HF transmission informing us that there had been a rescue executed by a Ski130 on a return trip from Kulusuk to Sondrestrom AFB. We were requested to conduct a search over the icecap for further survivors. Absent a good position and any reliable nav aids beyond the ADF using the ice breaker’s HF radio, our four hour search was fruitless. Fortunately we found our way back to the ship before exhausting our fuel and did not add to the burden of the 17th Tactical Airlift Squadron. We were given information that we were to look for the empennage of a civilian Areo Commander which remained protruding from the snow. We were further informed that the plane was being ferried from Sweden to the US when it flew into the ascending ice cap.

            The ‘story’ as related to us was that the aircrew on the Ski 130 sighted a survivor while on their return trip to Sondrestrom, landed to effect his rescue, then took the survivor to Sondrestrom where additional medical attention brought him to the point where he could relate the details as he recalled them. Those details were that he was standing between and aft of the pilot and copilot when the accident occurred and that he recovered consciousness outside the aircraft. It was alleged that he looked into the wreckage and observed that the pilot and copilot were deceased. Subsequently he was spotted and rescued by the Ski C-130.

            I related this story last night at a Christmas party and it was met with some skepticism. Now 65, with youthful memories fading, I decided to do some looking on the internet and discovered on your website two rescues which roughly fit the story as I recall it. Is it possible to query your membership to see if any one has actual details of that event?


Thanks, Jay Doering, formerly Lt Doering, Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 4, USN


16 Dec 2008

Jo Sommerville (Wife of Firebird Tom Sommerville)


Some sad news this Christmas Season!!


Bruce just a finished a long conversation with Tom Sommerville concerning Josie.   Her condition has worsened.  Her cancer has moved into her kidneys and has become terminal.  She is gravely ill.  Tom's e-mail has been temporarily shut down so he cannot be reached through the computer.


Tom wishes to thank each and everyone for all the kindnesses and prayers.


Tom said that when he was so ill, he had told the doctors that he wanted to live just five more years so that he and Jo could celebrate their 50 years together.  They were able to do this at the same time as the Firebird's last reunion.   God works in mysterious ways.


Betty Huff


09 Dec 2008

Col. Jim “Ironman” Waldman

I am saddened to pass on the news of the passing of former 17th TAS Firebird Commander "Ironman" Jim Waldman on Friday.  Many of us were blessed to be able to visit with him and Ann at the (5)17th Final C-130 Flight event in March, 2007.  It's the end of an era.  Please pass on to anyone for whom you have an e-address that I have missed.  Thanks.


Gene Ramsay


General Ramsay,

It is with great sorrow that I am writing to inform you of the death of my father on Friday, December 5th.  Dad was battling a slow growing illness which did not impact his activity greatly (he was playing tennis on Monday) but occasionally gave us scares as far back as 1984.  Pasted below is the brief Obituary we are running in the local paper tomorrow. From countless conversations with my father I can say with great confidence that Dad's tour as the 17th squadron commander was his favorite assignment in the Air Force.  He frequently spoke with great fondness about the flying, the mission, Alaska, and the men he served with. I know you have an extensive list of Firebirds from Dad's era, so please forward this sad news on to those who may have served with him at Elmendorf from 1970 to 1976.  In case this message misses you I have copied Ernie Barnett on this message. My mother, Ann Waldman, currently resides at 854 Granada Lane, Vacaville CA 95688.

Very Respectfully,
* * * * * * * *
Jeff Waldman, Lt Col
129 RQW/SE
California Air National Guard
Moffett Field  CA  94035



20 June 2008

John Parker’s Thoughts About Galveston Reunion (News Column)


The Junction Eagle,           Wednesday, April 9, 2008             Page 3 _________________________________________________________



My Opinion


By John Parker


The human animal some-times is like a hive of bees—they all, or at least the large majority, enjoy gathering at the hive at night.

“Folks” call these reunions.  Families are big on this, and so are military organizations; for one, my old outfit the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron.

We had a unique mission.  We had the C-130 aircraft that had been modified with skis to allow the aircraft to land on snow and ice surfaces.

We spent a bunch of our time, (mostly all?) in the arctic.  The Air Force had two large radar sites out on the Greenland Ice Cap during the Cold War.

One of our major missions


was to re-supply those sites.  They were mammoth things—about the size or even some larger than the “Texas Towers,” the oil rigs off the coast of Texas in the Gulf manned by 25 to 30 people.

Strangely enough the “landing” strip was a line of flags.  That was so we could line up during bad visibility.

We used interior radar to “see” the flags which had metallic threads in the flags.

The bunch we had were, in my opinion, superior people, great airmen and U.S. service people who deserved all the honors they received.

I’m lucky I’m going down to Galveston Island to spend a few reunion days with these great guys and their wives.


12 June 2008

Ralph Carboneau

Please post the loss of Ralph W. Carboneau age 76, who passed away in Kansas City June 7, 2008.  Ralph was born Oct 30, 1931 in Newton Mass.  He has resided in Kansas city since 1969 when he retired from active duty after 20 years in the Air Force.  He later worked as the safety officer at the Kansas City international airport for 17 years.  Online condolences may be sent to the family via




Ken Outland


29 May 2008

Ray Ekenstam

From: Sharon Harlan <>
Sent: Thu, 29 May 2008 10:43 am

Former Firebird CCT member Garland Ray Ekenstam passed away on May 6, 2008 from peritoneal mesothelioma.


24 May 2008


Sent: Fri, 23 May 2008 9:00 pm
Subject: FIREBIRD SOCIAL MAY 21, 2008

Hi Nolan, 

I want to try to keep you and the other FIREBIRDS up to date on the activities of the Active Duty FIREBIRDS. 

On May 21, 2008, at 1600 hours, the Squadron Commander and the 517th Squadron (ARCTIC AIRLIFT) invited the aircrews and support personnel of the C130's from Little Rock, AFB, and aircrews and support from the C17's based out of McCord AFB, and all former FIREBIRDS, to a Troop Carrier Social. This was a real Troop Carrier Social event. The event was held on Elmendorf.

These active duty troops surely know how to do it right. To put the event in prospective, here’s quote from John Lerch, "It was awesome!"


The weather was great, the beer cold, and the food hot. What more could you ask for, life is good............Emmet Heidemann 


07 May 2008

Commendation for Firebird Reunion

See letter from La Quinta Inn and Suites General Manager, Willis Ghandhi, to Firebird Association President.


17 Apr 2008

1964 Outstanding Unit Award Posted

Fourteen pages describing the “17th TCS Firebirds Receive First USAF Outstanding Unit Award of 1964” have been posted under “Commendations.”  It covers the history of the 17th TCS Firebirds from 1 July 1962 through 15 June 1964.  This document is courtesy of former Firebird pilot Jack Roth, and was received at the Galveston reunion.


10 Apr 2008

Galveston Reunion

The “Galveston Gathering” is now history.  The frozen margarita machine was a hit, and everyone enjoyed himself or herself even without imbibing.  If you weren’t in attendance, you were definitely missed by someone.


10 Apr 2008

Entertainment at Firebird Reunion

Bruce and Betty,

Just a note to thank you for having me Tuesday night for the Firebird Association.  I really appreciated your kindness and courtesy.  It is always an honor to perform for people who have given so much to make this country great, as you have done.

Best Wishes,

Mack Hayes


Webmaster’s Note:  When the music began, I looked around to find the DJ playing the CD’s.  Lo and behold, it wasn’t a CD playing, it was Mack.  He’s that good.



01 Apr 2008

Information on the Firebird Site.

There is no intention to fill this site with stories, photos, and history from a particular time frame.  The historian can only post what he can “mooch,” or “solicit” from former squadron members.  In fact, the historian often feels like a “lady of the evening” trying to do “solicitation.”   So, if you want your era of the Birds to be “spotlighted,” just forward the appropriate stories, photos, and documents at your earliest convenience.  If requested, all loaned items will be “returned to sender,” as soon as they have been duplicated.


01 Apr 2008

Project Cool Rope

Added Project Officer Ray Reeves’ story about the recovery of an Alaska Air National Guard C-123 from Lake Nuyakuk in Alaska – during 1967.  It is posted under “Mission.”


27 Mar 2008

Recovery of 57-490 and 57-492 from Greenland Ice Cap Stories

Earl Huddleston’s description of how these C-130 “D” models were recovered from the Greenland Ice Cap under trying conditions have been posted under “Mission.” Photos to be added later.  Check back….


11 Mar 2008



Firebird Paul R. Chenvert

My father, Paul Chenvert, passed away on March 09, 2008.  One of the things he asked was that you and your organization, the Firebirds, be informed.  He will be missed and he was always proud to be a member of the Firebirds.

Jim Chenvert

Jim Chenvert  -


22 Feb 2008

New Pages Posted Under Green Hornets Menu

Am beginning with photo album of Bill Nichols – 61st TCS, Greenland and the South Pole, 1959-60 era.


21 Feb 2008

New Pages on Firebird Site – Sondrestrom Menu

ARA approaches, Navigator’s Briefing, Emergency Airfields, Sondrestrom SID, etc.   Info courtesy of Brigadier General Gene Ramsay (Pages from era when he was a lieutenant—1974-75)


29 Jan 2008

Harold Sacane, Firebird Navigator, Succumbs

With a great deal of remorse I must announce that the obituary of Hal has been posted at


17 Jan 2008

Priscilla Nichols

Dear Friends,

Priscilla passed away peacefully at 7:15 p.m. Wed 16 Jan 2008 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Her memorial service will be held in the chapel of Moore's Funeral Home, Jacksonville, AR at 3:00 p.m. Monday 21 Jan 08. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Arkansas Hospice, 5600 W. 12th St. Little Rock, AR 72204.

God Bless,
Bill Nichols

Moore's Jacksonville Funeral Home

Priscilla  NicholsPriscilla Nichols
(January 5, 1931 - January 17, 2008)

Priscilla Nichols, age 77 of Jacksonville, Arkansas died January 16, 2008 in the Woodland Hills of Jacksonville nursing facility after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.  Priscilla was born on January 5, 1931 in Cortland, NY, the daughter of the late Robert M. and Mercena Carter Miller.  She graduated from high school in Groton, NY and afterward attended Cortland State Teachers College majoring in elementary education and earned a BA degree in 1953.  She married William Nichols, her high school sweetheart, in 1952 and was his dearest friend and closest confidant throughout 55 years of married life.  She raised their two sons and supported them often without her husband’s help because of his Air Force duties taking him away from home for extended periods.   She was a full-time homemaker who kept an immaculate house.  She was a hospitable hostess who enjoyed entertaining and socializing with friends.  She belonged to a ladies bridge club and a bowling league for more than 25 years.  She will be most remembered as a warm-spirited fun loving person, loyal to friends and devoted to her family.


She is survived by her husband, William M. Nichols; two sons, William L. Nichols (wife Carole) and Douglas M. Nichols; two grandchildren, William Andrew Nichols and Rachel Elise Nichols.


Memorial services will be held Monday, January 21, 2008 at 3:00 pm in the chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.  In lieu of flowers the family has requested that contributions be made to Arkansas Hospice, 5600 W. 12th St. Little Rock, AR  72204.


15 Jan 2008

Firebird Flyer Posted Online

The January 15, 2008, edition of the Firebird Flyer has been posted online under “Newsletters.”


08 Jan 2008

Billy Hales Under the Wx

Billy Hales, L/M on 490 when she went down on the ice cap, has become afflicted with a mysterious, unpredictable, and so far, un-diagnosed series of seizures.  He has had three in the last several months.  Doctors have ruled out several causes, but have not been able to pin-point the problem.  If the prognosis does not change for the better,  Billy will not be able to attend the Galveston Reunion.  Billy sends greetings and best wishes to his many friends and all the Firebirds.    He does not have an e-mail address, but give him a call to let him know that you care.   318-435-4313.


01 Jan 2008

Harold Sacane in Nursing Home

Nancy Sacane says that Harold is suffering from a degenerative spine, and was hospitalized twice in November.  On November 29th, he had a fall that left him unable to walk.   Hal was then moved to a nursing home with a therapist in an effort to secure a physical therapy program for him.   Nancy says that he is trying really hard to get better but has some long/low days.
Hal has lots of friends out there so perhaps a card or even a phone call to Nancy, or even a little bit of prayer might help.   Address:  129 East Plaza Drive;  Clovis  NM  88101-3531.   Phone (575) 762 6474.


Betty Huff


15 Dec 2007

Joyce Littleton

One of our Firebird members, O.C. Littleton, lost his wife this day to a severe stroke. Her name was Joyce Littleton.  You may wish to post something on the web pages.  Joyce was 74 years of age and she  will be interred with her father, in a family grave site, in Denision, TX.  There is to be no memorial service at this time and O. C. asks that she be remembered.

Chuck Lavoie


08 Nov 2007

Firebird Flyer Posted

The November 5, 2007, issue of the Flyer has been posted on this Board under the button entitled Newsletters. 


04 Oct 2007


Condition of Dick Semple (Former Firebird Pilot)

Bruce Huff just called and gave a report on Dick.  Dick has had two or three strokes since last August, and has had to do lots of therapy.  Cathy, his wife, says that Dick gets around on a walker and is doing better.  However, she said that Dick is very despondent since his Spokane friends dropped him after his strokes.  And, she says that the Firebirds that have called recently have really cheered him up.  So, if you remember Dick, why not give him a call and reminisce for a while?  His number is 509-466-9825.


30 Sep 2007

Condition of Sam Arnold (Former Firebird FE)

Talked to Sam yesterday and he is at home and doing well.  He still goes in three days a week for more therapy.

Tom Sommerville


25 Sep 2007

The 2008 Firebird Association Reunion

The next reunion for the Firebirds will be held on Galveston Island in April of  2008.  For exact dates, and more information, please visit the “Reunion” page. 

The goal of the 2008 reunion committee is to rent all 120 rooms of the hotel. There are 56 Association members living in Texas, 44 live in Florida, 25 live in Tennessee, and 36 live in “Razorback Country.”   This is a total of 161 Firebirds.   All we need is for you to be there…to help make this the best Firebird reunion ever.

Now, if we can talk the 517th Airlift Squadron and the 109th Airlift Wing, NYANG, into having static displays at Scholes International (GLS), all things will be copasetic.


15 Sep 2007


Condition of Firebird Sam Arnold

Tom Sommerville talked to Sam last Tuesday, 11 Sep 2007, and he seems to be doing fine.  Sam said the woman in charge of rehab said there was no reason for him to be taking rehabilitation therapy. But, the nursing home won't release Sam because they told him if they don't keep him to a certain date they would have to refund a bunch of money to Medicare.


14 Sep 2007



News from the 517th.  New commander has joined the Firebird Association.

Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2007
From: "Almand David LtCol 517 AS/CC"
To: Bob Mattingly
Sir, thanks.

FYI:  Firebirds just flew our first operational C-17 mission:  Our 3rd Wing C-17s have joined the fight!  We flew our first operational mission departing on 7 September-right on schedule.  Our mission transited Afghanistan and Iraq supporting both OEF and OIF.  We delivered a new
helicopter for our Alaska Army soldiers and brought back Marines and their equipment.  We were also honored to bring home Chaplain Kyle Roehrig from his OEF deployment.  Captain Lisa Christensen commanded this historic mission with crewmembers from the 3 Wing and 176 ANG Wing.

Lt Col Dave Almand
517th AS/CC


15 Jul 2007

Historical Question:  Can anyone elaborate on this incident, taken from the Sondrestrom Log Books?

23 February 1967  -- Sondrestrom Daily Log


At approximately 1845L, 23 Feb 67, Sgt. Chelf, Chief Clerk, called to advise of a ground incident involving 70-494.  The crew chief hooked up to a prop stand containing a prop just removed from 494.  He pulled it underneath the right wing, cutting through the skin from leading edge to, and including, the aileron.  Approximately 4.500 pounds of fuel was spilled onto the ramp while fire equipment stood by, and hosed down the area.  All other aircraft in vicinity were moved away (towed) immediately.



21 May 2007

Firebird Tradition Continues

I am currently going through C-17 requal and will be arriving at the 517th AS in August.  Having helped reactivate the 10th Airlift Squadron while I was at McChord I know the importance of maintaining the historical record of our squadrons.  It looks like the 17th/517th has a very robust historical record, which is great.


Sorry, you didn't get the records you were promised; quite a bit of turbulence is associated with transitioning the squadron, so who knows what happened.  If the items are still there (haven't been boxed and sent to Maxwell or something), I will see if I can get the situation remedied.  In the mean time I'll shoot an e-mail to some contacts I have up there and have them hold any historical stuff.  Even though the squadron is transitioning to the C-17 the history of the Firebirds from C-47s through the C-130 is an important part of the squadron heritage.  I really enjoyed your website, it is very well done and like I said has some great historical items.


Hope this eases your mind a bit,

Paul Greenlee




Will the C-17 squadron be called the 517th?  Will they be the Firebirds?  Just wondering...hope to keep the tradition going....

Thanks again and please keep in touch...

Best regards,



Yep, still the 517th and still the Firebirds.  Have the patch on my flight suit now.  The Firebird newsletter established in the C-130 days continues.  While there may be changes, the squadron has a rich, proud history that we should remember and do our best to add to.  Sent an e-mail up to one of the C-130 Navs in the squadron that is helping with the transition, so I hope he will set the items you were looking for aside, don't think they'll get dumped, actually they shouldn't.  Will let you know if I hear anything or what I find when I get up there.


08 May 2007

Randall Lattin:  Son of Gary and Carol Lattin

A First-rate Scout

He soared as Highland troop member

Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell, Staff Writer

Article Launched: 04/29/2007 12:00:00 AM PDT


HIGHLAND, CA - More than 30 years ago on a cold morning on the banks of the Colorado River, Boy Scout Randall Lattin got up early to prepare pancakes on the grill for his fellow Scouts.

Making breakfast in winter in the middle of nowhere came naturally to the young man who climbed the ranks to Eagle Scout and was most at home in the wilderness.

"About 1 percent of the boys registered in Boy Scouts of America become Eagle Scouts," said Paul Chandler, Lattin's former scoutmaster from Highland. "He was in that small percent because he saw what needed to be done and did it."

The man who was once a successful Scout died April 17 after battling esophageal cancer. He was 48.

Lattin was born Nov. 21, 1958, in Okinawa, Japan, to Gary Lattin, a U.S. Air Force pilot, and Carol Lattin, a homemaker.

The military family moved frequently, to Air Force bases in New York and Texas as well as Anchorage, Alaska.  Randall and his brother were accepting of life on the move. Every couple of years, their mother said, they would tell her, "We have been here long enough. It's time to move."

Lattin still found time for typical boyhood pastimes, including football and baseball and taking things apart.

The Vietnam War intruded on the Lattins' family life in the late 1960s.  When the boys' father received orders and went to that war-torn land, his boys missed him deeply, recalled their mother.  "Gary was a real hands-on dad who taught his kids how to shoot and ski, so he was missed," she said.  When his tour of duty ended, Gary Lattin returned to the U.S. and was sent to Norton Air Force Base.  The family settled in Highland, and soon became active in the Boy Scouts.

Chandler met him when the boy came by one Friday evening and said he wanted to join Troop 211, sponsored by Highland Methodist Church.  Once in the troop, he climbed from the rank of Tenderfoot to Second Class, then First Class.   Lattin and a number of other boys in the troop were sent to junior leader training. When they returned, some formed a patrol named the Eskimo Paratroopers.  The boys came up with the name because many had fathers in the Air Force, said Chandler.

"Norton (air base) was a big contributor of boys who formed our troops at the time," he said.  With his patrol, earned several tough-to-come-by merit badges, eventually working up to the rank of Eagle Scout.

He graduated from San Gorgonio High School in 1978 and went on to earn an associate degree in journalism from San Bernardino Valley College.  He was also an accomplished member of the archery team at the college.  "They came in first place for the first time while he was on the team," recalled his mother. 

After college he worked for a few years in New York before returning to work for Associated Sales Decorative Plumbing.  Last December, he began having problems swallowing and was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.  The disease made him so tired he couldn't move, but he stayed strong for his mother, she said.  "He had the same attitude toward cancer that helped him through Scouting," she said.

Lattin is also survived by his brother, Mark Lattin of Highland.

Memorial services were Thursday at Bobbitt Memorial Chapel in San Bernardino.

Lattin requested that any remembrances be in the form of donations to the Yucaipa Animal Placement Society, 11937 13th St.



24 Apr 2007

Firebird Historical Photographs at EDF

A while back, one of the 517th AS officers told me that there was a box full of old Firebird photographs and news releases there in the squadron.  And, he told me that if I would do some favor for him that he would scan and send them to me.  I did the favor, but the Major never got around to sending the historical data.  Too bad!

Now that there will be a new and improved 517th, that will be a C-17 squadron, I’m wondering if they will keep the Firebird insignia, campaign streamers, older photos, and news releases—all important parts of the squadron history.

Here’s a “most excellent” mission for our Firebirds in Alaska.  Please do a little snooping around and find out if the “historical mementos” will become “surplus property.”  If so, please consider completing a “sortie” to save them for the Firebird Association historian.  Gene Ramsay is already working on this for me, but I’ll bet that he could use a whole “crew” to help.

Thanks for listening,



18 Apr 2007

Don Thompson, Firebird Navigator, Succumbs

I just received this from a friend of a friend about mid to late 1970s former Firebird Navigator Lt Col (ret) Don Thompson. The friend and friend of a friend both have cabins in the same area as Don up on the Alaska Railroad north of Talkeetna.

The last Christmas Card I received from the Thompsons was a year or two ago and their long-time address was still 77 Ft Sullivan Circle, Dalzell, SC 29040


Gene Ramsay

The Message:

". . . . . howdy....talked with jean thompson this morning and I'm sad to say

that Don lost his battle with cancer on Feb.11...he was buried in Arlington

National Cemetery, with full military honors . . . . ."


16 Apr 2007

Sam Arnold Improves

Just wanted to let you know that I just spoke with Vera Arnold.  She said Sam had a really good day yesterday. (Sun. the 15th). He was talking up a storm and you could understand him.  She said he is still in I. C. U. and still cannot eat.  They are going to put a feeding tube in. 

I asked her if the Dr. thought he would ever be able to swallow again.  She said she didn't know. She went on to say that she thought they had accidentally jabbed him in the throat while cleaning out mucus or something.  And, she thinks by putting in this feeding tube it will allow Sam’s throat to heal.  I guess only time will tell on that one. She said boys were still coming and spending time when they could and that was a help. I asked her how she was holding up. She said okay, but some nights she would go back to the base and have a good cry and then she would be okay again.  I just told her
we are all still praying for both of them.

Barb and Mike Ashcraft


01 Apr 2007


Firebird John Wright Succumbs

I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But, I have to inform you all that John Wright passed away this morning (March 31, 2007) from pulmonary fibrosis.
John will be buried at the National Cemetery in Dallas, TX. the middle of next week. Exact details to follow on Monday.
Will Salazar


29 Mar 2007

Firebird John Wright in Serious Condition

Will Salazar and I are currently visiting John Wright here in Texas. It is with utmost sadness that we must report that John is currently in the hospital and probably has only a short time left because of his lungs being affected with pulmonary fibrosis. He is due to come home today under hospice care. John is alert and has all his faculties. He just cannot breathe. He is on 100% oxygen and his lung capacity is down to less than one lung. John would love to hear from his friends. He can talk on his cell phone and would love to hear from his friends.

His cell number is: 817-675-7329

Home address:

1517 Clover Hill Rd.
Mansfield, TX 76063-2992.

Sorry to say but soon we will have another fallen FIREBIRD.

Tomorrow would probably be the better time to call, as he won't be released from the hospital until late tonight.

Chuck Lavoie


14 Mar 2007

Sam Arnold in Serious Condition

According to Tom Sommerville, “Mr. Firebird” Sam Arnold is in critical condition after having a heart valve replacement at the University Medical Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, on 12 March 2007.  Following surgery Sam’s heart did not beat properly and a pacemaker was implanted to regulate the rhythm.  However, the pacemaker failed to correct the problem.  After trying the pacemaker to no avail, the doctor’s decided that it must be an allergic reaction to some medication.  Sam was removed from all medication, but this failed to correct the situation.  At present Sam ins uncommunicative and being fed through IV.



07 Mar 2007

Letter of appreciation from Sid Marcus.  Please forgive the belated posting of this message.  Bruce Huff kept on sending me copies and I kept on “misplacing” them.

17 October 17,2006

The Firebird Association
Bruce Huff, Pres.
9206 Willow View Lane
Houston, TX 77080

Dear Bruce;

First let me congratulate you on your selection as President of the Firebird Association. It is an honor well deserved.  I know that you will do the association proud.  Secondly, I received a check today for $1500.00 from the association. Bernie Warren explained to me that the association voted these monies to assist Joyce and I due to our loss in Hurricane Katrina. We both thank the Firebirds for this generous support and I can assure you it will be used wisely. This past year has been a very traumatic time for us and this gift at this time is especially meaningful.

Please tell the association how very thankful we are.



Sid Marcus

6970 Hedgestone Way
Mobile, AL 36608



01 Mar 2007

517th Airlift Squadron Final Flight Ceremonies

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for the delay.  Now that the final numbers are together for
the Fini-Flight Dinner - 1800/22 March (Just in case you forgot which
dinner), here are the details on payment.  The dinner will be $20 per
person and will include Hors D'oeuvres, buffet dinner, dessert and a
commemorative pint glass.  I have attached a copy of the RSVP list, so
you can see how many dinners you signed up for.  If there are any
corrections, please let us know AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  For payment, here are the options:

- Come by Room 209 (Readiness) with cash/check (Capt Clancy or 1/Lt Lee)   Make checks out to "Firebird Club"

Note: We will not be in the office 2 March 2007

-         Call 907-551-1718/3064 and pay with credit card/club card (with
         expiration date)

-         Note: You will not be charged until the week of the dinner

-         Mail a check to (please email/call us to let us know to look for it):

           517th Airlift Squadron
         C/O: Capt Joe Clancy
         Readiness Flight - Suite 209
         17470 Airlifter Drive
         Elmendorf AFB, AK 99506

- Contact Capt Clancy or 1Lt Lee for other arrangements (i.e. you live in England and we're not sure how the check situation works)

If you are a club member but plan to pay with cash, check or credit card
number, it would help our monetary situation if you would provide the
last ten digits of your membership (we get a little discount).

We have 75 remaining squadron RMOs for $5 each.  They will no longer
feature the C-130 after we leave.  If you are interested, please reserve
yours with as they will be first come, first
served, max one per party.

We would like to get all the money finalized by the 16th of March, so
please plan accordingly.  Thank you everybody for the interest.  At over
190 people, we are going to have a great party!


Joseph T. Clancy III, Capt, USAF
517th Airlift Squadron, Chief of Readiness
DSN 317-551-1718/3352




26 Nov 2006

C-130 Model for Sale

At the Branson reunion, someone asked about the C-130 models that were for sale at the Biloxi reunion. Of course everything on the Gulf Coast was blown away, so who knows

At the Tulsa Gun Show last month, a vendor was selling wooden model airplanes. I bought two C-130s: one for me, and one for anyone else who wants one. They have an 18-inch wingspan, are stained and varnished, on a stand, with the wheels down as if on take-off. Sorry, no skis. They're easily assembled, and my spare is still in its box.

They cost me $39 each on sale. (Retail was $99 according to the sales girl.) So, I'll sell the other one for $39 plus the shipping cost.

Please advise whoever is interested to call me (918) 489-2583, as my e-mail is so loaded up with junk that we seldom notice a friendly message. I can send photos, but it's involved.

Roger Wenman




16 Nov 2006

Farewell to the C-130 Ceremony at Elmendorf AFB

The Firebirds are planning a “Farewell to the C-130” Ceremony and get-together early next spring at Elmendorf AFB. The 517th will be converting to C-17s. The schedule is to have a dinner and a video on the 22nd of March and a 3-ship formation flight on the 23rd. Following the engine shutdown at 1517L, everyone will adjourn to the Firebird watering hole, called the Hardstand, for drinks, food, a last hurrah, and more drinks. All current and former Firebirds are invited.

Capt Joe Clancy is the project officer and he is currently putting together a video of the legacy of the Herk in the Firebird history. He is looking for video/film from the 60s or 70s as well as unique still photographs.

He can be reached at 907-551-1718/3352 or

Hopefully you can come up with some visuals for him as well as attend the event!

They are also trying to track down all surviving former 17th/517th Commanders so they can send formal invitations to them. I gave them all I have on Jim Waldman, as well as Bill Gibbons, who was commander for a short period. Anyone know the whereabouts of Don Gould?

Please pass this news on! THANKS.


Gene Ramsay





22 Oct 2006

Firebird Bernard "Lucky" Coyne

From: "marilyn.wass"

Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2006

 Hi, To all you lovely people who have taken time and effort to try and help with information in my search for Lucky Coyne and his children.

My search has nearly come to to an end, thanks to you all. So here is the story so far. And, if any of you can still provide any more info I would greatly appreciate it, after you have read this it may jog more memories for some of you.

An ex retired G.I. who resides in the UK in Suffolk and has an English wife as was my Aunt Sylvia, has been in touch his name is Jack Sile for those who may know or remember him, apparently he was a great friend of Lucky and Sylvia, it was through them he met his wife and Lucky was best man at their wedding.

The story goes, after Sylvia's death in 1970 Lucky and the children, Buddie, Terri, Katie, Peter and John all returned to Woodbridge. Lucky met and married again to a lady called Molly in January 1974, and then when he retired in 1981 they continued to live on Norwich Road, Ipswich. Molly still lives in Ipswich.

Lucky had a tax franchise on Woodbridge Road (thank you Walt for that) and also he was importing american cars over here, and he used to ride around in a blue and white volkswagon camper. I was also told that Peter the eldest child went to Bristol University and studied art.

Lucky remained here until he got ill in 1998 with liver problems and they think it was attributed to 'Agent Orange' (I'm sure you all know about this)

Lucky returned to the States for treatment as his children were all living there in Florida, sadly he died 12th May 1999, I found this out through searching on the internet and Jack confirmed it. As I said his 2nd wife Molly still lives in Ipswich and Jack has spoken to her and provided me with her telephone number and is willing to speak to me, due to some family issues after Luckys death she no longer has contact with his children but has given me Terri's address in Jacksonville, FL.

Thank you Elizabeth you were right Terri did marry Dean Muncer in 1999, and there was another child John Francis who we didn't know about apparently he is still living in Texas somewhere?

For some reason unknown to Jack he heard that Buddie was in the penitentiary and unable to attend Luckys funeral in 1999, sadly Buddie has since died not sure if it was drugs related or the exact date.

To think all this while I have been looking in the wrong place, Lucky was still here in the UK whilst my dad was still alive, I know my dad would loved to have met up with him as he often spoke of him and Sylvia which first set me on my quest.

But once again due to family issues on my side the wife of my dads only brother (he died 1959, and she in 1991) she was the one that told my dad when Sylvia had died, so it was obvious she was in touch with Lucky but when my dad asked she denied all knowledge and would n't give him any information, and their children say they couldn't remember anything either.

After I have written to Terri and sent copies of the photos I have, if anyone is interested I will let you all know.

Please any of you feel free to keep in touch, you never know I may be able to help some of you sometime and just for the record I live in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, Robin Hood country, so if anyone is visiting the UK and gets this way please give me a ring 0I1623 472750.

PS: My dad was actually born in Parry Sound, Ontario and it was through searching for that side of the family with my maiden name Helmkay that I eventually met some Canadian cousins in 2004, with whom I keep in touch and others in Michigan and Hawaii, but thats another story.

Once again a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has provided me with info, please keep in touch





28 Mar 2006

Wanda Tinney

Mrs. Tinney passed away today at 8:10 AM.  Further information is pending.



26 Mar 2006

Wanda Tinney

Wanda Tinney, widow of Col. Robert Tinney is in hospice.  She has cancer of the esophagus and the doctors have given her two to three days to live.

Hospice of Wichita Falls,

P.O. Box 4804

Wichita Falls, TX 76308

Phone 940-691-0982.

Courtesy of Richard and Kaye Tinney, and Tom Sommerville






04 Feb 2006

Firebird Lee Walker Succumbs

It is with a heavy heart that I post this news…Nolan

 ”Our friend Lee arrived back in Anchorage 2 a.m. Wed.& he was able to stay home for a few hours. Renada had to admit him to hospital about 10 a.m. He passed away 10:45 a.m. Thur. His memorial service is planned for 14th but Renada said she may change that to 17th.  Renada is going to request that in-leu of flowers people donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You may do so on line at .  Should anyone wish to speak to Renada, her phone # is: (907) 333-8248”.


If anyone would like Renada Walker's "snail mail" address please contact the webmaster at




17 Oct 2005

Lee Walker News

20 June 2005: Message received from Lee

I got some pretty bad news ten days ago, and finally decided to relate it to you all now. I'm going to be off the air for a while. I've been medically diagnosed as having a form of cancer called Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Yeah, it's a mouth full. It's somewhat similar to leukemia, but worse. In this disease, the bone marrow, which continually manufactures red blood cells, red blood platelets and hemoglobin, either lays down on the job or greatly decreases the production of these three entities. The red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body, including the brain, pumped around by the heart. When the body senses that it's oxygen supply is low, the heart quickens it's pace to try to pump blood faster to remedy the shortage. This places ever-increasing pressure on the heart, which eventually cannot meet the O2 demand. Before I was diagnosed, I was near-fainting anytime I exerted just a little bit. Energy just drains away...making any productive activity all but impossible. Additionally, this disease makes the patient a "bleeder", for the blood has insufficient plateletts to clot.

I've received six blood transfusions thus far, and am due another on Thursday. They are all that's keeping me on my feet at present. I need a bone marrow transplant (replacement)...the facilities for which don't exist in Alaska. So I'm being shipped off to the Oregon Health and Science Research Center in Portland....renound to be one of the finest cancer treatment hospitals in the nation. They specialize in my ailment. I'm told I'll be there for 90-120 days. The first visit will be an evaluation phase If I'm accepted as a patient (I may be too old) after they've run their tests, then I'm in for the course. Wish me luck! I really want to make the cut!

In addition, their tests have revealed that I have non-Hodgson's cancer in my neck. So, if one of these bastards doesn't get me, the other one will. The bone marrow disease is not inherited, and no breakthru has occurred to indicate a cause. I've never smoked. And there has never been a case of cancer in my family four generations back! Figure that out!

That's where I'm at. I'm not trying to cry on anyone's shoulder...just relating that I won't be on the air for awhile, and the reasons. You might imagine the turmoil such a thing can cause in a guy's family. I've surely learned that past procrastination in items I should have taken care of months and years ago....all of the sudden become front & center and urgent.

You guys....Take Care! If I get lucky, I'll so notify. Bye. Lee


Wed, 5 Oct 2005

Hey, everybody,




The guy is 26, and lives somewhere in Europe. The Transplant team is targeting the first week in November for my transplant. Afterward, Renada and I will have to remain here in Portland/Vancouver for 100 days....into February, and be immediately ready to rush to the hospital if complications arise. We've been here since 26 June! We have a big meeting tomorrow to set up dates and the regimen for me to get prep'ed for the transplant.

This is really a BIG DEAL, folks! I get only one shot at or die. No second transplants in the event the donor's BM material rejects my body, as it would mix material from two donors...a sure-fire prescription for failure.


So Send me your High-5's and wish me well. We're excited, anxious, grateful, and scared to death...all at the same time! More later! Lee


Here's praying that Lee will do well and be with us for many, many, more Firebird reunions. nb



09  Oct 2005

Hurricane Katrina News


Sid Marcus:

31 Aug 2005:   Joyce and I were lucky enough to evacuate to Florida and are in Ocala with our son and family.  I feel like a destitute prostitute as we lost our house and everything except the car we drove off in and one small suitcase and our dog.  Please let me know if you hear anything from Bernie Warren as I am very concerned about him and Sylvia.  As for insurance, Homeowners DOES NOT cover flood and that’s what this is being called so we have NO insurance. Sid

08 Oct 2005:   We finished up 3 weeks in CA last week and have been back here in Ocala this week.  Our kids bought us a patio home in Mobile AL and we are leaving here tomorrow for Mobile.  We close on it next Friday and move in on Monday, 17 Oct.  Then Joyce and I will be starting a whole new life.  So far, our insurance company will not pay damages because of the tidal surge, so we may wind up in litigation.  You can't do anything with FEMA until you resolve the commercial policy.  Thank God we still have our health and our doggy.  We will build a second empire.   Sid

Bernie Warren:  Survived with little damage to home.




07 May 2005

Photo album by Jack Cayton added in Photo section.  Best viewed with a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 and a broadband connection.



18 Jan 2005

Frank E. Brammer, Firebird Navigator

My Father, Frank Brammer passed away earlier today, January 17, 2005, in Chapala, Mexico. 


God Bless you all,

Frank Brammer

See "Taps" menu for additional information.




Frank Brammer in the lounge of the Arctic Hotel at Sondrestrom AB, Greenland, around 1965. 




August 30, 2004

Bonnie L. Surber

Bonnie L. Surber, 66, died July 18, 2004, in Cañon City, Colorado.

She was born August 10, 1937, in Fort Sumner, N.M., to Obie A. Atkinson and Verna L. Jenkins Atkinson.  She married James A. Surber Jr. on Aug. 14, 1955Bonnie was a Registered Nurse and moved to Cañon City from Oregon in 1991. She enjoyed cooking, entertaining, gardening, antiquing, and spending time with friends and  family and her dog, Fluffy.

She is survived by her daughter, Lorena K. (Jeff) Miller, Sleepy Hollow, Ill.; three grandsons, Jayme, Ryan and Zach; brothers, Ken (Bitsy) Atkinson, Winter Haven, Fla., Jerry Atkinson, Grand Junction, and Bob (Mary) Atkinson, Deltona, Fla., and a sister-in-law, Helen Atkinson, Cañon City.

Bonnie was preceded in death by her parents; her husband,  Jim Surber, Jr.; and brothers Don Atkinson and Burl Atkinson.

A visitation will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, July 21, 2004, at Holt Family Funeral Home Chapel of the Garden. Funeral services will follow at 2 p.m., at Holt Family Funeral Home Chapel of the Garden with Pastor Dale Dieter officiating.

Interment will follow at Mountain Vale Memorial Gardens. Arrangements were handled through Holt Family Funeral Home.



May 30, 2004

David L. 'Buck' Buchanan

April 13, 1933 - May 27, 2004

Vacaville resident Col. David L. "Buck" Buchanan passed away May 27, 2004.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 10 a.m. June 5, at Community Presbyterian Church, 425 Hemlock St. in Vacaville.

Pastor Jim Jensen will officiate.

Col. Buchanan was born in Breckenridge, Texas on April 13, 1933. He grew up in the small Texas community where he married the former Kay Hallmark, also from Breckenridge.

Col. Buchanan achieved his wings and his Air Force commission in May 1955 after attending Texas A&M University and completing the aviation cadet program.

His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal and the Combat Ready Crew Medal. His retirement in 1985 culminated a 30-year military career.

Buck was very active in his church, serving on several committees. He was a member of the Vacaville-Elmira Cemetery Board as well as a volunteer for the FISH program.

He was lovingly called "our number one volunteer" by the Festival of Trees Board for his long-term commitment to helping raise funds each year for the Opportunity House, Vacaville's homeless shelter.

His loving family and many friends will miss his love, humor and wonderful smile.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Kay; his sons and daughter-in-law, David and Karen of Houston, Texas, and Michael and Clare of Ripon; grandchildren, Shanna and Matt of Houston, Texas; brother, John Buchanan of Albuquerque N.M., and sisters, Sue Green of Bayfield, Colo. and Margaret Gregory of Abilene, Texas.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Festival of Trees, 425 Hemlock St., Vacaville, 95688, or The Memorial Fund, Community Presbyterian Church, at the same address.

Arrangements have been made by the Vaca Hills Chapel Funeral Home.

The Reporter, Vacaville, California
May 30, 2004






27 May 2004

Buck Buchanan Passes Away


According to Bill Bless and Dick Henry, Buck passed away around 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 pm PST on Thursday night.  His family was at his bedside.  Anyone wishing to contact Kay and his family should send letters and cards to:  Kay Buchanan, 160 Greenwich Cir. , Vacaville, CA 95688.  Phone:  (707) 446-7811


Please see "Taps" menu for obituary.






22 May 2004

Buck Buchanan in Hospice

Buck is not doing well.  Beginning in his esophagus, cancer has now spread over his entire body.  The doctors have given him just days or weeks to live—perhaps months.  Buck is in severe pain, has no appetite, and accepts no visitors.  He will be placed in a hospice for the next few weeks.  Anyone wishing to contact Buck or his family should send letters and cards to:  Buck and Kay Buchanan, 160 Greenwich Cir. , Vacaville, CA 95688

As most of you know, Buck was one of the most memorable, and interesting characters in the Firebirds.  One did not want to engage Buck in a dart game at Sondrestrom, regardless of Buck’s condition—he was deadly.   Buck is a great guy, an excellent pilot, and in the end he will truly be missed by all that had the privilege of knowing him.  

Please pass the word to those that may not be in the current Firebird address book.

Info courtesy of Bill Bless



Buck celebrating last flight at Sondrestrom.

(Photo courtesy of Greg Robinson.)






22 Mar 2004

Navigator Located:   Frank Whittle

In a message dated 3/18/2004 6:38:14 PM Central Standard Time, writes:

I flew for the 17th TAS Firebirds 1986-1989. It was my first assignment as a navigator. Can you add my name to the list of former squadron members. There are very few names on the list from the time frame in which I was in the 17th TAS.


Frank Whittle







16 Mar 2004

Obituary for Ralph E. “Scotty” Robb

Here's the Obituary from the Little Rock newspaper:

Ralph E. (Scotty) Robb, United States Air Force Lt. Col. (Retired), died surrounded by family in his Edgemont, Arkansas home on March 13, 2004.

Scotty was born January 22, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois, to Ralph E. Robb, Sr. and Belle (Monsen) Robb. He was preceded in death by both his parents and brother, Don Robb.

He enlisted in the service at 18 and within seven years reached the rank of M/Sgt. at a remarkably young age of 25. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. out of Officer Candidate School and went on to Pilot Training. Among numerous other planes, he first piloted the C-119.  He specialized in the C-130 aircraft, actually starting as a test pilot for the new experimental C-130 in the 1950’s.

He advanced to Base Maintenance Officer for C-130’s at Sewart AFB, Tennessee.

He was the Director of Secret Military Missions at Naha AFB, Okinawa; supported the Astronaut Program at Patrick AFB, Florida, flying pontoon equipped C-130s; flew low-level AC-130 Gunship missions in Southeast Asia during the Viet Nam War, and later he served at

Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, flying specially equipped ski C-130Ds designed for ice landings. He had 29 years of honorable military service, earning numerous special awards ­ the most prominent being the Distinguished Flying Cross, before retiring at Little Rock AFB in 1974.

A second career in real estate, starting in sales at Fairfield Bay led to his becoming a real estate broker in the town of Greer’s Ferry.

He was active in many community services including the Optimist Club and Special Olympics. His interests included first and foremost his family, woodworking, photography and an intense passion for golf.

He's survived by his wife of 52 years, Sue of Edgemont; three children - sons Michael of Dallas, Texas, Steven and his wife Kay of Lawrenceville, Georgia and daughter Kristin Jones and her husband Ken of Little Rock; five grandchildren ­ Jay and Laurie Robb, Josh Fitch, Ryan and Robyn Jones; two great grandsons; his brother John Robb and wife Nancy of Fruita, Colorado; a host of dear cousins; and an extended family of literally hundreds of long-term friends spread world wide.

He was a member of Holiday Hills United Methodist Church in Greers Ferry. A Memorial Service will be  held there on Thursday, March 18th at 10:00 A.M.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to his church or Hospice Health Care At Home c/o Cleburne County Health Dept., Heber Springs AR 72543.

Scotty was a terrific pilot and a true pioneer of the C-130 Hercules.  Scotty made many contributions to the improvement of the C-130s that are flying today.

Our condolences are extended to Scotty's family at this very difficult time.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.  May Scotty rest in Peace.

If you would like to send a card, the address is:

The Robb Family

99 Stanfield Rd.

Edgemont AR 72044


An e-mail address for your condolences is:







14 Mar 2004

Former Firebird Scotty Robb


Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2004 17:23:20 EST

Subject: Scotty Robb

Another C-130 pilot has passed.  Ralph "Scotty" Robb died yesterday at 16:30 in his home in Edgemont, Ark. after a prolonged bout with cancer. Scotty was a Firebird in Alaska. Before that he Flew AC-130 gunships out of Ubon, Thailand.  Earlier assignments were at Sewart, Tenn. and Naha AB. Okinawa.  His last duty assignment was Little Rock AFB.

A memorial service is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Thursday 18 Mar 04 at Holiday Hills United Methodist Church of Greers-ferry, Ark. In lieu of flowers a donation may be made to:  Hospice Health Care At Home c/o Cleburne County Health Dept. Heber Springs, AR.72543


Bill Nichols






25 Jan 2004

Buck Buchanan in Hospital –


Dave (Buck) Buchanan is ill. He's been in the hospital for two
weeks and is receiving treatment for cancer. However he  has suffered a
heart-attack and has other complications. Buck has received a lot of
mail and enjoys hearing from old friends.  Kay,  who remains
optimistic,  is holding up remarkably well and draws strength from 
the notes and letters she receives.

Their Address is:  160 Greenwich Cir. , Vacaville, CA 95688

Yes, they do have an E-mail address, but Kay literally spends all of
her days and nights in the hospital with Buck and is not checking their
E-mail. So, the best thing friends can do for them is pray and drop them 
notes to let them know that they are in our thoughts.


Received from Dick Henry on 25 Jan 04.



18 Dec 2003





Bettye Heifner




Family-Placed Death Notice

MRS. BETTYE HEIFNER Of Marietta, GA, passed away on Monday. Funeral services will be 3:00 p.m. Thursday at Roswell Street Baptist Church Chapel in Marietta GA, with Reverend Bobby Sunderland officiating. Born in Logansport, LA, Mrs. Heifner has been a resident of Marietta since 1985. She retired from The Department of Defense in 1989 after twenty years of employment. Bettye was an active member of Roswell Street Baptist Church, and was also a member of The Dobbins Wives Club, Salvation Army Auxiliary, Voters Guild of Greater Atlanta, Better Films of Atlanta, The Frog Club and The MOAA Auxiliary. Mrs. Heifner was an avid sports fan and was active in the Atlanta Hawks Booster Club. She was chosen as Atlanta Hawks Fan of the Year after writing a motivational song about the Hawks and appearing on a national TV sports fan contest. Representing the Atlanta Hawks, Mrs. Heifner threw out the first pitch at an Atlanta Braves game. Survivors include husband, Charles Heifner of Marietta, GA; daughters, Debi Davies of North Little Rock, Arkansas, Carole Nichols of Keller, TX; sister, Myrtis Cathey of Alexandria, LA; brother, R.B. Cox of Stonewall, LA; four grandchildren, Jeremy and Lacey Davies of North Little Rock, AR, Andy and Rachel Nichols of Keller, TX. The family will receive friends Wednesday December 17, 2003 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Carmichael Funeral Home in Marietta. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to The Salvation Army or to Roswell Street Baptist Church, 774 Roswell St., Marietta, GA 30060.

Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on 12/17/2003.




15 Dec 2003

Bettye Heifner Arrangments:

My father asked me to send information regarding the arrangements that have been made for my mother. 

Friends visitation will be held at Carmichael Funeral Home located at 1130 Whitlock Ave., Marietta, GA. on Wednesday, December 17, 2003, between the hours of 7pm to 9 pm.

Funeral services will be held at the Roswell Street Baptist Church located at 774 Roswell Street, Marietta, GA. on Thursday, December 18th, at 3pm.

In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Salvation Army, or to the Roswell St. Baptist Church.

You are all to be commended for your great support of my mother and father during this difficult time.  You are appreciated very much.


Carole Nichols







15 Dec 2003

Death of  Bettye Heifner:


Bettye Heifner, wife of Col. Charles Heifner passed away this morning, December 15th, at 0415 hours. The funeral will be held on December 18th, at Caramichael Funeral  Home, 1130 Whitlock, Marietta, Ga. 30064.  Phone 770-424-4924. Burial will be in Shreveport, La. 






5 Jun 2003

Unit Roster

Major update of Unit Roster web page.  Please advise if your name was not added.






16 Dec 02

Tom Sommerville at Home

Tom Sommerville, former Firebird flight engineer in Alaska, is back home after an extended stay in the hospital.  The doctor has told Tom that he has a 70% chance of a cure.  If you would like to cheer Tom up, please give him a call at 940-549-4351.  He lives in Graham, Texas.






11 Nov 02

Tom Sommerville in Hospital

Tom Sommerville, former Firebird flight engineer in Alaska—mid to late 1960’s, was diagnosed with AML Leukemia on November 5th, and will start  therapy on Monday, November 11th at United Regional Health Care, Cancer Center in Wichita Falls, Texas.  He will be hospitalized for three weeks.

The address and phone number for United Regional Health Care:

1600 8th St

Wichita Falls, TX 76301-3108

Phone: (940)764-7000

Tom will be taking chemo-therapy and his immune system will be suppressed.  Therefore, he will not be allowed any visitors.  However, he would like to hear from all of his friends—phone calls will be allowed







11 Aug 02

CMS William F. Liskow, Jr., USAF (Ret.) known to family and friends as Pat, passed away Sunday, August 11, 2002, after a brief illness. 

See “Taps” menu for more details…






10 Aug 02

Carl Berg, Firebird Navigator  

January 5, 2002







Dear Firebirds,

My husband, Lt. Col. Carl J. Berg, Jr., passed away July 25th, 2001, in Modesto, California.  He was the Squadron Navigator for the 17th TCS.  He was stationed at Dyess AFB, in Abilene, Texas, from 1961 to 1964 in the C-130 ski model.  He was transferred to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, with the squadron in 1964 and served there until 1967.  He made many trips to Sondrestrom, Greenland.  In 1967, he was transferred to McClelland AFB in Sacramento, California, to C-121’s, and went to Viet Nam.  He retired in 1969.

 I am sure that many of the Firebirds will remember him well.  He enjoyed flying in the C-130’s. 


s/Ginny Berg






9 Aug 02

Subject: Death of  C. D. Melin

Just received another call from Bob Pinard a few minutes ago, and it was an update on C. D.  He informed me that CD was transferred to his home today and died this evening around 7 P.M Eastern time.   He asked me to send word to all of C. D`s friends. C. D. will be cremated, but nothing else has been decided.  If I hear any more, I will certainly keep you informed.  I personally ask that we all say a prayer for C.D., a wonderful person. And, please remember Suzanne and his two children.  Thanks,   Gerry A. 






9 Aug 02

C.D. Melin – News About Medical Condition

 From: "Jim Richards" <>

To: "Robert N. Pinard" <>

Subject: C. D. Melin

Date: Fri, 9 Aug 2002

Dear Bob,

 This is the latest update on C.D.  Unfortunately, the news is not good.  The dialysis is not working, the kidney is not responding, and the cancer is spreading rapidly.  In accordance with his advance medical directive, he will be moved to his home in Mathews, VA today or tomorrow.  He will be attended by family and hospice nurses until the end.

All of us have our own special feelings about C.D.  I reminded him last week that he and I met 39 years ago this month in the flight planning room in the 346th TAS.  Since that time we have flown, fished, boated, partied, and visited together.  I never had a better or closer friend.  He never demanded anything or asked anything from me other than friendship.  I never heard him criticize me or any of his friends. However, I did hear his constant laughter, see him smile and cast off sadness on every occasion. Last week, when he caught me sniffling, he smiled and said, "Now don't be maudlin, Jim."  What a lesson in courage!

So, my prayers are of thanksgiving that I had him for a friend, that he made me part of his life, and that the Lord bless him and keep him until we meet again.

I'll keep you posted.


Jim Richards




Lt. Col. & Mrs. C. D. Melin

HC 2, Box 950

Mathews, VA 23109

(804) 725-5729







14 Jul 02

Former Firebird Navigator Makes Good


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   July 14, 2002   


New Air Guard Commander Poised to Prioritize

Brigadier General (Select) Gene Ramsay takes command of 176th Wing 


KULIS ANG BASE, Alaska - For a moment, the quartet of senior leaders stood together before a sea of camouflaged Air Guard members standing at attention. Silence cascaded through the hangar. 

Major General Phillip Oates, Adjutant General of the Alaska National Guard, stepped forward, in a time-honored tradition to accept the Wing flag from the outgoing commander of the 176th Wing, Brigadier General Van Williams. He then passed it, to the change of command ceremony,

Brigadier General (Select) Gene Ramsay, the new commander. Oates was assisted by Chief Master Sergeant Jake Jacobson during the ceremony.

Ramsay began his first speech, as commander, recognizing several senior military officers seated in the audience, but then departed from his notes and requested that the Wing formation be put at ease for the remainder of his remarks. In making this first decision of his new command career, Ramsay demonstrated his care, concern, and commitment to the organization he now leads.

In explaining the current missions the 176th Wing supports, Ramsay touched on both the role the Wing has with regard to national defense and also local search and rescue support from the 210th Rescue Squadron. "With the increasing demands on the Air National Guard to support ongoing operations, it's more important now than ever that we evaluate how muc is enough when it comes to our people and fulfilling mission requirements," Ramsay explained. "The 210th is the busiest Rescue Squadron in the Air Force."

Ramsay comes to his new assignment with confidence. He credits Brig. Gen. Williams for helping him prepare. As the first navigator to command the Wing, he brings unique perspective to his command. His career in the Alaska Air Guard spans over 20 years. He's also served as Chief of Safety and as the first commander of both the 210th Air Rescue Squadron and the 176th Operations Group. 







Dec. 15, 2001

Cliff Dykes, Former Firebird Navigator, Visits Firebirds Home Page



Location:  Montgomery, Alabama


I was a navigator with the 17th from 1968-1972.  They were the greatest bunch of guys I was ever associated with.



Dec. 10, 2001

Death of Gary Schmidt, Firebird Pilot

Gary died of advanced colon cancer on November 26, 2001. He was diagnosed in September, and we went directly to M.D. Anderson. He had 3 chemo treatments. Following the last treatment he developed a massive infection, which he and the doctors were not able to get under control.

Please keep the kids---Amy and Eric--AND me in your prayers.

He is sorely missed.

Linda Schmidt




Nov. 8, 2001

Gerry Harris Services

 I wanted to let you know that we had the service for Dad today.  My brothers did a very fine job of setting it up.  Dad would have been proud.  They were even able to get someone from the local Royal Scots to play the bagpipes for him.  The honor guard did an excellent job.  My father-in-law (retired Navy) said it was the most impressive honor guard he had seen.  Dad was given full military honors, including a 21 gun salute. 

To our surprise a very old family friend who flew with Dad in Nam, Cal Taylor, contacted us.  He lives only one hour away so he was able to come today, as well.  My son is Army Reserve and my niece is Navy so they both wore their uniforms to honor Dad.  He was very proud of both of them.

My mother has cherished all the emails she has received from all over the country.  I want to personally thank you for all your help and support.  Please continue to keep in touch.

With all my thanks,

Evelyn Breland





Nov. 5, 2001

Death of Gerald “Gerry” Harris, Firebird Navigator


I'm sorry to inform you that Gerry passed away on November 1st (2001).  He went in for bypass surgery, and because of his other health issues he didn't recover.  He will be interned on November 8th in the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, OR.

Instead of flowers, I would prefer for you to make donations to the National Diabetes Foundation or the American Heart Association.

Would you notify the Firebird Association members.  Please keep in touch.  My computer is down, but you can contact me through my daughter's email


Shirley Harris





Nov. 5, 2001

Death of Sgt. Richard Nadeau, Jr.

Please add to your TAPS page S/Sgt Richard J. Nadeau Jr., who passed away on November 5, 2001, while working on the flight line. This will mean a lot if you will do this.  








Aug. 25, 2001

Former Member of Raven Gang

 I was a Master Navigator and Flight Examiner with the 139th and 109th when we took over the Greenland mission from Alaska at the NYANG and ferried the C-130D's to Schenectady. I retired in 1978 as an LC.

Robert W. Moyer

133 Balford Dr.

Oneonta, NY 13820




June 2, 2001

Death of Colonel Bob Tinney

A message received from Rob Tinney, son of Bob Tinney, on June 2, 2001.

Colonel Bob Tinney, Firebird Commander from 1967 to 1969, died on June 2, 2001, about 11:00 AM in Wichita Falls, Texas, following a lengthy battle with cancer. He always remembered those two years as the most enjoyable and personally rewarding of his service career. He didn’t think of the 17th TAS as a unit but as a family doing a job together. He loved each and every one of you. I was unable to attend reunion 2000, but I hope to see all of you at reunion 2002, as I, too, am a Firebird. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that a memorial contribution be made in his name to the Hospice of Wichita Falls, P.O. Box 4804, Wichita Falls, TX 76308, phone 940-691-0982.




May 18, 2001

Don Wilkerson's Memorial Service and Memorials


I will use you as the central point. Don's memorial service will be held June 1st at 10:30 a.m. in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the New Haven United Methodist Church, 56th & New Haven. If anyone has questions, they may email me.

I have also picked some memorials and they are as follows:

Make A Wish Foundation for terminally ill children - one may do this on line.

The Autism Research Institute, 4182 Adams Ave., San Diego, CA 92116

The National Rifle Association - an organization near and dear to Don's heart.

Or, The American Cancer Society.

And, one should feel free to choose any really good organization that does wonderful research for the good of mankind.







May 16, 2001

Death of Don Wilkerson -

Webmaster's note: The following e-mail message was sent to John (Jack) Poplis by Carol Wilkerson.

John and Lonnie,

Don died this morning at 6:30. He had gone in to the hospital a week ago Saturday suffering from very low white counts due to a new chemo treatment. The new treatment had to be metabolized by the liver and his liver was impaired to start with. And, it got pinged and he couldn't come back. Basically he died from liver failure. It was a peaceful death. He had not been aware of anything for the past three days. He was a man at peace with himself, secure in the love of his family and friends, and the Lord has called him home.





Feb. 23, 2001

Former Firebird...


Subject: Update

Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001 12:36:31 -0600

Great site! I just found it while surfing the Net. I was assigned to the 17th TAS, then then the 517th ALS, from July '91 to July ' 94. My new address is 124 Long Pointe Drive, Mary Esther, Florida 32569. I'm currently flying AC-130H Gunships at Hurlburt.

Royce D. Lott




Jan. 5, 2001

Former Firebirds...


I am Steve Mollick, C-130H pilot with the 517ALS from 1991-1994. I'm currently at HQ AETC/IGIOF Randolph AFB, TX.

Darren L. Miller has separated from the Air Force, and is currently flying for United Airlines out of Denver.

Col Douglas L. Miller was the 17 TAS/CC (1992-1994) prior to Col Mike Hudson. Col Miller recently left his position as 317th Airlift Group Commander Dyess AFB, TX, and is now at Maxwell AFB, AWC/DFW CC-AMC.

There's three former Firebirds for you. Hope this helps.


Steve Mollick




Dec. 7, 2000

Harold C. Poché Jr.

LAFAYETTE — Funeral services are incomplete for Harold Charles Poché Jr., 53, who died Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2000, at Lafayette General Medical Center.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Martin & Castille Funeral Home Inc. of Lafayette, 234-2311.

Charlie died suddenly on December 6th, in his home town of Lafayette, LA. Charlie was a member of the Firebirds in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Ironically, he was a good friend of Don Bowers. Since leaving the Air Force in 1983, Charlie had become a very successful businessmen, owning Navigation Electronics Inc., the largest reseller of GPS in the world. Charlie enjoyed life, and will be missed by his many friends.

Jim Nelson (17th. 1977-1980)




Nov. 29, 2000

From: "Charles T. Heifner" <>
To: "Nolan W. Bailey" <>
Subject: Loss of A Firebird
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000

It is with a heavy heart that I convey the news that John D. Hedges, former Squadron Commander of the 17th TAS Firebirds, lost his fight with cancer and strokes on 25 Nov. 2000. John was the Sq./CC in the early 1970's. John is survived by his wife, Barbara, their five children and families.

I am certain that Barbara would enjoy receiving support from other Firebird friends. Barbara's phone number is 501-337-4701. Her mailing address is, Route 4, Box 44, Malvern, AR 72104.

In conversation with Barbara she said do not send flowers but make a contribution to the NRA in John's memory instead.

With warm regards,





Oct. 23, 2000

Former Firebird Needs Help With Mission

Subj:       What's the right way to go about this?
Date:      10/22/2000 11:37:00 PM Central Daylight Time
From: (Jeffrey Fritts)

Let me first say how much I have enjoyed the Firebirds home page over the years. I was assigned to the 17 TAS as a loadmaster in 1989. I was retired from the 517th in 1997. I still live in Anchorage and enjoy having lunch with fellow retired Loads every month or so. I need the help of the Firebird's. My church has adopted another church on Sakhalin Island, Russia. Our friends to the West have been forgotten by Moscow and are having a tough time just surviving. Another member of our church another retired C-130 pilot by the name of Phil Bray is now a pilot for Reeves Aleutian Airways and they fly a regular scheduled flight to Sakhalin. It seems the government in the Russian Far East will charge double the value of goods brought into the country in boxes, but they allow each air crew member to bring in a suit case duty free. For several years now our church has been gathering food and clothing for these people and the air crews of RAA have been taking the suit cases into Russia. Here is the help part. The real problem is the suit cases don't come back. I need to find some more "Kit Bag, Flyers" The large green canvas bags that we all were issued to pack parachutes in and chemical warfare gear and other large bulky goods. I have bought all I could find from DRMO here at Elmendorf over the years and have run out at least for now. My question is would it be appropriate to ask the Firebirds if they could spare any of these kit bags? and how should I go about it? Thank you in advance for any help you could offer.

Jeffrey Fritts
Instructor Loadmaster, 17th TAS-517th AS




Aug. 7, 2000

It is with deep regret that I am notifying you of the death of Thomas M. James. You may have known that he had cancer, and it finally got the best of him yesterday, August 6, 2000.

Tom and I were in 65-C at Vance Air Force Base in 63 and 64, and had not seen each other since then. We were planning a class reunion this October. Happily, we were able to become reacquainted last spring when he visited me in Foley, Alabama following the Biloxi Firebirds reunion.

The funeral will be Wednesday, August 9, 15:00-17:00 at the Harding Funeral Home, Jonesburg MO 63351, just west of St. Louis. The phone number is 636/488-5600. Interment, with full military honors, will follow nearby at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in High Hill, MO. I will forward this message to other officers of the association that I am able to find on your website.

Massey Lambard




July 31, 2000

109th Airlift Wing C-130 Shines and Takes Top Honors

GLENVILLE, N.Y. (AFPN)-- The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing brought home the Royal International Air Tattoo 2000's Concourse d'Elegance Trophy for the best kept aircraft.

The tattoo, held at Royal Air Force Cottesmore, United Kingdom, July 19-24, had more than 150 aircraft representing military forces from more than 30 countries competing. The 109th AW's LC-130 ski-equipped aircraft, City of Amsterdam, that routinely flies to the South Pole and Arctic Circle, received the award.

Judging for the competition was based on the exterior of the aircraft -- its general appearance, cleanliness, paint condition, and finish. Judges also considered the aircraft's age, flying hours and operating environment in their decision.

"The fact that this aircraft, which sees regular duty in some of the harshest environments imaginable, was judged the best maintained from among the world's best, is a truly remarkable accomplishment," said Maj. Gen. Jack Fenimore, New York State adjutant general.

Twelve foreign service air attaches comprised the international panel of judges. The Concourse d'Elegance Trophy is awarded for scoring the highest number of points for preparation and presentation of aircraft. The aircraft and the Guard wing racked up the highest point total ever recorded with 117 out of a possible 120 points.





July 17, 2000

Recent contact: My name is Lt. Col. John L. Stevens. I was a C-130E/H Pilot with the 17th TAS from 1985 to 1988. Currently, I am stationed at Hurlburt Field flying Combat Talon II's in the 15 SOS. Sorry to hear about Don Bowers. Worked closely with him in the mid 80's there. John Stevens (




June 23, 2000

The memorial service for Don Bowers, and the 3 park rangers, that were fatally injured in a plane crash on 19 June, will be held at the Talkeetna Elementary school, on Sunday, 25 June at 6pm. A gathering with food/and refreshments will follow the service. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to be sent to the Iditarod Trail Committee, Wasilla, AK. Jeannette has been in charge of the arrangements, and we will keep you updated on any significant information as we can. Thank you for all the Support!!!! - Richard Keida




June 22, 2000

The memorial service for Don Bowers is to be at 6:00 p.m., Sunday, June 25th, at the Talkeetna Elementary School. This was on the 6pm Channel 2 news tonight. (Courtesy of Jeanie & Boyd Gochanour)




June 21, 2000

Former Firebird pilot Don Bowers killed in McKinley crash. See Articles menu for more details.




Jan. 2000

Victor Blackburn, former Firebird FE 1968-1972, passed away due to complications from emphysema. Last home address: 609 East 20th Street, Newton, NC 28658-2008. Information received from Bruce Huff and Bob Mattingly.






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