398th Reunion at Salt Lake City, UT

August 9 - 12, 2017

Article by Mellisa Ledlow

Nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake City, Utah was the sight of the 34th Annual 398th Bomb Group Reunion August 9-12, 2017. Sixty-two attendees included 2nd, 3rd and even 4th generation family members, other friends and six veterans. Those veterans in attendance were Keith Anderson, Fred Parker, Lou Stoffer, and Jim White, all four from the 600th SQ and Newell Moy and Wesley Eatchel, both from the 603rd SQ.

Early Native American populations and the settlement of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) in 1847 mainly influence Salt Lake City culture. The LDS are credited with organizing the city layout and developing the necessary government systems to make a successful, thriving city. Upon the LDS settlers’ arrival, the sight for the religion’s Temple was chosen and built (taking 40 years to complete). Since its completion, the Temple has become an icon for the City and serves as its centerpiece.

On the first night of the Reunion gathering, Ken Howard, Reunion Coordinator had arranged for the group to dine at The Roof Restaurant—directly across from the Temple. The Roof Restaurant occupies the top floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building—the former Hotel Utah (a building of gorgeous architecture and history). It offers a beautiful view from above of the Temple and the beautiful grounds in Temple Square.

Thursday, the 398th group was offered a Salt Lake City Deluxe Tour. The tour bus and its guide gave a detailed description of the settlement of the area. Right from the start, in 1847, the LDS community was extremely industrious and got to work planting crops and erecting schools, home and community buildings. The Transcontinental Railroad came through in 1870 and that, along with the discovery of silver and copper mining opportunities led to a large immigration of citizens with diverse cultures and backgrounds. The tour bus traveled through what were once areas of Chinese, Greek, Japanese and European settlers. Like most large cities, these communities have blended in the Salt Lake City area, but many of their churches and restaurants remain significant.

The tour visited Heritage Park, a Living History site that offers visitors a look at life in 19th Century Utah from the Mormon arrival in 1847 to statehood in 1896. The village has original or replica homes and authentic craft demonstrations by working tradesmen and women.

Part of the Thursday sites also included views of historic homes, churches and a pass through the rather large University of Utah campus, home to over 25,000 students. The Utah State Capital Building was the final stop. The building is constructed of granite mined from nearby Little Cottonwood Canyon and the dome is covered in Utah mined copper.

The tour group was returned to the RL Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City, where many headed to the 398th Group Business Meeting.

That night, the traditional Welcome Banquet was held in one of the hotel ballrooms. Marilyn Gibb-Rice greeted the gathering and proceeded to give a special welcome to the six 398th veterans in attendance. One of the vets, Wesley Eatchel, tail gunner with the 603rd SQ Alfred Warren crew, was attending only his second reunion ever! Wes was presented with the traditional 398th BG medallion designed especially for our veterans.

Marilyn introduced the evening’s guest speaker, Steve Snyder. Steve’s dad, Lt. Howard Snyder was a B-17 Pilot in the 306th Bomb Group during WWII. Howard Snyder was shot down over Belgium in February, 1944 and evaded capture. Steve Snyder has written a book about his dad and the people and events that allowed him to hide from the Nazis and to then, remarkably, join the French Resistance. Steve was able to trace his father’s steps and to actually meet some of the Belgian and French citizens that helped his dad—at great risk to their own lives. Steve’s book, “Shot Down”, has received numerous awards and commendations and also describes the story of the other airmen in Lt. Howard’s B-17 that eventful day. Steve Snyder also currently serves as the President of the 306th Bomb Group Historical Association.

Early Friday morning, Dawne Dougherty, Willetta Mansell, Chrysta Moore, Connie Novek, Arline Reed and Jeannie Stange gathered for the 4th Annual Widow’s Breakfast. Dawne has diligently planned a Widow’s Breakfast for the last several years. The group of six Widows gathered in the hotel café and shared stories of family events and updates of their lives. There’s a special bond between these ladies and we’re sure their veteran husbands would appreciate their friendships.

With another beautiful Utah day on Friday, the 398th Reunion Tour Group headed west of Salt Lake City through the Wasatch Mountains to Park City. Park City was a main hub for events during the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Many of the facilities are still in use today throughout the area. Utah Olympic Park was the first stop for the group and is the site of the 2002 Olympic Museum as well as a Museum of Skiing History. Just outside the Museum building is the still-used ski jump practice ramps. Outside the museums, ski jumpers are able to use ski jump ramps year-round as the jumpers actually land in a swimming pool at the bottom of the ramp! Many athletes hoping for a spot on the next Winter Olympic team reside in the Park City area to take advantage of the training opportunities available. The US Ski Team headquarters are in Park City, as well as training facilities for other winter sports.

Park City’s early history and settlement is tied to the discovery of silver, gold and lead in the surrounding mountains. At one time, Park City had the largest silver-mining camp in the United States. Park City’s current economy is tied to tourists and skiing with exceptional mountain snow conditions. Aerial trams used to haul ore were converted to chair lifts and underground mining tunnels were used to haul skiers to different mountains. The Main Street in Park City has maintained over 64 Victorian structures listed in the National Historic Register—many of which house high-end stores and restaurants. Several people in the 398th group managed to find an old-fashioned ice cream and chocolate shop to wrap up the tour!

Friday night Happy Hour was back at the RL Hotel. This event, as usual, found many 398th members catching up, reminiscing and telling never-before-heard stories about the Bomb Group, their missions and adventures in Nuthampstead and/or during their training. Veterans, widows, sons and daughters thoroughly enjoyed getting reacquainted and listening to stories about the veterans’ time in Nuthampstead, their missions and their families. It’s amazing that new information and stories, after all these years, is revealed.

Saturday morning, the 398th tour group headed out to the Great Salt Lake, the largest U.S. lake west of the Mississippi River. The Great Salt Lake is 75 miles long by 28 miles wide, is fed by four rivers, but has no drainage outlet. Evaporation leaves behind high levels of minerals—including salt. Very limited flora and fauna do thrive in the lake area and are the primary food source of millions of migrating birds. The tour guide pointed and shared one of the plants that do grow at the Great Salt Lake—pickle weed. The pickle weed is edible, tastes like pickles and is harvested and used in salads.

The largest island in the Great Salt Lake is Antelope Island. The island, a state park, is home to free-roaming herds of bison, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope. The island provides spectacular views of Great Salt Lake, the Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake City skyline, and views of ancient Lake Bonneville. The historic Fielding Garr Ranch is the site of the first permanent residence on the island in 1848 and has the oldest Anglo-built structure in Utah.

The next destination for the tour group was Hill AFB Aerospace Museum near Ogden, Utah. The Museum exhibits more than 90 military aircraft, missiles and aerospace vehicles. Of special interest to the group was the WWII aircraft exhibits. These included the B-17 “Short Bier”, a B-24 and B-29 and several fighter planes like the P-51, P-47 and P-38. Newt Moy, a pilot in the 603rd Squadron, found himself surrounded by young cadets from a Civil Air Patrol Group, who were anxious and excited to hear stories from a WWII veteran. He didn’t disappoint!

As is tradition, the final evening of the Reunion was the Farewell Banquet back at the hotel. Marilyn recognized the Reunion Chairman, Ken Howard and his daughters, Brandy and Beth. Along with Trudy, Ken’s wife, the Howard family have organized and arranged the 398th BGMA Reunions for the last several years. The Salt Lake City Reunion was another great event. The reunion attendees gave a resounding round of applause to thank them for their efforts.

Ann Collins, daughter of Phillip Collins, ball turret gunner of the 601st SQ Marias Crew, gave a tribute to Allen Ostrom, tail gunner for the 603rd SQ Warren Johnson Crew. Allen passed away in April of this year and Ann wanted to give him special recognition for his contributions to the 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association. Allen was Flak News Editor for many years and his dedication to the Group is greatly appreciated.

The highlight of the Farewell Banquet was the Q&A session with the veterans in attendance. The vets create quite a bit of excitement every time they speak. One by one, they each took a turn with the microphone and shared at least one story or tale of their time in the war. The entire room hung on their every word!

As the evening ended, many warm hugs and promises of “see ya next year!’ were shared. The 398th will participate in the 8th Air Force Reunion in Dayton, Ohio in 2018. The hope is our veterans, widows, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations will join this large group next October. It will be a great opportunity to see old friends… and make new ones!

Below are a few photographs from various events held throughout the four day August 2017 reunion.
Many thanks to Lee Bradley, Karen Neff-Evola, Brandy and Beth Howard,
Mellisa & Jim Ledlow, and Marilyn & Geoff Rice for use of their photos.


Bobbi Mier and her good friend Loretha Smith

Anticipating the first dinner of the August 2017 Reunion, Bobbi and Loretha ride
the trolley bus with the rest of our gang to The Roof Restaurant.

Bobbi’s uncle was Gene Douglas who was a pilot with the 600th Squadron. SQ.

Bobbi Mier and Cathy Yarmoski pose for the camera

Cathy’s dad was S/Sgt. Frank Yarmoski, the togglier on the McCarty Crew, 601st Squadron.

The beautiful lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building

Located on the 10th floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building,
The Roof Restaurant offered spectacular views of Temple Square

Karen Clement with her mom Jeannie Stange

Karen is the daughter of Raymond and Jeannie Stange.
Raymond was the navigator on the Williams Crew, 603rd SQ.

Martha McCombs with her mom Willetta Mansell and
Caron MacLane with her dad Keith Anderson at the The Roof Restaurant

Willetta’s husband was Joe Mansell, the engineer on the Lyle Doerr Crew, 602nd SQ.
Keith was a pilot with the 600th SQ.

Lou Stoffer and his daughter Patricia Pannack
enjoying dinner with Lee Anne Bradley

Lou was the flight engineer on the Grinter Crew, 600th SQ.
Lee’s dad was Frederick C. Bradley, Jr., flight engineer with the Traeder Crew, 601st SQ.
Lee is the 398th BGMA’s Historian, Flak News Editor, Webmaster and Data Coordinator.

Sylvia Sparkman and Ann Collins

Sylvia’s dad was First Sergeant Hiram N. Sawyer. He was in charge of
the Rapid City Army Air Base’s 603rd SQ Orderly Room.
Ann’s dad was Phillip Collins, ball turret gunner with the Marias Crew, 601st SQ.

Jim White with his son Jeff

Jeff surprised his dad at The Roof Restaurant by unexpectedly showing up with his girlfriend.
Jim had that big grin on his face all night, he was so happy that his son could be there!

Jim was the co-pilot on the Grinter Crew.

Sylvia Sparkman and Arline Reed

Arline’s husband was Sgt. ZT Reed. ZT was a member of the Armament
ground crew, 603rd SQ. He loaded bombs into the B-17’s.

Wesley Eatchel with his son Brad in the Memory Room

Wes was the tail gunner on the Alfred Warren Crew, 603rd SQ.

Wes Eatchel's Timeless Voices Interview

Wes shared his story about serving with the 398th BG during WWII.

Carolyn Widmann with Kathy and David Loss

Carolyn’s dad was James C. Crouch, a waist gunner who flew with several 601st crews, Blackwell, Frazier, etc.
Carolyn is also our 398th BGMA PX Manager.
David’s dad was Ralph Loss, a waist gunner on Campbell’s Crew, 601st SQ.

Mike and Victoria Macyda with Lindhe and Martha Guarisco (center couple)

Mike and Lindhe shared a lot of stories about their dads!

Mike’s dad was S/Sgt. Frank Macyda, ball turret gunner and Lindhe’s dad was Lt. John B. Guarisco, bombardier.
Both men flew with the J.H. Davis Crew, 601st Squadron.

Fred Parker and Edie Stauffer

Fred was the tail gunner on the Ballard Crew, 600th Squadron.

Two of our veterans, Wes Eatchel and Newell “Newt” Moy

Newt was a pilot with the 603rd Squadron.

Linda Davis and Victoria Macyda

Hey Linda, we love it when you dress up in your dad’s old WWII flight suit!

Linda Davis is the daughter of Joe and Rozanne Joseph (our former PX managers).
Joe was a flight engineer on the Moy Crew, 603rd SQ.

Wes, you are one lucky guy!

L to R: Carolyn Widman, Mellisa Ledlow, Dawne Dougherty, Sharon Krause,
Wes Eatchel, Connie Novek and Karen Neff-Evola.
For several years now it has been tradition to present a 398th BG Medallion
to a 398th veteran attending his very first reunion.
The ladies line up and give the veteran a hug and a kiss, thanking him for his military service.
Wes really liked the hugs and kisses… but then, all of our veterans do!

Wes Eatchel and Steve Snyder, author of Shot Down

Steve was our guest speaker at the Welcome Dinner. He spoke about his book Shot Down
which is about his father, Howard Snyder who was a B-17 pilot with the 306th BG during WWII.
Howard was shot down over Belgium in February 1944 and managed to evade capture
with the help of the French Resistance, which he ultimately joined.
Steve was a great speaker and we all enjoyed hearing about his dad’s WWII experience.

Always a crowd favorite, our veteran Q & A session

Pictured above are six of our honored veterans.
L to R: Wes Eatchel – 601st SQ, Newt Moy – 603rd SQ, Jim White - 600 SQ,
Lou Stoffer - 600th SQ, Fred Parker - 603rd SQ, and Keith Anderson - 600th SQ.

398th BGMA President, Marilyn Gibb-Rice presents Ken Howard, 398th BGMA Reunion Coordinator,
with a unique beer from England, appropriately named “Bee 17”

Marilyn’s dad was James C. Crouch, waist gunner with several 601st SQ crews (Blackwell, Frazier, etc.)
Ken Howard’s dad was Robert L. Howard, ball turret gunner on the Donovan Crew, 603rd SQ.

Utah Olympic Park

Built for the Salt lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Utah Olympic Park
is located near Park City, just 25 miles east of Salt Lake City.
The nearly 400 acre venue houses one of only four sliding tracks in North America,
six Nordic ski jumps, a 2002 Winter Games museum, and a mulititude of adventure activities.
Utah Olympic Park is an official USOC Training Site.

Lou Stoffer and his daughter Pat "light" the Olympic Torch

Mellisa and Jim Ledlow at Utah Olympic Park

Mellisa’s dad was Don Menard, radio operator with Sheely’s Crew, 603rd Squadron.

Five lovely ladies enjoying the views at Park City, Utah

Five of our beloved widows! Left to Right; Lydia St. Louis, Arline Reed, Chrysta Moore, Connie Novek and Dawne Dougherty.

Lydia’s husband was Terence St. Louis, a ball turret gunner with the Ford Crew, 600th SQ.
Arline’s husband was ZT Reed an Armorer with the 603rd SQ.
Connie is our 398th BGMA Vice President. Her husband was Elliot Novek, radio operator on the N. Thompson Crew, 602nd SQ.
Chrysta’s husband was Cecil B. “Tex” Moore. Cecil was the tail gunner
and Dawne’s husband, Tom Dougherty, was the waist gunner on the 602nd SQ Woodson Crew.

Mellisa Ledlow and Jeannie Stange in Park City, Utah

Who’s that hiding behind Jim Ledlow? It’s Loretha Smith!

You can run but you can’t hide Loretha.

Sharon and Pete Krause stopped in at the No Name Saloon in Park City, Utah

Sharon’s dad was Paul Roderick, pilot with the 602nd Squadron.

Jim White enjoying the Park City Tour

Scott Welty taking in Park City

Scott’s dad was Robert M. Welty, co-pilot with Tarr’s Crew, 603rd Squadron.

Scott’s dad took many rare color photos while he was with the 398th BG during WWII
and we are extremely grateful to Scott for sharing them with us.
His dad’s photos are incredible and we have a few of them posted on this website.

Terry St. Louis with his mom Lydia

Lydia’s husband was Terence St. Louis, a ball turret gunner with the Ford Crew, 600th SQ.

Mellisa Ledlow and Keith Anderson

Mellisa and Keith share a sweet dance at our Farewell Dinner.

Keith was a pilot with the 600th Squadron.

A beautiful view of Antelope Island State Park

Saturday’s tour took us to Antelope Island State Park, home to free-ranging bison,
mule deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and many other desert animals.
Millions of birds congregate along the shores surrounding the island,
offering unparalleled opportunities for birding.

Many vintage aircraft are displayed at the Hill Aerospace Museum

This section of the museum housed several WWII era aircraft. In the foreground is Audrey a P-51 Mustang.
Behind the P-51 is Short Bier a restored B-17-G and suspended overhead is a 1941 Stearman PT-17 Kaydet.

Just one of the many incredible displays at the Hill Aerospace Museum

WWII Airman a 1992 bronze sculpture by artist James Avati

This is a life-sized bronze of a WWII airman. He is holding his parachute and
reading a letter from home. This poignant sculpture is on display
near the entrance of the Hill Aerospace Museum at the Hill Air Force Base.

Mail From Home, a poem by Deloy Spencer, 1996

This plaque is installed on the back of the WWII Airman sculpture.

Willetta Mansell, Jeannie Stange and Dawne Dougherty

Three of our lovely widows.

Dawne is our 398th BGMA Dues Manager. Her husband was Tom Dougherty.

Tom was the waist gunner on the Woodson Crew, 602nd Squadron.

Geoff Rice and David Clement

Geoff is the our Photo Historian. His wife is 398th BGMA President Marilyn Gibb-Rice.
David Clement is Karen Clement’s husband and son-in-law of Jeannie Stange.

Fred Parker, Bobbi Mier and Edie Stauffer

Jim White presenting Karen Neff-Evola with Richard Taylor’s print, Fortress at Rest

“In this evocative piece, artist Richard Taylor recreates a brief moment of reprieve
as deep overnight snow temporarily grounds the Mighty Eighth during the bitter winter of 1944.
With the morning sunlight glinting across the snow-covered landscape, a B-17G Flying Fortress
of the 398th Bomb Group stands quietly near the perimeter of RAF Nuthampstead,
awaiting the thaw that will allow the flying to begin again.”

One of the highlights at the 398th BGMA 43rd Annual Reunion in Salt Lake City was a chance to own a
signed and numbed print by Richard Taylor titled, “Fortress at Rest”.
This print is also personally signed by three Army Air Force veterans,
Jim White – pilot with the 600th SQ being one of them. Jim graciously
purchased two of these beautiful prints, one for the Nuthampstead Airfield Museum
and another to give to one lucky person who made a donation
to the museum at the reunion. Karen was that lucky person!
Her name was drawn and she is now the owner of this beautiful fine art print. Congratulations, Karen!

Karen is related to William Wells, a 600th SQ pilot who was KIA on April 8, 1945.

Pete Krause and Geoff Rice, aka “The Plaid Twins”

The "wearing of the plaid" has now become a tradition!
Since their matching shirts were such a huge hit during our last two reunions,
Pete and Geoff just had to get decked out again.

Pete, those legs are something else… Wowza! LOL!

Ken and Trudy Howard celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary
during our Salt Lake City Reunion!

Beth and Brandy Howard in Dinosaur Park in Ogden, Utah

Many thanks to Ken, 398th BGMA Reunion Coordinator and his daughters Brandy and Beth
for arranging another fantastic reunion! Also thanks to Ken’s wife Trudy for all of her
behind the scenes help. She provides huge support for our hardworking team...

...AND she STILL makes the most INCREDIBLE homemade caramels!

See you all at our 2018 reunion in Dayton, Ohio!
2018 will be our first year participating in the 8th Air Force Historical Society's Reunion.