416th Bombardment Group (L)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
September 23-27, 2015
Veterans and Wives present at the Reunion Banquet
L-R Standing: Bobbie Kinney, Josie Sittarich, Roland Dullnig, Bob Basnett, Dave Andrews
Seated: Hilaria Huff, Bob Kehres, Wayne Downing, Joe Meagher, Mickie Weinert
The 2015 416th Bomb Group Reunion was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico from 23-27 September 2015 and graciously organized and hosted by Kathe and Gary Rensner and Rick Greer (Kathe and Rick are niece and nephew of 671st B.S. pilot Lt. Francis De Mand).
From the "Greatest Generation", six 416th Bomb Group Veterans (Dave Andrews, Bob Basnett, Wayne Downing, Roland Dullnig, Bob Kehres and Joe Meagher) and four Wives of passed Veterans (Hilaria Huff, Bobbie Kinney, Josie Sittarich and Mickie Weinert) attended. The other 40 attendees included Veteran's sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other relations, along with many others who have strong binds to the 416th Bomb Group.
Reunion HQ was the Hospitality (Ivory) Room at the Albuquerque Sheraton Uptown Hotel. Scheduled events included a guided tour and luncheon at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum on Friday, Business meeting Saturday morning and Traditional Reception and Banquet Saturday evening.
The Hospitality Room was busy nearly every waking minute of the Reunion, except during the Museum tour and Banquet. It was well provisioned by our hosts with plenty of refreshments and snacks, and many of the 50 attendees brought memorabilia to share which spurred any number of memories and stories. Dr. Vernon L. Williams, Professor at Abilene Christian University, produced and displayed twenty 6ft x 2ft posters of 416th Bomb Group photographs and graciously donated them to the 416th BG Archive after the Reunion.
Saturday's morning events began with two fascinating presentations, first by retired Lt. Col. Pat Freeman (cousin of Joe Meagher) on his tours of duty in Iraq as an F-16 pilot, followed by Dr. Vernon L. Williams describing his East Anglia Air War Project and plans for archeological and historical field work at Wethersfield, England in June, 2016.
The Business Meeting included a "Year in Review" of the accomplishments of the 416th BG Archive by Wayne Sayles, raffle drawings for some wonderful gifts donated by several individuals, and general announcements by Group leader Bob Basnett. The vote was unanimous to hold the Reunion again next year at Gainesville, Missouri, home of the 416th BG Archive.
The Reception and Banquet, held Saturday evening, included some wonderful music by acapella group "Army Air Four". An Honor Guard from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. presented the Colors while "Army Air Four" led the National Anthem. Kirtland AFB Commander Col. Eric H. Froehlich spoke of his gratitude for the sacrifices and achievements of the 416th Bomb Group and Gary Rensner read a letter to the Veterans from New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. Gary further described that, in honor of the 70th Anniversary of the 416th Bomb Group's inactivation, he commissioned and produced a Challenge Coin, unique for the WWII 416th Bomb Group. Col. Froehlich and Gary then presented Challenge Coins and Letters of Appreciation to all the Veterans. Kathe followed with presentations of 416th Challenge Coins to the attending Wives of passed Veterans. Doris Sayles provided the Missing Man Table Presentation. Our hosts designed a beautiful cake to round out the delicious dinner.
Tom Rickels put together a number of Reunion photos by David Andrews and Tom Rickels captured during the Reunion.
View the 416th Bomb Group Newsletter published by Wayne and Doris Sayles shortly after the Reunion.
The Reunion Welcome packet included hand-outs of the following that were researched and produced by Gary Rensner:
416th WWII Lineage and Honors Fact Sheet
416th Unit Insignia Fact Sheet
416th Post-WWII Lineage and Honors Fact Sheet
The Airman's Creed
Lt. General Omar N. Bradley Quote
Air Force Memorial Quote
416th Challenge Coin Fact Sheet
Our sincerest Thank You goes out to our hosts and everyone who attended to make this Reunion such a successful and memorable event.