VC-27 "The Saints"

Reunions

Savo Island Reunions

Don Hull (now deceased) was the Chairman of the Savo Island reunions. He was VC-27 Commander Percival Jackson’s plane captain. The information regarding the Savo Island reunions was provided by Don’s widow, Mary Hull and Forrest Glasgow, Savo Island V-4 Ordinance Officer.

Mary Hull writes:

“The first get together was in Nashville, Tennessee from September 6 thru 10th, 1993; the second was at Corpus Christi, Texas - May 11 thru 14th, 1995; the third reunion was at Kansas City, Kansas-September 12 thru 16th 1998; the fourth reunion was in Vancouver, Washington; and the last one was held in Buffalo, N.Y. on September 16 thru 19th, 1998.

Forrest Glasgow writes:

“I attended the one in Nashville although I didn’t realize that was the first one. This was strictly Savo Island. There were about 8 or 10 Savo Island V-4 Aviation Ordinance men there. A real stroke of luck for me. Troy Bond remembered that “Old Glasgow was from Nashville. Let’s see if he’s in the phone book.” He called me and the rest is history. I have always said that I owe it to Troy Bond that I hooked up with the Savo and later with VC-27. I spent the day with the guys (more V-4 guys were there than any other of the Savo divisions). That night my wife Gretchen and I joined the guys for dinner and afterwards I took them to see the Opryland and they were suitably impressed.

The next one was at Corpus Christi which both Gretchen and I attended. This was a combination of Savo and VC-27. Each had their own ready rooms on different floors. This was when I first met up with all of the VC-27 guys. When we first got to the hotel we went out to dinner and there was Fred Barnett (fighter pilot) and his wife at the next table. So good to see him after 50 years. I think that was the last reunion that Fred attended before he got sick and later passed away. The next morning I came to the VC-27 ready room and met a lot of the squadron guys. The same way with the Savo ready room. About ten of the V-4 guys were there. I did not attend the four Savo reunions after that.”

VC-27 and USS Savo Island Reunions

First Squadron Reunion- April 13, 1991 in Memphis, Tennessee

Those in attendance - Bill Peden (TBM pilot), Goly Henry (TBM pilot), August Uthoff (FM-2 fighter pilot), Fred Barnett (FM-2 fighter pilot), Roger Mulcahy (FM-2 fighter pilot), and Bill Diffee (Landing Signal Officer), and their wives.

Their early foresight and planning, inspiration and guidance have led to great reunions since then. We owe each of these squadron members a debt of gratitude for their initiative and continued support. If they had not met back in 1991, it is doubtful that we would have had the reunions that followed.

St. Louis, Missouri Reunion on May 20-23, 1993 (hosts - August & Sue Uthoff)

Those in attendance - Doyle Bell, Claude Nathan, Anton Lambos, Floyd Norman, August Uthoff, Hal Roberts, Robert Pope, Ralph Elliott, Jr., Fred Vocke, William Clark, Don McPherson, Michael Sabocik, Robert Cockle, Wilfred Luecht, Collis Bosworth, Walter County, Roger Mulcahy, Andrew Price, Bill Peden, Dr. Gwilyn Lewis, Sam Blackwell, Robert Pheifer, Harold Harms, Fred Barnett, Jack Lovett, Robert Deadrick, Phil Yoder, William Brower, Donald Hull, Bill Diffee, Steve Ziman, and Tobe Turpen. Plus some 22 family members and guests.

Exciting memories - Reunion Hotel - Marriott; Busch Brewery; tour of the Botanical Gardens and Grant’s Farm, home of Busch family; lunch at Botanical Gardens; dinner at Italian Café.; Mississippi River and the elevator ride to top of the Arch; trolley ride on tour of St. Louis and to the Old Train Station,; Reunion Banquet at the San Carlos Room, Marriott Hotel with group singing led by Don McPherson; and farewell breakfast at the Marriott. Featured at the Banquet-the St. Louis Barber Shop Quartet.

Corpus Christi, Texas Reunion on May 11-14,1995 (hosts - Fred Barnett & Claude Nathan)

This is the first reunion that the Savo Island guys joined with VC-27. The rest were joint reunions).

Those in attendance - Vern Korum, Claude Nathan, Ralph Elliott, Jr., Jim Williams, Carl Hawk, Collis Bosworth, Bill Brower, Don Hull, Bill Diffee, Olds Hilton, Jack Lovett, Forrest Glasgow, Wesley Hill, Fred Barnett, Wilfred Lucent, Don McPherson, Doyle Bell, Sam Blackwell, Fred Vocke, Bill Peden, Harry Johnson, Steve Ziman, Bob Cockle, August Uthoff, Frank Quintal and Michael Sabocik. Plus some 15 family members and guests.

Exciting memories - Registration at Reunion Sheraton Bayfront Hotel; dinner at NAS Corpus Christi Officer’s Club; lunch at the Surf Club; lunch at Landry’s Shoreline Restaurant; tour of NAS Corpus Christi; lunch at NAS Corpus Christi Officers Club; Wings of Gold Ceremony and Beer Bust at NAS Corpus Christi; tour of the USS Lexington Museum; reunion Banquet at Bentley’s Restaurant; "Flying Angel" pins presented to all female guests at the reunion by Lorraine Cockle; group singing led by Don McPherson; and farewell breakfast at the Sheraton Bayfront.

Jacksonville, Florida Reunion on May 2-4,1997 (hosts - Ralph Elliott, Jr & Ralph (Butch) Elliott, III)

Those in attendance - Jack Lovett, Willie Luecht, Bill Renner, Bill Brower, Michael Sabocik, Dr. Gwilyn Lewis, Bill Peden, Andy Price, Walter County, Sam Blackwell, August Uthoff, Bill Diffee, Forest Glasgow, Wesley Hill, Lionel Arceneaux, Don McPherson, Carlton Johnson, Bob Cockle, Phillip Yoder, Robert Deadrick, Robert Ashcraft, Doyle Bell, Vern Korum, William Clark, Floyd Norman, Stephen Ziman, Harry Johnson, Ralph Elliott, Jr., and Fred Vocke. Plus some 30 family members and guests.

Exciting memories - Reunion Hotel-Sea Turtle Inn, Atlantic Beach, Florida; Tour NAS Mayport and the docking of the USS Sullivan’s; lunch at the NAS Mayport Galley; tour of NAS Jacksonville; Reunion Banquet at the Sea Turtle Inn. Featured at the banquet - Group singing led by Don McPherson; presentation of TBM and FM-2 pins by Ralph Elliott, Jr., assisted by his son Butch; Banquet speakers - Forrest Glasgow's "As I Saw It"; and a speech by Bill Brower including a slide presentation entitled "The Samurai Tradition".

Laughlin, Nevada Reunion on April 14-16,1998 (hosts - Bob & Lorraine Cockle)

Those in attendance - Tobe Turpen, Doyle Bell, Don McPherson, Vernon Korum, Willie Luecht, Mike Sabocik, Bill Renner, Harry Johnson, Don McPherson, Bill Brower, Robert Deadrick, Lionel Arceneaux, Wesley Hill, Don Pike, Don Carlyle, Sam Blackwell, Bob Cockle and Dick Carroll, plus some 16 family members and guests.

Exciting memories - Reunion Hotel Flamingo, Laughlin, Arizona; trip to Nothing, Arizona - population 4; the Joshua trees; Snoopy Rock; Men-Only Pontoon boat ride, picnic, beer plus; Women-Only Luncheon hosted by Lorraine Cockle at the Flamingo Hilton; scenic Colorado River cruise on the Edgewater Belle; dinner at the Edgewater Hotel & Casino; Antique Auto Exhibit at the Riverside Hotel; Auto trip on Route 66 to Oatman Arizona and the donkeys; Casino & the slots; reunion banquet at the Flamingo Hilton; group singing led by Don McPherson.

St. Louis, Missouri Reunion on May4-6, 2000 (hosts - Vernon Korum & son David)

Those in attendance - Bob Deadrick, Wesley Hill, Forrest Glasgow, Harry Johnson, Bob Cockle, Bill Brower, Ed Schalk, Floyd Norman, Vern Korum, Don McPherson, August Uthoff, Sam Blackwell, Jack Lovett, Dan Rado, Dr. Gwilyn Lewis, and Bill Peden. Plus some 26 family members and guests.

Exciting memories - Discover St. Louis Tour, Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Refreshments (Busch beer) on Grants Farm, Dinner at TJ Friday’s, Tour of St. Louis Union Station and lunch at Hooter's, Reunion Banquet at the Radisson River Front Hotel; group singing led by Don McPherson; and the Adios Breakfast at the Radisson. Special memory - the beautiful floral arrangement sent by Harold and Phyllis Harms.

Pensacola, Florida Reunion on April 18-22, 2001 (hosts-Harry Johnson & Sam Blackwell)

Those in attendance - Ed Schalk, Doyle Bell, Robert Roessle, Bob Cockle, Dan Rado, Andy Price, Ralph Elliott, Jr, Lionel Arceneaux, Claude Nathan, Bill Renner, Mike Sabocik, Bill Diffee, Bill Peden, Floyd Norman, Vernan Korum, Sam Blackwell, Fred Vocke, Forrest Glasgow, Wilson Hill and Harry Johnson. Plus some 25 family members and guests.

Exciting memories - Reunion Headquarters, Clarion Resort Convention Center, Pensacola Beach, FL; cocktails and dinner at the Mustin Beach Officer's Club, NAS Pensacola; tour of NAS Pensacola, including the Navy Survival School and the Naval Air Museum, and lunch at the Cubi Bar Café; group dinner at Chan’s Seafood and Oyster Restaurant; reunion banquet at the Clarion Suites Motel - guest speaker Cmdr Leo Murphy NAS Pensacola, FL.

Savannah, Georgia Reunion on May15-19, 2002 (hosts-Marlene & Glenn Wood)

Those in attendance - Bill Peden, Wilson Hill, Forrest Glasgow, Fred Vocke, Ralph Elliott, Jr., Walter County, Lionel Arceneaux, Bob Deadrick, Floyd Norman, Claude Nathan, Bill Renner, Lloyd LeBlanc, Mike Sabocik, Bob Jackson, Sam Blackwell, Bill Brower, Harry Johnson, Dan Rado, Vern Korum and Bob Cockle. Plus some 30 family members and guests.

Exciting Memories - Reunion Hotel - Day’s Inn Historic Savannah; dinner at Malones; Tour of the Gingerbread House; Lunch at Johnny Harris Restaurant; Savannah River Boat Cruise; Old Town Trolley Tour; Sherman’s Headquarters Mansion; lunch at Belford's Seafood & Steaks Café; Low Country Seafood Boil on the Wilmington River at the Glenn Wood’s Home; tour of and lunch at the Army’s Eighth Air Force Museum; Reunion Banquet at world famous Johnny Harris Restaurant, Guest Speaker Bob Jackson, brother of Squadron Leader, Cmdr Percival Jackson.

Norfolk, Virginia Reunion on September 14-17, 2003 (hosts - Forrest Glasgow & Melinda Glasgow Rakoncay)

Those in attendance - Forest Glasgow, Sam Blackwell, Vernon Korum, Ralph Elliott, Jr., DeWitt Freeman, Bob Cockle, Bill Renner, Bob Roessle, Dan Rado, Bill Brower, Harry Johnson, Bill Moye and Mike Sabocik. Plus 10 family members and guests.

Exciting Memories - Reunion headquarters, Radisson Hotel Norfolk; Sunset Cruise aboard the American Rover Tall Ship across the Elizabeth River and Hampton Roads Harbor; Norfolk Naval Air Station Bus Tour; lunch at Breezy Point Officer’s Club; VC-27/Savo Island banquet- (ret.) Admiral Dewitt Freeman, guest speaker; Victory Rover Naval Base Naval Cruise; farewell banquet hosted by the Escort Carrier Sailors & Airmen Organization.

On a sad note: a hurricane blew in canceling our visits aboard the USS Ronald Reagan and lunch with a Navy squadron on NAS Norfolk

Laughlin, Nevada Reunion on April 25-28, 2004 (hosts-Bob & Lorraine Cockle)

Those in attendance - Dan Rado, Vernon Korum, Don McPherson, Bill Renner, Sam Blackwell, Harry Johnson, Bob Cockle, Frank Heffelfinger, Troy Bond, Don Carlyle, Forrest Glasgow, Bob Roessle - plus 16 family members and guests.

Exciting memories - Sunset River Boat Dinner Cruise, trip to Oatman, Arizona and the Old Gold Mine; Highway Route 66 to Kingman, AZ and lunch at the Route 66 Café; Pontoon Boat Cruise on Lake Mohave and the Beer Bust ( plus burgers and hot dogs ); visit to Ramada Hotel Veteran’s Museum, the Casino’s slots and the Reunion Banquet at the Ramada Hotel with group singing led by Don McPherson.

San Diego, California Reunion on May 1-5, 2005 (hosts-Troy & Marge Bond)

Those in attendance - Al Lea, Don McPherson, Sam Blackwell, Olds Hylton, Vern Korum, Raymond O`Neill, Dan Rado, Bob Cockle, Troy Bond, Forrest Glasgow, Walter County and Bob Roessle. Plus 18 family members and guests.

Exciting Memories - Reunion Headquarters hotel - Town and Country Resort & Convention Center; private tour of the USS Ronald Reagan; dinner at Anthony’s; Old Town Trolley Tour and dinner at a historic Mexican Restaurant; guided tour of North Island; tour of USS Midway Museum; Hornblower Sea Cruise of San Diego Harbor and a view of the old docks where the USS Savo Island left for the South Pacific on July 22, 1944; Reunion Banquet at the Trellises Garden Grill - Guest speaker, Robin Davis, Trellises Restaurant Manager with group singing led by Don McPherson.

Washington, D.C. Reunion on May 4-7, 2006 (hosts –Ray & Rita O`Neill & Family)

Those in attendance - Sam Blackwell, Dan Rado, Don McPherson, Troy Bond, Vernon Korum, Bob Cockle, Olds Hylton, Floyd Norman, Forrest Glasgow, Ray O`Neill, Bill Peden, Robert Roessle and Dr. Gwilyn Lewis. Plus 30 family members and guests.

Exciting Memories - Reunion Headquarters Hotel-Courtyard by Marriott Rosslyn, Arlington, Virginia; private tour of the Capital and the Senate Building with lunch at the Senate Dinning Room; dinner at Fort Meyers' Officers' Club; tours of the Unknown Solder, Arlington National Cemetery, World War II Memorial, Smithsonian Institute, Air museum, Korean and Vietnam Memorials, the Archives; and lunch at Irelands Four Courts; Banquet dinner at the Hyatt Hotel - guest speaker, Jim Cockle, son of Bob & Lorraine Cockle, with group singing led by Don McPherson.

Seattle, Washington Reunion on May 3-6, 2007 (hosts - Don & Margaret McPherson & Family)

Those in attendance - Troy Bond, Bob Cockle, Forrest Glasgow, Harry Johnson, Don McPherson, Bill Moye, Bob Roessle, FredVocke, Sam Blackwell and Ed Crawford. Plus some 40 family members and guests.

Exciting memories - Reunion Headquarters Hotel - Holiday Inn Everett, Washington; breakfast at next door Denny’s; tour of the old Sand Point NAS on Lake Washington (now called Magnuson Park); standing on the end of what was once the NAS Sand Point landing strip; tour of the Boeing Museum of Flight with lunch at the Boeing Cafeteria; drive through downtown Seattle with stops at Pike Place Market and the Space Needle; trip to NAS Everett for social hour and Reunion banquet in the Grand Vista Room at NAS Everett - guest speaker Comdr Don Leingang, Everett NAS Executive Officer; entertainment by the Norwegian Male Chorus and sing-a-long led by Don McPherson; guided tour of Boeing Aircraft, Boeing’s Future of Flight and hanger where vintage planes were being restored; tour of NAS Everett with lunch at the Great American Restaurant; Oyster Barbeque (and more) at Paul McPherson’s home (Next door to the home of brother Don). Entertainment - Hula Show by the Mandau Hula Studio and sing-a-long with Carol Elliott and her key board; tour of Skag Valley including Deception Pass Bridge**; and drive to LaConner, Washington for lunch at LaConner Seafood & Prime Rib House.

** Deception Pass Bridge, spanning a deep and turbulent channel, is a 1487 foot steel structure 182 feet above the water. It is said that at the time squadron VC-27 was at NAS Seattle, WA, fighter pilot Bob Ashcraft flew his FM-2 underneath Deception Pass Bridge.

Further Reunions

An attempt was made to have a 2008 Reunion. A survey of all members was taken with only 9 responses indicating very little interest in a Reunion this year. Due to personal problems, illnesses or for some other reasons all others were unable to attend.

Our last Reunion was in Seattle in May 2007 where our Squadron first assembled and commissioned in 1943. It all ended where it all started.

VC-27 and USS Savo Island Newsletter

After the reunions ended, Bob Cockle took on the task of publishing a Newsletter.  In the April 2009 Newsletter, he expressed his feelings about the end of the Reunions and the future course of the Newsletter and the group -

"The hardest part of a great journey is always the end of the trip. It probably means that a great group of men, who did more than their share to help preserve our Nations' integrity and honor in war and peace are serving their remaining years more in remembrance, than in action.

We, our fellow airmen and our great shipmates, had the training, many fought the battles, and all saw eventual victory over our enemies. It had times of great boredom, great activity, and final satisfaction. Great friends were made and exciting memories are still recalled. As each of us went our way after the war, varying occupations, families, and going on with our lives became our goals.

While we still have some 30-40 members on our roster, the number able to travel has declined and makes a Reunion difficult. There may be some who wish to get together in certain areas, and the Newsletters will keep all informed if such a meeting is held in the future.

The VC-27/Savo Island Newsletter will continue to be published three times a year, providing current news and other interesting information. Bob Cockle will keep the Newsletters coming. Sam Blackwell will keep the roster up to date and all members will receive copies. Having Reunions, while important, will not end the companionship and feeling of comradeship or of our organization. Hearing regularly from each member will keep our organization interesting and viable. We look forward to many more great years!!!!

VC-27 was a great experience for me and I appreciate being able to keep the group intact as long as we can. Sam Blackwell has done an excellent job of keeping track of everyone he can and we share the information. I have served as Treasurer and publish a Newsletter 3 times a year with information for the members, I have attended all of the reunions and enjoyed the company. I know it is impossible for some to travel, so we try to keep all informed through the Newsletters. With the addition of personnel of the USS Savo Island and the members of both VC-27and VC-27 II, we have a great group of people. Someday we will all be HISTORY, but in our day WE MADE HISTORY !!!!

He added -

"We are working on a new look for our next Newsletter.  As time goes on all things change".

AND THEN IT HAPPENED!!!

On June 18, 2009 Bob Cockle suffered a massive heart attack and passed away at his home in Huntsville, Alabama.  He was survived by his wife, Lorraine, and their four children and four grandchildren.

Sam Hoyte Blackwell took over the job of publishing the August 2009 Newsletter which he dedicated to Bob Cockle:

Thanks, Bob, for your foresight, inspiration, planning and guidance.  You have been the glue that kept us together.  We all owe you a debt of gratitude for your leadership and continued support at our reunions and with our Newsletters.  Thanks for the memories.  We all will miss you.  And thank you, Lorraine, for the support that you have given your husband through all of these years.  We love you.

The Flying Saints of Naval Squadron VC-27 and the personnel of the USS Savo Island

The Newsletter, with the title of "Memories, Memories, Memories", was a masterpiece, and a fitting tribute to both Bob Cockle and Sam Hoyte Blackwell, representatives of the Wildcat and Avenger pilots, respectively.  It contained pictures of past reunions and recollections of many members of VC-27 and the USS Savo Island and their descendants.

It was the last Newsletter.

Epilogue

In the last Newsletter, Sam Hoyte Blackwell promised to keep in touch with members of VC-27 and the USS Savo Island and to pass on any news of interest.  True to his word, Sam has continued to do so.

If you have news of interest, you can contact him at: shbblackwell@bellsouth.net.