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Fighting Six (VF-6) Reunions & Gatherings Page 1

How the VF-6 Gatherings began and an Introduction to
their Planners and those who participated

It is safe to say that the earliest conception of "VF-6 reunion" goes back to a VF-6 pilot, "Wheels" Davis, who was in a Flight (12) of V-6 pilots that were attached to the USS Princeton (CVL-23), for the air support mission at Holland and Baker islands where the Seabees were building an airfield. "Wheels" was involved in a catapult accident from the Princeton near Baker Island. After making a miraculous escape and being rescued, he spent some time on the rescue destroyer, USS Bradford (DD-545).

The story got back to the family in a scrambled manner and to a gent, Mark Maxwell, who had married the niece of Ens Davis. Mark who referred to "Wheels" as "Uncle Bill", was a forensic Scientist for the State of New Jersey. He had an inquisitive mind and a natural ability to do research. Even though his uncle, William A. "Wheels" Davis completed the first cruise with VF-6 flying in the division lead by Richard "Whisky-Dick" Tremble, and much later passed away on September 9, 1975. Mark knew about Butch O'Hare and had a burning desire to make contact with all the old pilots from his Uncle Bill's squadron.

My first contact with Mark Maxwell was on May 2, 1987. At that time he already had made contact with George Bullard's wife Mary; Sy Mendenhall, Thad Coleman, Sandy Crews and some others. He had their addresses and phone numbers. He also knew about some of the post war deaths that had occurred among VF-6 people, dates, i.e., Paul Rooney '85, Cherry Klingler '85 and others. It was obvious to me that he was well on his way to try to ferret out and locate all members of the old VF-6 ('43-'44) guys.

About that time, Mark Maxwell volunteered to be the focal point for a "Gathering of Eagles" as he called it and sent out his first roster of names, addresses, telephone numbers and a list of known (11) deceased members. This partially documented list very soon became the building block upon which many helped to add to and refine and exchange information about the various ones that they knew about.

I had just published my book "POINT OPTION" about carrier warfare in the Pacific, which was actually a story of Butch" O'Hare's squadron, so I gave him a copy on 11 June 1988, thinking that this would be helpful to him and his research. I also sent the book to a number of the guys which helped to get them all talking and writing back and forth as they shared what they remembered as well as additional addresses and phone numbers of others.

Mark seemed to be in his glory as the information poured in. He was busy contacting places of records and various other sources. There were a few that were difficult to find such as Cliff Seaver, and others. But gradually his roster continued to grow and we all started talking about wanting to get together again some place.

Mark put out his first Newsletter in the spring of '88 in which he formally introduced himself and told the story of his motivation to find people who could answer the many questions he had about his Uncle Bill. Here he declared his intentions in regard to "Gathering of Eagles" and to the sharing of the information he had uncovered. He also decorated the heading of his news letter with a couple prints of our lovable, "Felix the Cat" VF-6 insignia...

Eureka Springs, Arkansas Gathering - July 19-20, 1988

The first serious planning for a VF-6 gathering began between Willie Callan, Sy Mendenhall and Hersch Pahl at the Best Western Motel in Eureka Springs, AR. We seemed to be thoroughly motivated to get going with plans for a VF-6 Gathering of some kind. We knew of the fine work Mark Maxwell had been doing and wanted to join in and build on what he was doing.

Three VF-6 pilots gather in Eureka Springs on July 19-20.'88.
L-R: Sy Mendenhall, Hersch Pahl and Willie Callan.

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Wives of the Attendees at Eureka Springs Arkansas, July 19-20 '88.
L-R: Gloria Mendenhall, Sue Callan and Bonnie Pahl.

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Sy & Gloria Mendenhall

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Willie & Sue Callan

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On to Reunions Page 2 where the
Eureka Springs Gathering Continues...

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October 1, 2007