EASE IN THE “BIG EASY”
Those attending the fourth reunion of the 33rd
ABAA in New Orleans, August 27-29, found that their expectations for a
fun-filled time were fulfilled. Eighteen former members of the USAREUR
Headquarters Band were joined by family members and guests, who brought the
number in attendance to 41 at the banquet and during the reunion “concert.”
A 4x6 copy of the official reunion photo, showing all who attended, is
provided below. Following
are additional reunion photos. They
include a photo of the eighteen 33rd ABAA members; pictures taken
during registration and on the way to the National D-Day Museum; one in the
museum (a Higgins boat in the background); three others during lunch at the Ugly
Dog Saloon, where some of the reunion participants met following the museum
visit; a page devoted to the concert; and others either at the banquet or the
Sunday morning breakfast.
Stories about the reunion and information related to
the association are also provided in this newsletter.
An initial museum sight: the Higgins Boat
An initial museum sight: the Higgins Boat
Summary of the Reunion
The schedule for
the reunion called for registration to begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, August 27.
However, a number of reunion-goers arrived the day before, thus providing the
opportunity for some of us to frequent local restaurants together.
On Friday morning, those who had registered began finding their way to
our hospitality room in Toulous B shortly after nine o’clock
and we talked together until
close to noon, when we broke for lunch.
In the afternoon, Frank Schlatter and Daniel Rickard
provided a slide show. Frank’s slides were of the trip he and his wife,
Carole, took to Germany last September, plus photos from his tour with the band
from late 56 to the spring of 58. Daniel’s
pictures were from his double tour with the band, mostly from the 72-75 period.
During the show some of us filled up with beer or soft drinks the
attractive commemorative mugs that George Masche provided to all in attendance.
(Thanks again, George! The mugs are
The evening was spent in the French Quarter.
we boarded the green streetcar across the street from the Astor Crowne
Plaza Hotel and traveled to within a block of the National D-Day Museum, where
we disembarked and made our way to the museum.
We spent the better part of three hours in the museum—a most worthwhile
experience. For those of you who
have never been to the museum, do not miss the movie about the D-Day invasion.
It—like the exhibits throughout the museum—is first-rate.
A number of us found the Ugly Dog Saloon two blocks
from the museum. The barbeque beef
plate was both delicious and very reasonably priced.
Some then went shopping, and others took streetcar rides, and those who
were to participate in the evening “concert” made our way to Ballroom D of
the hotel for a rehearsal. There we
were met by Ira Milan, E.J. Vondullen, and Wilbur Phillips, local musicians who
had agreed to augment our band. (Ira
Milan has a polka band in New Orleans, and
Herbert Bilhartz had contacted him two or three weeks prior to the
reunion to make the original arrangements for them to join us on Saturday.)
The American music for the concert that evening was
provided by Doug Johnson, and Herbert Bilhartz provided the German music.
The conductors for the evening included
former CO’s John Field and Herbert Bilhartz.
Also to conduct were Doug Johnson and
Frank Rosato, who, with his wife, was a guest at the evening banquet.
Immediately following the sumptuous meal,
Frank Schlatter called upon Frank Rosato to provide the assemblage with
some information about himself. Our
guest began by indicating that he would shortly be 90 years old, and he then
provided us with his army band background, a most interesting story told to a
most appreciative audience. (Details
in a subsequent article.) The
concert was a pleasurable experience for reunion participants—and for two
young men who heard us playing and thus stepped in to hear the concert.
They were impressed that we performed without amplifiers.
The highlight—and end--of the concert came when Frank
Rosato directed “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” rousingly performed by the
band. Ah, it was so great to have
the brass and piccolo doing their thing…
morning, we again met in Ballroom D—which has a balcony, where members of
the reunion spent a number of hours the night before, looking down on Bourbon
Street. Following a buffet
breakfast, we held a brief business meeting, deciding that the next
reunion would be held in Denver, the
third weekend in June of 2006. Greg
Miller will serve as the local coordinator for the event.
David Schlatter, who lives in nearby Aurora and who has attended all of
the band’s reunions, will assist with the event.
David’s wife Christi, who has attended both the Minneapolis and New
Orleans reunions, agreed to help. Frank Schlatter will continue in the role of
the association’s CEO. Dee
Tonning will continue to be the webmaster for our outstanding, award-winning
The meeting and the reunion ended just prior to
Jesse Walker (61-63)
wrote, saying: “I am looking for members of the 1961-63 33rd Army Band who are
still alive. I've read about Bandleader Byron Smith
passing. If anyone from the years stated above, please reply. And any
information from that period of time would be nice to hear.”
wrote to ask how she “could get into the Alumni thing.”
She supplied the following information: Flutist, Operations NCO, USA
Ground Forces Band, 1294 Cobb St.
SW, Ft. McPherson, GA 30330.
Office: (404)464-2717 fax: (404)464-3789
Cecelia A. Colby
O’Keefe (82-85) sent us an e-mail telling us that she was browsing the
web, found the Band and Chorus, and saw that she was listed as an
"Unknown" on the Band list. She
decided to log-in with this information: “Cecelia A. Colby,
XO and Assistant Conductor, USAREUR Band and Chorus
I am now Cecelia O'Keefe. Married
with three children, still working and teaching in the music field.
My address is 3261 Evergreen Road NE, Fargo, ND 58102. It would be fun to see where some of the other folks are.“
In a forwarded e-mail that Webmaster
Dee Tonning wrote to Phil Jones, Dee wrote: “I picked a Ralph Lawson out
of the list of Lawsons from Union, SC and called him and asked if he knew a Danny
P. Lawson [55-56]. He said
‘Yeah, he's my nephew. Just a
minute, I'll let you talk to him.’ Danny
came on the phone and he couldn't believe who he was talking to.
We had a good conversation. I
told him about the upcoming reunion and he said he probably wouldn't be able to
attend, but didn't rule it out completely.
He has health problems and is on oxygen and can't be away from an
electrical source to power the oxygen. He
said he nearly died about 5 months ago with pneumonia.
“He and West have been divorced for years but they
had 2 kids, both in their 40s now. He
has grandkids and great grandkids….
“He was amazed that we had a 33rd Alumni Association
and that we had been searching for him for several years. Here are Danny's
address and cell phone number: Danny P Lawson, 1300 South Pinckney St. Apt. 110, Union, SC 29379.
Scott (USAREUR 83-86) provided the following changes of address--From:
email@example.com . His
snail mail address has also changed. He
can now be reached at 1602 Merrywood Dr., Johnson City, TN 37604.
(71-84) provided us with a new email address:
(85-88), in an e-mail of August
7, wrote the following regarding the death of
Mike Pyatt (80-81): “At 1829
hrs EST I got a call from Mike's daughter, Mary. Mike passed away at 1715 hrs
CST.” In subsequent e-mails Stan provided the time and place of
Mike's funeral: 10:00 am, Friday,
13 Aug 04, at Ft. Sam Houston, noting that it would be a graveside ceremony.
He also indicated that those wishing to make memorial contributions in
Mike’s name should send them to the following address: Dr. Geoffrey Weiss,
Melanoma Research Cancer Treatment and Research Center, ATTN: Tobin Challenge,
PO Box 1657, San Antonio, TX 78296-1657.
After forwarding information regarding the passing of
Mike Pyatt, Stan provided the following information. “Some snapshots from Mike
Pyatt’s funeral. Per Murphy's Law I and/or my camera malfunctioned on several
others that did not come out. .Thought you might be interested to see these.”
pictures, he said, can be found at http://www.people.virginia.edu/~snc2f/PYATT/index.htm.
Mike Getzin (86)
wrote to say that he had “Just checked the USAREUR Band Alumni site and
thanks for placing WKA on the link page. I
just played in DC with the TUSAB Alumni concert as I was a new member there too.
New Orleans is the Alumni reunion this year?
I'll be going to Israel for a Clarinet Klezmer in Galilee Music festival
the same time, a once in a lifetime
chance. Please see if it's possible for a summary of the USAREUR Band event to
be emailed to me w/ photos, especially pertaining to the event, and it will get
posted to benefit it. I'll surely make the next one.”
Following the most recent reunion, Rick McFerron (75-78) wrote as follows: “Frank, I don't know how
you do it, but I thought our New Orleans gathering was great!
You see that we voted you in as all-time, permanent coordinator/leader,
etc., and I know I can express the appreciation of all of us for the work and
energy you put into this organization. It
was good to see you and Carole and all the others.
“I finally feel I have a few minutes to relax and
reflect. After the weekend, we
returned to IUP where the campus was bustling with activity. Nothing like
Bourbon St., but still an interesting contrast to our relatively quiet summer.
“I'll look forward to hearing what the plans are for
the next reunion. When we left on
Sunday, you were talking about a time of the year. In our case, this weekend
before classes is probably one of the worst times--perhaps this week would be
even a worse time to travel. But we
made it, and we're glad we did. For
those of us that are still working and associated with higher ed. that's
something to keep in mind. However,
many of us would be free to travel by late May and certainly early June. Once we have some idea of the next gathering, we'll try to
get some more participation from some of our 33rd colleagues from our era.
The Denver location will certainly pick up some that are local to the
area and my hope is that others will find air travel to Denver fairly
convenient. Regardless of what
happens, I'm sure we can have an enjoyable time--I just hope we keep the numbers
high enough to continue to convene the 33rd AB Alumni Band!”
wife of Marvin Schatz (56-57), informed
the newsletter editor that they had been unable to attend the reunion because
shortly before the event Marvin was hospitalized with lymphoma.
At an earlier time, we learned that Frank
Gomes (55-56) had fallen immediately before the reunion was to be held and
had badly injured his arm, thus preventing him and his wife from attending the
reunion. Members of the 33rd ABAA hope both Marv and Frank get well
Finally, a message from Carmen
Youra, daughter of Doug Youra
(57-58), included the following: “I just had to write and tell you what a
wonderful time we had at the Band Reunion!
Thank you for organizing everything!
It was magical!!!! The hotel
was grand, the location spectacular, and the reuniting very moving!
I was so proud of my dad, oom-pah-pah-ing after all those years! Thanks
About the 33rd
Army Band Alumni Association
The 33rd Army Band Alumni Association is a not-for-profit organization that has
been developed to provide a means for former members of the USAREUR Band to be
in contact with one another via the quarterly newsletter Passing In Review and through periodic reunions.
ABAA CEO: Frank Schlatter, 3111 Futura, Roswell, NM 88201.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone
number: 505-622-6898. Fax:
for the 33rd ABAA internet site: Dee
Tonning, 2265 Tawny Woods Pl., Boise, ID 83706.
organization's web site: http://www.rt66.com/~obfusa/33rd.
Persons who are not former members of the 33rd Army
Band but who are interested in participating in the activities of the alumni
association are welcome as associate members.
Annual dues for all members: $15,
payable to the 33rd ABAA and sent to the CEO. The normal dues cycle is from
January to January.
33rd ABAA’s Stirred by Frank Rosato’s Talk
who, with his wife Selema, was a guest at the reunion banquet, gave a short talk
about his experiences with the 156th Infantry Band during World War
II. His remarks prompted a standing
ovation from the assembled reunion-goers.*
Frank’s band, which he led as a Chief Warrant
Officer, was originally the 156th Infantry National Guard Band. Just
prior to the outset of the second world war, it became a part of the regular
army., and although the band’s activities included performing for reveille and
retreat parades and occasional dances and USO shows (on one occasion the
featured stars were Carole Landis and comedian Stubby Kay), the bandsmen, first
and foremost, were expected to perform as soldiers.
Indeed, when the time came for the band to be shipped to England in
September of 1942, the colonel of the 156th under whose command the
band operated, ordered that the band’s musical instruments not be loaded onto
the ship. Frank managed to convince him to rescind the order.
The episode was just one of a number of similar episodes which indicated
the lack of importance some CO’s placed on the band performing as a band.
Frank indicated that after their arrival in England, he
very much wanted the band to perform in London, but the unit was located some
100 miles north of the English capital, and the colonel was reluctant to provide
for such an opportunity. However,
because of the band’s numerous musical functions in the nearby region, they
finally received an order to perform at a Red Cross Club in London and were an
instant hit. The band subsequently performed a number of other gigs in London,
and Frank pushed for the 156th to be transferred to London and for
the 28-member band to be doubled in size. Again,
he met with resistance from the colonel. It
was through the intercession of Carole Landis, who wanted an American band (and
specifically the 156th band), to play for her USO show, that the band
traveled to London. And then,
Frank, with the assistance of Carole Landis, convinced the general in charge of
London-based troops that the 156th should be under the command of
Special Services in London.
From that point on, the 156th was involved
in all kinds of musical functions in London, eventually having a string trio
attached to the organization, and finally, in 1943, through Frank’s
persistence, were allowed to increase the size of the band to 56 members.
Naturally, Frank was proud that the band was able to perform with the
likes of Frances Langford, Bob
Hope, Jack Benny, James Cagney, and other notables, and to meet and rehearse
with such bands as Glenn Miller’s Army Air Force Band and the Artie Shaw Band.
And it surely must have been a “kick” that a 12-year-old girl named
Petula Clark became a mainstay singer with the band.
But as Frank pointed out in his talk, the most important function for the
band came after the war, when the band was called upon
to perform at the Potsdam Conference, attended by President Truman, Josef
Stalin, and Winston Churchill.
Those of us who listened to Frank’s brief talk
realized that it was people like Frank, who, through their military band
functions, set the example for the military bands that followed.
It was people like Frank, who, in extremely difficult times, established
the importance of army bands and, thus, ‘set the stage’ for the operation of
bands like the USAREUR Headquarters Band. Frank’s
contribution to that history prompted our warm applause.
Frank and his wife, the other guests at the banquet were Ira Milan (who played
the treble clef baritone during the reunion concert), his wife Marjorie, E.J.
Vondullen (trumpet), and Wilbur Phillips (clarinet).
Frank had the pleasure of directing the final number of the concert.
LTC Michael D. Pyatt (80-81) Executive Officer of
Band & Chorus
Richard Steinkoenig (69-71) Trombone
Additional Pictures below are of reunion attendees at the Ugly Dog Saloon and the band concert at the Saturday Night Banquet
To view additional pictures from the New Orleans reunion Click Here
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