Vol. VII, No. 2                                                                                            Sept., 2004

    AT EASE IN THE “BIG EASY”
          Pleasurable activities highlight most recent reunion

   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.  

 
   The official 2004 reunion photo of  former 33rd Army Band members is provided here.  Front row, from l. to r.: Doug Johnson (78-81), Michael “Fish” Kaye (76-79), Lorelei Giddings (77-79), Louis Driever (55-56), William “Woody” Woodworth (56-58), Dee Tonning (56-57), Greg Miller (57-59). Second row: John Field (69-72), Phil Jones (56-57), Ken Stickel (56-57), Frank Schlatter (56-58), George Masche (54-56), Daniel Rickard (72-75 & 82-85), Gordon Lougee (62-64), Leon Alexander (57-58), Doug Youra (57-58), and Herbert Bilhartz (73-76).

   
George and Donna Masche 

 
(l to r)  Daniel Rickard, in background Greg Miller, Dee Tonning, John & Ingeborg Field

 
Doug Johnson, Michael Kaye, Herbert Bilhartz (back to camera), Lorelei Giddings,  Rick McFerron.

                                                                      
Doug Youra, William Woodworth, Greg Miller


    (l. to r.) – George Masche, Donna Jones, Donna Masche, Phil Jones, Bonnie Tonning, Betty Driever, and Dee Tonning  

 
    We took the Green Streetcar to the National D-Day Museum

 
 An initial museum sight: the Higgins Boat  

  A Brief 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 wonderful keepsakes!)

   The evening was spent in the French Quarter. 

   Saturday morning  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…

   On Sunday 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 website. 

   The meeting and the reunion ended just prior to check-out time.   

 

   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.”

   Jennifer Meris (01-04) 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

   jennifer.meris@forscom.army.mil           www.forscom.army.mil/band/

   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

1982-1985.  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.  Phone 864-429-7390.

    David Scott (USAREUR 83-86) provided the following changes of address--From: davvicsctt@aol.com  to  snwblldave@aol.com .  His snail mail address has also changed.  He can now be reached at 1602 Merrywood Dr., Johnson City, TN 37604.

   Ken Elkins (71-84) provided us with a new email address:  kenelk1@wmconnect.com

   Stan Cornett  (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.”

The 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!”

   Eunice Schatz, 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 soon!

   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 again!”

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                        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.

     33rd ABAA CEO:  Frank Schlatter, 3111 Futura, Roswell, NM 88201.  E-mail: obfusa@rt66.com  Telephone number: 505-622-6898.  Fax: 505-622-1611.

    Webmaster for the 33rd ABAA internet site: Dee Tonning, 2265 Tawny Woods Pl., Boise, ID 83706.  E-mail: dtonning@aol.com

   The 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.  

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33rd ABAA’s Stirred by Frank Rosato’s Talk

   Ninety-year-old Frank Rosato, 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.

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*Besides 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.

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In Memoriam

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

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To view additional pictures from the New Orleans reunion Click Here

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