Sunday, October 25, 2009

New video coming

I just read an email from my brother, who was able to go to the reunion last weekend. He told me that he got some video interviews which means that after a short while I will be uploading the finished product to YouTube.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

VPB-118 Videos

I'm pleased to tell readers that I have completed posting five videos from last year's reunion. Three feature late, great storyteller Charlie Hodge as he talks about his PPC getting grounded for two weeks on Tinian, how they went island-hopping looking for a decent Hershey Bar, and finally, a harrowing raid on Chefoo, China that resulted in both PPC Duba's and PPC Dodson's planes getting shot up pretty badly. Richard Landis and Stanley Ostazeski also appear in their own videos in which they talk about their stints in VPB-118 and the close calls they experienced.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Adding Chronology of VPB-118 To Site

I started a chronology of the squadron a few days ago. I am only adding a paragraph or two a day because I have to synopsize the book which involves a little editing and writing on my part. Please check back to see how it's going. I plan to continue through until the end of the book and then to link from the crew pages to the chronology so that the text is not duplicated.

By the way, the complete roster of the squadron is now up on the site. An advantage of this is that when relatives try to find their veteran on the internet by using a search engine, everyone is there on one page, with the links to the rest of the site. When I first tried to find my Dad's squadron, this was not possible. Now it is.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Squadron Roster Listing

I added a new page today, with what will eventually include a complete roster of the entire squadron. I am up to Crew 7/13 but I am going by the order in the book so it's not really apparent where I am. Less than half way, I think. However, I have completely realized one goal, which is to get the names of the "ground grippers" on the site for the first time. I wish I had done that a lot sooner. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get the rest of the squadron listed. You can access the new page from the site map or from the heading on the Crews page, where I added a link.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Design Upgrade To Site

Today I added a proper header to the main pages of the website. It's still pretty basic but I think what I have serves its purose fairly well. The sea image in the background is taken from an actual combat photo taken by a VPB-118 crew member; I just used an area of the image with empty sea and changed it from a grayscale image to a blue duotone. I've still got a lot of work to do on the PB4Y-2 crew pages and other lower-level pages to get them all set up with reasonalby standards-compliant HTML but we're getting there. I should start adding some general squadron chronology soon while working on the page upgrades. VPB-118 website

Monday, August 10, 2009

Charlie Hodge

I just got news that Charlie Hodge has passed away. He will be sorely missed. Probably the main reason I was looking forward to the next reunion was my hopes of getting him to tell some more great stories for the video recorder. I still hope to tape some good interviews, but a great resource has been lost.

Conrad Dodl

I was doing a Google search looking for something else, and came across an obituary for Conrad Dodl. Apparently he was suffering from Alzheimer's and succumbed about two weeks ago. The obituary mentioned that he survived the shoot-down of the McCutcheon plane and received a Purple Heart for injuries received. He probably received a DFC and an Airman's Medal also for his service but that is not mentioned. I don't believe that I ever met Conrad at any of the reunions, but I note his passing with respect.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Updated Crews Page

I did a major overhaul of the crews page today. Now you should be able to read the table more easily, plus you can resort the data to search for whatever particular information you may be looking for. (You must have javascript turned on for the sorting feature to work.) I want to do another table like this for crew members but will have to do that in another session.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I'm still working on the 118 website. However, what I'm working on now is a proper header for the various pages. I've been bothered by the lack of an actual header so am trying out some ideas. Hopefully I'll be putting something up on the site in a while.

Maybe in the mean time I'll update the formats on the crew pages; they still are set up with table-based layouts. I also am planning on switching the scrapbook images to a nicer format with javascript slideshows. I already know how to do that but the header is more urgent.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I finished scanning the John Hanan (Keiser Crew) albums and am getting ready to send them back to his son, Tom. I have only posted a few images from that collection, but there are some fine images there, taken by John himself.

I have added a small amount of simple Javascript to the pages to facilitate reorganizing the site. I can change structure or content in one spot and it will show up across the site, which is a huge time-saver and allows me to try out more ideas. However, for folks with Javascript turned off the menus will no longer be visible. I should have a site map with links to it provided for those folks very soon.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day, anyone who might be reading this. I'll be scanning some stuff today and if things go quickly may even post new stuff to the VPB-118 site.

Sunday update: I finished scanning the scrapbooks of John Hanan. There are some remarkable images in it. He was co-pilot of Mike Keiser's plane, and as such had great opportunity to snap some memorable shots. He seemed to be somewhat of a shutterbug as well, so it was a fortunate combination. I made some formatting corrections to the website but did not have time to make any new pages with the new images. Here's a sample; I'm not sure what airfield this is. I think it may be a Japanese airfield because photographing an American airfield might be a security risk. But I really am not sure whether that's even true.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Unfortunately, I was not able to do any work relating to the website done this weekend. However, I will have the 3rd of July off in observance of Independence Day, so I should be able to get a lot done that weekend.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Finished Updating Basic Format

I plugged the old kluged table from the original crews page into a page with the CSS layout which I use on other pages. I'll reformat the crews page entirely in a while but now at least you can smoothly navigate the site from the top nav bar. The crews table now also has rows that are more evenly spaced and scalable so that's a big improvement.

This coming weekend I may be able to finish the scanning activities for now. The other part of the stuff that I have is a log.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I'm trying to tear myself away but this was an interesting find and I didn't want to lose the link.

That's It For This Weekend

In addition to finishing scanning of the Hanan scrapbook, I also converted my comments page and links page to the new format. You can see the practical benefit of the new look by zooming the page (usually done by holding the CONTROL key and turning the mouse scroll wheel). Instead of the page just increasing in size overall, the text increases in size and the page format resizes to accomodate the larger text, but not change its horizontal proportions. This should be a boon for folks with macular degeneration or other vision disabilities because they won't have to scroll horizontally if they zoom the page. It also makes the page file size half of what it was and also more Google-friendly.

Also, I added two more images from the Hanan photos, starting here.

I also updated and added some links on the links page.

Talk to you next weekend!

The VPB-118 Book

I just thought to search to see if anyone on there is selling the VPB-118 book. There are three sellers with the book. The seller with the lowest price wants $89.99. The seller with the highest price wants $149.55. I wondered how he arrived at that price. Anyway, if you have the book hang on to it, and if you have any spares, hang onto those too, so that family members can get the book without paying such outlandish prices.

Two new pages

Here are two new pages and as promised they are shots of two ships under attack, one a coastal trawler and the other a "fox tare charlie" which is naval nomenclature for a 4,000 gross ton freighter transport. These ships were used for transport from mainland Asia (via Korea) to Japan. The idea was to starve Japan's island industrial economy to weaken its war machine. The PBY4-2 was ideally configured for this kind of search and destroy mission.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

More Progress

I just finished scanning John Hanan's photo album. The last several images in the album are photos of attacks on two different ships. I will probably post a representative image from each series.

It's too late to post any more images this evening but I'll be back tomorrow and report after I make some new pages on the website.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New Images on the Site

I scanned and coded diligently this afternoon and have a nice new page to show for my efforts. I've been studying web design lately and hopefully you will notice that the new page has a much slicker appearance than what preceded it. I hope to redo the entire site soon to make it more attractive, easy-to-use, and standards-compliant. For example, folks who might be using screen readers should be having a better experience on the new pages since they won't be loaded down with a lot of archaic HTML. A nice benefit of the accessibility improvement is that it will also show up better in search engines.

Here's the new page. I have also a number of other images that I haven't put in pages yet, so please don't think that one page isn't much to show for an afternoon's work, because there's more that you can't see - yet.

Now I'm going to get something to eat; I'm hungry!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rogers Fiedler

Yesterday we got word from the Fiedler family that Rogers Fiedler of the Rinehart Crew has passed away. I should think that anyone who met Rogers would have enjoyed his genial, friendly attitude. He and his family hosted the reunion in Saint Charles, Missouri in 2004, much to the enjoyment of all that attended. Rogers will sure be missed. Here's the obituary.

I'm going to work on some scans this weekend; I should be posting some on the actual website later on. I'll dedicate this weekend's work to Rogers.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Progress Report

I was able to do some scans this afternoon but won't have time to upload them this weekend. I am scanning from two albums put together by Lt. JG. John Hanan of Kaiser's Crew (#12). There is a lot of interesting stuff.

I'm thinking that I may want to switch from posting on this blog (which I just started, I know) to twitter. My reasoning is that I can actually embed a twitter widget in the VPB-118 site with very little trouble, whereas to integrate this blog into the site would be rather involved. Also, being on twitter would almost certainly guarantee introducing more of the general internet community to VPB-118. Maybe I'll just keep this blog and post permalinks to here via twitter. That's probably what I'll do.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hello, World!

On Memorial Day, 2009 I am setting up this blog as an adjunct to the VPB-118 site at which also can be accessed via (logically enough) I confess that I feel that I have been late in creating this blog, by which I hope that the crew and family of VPB-118 may interact, but as they say, “Better late than never.”

Persons stumbling across this blog may wonder what a VPB-118 is. Please feel free to visit the site to find out more.

I will be scanning some new images and posting them on the site in the coming weeks, barring unforseen problems. I will comment on my progress as I do so.

In addition to the new images, I plan on updating the look of the site with my newly-learned CSS knowledge. The current site was created in 2002 over a the course of few weeks and has not been significantly upgraded since then! I'm looking forward to the challenge.