Sunday, December 5, 2010

How the Pearl Harbor Veterans Are Coping

Here's an article about a much bigger reunion group. They are contemplating disbanding also, but since 1973 they've had a "sons and daughters" organization that will continue on.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Google Maps

If you haven't looked at the maps page on this site, it's worth a visit. I have links to maps of major airfields that VPB-118 spent varying lengths of time at. Google has enhanced their maps to link to photos taken on the ground. You can now get a much better idea of what some of these locations look like currently. Some of the locations, like Iwo Jima and Tinian, have preservation areas which are largely maintained as they were back in 1945. You can see the gooney birds on Midway Island and rusting guns where they were abandoned. Open each map in a new window using the link below the map and explore!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

Thank you to the veterans of VPB-118, as well as to all of the men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States of America, in both peacetime and time of war.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On The Subject Of Joint Reunions

At the last VPB-118 reunion, I was asked to explore the possibility of conducting future reunions jointly with another squadron.

It seems to me that this is not a totally far-fetched concept, or I would have said so at the time. My experience of the VPB-118 guys is that they in general have a positive, pragmatic outlook. Therefore, sharing reunion space with another squadron of like background might be a small sacrifice and might even be very rewarding.

Unfortunately, I have so far gotten no takers. My current estimation on the feasibility of doing this is that there are not many VPB squadrons that are still meeting and out of those, few or none would wish to mingle with people from other squadrons. VPB-118 members and relatives have commented that they are "like family." This is probably true of all squadron reunion groups - not unique.

Anyway, there's optimism that we can hold at least one more on our own in 2011 and take it from there.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

2010 VPB-118 Reunion in Grand Rapids

I've been back from the latest VPB-118 Reunion for a few days now and have had a few days to think about it. I think the guys had a very nice reunion, although the attendance was down owing to various reasons, not the least of which is the advanced age of the surviving veterans. At the business meeting the possibility of merging the VPB-118 reunion with the reunions of one or more VPB squadrons came up. I was delegated the task of exploring the feasibility of this possible option because I have this forum with which to reach other people. Please do shoot me an email if you have knowledge of other squadrons that have joined up to have their reunions jointly, or of other squadrons that may be exploring this option.

Also decided at the business meeting was the intention to plan for a 2011 reunion in Salt Lake City. This version of the reunion is contingent on getting enough attendees signed up and for non-adoption of the previously mentioned possibility.

The veterans who attended this year's reunion:

L-R: Jack Leonard, Bob Wilson, Harold Taylor, Kent Hatch, and Stanley Ostazeski

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

George Todd

I received this message from Pete Van Dyke, son of Frank Van Dyke:

"I regret to inform the Squad that my 'uncle' George Todd, who flew with my Dad in Binnings crew, passed away this morning. He was my Dad's best friend all these years, and I'm happy to say that they got to spend a week together in Maine in July.
We will miss him greatly."

(Date of passing was 8/16/2010)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New photo of McCutcheon Crew!

Darrel White, son of crew 11 member Glen White, supplied us with the Navy photo of Crew 11. Previously we only had a photo of the photo being taken, which was pretty great in its own right! Now we have the result of that photo session, and you can now see it here!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Minor Milestone Passed

I completed updating the look on the crew pages this morning. I still have a lot more pages and content to update and/or add, but it's great to finally have completed this part of the work. I had to adapt some of the content to the new look, which slowed things down. Also, I realized that a few crew members that were listed on the crew pages were not listed in the master roster list. This was because the information for these crew members came not from the original source, the book, but rather from a crew member from that particular crew. The crews in question were relief crews, which were poorly documented owing to lack of action logs, since by then the war was over, as well as the physical disconnect from the original crew members and the relief crews.

This morning I happened to take a look in a folder that contained an early version of this website and was struck by how simple it was back then - just a few pages, really. Now it's gotten to be quite a job to update globally, since there are many dozens of pages. I'm not sure how many pages there are total, but it's really grown.

Friday, June 4, 2010

2010 VPB-118 Reunion

The details on this year's reunion in Grand Rapids have been finalized and the letters with the details will be going out soon. Some of the events planned are a visit to the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum which has the submarine USS Silversides, the Coast Guard cutter USCGC McLane, and the new Robert G. Morin Museum. Visit their site for more information. We will pop into Grand Haven for a bite to eat and a stroll around. We will also visit the Fredrick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, which has the enormous Leonardo DaVinci bronze horse sculpture that I mentioned in a previous message, along with many other great objets d'art, no doubt.

By the way, the Silversides used to be tied up at Chicago's Navy Pier. I was glad that the Naval Museum gave her safe harbor after the folks that run Chicago decided she had to leave.

Air travel in and out of Grand Rapids should be easy, and Grand Rapids is conveniently located for many, if not all, coming in via the interstate.

If you are not on the mailing list but are a squadron member, relative, or friend of one of the aforementioned folks, please send me an email to get on the list.

I hope to see everyone at the reunion!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Salutations on the Memorial Day Weekend

I guess I'll be doing a little work on the site this Memorial Day weekend.

As of 2 pm Saturday, I "modernized" four crew pages, crews 14 through 17. As of 4:30 pm I added one half page to the chronology. I updated two more crew pages on Sunday. It's slow going on the crew pages, unfortunately. As of end of day 5/31 I updated the Terrell through Rinehart crew pages. The Park Crew pages took a little more time because of the number of images and the extra page devoted to their unfortunate loss. I can see that I'll have to come back and fine-tune some of these pages, but hopefully the pages are improved over what they used to be.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Grand Rapids Reunion

As I have mentioned, the VPB-118 Reunion is planned for August of this year, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There's been a little bit of head-scratching about what the activities might be in Grand Rapids. I've pointed out that Battle Creek, not terribly far away, is where the Kellogg's cereal empire is centered. This evening I happened to look at an email newsletter that just came in and was stunned to see this enormous cast horse, designed by Leonardo DaVinci five hundred years ago. This is a modern casting of a recreation of his sculpture. I guess this would be an interesting attraction to visit! At this time I have no idea if this is under consideration, but it pretty much debunks that notion that there's not a lot of note in the area. I provided a link to the story alongside the image.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Welcomes Six-Millionth Visitor

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I apologize for not updating the site or this blog in a while. I've been studying JavaScript as well as doing some JavaScript freelance work. Which leads in to something I'd like to comment on.

59% of the visitors to the VPB-118 site that are using Internet Explorer are using either version 7 or version 6(!) of this browser. Out of all visitors, 56% are using Internet Explorer, so that means that one third of the visitors to the site are using outdated versions of what many people consider to be the worst web browser available. Internet Explorer 8 (the improved, current version) is considered by many to be the slowest and most problem-plagued (as in virus/bot attacks) browser there is.

I don't really want to fall into a Microsoft-bashing mode, because they do have some great policies, for example free development programs available for download. The Windows operating system has become far more stable and reliable than I imagined possible in the early days of Windows 3.1, when several crashes a day were not considered unusual. However, Microsoft does have a bad history when it comes to their browser. With version 8 they have mostly redeemed themselves in terms of standards compliance, but in the past they have flaunted the concerns of web designers and programmers by retaining their own versions of event handling and document object model. With the web design and programming that I do, I still have to compensate for many of these wrong policies, as do many others.

Long story short, I would recommend that everyone use the fastest, most standards-compliant browsers available for a better experience. Check this out: speed comparisons. I hate to have to put it this way, but if you want your pages to load fast and be rendered the way they were intended, use anything but Internet Explorer. If you use something like Opera and it won't work with certain sites, install Firefox, which has wonderful compatibility in my experience. Did you know that Apple's Safari browser is available for the Windows platform also? It is, and it's a good browser.

I mostly use Opera because it has a lot of features like "notes" and "mouse gestures" that allow me to get around really fast in the app and get a lot done. Opera sometimes doesn't get recognized as a standard browser, so there are some sites that refuse it entry, which I think is kind of nasty. I also use Chrome, which I like a lot. It is by far the best app for printing web pages from; the accuracy is fantastic; also it is very fast - especially on sites that Google (the parent) owns, such as YouTube, Blogger (where we are now), and Google Analytics. Firefox is, as I stated, very solid and reliable. Safari is very slick and performs well.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

2010 VPB-118 Reunion

Word is that this year's reunion will take place before Labor Day in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There is supposed to be something in the mail soon. The reunion is for crew, family and friends (by invitation). If you are not on the mailing list but are eligible and interested in attending, please shoot me an email and I'll pass on your information!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Progress Report

I'm making a brief comment here to let folks know I'm still slugging away on the website but have to divide my time between a number of activities so progress is not as fast as I would have desired. I have upgraded the first eight crew pages to the new format and hope to have them all changed over in a short while. I hope everyone stays healthy and prosperous.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New format for crews pages

I am converting to a new look for the crews pages. You can see a preview here. It will take a while to convert all of the pages to the new look. Some of the pages with images relating to the crews will be consolidated into the new crew pages as part of the slide show plug-in on the bottom of the page. Other collections of photos such as log books and scrapbooks will be put in image galleries but will either have their own pages or will have a tab in the respective crew page. The few people that do not have JavaScript enabled will still be able to see the images, but they will all just open on one page. Thanks for visiting the site to find out about VPB-118!

Friday, January 8, 2010

VPB-118 Sub-domain

I'm loving my new site hosting situation. I created a sub-domain on my site for VPB-118. This is no biggie and as a matter of fact none of the paths on the new server are affected. If you are using bookmarks to go to the site, you will possibly need to update them, however, because I took out an unnecessary level that was on the old site (entirely my own fault). So if you have been getting "Error 404" messages, the reason is probably the new paths to the VPB-118 stuff. So I guess I should tell you the address for the new sub-domain:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hosting Change

I have finished changing web hosts. This will result in considerable savings over time, plus the web server is one that I have a little more familiarity with. One immediate change you can see is if you attempt to go to a nonexistent page, you will now get a "404" error page with links to working pages. I know that shouldn't be a big deal, but I've actually worked on a couple of sites where this was not possible to implement without a lot of work!