to the Black Hills Veterans Writing Group which meets at 930 am (doors open at 900 for social period) on the second Saturday of each month, until 1130. The meetings are now at EAFB's South Dakota Air and Space Museum, EXIT 67B. Main gate. No steps. We meet in the Gallery (photo below) left after entrance. Comfortable chairs, tables, and coffee plus. Lots of close parking. All meetings are open to the public. You are invited.
Military Appreciation Night. Rapid City's Summer Nights, July 30, 6-9pm. more
On August 8, Ensign Harold Jansen of Rapid City will talk about his experiences in the US Navy during World War II as the US sought to retake the Philippines during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Photo shows Jansen in 1944 at the age of 21, as seen on a 200ft LCT (Landing Craft Tank) in the battle of the Philippines....As a LCT vice-commander, Jansen was present at the final dramatic confrontation between a far superior Japanese battleship armada and a lightly defended Leyte beachhead, with a hodgepodge of outgunned small ships bluffing away the enemy with will power and aggression.... more, animated lesson (keep pressing red arrow on bottom to advance).
On September 12, John F. Wilkinson of Spearfish will talk about his WWII experiences as a Spitfire pilot in the RAF.
YouTube video clip: "John on the Hunt" in Spitfire, combat over Germany, April 1945. John Wilkinson flying a Spitfire over Germany in 1945. The video was taken from the wing mounted camera that is only active while firing. At 17 he lived through the bombing of London during the Battle of Britain. In 1949, he boarded a freighter bound for America. more, audio interview (keep pressing red arrow on bottom to advance)
On October 10, Evelyn Lenton of Rapid City will talk about her childhood incarceration by the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II, along with her mother and brother. Her father was a US Navy doctor. Photo below shows other Philippines-incarcerated children (with sailor) aboard the SS Jean Lafitte heading for home. We also remember the Sascha Weinzheimer story in Ken Burns' WW2 film series and book.
On November 14, 1LT Marcella LeBeau will present on her WWII experiences as an Army nurse on Omaha Beach. “A mere 20 years after the US granted citizenship to the first Americans, a young Mniconjou woman left her reservation in South Dakota and joined the Army Nurse Corps during World War II.” more, story, audio
On December 12, USAAF B-17 veteran Maurice Crow will report on his WWII experiences. "Morry and his crew completed 27 missions during eight months of flying combat with the 8th Air Force in the European Theater, and based on the difficulty of the missions, got credit for 30." more
Note: On July 26, B-17 ball (later top) turret gunner Tom Wenn was at the Old Fort Meade Museum in Sturgis to talk about his 25 combat missions in the European theater, with 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses in WW2. Maurie Crow was there then. Both men flew from 8th AF out of East Anglica, England.
On January 9, US Army soldier Arnie Bergstrom of Rapid City will talk about his ordeals as a tunnel rat in Vietnam's Cu Chi district: "I served with the 65th Engineers in Vietnam as a demolition specialist. I was attached to several Inventory and Mechanized Units throughout South Vietnam. As a Demo Specialist, I spent a lot of time crawling through tunnels, clearing foliage and destroying enemy cover. I am proud to have served my country and, knowing the risk and fears, I would do it all over." more, Wikipedia
Send us a message to be on confidential email list to receive monthly notices of meetings. Do you have a story about your military service that you'd like to share and possibly write down? We'd like to hear from you.