The genesis of the Association can be traced to the formation of the Second Air Division Association during the immediate post war years. General Kepner, commander of the 2nd Air Division, suggested that the nearly 7,000 men killed in action during wartime operations should be remembered with something that would both honor their memory whilst also providing inspiration and guidance to the living, and to the future. The idea that emerged was for a Memorial Library.
By 1947, keen to support the plans for the Memorial Library in Norwich, six former members of the Division living in the Chicago area had already initiated the 2nd Air Division Association (2nd ADA). The By-laws stated, ".....to perpetuate the friendships and memories of our service together in the 2nd Air Division….". The first 2nd ADA Reunion was in 1948. 28 veterans were present along with wives and friends. The 2nd ADA Journal (Newsletter) was published starting in 1950. The Journal announced details of the annual Reunion and began a huge effort to recruit members who served among the 14 Bomb Groups, 4 Fighter Groups, and HQ of the 2nd Air Division.
The appeal for membership saw numbers increase substantially. The seventh annual Reunion held in Washington DC in 1954 saw attendance doubled to all previous reunions. The December 1955 issue of the 2nd AD Journal featured a "Personal News" section and a list of members. Membership of the Second Air Division Association was reported at almost 1,500 member with the 467th BG already having a growing presence among the Association. In 1957 the 467th had representation on the 2nd ADA Executive Committee with the appointment of John J. Taylor, former C.O. of the 788th Squadron.
At long last the Memorial was finally completed and ready in 1963. The Memorial Library formed a distinct room within the city's central library. Shelves lined with books recording the exploits and sacrifices of the 8th Air Force, the Roll of Honor listing all names of the disappeared and fallen , augmented by a commemorative fountain in the grounds outside incorporating stones specially shipped over from every American state. The completed Memorial Room indeed promised to bring to local people, "a daily influence of American thoughts and ideals". Almost 200 veterans of the 2nd AD returned for the dedication that took place 13 June 1963.
At much the same time in 1963, a number of 467th veterans who remained in touch largely due to Adam Soccio (a former Combat Crew Mess Cook who joined the 467th at Kearns and served the Combat Crews in the Mess Hall at Rackheath before transfer to the Infantry), began meeting in Suffern, NY. The “mini-reunions” were held at at an Italian Bar and Grill owned by Ben Arena (a former 467th BG veteran whom Adam had served with). These mini-reunions continued until Ben's place burned down in 1974. Of the 10 members at the first reunion, at least two were already members of the 2nd ADA. These members informed the gathering of the ceremony and dedication of the Memorial Library in Norwich and encouraged all those present to join the 2nd ADA. Adam Soccio joined right away in 63. In the following years was an outstanding supporter and recruiter for the Association, attending most of the subsequent 2nd ADA reunions.
The numbers joining the Second Air Division Association (2ADA) continued to grow steadily, and increasingly former 467th veterans were signing up. in 1970 Ken Darney, who had previously been Group Vice-President representing the 467th, was elected President of the 2nd ADA (the first 467th person to hold this auspicious post). After the 2ADA Reunion held in England in 1972, it was asked to try get more members from Bomb Groups to join the Association. Ray and Doris Betcher took on the task representing the 467th and began corresponding with those listed in the Allan Healy History Roster who resided in Michigan. Ray was the Group VP and Adam Soccio was the Co VP in 1973. While arranging the mini-reunion for the 467th, during the 2ADA convention that year in Colorado Springs, they both contacted Col. Shower asking him to attend and speak at the gathering. He agreed, and it was the first time he attended a 2nd ADA reunion. Ray reported they had 100 veterans and wives, a good turnout for a Group only meeting.
Vincent LaRussa after serving as 467th BG Vice-President for the 2nd ADA in 1977 and 1979, himself was elected as President of the 2nd ADA at the July 1981 San Antonio Reunion. The 1981 San Antonio Reunion was significant in not only having Vince LaRussa elected President, but Phillip Day succeeded Ken Darney, (who was serving as 467th Group Vice-President) and George Condry was elected Deputy Group Vice-President.
Starting in November 1981, Phillip Day had initiated the publishing of the 467th’s contribution to the 2nd ADA Journal. It borrowed the title from original wartime bulletins issued to 467th personnel at Wendover and Rackheath, "POOP from Group”. Phillip Day reported in the May 84 issue that there were two "mailing lists" of 467th veterans. The first is the "467th's own", and contained almost 800 names receiving the "POOP" newsletter. The second list is of the 2ADA only and included around 345 names, each of whom receives the 2AD Journal. Both lists are as a result of 38 years of work carried out more recently by Phillip Day and earlier by Vince LaRussa, Ray Betcher and Adam Soccio.
During 1985, with 467th mailing lists growing regularly and the ability to raise funds through donations, several projects attracted funding. Among these projects was sum of $4000, raised for a 467th Endowment Fund to be administered by the 2AD Memorial Library Trust, and the Memorial Markers at Rackheath and Air Force Museum in Dayton.
The present day Association was voted into existence at the Business Meeting of the Group on July 12 1986 at the Convention with the Second Air Division Association in Pheasant Run, IL.. The first President was J. David Swearingen, then Group Vice-President to the Second Air Division Association. The first Association Vice-President was Geoffrey "Jeff" Gregory. No directors were elected. The Association Charter only required a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. The December 1, 1986 "POOP from Group" (Newsletter) showed on the masthead for the first time, "Four Hundred Sixty-Seventh Bombardment Group (Heavy) Association, Ltd.”
As recorded in the opening paragraph, the 1987 467th BG Reunion held in Shreveport, LA., was the first the Group held as a registered "not for profit" Association incorporated in the State of Wisconsin through the efforts and good offices of "Bill" McGovern, Attorney-at-law and 467th veteran, Adjutant General Department. Bill was also first Secretary of the Association. The Shreveport Reunion was hosted by reunion-co-ordinator Phillip Day, who was also Treasurer, Publisher of POOP from Group, de-facto Historian, and a hugely significant "enabler" to the success and growth of the Association to date and in the following years. It was reported the Reunion had 282 attendees - 147 veterans, and 135 "associates".
One of the stated policies in the Group Charter was the remembrance of the Groups' wartime activities and to honor those who gave their lives. The Group had participated in numerous memorial activities and directly through contributions and in 1988 those "memorials" were highlighted in the POOP Newsletter of August.
1. Painting of "Witchcraft" sponsored by George Dong and displayed in the San Diego Aerospace Museum.
2. Painting of "Witchcraft" donated by the Fred Jansen family and displayed at the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO.
3. Memorial Plaque and Tree at the Air Force Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, OH.
4, Memorial Plaque at Holy Trinity Church, Rackheath, Norfolk, England.
5. Memorial Bench at Holy Trinity Church, Rackheath, Norfolk, England.
6. Memorial Gates sponsored by the James G. Coffey Crew, at Holy Trinity Church, Rackheath, Norfolk, England.
7. Calligraphic Roll of Honor at Holy Trinity Church, Rackheath, Norfolk, England.
8. Book-Roster of Personnel of the 467th (incomplete in content) at Holy Trinity Church, Rackheath, Norfolk, England.
9. Book-Roster of Personnel of the 467th (incomplete in content) in Memorial Library Room, Norwich Central Library, Norfolk, England.
10. Adam Soccio Memorial (video) Tapes, sponsored by Andy Kapi Jr., in the Second Air Division Association film/video library administered by H.C. (Pete) Henry.
11. One Thousand Dollars ($1000.00) to the Eighth Air Force Museum Volunteers, Inc.
12. Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) to "The Mighty Eighth Air Force Band" discretionary fund.
13. Four Thousand Dollars ($4000.00) to a perpetual endowment fund, administered by the Board of Governors, Memorial Library Trust, the interest from which is dedicated to purchase of additional books for the Norwich Library, nearly 100 since 1983, each acknowledged by dedication plaque to be of/from the 467th Bombardment Group.
14. Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) toward the original (1984?) renovation of the Memorial Library Room. The Group is honored that the photographic backdrop to the whole of the room is of the 467th.
15. Series of reproductions of the most important papers of our nation, from Declaration of Independence to the surrender papers of Japan at the end of World War Two, sponsored by Jeff Gregory. donated by the city of Garland, Texas, are displayed in the Memorial Library Room.
16. Five Thousand Dollars ($5000.00), titled the Albert Joseph Shower Endowment Fund, has been set aside for further memorial activities. Administered by the Board of Directors of the 467th Bombardment Group (Heavy) Association, Ltd., this fund's monies will be dispersed at their direction to worthy and worthwhile projects as are brought to their attention and approved. Donations can be made to, and will be acknowledged, by this fund.
The November 1988 POOP Newsletter announced the Roster had passed 1000 names including associates as well as veterans of the 467th. Roger Hastings, son of David & Jean, purchased land on the former Technical Site of the Rackheath base and offered to deed over to the 467th BG Assoc. a small plot of ground to facilitate the construction of a Memorial Marker. Robert Lomax, another who had purchased land on the former Technical Site, on hearing a talk by David Hastings, offered a plot considered a better position, and it was this plot that was later deeded to the Association.
At the May 1989 Fort Worth, TX., Convention the Directors decided on the design and allocated the funds for the Rackheath Airfield Memorial Marker. The Board authorized $2,700 to fund the Marker. In July 1990 during the 2nd Air Division Association return to Norwich, the new Rackheath Memorial Marker was dedicated on 29 July and among those 467th present were Col. Al Shower, and Geoff Gregory who had spent a great deal of time and energy liaising with honorary member of the 467th, David Hastings, in bringing the project to fruition. Others present included current President, John E. "Jack" Stevens, also Jay Shower (son of Col. Al Shower) who flew over his Beech Bonanza and performed a flypast during the dedication.
Robert "Bob" Salzarulo succeeded "Jack" Stevens as 467th President and was duly elected at the October Omaha, NE, 467th BG Reunion. Bob reported 177 attending the Reunion with a little over 100 being former group veterans. The following year, "Bob" Sheehan was elected President at the successful 1991 Tucson Reunion. During '92 an unofficial group from the 467th planned to travel to London/Norwich in May under the banner "Friends of the 467th" which included Col Shower, Mr & Mrs James Mahoney, Allen & Edna Herzberg, Garnet and Mary Palmer, and Mr & Mrs J. John Taylor, Phillip & Lucille Day, among the 50 "friends". The Association reverted to holding their October '92 Reunion alongside the 2ADA in Las Vegas.
In May '93 the 467th BG Association were in Kissimmee, FL., for their second largest attendance to date, with 67 "first-timers". President at this time was Ralph Elliott and VP was Mel Culross. The Business meeting in Kissimmee recommended the "reunions" in future be referred as "Conventions", and each attendee a "delegate" to satisfy IRS income tax purposes. A third reprinting of Allan Healy's 467th History was discussed and approved under the direction of Vince LaRussa, with the inclusion of an Addendum to the reprint. Another standalone "convention" was agreed for the following year to be held in Minneapolis, MN., in late September early October. Immediately following the Kissimmee convention over 50 of the 467th travelled to Fort Lauderdale departing for a four-day cruise.
During the October 1990 Business meeting of the Association, the Board approved the motion that Col. Shower be made "Honorary President", but wasn't until the December 1993 issue of POOP from Group the title appeared for the first time on the masthead of the newsletter.
On Monday August 1, 1994, tragedy struck in Norwich, England, when a huge inferno broke out in the Norwich Central Library during the early hours, resulting in the total destruction of the building which was only completed in 1963. The American Memorial Library located near the entrance on the ground floor was obliterated. Later, the cause of the fire was traced to an electrical wiring fault in a display cabinet in the Memorial Library. The entire contents were lost in the conflagration including the Division Roll of Honor, display material and more. An inventory of the contents of the Memorial Library were made by an archivist three years earlier and it was hoped this could be recovered or a copy found. Right away Officers and Directors of the Second Air Division Association agreed the Memorial Library would be replaced in a new Central Library, and this topic was to dominate the 2ADA and Association Bomb Groups for the foreseeable future.
At the 1994 467th Convention in Minneapolis, Mel Culross succeeded Ralph Elliott as President while Marvin "Ralph" Davis was the new V-P. Mel wasted no time in asking outgoing President Ralph Elliott to be Group Vice President Representative to the 2ADA which Ralph accepted. Phillip Day reported the 467th BG Association Roster contained 1,266 veterans and 148 associates. He reminded members that the Association has no dues and publication of the POOP Newsletter continues through donations to the Mail-Memorial Fund and welcomed contributions to ensure the newsletter continues. The Association has been providing a PX which includes the Allan Healy book, squadron/group patches, windbreakers, caps, and several other items all contributing toward the Mail-Memorial fund. It was also noted and appreciated the immense work carried out by Fred & Jane Holdrege in seeking former 790th personnel who served at Rackheath and subsequently signing many up to the Association as well as providing additional names to the Addendum in the Healy history book. The 1995 Convention was to be held during October in San Diego under the direction of reunion co-ordinator, Jack Stevens who resided there.
In May 1995, a Group of 467th were part of the 2ADA return to Norwich and their respective bases to commemorate the 50th anniversary of V-E Day. A full day was held at Rackheath for the 31 members of the 467th including a visit to the Marker, lunch at the Green Man, and an evening at Salhouse Lodge. Other activities during the week included a visit to the temporary Norwich Central Library and Memorial Library now located in a former furniture store in Ber Street, Norwich.
At the San Diego Convention, Marvin "Ralph" Davis was elected as the President and Walter J. Mundy as Vice-President. Ralph Elliott continued in his role as Group representative or Vice President to 2ADA. It was agreed the '96 convention be held in Savannah to get a glimpse of the brand new "Mighty Eighth Air Force Heritage Museum" to be opened earlier in the year. The Association supported the opening of the Savannah museum by presenting a letter of intent to present a check of $5,000 to the speaker representing the project, Lt Col Harry D. Gobrecht.
On 4 November 1995, a letter was received from Acting Assistant Secretary the Air Force, Phillip P. Upschulte, turning down the Association efforts to obtain a Presidential Unit Citation for the achievements of the Group during World War Two. Efforts to obtain the award which was believed waiting to be processed and one of those things which slipped through the crack at the close of the War, was supported by Gen. "Buck" Shuler, Ret., and Senator John Glenn on behalf of the 467th BG Association. Despite the outstanding record of the 467th the material viewed by the Office of Air Force History and Air Force Personnel Center, was devoid of any indication that the 8th Air Force ever submitted or considered the 467th for a DUC. In addition, Unit awards for WWII service could only be recommended up to May 1951. This 5 year time limit was established by Congress (PL 81-501). The December '95 POOP publishes the full letter and subsequent response to Senator John Glenn for efforts to amend PL 81-501 and reconsideration of the material record of the 467th which was believed prepared and documented at the time in anticipation of the award in 1945. Senator John Glenn responded in February '96 declining to support amending PL 81-501, while Ralph Davis recommended 467th members to write to their senators in an effort to obtain a DUC for the 467th.
Walter Mundy took over the Presidency after the successful Savannah Convention which had 253 people attending, Vince LaRussa as Vice-President. The '97 standalone Convention was chosen to be held at Ellenville, NY, approximately 40 miles from the West Point Military Academy.
The December '96 POOP from Group (Vol.15. No.3) was the last Newsletter produced by Editor/Publisher Phillip Day after 15 years in the role. He performed a huge role in the development and growth of the 467th leading to its establishment as an Association with a charter and by-laws in 1986,and the strong and healthy position of the newsletter. Robert "Bob" Davis, son of previous President Ralph Davis succeeded Phillip Day, who continued to act as Treasurer and Historian.
The '97 Ellenville convention saw the launching of a legacy program to provide a 1/6th scale B-24 wooden model in the colours of the 467th's famous B24 "Witchcraft" as a center piece of the 2nd Air Division and 467th exhibit at the Mighty Eighth Heritage Museum. The model was expected to cost $25,000 and the money was raised during the Convention to make this a reality. The wooden model was also to be utilized as a mold for a 2ADA proposed 1/6 scale bronze B-24 for the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs.
POOP editor Bob Davis announced in the December '97 issue that the 467th BG Assoc. Ltd, now had a web site with plans to develop the site further with historical detail, photos and previous issues of POOP. Kevin Coolidge, son of former co-pilot and POW Myles Coolidge, was very busy providing museum quality records and photo albums of the 467th as part of a legacy program to be donated to both the Mighty Eighth Heritage Museum and the Memorial Library in Norwich, England.
The 1998 Convention was held in St. Louis and attracted 175, veterans, wives, and associates. Ralph Davis was elected the new President and Vince LaRussa Vice-President. There was a number of significant items raised during the Directors meetings resulting in a number of changes. Proposals were put forward to enable widows, sons and daughters to vote at meetings of the Association and hold positions as Directors and Officers. In an effort to make a more permanent and experienced Board it was agreed to elect three members for five years and three members for three years.
A further $5000 donation to the 2ADA, earmarked for the Memorial Library for the 467th's Book Fund. The new Library being built in Norwich including the Memorial Library was reported to be on track with a proposed opening in 2001. A sum of $5000 was also awarded to the Eighth Air Force Heritage Museum, which now prominentlydisplayed the detailed “Witchcraft” 1/6 scale model given by the Association. Proposals were also made for a Memorial to the Group in the Savannah Memorial Gardens. Continuing efforts to secure the Presidential Unit Citation were now taken up by Vince LaRussa who was engaging the support of Senator John McCain of Arizona. It was agreed the 1999 Convention be held in Tucson with a tentative plan to return to England in 2001.
The spectacular 1999 Tucson convention was attended by 180 members. In August 1999 the Association lost one of its most prominent figures and supporter, Phillip G. Day. Instigator of the POOP newsletter, Treasurer and Group Historian, his role as Treasurer was taken over by current President Ralph Davis. The Group Historian role was covered by Kevin Coolidge in the U.S. and both Perry Watts and Andy Wilkinson in the U.K. Future Conventions were agreed as Dayton for 2000, England in 2001 jointly with the 2ADA, and a return to Savannah in 2002. The Group Memorial was dedicated in the Savannah Memorial Gardens in October 1999.
The April 2000 POOP Newsletter reported President Ralph Davis had taken over the role of Editor/Publisher of POOP as son "Bob" was committing more time to the 467th BG Association web site. At the 2000 Dayton convention, Paul Hatten was elected Vice President and 183 were in attendance for the Banquet. Efforts continued for the 467th BG to be awarded the PUC and letters were sent to the office of President Bill Clinton. Geoff Gregory made a passionate plea in the April 2001 POOP for those of the 467th to seriously consider donating to the Memorial Library Trust Fund in Norwich by means of bequest or codicil to their will. Templates for doing so were published in the POOP, in an article emphasizing the importance of endowing the long term future of the Memorial Library, a “living tribute" to the almost 7000 men of the 2nd Air Division who never returned home during 1944/45.
The PUC efforts continued with the change of Government and further letter sent to Vice President Chaney who forwarded to the same Department of Air Force for consideration. Again, the response requested further evidence be produced the 467th an award was submitted or additional substantiating evidence of achievement.
On 15 October 2001 came the very sad news of the passing of Col. Albert J. Shower, former Commanding Officer of the 467th BG from Wendover, taking the Group to Rackheath, England, and 221 combat missions that saw the Group achieve an outstanding record in the Eighth Air Force. Col. Shower provided unstinting support to both the 2ADA and 467th BG Association, attending almost every convention and frequent return trips to England. He was hoping to attend the 2001 2ADA return to Norwich for the dedication of the new Memorial Library following the fire of 1994, but son Jay kindly went in place of him, fulfilling functions where the Col. would have performed. He was laid to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery 16 November 2001.
Another sad loss of one of the "originals" of the 467th was reported in June 2002, "Bill" McGovern had been Secretary for the 467th BG Association from its inception and guided the Group through the legal process of the Bomb Group incorporation as well as the many other functions of the Secretary.
A fund was established called the "Colonel Shower Memorial Fund" which members donated in excess of $10,000. The proceeds were spent on two black granite etchings of the Col. with one donated to the Mighty Eighth Heritage Museum, the other to the Memorial Library in Norwich. The remaining balance was split between the Heritage Museum and Memorial Library for a book endowment in Col. Shower's name. A donation was also made to the Collings Foundation to shift the Col's name to the cockpit area of their B-24 from the DFC area.
The 2002 Convention in Savannah attracted 129 people and opportunity to revisit the Eighth Air Force Heritage Museum which now had plenty of input from the Second Air Division and representation of the B-24 as well as the 467th BG. To replace the original Secretary "Bill" McGovern, Valerie Corvino accepted the invitation to take on the role. A notable "first" as Valerie was the first non-veteran and second generation to fulfil a role on the Board. The Association agreed to hold the 2003 convention in San Antonio. The 2003 Directors Meeting held in San Antonio for the first time raised the prospect of holding conventions when numbers fell below 100 attending. Also discussion was held about holding joint conventions with the 492nd BG whose own history was closely woven with the 467th from August 1944. Members opted to continue to hold standalone conventions for the time being. Elected to Vice-President was Tony Bell and Vice-President to the 2ADA was Jack Stevens. Lack of progress obtaining the PUC for the 467th, the issue was now "dead" reported President Ralph Davis.
In May 2004 at the 2ADA gathering in Philadelphia, Jeff Gregory was duly elected from Vice-President to full President of the 2ADA, 2004-5. Jeff became the fourth 467th veteran to become President of the whole 2ADA.
The 2004 467th Convention was held in Covington, Northern Kentucky, with the Director's Meeting agreeing further changes to the By-Laws. Most notable was the approval of Associates to be eligible to be Officers and Directors. No more than two Associate Officers and two Associate Directors at a time. The effort was to get Associate Members into the governing of the Association. Andy Wilkinson and Brian Mahoney were asked and accepted the positions. Vice-President Tony Bell felt he wanted to step down as VP but continue to serve as a Director. To fulfil the vacant VP post, Bob Davis was asked and accepted the position. The full complement of allowed Associates were now in position and Ralph commented how the "old guard" hopes that putting some new blood into the organization will make a difference.
There were certain parallels with the 2ADA encouraging younger generations and descendants to become involved. Although the 2ADA never accepted associates to serve on the Board the organization was keen to set up the Heritage League in 1987 to act as a "follow- on" organization with the goals and purpose to perpetuate the memory of those who served with the Second Air Division as well as ongoing support to the Memorial Library. The Covington meeting also discussed the Status of conventions with less than 100 attending and it was agreed to continue as long as members were willing to attend. The 2005 Convention was proposed to be held in September in New Orleans.
Hurricane "Katrina" devastating path of damage through the city of New Orleans and vicinity just weeks before the planned convention meant cancellation of the event that year. So it was onward to San Diego in April 2006 where the 467th would reconvene a Convention.
Highlights of the San Diego Convention included an opportunity to view the new Bronze B-24 model in Balbao Park, also the presence of the Collings B-24 now in the guise of our very own 790th Sq. "Witchcraft" out at Gillespie Field. Several members took a flight in the B-24 others welcomed the chance to take a look at the aircraft at close quarters. The Business Meeting that year made a further change to By-laws allowing an unlimited number of associate members to be Officers and directors on the Board. The 2007 Convention was voted in favor of a return to Dayton, OH.
At Rackheath, the Coffey Crew Gates outside Holy Trinity Church had sustained damage caused by a truck unfortunately reversing into them. Plans for a replacements were made in agreement with members of the Coffey family and largely paid for by the Church Council. The 467th BG Association also donated $500 toward the new gates. The Rackheath Control Tower, formerly a crumbling building in a poor state has been the subject of a welcome restoration project by a local company established on the Rackheath Industrial Park after it was purchased from long term owner, who previously refused requests to sell. The project has already made great progress.
The Dayton Convention saw Ralph Davis elected to serve a further period as Group President after already 12 years of unstinting service in the post. Ralph was willing to continue the role but made it clear that he would prefer a younger associate member take over the reins at some point. Funding was made available for a fourth reprint of Healy History Book which is hoping to include enhanced images from the original. It was agreed the 2008 Convention be held in St. Louis.
On Oct. 1st 2007, the restored control tower was officially opened in a dedication service attended by Charlotte Shower, who also unveiled a plaque near the entrance. Representatives from the U.S. Air Force and RAF dignitaries, as well as representatives from Tilia Properties who oversaw the project were in attendance including David Hastings our Honorary 467th BG member.
The new year bought sad news of the passing of Geoff Gregory, who not only was a past President of the 467th, but also President of the 2ADA as recently as 2004. Geoff passionately supported the Memorial Library and often visited on 2ADA business and attended the many official functions.
The following year the Association agreed to hold the convention in Savannah, and tentatively a return to England in 2010. Business of note, included a report from the Marker Trustees in England of the need to replenish the Trust Fund which had dwindled from its original establishment in 1990. The Board also looked into sending the newsletter as a pdf-doc for those with email accounts to save printing and mailing. News came from England that the former airfield had been ear-marked by the Government for development into an "eco-town" with up to 10,000 new dwellings to be built.
Walt Mundy announced he was stepping down as the 2ADA VP for the Group due to ill health and his place was to be taken by Jack Stevens. Walt had supported both the Group and aims of the 2ADA over many years with great dedication.
The June 2010 Norwich, England, visit although not an official Association function but endorsed by the 467th, was hosted by Salhouse resident and historian of the Group, Perry Watts. A seven day full program took in not only the base and environs of Rackheath but included trips extending to many corners of Norfolk. In October 2010 the Association held their official convention at The Orleans, Las Vegas.
President Ralph Davis reported in the August 2010 POOP that take up for the Las Vegas Convention was poor with the possibility the event may be cancelled. Sadly he also expressed, due ill health he was unlikely to be able to travel to further gatherings unless they were held in Dayton, OH. After 15 years serving as President he believed it time a younger member take over the reins.
The Las Vegas Convention went ahead in October but attendance was down from the previous year in Savannah and the viability of continuing to hold such Conventions was becoming questionable. The 467th Marker Trustees in England reported plans to transfer the responsibility of maintenance and care to the local Rackheath Parish Council, so the Marker would live on in perpetuity. Deeds for the site needed to be given by the Association to these Trustees, and an Endowment Fund established before the Parish took responsibility. 2011 was a difficult year and full of uncertainty as to the future of the 467th BG Association. The POOP Newsletter, life-blood of the organization, was not published leaving many questioning if the Association was still functioning. No Convention took place and the Marker issue had still to be fully resolved. Walt Mundy, previous President and President of the 2ADA passed away in June.
During September, Director Tom Johnson visited England and was able to present to David Hastings, Marker Trustee, Base Contact and Honorary Member of the 467th BG, a check of $8600 as endowment for the long term care of the Marker under trust by the Rackheath Parish Council. There were still some outstanding legal procedures to follow, also a further meeting of the Parish Council before transfer was possible.
In January 2012, President Ralph Davis and director sons Bob and Kerry, were able to announce a final convention to be held in Dayton later in the year where the members would decide if future conventions were still a viable proposition, and discuss the future of the Association. Sadly, Ralph passed away just weeks before the planned Convention. Ralph had been President for the last 15 years, combining the role as Treasurer and Editor/Publisher of the POOP newsletter as well. His service to the 467th BG Association was immeasurable.
The membership at the 2012 Dayton Convention agreed to keep the Association going and join with the 492nd BG to have a joint Reunion together in San Antonio, TX., in June 2013. The 2ADA after 65 years since the first gathering in Chicago in 1948, was dissolved effective 30 November 2012. The Heritage League composed of sons/daughters and descendants of Second Air Division veterans took over principle aims of their parent Association and continues as a vibrant Association to this day.
The start of 2013 saw the last veteran on the Board and Director, Jim Gamble, pass away leaving the 467th BG Association for the first time exclusively run by associate members. It was felt the Association required much needed impetus and renewed sense of direction which was reflected by several changes to the Board. Brian Mahoney who'd had previous experience as past President of Heritage League took over as President from Bob Davis who had stepped in at the passing of his Father. Andy Wilkinson agreed to take over as Editor of POOP which now was designed primarily as a digital ePOOP with new design and guarantee of three issues annually. First issue of the new format POOP was August 2013. New Board members included Cindy Stevens and Norma Felbinger.
Another significant loss for the 467th was news of the passing of Perry Watts, long time base contact, distinguished member of the Group, historian, and so much more over the years. A donation was made by the Association to the Priscilla Bacon Lodge Hospice where Perry received the highest care and attention.
Following a successful and happy gathering with the 492nd in San Antonio, both Groups looked positively to the future and planned a second joint gathering in New Orleans in 2014. Although the number of veterans attending conventions tailed off dramatically as expected, we were still graced by the presence of a number each year. The December 2013 POOP reported the existence of a Facebook Page dedicated to the 467th BG, administered by Chris Collins who lived in East Anglia and already had 200 members signed up. Such was the impressive content, discussion and interest, promoted by the page, that it became recognized as an "official" Association organ and has grown significantly in members ever since. The summer of 2013 saw us lose even more formerly prominent veteran members of the Association who played such an important part in securing the legacy of the Group. These included Vince LaRussa, also past President of the 2ADA, and Jack Stevens a fantastic representative of the Group with the 2ADA.
The Association was able to report asking for access or even stewardship of a substantial collection of papers, photos, diaries, memorabilia, and official documents, harvested and meticulously catalogued by Kevin and Kelli Coolidge through regular attendances at the Group Conventions starting in 1995. The entire collection was agreed to be passed on for benefit of the Association to enable it to continue to tell and explain the "467th story", with the proviso it be referred as the "Lt. Myles E. Coolidge, 791st Sq. Co-pilot & POW, Memorial Collection".
At the 2015 Directors Meeting and subsequent members Meeting at the Kansas City Convention, all the current Board were re-elected with Peter Horne replacing outgoing Director, Norma Felbinger. President Brian Mahoney reported the "second generation management" was both strong and purposeful and brimming with new ideas to keep the legacy - the wartime service of the Rackheath Aggies - accurate, vibrant and compelling. The fourth joint convention with the 492nd, held in Seattle, was the first time the Association had met in the Pacific Northwest, affording the opportunity to members from this area to attend. The Association recognizing that veterans would likely need additional assistance and support in attending present day conventions, continued an effort of "outreach" to personally connect with individuals and offer help. A total number of 75 were in the party at Seattle, a hugely successful gathering. The following year (2017), the 492nd opted to stand alone, and the 467th held a a less structured program in Washington DC that September.
During 2016 we continued to lose veterans of the Group; most significant was the passing of Lt. Col. Fred E. Holdrege aged 98, the last surviving Squadron Commanding Officer. Fred and Jane Holdrege were prime movers in the success of the Association through their diligent and painstaking efforts to trace and re-connect with former 790th Squadron personnel, a highly productive venture increasing Association numbers greatly. One of the very early "recruits" to both the 2ADA and 467th BG Association was lead-pilot, Frank S. Watson, who passed away aged 97. Frank re-connected with almost his entire crew and was instrumental in getting the crew to attend conventions as a "group".
The Directors Meeting and Business Meeting at the Washington DC Convention added new Directors replacing several others stepping down after their term. Jane Staedicke and Martie Fankhauser joined David LaRussa for a strong Arizona contingent. Valerie Corvino was the new Treasurer after many years as the first second generation elected to the Board in the role of Secretary. Ann Pooch had already replaced Valerie in the role a year earlier. Director Peter Horne, who'd transported a large presentation of memorabilia, exhibits, computers, and displays for the excellent Day Room—just as for the previous Seattle gathering—was given special mention. We had just four veterans able to join with us in DC but special mention goes to Joe Haenn, former 789th B-24 Mechanic who had recently turned 100 years young. The Membership voted to make Tucson the venue for the 2018 Convention, a welcome return after 19 years.
News arrived in February 2018 of the passing of our special friend, long time supporter, and former Vice-President, Jay Shower. Jay had provided unstinting support to the 467th BG Association for more than 30 years. Often attending functions in concert with his father, and an 'ever-present' at each convention. Since Jay had been suffering ill health, Peter Horne had stepped up and replaced Jay as Vice President and holds the role today.
The 2018 Convention in Tucson, AZ., had the 467th welcome the 492nd again with a decision to have a joint reunion committee plan for a meeting in Hartford. CT in May 2019. The Day Room in Tucson was one of the best we've ever had thanks to the efforts of Peter Horne and the Association continued to attract a number of "first-timers". Two new Board Members were appointed, Steve Watson, a past regular at Reunions, and Mike Wheeler. Mike is the first third generation to serve on the Board and follows family footsteps in that his grandfather, Theodore "Ted" Wheeler, also served as a Director in 90-91. The Association welcomed the addition of young blood with likely fresh perspectives as we consider new ways to preserve and promote the legacy of the 467th with a new mission statement and a purposeful united effort for the challenges ahead.
September 2018 saw re-launch of the Association official web site at www.467bg.com with a totally new appearance, comprehensive redesign and improvement, options for research, and a huge database of detail. The site aims to be very much an organic facility with scope for future development and on-going additions provided by webmaster and principle archivist, Peter Horne. The site is now one of the best out there and a truly fitting tribute to all who served in the 467th and contributed to its remarkable success and achievement through the turbulent times in Europe throughout 1944/45.
THOSE 467th serving as PAST PRESIDENT of the 2ADA
Ken DARNEY 1970-71
Vince LARUSSA 1981-82
Walt MUNDY 2001-02
Geoff GREGORY 2004-05
The Second Air Division Journal 1950-2012
POOP from Group, Newsletter of the 467th BG(H) Association 1981-2018
The Heritage League - official web site
The Second Air Division Memorial Library - official web site
The Second Air Division Memorial Library Brochure, Editions 1 to 4.