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2001 Robinson Reunion emories

We will ever remember our Peoria 2001 reunion as the calm before the storm of 11 September 2001, when terrorists tripped our GQ Klaxon once again, but with Robbie, alas, powerless to respond.

 


Sharon and Jerry Harshbarger

It was a most enjoyable calm, however, thanks to great planning by our RobbieCorp officers, the pleasant ambiance and congenial staff of the Mark Twain Hotel, and the superb attentiveness of our Robbie hosts - Sharon and Jerry Harshbarger. We noticed, and appreciated, the continuous availability of real sliced limes; the quick response to a desperate need for an out-of-date camera battery - a quick trip to a Peoria photo center. For all you two did for us, known and unknown, this portrait is for you, with a heartfelt "Thanks".


ATTENDEES:

Our attendance this year was 100, compared to 72 last year at Daytona Beach.
We welcomed 54 crewmen (7 of them first-timers), 43 crewmates and 3 guests*:

Bartlett, Eldon & Anne
Bedford, Buck
Bowne, Art
Breeden, George & Ora
Brown, James *
Burris, Ray
Callahan, Bill
Carlson, Bud & Betty
Castleman, Curt
Chmielewski, Jim & Donna
Clegg, Tom & Peggy
Compton, Vern & Marge
Conroy, John & Becky
Duran, Tony & Tina
Eagleton, Dick & Joyce
Ennis, Bob & Peg
Ernsberger, Jim & Mary Ellen
Fahlberg, Pat
Ferguson, Bob & Elaine
Ferguson, Gene


Flege, George & Rita
Gruny, Dick & Di
Halley, Ruth
Harshbarger, Jerry & Sharon
Henry, Bud & Donna
Herscher, Ed
Johnson, Maurice & Mary
Kaiser, Ron & Joanne
Kuzenski, Ken & Sally
Lane, Jim & Janice
Loder, Don & Venice
Miller, Dave & Betty
Moore, Ralph & Virginia
Mustard, Junior
Mustard, Roger & Edna
Nash, John & Judy
Querey, Ray & Renee
Redmond, Hank
Reynolds, Buck & Barbara
Robertson, Fred & Lois


Rose, Wilbur
Schreiber, Bernie & Beth
Schureman, George & Eleanor
Schwerin, Frank & Joanne
Seaman, Stan & Georgiann
Shippling, Al & Pat
Snapp, Nelson & Joyce
Souba, Fred & Joyce
Stevens, Dwaine
Szczepkowski, Ted
Tinker, Rich & Betty
Tomkinson, Jim & Maye
Vereecke, Walter
Wainscott, Marcus & Judy
West, Luke & Sue
Wise, Howard & Betty
Vivian Cearlock *
Rosalee Wingo *
Womble, Thomas & Billie Ramsey

We did manage to photograph all the crew members in attendance, divided into the three service periods 1944-46 (WWII), 1951-53 (Korea) and 1954-64 (Post Korea).

Click on any of the pictures to go to a page with bigger photos.


WWII Group
Back row, L-R: Duran, Robertson, Snapp, Chmielewski, Moore,
Callahan, Bartlett, Stevens, Johnson.
Front row, L-R: Bedford, Szczepkowski, Castleman, Burras,
Miller, Redmond, Flege, Breeden

 


Korea Group:
Back row, L-R: Eagleton, Bowne, Herscher, Conroy, Schreiber, Ernsberger, Clegg
Middle row, L-R: Womble, West, Kuzenski, Loder, Tinker, Nash,
Seaman, Querey, Shippling, Schwerin, Carlson
Front row, L-R: Vereecke, Ferguson (Gene), Souba, Schureman,
Reynolds, Henry, Ferguson (Bob), Wise


Post-Korea Group
Back row, L-R: Rose, Mustard (Junior), Harshbarger,
Ennis, Wainscott, Gruny
Front row, L-R: Lane, Compton, Kaiser, Mustard (Roger), Tompkinson


 

The Table of the Fallen Shipmate
Plaque reads:
In memory of each and every shipmate who served
aboard the USS ROBINSON DD562, who could not
be with us tonight because of joining the "GREATEST
ADMIRAL" of all, OUR GOD IN HEAVEN.

The single place setting has you join us in memory
and spirit and reminds us of sharing your company,
and The roses signify the Love, Dedication, and Call to
Duty for having served the best nation in the world.

Your Shipmates Miss You, Thank You and Salute
You and Your Families.
Rest in Peace

For the first time ever, we reserved a place at our banquet table for those of our shipmates who have departed our shores. This was the inspiration of Art Bowne, who saw to the arrangements and composed the plaque shown on the table in the picture. :

 

Among the most recent of our missing shipmates,
2001: Joe Beard, Don Bush, Frank Hurley, Paul True;
2000: Giles Dilworth, Don Fahlberg, John Hearn, Dale Kretz, Al Yergin, Elmo Zumwalt;
1999: Bob Curtis, Scotty Darrow (Daskovsky), Joe Hainsworth, Calvin King, Larry McCloskey, Ray Olsen;
1998: Vic Forys;
1997: Larry Boutang, Morton Harvey , Roy Pool, Ron Rich; 1996: Mel Knickerbocker;
1995: Charles Bauer, Bill Burgamy, Tom Harri, Paul Holloway, Ken Jacober, Imon Jones, Clyde Largent.


 


Curt Castleman and Frank Schwerin

At our Saturday morning crew meeting, a most unusual event took place when Frank Schwerin presented to first-timer Curt Castleman a book titled "Thanks for Your Service - Heroes … those whose hearts touched our lives and remain in the warm glow of our memories, FOREVER".

The book's author is a close friend of Curt's - Dick Bonheim of Copperas Cove, Texas. The book itself is a detailed report of a monumental research into the fate of the Japanese submarine attacked by Robbie the night of June 14-15, 1944, off the island of Saipan. Curt swears to this day that the submarine was sunk, and was so reported in an official Navy publication. (Curt's story appears on this website under the links "Acta Robbie" and "First Blood"). An exhaustive search of records of the US Navy, US Archives, Library of Congress, Japanese Naval sources and several naval historians has failed to come up with proof positive of which submarine was attacked, and whether it was indeed sunk.

We invited Dick Bonheim to attend our reunion as a guest in order to present the book to Curt in person. Unfortunate events prevented his presence, but here is what he had planned to say had he the opportunity:

"Last May, Curt Castleman looked me straight in the eye and said 'How do you know what happened. I was there. You were not!'

Curt, I have one [ticked] off wife! Terri feels that I tampered with your vivid memory of that night so long ago. I tell her 'I didn't!', but then again maybe I did. I certainly didn't want to, but maybe I had to.

The Robbie crew, youngsters from the thirties and forties, trusted everything heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Imagination had no limit. One had to visualize and conceptualize. When y'all went to war you took your 'mind's eye' with you. So, to make my point, when Curt read the Navy Bulletin confirming the sinking it just had to be true.

Right? Or am I calling the Navy Department propaganda to task here? Then there is the Shanghai Herald account! We will have the original account soon thanks to the Library of Congress!

Radar contact by the Robbie at 2021, covering 8 miles and dropping charges at 2058 surprised the sub on the surface. The USS O'Bannon's, "Maine Potato Incident" confirms that at night Jap subs were on the surface, recharging batteries with the crew stretched out on deck gasping for much needed air. Just like the guys were doing on deck on the Robbie that night.

The voices on the water? Some of their guys didn't make it through the hatch on the dive. I found no record of other ships in the TG picking up survivors. Cony got one lucky son-of-a-[gun] but he was a civilian merchant marine type. Grantham's order to use knives came between 2222 and before 2310. Robbie's shaft speed, the second run on target, and the Cony coming on scene indicate to me that those sailors drowned.

Which sub did Robbie hurt? I'm going to let you 'navy types' decide at this reunion. Yes, I would like you all to decide. The answer is there.

Curt remembers more. You guys can bring it out of him because you know the correct questions to ask. Dear friends, I truly believe the Robbie crippled its prey.

Yes Curt, you were there and I wasn't. I was 11 the night the Robbie danced on the waves over its enemy. To say that my life would have been different had Robbie not been there that night is an understatement. To say that my life did not change by now knowing the Robbie is an overstatement. I have been on a historic journey.

Curt and the rest of you of the 'greatest generation' lived it. So get your mind's-eyes to work. Consider all of the evidence.

'Oh yes, we sank a Japanese sub!'

Curt Castleman, you're [damn] right you did! Welcome home to the Robbie!

We love you!"

(signed) Dick Bonheim

Dick Bonheim is a retired 28-year veteran of the US Air Force and US Army, with an obviously strong interest in the US Navy as well. He and Curt first met years ago, as fellow bowlers in a Denver league, when Dick was stationed there. Last year, Curt visited Dick at his Texas home. In the course of the visit, Dick asked Curt about his WW2 experiences, and learned for the first time of Curt's service on Robbie, and of the June 14 sub attack. After a couple of hours of talk, Dick walked to his computer and, in a matter of minutes, had found our RobbieSite and showed it to a stunned Curt. Dick reported, "I wouldn't say he came apart, but I learned at that moment that a proud man was leaning over my shoulder".

The rest of the story is history, dutifully recorded in detail in Dick's fascinating book. Dick has offered to supply additional copies on request. We of 'Clan Robbie' salute and thank you, Dick Bonheim!

A few miles across rolling farm land surrounding Peoria is a most remarkable facility of Caterpillar Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment. From its huge warehouse, repair and replacement parts are shipped by air, rail, or road to all points of the world. This was the tour destination of a busload of our group on a bright September Friday. We were unprepared for the welcome awaiting us in its visitor center. There, on a large movie screen, was displayed a picture of the Robbie, along with Paul Fruisen's "To Robbie" tribute - exactly as they appear on the home page of our website! In the course of welcoming our group, our congenial host handed out sheets showing our ship's statistics - again exactly as they appear on a page of our website. Following a brief explanation of the significance and role of the huge facility, we boarded a tram and began a tour through the buildings. It was eerie - all sorts of loads were traveling in different directions in high-overhead conveyors in a vast warehouse, yet nary a person or forklift was visible! We were shown machines moving loaded pallets or big boxes between storage racks and conveyors without personal intervention. The whole facility is automated to the hilt.

But we did finally find real workers - typically checking barcodes of the items rolling off the ends of the conveyors, just before being loaded (by workers) onto trucks or into shipping containers. Other workers are used to transfer very small parts. All in all, it was a mind-bending experience, one that will stay with us for a long time. It was a happy, grateful group that boarded the bus for the return to the Mark Twain Hotel, and evening hospitality.

Sunday morning was a time of goodbyes and 'see you next year's for many of us. We carried with us memories of a great reunion in Peoria.


Here's where we were in past Robbie reunions. Where were you?

1981 South Bend, IN
1982 St. Louis, MO
1983 Denver, CO
1984 St. Louis, MO
1985 Seattle, WA
1986 Baltimore, MD
1987 New Orleans, LA
1988 San Diego, CA
1989 Dallas, TX
1990 South Bend, IN
1991 Post Falls, ID
1992 Charleston, SC
1993 St. Louis, MO
1994 Denver, CO
1995 Covington, KY
1996 Myrtle Beach, SC
1997 Harrisburg, PA

1998 San Diego, CA
1999 Covington, KY
2000 Daytona Beach, FL
2001 Peoria, IL
2002 Gulf Breeze, FL
2003 Buffalo, NY
2004 Baton Rouge, LA
2005 South Portland, ME
2006 San Antonio, TX
2007 Branson, MO
2008 Boston, MA
2009 Newport News, VA
2010 Branson, MO
2011 Myrtle Beach, SC
2012 Nashville, TN
2013 Waterloo, IA
2014 Savannah, GA


Send us your comments and contributions!
Send them to Tom Clegg at
tomcleg@yahoo.com

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