Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Plaque
Courtesy of Beverly Rogers
On 21 June 1999 seven members of the 461st Bomb Group Association were present at Arlington National Cemetery to dedicate a memorial in Honor of the men of the 461st Bomb Group (H) who fought valiantly during World War II. The memorial consists of a bronze plaque and a "Golden Rain" tree. It is located on a very beautiful site overlooking a sea of grave stones extending as far as the eye can see.
The Memorial Service began with a Fly-By of a B-52 at precisely 1:00 PM. At that time a five member Color Guard presented the Colors including the original 461st Bomb Group flag. Our President, Bob Hayes, opened the service with a synopsis of the 461st operations in Italy and noted the two prior Memorials that we dedicated at the Air Force Academy and Wright Patterson Air Force Base. He then introduced Chaplain Edward Brogan, a USAF Colonel from the Chaplains Service at nearby Ft. Meyer, VA.
Colonel Brogan conducted a very meaningful service noting that we were there as a tribute to all the 461st members who had died and to honor those still living. He was aware of all the targets we bombed and noted that our very first combat mission was to the marshalling yard at Bihac, Yugoslavia and that fifty-five years later Bihac was again bombed during the war in Kosovo. He commented on the fact that our original membership was diminishing with time and it was significant that some of our Associate members (son's and daughter's of our members) like Rob Hoskins and Bill Huizenga have shown interest in carrying our banner into the future. After Col. Brogan's final prayer and a moment of silent prayer a bugler, located off in the distance, played Taps. It was a tearful ending to a wonderful tribute to our departed comrades.
Speaking of tributes, we owe a big one to Carl Peter, 767th Squadron, for making all the arrangements for the dedication ceremony. High on the list of accomplishments was the fly-by of a B-52. Although the Air Force kept saying "NO" Carl kept after them until they committed a B-52 to the project. The fly-by required FAA approval which caused the closing down of all the local airports while the B-52 was in the area. Although there were four other B-24 Group memorial plaques together in a nearby area, Carl was able to secure an especially beautiful site for our memorial. The selection of the tree species was GREAT and is the only Golden Rain tree in Arlington National Cemetery.
Carl must have called in some "Chips" from his Washington friends in order to pull off this very special ceremony. The following military retirees were on hand as Carl's guests: Rear Adm. Edward "Whitey" Fieghtner; Naval Captain Frank Ault; Commander Dan Belvin; AF Colonel Robert McDonald and AF Colonel William Beazin.
The 461st attendees included: 764th Squadron - T.V. Stradley and family 765th Squadron - Walter Fries; 766th Squadron - Robert V. Hayes, Gerald Huizenga and son William; 767th Squadron Carl Peter, Kelton Bush and George Dickie. Associate members Rob Hoskins and Bill Huizenga were on hand to help.
The following photos were taken by Tom Moss at the dedication ceremony. I can identify some of the people in the photos, but I would appreciate hearing if you can identify someone I can't.
George Dickie taking a picture while getting his taken. The woman is Amy Hoskins. To the right of George is the son of Gerry Huizenga and Bill Huizenga.
Bob Hayes and Colonel Brogan conferring before the ceremony.
Carl Peter is on the left; I need help with the rest of these gentlemen.
Robert Hoskins, Rob Hoskins and his wife.
Bob Hayes making some opening comments.
Colonel Brogan's talk.
A bugler plays taps in the distance.
A B-52 provides a fly-over for the ceremony.
R-L: Gerald Huizenga, Walter Fries, George Dickie, TV Stradley, Kelton Bush, Bob Hayes, Carl Peter
L-R: Kelton Bush, TV Stradley, Carl Peter
Carl Peter and TV Stradley
TV Stradley's son, TV Stradley, Gerry Huizenga and his wife, Ann.