The last remaining veteran members of the 307th Bombardment Group of the 13th Air Force will meet in New Orleans to meet the public and celebrate their 2015 “Family Reunion.” Public and Media are invited.
New Orleans, LA, August 12, 2015 –(PR.com)– With the assistance of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and The National WWII Museum, the Drury Inns and Suites on Poydras Street in New Orleans will be hosting one of the most prestigious WWII Veterans Associations for their 2015 Family Reunion and press conference, September 16th Thru 19th, 2015.
The 307th Bombardment Group (Heavy) Association, Inc. consists of some of the last remaining veterans and family members of the pilots, navigators, bombardiers, radio operators, gunners and maintenance crews of the 370th, 371st, 372nd and 424th Bomb Squadrons known as the Long Rangers. These remarkable heroes defended the Pacific Theater during World War II, flying missions that sometimes never made it home. The long flights from bases in such places as Los Negros, Guadalcanal, Morotai and Espiritu Santo took them to bombing sites throughout the Southwest Pacific.
One such 307th BG member of the Russell A. Phillips Crew – 372nd Bomb Squadron, prior to his transfer to the Seventh Air Force, was in the original 307th combat crew that participated in the devastating strike on Wake Island on Christmas Eve, 1942 and whose life was featured in “Unbroken,” a movie directed by part-time New Orleans resident, Angelina Jolie, and released on Christmas Day, 2014.
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to reach a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. When the war had come, this young Olympic athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight and a tiny raft set adrift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. The movie is based on the #1 New York Times Bestseller “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand, author of another blockbuster bestseller “Seabiscuit.”
The Long Rangers and their extended families will spend the weekend in New Orleans recounting many similar stories of their own and peering over mission reports, videos, memoirs, photos, and memorabilia. The association’s historian, Jim McCabe, will search the archives for attendees to uncover recently unclassified records, photos and mission reports of brothers, husbands, fathers, grandfathers and long lost relatives who served in this extraordinary group of Army Air Corps flyers.
A book entitled “The Long Rangers – A Diary of the 307th Bomb Group” is a “must read” history of this group of brave, dedicated and valiant heroes of World War II, written by Sam S. Britt Jr. one of the 307th Association’s stalwart members until his death in 2006. In addition to “Up the Slot” by Samuel I Walker, these two books can be purchased at the Drury Hotel during the reunion.
Ed DeVos, a highly decorated US Army Infantry officer and author of “The Stain: Crisis in Conscience” and “The Chaplain’s Cross” will be on hand to discuss his personal historic research of WWII events and his own remarkable military career. Ed’s military awards include the Silver Star, with an Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit, The Bronze Star, and multiple awards of the Air Medal, The Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal. In addition, he wears the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, The US Army Ranger Tab, and both American and German Parachute Wings. Ed will share the spotlight with Neal Bertrand, an Opelousas, Louisiana born Cajun, who is best known for publishing Cajun CookBooks. Neal has just released a new Photo-collection book featuring over 1000 never-before- seen photos taken by his father in the pacific theater of WWII, titled “Dad’s War Photos.”
The organization has grown since its inception in 1972 to include the children of the 307th and their families and friends. Their mission is to ensure that future generations never forget the sacrifices that these men made for them and our country.
If you plan to be in the New Orleans, LA area during the 9-16 – 9-19 weekend, be sure to stop by and meet some real life heroes. They’d be very pleased to meet you. You can also meet the vets at the National WWII Museum on Thursday, 9-17, or join them and Ed Devos for a media event and interviews at the Freedom Pavillion: The Boeing Center on Saturday at 11:00am.
The public and Media personnel are welcome.
Beth Kendall and Ann-Williams Warner
Reunion Chairperson and Host
307th Bombardment Group WWII Veterans Association