Newsletter Issue 3 2017


Wayne and Patsy Coomes at the St Louis Arch MCTA 2017 Reunion

President's Message

Happy Birthday To Our Tanker Family

When you receive this message your Marine Corps will be celebrating its two hundred and forty- second birthday. Your Association is celebrating our thirty-first. We have been kept alive and thriving due to members like yourselves supporting our Association both financially and in spirit through 2017.

Your vice president, executive secretary, and directors Wayne Coomes, Rich Hines, Rick Lewis, Steve Chambers and a few members accompanied me to a combined reunion with the Vietnam Tankers Association. It was a very well done reunion attended by over two hundred Marines no longer on active duty and their families. I am asking all of you to start planning now to attend our reunion in 2018. Your board of directors needs to register your voice for guiding the direction of our Association today and in the future.

Diane and Ralph Kunk are planning a fantastic itinerary for the next reunion. We have in the last five years observed how Marines are made at the recruit depot in San Diego. Just last year we were updated how Marine tankers and those that repair them are trained at our new home in Fort Benning, Georgia. This coming year we have the opportunity to see a different part of our Nation and events unique to our reunions. Scheduled events are outlined in this issue.

Another pressing reason that I need your attendance is that overtures were made prior to and during the combined reunion toward a closer affiliation with the Vietnam Tankers Association. Your board of directors needs to know how you feel about this initial effort. Getting your thoughts by phone or e-mail does not compare to meeting in open forum together at our 2018 reunion.

I again ask that you mark your calendars and plan on attending this upcoming reunion. I promise you both a fun and educational experience. Your board of directors needs to hear you voice so we can continue to guide our Association in the direction you desire.

Diggs sends

Nomination of Association Directors

Over the next 12 months, 9 Association Directors will need to be replaced. The Board of Directors sets policy for our Association as representatives of the General Membership. If you or someone you know is interested in serving the Association on the Board of Directors or on any of our standing committees, please send name, contact info, and desired position to George Rose ( or John Studenka (

Most positions require no more than a couple of hours a month; membership in the Association and an email address are the only requirements. Our Association is only as good as our volunteers. You’re needed now more than ever!

St. Louis Combined Reunion

From 21-25 September our Association combined with the Vietnam Tankers Association (VTA) to hold a reunion in St. Louis, Missouri. The VTA planned and organized the entire affair, and we were invited to attend without being members of their Association. The reunion itinerary closely mirrored our Association procedures except we were unable to touch any models of a tank. St. Louis touts itself as the birthplace of our Nation’s peaceful Civil Rights movement, and the city, despite ongoing demonstrations, welcomed us all.

Tours included downtown, old St. Louis, a visit to the world famous St. Louis Arch and a riverboat ride on the Missouri River. Planned trips to both the Budweiser Brewery and Boeing Aircraft Plant were cancelled due to the size of attendees and record temperatures. Nonetheless, the hotel location and robust hospitality suite named the “Torsion Bar” made for activities and socializing that all could enjoy.

Of particular note was an event the VTA presents at all reunions called “Fallen Heroes.” A fallen Marine(s) tanker are remembered from birth to the conclusion of his life on a Vietnam battlefield in both pictures and script. Relatives are contacted and brought to the reunion whenever possible. Members or family are invited to speak about both the man and Marine who was our fallen hero. One would have to search for a dry eye at the conclusion of the presentation.

Lastly, our WWII Iwo Jima survivor gave a beautiful, two verse rendition of that touching September, 11, 2001 song “I’m Proud To Be An American.“ Al Nelson, at ninety-two, can still belt ‘em out.

I trust sparse attendance by our membership is not indicative of members attending our 2018 reunion. Perhaps the combined nature (having been separated from the VTA for nineteen years) caused hesitation by some.

2017 MCTA Reunion Raffle Winners

1st 2nd3rd
Ron Zielin Fred LillianDon Masztak
Chicago ILKirkland WALuna Pier MI

An Invitation by Rich Hine


A week or two before the “great eclipse”, my wife got the idea that she wanted to get into the path of “totality”. She told me that it was a big deal so I started doing some researching where the path of the total eclipse was supposed to hit. Oregon! I made some phone calls and was told by several hotels along the coast that everything had been booked up for months- if not a year. The local casino in Lincoln was renting $80 rooms for $500 and you had to reserve for 2 nights. I gave the wife the bad news and she seemed ok with us staying here in Washington and only seeing a 93% eclipse. As an act of desperation, I grabbed my MCTA roster to see if any members lived in the area. I found that Dan Whitlock in Depoe Bay! I made a call and reached his daughter Shannon. She confirmed that there was concern there that all the stores and gas stations would be sold out by the huge crowds. She had no idea where we could stay if we came down.

A short time later, I got a message on my phone from Dan (never met him before). He told me to “come on down” and had a vacant house right next door for us! He said that the owner of the house was an eye doctor and lived somewhere else and he wanted someone to house sit. We started packing!

When we arrived, Dan, his daughter Shannon, and son- in-law Paul, welcomed us with open arms. After the wife and I did some local tours of the coastline, we had a chance to get to know Dan and the family. Seems, he is a Korean War veteran. Despite being over 80 years old, Dan’s recollection of his Marine service was amazing. He told me that he joined the Corps in 1949 and was a “1-yr wonder”. After his training at San Diego and mechanics school at Del Mar, he returned to civilian life. In 1951, he was recalled to active duty and was put into a replacement pool and sent to Korea to man M-26 tanks. He said that he never saw a live NK tank because the aircover had already shot the crap out of anything that moved. He had some amazing stories about his Marine buddies and had photos to match (will be added to the web site photo gallery). I could not believe that he still knew most of their names and their hometowns.

After his year in the replacement pool, Dan returned home and had some more interesting stories about owning and sinking a ferry up in Alaska as well as his life as a builder. He gave us a tour of his house that he built (no small feat considering the size) and all his life’s numerous collectables. My wife told me that it seemed that Dan packed about 5 lifetimes into one! But with all his experiences, what he talked about most was the Marine Corps and his Marine buddies.

As we were leaving that night, Shannon pulled me aside and thanked us for listening to her dad’s stories about the Marines and Korea and that she had never heard them before and maybe he just needed a fellow Marine to listen. It could have gone on for hours more.

ust before we left for home, Dan cooked up a lot of sourdough pancakes (made with his homemade starter) and Shannon treated us to scrambled eggs.

Not a bad visit and we made new friends. Thanks for the MCTA hospitality! Semper Fi Dan!

2018 Marine Corps Tankers Reunion
Dayton, Ohio

September 19-22, 2018

Welcome tankers to “The Birthplace of Aviation” On our agenda:

  • Tour Wright Patterson Air Force Base
  • Tour 445 Airlift Wing
  • Factory tour of Starwin Industries

They support the U.S. military with components for the F15, F16, F18, and the B52’s as well as some naval systems.

  • Carrillon Historical Park

Where there is one of two existing planes built and flown by the Wright Brothers.

  • Hawthorne Hill

Location of the Wright brothers home

  • United States Air Force Museum

Oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world.

There are some electric scooters and some golf carts for those who need assistance with the tours at Carrillon Park and the Air Force museum.

Hope to see everyone there!

“Silver Sprocket”

Our Silver Sprocket holder, Martin J. “Murph” Murphy is still alive and well in Leawood, Kansas. Had a recent conversation with “Murph” and was told he has three speaking engagements on Veterans Day. It appears “Murph” will retain the coveted “Silver Sprocket award for many years in the future and our Association is delighted. I have a new phone number for “Murph” and will be glad to give it to anybody who asks.


2017 New Members

7/1/2017 PAPPAS, Thomas Binghamton NY life member
7/6/2017 MOSER, Parker Ashton ID
8/22/2017 JAMES, Reid Roanoke VA
8/22/2017 JOHNSON, James E 29 Palms CA life member
9/17/2017 EVEREST, Guy Alpine CA converted to life member
9/23/2017 KELLY, Jim Verona WI life member


CLARK, Harry M Chillicothe IL 2017
FROTHINGHAM, John M Romeoville IL 16-Dec
RADELEFF, Lora Laguna Niguel CA Lyle 17-May
WEIGAND, Phillip Olympia WA Judy 16-Jul
OSBORNE, Dean Jacksonville NC 8-Aug
GETUBIG, Robert San Jose CA Elizabeth 13-Aug
RUSSELL, Mac Weatherford TX 10-Nov-16