Black Cats Reunions
REUNIONs: "...Black Cats are rekindling old friendships at Reunion here - [Shreveport-Bossier City, LA Shreveport Journal] Thursday, September 16, 1982..." WebSite: http://www.fortunecity.com/millenium/redwood/372/page31.htm [16OCT2004]
Its a red, white and blue week in Shreveport as the WWII Black Cat Squadrons reunite and rekindle 40-year-old friendships. The famous Navy aviators who flew the PBY 5-A (Flying Boats) in the South Pacific Campaigns are holding their 6th reunion at the Ramada Inn and the flags are waving as the Black Cats journey down memory lane. For five of the veterans, the reunion sparks the memory of the dark night that Black Cat pilot, Fred Gage of Poulsbo, Wash., landed his PBY in the swells of the open sea to rescue for downed aviators from a life raft. This week is the first time since the 1943 rescue that survivors of that night have gathered together at the same time and place. Shreveporter, Ed Peck, who was one of the four men rescued said in a 1945 article for February edition of World Magazine, "When I saw that PBY hit the water, it was a modern miracle and, boy, did that baby look good to us!" Today Peck feels much the same way. "So much has happened and I wouldn't be here today, but I'm a lucky man and Lady Luck continued to shine on me because when the war ended, I went home to Shreveport and married the girl next door who had written to me those long months I was in combat and I'm still married to her," he said. Gage, who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic rescue said "I knew it was tough to put down in the ocean at night, but I was a young man and didn't think about the danger; I have sweated many a night thinking about it and how easy it would have neem for all of us to have ended up in the water." Gage, who retired as a Navy commander, worked for Merrill Lynch for 18 years and now enjoys retirement with his wife of 41 years, Dottie. "Bib" Joe Mitchell, a former torpedo bomber pilot that was in the raft along with Peck, said of his rescuer, "It took courage to land in the open sea, I respect and admire Gage for doing it and it means more than I can say to be here with him and the rest of those guys from the rescue." Mitchell retired as a Navy commander and is now a marketing representative for the Space Ordinance Systems, St. Peters, MO.
Reunion Photograph Black Cats - Members of the World War II Navy Black Cats Squadron toasted each other at the Ramada Inn at the group's 40th reunion. Squadron members shown are, from left, Joe Mitchell of St. Louis, MO., Bob Pinckney of Fresno, Calif., Fred Gage of Poulsbo, Wash., and Stanley Tefft, Alamo, California.
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