A History of the 8th AFHS-Mn

    The Eighth Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota was begun in 1982 with four Eighth Air Force veterans meeting for lunch at the Richfield American Legion. The original four founders may have been Jim Keefe (95th BG), Dave Dahlberg (487th BG), Earl Joswick (95th BG), and Ray Prozinski (486th BG) or Harold Rutka (34th BG). According to Ray Prozinski, the triggering event for forming the local chapter was that the national 8th Air Force Historical Society meeting in 1981 was held in Minneapolis. Jim Keefe was a leader in organizing the group at the beginning.
    Al Anderson's compilation of the Officers and Directors of the organization, indicates that in 1983 the President was Frank Frison, VP Harvey Ingersoll, Sec. Larry Scholl, Treas. Richard Greer, and other directors included: Bill Herbert, Jim Keefe, Al Muller, Denny Scanlan, Bob Stewart, Terry O'Toole, Larry Rogers, Bill Runnels, Alex Miles, and Dick Postier. 
The Past Presidents since 1983 have been as follows:
1983: Frank Frison
1984: Bill Herbert
1985: Jim Keefe
1986: Dick Postier
1987-88: Harold Rutka
1989-90: Ed Kueppers
1991-92: Earl Joswick
1993-94: Dave Dahlberg
1995-97: Don Zupan
1998: Don Bruns
1999-2000: Larry Bachman
2001-2002: Don Kent
2003-2004: Clyde Thompson
2005-2006: Dick Kaminski
2007-2008: Bob Clemens
2009-2010: Al Anderson
2010-2016: Steve Marks
 
    By 1994 there were 15-20 people meeting regularly for lunch on Wednesdays, by  1997 there were 30. Today there are usually around 40-50 people at the Wednesday luncheons.
    Some early members included Frank Frison (447th BG), William Herbert (96th BG), Richard Postier (96th BG), Ray Prozinski (486th BG), Don Zupan (379th BG), Don Bruns (379th BG), Norm Grant (493rd BG), Mary Berg (Associate Member or AM and Board Member), Ed Kueppers, Jr. (AM and Bd Member), Ray Peterson (305th BG), Art Eagleton (401st BG), Don Hanson (401st BG), Wally Lymburn (401st BG), Stan Turner (AM), Nelson Lake (453rd BG), Don Geng (303rd BG), Al Dexter (389th BG), Art Teel (15th AF, 463rd BG), Clyde Thompson (490th BG), Dick Kaminski (457th BG), Don Kent (401st BG), Ralph Pettyjohn (94th BG), Junior Gossell (487th BG), Don Hanson, Ariel Weekes (15th AF), Bob Clemens (15th AF), Vince Parker (15th AF), Emmett MacKenzie (15th AF), Dwight Olson (15th AF), Ben Vickery (485th BG), Don McIntyre (398th BG), Wally Forman (AAF Training), Roy Woolsey (AAC Supply), Frank Linc (401st BG), Al Anderson (ARDC) and many others.
    The 8th AFHS-Mn maintains an Honor Roll with the names of many members who are now gone, which is displayed on the side of the portable library at every meeting by Gary Birchem.
    Jim Keefe recruited and organized many 8th AFHS-Mn veterans to volunteer at the Planes of Fame Air Museum at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, MN, which at that time displayed and flew a B-17. Some Planes of Fame volunteers from other military services started attending the 8th AF luncheons. These included Ted Murphy (Navy), Mac McCullum (Navy), Glenn Froberg (Navy), Mike Madsen (Navy), Dewey Folkestad (Army) and others. Unfortunately, Bob Pond, the owner of the Planes of Fame museum, which had been open for over 15 years, eventually closed it on Dec. 18, 1997 and moved it to  Palm Springs, CA.
    The 8th AFHS-Mn expanded to include veterans from all services and other conflicts, and their relatives, and people who were interested in history. Meetings are open to the public.
      From 2001 to 2003, Dick Hill began videotaping members presentations describing their time in service and their experiences. Eventually the group moved the weekly Wednesday luncheons from the American Legion to the Knights of Columbus Hall when the American Legion Hall was torn down.
    In 2004  Don Ward, USN Pilot, wrote and published The Greatest Generation of Silver Wings about some of the members of the 8th AFHS-Mn. He attended meetings for several years and later moved to Pattaya, Thailand. Veterans who have chapters in the book include; (PILOTS) Lawrence W. Bachman, Thomas C. Daniel Jr., Donald O. Davis, Robert Jorgenson, Junior H. Gossell, Dwight G. Olson, Clyde W. Thompson; (FLIGHT ENGINEERS/TOP TURRETGUNNERS) Richard E. Denny, Thom Jordan, Thomas T. Tamraz; (RADIO OPERATORS) Harold Tilbury, Warren Shaffer; (AERIAL GUNNERS) Wesley C. Borgeson, Donald O’Hearn, Vincent Parker, Raymond Prozinski,, Lester F. Schrenk, Archie M. Thomas, Benjamin F. Vickery, Eugene Edward Wayrynen; (BOMBARDIERS) Frank Frison, William J. Johnson, Lauritz S. Kuhlstad; (NAVIGATORS) William Gordon Cannon, Robert J. Clemens, Norman Grant, (ARMY SPECIALIZED TRAINING) Wallace Forman; (OTHER BRIEF STORIES OF INTEREST) Don Hanson, Willard B. Hertig, Mark Holmes, Dallas McLaughlin, Earl Joswick, and Don Kent.
    One of the many long time pillars of the organization has been Larry Bachman, who has been active in ensuring that The Collings Foundation keeps bringing their B-24, B-17, and P-51 to the Twin Cities. that the tables and PX are staffed by members every year at the Air Expo in Eden Prairie and Blaine-Anoka aviation events, and that there are presents for the wives who attend the annual Holiday Party at Mancini's Char House in Saint Paul in early December.
    The school outreach program has been active throughout the years with Bob Clemens, Vince Parker, Jim Rasmussen, Don Kent, Norm Grant, Larry Bachman, and others donating their time to tell students about WWII and other life experiences such as growing up during the Great Depression.
    The organization's newsletter has been produced and edited by Frank Frison, then Pete Backlund from 1993 to 2003 and since then by Larry Sagstetter, the present Newsletter Editor.
    Dr. Tom Stillwell (Navy) and the Cherokee Flying Club have organized flying trips for the veterans to a number of museums and destinations over the years with the help of local private pilots.
    In 2009 Vince Parker and Bob Clemens began a second series of luncheon presentations about veterans' experiences, most of which have been recorded by Kevin Callahan, who is also actively involved with the Veterans Oral History Project of the 8th AFHS-Mn  On weeks where there is not a live presentation, Dick Hill has furnished other interesting programs such as documentaries, etc.
    Today the organization has over 300 members. The current President is Steve Marks.
Comments