By Ray Mitchell
Special contribution to the PDT
On Friday, July 24, I reunited with four of my Air Force buddies that I hadn’t seen for 45 years.
The five of us were stationed at the Ching Chuan Kang Air Force Base, in Taichung, Taiwan. We were in the 4220th Air Refueling Squadron. We worked on and fueled KC135 that refueled B52’s in the air. The last time had I seen these guys was January 1970, I started looking for these guys about 10 years ago.
I first found Jim Magill, that lives in Redondo Beach, Calif., on a web site called CCK AIR BASE, TAIWAN | Air Force Units | VetFriends.com. I sent Jim a message on the website and within an hour he called me. In the conversation he told me that he thought our friend Steve Boykin was in Georgia. After searching the Internet I found him in Hamilton, Ga. Then I started looking for Willie Partridge, and I found him in Pottsville Penn.
All of us had retired, except for Jim Magill and he retired last year. I started messaging the guys on Facebook about a reunion. I knew that Willie and his wife Rose owned a Bed & Breakfast in Pottsville, The Partridge House, so I called Willie about having the reunion at his place. The first thing out of his mouth was the rooms are on me.
He asked me if I remembered Gary Gray, I said yes and I had some pictures of Gary. Willie said Gary lived in Oneonta, N.Y., and said he would give him a call. I started calling and messaging on Facebook and we finally got a date set for July 24.
Steve drove up from Georgia on Tuesday, and Steve and I picked Jim up at the Air Port in Columbus, Ohio. The three of us drove from Portsmouth to Pottsville. What a trip. We had so much fun just reminiscing about old times. When we got to Pottsville, Willie had five cases of beer and a cooler waiting for us. In our barracks overseas we made a table to play cards on, and Willie made a replica of that table for us to play cards on. I thought that was so neat.
The next day, Friday, Gary Gray arrived, I had a lot of pictures and some of the guys e-mailed me some pictures. I took all of the pictures and made a slideshow. We had a lot of laughs watching that, and then Willie put in a DVD that was made from some 8mm film that he had taken of us while overseas. I didn’t even know he took the pictures, but I was in the video at a wedding in Taichung. It also had video of the Bob Hope Show that we seen in December 1969.
After watching that, Willie had us set up for a tour of the Yuengling Brewery, Americas Oldest Brewery. That evening the local newspaper, The Republican Herald, stopped by and done a story on us. I had so much fun this past weekend drinking, playing cards and reminiscing about old times with my Air Force Buddies we made a pact to keep in touch, for another reunion.
Gary Gray of Oneonta, N.Y. Jim Magill of Redondo Beach,Ca. And Ray Mitchell of Portsmouth Ohio