Article from the 16 August 2002 San Marino California Tribune on the 2001 reunion in Long Beach. (Items in parenthesis are corrections to the original article.) Thanks to Babe and Pat Stel for providing a copy of the article.


44th Annual Gathering




Patton Tank (Destroyer) Vets Tour San Marino


By: Mitch Lehman
Editor of the Tribune


A busload of (forty two) World War II Tank (Destroyer) veterans, their spouses, children, and several grandchildren toured the home town of their commander, General George S. Patton, Jr., in a moving salute to their liberation of Europe.

The 44th annual gathering of (818th) Tank Destroyer Battalion veterans from across America is far smaller than that of a decade or two ago, when (dozens) of men would come together to reminisce on their crusade across (France), in the Battle of the Bulge, and on across Nazi Germany.

The 2001 reunion was in Long Beach, with the vets and their families riding to spend a day in Patton's town. Members of the San Marino Historical Society met the bus at the San Gabriel Mission, then traced the growth of Spanish, Mexican, and American settlement in the area.

They visited the Church of Our Savior, the Patton family church and cemetery; they stopped at two adobe homes belonging to the Patton family, and at San Marino City Hall, where City Council member Matthew Lin and City manager Debbie Bell greeted the vets and talked of their General’s last visit to San Marino in September 1945, when he took the salute of his neighbors while standing on the City Hall steps.

Continuing on the bus tour, Patton's men visited his home on Patton Court, part of the family's Lake Vineyard Ranch. In Lacy Park-the old "Lake" of Lake Vineyard-they sat before San Marino's war memorial and heard Mayor Emile Bayle express the city's appreciation for their sacrifices at war more than a half-century ago.




RIGHT: Oscar Gingrich reads the inscription on Patton’s Plaque.


Oscar Gringrich (photo on right) of Waterloo, IA-since 1978 the secretary of the organization-fondly remembered his former commanding officer. Gingrich was a tank driver and radio operator for reconnaissance forces under Patton in Germany, Ireland and England and fought at Normandy.

"I had a great deal of respect for General Patton," Gingrich said in front of the Lacy Park plaque dedicated to his memory. "I particularly remember a speech he gave us in Ireland. It was a pep talk, really. But he had a tremendous ability to motivate his troops."

The group walked across Lacy Park, imagining it as young George Patton's fishing and swimming hole. They toured El Molino Viejo-the Old Mill, little changed from Patton's days. All the way, there were stories swapped and memories described from their years of wartime service.

Lunch was a buffet on the grounds of Southwestern Academy, before an afternoon touring the Huntington Library and return for their annual dinner in Long Beach. Paul Crowley and Ave Maria Bortz, president and vice president of the San Marino Historical Society, arranged for the tour and received the deep thanks of the vets.



LEFT: Many of the members of the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion at the 2001 Reunion wore shirts displaying the 818 TD BN patch.

RIGHT: Larry Bray of Minneapolis, MN reads the inscription on Patton’s Plaque.


We have many more Reunion photos.

(Click here to view the photos)