Highlights of the 2002 Reunion in Yankton, SD


u_2002-1 The 45th Annual Reunion (31 July-4 August, 2002) of the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Yankton, South Dakota is history. We hope everyone made it back home without incident and hope to see everyone again next year.     Our hosts, Joe and Ethel Goeden and their family, organized and conducted a fantastic reunion. "A GREAT time was had by all!".     A total of 104 persons attended all or parts of the activities. Seventeen of these were the men we gather to honor-the veterans of the 818th. Additionally, four widows were present to represent their husbands. Two of the groups who attended for the first time were the widows and children of 818th vets R. G. Alexander (C Company) and Elmer Bowman (A Company). Welcome to the 818th family.

A total of sixteen states were represented: Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, Minnesota, Michigan, California, Texas, West Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Washington.

Some folks who were unable to attend this year included Mason and Lorena Carter and Jack and LaVerne Henry and the Texas bunch. We hope you can make it next year.


We have many more photos of the 2002 Reunion.
(Click here to view the photos)


Some of the folks who were there this year:


  • Bill Arnett and daughter Mary Lou Lantz
  • Robert and Sharon Bowles and granddaughter Shayla Barber Robert is the son of Wayne Bowles (deceased)
  • Curtis Crook, and wife Juanita Crook, and friend Mildred Gatlin
  • Cecil Langerman and wife Vivian
  • Raymond Schildt and wife Lola and daughter Margaret Krieser and husband Russell
  • Dale Schon and wife Edna and daughters Dorothy White and Donna Barber
  • Cecille Wax and daughter Marilyn Jensen and Marilyn's son and daughter John and Rachel Honeyman and friend Angel Hoover.
    • Also present was Marilyn's husband David, Cecille's son Bill Wax and his wife Denise and their children Tami and Chelsea. The group was also accompanied by Mary Wax widow of Cecille's brother Ora. Ora also served in WWII in the European Theatre.


  • Oscar Gingrich and daughter Theresa Essmann and her daughter Ashley and friend Jim MaHoney and daughter Sydnie
  • Wayne Rogne


  • Dan Checchia and wife Caroline
  • Eugene Dempsey Colasacco and wife Bette, son Dan and wife JoAnne and their daughter Danielle Cast and husband Kevin and children Logan and Spencer
  • Rande and Margaret Bowman the son and widow of Elmer Bowman. This was their first 818th reunion. We hope to see them back next year.
  • Larry Bray and wife Maggie
  • James H. Mars Jr. and son James V. Mars
  • Marvin Merritt and wife Arene
  • Irene Ritter and friend Bob Schrader and daughter Lynette Langland and husband Dennis Irene is the widow of Harold Ritter. Bob Schrader is a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea.
  • James and wife Deborah Southard son of Lester Southard (deceased).
  • Wally Wilken and wife Beverly


  • Nellie Gorge and daughter Judy Shaw and her granddaughter Cella Nellie is the widow of Harry Gorge
  • The Joe and Ethel Goeden family was represented by: Kala Shepherd, Bill Shepherd, Dennis Shepherd, Samantha Schwartz, Diana Shepherd, Tami Schwartz, Dave Schwartz, Chris Schwartz, Mike Schwartz, Joe Goeden, and Ethel Goeden. Diana is the Goedens daughter. Dennis is her husband. Tami is their daughter and Dave is her husband. Mike, Chris, and Samantha are their children. Bill is Diana and Dennis's son. Kala is his wife. Ray Goeden is the son of Joe and Ethel. Barb Goeden is his wife. Tasha Goeden is their daughter. Kent Goeden is the son of Joe and Ethel. Keith Goeden is the son of Kent and Ruby. His sister is Rhonda Goeden. The sons of Ray and Barb Goeden included: Brooks and wife Carrie, Travis and wife Beth and child Tori, Shannon and wife Sarah, and Trevor and wife Susan.


  • Charles Alexander sister Jan Bentley mother Cleo Sage and wife Donna these folks are the widow, the son and his wife, and the daughter of R. G. Alexander (deceased). This was their first 818th reunion. We hope to see them back next year.
  • John Cannon and wife Helen
  • Babe Stel and wife Pat and son Bill and son Bob and his wife Marla and their children Anna and Hattie


For everyone who was there and for all the folks who missed it. The Goedens kept us busy. There was a lot to see and a lot to do and everyone had a GREAT time. The folks in Yankton treated us wonderfully and our five days there went by much too quickly.

Wednesday 31 July

We started arriving and checking in at the Broadway Inn. Our Hospitality Room was next door in the Ryan Room at the Chateau Restaurant and Lounge. We all got reacquainted with old friends and met a whole bunch of new ones. The Chateau Lounge proved to be a popular spot with several of us as did the Broadway Inn pool.


Thursday 1 August

The continental breakfast at the Broadway Inn proved to be a popular item and also a good way to start the day greeting 818th friends and buddies.

We boarded our bus and started out to the Mill Brook Russian-German Hutterite Colony. There we took a very interesting tour of the homes, kitchen, bakery, school, and plant of the colony. Everyone agreed it was an interesting look at a lifestyle that is probably a little more demanding than most of us care to experience. We concluded our tour at the meeting house and enjoyed a very good song performed by a young woman (who does not wish to get married) with an exceptionally beautiful voice.

From there we traveled on to Mitchell, SD where we had a very good lunch at an old converted train depot. Our next stop was the World's only Corn Palace. The Corn Palace is a tribute to the importance of corn and farming in this very beautiful part of the country. There was much friendly discussion between the South Dakota and Iowa contingents of our party as to just where the real corn comes from. If you have never seen the Corn Palace you need to put it on your list.

We next traveled to Freeman, SD for a stop at Fensel's Flower Shop. It turns out that Fensel's is much more than just a flower shop. Every time you step through one door and into a room you see another door to another room. The selection of whatnots, souvenirs, handicrafts, and flowers is amazing.

Our next stop was the Etcetera Shop for some light shopping. Several of the women took advantage of the bargains and two of the younger ladies were later seen to be attired in very nice second hand garments that were obtained at bargain prices!


Friday 2 August

Again most of us took advantage of the contiental breakfast. Several of us sneaked off a little early and went over to look at and drive Joe's old cars. Joe has a 1924 T model Ford, a 1930 Ford pickup, a 1931 model A, a 1910 International Harvester Auto Car, a 1923 Dodge and a 1925 Dodge. We then took city buses out to the Yankton Senior Center where we were very warmly received. We were presented with entertainment provided by the members of the center and had a really good lunch. The dining room was very pleasantly decorated and the Senior Center is one of the nicest I have ever seen. Thanks for having us.

Our evening meal was at the Chateau Restaurant and Lounge. We were again provided with entertainment from the Senior Center. Have you noticed that we seem to eat a lot. I am starting to suspect that the 818th ate it's way across Europe.

We concluded the evening by attending an outstanding production of the play "Annie" at the Dakota Theater. The play was directed by the Goedens grandson, Keith Goeden. It was a fantastic performance. Everyone was taken by the talent and exuberence of the mostly young cast. I think the young lady who played Annie was a hit with everyone. The Goedens and the city of Yankton should be rightfully proud of this exceptional group and their amazingly successful efforts.


Saturday 3 August

Today we toured the National Guard Armory in Yankton. It is the home of Battery C 1st Battalion of the 147th Field Artillery South Dakota National Guard. The men there had just returned from their annual summer exercise and were preparing to go home. In spite of that they took the time to give us a unique look at some of their equipment. Several of the vets were especially interested in seeing some of the newer weapons that our armed forces use. There was also much surprise at how little some things (such as the old reliable 50 cal.) had changed since WWII. For those of us who wished the men provided rides in some of the newer military vehicles. Several of the young ladies were noticed to be impressed with the handsome young men in their uniforms. Our lunch was catered by Ray Goeden, the son of Joe and Ethel. Anyone who did not gain several pounds during this reunion was not really trying.

After the visit to the NG Armory several of us again took a turn at driving and looking at Joe's old cars. The second time around we were experts-except for the T model. Never did work up enough courage to drive it. Dennis Langland, however, was not cowed by the old T model and seemed to have it well in hand. Joe, of course, can drive all of them.

That afternoon we conducted our annual Business Meeting and took group photos in the Ryan Room.

We concluded the evening with our Banquet. The guest speaker was Bernie Hunhoff of South Dakota Magazine. Entertainment was provided by the Harmony Expedition Chorus. Surprisingly, the power went out shortly before the end of the banquet due to a sudden but much needed rainstorm. However, with emergency lighting and candles everything was concluded in grand style.


Sunday 4 August

Everyone started checking out and heading for home. Five days had gone by all too quickly. With hugs, kisses, and promises to "see you next year" we ended what was truly a GREAT reunion. Our thanks to the Goedens and their family and the folks in Yankton and South Dakota for having us.

Many thanks to the Goeden family for making the
2002 Reunion in Yankton a great success!!