Highlights of the 2003 Reunion in Knoxville, TN


The 46th Annual Reunion (30 July-3 August, 2003) of the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Knoxville, TN is history. By all accounts it was a great success. We hope to see everyone again in the summer of 2004.


The hosts, Robert and Sharon Bowles and their family and friends, organized and conducted a well planned event.


A total of 90 persons attended all or parts of the activities. fifteen of these were the men we gather to honor-the veterans of the 818th. We were pleased to have ten 818th wives, four 818th widows and 22 818th sons and daughters.

Sixteen states were represented: Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, Minnesota, Michigan, California, Texas, West Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Arizona, Illinois, Colorado, Wisconsin and Virginia.



Some of the folks who were there this year


  • Ted Alexander and wife Doris
  • Bill Arnett and daughter Mary Lou Lantz
  • Robert and Sharon Bowles and Shayla Barber. Robert is the son of Wayne Bowles (deceased). Widow Charlotte Bowles and daughter Donna Bowles. Robert's daughter Page Vann and husband Adam and their children Karrie and Christian. Sharon's daughter Jennifer Parrish and husband Jason and their son Alex.
  • Mason Carter and wife Lorena and son Steven and his wife Nicki
  • Regis Pouh and wife Magdalene
  • Dale Schon and wife Edna and daughters Dorothy White and Donna Barber
  • Raymond Williams and son Harold


  • Oscar Gringrich and daughter Theresa Essmann and her daughter Ashley and friend Jim MaHoney and his daughter Sydnie
  • Esther Duga widow of George Duga and her friend Kristen FuzerA COMPANY
  • Rande Bowman and sister Gayle Fitz and her husband Steve and sister Susan Harris and her husband Robert. Rande, Gayle and Susan are the children of Elmer Bowman (deceased).
  • Larry Bray and wife Maggie
  • Dan Checchia and wife Carolyn
  • James H. Mars Jr. and son James V. Mars
  • Irene Ritter and friend Bob Shrader and daughter Lynette Langland and her husband Dennis and their daughter Amie. Irene is the widow of Harold Ritter. Also, Irene's nephew Joe Simko and wife Jan.
  • James and wife Deborah Southard and daughter Holley Rice and husband Terry and their children Sue, Tyler and Tatum. James is the son of Lester Southard (deceased).
  • Wally Wilken and wife Beverly


  • Cotton Ashworth and son Richard
  • Joe Goeden and wife Ethel and their daughter Diana and husband DennisC COMPANY
  • Charles Alexander and wife Donna and son Clifton and friend Robin Sisco. Jan Bentley and husband Phil and son Brandon and Cleo (Alexander) Sage. Charles, Jan and Cleo are the children and widow of Richard Gail Alexander.
  • Jack Henry and wife Laverne and daughter Joy Hounsel and her husband Ron and their daughter Melissa. Daughter Gay Ervin and her daughters Christin and Megan.
  • Babe Stel and wife Pat and son Bill818th FRIENDS
  • George and Kathy Barber and granddaughter Katie
  • Ronnie Boring-the resident computer whiz who keeps our web site up and running.


Wednesday 30 July

We started arriving and checking in at the downtown Hilton in Knoxville. We all got reacquainted with old friends and met a whole bunch of new ones. This was the second time the 818th Reunion has been held in Knoxville. The first was in 1965. Among our Veterans at the 2003 Reunion was Oscar Gingrich. He was also at the 1965 Reunion in Knoxville. A short clip on one of the local TV stations featured some of our 818th Veterans on the evening news. It rained today.


Thursday 31 July

We spent today in the downtown Knoxville area. We started out with a quick bus ride over to the Gateway Regional Visitor Center. While at the Visitor Center we saw a short film on the Tennessee Valley and its people. The Visitor Center was an excellent introduction to the history and culture of the Tennessee Valley. Afterward we visited Blount Mansion. Construction on Blount Mansion was started in 1792. It was the home of William Blount who was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and a signer of the United States Constitution. He was also governor of the Territory South of the River Ohio prior to Tennessee statehood in 1796. We also saw a short film "Birth of a State". Located in William Blount's study was an original 15 star flag. This was followed by lunch at the Hilton and then a visit to the East Tennessee Historical Society Museum. The ETHS is located in the Old Custom House built in 1874 and houses artifacts from over two centuries. Our last stop for the day was the Frank H.McClung Museum on the University of Tennessee Campus and then dinner at the Hilton. It rained today.


Friday 1 August

Today we took a road trip to the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee. While at the MoA we were provided with some excellent entertainment by the Museum band and a catered BBQ lunch. Among other well done numbers performed by the band were "The Tennessee Waltz" and that other song "Rocky Top". One of the 250,000 items on display at the MoA is an original 13 star flag. Afterward we made a quick photo stop at Norris Dam on the beautiful Clinch River and then journeyed to the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Oak Ridge, the WWII Secret City, was instrumental in the Manhattan Project development of the Atomic bomb. Following dinner at Ryan's Family Restaurant in Oak Ridge we made the bus trip back to Knoxville and the Hilton. It rained today.


Saturday 2 August

Our 818th Reunion was featured in a short piece in today's edition of the Knoxville News Sentinel. Everyone got to sleep a little late this morning before taking a ride on the Star of Knoxville riverboat. On the riverboat cruise we had a buffet lunch and live entertainment by Fredda Valentine. Among other well done numbers performed by Fredda were "The Tennessee Waltz" and that other song "Rocky Top". Back at the Hilton everyone rested briefly before starting our annual Business Meeting and photo session. We were also visited by a TV crew from one of the local stations. A very nice piece on our 818th Reunion was presented on the evening news. After a quick change of clothes it was time for our evening Banquet. The Guest Speaker for our Banquet was State Representative Dennis Ferguson. The Cedar Ridge bluegrass band provided some lively entertainment. Among other well done numbers performed by the band were "The Tennessee Waltz" and that other song "Rocky Top". Members of the audience were heard to be singing along with "that other song". I gagged. We were also very pleased to hear several numbers performed by our own (Major) Ted Alexander. He is an accomplished harmonica player. We were very much surprised to find that we had two other harmonica players in the group-James Mars and Phil Bentley. At one point all three of our harmonica players and the band performed together. It was one of the highlights of the evening. It rained today.


Sunday 3 August

It rained today. Once again it was time to say goodbye to our buddies, their families and friends for another year. Once again our five days together had gone by all too quickly. Although it rained every day it never put a damper (a little joke) on our time together. As a matter of fact it probably helped keep the heat from being unbearable. I would gladly have traded a little more rain for a little less "Rocky Top". Everyone take care and we are looking forward to seeing all of you again in Milwaukee in the summer of 2004. Please start making your plans to be there now.



We have many more photos of the 2003 Reunion.
(Click here to view the photos)

Thanks to everyone who helped make the 2003 Reunion in Knoxville a great success!!