Highlights of the 2004 Reunion in Milwaukee, WI


u_2004-1The 47th Annual Reunion of the 818th  Tank Destroyer Battalion in Milwaukee, WI, that was held 16 June-19 June, 2004, is history. It was a great success. Our hosts, Dan and Joanne Colasacco and Family, organized and conducted a fantastic reunion.

We hope to see everyone again in Waterloo, IA 4 August-7 August, 2005.

A total of 59 persons attended all or parts of the activities. Ten of those were the men we gather to honor-the Veterans of the 818th. We were pleased to also have in attendance seven wives, three widows and fourteen sons and daughters.


Fourteen states were represented: Tennessee, Minnesota, Michigan, California, Texas, West Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Vermont, New Jersey and Indiana.


Some of the folks who were there this year


  • Bill Arnett and daughter Mary Lou Lantz
  • Robert and Sharon Bowles and Shayla Barber. Also, sister Donna Bowles. Robert and Donna are the children of Wayne Bowles (deceased).
  • Dorothy Srock and daughter Kathy Reading. Dorothy is the widow of Charles Srock.


  • Esther Duga and her friend Kristen Fuzer. Also, daughter Cheryl Marshall and husband David and their daughter Sarah. Esther is the widow of George Duga.
  • Oscar Gingrich and daughter Theresa Essmann and her daughter Ashley and friend (husband to be 23 April 2005) Jim Mahoney and his daughter Sydnie


  • Larry Bray and wife Maggie
  • Dan Checchia and wife Carolyn and lovely granddaughter, Kelly Orenshaw
  • Eugene Colasacco and wife Bette. Their son Dan and his wife Joanne (our hosts for the Reunion), Dan and Joanne’s daughter Danielle Cast and her husband Kevin and their children Logan and Spencer. Also, son Gary and his wife Amber and son Guy and his son Brett and son Dempsey and his wife Gina and their son Brayden.
  • Marvin Merritt and wife Arene and their son Jim
  • Tony Pezzano and grandson-in-law Joe Foti
  • Irene Ritter and daughter Lynette Langland and granddaughter Amie Langland. Irene is the widow of Harold Ritter
  • Wally Wilken and wife Beverly and their daughters Eileen Egloff and husband Steve and Wendy Vandruff and husband Mark


  • Chuck Alexander and wife Donna. Chuck is the son of  Richard Gail Alexander (deceased)
  • John Cannon and wife Helen
  • Babe Stel and wife Pat and their son Bill


Wednesday 16 June

We started arriving and checking in at the Embassy Suites in Brookfield, WI. 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 Milwaukee. The first was in 1992. The hosts then were George Duga and wife Esther. George is now deceased.


Wednesday evening we gathered for the free bar cocktail reception provided by Embassy Suites followed by the Hospitality Room for visiting.


Thursday 17 June

We started today, as we did every morning, with the excellent complimentary cooked-to order breakfast provided by Embassy Suites. After boarding the bus our first stop Thursday was the Milwaukee War Memorial. While there we were treated to an excellent rendition of the National Anthem by Carol Garretson. There were some very appropriate remarks made by Adjutant Jim Duff of American Legion Post 23. A wreath was laid by the 818th Veterans in memory of our WWII dead, our 818th deceased and especially the four 818th Veterans we have lost since the 2003 Reunion-Ted Alexander, Cotton Ashworth, Jack Henry and Regis Pouh. Afterwards we visited the Milwaukee Art Museum located adjacent to the War Memorial.


Thursday afternoon we went to beautiful Miller Park to watch the Milwaukee Brewers play the Seattle Mariners. Seattle won but it was still a great outing and everyone had fun.


That evening we again gathered for Happy Hour(s). Then a short trip next door for an excellent dinner at Champs Sports Bar. We finished the evening in the Hospitality Room.


Friday 18 June

After our free breakfast we boarded the bus for downtown Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Museum. Lunch was at Maggiano’s Little Italy (great food) followed by some free time for shopping. That evening we went to the Lakefront Brewery for a tour (and all the free beer you could want). This was followed by a traditional Milwaukee Fish Fry at the brewery complete with music, dancing and plenty of great food. Afterwards we returned to the hotel and gathered in the Hospitality Room to visit.


Saturday 19 June

As always breakfast was free. Afterwards, Saturday was free time to do whatever we wished. The annual Business Meeting took place at 2:00 pm. Theresa Essmann reported that the 2005 Reunion will be 4 August through 7 August in Waterloo, IA. Also, Chuck Alexander volunteered and was approved to host the 2006 Reunion the first week of August in Austin, TX.


Saturday evening was the annual Banquet at the hotel. It was followed by visiting in the Hospitality Room.


Sunday 20 June

Once again it was time to say goodbye to our buddies, their families and our friends for another year. Once again our five days together had gone by all too quickly. Everyone take care. We are looking forward to seeing all of you again in Waterloo in 2005. Please start making your plans to be there now. 





We have many more photos of the 2004 Reunion.
(Click here to view the photos)

Thanks to everyone who helped make the 2004 Reunion in Milwaukee a great success!!