Highlights of the 2009 Reunion in Waterloo, IA


u_2009-1The 52nd annual Reunion (29 July-1 August, 2009) of the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Waterloo, Iowa is history. By all accounts it was a great success. We hope to see everyone again next summer (2010) in Lubbock, Texas.

A total of 37 persons attended all or parts of the activities. Six of these were the men we gather to honor-the Veterans of the 818th. We were also pleased to have three 818th wives and thirteen sons and daughters present.

Nine states were represented: Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Iowa, Nebraska, California, Missouri, and Kentucky.


Some of the folks who were there this year


  • Robert and Sharon Bowles and Shayla Barber. Robert is the son of Wayne Bowles (deceased).
  • Raymond Schildt and wife Lola and daughters Delta Kovar, Margaret and husband Russell Krieser, and Joan Pearson.
  • Cecille Wax and daughter Marilyn Jensen and husband Dave.).


  • Oscar Gringrich and daughter Theresa Mahoney and her husband Jim and their daughters Ashley Essmann and Sydnie Mahoney. Oscar's son Allen Benson and Jim's parents Jim and Connie Mahoney, and Ashley's friend Hanna Grimson.


  • Dan Checchia and his son Dan.
  • Wally Wilken and wife Beverly and his nephew Russ Koons and wife Annettte.


  • Chuck Alexander and wife Donna and their son Cliff and Jan Bentley. Chuck and Jan are the children of Richard Gail Alexander (deceased).
  • Babe Stel and wife Pat and son Bill. Also, son Bob and his daughter Anna, and neice Janice Lynch.


Wednesday 29 July

We started arriving and checking in at the very nice Ramada Inn in downtown Waterloo. We all got reacquainted with old friends and met several new ones. Our hosts had done an excellent job of preparing a very nice Hospitality Room. Everyone quickly learned there was a complimentary breakfast available every morning and a door directly from our room to the breakfast area/bar. Both were well used. Again this year the Hospitality Room was a well used gathering spot in the evenings for socializing and reminiscing. It was great relaxed fun.


Thursday 30 July

This morning we boarded our bus and traveled to nearby Washburn for our annual Memorial Service at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church. While there we remembered those 818th Veterans and friends who have passed on. We were led in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and the Pledge to the Christian Flag by Sydnie Mahoney. Church member (and Veteran himself) Donald Eckerman provided a brief inspirational memorial talk. Two very nice violin duets were performed by Ashley Essmann and her friend, Hanna Grimson. A delicious potluck lunch was prepared for us and served by the Presbyterian Women's Group.  

On the way to our next activity we made a short stop at the cemetery where Geneva and Brenda Gingrich are buried. Those folks who have been priviledged to attend Reunions a few years back will remember Geneva and Brenda as the wife and daughter and mother and sister of Veteran Oscar Gringrich and our hostess Theresa Mahoney and Oscar's son Allen Benson. It was a sadly sweet and peaceful experience to visit the cemetery. Several folks recounted pleasent memories of Geneva and Brenda and we took several "family photos" of Oscar and family and the headstones.  

Our next activity was a tour of the John Deere Tractor Works Assembly Plant. This is one of the five John Deere facilities in Waterloo. There we were treated to a video on the history of John Deere and an extended trolley tour through the plant. It was an amazing experience to see all those racks of parts and pieces turn into hugh green machines. Everyone in the plant was cordial and welcoming. We finished our tour at the "Deere Crossing Gift Shop" where you could purchase most anything and everything with a John Deere logo on it. Thanks, John Deere and employees, for your hospitality during our visit.

Our last stop for the day was a hands on tour of Hansen's Dairy Farm. The dairy is family owned. A few years ago the family took a leap of faith plunge and decided to try the dairy business. Through hard work by the entire family they have slowly but surely built a thriving and growing business. The tour included all of the processes involved in getting milk from the cow to the table, including the somewhat fragrant cow barns. Hansen's milk is not homogenized, If you have never drank not homogenized milk, give it a try. It is very good. Also, some claim the health benefits are numerous. Check the Internet.  


Friday 31 July

Today we started with a tour of Heritage Farms. During this tour we took a horse drawn wagon ride along the banks of Black Hawk Creek and toured a 100 year old barn. A very tasty home cooked lunch was served in the farm's visitors lodge. It was complimented by dairy products provided by the wonderful lady from Hansen's Dairy. Our visit to Heritage farms was made even more moving when we learned that our hostess there had lost her Dad (the owner of Heritage) only the week before. Their loss did not prevent the folks at Heritage from conducting the tour. I think it was a fitting tribute to her Dad and his work.

Afterwards we toured the Grout Museum. We stopped here during the 2005 reunion. However, it was a whole new experience. Since then, a 30,000 square foot $11 million addition has added the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum to the Grout Museum District.


Saturday 1 August

Today we held our annual Business Meeting. Everyone was pleasently surprised when Chuck Alexander and family volunteered to host the 2010 Reunion in Lubbock, Tx. Afterwards we took a great many group photos.

Saturday evening , instead of a formal banquet, our hosts had booked a room at a fantastic Italian Restaurant called the Brown Bottle, within easy walking distance of our hotel. The Brown Bottle is in what was a hotel in the early 1900s. The building reflects the opulence of structures built during that time period. Everyone ordered off the menu and no one left less than 100% satisfied.

Afterwards we gathered in the Hospitality Room. In Lieu of the Ladie's Gift Exchange, Theresa had put together something new. Each family unit had assembled a gift bag or basket from their home state or area and exchanged it (blindly) for one from another family. It was great fun as we all watched each package emptied and made our guesses as to from whence it came.


Sunday 2 August

Once again it was time to say goodbye to all our buddies, their families, and our friends for another year. The well planned and immensely enjoyable Waterloo Reunion was over. Once again our five days together had gone by all too quickly.



We have many more photos of the 2009 Reunion.
(Click here to view the photos)


Thanks to everyone who helped make the 2009 Reunion in Waterloo a great success!!