Highlights of the 2011 Reunion in Tomball, Texas


2011_group_photoThe 54th annual Reunion (28 July-30 July 2011) of the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Tomball, Texas is history. By all accounts it was a great success. We hope to see everyone again next summer (2012) in Lincoln, Nebraska. A total of 41 plus persons attended all or parts of the activities. Three of these were the men we gather to honor-the Veterans of the 818th. We were also pleased to have one wife, one widow, and ten sons and daughters present. Nine states were represented: Texas, Arizona, Tennessee, Iowa, California, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Nebraska.


Some of the folks who were there this year


  • Robert and Sharon Bowles and grandson Alex Parrish. Robert is the son of Wayne Bowles (deceased).
  • Veteran Raymond Schildt and daughters Joan Pearson and Delta Kovar
  • Veteran Raymond Williams and daughter MAry and her friend John DeBatty



  • Theresa Mahoney and Jim and their daughters Ashley Essmann and Sydnie Mahoney. Also,  Allen Benson. Theresa and Allen are daughter and som of Oscar Gingrich (deceased)


  • Veteran Wally Wilken and wife Beverly. Also, their daughters and their husbands Eileen and Steve Egloff and Wendy and Mark Vandruff. Additionally, several more extended family members including: David, Jessica, Timothy, and Andrew Vandruff. Kelly, Rachel, Emily, and A.J. Tague. Larry, Wilma, and Susie Curley. - and others!


  • Chuck Alexander and wife Donna, their son Cliff and Donna's sister Karen Smith. Also Jan Bentley.  Chuck and Jan are the children of Richard Gail Alexander (deceased).


Monday 25 July-Wednesday 27 July

Although the Reunion did not officially start until Thursday, several groups arrived early to get a head start on catching up with old friends and sightseeing the Tomball area. We also spent some quality time relaxing by the pool and finding good places to eat.


Thursday 28 July

Today the rest of our friends started arriving and checking in at the Tomball La Quinta Inn. Our hosts had done an excellent job of preparing the Hospitality Room. It was well stocked with snacks and drinks and was a much used gathering area for socializing and reminiscing.

Everyone was much pleased to learn that our room rates included an excellent complimentary breakfast bar.

Thursday evening we gathered in the Hospitality Room for a pizza and popcorn party and a movie (Apollo 13). Sort of a relaxed way of preparing for our Friday visit to the NASA Space Center.



Friday 29 July

This morning we boarded our bus and traveled down to Houston to tour NASA's Johnson Space Center. While at the Space Center we had an excellent box lunch. The Space Center has numerous exhibits and attractions including actual spacecraft, spacesuits and other artifacts. One of the most astounding exhibits is the building that houses a Saturn V rocket. If the only place you have ever seen one is on TV, you have no concept of how huge they really are.

Afterwards, we again boarded our bus and headed down to Galveston Island. Our first stop on the island was the Lone Star Flight Museum. The 100,000 square foot facility is home to one of the premier flying collections of historic aircraft of the 1940's in the world and vintage vehicles and artifacts. Among many others are a DC-3, a B-17 bomber, and a P-40.

We next took a guided bus tour of Galveston. The island is home to about 50,000 people and a popular tourist destination. As you may recall, it was also the victim of a hurricane in 1900 that killed a fourth (8,000 people) of the island's population.

We finished our tour of the island with a stop at the historic Galveston Ice Cream and Candy Store. The temptations were far too many to resist and everyone re-boarded the bus smacking their lips and carrying bags.



Saturday 30 July

This morning we boarded the bus and headed out to College Station, TX. Our first stop there was the work in progress Museum of the American GI. We were greeted there by a WWII reenactment group that was also our hosts at the museum. The fellows, dressed in period WWII uniforms, guided us through the collection of tanks and WWII equipment and vehicles (including a running restored M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer). Among the group was Denny Hair who is an established Patton reenactor.

Afterwards we traveled to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station. While there Denny Hair reenacted the famous Patton speech. We also had a Memorial Service in the auditorium to honor the Veterans of the 818th and the Veterans of all American wars who are no longer with us.

On the way back to the hotel we had an on the bus box lunch.

When we arrived back at the hotel we conducted an abbreviated Business Meeting. The most important thing to come out of the Business Meeting was a volunteer to host the 2012 Reunion in Lincoln, NE. (Joan Pearson-you are my hero!).

I also learned a valuable lesson. All I have to do to get a volunteer for the next Reunion is start talking about Branson. Leastwise, it has worked the last two years.

We finished the day with a catered BBQ dinner and pool party in lieu of our annual "banquet" dinner. Our gracious hosts were Steve Egloff's sister and her husband. They opened their home and yard to our group. We were treated to several hours of great food and socializing. The pool was much used by young and not so young alike. Yard parties are great!



Sunday 31 July

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 Tomball Reunion was over. Our time together had gone by all too quickly.

We look forward to seeing everyone in Nebraska in 2012.


P.S.-Folks please note that the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion web site address has changed. It is now www.818tdbn.net.



We have many more photos of the 2011 Reunion.
(Click here to view the photos)

Thanks to everyone who helped make the 2011 Reunion in Tomball a great success!