Highlights of the 2012 Reunion in Lincoln, Nebraska

2012 reunion-3

The 55th annual Reunion (12-15 July 2012) of the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Lincoln, Nebraska is history. By all accounts it was a great success. We hope to see everyone again next summer (2013) in Indianapolis, Indiana. A total of 43 persons attended all or parts of the activities. Four of these were the men we gather to honor-the Veterans of the 818th. We were also pleased to have two wives, one widow, and 14 sons and daughters present. Eight states were represented: Texas, 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 wife Lola and daughters Joan Pearson and Delta Kovar and Margaret Kreiser and Lana Copek and their husbands Dan, Russell, and Randy. Also, Delta and Dan's daughter Daneen and Joan's cousin Lodeen Koranda and her husband Dennis.
  • Veteran Raymond Williams and daughter Mary Debatty and her husband John.
  • Marilyn Jensen and her husband Dave. Marilyn is the daughter of Cecille Wax (deceased).



  • Theresa Mahoney and her husband Jim and their daughters Ashley Essmann and Sydnie Mahoney. Theresa is the daughter of Oscar Gingrich (deceased).


  • Veteran Wally Wilken and wife Beverly and their daughter Wendy Vandruff and her husband Mark.
  • Irene Ritter and daughter Lynette Langland and her husband Dennis and their daughter Amie. Irene is the widow of Harold Ritter (deceased).


  • Chuck Alexander and wife Donna and their son Cliff. Chuck is the son of Richard Gail Alexander (deceased).
  • Veteran Melvin Buss and family members Julia, Vicki, Steve, Monica, Miles, Jason, and Austin.


Thursday 12 July

Today we started arriving and checking in at the Comfort Suites in Lincoln, NE. Our hosts had done an excellent job of preparing the Hospitality Room. It stayed well stocked with snacks and drinks and was a much used gathering place for socializing and reminiscing.

Our room rates at the very nice Comfort Suites included an excellent complimentary breakfast bar.


Friday 13 July

This morning we boarded our bus for a day trip to Omaha, NE. Our first stop was Omaha's Lauritzen Gardens Botanical Center. Lauritzen Gardens is a 100-acre site with 20 garden spaces and a visitor and education center that includes a gift shop, horticulture library, classrooms, and a 5,000-square-foot floral display hall. Attractions include a Model Railway Garden featuring model trains running through a miniature world of strctural elements created from natural materials, many beautiful flower and herb gardens and walkways and trails, and the Kenefick Park public area featuring two of the greatest Union Pacific Railroad locomotives located on a vast overlook of the Missouri River Valley and the Nebraska and Iowa landscapes. If your plans take you to Omaha you should not miss this exceptional attraction. You will find it fascinating whether you are serious botany afficianado or just love peace, quite, and tranquil beauty.

Our next stop was the Durham Museum housed in Omaha's historic former Union Station. Union Station is an architectural gem. It was one of the nation's first art deco train stations when it opened in 1931. The final Union Pacific passenger train rumbled through the station in 1971. Today this rare jewel has been transformed from top to bottom into one of the nation's most vibrant and beautiful hands-on museums. The beautifully restored station and museum now serves as the steward of the region's heritage with numerous collections and exhibits related to the history of Omaha and the surrounding region. The station itself is a wonderful look back at an era now long gone. The collections and exhibits are sure to contain something that will be of interest to everyone.

For lunch we stopped at Rick's Cafe Boatyard overlooking the Missouri River. Here we had an excellent order your own lunch. The atmosphere, service, food, and prices were all excellent. No one left not completely stuffed.

Our next stop was the River City Star riverboat where we all boarded the 149 passenger capacity excursion vessel for a very relaxing cruise on the Missouri River. The craft has a full length bar and two decks including an open air upper deck with railings and canopy. You can never go wrong when planning a Reunion if you include a boat ride.

Our final stop for the day in Omaha was the world famous Boys Town. Founded in 1917 by Father Edward J. Flanagan as a haven for troubled boys, Boys Town is now one of the largest publicly funded, nonprofit child-care agencies in the country. Of special interest was the Hall of History Museum detailing Boys Town's past, present, and future.

Afterwards we again boarded our bus for the return trip to Lincoln where we had supper at the Lone Star Steak House. After an order your own supper we returned to our hotel to relax in the Hospitality Room. It had been a great day.


Saturday 14 July

This morning found us traveling to Beatrice, NE to visit the Homestead National Monument, the Homestead Heritage Center, and the Freeman School. The Heritage Center is a place where the magnitude and world-wide impact of the Homestead Act of 1862 is told. Under the Homestead Act 270 million acres were claimed and settled. The Heritage Center contains the National Homesteading Museum and access to the 1867 Palmer-Epard Cabin, an original settler's home. The Freeman School is a historic one-room brick schoolhouse. It opened in 1872 and operated for 95 years until closing in 1967. This was an appropriate and interesting look at the impact of the Homestead Act and the lives of those early homesteaders. 2012 is the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act.

For lunch we stopped in at Aunt Mary's Cafe in downtown Beatrice. Aunt Mary's is the kind of center of the town small town gathering place that most communities no longer have. The world is a lesser place because of the loss of these establishments.

We then traveled to Milford, NE for our annual Memorial Service and a concert at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. The Memorial service, in which we remember the 818th Veterans and spouses who have passed on, was a very moving tribute. Afterwards we were treated to a very enjoyable concert by the multi talented, thirteen member Wissmann Family (father, mother, sons, and daughters).

We finished up the day by returning to our hotel where we held our annual Business Meeting. The Business Meeting this year was relatively informal. The really good thing that came our of it was a gracious offer by Amie Langland to host the 2013 Reunion in Indianapolis, IN. Amie is the Granddaughter of Harold (deceased) and Irene Ritter and the daughter of Lynette and Dennis Langland.


Sunday 15 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 very enjoyable Lincoln Reunion was over. Our time together had gone by all too quickly.    

We look forward to seeing everyone in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2013.


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


2012 reunion-2

We have many more photos of the 2012 Reunion.
(Click here to view the photos)

Thanks to everyone who helped make the 2012 Reunion in Lincoln a great success!