A History of the Beginnings of the 307th Bomb Wing B-47/KC-97 Association
Described by Founding Members Billy Williams and Betty Pelletier

Billy Williams starts off:
Back in the 1980s, the idea to have a get together of the enlisted maintenance personnel of the 307th Bomb Wing at LAFB had been discussed off and on for a few years among some of us living in the Lincoln area. Around the summer of 1984, Jim and Darlene Lancaster were coming to visit, and I called some of the guys we both knew who lived in the area and had a get together at the DAV Chapter House. Everyone had a great time being together, talking over "old times" and telling "war stories." The idea of a real reunion came up again and again, and everyone decided it should be tried and ALL were willing to do what they could to help out. THAT WAS THE BEGINNING.

Betty Pelletier picks it up:
During the Christmas holidays of 1986, Betty Heller, Helen Ecelbarger and I discussed the idea of having a "get together" of all the former 307th members who lived in the Phoenix/Tucson area. We invited everyone in our individual address books, plus people whose names were given to us by those we knew. When we completed the invitation list, we had about sixty people invited, ranging from Washington State, California and Oregon, to Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. Even some Nebraskans attended. We decided on early March 1987, and it was to be held on Heller's patio in Green Valley. Thirty-five people attended. We all had a great time and the consensus was that we needed to try for a regular reunion. The cry went up! "Why don't you do that, Betty?" With the promise that all would go home and send me the addresses of 307th members that they had in their address books, I agreed to undertake planning a reunion.

Billy continues:
An unofficial committee formed, without whom there would never have been a reunion: George and Wauneta Nigh, Joe and Janice Bolton, Al and Marilyn Stewart, Billy and Dorothy Hill, and Jean Williams, all worked hard to make our dream a reality. Information and assistance was also received from John Whittington, Harry Rexroad, and Jim Lancaster. Address books were our primary source of potential attendees, along with responses to many letters written to people at addresses we had, requesting other addresses in their books. Next, old orders were pulled out of storage boxes and the names and serial numbers recorded. The distaff members composed a letter, which was sent to Randolph AFB locator, with a request that it be forwarded to the addressee, which was possible when the person was on file. The response was good, and most indicated an interest in attending a reunion.

Betty's next steps:
Many people sent old orders from which I could get serial numbers and I sent a list and about 500 printed postcards to the locator at Randolph AFB in San Antonio. In addition, I put notices in every military magazine of which I had ever heard. In April, Helen and I drove to Las Vegas to find a place to hold the reunions. We decided on the Hacienda for a variety of reasons.

Billy's progress:
Once we received favorable answers from those who have received our inquiry, Jean Williams and Janice Bolton set out to make arrangements for the reunion itself. At that point, we anticipated about fifty or so people. A date and location were selected and more publicity was undertaken. We made posters to mail to friends, asking them to put them up in BX's and commissaries. Information was also sent to every veteran’s magazine we knew about, providing reunion information and myself as a contact person. As you may have noticed, there has been no mention so far of any sort of bank account, or other method of financing this shindig, so we decided we had better decide on a method of paying. We decided that attendees would pay a $ 5.00 registration fee and for the reunion dinner in advance. The Villager Motor Inn was selected as the site for the dinner, and a "Get Re-Acquainted Party" was planned. Now that we had actually committed ourselves to this event, we were all excited.

Betty's group grows:
In the Autumn of 1987, we heard from a 307th group in Lincoln that was organizing. This was, of course, the group in Lincoln that Billy and Jean Williams and the others had organized. We added those names to our list, and by the time the actual reunion rolled around, we had about twelve hundred names. The first person to call me and offer to help was Mike Gingrich. He had a computer and offered to keep all of the names and addresses for future mailings.

Billy Meets Success:
Soon, word of our reunion had spread so that we now had over one hundred people planning to attend. Plans had to be revamped. Jean, Wauneta, Janice and Dorothy "solicited" door prizes from Lincoln businesses, with remarkable success. Janice collected information and "goodies" for ditty bags. Everything for this reunion was stored in our family room, so you can imagine how it must have looked. We decided to use the registration fee to provide drinks and snacks in the hospitality room at no charge. Suddenly, the registration list had grown to over one hundred and twenty five. Marilyn was given the responsibility of finding a guest speaker, to welcome everyone back to Lincoln. Dorothy had a ceramic shop in her home and undertook the chore of making coffee mugs with the 307th crest on them, which we sold to help defray expenses. There was still no treasury and all expenses of mailing, printing, phones calls, etc, were paid by committee members. ON TO THE BIG EVENT! September 27, 28, and 29, 1985 were three days I will never forget! Actually, there are hardly any words to describe how it felt to see "guys" I hadn't seen in twenty to twenty-five years. It was great! On Friday night, the weather was beautiful and we had the Re-acquainting Party on the lawn. Saturday, people visited former landlords, friends, and favorite eating places (Runza Hut, Tastee Inn, and Valentino's). Some of the early arrivals on Thursday ventured out to Denton to taste the steaks and were amazed to see the old place still looked the same. The banquet was great, with one hundred seventy-five attendees. Never have George Nigh as your emcee, because he cried through the whole program (ha). The Lieutenant Governor at the time was the guest speaker. Sunday was the end of a great weekend. NEBRASKA welcomed everyone back in traditional manner, with a dramatic example of her unpredictable weather-warm and beautiful on Friday, rainy and cool Saturday, and SNOW on Sunday.

Betty's planning pays off:
I wrote to several people who were former 307th members and who had risen to star rank, and finally chose General Bernard Randolph to be our speaker. Favors were purchased and boxes shipped. We had received money to sponsor a "free" cocktail hour, but the Hacienda did not provide enough bars to take care of the crowd. The date was April eighth through tenth, 1988, and we ended up with three hundred fifteen attendees. We had a hospitality room on Friday night, which was a beehive of activity as everyone caught up with the news as they met other 307th members. The Saturday night banquet was a gala affair, and on Sunday morning we had a buffet brunch which was well attended. All I can say now is that the entire effort was worth it to get started as it has now continued and more and more former members from Lincoln have learned of the Association, and we are constantly adding new members.

At the Las Vegas reunion, Billy William's and Betty's initial groups combined to found the 307th Bomb Wing B-47/KC97 Association, with Vern Biaett elected as Chairman.

After many years of faithful support of the Association, Betty Pelletier departed this world on 29 November 2004.  She is missed by us all.


Vern Biaett adds some technical stuff:
Shortly after the Las Vegas reunion, we applied for tax exempt status under Chapter 4, Section 501(c)(19) of the IRS Code of 1954. This exemption was to relieve the Association from filing tax returns with the IRS. This exemption does not make donations to the Association tax deductible for individuals making donations. To make donations deductible for individuals, more than 90% of the Association members would have to be war veterans. This would severely restrict membership of persons whose service commenced after 31 January 1955 or terminated before 5 August 1964. In addition, memberships for spouses, widows, widowers and civilian employees would be restricted. The Association, with our membership practices, does not meet the criteria for War Veteran status.

Two paragraphs from IRS Code Chapter 4, Section 501 (c)(19) outline conditions with which the 307th Bomb Wing B-47/KC-97 Association must comply:

501(c)(19)2 requires that "at least 75% of the members are past or present members of the U S Armed Forces, and that at least 97.5% of all members of the organization are past or present members of the U S Armed Forces, cadets, or spouses, widows, or widowers of any of those listed here.

501(c)(19)3 requires that "no part of the net earnings insure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual."

And so it is that we are us!

Over the years since, we have gathered together across the country, under the leadership of several Association Chairmen/Presidents
Vern Biaett 1988-1990
Aulden Stewart 1990-1992
Tony Minnick 1992-2002
Pete Todd 2002-

Our reunion locations have been many and diverse:

Las Vegas
Betty Pelletier
Tony Minnick
Hank Grogan
Bob King
Mike Gingrich
Colorado Springs
Bob Schultz
Tony Minnick
Fort Worth
R T Boykin
Las Vegas
Vern Biaett
Jarvis Latham
Brent Horn
Mike Gingrich & Bud Flanik
Billy & Jean Williams


Although, in recent years, many members have taken their Last Flights, our numbers remain stable as new members find us, or we find them. For several years we have had about 1550 members on our mailing list. In addition, there about 600 others we know of but have not been able to locate.


Peace Was Our Profession


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