The group met for their first reunion in 1983 in Oklahoma City. Their official last reunion was held in Richmond Virginia in 2000, hosted by the Virginia National Guard that traces its own history to the 328 FS of the 352ndFighter Group. Stallion 51 was the site of their 2002 “last reunion” in conjunction with Bob Reese filming his 352nddocumentary at the Stallion 51 Facility. The October 2010 reunion at Stallion 51 is the seventh “last reunion” since 2000.
The veterans and their guests traveled to central Florida to once again visit Stallion 51, watch their beloved Mustangs fly and to sit around the hangar and talk about flying the Mustangs with the Stallion family and invited guests, Whenever the 352nd visits Stallion 51 other blue nose Mustangs show up as well to honor what the veterans and their planes contributed to the war effort.
Tony Buechler brought his P-51D “Petie 2nd” all the way from Waukesha, Wisconsin that honors Col. John Meyers, Vlado Lenoch had Al Shiffer fly his P-51D “Moonbeam McSwine” from LaGrange, Illinois that honors Capt. William Whisner. Kermit Weeks brought over “Cripes A Mighty 3rd” from Fantasy of Flight that honors top Mustang ace Major George Preddy and Gary Yelvington brought over “E Pluribus Unum” from Daytona, Florida that honors Captain Ray Littge. Making a total of 6 “Bluenosers” attending the reunion including Stallion’s Crazy Horse and Crazy Horse 2, also painted in the 352 blue nose paint scheme. Also attending the reunion, was Don Hickey’s 352nd FG Tribute Drag Mustang, a unique tribute to both the 352nd and the P-51 Mustang.
Invited special guest, Col. Steve Hicks (Ret.) was the Commanding Officer of the Virginia Air National Guard and was instrumental in the 2000 reunion. He has attended many “last reunions” but has never had the opportunity to fly in the Mustang the veterans speak so reverently of. Thanks to Vlado Lenoch he finally got his chance to fly in the back seat of his Mustang, “Moonbeam McSwine”.
Andy Fredrick, past president of the 352nd Fighter Group Association was thrilled with the turnout and the all day event. “I am fortunate to have so many attend and that the group is still so active.” The reunion of men and machine drew 6 Bluenose Mustangs and 11 Bluenose veterans. “It is like medicine for the veterans to share their stories with each other and the younger generations.” Andy shared. “Stallion 51 puts on a great event, very professional yet personal, you feel part of their family when you are there. So much so that none of the veterans wanted to leave but stay and share stories and listen to the Mustangs fly overhead.”
The Bluenosers, thanks to the leadership of Bob “Punchy” Powell, are still going strong. Punchy made the trip from Atlanta with his son to tell stories and to entertain the group. Don Bryan, the only 352nd Ace in attendance, shared his amusing stories during lunch in Stallion 51’s Hangar with all the Bluenose Mustangs circling the guests. There were a total of 11 Bluenose Veterans in attendance. The Bluenosers finished out their 2010 reunion with a visit to Fantasy of Flight. Tentative dates for the 2011 “Last Reunion” will be October 6 through 8, 2011 in Atlanta Georgia.
More information on the Bluenose Mustangs and their pilots can be found on The Gathering Foundation website at www.Gatheringfoundation.org.
Thanks to Grady Lisk for photos and information as well as Andy Fredrick. The 352nd website is www.352nd fightergroup.com.