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Sixth Annual Glenn Miller Festival (August 2007) by Sandy Lyman Hintz
Click here to listen to Major Glenn Miller's AAF/AEF Band while you visit this web page.
 
"Next to a letter from home, the Major Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band was the greatest morale booster we had in the European Theatre of Operations in World War Two."

General "Jimmy" Doolittle
United States Army Air Force
 
The Control Tower at Twinwood Royal Air Force Airfield in East Anglia, England. The tower was restored in 2002.
Over 15,000 attended the Sixth Annual Glenn Miller Festival in August 2007 at the historic Twinwood Royal Air Force Airfield in East Anglia, England. The control tower (above) was restored in 2002. It now houses a museum featuring many photographs of Major Glenn Miller and his AEF Band, plus uniforms and personal items that Major Miller left behind.
 

For anyone who loves the uniquely magnificent music of Major Alton G. Miller and his American Band of the Supreme Allied Command, also known as the American Band of the Allied Expeditionary Force (AEF Band), the Twinwood Festival is a definite "don't miss." It features an outstanding swing band lead by John Miller, Glenn Miller's nephew.

The Twinwood Festival is presented in the very same venue that was used almost daily by Glenn's AEF Band after they arrived in England at the end of June 1944. The buildings you see, the trees, the roads, and the green pastures are the very same ones they saw and used during those grim days of World War Two.

Major Glenn Miller
Major Glenn Miller

But the Festival is even more than this. It offers three full days (and four days in 2008) of spectacular performances by over 21 groups and artists representing the style of music we label swing, jazz and jive. I personally cannot remember having quite as good a time at any other music gathering in the 67 years I have spent on this planet. Throw in hundreds of "re-enactors" dressed in the military uniforms or civilian clothing styles of the time, 1940's automobiles and military equipment, as well as extremely low-level daily surprise flyovers by an RAF Battle of Britain Spitfire, and you can feel the clock turning back to the Greatest Generation's world. The Festival itself is well worth the expense of traveling to the United Kingdom, and I'd agree to do it again in a New York minute.

This year's Festival was held during England's annual Bank Holiday weekend, and commemorates Glenn's AEF orchestra's 27 August 1944 performance at Twinwood, their only concert presented at a Royal Air Force base. Dates this year were Saturday 25 August thru Monday 27 August 2007. The weather was perfect ... bright, warm and sunny days, followed by balmy evenings with a full "bombers" moon.

The RAF airfield of Twinwood was just outside of the villages of Clapham and Milton Ernest, about four miles from the town of Bedford. Miller's AEF orchestra was stationed in Bedford to get away from the V-1 buzzbombs that were targeting London big time. With London only 50 miles to the south, the BBC had installed broadcast land lines from Bedford that went into their master control at Broadcast House in the capital city. Virtually all of the various radio programs featuring the AEF band originated from the studios in Bedford.

Google Earth Satellite Image Showing The 4.3 Mile Route from Bedford to Twinwood

Twinwood was a convenient airfield for USAAF planes to use to transport Miller and his men to the hundreds of morale boosting concerts they made at 8th Air Force bases throughout Britain. In fact, it was the Twinwood control tower from which Glenn boarded that ill-fated Norseman for the planned flight to Paris on 15 December 1944, never to be seen again. The fully restored control tower now houses a museum featuring many photographs of the Miller military band, plus uniforms and personal items he left behind on that day. The door he walked out of is never opened now, and many report a "chill feeling" in the hallway that leads to that door.

The official host of the Glenn Miller Festival is Glenn's nephew, John Miller. He leads his own 17-piece swing band that once was Herb Miller's (Glenn's brother and John's father) orchestra. John is a very entertaining emcee, as well as a very good leader and vocalist. He is also approachable and personable and made this Yankee from Indianapolis feel very much at home. His band displays the same crisp precision I remember from Ray McKinley's New Glenn Miller Orchestra of the 1950's and 60's. Their first set features his uncle's hits from the 40's and is presented with everyone in USAAF authentic uniforms. John bears a remarkable resemblance to his uncle, proving apples don't fall far from the tree. The second set is done in traditional dinner jackets and features music associated with other swing bands of that era and later. He has a gal singer by the name of Fiona Paige who is as much a pleasure to listen to as she is a treat to watch perform. John's band has a website and has CD's available if you wish to check them out.

Dancing at the Sixth Annual Glenn Miller Festival (August 2007).

John's concert was held on Sunday night on the main stage of the Twinwood Arena. The stage is built in the front of a large Nissen-type hangar, situated in a natural hollow big enough to handle over 8,000 spectators, and it was packed this night.

It was a special evening. For the first time in 65 years, an Eberle appeared and sang with a real Miller-led orchestra. Charming Jan Eberle, the eye and ear pleasing daughter of Glenn's civilian band lead vocalist Ray Eberle, spun a web of enchantment. She sang several selections from her new CD, Blue Champagne. Jan is a very pretty, sweet, and charming young woman who won the heart of this writer when we met the following day. She also has her own website, and has recently written a very interesting book about her dad, The Eberle Named Ray.

All in all, this was a night full of many memories which you did not want to see end. Over the three days of the Festival, there were many other performances and items of interest. For example, the Bedford-Twinwood area is beautiful and historic, as these photos suggest:

Bedford-Twinwood Photos
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Bedford Corn Exchange
 
Bedford Corn Exchange
 
Marble Arch Hotel
 
Control Tower Exit
             
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Twinwood Driveway
 
Glenn Miller Exhibit
 
Control Tower Stairway
 
Twinwood Runway
             
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Glenn Miller Lounge
 
Twinwood Operations
 
Path to Milton Ernest Hall
             
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Glenn Miller Plaque
 
Queens Head Inn
 
Radio Room
 
Conrol Tower

Sandy Lyman Hintz
Indianapolis, Indiana USA
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Reunion and Remembrance - by Sandy Lyman Hintz

Moderator's Note: I am grateful to Palomar member Sandy Lyman Hintz for his comments above about the Twinwood Festival and for sharing the letter below that he received in 1986 from the late Artie Malvin, who recalled some of his experiences as a member of the Crew Chiefs in Major Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band (Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces).

The reunion of Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band on August 15-16,1986 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio was a once in a lifetime experience for everyone who attended (I wish I had been there!). As you read Sandy's comments and Artie's memories, I know you will be deeply moved. When you finish, or perhaps while you are reading, listen to some of the marvelous music of Major Glenn Miller's AAF/AEF Band. You'll find about a dozen selections at the bottom of this page.

Johnny Desmond (1919-1985)

It is sad indeed that Johnny Desmond and several other AAF Band alumni died shortly before this reunion occurred. Johnny is buried about three miles from my Los Angeles home at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. I sometimes stop by on Memorial Day to visit his gravesite, say "Thank You, Johnny!" and offer a few prayers.

When I was a boy in Chicago in the late 1940s, my mother, my Aunt Dorothea ("Mike"), and I listened to Johnny Desmond every morning on Don McNeil's Breakfast Club. We heard the show on a small radio on our kitchen table. Sometimes Johnny talked about his days with Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band, which he obviously loved so much. He spurred my interest in Glenn Miller. I began buying Miller's records in 1949, when I turned nine years old.

Not far from Johnny's gravesite is Jimmy Durante's. I always smile when I walk by, thinking of the many times Jimmy Durante made me laugh. "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are...."

George Spink
Moderator - The Palomar and Tuxedo Junction
Los Angeles, California
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Major Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band played its last "I Sustain the Wings" broadcast on 17 November 1945 from Bolling Field near Washington, D.C. All remaining personnel (some had been discharged earlier) were then immediately released from service by order of General Hap Arnold himself. He is quoted as having said, "These are my boys! Let them out, they've done their share of duty."

Forty-one years passed by before this great orchestra enjoyed their only reunion and remembrance gathering. The date was Saturday 16 August 1986, and the place was the theater of the United States Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. I was there. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help say thanks to them is an experience that will live with me forever.

Reunion line-up with Major General Charles Metcalf, Saturday 16 August 1986. Photo courtesy of The National Museum of the United States Air Force.
Reunion line-up with Major General Charles Metcalf, Saturday 16 August 1986. Photo courtesy of The National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Here are other photos from that great weekend. Click on any photo to view an enlargement.
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Ray McKinley at the microphone. (08/16)

 
AAF Trombones (L-R) Jimmy Priddy, John Halliburton, and Nat Peck. (08/16)
 
AAF Trombones (L-R) Jimmy Priddy, John Halliburton, and Nat Peck. (08/16)
         
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Peanuts Hucko rehearsing with the band. (08/15)
 
Peanuts Hucko rehearsing with the band. (08/15)
 
Peanuts Hucko and Ray McKinley greeting Earl Cornwell and Dave Sackson. (08/15)
         
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Nat Peck said "Hello" to Mr. & Mrs. Freddy Guerra. (08/16)
 
Reunion line-up. (08/16)
 
Evening rehearsal at the Air Force Museum. (08/15)
         
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16,000 attended Reunion. (08/16)
 
16,000 attended Reunion. (08/16)
 
Peanuts Hucko rehearsing with the band. (08/15)
         
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Reunion lineup with Major General Charles Metcalf. (08/16)
 
Reunion lineup with Major General Charles Metcalf. (08/16)
 
AAF Saxes—(L-R) Freddy Guerra, Peanuts Hucko, Hank Freeman, Vince Carbone, Manny Thaler, (08/16)

Several weeks later, I received a copy of a wonderfully written letter from Arthur "Artie" Malvin, who was then living in Beverly Hills, California. I would like to share this letter with you, as it truly gives the feelings that all the remaining AAF Band members had when they gathered together for the last time.

All photos of this reunion on this web page were provided by The National Museum of the United States Air Force. George and I are both grateful for their cooperation.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has an excellent Glenn Miller exhibit, as this photo suggests:
Click on this photo to view an enlargement.
Click on this photo to view a super-sized enlargement and scroll around!

Sandy Lyman Hintz
Indianapolis, Indiana USA
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Singing with Major Glenn Miller and His Army Air Force Band
by Cpl. Arthur "Artie" Malvin of the Crew Chiefs
Nat Peck came from London, Johnny Halliburton and Jack Ferrier from France. Six came from California and seven from New York. Others arrived from Texas, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Canada. Lynn Allison, my singing 'Crew Chief' pal, was there with his lovely wife, Gloria, and equally lovely daughter, Nan. Cecille, the widow of our brilliant and beloved concertmaster George Ockner, was also there, as was Steve Miller, the adopted son Glenn never got to see.

All had gathered for the very first-ever reunion of the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band, and we were each in Dayton, Ohio, to receive the coveted Air Force Medal of Commendation for our morale-building efforts in the European Theatre of Operations during World War Two. Forty-one years after the band's final in person appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., before an audience that included President Harry S. Truman and Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and 'Hap' Arnold, 24 of the surviving members of Glenn's AAF Band would make one more attempt at a proper military salute as Major-General Charles D. Metcalf affixed the Air Force Medal to each man's jacket. The General gently handed the box containing the award and the accompanying citation to George Ockner's widow, as he softly kissed her cheek.

The official and impressive citation contains the phrases "distinguished himself by meritorious service" and "performed as a musician under frequent adverse conditions to entertain military personnel in the European Theatre of Operations."

As I write, my mind flashes to conditions that might properly qualify as adverse. Perhaps arriving at Euston Station at 7:25 AM on June 29th, 1944, in the midst of a flying V-Bomb attack on London, might justify the adjective. We were too new to such events, perhaps too naive to understand the danger as we watched Glenn holding himself quite rigid against a station stanchion until All Clear sounded.

It was the bus trip across London to our quarters in Sloane Court that first opened our eyes as we drove through areas of intense devastation where flying bombs, called 'doodlebugs' by the British, had struck.

By the time we were unpacking in the series of small houses meant to be our home-away-from-home, a general mood of deep introspective seemed to grip each man except for one. The ever-fastidious pianist, Jackie Russin, glanced around the room he was to share with the Steck brothers, Jack Steele and me, and shouted indignantly, "No hangars!!!.... "How the hell are we supposed to hang our clothing?" I think one of us threw something at him.

During our first night in London, most of the band headed for neighborhood bomb shelters with their blankets, but several heroes or idiots (you make the choice) -- by name: Johnny Desmond, Steve and Gene Steck, Jack Steele, and this writer, put on our steel helmets and climbed to the roof of our house to watch as the rockets with their flaming tails flew over the city. Fortunately for us, they were concentrated on targets at some distance from our perch. When the flame coming out of the rear of the bomb went out, the engine would cut out and in a brief few seconds a thunderous explosion would follow, with ensuing death and destruction.

Glenn's intuition was surely working overtime when he insisted we be moved out of London by no later than Sunday, July 2nd. The American motor pool said, "We don't work Sundays!" It is my recollection that Glenn proceeded to make a deal with the RAF to provide transportation to Bedford, East Anglia, which was to be our new base, near the Twinwood Airfield.

The control tower at Twinwood Airfield near Bedford before it was restored in 2002.
The control tower at Twinwood Airfield near Bedford before it was restored in 2002.

In exchange for the lorries, we would play a concert for the Royal Air Force. A very good deal it was. At noon on Sunday we traveled the 55 miles to Bedford. The very next morning, at 8:00 AM on Monday July 3rd, a V-1 bomb struck our previous day's dwellings on Sloane Court. Twenty-five Military Policemen seated in a truck were killed, as were several woman of the American Woman's Corps -- their first overseas casualties. The women had been in formation ready to march to the local mess hall for breakfast. Glenn's intuition surely saved some of our lives. It is tragic we couldn't save his five months later.

Major Glenn Miller and His AEF Band bringing a "touch of home" to American troops in the U.K. -- and winning over British fans at the same time.
Major Glenn Miller and His AEF Band bringing a "touch of home" to American troops in the U.K. -- and winning over British fans at the same time.

Mulling over the term adverse, it could apply to those kidney-jarring rides in what seemed to be springless half-ton trucks delivering us to some Air Force base to play a concert. And, what about flying in planes marked with stripes on the side bearing the discomforting phrase "condemned for combat!" Ray McKinley and Trigger Alpert might have a word to add here, for they were being transported by either a B-24 or B-17 to a base for a concert. Ray sat next to all his drum cases while Trigger kept one hand and watchful eye on his valuable bass fiddle, never giving a second thought to the improvised look of a plywood strip that spanned the floor of the bomb bay they shared. They did wonder every now and then about the peculiar bounce they took each time the plane seemed to hit an air pocket. It was only upon landing that they learned the bomb bay itself had been completely open during the entire flight. Only that thin strip of half-inch plywood lay between them and the verdant but ever-so solid English soil.

Adverse has to include the transient mess hall in Paris where we had to go for our meals. Food was kept warm there 24 hours a day for G.I. truck crews passing through Paris on their various missions. The food was truly horrible and being kept warm around the clock didn't help it one bit. I remember the night Harry Hartwick, one of our scriptwriters, was carried out of our Hotel Des Olympiads on a stretcher with a virulent case of food poisoning. Other arrangements were quickly made for meals, although we had to travel halfway across Paris. But, the American rations were prepared by a French chef, a vast improvement we thought.

What about the winter of 1944-1945, which Parisians swore was the coldest ever? We had no heat and couldn't bathe. We slept in every item of clothing we could get on and still nearly froze. I recall learning, with appropriate dismay, that the one big shipment of coal that had been sent to our billet was quickly sold on the black market by our very own concierge, the infamous Monsieur Gombere.

Oh, I could go on and on, but so could each of the 43 survivors. Every guy has his own tale to tell, and the definitive book will probably never be written, although a superb work -- researched in depth and written over a span of seven years -- was suddenly available to us at the Air Force Museum bookstore. The book was written by an English fan of the band named Geoffrey Butcher. He came to Dayton especially for our reunion on his first trip to the U.S. Geoffrey is co-founder of the Glenn Miller Society of England, which still flourishes actively today. The title of the book, Next to a Letter from Home, is a direct quote from a statement made by the famous General 'Jimmy' Doolittle, who said, "Next to a letter from home, the Major Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band was the greatest morale booster we had in the European Theatre of Operations in World War Two."

The General, now celebrating his 90th year (in 1986), couldn't come to Ohio, but we each received a copy of a letter he sent. It concludes with, "While it is just not possible for me to join you in person to offer my sincere thanks and to congratulate you on receipt of the long-overdue commendation medal, you know that I am with you in spirit. May God Bless each of you." What a kick it was to see ourselves and a younger, vigorous General Doolittle on a film that was shown just prior to the awards ceremony.

The film was shot 42 years ago at Eighth Air Force Headquarters, code named "Pinetree", Highwycombe, England. The scratchy soundtrack faded in and out, but there was our band playing excerpts from" In The Mood," "Stardust," and "I'll Be Seeing You" with Johnny singing beautifully, as always. When the soundtrack quit entirely, I could still detect the Crew Chiefs lips moving to "Juke Box Saturday Night."

Major Glenn Miller with American movie actress and singer Irene Manning on the BBC in November 1944.
Major Glenn Miller with American movie actress and singer Irene Manning on the BBC in November 1944.

For those of you who couldn't make it to Dayton on the 15th and 16th of August 1986, it is beyond me to describe the emotional surge we all felt. There was a lot of love there.... We were once again part of a unique extended family and we are past the point of being shy about hugging and kissing one another. Cameras were flashing constantly, everyone eager to capture the joyful images this reunion evoked. It was wonderful to see the entire trombone section intact and reunited: Jim Priddy, John Halliburton, Larry Hall and Nat Peck. The original sax section was also in force. There, posing for a photograph with borrowed horns in hand, were Hank Freeman, Peanuts Hucko, Jack Ferrier, Freddy Guerra, Manny Thaler and Vince Carbone.

Vince truly deserves an additional cluster on his medal, for it was he who spoke to retired Lieutenant-Colonel Weddle about the fact that there had never been any official recognition for our unit. Colonel Weddle contacted General Charles Gabriel, the Air Force Chief Of Staff, and it all began to come together. Thanks are also due to Rick Gerber, a treasured fan of the band who, together with the late, great Johnny Desmond, first began talking about a band reunion back in 1984.

Damn! If it had only been possible to have the event take place in the 40th year, Johnny would certainly have been there and so perhaps would Murray Kane and Broderick Crawford, the most recent members to have left us.

The trumpet section was represented by our brilliant jazz soloist, Bernie Privin. Strings were represented by eight players including, Phil Cogliano, our "Hot" fiddle; Maurice "The Ear" Bialkin, undisputed master and bearer of the latest rumor; Earl "The Duke" Cornwell, truly one of natures noblemen, who reminded me that we were together at an art gallery in Paris when he pointed out a sturdy, rather bulky woman dressed in baggy woolen garb. I immediately recognized her from newspaper photographs and 'The Duke' -- whose true métier was diplomacy -- introduced both of us and invited Gertrude Stein to a concert at the Olympia Theatre.

Gertrude Stein did come. Some of you may remember the talk she gave backstage after our performance. Too bad portable tape recorders had still to be invented. She spoke, as my dim memory recollects, for about forty minutes, remarking on her love for jazz and how much she enjoyed the precision of our performance. She also touched upon man as the creator and man forced to kill by circumstances beyond his control. In my view then, and now as well, the Nazi insanity left humanity no recourse but all-out combat and eventual complete and total victory. I know I wouldn't be writing this 41 years after a Hitler victory.

Incidentally, a small group of us including Earl, Ray McKinley, Mel Powell, Peanuts, Carmen Mastren, the Stecks and a few others I can't recall at the moment, were invited to the legendary Stein salon at 27 Rue De Fleurus, where a little "jazz" was played while Alice B. Toklas served her homemade cookies and special brownies. We were in a room laden with Picasso paintings, including the magnificent nude of the young Alice painted in his blue-tint period. Gertrude sat on the couch in front of the fireplace and regaled us with stories about the great and near great who passed through her portals.

Getting back to Dayton, Dave Sackson, looking fully fifteen years younger than he is, was there eyes alight at the possibility of finding a rare violin bow in Ohio. "Cow Cow" Kowaleski and Dave Schwartz make the trip, and the very last string player to arrive was Ernie Kardos, now celebrating his 50th year with the Cleveland Symphony. Bill Conway, one of our original 'Modernaires' with Glenn's pre-war band, made it. So did Emil Mittermann, a cellist who had joined us in Paris. Emil had earlier been assigned to a hospital unit and it was there that he first met one of our violinists, Al "The Agent"' Edelson. Emil reports that Al attempted to secure copious supplies of the then secret drug penicillin for the entire band. Al was absolutely certain we'd need huge quantities of it, based as we were in the sinful, (but oh so blissful) city of Paree. "The Agent"' couldn't swing the deal; but a cluster on Al's medal for trying.

Vito Pascucci, one of our superb instrument repairmen, looking particularly dapper and content, was also with us. If some of you still wonder just how Vito filled the free time we had in France, let me clue you in. He managed to contact Leblanc, manufacturers of the world's best woodwinds, flutes and other reed instruments, and after the war he somehow managed to buy the company. Only Vito has the details. He is now the king of Kenosha, Wisconsin and one of America's leading instrument manufacturers. Not to worry much about Vito, Gang!

Well, the stories that flew back and forth across hospitality suites we used as meeting places were hysterical. We were wall-to-wall mouths constantly. Stories continued to be told on the Air Force buses that took us to the USAF Museum on Friday August 15th, where there was to be a rehearsal for the concert to be given on the following night. On a personal note, Ray McKinley had phoned me several weeks before the event to ask whether I would sing a duet on "The G.I. Jive." Show biz, as the cliché goes, is indeed my life, so I quickly said, "Yes." Ray sent me a lyric breakdown to memorize in which he was much too kind, saying I could alter it if I chose to. I did! He had given me much more that I felt I could commit to memory and I mailed a revised routine to him in Canada. It never got there in time so, at the rehearsal, Ray said, "Just point when it's my turn to sing."

At a break in the rehearsal, we were all fed truly and very well, seated at tables placed inside the huge hangar containing many models of Air Force planes and also containing a special glass case containing Glenn's trombone and other Miller band memorabilia. After the rehearsal we returned to our hotel for more reminiscing until the wee hours. Sleep was difficult for many of us. We were too exhilarated.

On Saturday August 16th, we left our hotel in USAF buses at 1:30 PM for the award ceremonies scheduled for two o'clock. Everyone was dressed very smartly, wearing a name tag on the right jacket lapel, leaving the right pocket free to which the medal was to be affixed. An audience of about 500 joined us in the Museum's theatre, and at one point gave us a standing ovation. We were briefed by Linda Smith and Judy Wehn of the Museum staff, assistants to Dick Baughman, the chief of public affairs. I must interject here that the planning and co-ordination of the entire weekend event by those already mentioned and by Richard Uppstrom, Director of the Air Force Museum was superbly efficient and considerate, for which I and everyone who attended is deeply grateful.

We were directed to form a single line and wait until each individual's name was called. At that point each man would walk to center stage to receive the award. We were told we could salute General Metcalf if we chose to, and everyone did. While we were lining up, Richard Uppstrom made a brief opening statement and then read a letter that had been received some time back by Ray McKinley from a former Air Force Officer. To capsulate: This officer recalled a concert we gave at his base in England during a period of low morale due to losses of aircraft and men. The letter said that his men truly needed a lift to their spirits, and our band provided that lift and then some. Glenn had often said that he wanted to bring "a hunk of home" to the men overseas, and our mission that day succeeded beyond our expectations. The letter also reminded us that as we prepared to get back into our transport planes after the concert, 1,800 enlisted men and officers assembled on the airstrip and saluted Glenn and the band -- an incredible display of appreciation.

After this letter was read, Dick Baughman gave a brief biographical sketch about each of us and our postwar careers, as we individually strode to center stage to receive the medal and citation. After 25 presentations were made, the names of those who had died were read starting with Major Glenn Miller ... then Sgt. Jerry Gray ... Sgt. Jack Sanderson ... Sgt. Harry Katzman. I'll dispense with their military rank as I continue: Dave Herman ... Carmen Mastren ... Jimmy Jackson ... Bobby Nichols ... Junior Collins ... Stan Jarris ... Dick Motylinski ... Joe Shulman ... Frank Ippolito ... Johnny Desmond ... Murray Kane ... Paul Dubov ... Paul Dudley ...Carl Swanson ... Henry Brynan ... Don Haynes ... and Brod Crawford. A third of the band gone much too soon.

Vince Carbone stepped to the podium on our behalf to offer a gift to the Museum. The gift, prepared by Thomas W. Myrick, a longtime friend of the band, consisted of cassettes of every "I Sustain The Wings" broadcast the band we ever did. The collection begins with the program of 29 May 1943 and ends with the show on 17 November 1945, a truly magnificent job of research and preparation. Thank you, Tom. The cassettes are now part of the Glenn Miller collection at the Museum.

Insignia  of the Supreme Headquaters of the Allied Expeditionary Force
SHAEF Insignia

After the award ceremonies were over, we all gathered on the second floor of the Museum for lunch and general relaxation prior to the concert. At 7 PM, the USAF dance band, The Airmen of Note, wearing uniforms similar to those we wore with the SHAEF patch on the left sleeve, began with the theme "Moonlight Serenade" and segued to, what else, "In The Mood." McKinley emceed and sat in with the band, too, dropping at least 30 years as he picked up his sticks. Amazing man, that Mac! Peanuts played magnificently, the high spot for me being his solo On Steve Steck's swingin' arrangement of "Stealin' Apples."

Ray McKinley reminded me in a recent letter that in playing "The Eyes and Ears of The World" for the first time in some 41 years, Peanuts forgot to play the melody line in the 2nd eight bars of the 1st chorus. For 8 bars then, all that was heard was a bunch of band figures that had nothing much to do with the tune itself. As Peanuts turned to Ray with a look of surprise, Ray yelled, 'You forgot to come in." Peanuts hollered back, "Didn't it sound great?" It was that kind of relaxed concert. Peanut's wife, Louise Tobin, who sang with Harry James during the Big Band Era, did several solos beautifully. The current Modernaires, with Paula Kelly, Jr. also performed a number of Miller standards. Ray and I did our own thing on "G.I. Jive," during which I suddenly possessed and did a few dance steps rejected by Fred Astaire.

Hey, remember when Fred showed up at Rainbow Corners in Piccadilly to visit his sister Adele who was then Lady Cavendish and a volunteer hostess at thE Red Cross Club? Mr. Astaire, the one performer I idolize, was importuned by the audience of G.I.'s to "Dance Fred, c'mon and dance." Fred shyly agreed to try. As the dance band under McKinley began, a medium-tempoed blues in B-flat, the Astaires improvised an enchanting routine in the postage-stamp space that was available. It was something I'll never forget.

Digression is my fatal flaw, I admit, but you must forgive me. My mind keeps unreeling a personal film of past events like the time Dinah Shore sang with us at the Roughham 200 mission party, or of our landing at Twinwood Farm after a concert to be greeted by Bing Crosby who recorded with the band and the Crew Chiefs at Co-Partners Hall in Bedford. That "studio" was in a seedy one story building that had formerly belonged to the local gas company. I can see us at the recording session in London with Bing when he had a waiter wheel in bottles of booze, inviting all to "have a blast" before the session. Glenn did not look too happy at the invitation, but wisely said nothing. The memories keep flowing, but it was not my intention to go quite this far when I set out to write. I feel I've overstayed my welcome.

All of us are grateful for the recognition and award for "meritorious service," but in our hearts we know that medals belong primarily to the men who did the actual fighting. I love the medal, but realize that we were all blessed to be able to work as musicians, singers, actors, writers, arrangers, and copyists in our unique one-of-a-kind unit. It will never be duplicated.

In Europe, we performed in person or recorded on more than 900 occasions in thirteen months. That averages out to three sessions per day. We did precisely what Glenn had set out to do, and we did it well. Our lives, whether we choose to admit it or not, are infinitely better and richer for having been members of what many people consider to have been the greatest band of its kind ever assembled. Never forget that Glenn had his choice of thousands of musicians and hand-picked those of us who went overseas. How he made the decisions is a mystery to me, just as his own untimely death

We are all brothers in the very best sense of that word, and even if there is never another reunion, at least we had this one. The joy, the laughter, the tears as the list of those no longer with us was read, and the warmth of being together once more, will never fade for me. It fed my soul and the glow is still with me as I sign off.

With abiding affection,

Artie Malvin
Beverly Hills, California

AAF Band Alumni at 1986 Reunion by Sandy Lyman Hintz

Artie passed away on 16 June 2006 in Los Angeles, California. Let me close by listing the names of the original Glenn Miller Army Air Force Bandsmen who attended the award ceremony and concert on 16 August 1986:

James Allison   Joseph Kowalewski
Maurice Bialkin   Arthur Malvin
Vincent Carbone   Raymond McKinley
William Conway   Emile Mitterman
Earl Cornwell   Mrs. George Ockner
Phillip Cogliano   Vito Pascucci
John Ferrier   Nathan Peck
Henry Freeman   James Priddy
Frederick Guerra   Bernard Privin
Lawrence Hall   David Sackson
John Halliburton   David Schwartz
Michael Hucko   Mannie Thaler
Ernest Kardos   George Voutsas

Sandy Lyman Hintz
Indianapolis, Indiana USA
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Music in the Miller Mood
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Moderator's Note: Here are some of my favorite broadcasts and songs by Major Glenn Miller and His AAF/AEF Bands.

I hope you also will enjoy the two Playlists by the Airmen of Note, Arnold Dean's Glenn Miller Tribute and his interviews with Johnny Desmond and Ray McKinley, and the Glenn Miller Tributes by Mike Rapchak and yours truly.

George Spink
Moderator - The Palomar and Tuxedo Junction
Los Angeles, California
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Glenn Miller is Missing (Video)

Rock Follies TV Series (BBC - 1976)
by "The Little Ladies"
Julie Covington, Charlotte Cornwell and Rula Lenska
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© George Spink, Los Angeles, California, United States of America (2011-2012)