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Published: January 6th 2007
On to East Texas we still see plenty of Trees but now we can get an occasional view of the countryside.
Our destination is Hawkins Texas where Bob and Gipsy Schneider live.
Bob is a former University of Kansas football teammate and KU swimmer. He is many other things too.
He is a marine Vietnam Veteran, pilot, major airline pilot, and flyer of vintage aircraft that has landed him roles in movies like Ba Ba Blacksheep. He has flown every aircraft that I know except helicopters. Probably has flown them too, I just don’t know about everything in his life.
He started Kansas’s best Air museum in Topeka Kansas and supplied the Avenger aircraft to the George Bush Presidential Library. If you ever get a chance to visit President George Bush’s Library in College Station Texas, don’t miss your chance. It is the best Presidential Library I have ever visited. Bob’s avenger hangs from the ceiling of that library.
Old warriors do wear out and when we visited Bob he was just getting over a hip replacement surgery. I can say the sore hip didn’t prevent Bob and Gipsy from being perfect host.
there to give a program to Hawkins Rotary which Bob is President. I was returning a favor because Bob came to Kinsley Kansas and gave us a program on his work, restoring airplanes and flying in air shows. Kinsley Rotary members were talking about his program for a longtime. I talked about Biking Vietnam. I suppose neither club knew much about either subject. One thing for sure, Hawkins Rotary is a neat club that is growing. Bob wrote me recently and had this to say:
“Well I have about 6 months to go in my Presidency and I am starting to like it. I guess is shows in the club too as we have added 2 more new members with 3 additional maybe on the line. My new incoming President has most of his officers selected and what's interesting is my Secy and Treasurer has agreed to stay on with Stanley for 2007-2008. Last night my Treasurer said she would take the 2008 President elect and I almost lost it. Her husband Bob Young was our Dist. Gov 4 years ago so she will be great. She is as crazy as me so she will do fine. Gipsy
is taking over the Rotary Scholarship fund program for High School and we are going to establish a scholarship program for Jarvis College where we meet for either an incoming freshman or sophomore.”
Bob has an incredible copy of a painting in his office that he commissioned of George Bush’s squadron in WW II. He took the actual photos of George Bush’s squadron fly mates and had them painted in outline form. He says George Bush can still name all of these people just by their outlines now over 60 years later. I’ll let Bob describe the painting:
“The charcoal painting I commissioned was to show AG-51 and VT-51 and VF-51 pilots and or crew members who had been killed in action. The reason for only two persons in the last plane is because George Bush did parachute safely and was picked up by a Submarine a few minutes later before the Japanese were able to get him first. We talked about it and he thinks he would have be killed by Col. Takabana's troops or the Col himself as they liked to cut the livers from American pilots while they were alive and boil them and eat
them for strength and whatever. Takabana was arrested after the war and he and whoever else was involved with his garrison on Chi Chi Jima were hanged to death by the United States for was crimes.
There was an AG-51 reunion in Houston 9 years ago and I presented the group the original which is larger than the one in my office. That one is at the Bush Library where it is displayed from time to time near the TBM. I had 22 lithographs made of the original slightly smaller with the Texas flag hand penciled on 6 of them and the remainder were printed on. Bush got two for his home in Kennybunkport and Houston, I got one, Leo Nadeau his regular gunner who did not fly the mission that fateful day, Jack Guy his best friend, one other to Blackie Conrad who flew Hellcats with Vf-51 and Bush's still good friend.”
We left Hawkins after the Rotary meeting. One more stop in Dallas to see another great Rotary couple before heading home. Gipsy, thank you for your great hospitality. Bob, keep up the good work and retire soon. Remember: “ There are old pilots and bold
pilots but no Old Bold Pilots.”
Love you two,
Yours In Rotary,
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