STATE FUNERAL BLOG
LCDR Chuck Tobin, a member of The Greatest Generation
By Claire Landreneau
Lieutenant Commander Charles “Chuck” Edward Tobin Jr., when he was not training on naval base in California, visited Hollywood. There, he became close with Bing Crosby, the dedicated performer for WWII soldiers. Crosby helped the war effort by using radio to sell war bonds and providing entertainment for servicemen. He was filming a movie with fellow star, Bob Hope, when he met Chuck and invited him to spend days on set with them, go out for drinks with Hope, and have breakfast at Crosby’s house. Tobin records, "They certainly were wonderful to me."
Chuck was a Massachusetts native who moved to the Lone Star State on a track scholarship to the University of North Texas, then called “The Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute.” His classmates referred to him as “The Mighty Molecule,” for his stature and athletic ability. While there, Chuck unintentionally captured the heart of a Dallas girl, who later would follow him to naval base with a wedding dress! Despite the romantic gesture, Chuck did not get married in Los Angeles – he shipped off to the Front, instead.
He expressed excitement in finally seeing some action (he was kept on base for a number of months) in a letter to his mother; he hoped he would reach the “more fun” Pacific, rather than Europe.
Chuck was a naval pilot. He would later tell his girls that, “I flew every plane there was in the navy.” From 1943-1945, Chuck was stationed on multiple aircraft carriers and islands, including Mbanika Island and Russel Island. His job was not only dangerous due to enemy fire; over 12,000 Navy servicemen died in aviation accidents. The naval pilots had to take off and land on the aircraft carriers, which were much shorter than regular airfields. Therefore, planes were catapulted to take off and caught by a hook in order to land on the short runway. Chuck was one of the brave pilots who repeatedly accomplished this feat.
During September and October of 1944, Chuck participated in Special Air Task Group 1, a mixed squadron which operated the Interstate TDR Assault Drones. These unmanned planes were controlled by an operator onboard a Grumman TBF Avenger. These flights were predecessors to modern drone warfare.
Another of Chuck’s missions was a mere flight over the Japanese industrial city of Hiroshima to test its distance from base and its defenses. Little did he know, he was preparing for Colonel Paul Tibbets’ mission, which would drop the first atomic bomb used in combat.
After the war, Chuck remained in the Naval Reserves. He moved to Dallas and attended Southern Methodist University, gaining his law degree. There, he met Sarah Jane Neff Guymes, whose husband, Airforce Serviceman Jimmy Guymes, had died in Europe. Chuck fell in love with the war widow. They were married in 1948, and Chuck adopted her young daughter. The couple had two more girls. His daughter, Gay Rekerdres, recalls his love for reunions with his comrades and spending time with his fellow Naval Reserves in Dallas.
Welcome Susana Rabel, Texas State Board Chair
Susana earned her bachelor of arts from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia, and her juris doctor from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. While studying English, economics, business, and communications at Randolph-Macon, she was accepted into both the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society and the Delta Kappa national leadership and honor society. Susana's law school achievements include serving as assistant editor for the SMU Law Review Association. She would return to the academic setting years later as an adjunct professor at Dallas’ Richland Community College.
Susana's professional history includes tenures at the Dallas law firms of Haynes and Boone, LLP, and Rabel Law, PC. She also provided legal counsel for the national health club franchise Gold's Gym. Ms. McNutt was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1999. Her professional outreach includes affiliations with the nonprofit financial advisement organization Dallas Social Venture Partners and the regional leadership training programs Leadership Dallas and Leadership Texas.
Manchin, Capito Introduce Resolution Requesting State Funeral for Last Surviving WWII Medal Of Honor Recipient
May 20, 2019
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), introduced a resolution requesting a state funeral for the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient. There are only three living Medal of Honor recipients remaining from WWII, including West Virginia native and Iwo Jima veteran, Woody Williams. This state funeral would not only recognize their individual service and sacrifice, but would act as a final salute to the Greatest Generation and those who wore the uniform from 1941 to 1945.
Read the full Press Release as PDF Document: Joe-Manchin-Senate-bill-Press-Release.pdf
VFW National Convention Recognizes
State Funeral Board Members and MissionState Funeral
AUG 6, 2018 —
Kansas City, Mo., was the host city for the 119th VFW National Convention, July 21-25, 2018.
A number of distinguished guests and award recipients, as well as President Trump and a number of elected officials from Missouri and Kansas appeared during the weeklong event. In addition to an address by President Trump, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, Command Sgt. Maj. William F. Thetford, Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen (Founder & President of Give An Hour), Maximilian Uriarte (author of Terminal Lance comic strip about the US Marine Corps life) and Andrew Lumish (the “Good Cemetarian” who restores fallen hero headstones) all received VFW national awards.
We want to especially thank Medal of Honor recipient and State Funeral National Board Member Donald “Doc” Ballard, and Missouri State Chairman and Woody Williams Award recipient Richard LaBrash, for teaming up to actively represent the State Funeral Mission at the Convention.
“Doc” Ballard was honored to stand at the podium in front of the entire assembly to personally promote the State Funeral Mission and objective to petition the President.
Before President Trump spoke, “Doc” Ballard was personally approached and embraced by 4 Star Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. This was an honor that will not be forgotten by both Ballard and LaBrash. After the President spoke, our National Board Member Donald “Doc” Ballard PERSONALLY handed a SPECIAL LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT FROM THREE MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS (our two national Board Members – Don “Doc” Ballard, James “Doc” McCloughan – plus “Woody” Williams).
We greatly appreciate the time and efforts by both “Doc” Ballard and Richard LaBrash for working the floors of the Convention with State Funeral Petitions and promoting the Mission throughout the four days of the Convention.
ONE-HUNDREDTH NATIONAL CONVENTION
THE AMERICAN LEGION
August 28 - 30, 2018
Resolution No. 41: State Funeral For The Last World War II Medal Of Honor Recipient
Submitted by: Convention Committee on National Security
WHEREAS, The time has come to prepare for a final salute to our World War II service members for which 472 Medals of Honor were awarded an only four of those recipients survive today; and
WHEREAS, The opportunity is slipping away for “A funeral not for one man, but to join the hearts and minds of 330 million Americans”; and
WHEREAS, Only three classes of citizens are entitled to a state funeral: a president-elect who dies before being sworn into office, a sitting president or former president of the United States, and any other person designated by the president; and
WHEREAS, In view of the foregoing, we the membership of The American Legion, respectfully petition the president of the United States to designate that the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient lie in state on behalf of the 16 million World War II veterans as a final tribute to their service and sacrifice to achieve world peace in troubled times; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 28, 29, 20, 2018, That The American Legion support a petition to the president of the United States, on behalf of more than 16 million veterans of World War II, to designate a state funeral for the last living Medal of Honor recipient – not for one man, but to join together the hearts of millions of Americans in a unifying event honoring the legacy of all World War II veterans.
Letter from Stephen Watson, President & CEO of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, LA