BANGOR, Maine — Plans for the last worldwide reunion of World War II’s 5th Armored Division Association in June are expanding.
The June 16 reunion banquet is being relocated to Bangor Auditorium to accommodate the public, and the four-day event will include a free air show by the Texas Flying Legends.
Reunions of the 5th Armored in Bangor in 1984 and 1995 went so well that division member Galen Cole invited the group to hold its final gathering, June 14-17, in the city. The host will be the Cole Land Transportation Museum at 405 Perry Road.
“Response to the announcement of the event has demonstrated that Maine veterans and community members are eager to join us for the final drawdown of the 5th Armored Division as we honor one last time the service of the 12,000-member Victory Division in World War II,” Cole said.
Activities at the banquet, scheduled for 6 p.m. June 16, will include a traditional candlelight ceremony remembering 5th Armored members killed during World War II and those who have died since, as well as music by the Bangor Area Children’s Choir, which performed during the 1995 event held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Tickets to the banquet are $15 each, with a choice of chicken breast, grilled haddock or vegetarian entree. Veterans are urged to bring their walking sticks, which will entitle them to be entered in a drawing for a 55-inch TV and other prizes. Nearly 8,000 Maine veterans have received Maine-made maple walking sticks in recent years from the Cole museum in honor of their service in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the global war on terrorism.
Cole also announced that activities on Sunday, June 17, will include a free air show by the Texas Flying Legends beginning at 10 a.m. at Bangor International Airport adjacent to the Maine Air Museum on Maine Avenue. World War II aircraft participating will include a Japanese Zero, a B-25 bomber, two P-38 Mustangs and a P-40.
Cole Museum also has a day of free activities scheduled for the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 16, at 405 Perry Road. Members of the 5th Armored Division will be on hand to meet the public. Museum volunteers will give tours of the museum, including the 5th Armored Division Room, and offer rides in two World War II Jeeps.
Remarks will be shared by Dr. Tom Oliver, son of the 5th Armored’s commander, the late Maj. Gen. Lunsford Oliver, whose words and challenge are engraved on the Maine World War II Memorial on the museum grounds.
Constant Goergen, immediate past president of the U.S. Veterans Friends of Luxembourg, will tell about the granite mile marker the museum has on display, one of only two outside the route from the beaches of France to Bastogne, Belgium, where markers measure every kilometer of the route taken by the U.S. troops in World War II.
Musical presentations will feature the River City Harmonizers and the Mainely Music barbershop quartet.
Tickets to the reunion banquet are available to the public and may be purchased in person from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays beginning May 1 at Bangor Auditorium. For a handling charge of $4 per ticket, tickets also will be available by phone at 990-4444, 800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster.com. Tickets will be available until June 14 unless they sell out sooner.
One lucky person will receive a ride in a P-51 Mustang during the air show on Sunday, June 17. The Hermon Junior ROTC is selling raffle tickets for the ride. Raffle tickets must be purchased in advance from Hermon Junior ROTC at 848-5436. Tickets also may be purchased at Cole Land Transportation Museum, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily beginning May 1.
Information on Cole Land Transportation Museum is available at colemuseum.org. Maine veterans who have not previously received a walking stick may do so by bringing ID and proof of military service to the museum daily beginning May 1. Names and addresses of recipients will be added to the museum’s database.
Correction: An early version of this story contained errors. The event will include a free air show by the Texas Flying Legends, not the Texas Flying Tigers. In addition, one person will receive a ride in a P-51 Mustang, not a P-38 Mustang.