Excerpts from news article from The Vindicator, Friday, June 23, 2006, Youngstown, OH....
Veterans toiled in secrecy, scorching heat...Their top-secret mission funneled supplies through Iran to the Soviet Union
by Amanda Garett, Vindicator Trumbull Staff
Sixty years ago they crossed deserts, battled heat exhaustion and hunted gazelle.
Between 1941 and 1945, the 33,000 strong Persian Gulf Command funneled badly needed military and humanitarian supplies by truck and train through Iran to the Soviet Union.
Although they didn't see battle, the men and women of the Persian Gulf Command faced hardships, side Pete Perich of Warren, OH, who was a sergeant in the command. "We suffered with the heat and disease," he said. "The roads were so bad through the desert that some guys got killed driving.
Fighting the supply war ~ The members of the Persian Gulf Command were responsible for carrying out the $50 billion lend-lease plan the U.S. had promised to the Soviet Union. At that time, Iran was the only place the Allies could use to get their supplies through to the Soviet Union. Command members funneled supplies off ships in the Persian Gulf and onto trucks or trains bound for the Soviet Union. The mission was done in the utmost secrecy.
Perich, who was in Iran from 1942-44, said the veterans were not informed of where they were going when they left home. Once they got to Iran, their letters to and from their home were monitored to ensure they didn't reveal any top secret information to their families.
"We used to call them lace curtains because they were cut up so much," said Robert Patterson of Danville, PA., who was a truck driver in the Persian Gulf Command.
Other hardships they faced included the searing heat, which could get as high as 160 degrees, Patterson said. "I was stationed at the hottest place on earth," he said. "You didn't wear dog tags and you didn't wear a watch because they'd blister your skin."
Soldiers frequently came down with heat exhaustion and dehydration as well as malaria
and sand fly fever, said Lillian Toll Tekel of Philadelphia, PA who was a nurse in the Persian
While in Iran, the veterans had to improvise to make up for their lack of fresh meat, said
John Varner of Farmville, VA. "At night we used to hunt gazelles and wild boar," he said.
"We'd take off after them in our jeeps at about 70mph. that was a big deal when we brought
back fresh meat.
Then and now ~ The soldiers of the Persian Gulf Command built most of the roads and
railroads they traveled on and also left much of their equipment with the Iranians. "We left with
good relations," said Rudy Hindman of Golden Valley, AZ. "They liked us, and we liked them.
Many of the Persian Command Veterans feel the US has squandered much of the good will they left with the Iranian people. "When we were coming over on the boat, we were taught what to say and how to behave," Toll Tekel said. "Now, the soldiers go over there and they don't even know how to say 'stop' or 'come here' in Arabic". Many of the veterans feel they were never given proper recognition by Russia for their service. The Persian Gulf Command veterans were promised medals from the Soviet Union right after the war ended. "We helped save Stalingrad and Leningrad," Hindman added. "It took us 60 years to get our medals.
Ready for Next Year ~ Although the numbers of the Persian Gulf Command veterans are dwindling - most are in their mid-80's - the members were making plans for next year. "We have a good time getting together and reminiscing," said Anna Connelly Wilson of Madison, OH, who was a nurse in the Persian Gulf Command. In recent years, deaths have decreased the numbers of the Command. At one time, the organization had about 1,800 members, but now it numbers 875. For the remaining members, tales of coming home are perhaps the sweetest. Varner never informed his family that he was coming back to his Virginia home. "It was about 11:00 at night or so when I got home," he said. "My mother heard my footsteps, and she turned to my fathers and said, John's coming."
Highlights from the Fall 2006 PGCVO Newsletter.......
The 59th National Convention of the Persian Gulf Command Veterans Organization of World War II was held in Warren, OH on June 21-25, 2006 at the Avalon Inn and Resort. Anna Connelly Wilson was the PGCVO 2006 National Commander.
This year, 43 members and guests attended the convention. There were several "first time" members who had never attended a convention before and some who had not been able to attend for many years. Members and guests came from LA, NY, AZ, PA, OH, CT, MI, FL, VA and CA.
The convention began on Wednesday June 21 as members and guests were arriving at the Avalon Inn. Our arrangements at the Avalon were very flexible since our group occupied the entire lower level of the hotel, making it easy for everyone to congregate all day and night without being disturbed by other hotel guests. There were no "planned" trips or outings this year only "in house" activities, so everyone was on their own to do as they chose whether it be visit with old and new friends or seek out the activities available in the area.
Thursday, everyone gathered in our large room where there were always food and drinks available. Thursday evening was designated as "Country Western Night". Members and guests
dressed in their western finest and enjoyed an evening of food, country music and line
Friday's schedule was to include a picnic but had to be canceled due to the weather
conditions that day. So, the picnic went to the Avalon. We grilled hot dogs, had fried
chicken, potato salad, and all the picnic trimmings..
In the afternoon, PGCVO members met with local news media. Pete Perich, from
Warren, OH, had made previous arrangements with the news media to come and talk
with the veterans about their experiences in the Persian Gulf during WWII.
Several newspaper reporters and photographers attended. Lots of stories were
exchanged and interviews taken. The next day, the articles appeared in the newspaper. We made every effort for all those attending to receive the articles they wanted.
We ended the day enjoying strawberry shortcake and ice cream.
After that members and guests were treated to a "spa" night. Both
men and women participated in this "pampering" experience. members
enjoyed spa treatments on their feet, hands, eyes and face. It was a
lot of fun.
Saturday started with the meetings, presided over by National
Commander Anna Connelly Wilson. This year it was decided to hold
both meetings together instead of separating the veterans and the
auxiliary. Minutes from last year's meeting were read, along with the
treasurer's report. A proclamation from Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan
was also read to the group.
Discussion was held on the subject
of the 2007 Convention location.
A bid was made by Lillian Toll Tekel to hold the 2007 National
Convention in Philadelphia, PA.
Lillian was an army
nurse stationed at the 26th Field Hospital in Iran
during WWII. A bid for the 2007 convention was
accepted for Philadelphia, PA.
The Auxiliary held a 50/50 drawing and raffle after the meeting was adjourned.
The prizes for the raffle were wonderful. Thanks to all who brought such nice gifts to be
raffled to our members. I think everyone had fun taking part in the raffle. Saturday
afternoon was open so members and guests could do as they pleased.
Saturday evening began with social hour at 6 pm and a buffet dinner at 7:00. Before
dinner, veteran Pete Perich (917th Ord. Haum Co.) arranged for all members attending to
have a group picture taken outside. Then everyone moved back inside for the meal
provided by the hotel. The food was outstanding.
Roll Call of our Recently Deceased PGCVO Members and Auxiliary........
The light of those who have gone before us will never be extinguished, for life is eternal. We now salute......
Don Caflisch No Information 3453 Ord Maum Co.
Robert Cannady 12/25/05 HQs & HQs
*Frank D. Cappelloni 9/22/05 516th QMC Trk Co. L
Conrad W. Cecil 8/25/99 3556 & 3557 Ord. Co.
George R. Cox 2/4/05 334 Engineers Regt.
John Creel 9/4/05 363 Engineers Regt.
*James P. Doak 5/13/05 516th QMC Trk Co. K
Joseph J. D'Urso 4/1/05 3454 Ord Maum Co.
Dale Flowers No Information 516th QMC Trk Co. M
Richard Guido 10/6/04 363rd Engineer Regt.
A. "Gus" Hollings 7/17/00 HQs & HQs
Harris Johnson 4/26/04 Unknown
Newton E. Jones No Information Misc. Units
Lt. Col. M. Frank Laudieri 6/4/05 HQs & HQs
*Albert H. Leimkuhler 12/2/05 334th Eng. Regt. Co. D
Peter M. McCann 1997 791 Railway Opn Bn
Fred J. Michaud No Information 506 Ord H M Co. F/A
Clifford L. Neumann 1/24/05 19th Station Hospital
Llyod H. Price 1/29/05 Misc. Medical Units
John J. Purvitsky 4/27/05 Unknown
Oval Royse 12/19/05 727 MP Co. A
Charles Ruthrauff 5/14/05 68 Ord Bn
Charles Schafer 12/20/04 Air Force
Charles J. Sell 2/10/06 Misc. Ord. Co.
Harry Sharp, Jr. 1994 334th Eng. Regt. Co.
Otis P. Strand No Information HQs & HQs
Roy Wehrle 3/25/06 516th QMC Trk Co. I
Clifford B. Wilkin, Jr. 11/2003 516th QMC Trk Co. M
*Denotes Past Commander
Mary Badhe 9/27/05
Rita ElkoNo Info.
Louise Leiendecker 8/11/05
Thelma Webster 5/14/05
Irene Wehrle 2/28/06
Back Row L-R: Walter Kopryanski, Nick Morelli, Bob Patterson, Wilfred Walton, Lillian Toll Tekel, Carl Hagberg, Richard Woirol, Esther Ann Bugg, George Bart, Gerald Theroux
Front Row L-R: Rudy Hindman, John Varner, Sr., Vito Ilardi, Anna Connelly-Wilson, Pete Perich, Ann Perich, Gwen Creel, Jeanne Letterhos, Florence Rockwall
Rudy Hindman, AZ, was among the WWII veterans serving in Iran who gathered at the Avalon Inn for the 59th National Convention of the Persian Gulf Command Veterans Organization, WWII. Members shared their memories of serving during WWII.
Please note change in location for the 2007 PGCVO National Convention
Sunday, memorial service ceremony began with the presentation of the colors by Jim
Burns, grandson of Bob Patterson. Jim was wearing his grandfather's WWII army shirt.
Roll Call was read with 33 veterans and auxiliary members being honored. Following the memorial service, Commander Anna Connelly Wilson, passed the gavel to the 2007 National Commander, Lillian Toll Tekel. The 2006 PGCVO National Convention was then adjourned.
60th PGCVO NATIONAL CONVENTION
July 18 - 22, 2007
Best Western Danville Inn
75 Old Valley School Road
Danville, PA 17821
Room Rate: $86.11 (taxes included)
Complimentary DELUXE Continental Breakfast
Experience true COUNTRY living, the Best Western Danville Inn is conveniently located directly off Interstate 80, Exit 224. The Danville area offers a wide range of activities that bring many visitors and tourists to the area each year. The Best Western Danville Inn is just 5 minutes from the downtown business district which is a feature attraction in the heart of Danville's Historic District. Just three miles from Geisinger Medical Center and 16 miles from Knoebel's Amusement Park (no admission fee at this park!), with shopping and restaurants nearby.
Danville, PA (where the very 1st iron T-rail was made) will be celebrating it's "Iron Heritage Festival" the same time as the convention dates. The Iron Heritage Festival celebrates Danville's rich iron history and traditions of our community. You can learn more about Danville's Iron Heritage Festival online at http://www.ironheritagefestival.net
Details of the 2007 convention will followin the spring newsletter. We plan to make this a memorable reunion for all who can attend in 2007.
Plan to attend the 60th PGCVO National Convention, bring your family and friends and enjoy a relaxing time in the central Pennsylvania hills farm country.
Annual Mailing Fee:
If you have NOT received your Fall 2006 PGCVO Newsletter, you may not have paid your $3.00 YEARLY mailing fee. If you wish to continue to receive a copy of the complete newsletter, please send your $3.00 Mailing Fee for 2007, payable to PGCVO, and mail to:
Robert C. Patterson (Secretary/Treasurer)
35 Blue School Road
Danville, PA 17821
If you have any questions about the your mailing fee, please contact Secretary/Treasurer, Robert C. Patterson at (570) 275-2058 or email at RP7450@aol.com.
*Note: The mailing fee does NOT affect your lifetime membership status in the PGCVO.
FINAL NEWSLETTER WILL BE PUBLISHED TO THE WEBSITE IN THE NEAR FUTURE, PLEASE CONTINUE TO CHECK BACK