NAVY GLADIATOR REUNION GROUP
Who We Are
Founded in 2000 by Mr. Ed Knapp, the GLADIATOR REUNION SQUADRON membership is composed of the Officers, Pilots
and Enlisted men who served with U.S. Naval Fighter Squadron Sixty Two (VF-62) or U.S. Naval Attack Squadron One Hundred
Six (VA-106). Our history began in the Pacific during WW II and continued with award winning service to November, 1969. We
served on many of our nation’s finest aircraft carriers in waters all over the world.
Our mission is to unite all Gladiators through our quarterly newsletters and annual reunions, insuring the camaraderie and friendships we established during our years of service in the United States Navy continues to be a valued treasure in each of our lives.
The Executive staff is elected for two-year terms. Membership dues are paid yearly. Annual reunions, normally held in October, are held in various locations as voted upon by the members. In 2005 we originated our “Freedom Box” project. Since it’s inception we have shipped boxes of assorted items to active duty members serving in our nation’s military. Since 2006 we have shipped 100 Freedom Boxes to date.
EXECUTIVE STAFF (elected)
Mr. Ed Knapp
March 13, 1938-December 22, 2004
Over the years many of our shipmates attempted to establish contact with each other. In the late 1990’s our founder, Ed Knapp, began
a concentrated effort to assemble a listing of as many Gladiators as possible with the ultimate goal of a major reunion. Through the
use of computers the listings grew rapidly. It seemed each Gladiator was in contact with at least one other Gladiator; the circle
grew larger resulting in over 350 Gladiator shipmates found. Today, our search continues with “new finds” being added to our membership
In September, 2000 we held our first GLADIATOR REUNION in our homeport area of Mayport Naval Air Station and Cecil Field Naval Air Station west of Jacksonville, Florida.
Ed Knapp served as our first Commanding Officer until his death in December, 2004. His dedication and devotion to his Gladiator shipmates
exemplified his focused mission of joining all of us together in reunion activities. He served us well; we honor him and the accomplishment
of his worthy mission.
Mr. Ed Knapp. 1938-2004
Chaplain ................................... Ron MEECE
Chief Editor ............................. Henry Kardys
Chairman ...... Jim Tripp Jr.
Historian .................................. Henry Kardys
Legal Council ..........................
Membership Chairman .......... Robert McCLEAN
Photographer .......................... Ken WALDO
Sunshine Fund .......................
Chairman & Purser
Sunshine Fund ...................... Jane MEECE
Webmasters ............................ Henry
Store Keeper............................ Walt HULSE
YEAR COMMANDING OFFICER REUNION LOCATION
Corpus Christi, TX
One of the most popular and successful projects initiated by the Gladiator Reunion Group has been our "Freedom Box" project that
distributes USO type boxes to our military men and women overseas. Since its inception in April 2003, we've distributed
over 125 Freedom Boxes directly to the front lines, with the average retail price being close to $100.00 per box, including shipping.
We have sent boxes to Afghanistan, Greenland, South Korea, Djibouti, Kuwait, Qartar, Okinawa Japan and to many sailors serving aboard
Here is how it started; In May 2003, our Gladiator Newsletter reported that some of our members wondered what could
be done to show support to our troops overseas as the war in Iraq intensified.
It was decided to send USO boxes directly to the front lines. A donation from our Special Purpose Fund and the Sunshine Fund was approved by the executive Board along with personal donations from some of our members. The plan quickly went into action spearheading the project with reported donations of $515.00 (Less expenditures of $479.40) for 7 boxes with the first box sent to U.S. Army Platoon Sergeant Kristen Parks, who was on the front line in Iraq and a very close family friend of one of our Executive Staff. Hence, the Freedom Box Project started. Each box contained a letter from the Gladiators' chairman to let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers. Overall, the response has been heartwarming as letters of appreciation, along with occasional photos, are received from the recipients. Then in 2005, our members unanimously voted to send shipments every month starting in January 2006.
Most of the names of service men and women who we send boxes to are supplied by our members. However, when in need of names, our Freedom Box Chairman also takes advantage of the Internet and searches such websites as "AnySailor.com," which is a site where a service member can add their name, provide information about themselves, their group and any needs or likes they might have. There is also a site for every branch of the armed forces.
A standard box would contain items such as body wash, body lotion, lip balm, Neosporin, razors, shave gel, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, disinfectant wipes, a game such as cribbage or dominoes, a DVD movie, disposable camera, energy bars, microwave popcorn, peanuts, cookies, crackers, jerky or slim jims, sunflower seeds, drink mixes to add to water, coffee, coffee creamer, individual servings of Mac n' cheese, ravioli, spaghetti, packages of ninety-second rice, chewing gum, skittles, licorice, and hard candy. We also include a Gladiator pin and a post card addressed to our Freedom Box Chairman to give to someone else that would like to receive a box. They just have to fill in their name and mail it. A letter, printed on special blue paper with red and white stars along the borders is also inserted into each package to explain who and what the Gladiators are.
The Freedom Box project is totally funded by donations from our members along with some of the proceeds from our silent auction and raffle held at our annual Gladiator Reunions. If you would like to donate to this worthwhile project, please contact our Treasurer by clicking on the link below.