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ABOUT THIS SITE

 

A Photographic Salute to the VMSB-243 Dive Bomber Squadron that Served in the South Pacific in WWII

Welcome to VMSB-243.com!

Harold A. Clemetsen (a.k.a. CLEM) (1919-2008), a VMSB-243 pilot in the mid-1940s, was a friend of mine who lived in East Lansing, Michigan. 

In 2007, he shared with me approximately 200 black and white photographs taken during VMSB-243’s WWII stint on the South Pacific Island of Emirau. Most of them were taken in 1944. Some of the photos were taken by U.S. Marine photographer Edward P. Smith and others by Harold who said he learned about shooting and developing photos while on the island. Of greatest importance, most of the photos had notations on the back explaining them and providing the names of the individuals featured in them. The backs of all photos were stamped “Declassified.”

As a salute to Harold and all who served in his squadron, I created the original website with the help of my friend, Ryan Pennewill, for the purpose of preserving and sharing Harold’s impressive collection with surviving squadron members and their descendants. I will never forget the smile on Clem’s face, nor the glimmer in his eyes, when I shared the original site with him on the 4th of July in 2007.

To make future additions and changes easier, in 2021 we changed the site from its Neanderthal “coded” version to a Wix.com address. Erica Ross of East Lansing has served, pro-bono, as the site’s webmaster for many years. I recently decided that she had to receive reasonable hourly compensation for sharing her impressive computer/design skills.

The approximate annual cost to keep this site operating is $400, which includes Erica’s expertise and our annual Wix.com hosting fee. Since day one, I have personally absorbed the costs of its operation and maintenance. I have even turned down overtures from advertisers wanting to pay to promote their “stuff” through ads on the site. Their interest is indicative of how many hits the site gets each year. 

However, we do welcome your helping us by making a financial contribution, in any amount. All gifts will be used to maintain and improve the site. To promote transparency, we will list donations within the Support the Squadron page. 

Now, the elephant enters the room. In 2020 I was diagnosed with cancer (at age 69) and am undergoing treatment at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Erica has agreed to keep the site up and running if the disease gets me. This affords me the peace of mind that accompanies knowing that this unique project will continue long after I have departed the scene.

But I am not gone yet, and for now, I am still piloting this aircraft from the front seat.

Please share with us your comments about this site. If you wish to financially support it, please make your check payable to me, noting VMSB-243 in the memo line. I will communicate back to you to verify receipt of your gift.

If you ever want us to add information or correct/improve anything on this site, do not hesitate to contact me. Constantly improving it is what we want. And more important, it is what my friend Clem and his fellow VMSB-243 squadron buddies would want.

Edward J. Gillespie

2692 Rockwood Drive

East Lansing, MI 48823

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