It's been more than 40 years since W.E. "Bill Russell cut ties with the military, but he hasn't lost touch with many of the men he served with during World War II.
"These people are like my family, Russell said recently after recounting some of his exploits as a member of Air Group 86.
About 60 members of Russell's "family are due in Oklahoma City today for a three-day reunion.
He said the group includes pilots and crewmen who served on the aircraft carrier USS Wasp.
The reunion has been seven months in the making for Russell, a former fighter and bomber pilot who is retired after 27 years as a geologist.
"It's just been seven months of worry and anxiety and sleeplessness, he said.
But now the stage is set for this weekend's reunion, with visits to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and Sam Noble Oklahoma Natural History Museum.
During the war, Air Group 86 consisted of about 300 pilots, crewmen and mechanics.
Russell said he does his best to stay in touch with those who are left.
E-mail is a great help in keeping contact, he said. He also keeps a birthday list so he can send cards.