By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — The American Bombshells have been a sisterhood and a family of performers for many years.
The Wayland American legion held Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and Luncheon on Dec. 8 to honor all local veterans.
The Southern Tier All Star Jazz Band and The American Bombshells performed music from the 1940s, 1960s, and a little Christmas tunes we have all come to love.
The American Bombshells; Rhianna Radick of Pennsylvania, Megan Koumis of Las Vegas, and Jackie Reynolds of Virginia all come from different parts of the country. However, they all found themselves a part of The American Bombshells tribe in New York City as singers, actresses, and models.
“We all come from a musical theater background. We get to greet people all over the world, and thank them for their service,” Radick said. “I have done this for three years now, and I have absolutely loved it.”
“We get to travel and bring joy to so many veterans all over the world. To me that is the biggest blessing of all,” Reynolds said. “We leave no Bombshell behind. We have the west coast girls and the east coast girls. We are all in this together.”
“For me it is more personal. My parents were both in the Korean War. I get to continue that pride of service. To do something for the veterans is a real blessing in my life,” Koumis said. “We all get to be part of something that spreads happiness. There is no competition with any of us. We are all part of a sisterhood, and I think that is the best part.”
Reynolds said this kind of work is very fulfilling for her and the other ladies.
“Megan and I have only been doing this a year, so we are among the newest Bombshells. We were able to be part of the Veterans Day show. The audience was so receptive of us being there. It was one of my favorite shows so far,” she said.
Koumis mentioned how the music is so universal all over the world.
“There is so much music we do out there that is not being sung anymore. We get the opportunity to bring those memories back to veterans and their families,” she said. “All of us Bombshells are such good friends with a lot of love for this kind of music. I grew up with this old music since both of my parents listened to it all the time.”
Koumis added her father did two tours in the Korean War and one tour in Vietnam War. When he retired from service, he had made it all the way to master sergeant. Her father is known for being part of the team that was awarded fastest three times in a row for loading bombs onto planes.
“You have to have a big heart in order to do this job, but at the same time you need to be very strong,” Radick said. “If you aren’t strong you will be spending the whole time crying at these shows. There are some very touching and beautiful moments.”
Reynolds added that everyone in the Wayland area has been very kind to the ladies since they arrived.
“We got off the plane in Rochester lastnight (Dec. 7) and after we found our car, we were told we had a country home all to ourselves. We drove down there around 10 p.m. and found the place was all set up for us. It was very warm and cozy,” she said. “We really loved having our own place here. Everyone here is very sweet and welcoming. It really makes us want to come back again in the summer or spring.”
Jamieson Steele of National Warplane Museum in Geneseo brought his original copy of The Post-Standard newspaper from Dec. 8, 1941.
“My grandfather saved a lot of the original papers that I have in frames at the museum. I have some I found at flea markets and yardsales too. When I was looking into the history of my mother’s family department store I found tons of old newspapers from the 1900s to 1940s there too,” he said. “I got lots of old newspapers that show the headlines of the time. I have a lot from World War Two era. They used to all be in green print and very large papers. I got lots and lots of boxes of very old newspapers.”
Steele mentioned the museum just got an old WWII bombardier jacket as well. This came from a family who no longer wanted the old jacket. He is hoping to get more information about this important piece of history to share soon.