July 4, 2010
Volume II, Issue 10


Original 1Lt Vern L. Moncur "Thunderbird Crew" Reunion
"Honoring our Fathers on Father's Day"

The Lone Star Flight Museum rolled out the red carpet as over 50 family members from the 1Lt Vern L. Moncur
Thunderbird Crew descended on Galveston, Texas on Father's Day weekend, June 19-20, 2010.

In the perfect setting under the wing of B-17 Thunderbird, Walter E. Hein, ball-turret gunner on the Original Thunderbird Crew captivates the attention of everyone within earshot at the Open House on June 19th.

Our special guest speaker at the Hangar Dinner was Ray Lancaster (left). Ray was a P-47 and P-51 pilot in the 359th Fighter Group. As a Galveston native, Ray's fighters were all named, "Galveston Gal." On numerous occasions the 359th FG escorted the 303rd Bomb Group on combat missions. On about five missions, Ray was flying escort to the 303rd BG formation that included the Moncur Crew.

Walt Hein (right) spoke to fascinated family and friends about his experiences as the ball-turret gunner on the Moncur crew. As the only surviving member of the Thunderbird Crew, Walt drew the constant attention of those in attendance as well as the Lone Star Flight Museum Staff. Walt was accompanied by his wife Florence, son Carl and brother Don. With some recent health concerns, Walt's attendance was in question right up until the days of the event. We are grateful to Walt and the Hein family for making the reunion an event to be remembered forever.

The Lone Star Flight Museum recently obtained a North American TF-51D Mustang, which they have named "Galveston Gal." Soon "Galveston Gal" will once again escort "Thunderbird" into history.

Gary Moncur, son of pilot Vern Moncur was the keynote speaker. Each of the seven crew member families in attendance had a son or daughter speak about their father and his family following the war years. Each speaker was a delight to listen to as they related touching and funny stories about their fathers, and gave an insight to them that showed how much the combat missions had influenced their lives.

Left to right above are Gary Moncur; JoAnn Matern, daughter of pilot Vern Moncur; Bill Cunningham, Jr., son of copilot Billy Cunningham; David Brooks, son of navigator James Brooks; Donna Wilson, daughter of flight engineer Robert Rosier; Jim Andrus, son of radio operator James Andrus; Donna Crocker, daughter of tail gunner Richard Baer; and Carl Hein, son of ball-turret gunner Walter Hein.

The two-day event was organized and hosted by Gary and Susan Moncur, with the tireless help of their son Michael and his wife Laura. Mike is the oldest grandchild of Vern and Alice and celebrated his birthday the same day as our program. He and Laura made the name tags and displays, manned the reception desk, ran numerous errands and worked tirelessly to help wherever they could. We are all in their debt.

Lone Star Flight Museum President Larry Gregory welcomed the group and accepted a beautifully framed photograph of the Moncur Crew. The photograph will be placed where museum visitors will be able to see it.

The event was emotional experience for everyone. Pictured above are Betty Andrus, widow of the Moncur Crew's radio operator James Andrus and Don Hein, Walt Hein's brother and a WWII veteran from the Pacific Theater.

LSFM Volunteer Emily McGowan hard at work
cleaning Thunderbird's ball-turret
We are grateful to President Larry Gregory and his team at the Lone Star Flight Museum for the royal treatment and extraordinary effort to make this once-in-a-lifetime event a reality. Arrangements were made for Thunderbird to be pulled into the hangar during our Welcome Reception. The Hangar Dinner on Sunday was held under the wing of their beautiful B-17. There were too many people involved to name everyone, but we owe a special thanks to Kevin McGowan and his wife Emily. Both are long-time volunteers at the museum. Emily was our unofficial contact person for every detail we had overlooked and helped coordinate things. Kevin is a professional photographer and volunteered his services for our reunion. All the reunion photos in this newsletter were taken by Kevin. You may be interested in viewing hundreds more photographs here:

303rd BG (H) Combat Mission No. 151
11 May 1944
Target: Railroad Marshalling Yards at Saabrucken, Germany

360th BS Captain John A. Long Crew
(Back L-R) Capt John A. Long (P), 1Lt George M. Carroll (N), 1Lt Guiseppe Cascio (B), 1Lt Amon E. "Butch" Earhart (CP)
(Front L-R) S/Sgt Anthony T. Orlando (TG), S/Sgt Albert J. Ledley (LWG), S/Sgt Mace Henson (RWG),
T/Sgt Ralph T. Jennings (R), T/Sgt Clarence G. Wilson (E), S/Sgt Frank C. Logan (BTG)

Thirty-seven aircraft took off to bomb the marshalling yards at Saarbrucken, Germany. The secondary target was the Aero-engine Works at Woippy, France. There were no attacks on the 303rd BG(H). Friendly fighter support was good. Moderate and extremely accurate flak was met in the target area. Twenty-one aircraft sustained major flak damage and fifteen, minor damage.

There were 2/10 middle clouds and no low clouds in the target area. Visibility was restricted to five to eight miles in a thick haze. Bombing was done from 22,000 and 21,200 feet and 229 1,000 lb. G.P. M44 bombs were dropped with poor results. Restricted visibility made it difficult to sight the primary target. The lead Group was unable to locate the primary target until immediately over it. A second bomb run was attempted, but the target still could not be seen. The Group turned off and bombed the marshalling yards at Volkingen, Germany as a target of opportunity. The low Group did pick up the primary target on its second bomb run, but it was impossible to make a good run because of antiaircraft fire.

#42-97260 Bow-Ur-Neck Stevens, 360BS, piloted by Capt. John A. Long, absorbed a flak hit which set the No. 1 engine ablaze and knocked the aircraft out of formation. Capt. Long forced his aircraft back into formation for the second bomb run by straining his three remaining engines. Just after the bombs were released, another flak burst tore the No. 3 engine and propeller off the plane, throwing it completely out of control. It flipped over on its back and went down in a dive. It pulled out of this dive and almost immediately went into another. Four parachutes were spotted, but the aircraft was lost in the haze as it went down and was not seen to hit the ground. Capt. Long, 2Lt. Wilbur V. Gee, 1Lt. Joseph F. Fahlbusch, T/Sgt. Clarence G. Wilson, T/Sgt. Oscar Villasenor, S/Sgt. Frank C. Logan, S/Sgt. Albert J. Ledley, and S/Sgt. Mace Henson were killed. 1Lt. Henry S. Przybyszewski, Capt. Robert P. Livingston and S/Sgt. Anthony T. Orlando were captured and taken prisoner.

September 18, 1943: M/Sgt Harry B. Good of Toledo, Ohio cleans and checks the K-17 aerial cameras
after the return of the planes from the September 16th mission to Nantes, France. These six cameras
had been installed in B-17s 42-29931 (Travis), 42-29571 (DeCamp), 42-3064 (Gamble), 42-5393 (Fyler),
42-5360 (Johnston), and 41-24605 (Loughnan).

Last Call !!!
Eighth Air Force Reunion – Tucson, Arizona – July 21-25, 2010
Registration information is in the March 2010 issue of the 8th Air Force News or online here: http://www.8thafhs.org/reunions.htm. We hope to see you there!

"Thunder over Michigan"
The Largest Gathering of Heavy Bombers in the World

The 8th Air Force Historical Society is hosting veterans, family members, and their guests at the Willow Run Air Show, located just outside Detroit, August 5 thru 8, 2010. The Air Show organizers are expecting 8 to 10 B-17's to attend , 2 B-24's, 12 P-51's, the usual cadre of other WWII aircraft, as well as a flying ME-262 and an ME-109. More information is available here: http://www.8thafhs.org/detroit.htm

Mel Schulstad with his wife Lee at Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington in May 2010.
This was Lee's first ride in a B-17. Colonel Schulstad, one of the 303rd BG's original pilots,
had several previous "rides" in a B-17, including 31 credited combat missions.

"The Thrill of a Lifetime" – June 19, 2010 – Lone Star Flight Museum, Galveston, TX
Seven members of the Moncur family, including all five children of Vern and Alice Moncur, took a ride in the B-17
their father named. Left to right: Jim Sullivan (pilot) John Sykes (crew chief), Marlowe Moncur, Mike Olson (pilot),
Dean Moncur, Michael Moncur, JoAnn Moncur Matern, Gary Moncur, Vickie Moncur Smith, Don Smith.

Jacky Emery visits the graves of 1Lt Robert S. O'Connor and 2Lt Richard W. Peterson
at the Normandy American Cemetery on D-Day, June 6, 2010.
O'Connor and Peterson were killed in action on Mission #48, July 4, 1943.

This beautiful postcard showing the Normandy American Cemetery Memorial and the 9,286 graves there
was sent by Jean Paul Favrais of Breal, France. Each year on D-Day, Jean Paul visits the cemetery. He wrote,
"In recognition for for all these young Americans who came to die for our liberty. We keep the memory
of these men, who are always our heroes. God Bless America!"

Eddie Deerfield, former President and Newsletter Editor of the 303rd Bomb Group Association, was the guest speaker at the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Silver Wings Fraternity on May 22, 2010. Eddie spoke about the lives and times of American bomber crews during the Second World War, and how aerial combat made the invasion of Normandy possible in June of 1944 and led to Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender in May of 1945.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart and a Presidential Unit Citation. He was discharged in 1945 as a Technical Sergeant. He was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1949, and recalled to duty in 1951, serving as detachment commander of a psychological warfare unit based in Pusan, Korea. He retired in 1983 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Lt. Colonel Bryant McLean Sharp, 86, beloved husband, brother, father, grandfather and uncle, passed away on Thursday, June 3, 2010, after complications following surgery. A resident of the Lower Keys for 27 years, he was born in Detroit, Mich., attended the University of Michigan, and graduated from the University of Philippines in Manila while he was enlisted in the Army Air Force. He received training as a pilot of B-17s and then flew 35 missions out of England over Germany with the 303rd Bomb Squadron of the 8th Air Force. After WWII, he was part of the Air Force Diplomatic Corp and served in the Far East and South America. Bryant also interrogated Chinese prisoners during the Korean conflict and served as an intelligence officer in the Philippines. Bryant served two tours in the Pentagon as a foreign liaison, was an assistant air attaché in Tokyo, served as a tactical air command during the Cuban Missile Crisis and an air attaché to Columbia. He retired from the Air Force after 27 years of service. He then worked for the state of Florida Department of Professional Regulation for 10 years before retiring to the Lower Keys. Bryant spoke four languages and loved to travel and cruise all over the world. He was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Bryant was married to Barbara Jane for 54 years before her passing in 1999. He was also preceded in death by his daughter Susan and his sister, Sally Werner. He is survived by sons, Rick (Sherry) and Gordon (Karen); daughter Sally; grandchildren, Brett and Kristi; and many close friends. Bryant could be seen over his 27 years in the Keys dining with family at Coco's or toasting a gin and tonic at the Sugarloaf Leisure Club, Hickory House, Grand Key, Conch Town and Mangrove Mama's. A celebration of the lives of both Bryant and his daughter Susan will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 26, 2010, at 181 Doubloon Lane, Cudjoe Key. If you need further information, please call 305-731-9221. He will join his fellow comrades of "The Greatest Generation" later this year when he takes his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the American Cancer Society Lower Keys Unit, 1010 Kennedy Drive, Suite 306, Key West, FL 33040.

Joseph E. "Jack" Stevens. Born 13 May 1921 Died 3 July 2002. Jack assigned to the 303rd BG 360 SQD in December of 1943. Flew Co-pilot for John F. Coppom until up graded to pilot 23 March 1944. Finished 30 missions on 27 April 1944. Requested a second tour and was assigned to the 401st Bomb Group, 614 SGD. Flew Radio Relay for 21 missions. Rotated on 13 July 1944 returning to the states, Jack attended and graduated from University of Texas with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Bedford, Texas. Jack married Audrey Wandless in Dalhart, Texas while on Phase Training in 1943. He is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Audrey Wandless Stevens and their children, Alicia S. Davis of Atlanta, Ga, Veronica S. Lloyd of Bedford, Mark W. Stevens of Galveston, John L. Stevens of Hurst and Bruce C. Stevens of Hensdale, Il; nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren; and his sister Bette Stevens of Edgewater, Md.

Hi there, You have a wonderful website on the 303rd and I also like the Folded Flag section as well. I've done extensive research on the Veterans from my hometown of Westminster, Massachusetts which includes Douglas Elwood Hicks who was a flight engineer in Walter Mayer's crew in the 358th Bomb Squadron. I have attached a photo of his gravesite which I've confirmed that he is buried there because his body was brought to town in 1949. It is in Woodside Cemetery in Westminster, Massachusetts. I've also included a photograph of him, our VFW (which is named in his honor) and also a sign from one of the local intersections.

Mark Landry
Veteran's Grave Officer
Westminster, MA

Hello, Gary— Today’s issue of the 303rd BG. Another beautiful piece of work ! Many thanks. This “artwork” (if we can call it by that title) is from envelopes that I sent to my parents when I was in Primary Flying School in the Army Air Corps at Lafayette, LA in 1943 (note the postmark). They saved all of my war- time mail and I now have the sketches on this here fancy machine to use all over again ! Frugal is as frugal does !
With every Best Wish, Bob Silver

Hi Gary, Thanks so much for this monthly memory of our Fathers and their sacrifices so that we can be FREE. You still take a great picture!! Hi to Susan and all the 303rd family. Thanks again for blessing us all with this memory for the past.

Family members, PLEASE ASK YOUR FATHERS WHAT THEY FELT AND DID!!!!!!!!!!!!!! because once they are gone it is TOOOOOOOOOO late.
God Bless, Lance Stoner

Keeping the Legacy Alive,
Gary L. Moncur
Molesworth Pilot Editor
303rd Bomb Group Historian
copyright © 2009 - 2010 Gary L. Moncur

Previous Issues

Submissions of 303rd Bomb Group related stories and articles are most welcome.