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January 15, 2012
Volume IV, Issue 1
HAPPY NEW YEAR !
2012 marks the 70th Anniversary of the 303rd Bomb Group's arrival at Molesworth, England. The Ground Echelon began arriving in September 1942 and the Air Echelon followed shortly after.
As we begin this historic year, we wish each of you an enjoyable, peaceful and safe year. It is our hope that 2012 will be an especially good year for all of us.
There has been a lot of sad news in the TAPS section of this newsletter last year and again this month, as you will see below. We encourage everyone to treasure the precious time we have left on this earth and share it with those you love. Hug your veteran today and may the Lord bless us all.
JOURNAL OF EHLE REBER
Daily Diary of An Original 303rd Bomb Group Pilot
Part 2 of 3
Read Part 1
1Lt Ehle H. Reber was one of the 35 original pilots in the 303rd Bomb Group and one of nine assigned to the 427th Bomb Squadron. We recently discovered his comprehensive daily diary, documenting his experiences from late in training until his crew was lost on January 23, 1943. This historic journal is a 100-page, handwritten account of events from August 29, 1942 to January 22, 1943. The entire journal will be published in three parts. Part one was published last month. Part three will follow in the February issue of The Molesworth Pilot.
Sincere thanks to Ryan Bartholomew, President of the Malin Historical Society for providing a copy of the transcription of the journal, along with some photographs, and allowing their publication. Also, thanks to Tim Conver, son of Milt Conver, for providing additional photographs and assistance.
Part two begins as the new crews have arrived at Station 107, Molesworth, England. The combat missions they have been training for are about to begin.
Ehle Reber writes in his journal and visits with Bill Goetz in their Molesworth barracks.
Nov. 3, 1942 Tuesday
Up at about 0800. Had breakfast and started making room in B.O.Q. look like home, ha, ha. Goetz and I went out to planes to check on some stripping of unnecessary equipment on plane. Everything OK Goetz and I spent afternoon trying to start stove (Coal). Finally got it started at about 2030 only to have it go out again.. Curses! Lt. Stockton, Broussard, Hayes and Robey arrived from Grafton field this afternoon. Stock has moved in with us. May lose some of our planes to another group soon. I hope not however. We hear talk of a raid soon on our base. Don't know how true it is, but maybe we'll find out soon. I hear that Lord Haw Haw has announced our arrival in England. [Lord Haw Haw was the nickname of the announcer on an English-language, German propaganda radio station.]
Nov. 4/42 Wednesday
Up early this morning and got a good start on intensive courses in ground control, flying areas, nite flying, oxygen use, etc. as used in England. It was all very interesting and will be of great value later on. We also had our security lecture - Don't Talk. We had ground school up until 2200. Explained some bomber tactics too. This training will continue for about three weeks with training flights at altitude, formation, etc. Going to try to see Carl Esmay soon at one of the bases close by. Will get paid soon.
Nov. 5/42 Thursday
Had ground school again today on signals used in R.A.F. field control. All lectures are given by a Capt. Sergeant and Lt. Smith from a field north of London. They have both seen combat and are interesting to talk to. Lectures finished by noon. In afternoon I took Mackin out to the ship and showed him some of the new things on the B-17F. Goetz went with us. We all three had bicycles and of course we tried some formation cycling, etc. Goetz and I tangled once and Goetz went down. Great sport. Very foggy today and it is raining out now. We don't expect the Jerries until the weather clears up a little. Several weeks before we arrived a Jerry came over at about 40,000 feet in an ME109 and sat up there taking photos. Several Spits were sent up to get him but were unable to reach him. They are getting some good altitude ships, but I don't think they will be used to any great extent. We have been told to watch the FW190 and the new ME109G which are both the latest G.A.F. fighters. The 109G is pressure sealed and has a ceiling well over 40,000 feet, and a speed of 420. One day a ME109 was seen coming over the field like a bat-out-of-hell several hundred feet off the ground. About a mile behind were two Spits. They finally caught the 109 about three miles away from the field and that was the end of Jerry. The R.A.F. are marvelous fighters after 3 years of experience and hell.
Nov. 6, 1942 Friday
Today was much the same way. Most of my time was spent in ground school and inspecting the ship. Lt. Goetz. Maj. Sheridan, Lt. Stockton and Lt. Broussard were scheduled to fly at 1300. Broussard didn't get off because of radio trouble. Goetz, Maj. Sheridan and Stockton got off and flew for several hours over the North Sea. They had a helluva time finding the field. Used a Q.D.M. given by DARKY [radio bearing from an English station]. The rest of the ships were out due to minor difficulties. In the evening Capt. Neil Walker, Lt. Romeo S. Couture, Capt. W. W. Sellers and Lt. Cliff Voith came over from the 301st Group. We were all together at Boise and they were all in the old 427th with us. They left us at Muroc Dry Lake, California. They have seen combat and have been on 3 or 4 missions to France. We left the club early as we a had a party last nite. Just went outside to watch searchlights playing from the English Coast. Really a beautiful sight. It is very clear tonite. A beautiful raid nite.
Nov. 7, 1942 Saturday
The weather cleared up: today and many planes were seen winging their way East, toward France and Germany. Not much happened in the way of flying. The other three squadrons flew a little formation. We are going to initiate a new defensive and bombing formation. We will not fly the three plane element but will use a two plane flight. Had a big party in the evening at the Officers’ Club, Imported some WAAC’s and WAAF’s from fields around. Several nice looking girls from London were also there.
Sack time for Ehle Reber
Nov. 8 Sunday
Wow! what a hang-over. We were scheduled to fly at altitude this morning but it was cancelled because of airplane status. Some of the runs and bomb racks are giving trouble, but will soon be fixed. The evenings have been clear the past few nites, but nothing as yet has developed. Some flying in the morning with bombing practice on the wash. Altitude hop in afternoon. My plane should be ready for PM flight. Maj. Marion and Geo. Mackin took several R.A.F. officers on a photog mission today in my plane.
Nov. 9/42 Monday
Had a two hour formation flight in the afternoon. We have changed back to the three plane element formation again. It is a lot better than the two ship to fly. Saw Dave Johnson and John Harding in the evening, They came over from Polebrook where they are stationed With the 97th. They expect to pull out any day for North Africa. Now that the A.E.F. has landed there, they will make up the Bomber Command or a part of it. John looks as fat as ever and operational flying seems to agree with him. He will probably go to Egypt or Syria soon. Dave looks fine and it was sure good to see them both.
Nov. 10/42 Tuesday
Flying was called today because of poor visibility. We were in classes practically all day. Lt. Claes Johnson, our S2 officer, gave a very good lecture on prisoners of war. We were told what to do in case we were forced down every enemy territory. How to contact organizations in France, Belgium, etc. to help our escape and joining our own forces. It was very enlightening. In the evening Stockton, Goetz and I went into Kettering, England and spent our first real blackout in a city. The streets were absolutely void of light except for an occasional flashlite held by individuals. The lites were very dim and of course my flashlite let out a beam which was comparable to the beam of an average searchlight on the east coast of England. Consequently, the first time I flashed it an old, bent, cane-aided, Englishman gave me hell and so my lite wasn't much help the rest of the nite. We went to a dance at the George Hotel - "Regent Room". We were not too much impressed by the English girls so we spent most of the evening at the "Pubs". We started drinking raisin wine and were beginning to feel pretty good until someone found out that the wine was not intoxicating. We sobered. up rather rapidly. We had a great time. Our truck was named Arkansas rather than calling out the name of the field for which the truck was heading. Got home about 2400.
Nov. 11, 1942 Wednesday
"Armistice Day" was observed very little at our base here at Molesworth. Only a casual mention was made of the 1918 ending of the Worlds War I. Attended several lectures during the day. One was given by Maj. Holmes, a flak expert and an Englishman from Wing. It was very interesting and should be helpful. was scheduled to fly at 1400, but Robey's and my flight were cancelled due to lack of qualified radio operators. Our operators are attending school here on the base. About 1530 the field closed in to 0 ceiling and 0 visibility. A quick, dense fog rolled in catching about six planes in the air before they could be called in. Maj. Sheridan, Lt. Stockton, Lt. Hayes and Capt. Cole were among those who were diverted to Bovingdon, which is a field near London. All planes landed there safely. They are still there and will probably hop back tomorrow if weather permits. A lone German plane was caught near the field today. He was heard calling on radio so he must have been somewhere within ten or fifteen miles. He did not land however and was not observed due to the fog. It is still foggy out. Got in an hour of Link this evening.
Nov. 12, 1942 Thursday
The field is still socked in and so the boys caught up yesterday are therefore probably still in London knocking themselves out. We heard a lecture given by an R.A.F. Colonel who is at the head of the Air Sea Rescue Force which finds the boys in the dinghys when they are forced down at sea. It was an extremely interesting lecture. He told of this incident in the Channel that I might mention here. A German aviator was forced down in the Channel. A Spit sighted him and called the A.S.R. and they immediately sent a Speed Launch to pick him up. Meanwhile a ME109 also sighted the German flyer. He flew over the launch motioning them back as much as saying, "Leave him alone our own boys will take care of him". In charge of the launch was an old Scottish seaman who was very stubborn in his ways and so he continued on his way to the floundering German. The ME109, his ire up by now, dived in low and machine gunned the launch to the extent that it caught on fire and the crew had to take to their lifeboats. This action was sighted from the English shore so they sent out three Spits to take care of the ME109. They did very handily, but in the meantime a German launch was heading for the poor bewildered German. Seeing the ME109 shot down the German launch radioed for help. Soon 12 ME109's were seen approaching the scene. They were met by two squadrons of Spitfires. A British cruiser nearly sent several cutters to engage the "E" boat from the German side. The English Colonel concluded by saying that if nite had not come upon the skirmish, a major naval engagement might have ensued which may have decided the whole war and the fate of the British Empire. Incidentally Goetz and I slept in this morning. Maj. Sheridan is stuck at Bovingdon on account of fog. While the cats away the mice will play. Received my first letter today. It was from Aunt Dot. My first letter on foreign soil.
November 13, 42 Friday
Maj. Sheridan still away. Goetz and I slept late. We had our first steak this morning in England. Rather tough. I was scheduled to fly at 1330, but Capt. Southworth took my mission. G. T. Mackin was co-pilot to get some time for flight pay. Goetz, Conver and myself cycled around nearby villages of Molesworth and Layton looking for Christmas cards, but none were to be found. When I got back and went to the mess hall I was told that Capt. Billy had taxied my plane into a bomb shelter. It tore the right wing tip and will probably be out of commission for a couple of days. Had six hour pass tonight, but decided to stay home and write letters. I ran into Goetz on his bike today and tore out a couple of spokes. His wheel ended up looking like a pretzel. I received Mother's Package today. She had mailed it Sept. 29 to Battle Creek, Mich. I'm glad Friday the 13th is nearly over.
November 14/42 Saturday
Today the field is still wrapped in fog. Visibility and ceiling are both near zero. The boys are still at Bovingdon. Engineers Lt. Hargrove and Panyan have located a wing tip for me. It should be here soon. It was torn up quite badly. I have a piece of it hanging on the wall in my room.
I hope it's the only thing that ever happens to my plane. In the evening Lt. Goetz, Conver, Fury, Captain Denison, Lt. Whitaker and myself went into Northampton on the QT. We went to the Salon Dance, Shakespeare Club, Angel Club, etc. We had a wonderful time. We all got to feeling pretty good, but the stuff they drink over here is certainly not conducive to excessive drink. Gin and lime; beer, ach - phew! Back about 0200.
Nov. 15, 1942 Sunday
Throughout England today the church bells all pealed the good news of victory of the 8th Army in No. Africa. It was the first time the bells had rung since 1939. One reason for their long silence is that the ringing of all church bells in England is the signal for invasion. With the news
of the A.E.F. in No. Africa spirits are very high,. The boys from Bovingdon came in this afternoon. They just got into London once and then they did very little. They had flying clothes on so they stayed out of London. Saw the picture, "Hound of Baskervilles" for the second time. It was a private Officers' Club picture.
Nov. 16, 1942 Monday
Flew today from 1400 till 1600. I got up at 0600 to fly at 0800, but a mix-up on crews kept the plane from taking off. I was to fly Lt. Stockton's ship which I finally did at 1400. We flew formation. I had a good experience when I took-off with the Pitot tube covers on. As a consequence I had no air speed indicator. It is really a thrill to fly a 4 motored plane, without knowing the air speed, which one must depend upon every minute. I came in a little fast to keep well above the stalling speed, the landing was alright. We stopped, removed the covers, and joined the formation. Of course I gave the engineer hell for he was the one who told me the plane was OK and that the covers were off. One must be able to depend upon his crew for certain duties for there are so many on a Flying Fortress. I think that in the morning the 303rd Group gets its initiation. The 358th, 359th and 360th will have 18 planes in the show. Will be able to tell more about it tomorrow.
Nov. 17, 1942 Tuesday
The raid yesterday on submarine pens and workshops at St. Nazaire, France was a complete flop. There was a hell of a mix-up on take-off and in general the show was snafu. Stockton and Robey of our outfit went along but turned back when guns failed to operate correctly. On top of that the group failed to find the target, consequently they landed with all the bombs. Glad the 427th still has a clean slate. I understand we are to lead the raid in the morning on sub pens and docks at La Pallice, France. Here's hoping it turns out better than today's.
Nov. 18/42 Wednesday
Up at 0600 and had breakfast. Went to briefing at 0730 and took off on raid at 1000. Lt. Stockton was Maj. Sheridan's copilot. Goetz and I took our own ships. Col. Wallace led with Robey and Southworth riding his wings. Maj. Sheridan led next element with Goetz and I riding his wings. Capt. Cole was extra. In mid-channel Robey turned back with super-charger trouble. Goetz took his place and Capt. Cole tacked on the Maj. Other two squadrons tailed us. We were to bomb La Pallice, but ended up by bombing St. Nazaire, yesterday's target. Bombing was quite successful with several good hits noted on photographs. My plane registered several good hits, and was thought to have started a fire. Flack was very intense over the target. We stayed over target for about 24 min., which helped the Jerries considerably. Several planes claimed FW190's, but my plane did not get any good shots as they attacked the rear planes. We encountered some flack and fighters over Nantes, France on way to target. Upon landing and inspection I found that my plane had about 12 flack holes in it. While over the target Lt. Mitchell and I received quite a scare when a piece of shrapnel came tearing through the cockpit directly beneath our legs and came to rest beneath, one against my oxygen bottle. I picked the piece up and put it in my pocket. Nobody was hurt on the ship. The plane will probably be out for repairs for several days. Everyone returned safely. Show for tomorrow was cancelled. Personal Appearance - Saw Kay Francis, Carol Anders, Martha Raye, and Mitzi Mayfair in stage show tonight.
Nov. 19/42 Thursday
Got up today at 1145. It is the latest I've slept since I've been in the A.C. Went out on line and gave my plane the once over and found that my plane was in worse condition than I had figured. I was lucky not to have lost #4 engine. A piece of shrapnel had entered the right side of #4 nacelle and pierced the air breather for the carburetor. It was headed directly for the cockpit if it had not been stopped. There was a hole in the newly replaced wing-tip and several others in engine nacelles and wing surfaces. It should be ready by about Saturday. I think there is some formation gunnery scheduled for tomorrow.
Nov. 20/42 Friday
Nothing planned. Had ground school in the afternoon. Plane was taxied to hangar and should be ready by tomorrow. A raid on Lorient is planned for tomorrow. We will make up the tail end of the group. Plenty of excitement probably in store for us. Sent some Xmas cards to the folks.
Nov. 21/42 Saturday
Raid for this morning was called off on account of approaching cold front. I think that it will be tomorrow morning 2 x 2000 bombs will be used. We are all getting a little "flak happy" now. Plane is in tip top condition for tomorrow. Our squadron will probably be tail end Charlie. There will be individual squadron bombing at 30 sec. intervals.
Nov. 22/1942 Sunday
We got up about 04:30 for breakfast. Briefing started about 0600. The target for today was Lorient. It is on the Brest Peninsula just West of St. Nazaire on the coast. We didn't take-off until 1100. Rendezvous was at Lizard Pt. southwest England. Major Sheridan, Lt. Stockton, Lt. Goetz, Capt, Cole, Lt. Broussard and myself. Over the Channel, Maj. Sheridan, Lt. Goetz and Capt. Cole turned back with turret trouble. The raid was fairly successful. It was hard to see the target and observe the hits as there was an overcast that extended out to the water. At our bombing line, we could see under the overcast and made our run on that observation. Little heavy flak was encountered with no fighter activity. Back at the base the field was closed in fog, made several passes but could not get lined with a runway. My gas was extremely low by now. The visibility was about 1/4 of a mile. I finally lined up with a runway and landed at Chelveston about 12 miles away. As I hit the ground the red light on my gas tanks lit up. In other words if I hadn't landed on that pass I would have had a force landing. I did not have enough gas to climb up to bail out. Was interrogated there and brought here by truck. So ended our second raid.
Nov. 23/42 Monday
Lt. Robey was the only officer to go on raid this morning, on St. Nazaire. They took-off about 1000, and landed at Exeter in Southwestern England about 1630. Report is that Lt. Art Reddig's plane is missing. He was in my flight at Adv. School at Phoenix. We both had the same instructor. He may turn up in England as there are lots of fields he could land on. I hope so at any rate. He had Capt. Charles Miller, of group operations, with him as co-pilot. Major Charles Marion was made Lt. Colonel yesterday. He gave a party tonight at the Club. I went and flew the Link trainer until 2100, so I missed it. We get to sleep in in the morning. Breakfast is between 0800 and 0900, an hour later than usual. Kind of a holiday, I guess, or maybe the lull before the storm. I flew my plane back here from Chelveston this afternoon. It is in good shape but for checking oil leak in #1 intercooler and superchargers.
Nov. 24/1942 Tuesday
We had a very light day today. Had one ground school class on aircraft recognition. We received amazing news today and that was that Capt. Harold Fulghum, group navigator, bailed out over St. Nazaire in yesterday's raid. The story has it that the plane in which he was flying was hit by an ack Fulghum shell which burst the hydraulic lines in the cockpit. This fluid looks much like blood and it is thought that Harold thought that the Pilot and co-pilot had been killed and before the bombardier could stop him he had jumped. They saw his chute open. It is thought that he was wounded for the nose of the plane had blood on it and also the door from which he jumped.
It has been confirmed that Lt. Reddig's plane is missing. His plane
was seen to go up on its back and start down in a spiral. Three chutes
were seen from the crew bailing out. At least some of them got out.
All in all the group really took a beating. The target was pounded very
effectively. No one has returned from Exeter as yet. Several of the
planes are not flyable. Lt. Robey is alright. We do not have any raid
scheduled for tomorrow. My plane is all set.
Nov. 25/42 Wednesday
Lt. Robey returned today. He had Lt. Goetz's plane on the raid and it
returned with the left elevator shot up to the extent that it will need
replacing. Goetz, Stockton, Conver, Dubell, Bryant, myself and Capt.
Lorne and Capt. Denison went into Northampton tonight on the QT. We had
a very enjoyable time. We went dancing at the Salem, I met Jean Rowe,
a very nice brunette. I invited her to the Club dance tomorrow nite.
We send a truck into Northampton whenever we have a club party. Sounds
like it might be a damn good deal. Tomorrow being Thanksgiving —pork
Nov. 26, 1942 Thursday (Thanksgiving Day)
There was an alert called tonight but the mission was cancelled. My
plane was loaded with 5 x 1000 pounders. It is still all set. There was
a flying schedule put up today, but it was cancelled on account of weather.
About 1400 we had a practice alert. Sirens blew and everyone rushed to
air raid shelters. The Commandos stationed here went to their battle
stations and all in all the practice was carried out very efficiently.
Menu: Beef broth soup , Cabbage, raisin & apple salad
Mashed potatoes & gravy
Bread, butter, Peanut butter & marmalade
Coffee, Dessert Bread pudding
It wasn’t exactly the type of Thanksgiving dinner we were use to but it was alright. The English people were told, by parliament, to treat all Americans to parties and invite them home today because we had given our traditional turkey dinner to the hospitals in England. Of course, they didn't conduit us about it, ha ha. After the mission for tomorrow was cancelled, the party in the evening was really a knock-down drag out affair. I have never been to a party where there were more people inebriated in my life. Jean came and we had an enjoyable evening. Three of us couples took a recon to Northampton about 0100 in the morning. Back about 0300 and so to bed.
Nov. 27, 1942 Friday
Got up today about 1000. Had Link trainer at 1030 with Lt. Goetz.
Spent a very quiet afternoon. In the evening played a little blackjack. No luck. No mission in the morning. Weather not too sharp. Plane loaded with bombs all set. Wrote folks and Dottie.
Nov. 28, 1942 Saturday
Up rather early today. Officer's call at 0800. Attended a "Prisoner of War" picture and then Goetz, Stockton, Maj. Sheridan went into Thrapston to the Barclay Bank where we had some of our money changed to 10 pound notes. We were going to have our pictures taken, but there were no photographers in the town. Early in the afternoon Goetz and I noticed a twin engine, R.A.F. Mosquito flying around with one engine feathered. It flew around for about an hour apparently getting ready for a landing. Goetz and I were going out to watch him land but we were side tracked at the Orderly Room. In a few minutes one of the Sgt.'s came in the room and said that some plane trying to land had flown smack into a truck. The plane was evidently trying to land when it went out of control. It barely missed a B-17F, skidded across the runway into the rear end of a parked truck. It demolished the truck and plane. Both men in the plane were very seriously injured, in fact, the radio operator died at the hospital several hours later. The pilot suffered two broken legs and severe cuts and lacerations around the face and chest. He has a 50/50 chance to live.
The plane is the newest plane made by the British. It is an all wood plastic job and very fast comparable to the A20. I went to the dispensary today and received my stimulating tetanus shot. The three of us were going to go into Northampton, but we have a raid to do in the morning. My plane is all set with 5 one thousand pounders. I don't know the target as yet. We'll probably get up at 0400 in the morning for the briefing. We received our food ration today of peanuts, candy, cigarettes and cookies.
Nov. 29/42 Sunday
Raid for this AM was called off at about 0100 because of weather. Our raid was to be La Pallice. No flying. Went to a beautiful little church about 1/4 mile from the post, but their services had been held earlier in the day so we missed it. The Church has a tall steeple and is about 1100 years old being built 800 A.D. There is a picturesque graveyard in the church yard. One grave had an inscription dating back to 1794. Most of the slabs which at one time stood upright marking the graves, now tilt at every angle and the writing on them is not legible. Nothing doing in the afternoon. All our bicycles were turned in to be reissued later in the week. Rained a little in the evening. Nothing doing in the morning so far.
Nov. 30/42 Monday
No change today. Plane still all set with 5 x 1000 pounders. The weather was good today. General Longfellow and General Cater paid us a visit yesterday and as a result the post is confined for a week. It seems as though no one saluted him while he was here. Poor boy. I guess they are all childish. It's a wonder he didn't pull out a tire gauge and start checking the air in all the tires on the post. If we go on two or three missions and risk our lives every day and when we come down we don't salute a general as he passes by in his car we get confined. Maybe we
should arrange to take him on a couple of them. Maybe he would find out there's a war going on. I'm pished off. We can still have our 48 hours passes, however. The enlisted men have a lot of fun on their 6's and it's a helluva note. Going on 48 hour with Goetz's crew Wednesday if everything goes OK. No raid scheduled for tomorrow. Attended a lecture given by a squadron leader of the R.A.F. on fighter tactics and bomber tactics. We should get paid tomorrow. I hope so because of our London trip. I hear they really charge hell out of you there.
Dec. 1, 1942 Tuesday
Nothing new. Sgt. Hamilton, my engineer, is in the hospital with a cold. I guess he will miss out on the pass tomorrow. I hope no mission will be called.
Dec. 2, 1942 Wednesday
Went out to plane at 0900 for a couple hours of formation flying on a new type we may use. We were all set to taxi out and take-off and it was called off. Decided to have it in the afternoon and our pass started at 1200, so I sweat that one out too. Maj. Sheridan said I would have to postpone my pass because of the flight, but the flight, as usual, was called off at the last minute. I was dressed in my blouse, in going out to fly, so when it was cancelled, I hopped on the truck and went to Kettering where we caught the 1430 train to London. We got there about 1700 and went to the Park Lane Hotel where we had reservations. Lt. Goetz and crew, myself and crew and Dr. Lorne squadron flight surgeon, and Lt. Conver. We had a marvelous time. Spent most of it quenching our thirst. Got in that morning rather late. Up early.
Dec. 3, 1942 Thursday
Went to Q.M. supply and bought some underwear, etc. Went to Austin and Reed store and purchased some pajamas, ties, etc. We made reservation for George Black's musical stage production, "Best Bib & Tucker" and so at 1430 we went to see it. It was very good. On the order of Hellzapoppin. Prior to the show we had a cabby take us to the interesting features in London. We saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, House of Commons and Lords, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus; etc, The bombed areas were interesting. Whole blocks were leveled. The ruins were appalling. It is hard to imagine the amount of damage the Jerries actually did. We saw where the 2000 pounder hit and failed to explode near St. Paul's Cathedral. They used the tall church steeples as landmarks and the areas around them are scenes of utter desolation. They have the area fairly well cleaned up now. The cabby said that if the R.A.F. had not made their desperate effort, and a successful one, to stop the Jerry raids, England would have folded in about two months. They were on their last legs and no foolin’! The taxis in London are really marvelous. They are mostly driven by old, grey-haired men, and the way they handle the car and the way they get around in traffic is amazing. The cabs are real old and extremely different from anything in the States. They are kept bright and shiny, however, and very comfortable. They are also very cheap. Our tour cost us 8 shillings $1.60. We thought of going to see George, but he was busy so we put it off for the next time. You know he's the King of the British Empire. We met Pilot Officer Dave Thompson, a friend of Goetz and from his hometown, at the Officers' Club. We had a very nice chat and then went to the hotel where we had a few snifters and then to bed.
Dec. 4, 1942 Friday
We met Lt. Wheeler, from our base, at the Officers’ Club and Dining Room so we made arrangements to ride back with him at 1300 rather than take the train. We went to Harrods, the finest and most exclusive department store in London, after our breakfast. We purchased some fleece lined boots and gloves. We tried to find some gifts to send home, but didn't have any good luck. After dinner we motored home and got to see a lot more of England. Arrived here at about 1500.
Lt. "Dagwood" Keneally, one of the officers I went to primary with, landed here on account of weather. He's in about the same spot as Mackin is in. He is in operations of the 306th group located at Thurleigh. I think we have a mission for the AM. Don't know anything about it yet. Letter from Dottie. Sis's birthday tomorrow.
Dec. 5, 1942 Saturday
It was raining quite hard when we went to the 0830 briefing. The mission for the morning was to be on Lille, France. It was cancelled due to the weather. Goat and I have Link trainer this morning. I was given a superior rating in using the SBA (Standard Beam Approach). It's the highest rating given. After lunch Goetz and I cleaned up our room. Lt. Stockton is in London on 48 hour pass. He left yesterday about noon. He is due back tomorrow. I spent another hour in the Link this afternoon. Plane is still loaded with 10 x 500 lbs. They were switched for the 5 x 1000#'s for the particular target we've been assigned the past two mornings. We can expect a raid any morning. I don't see why in the hell they don't send us to Africa where we would have some flying weather and be able to bomb hell out of the Jerries there. Lt. Keneally left this morning for his base. Winds blowing like hell outside.
Dec. 6, 1942 Sunday
Raid today was on Lille, France. It was quite successful with some damage to locomotive and carriage factory there. We suffered no losses although one B-17F was seen to go down in flames. It was from one of the other groups on the raid. We took-off at 10:30 and were over our target about 12:00. We had about 9 squadrons of Spitfires accompanying us on the raid. That is, for all the Groups on the raid. They were the 91st, 305th and 303rd. The Spits were like a bunch of little chicks flitting about the mother hen, the Fortresses. It was indeed a beautiful sight. We were attacked by several FW190's and several ME109's. One FW190 made a suicidal dive through our squadron. Its guns were blazing, but no hits were made. It came very close to my plane. I could almost see the expression on the pilot’s face. Lt. Swindle gave him several long bursts with the nose guns. One of the planes in our squadron got him as Swindle saw him burst into flames and explode as he struck the earth. Flak was slightly heavy and seemed to be quite inaccurate. One Spitfire was shot dawn by gunners on the Fortress who mistook it for a ME109. We returned about 1330, with all planes intact. Capt. Cole was the only plane to turn back before reaching the target. A supercharger blew up on him and he was forced to return. He landed with a flat tire and 5000 lbs. of bombs. Everything OK.
Dec. 7, 1942 Monday
A year ago today America entered the War with the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japs. Today we are (?) on our way to victory and have revenged the Japs with tremendous Naval victories at Coral Sea, Guadalcanal, etc. A year ago today I wore my civvies for the last time for the duration. I was washing my new car at the time at Taft, California where I was just finishing basic flying school. Spent a quiet day today. Checked plane and found that #4 supercharger needed replacing. Plane is in hangar now. Should be out tomorrow. The reason we had so much trouble with our turbos yesterday was because we had to pull nearly 50" of H.P. to catch up with the other two squadrons in the Group. A squadron from one of the other fields tacked on our first two squadrons, so Col. Wallace thought he had the Group together and really stepped on it. When he saw the other squadron pull out of the formation and he saw us trailing he realized his error and slowed up enabling us to catch him after giving our turbos hell. In evening the gang went into Cambridge. Stock and I ended up with a couple pretty nice dates. Doris Walters was my date. Went dancing and dining.
Dec. 8, 1942 Tuesday
Took plane out of hangar and was all set for test hop, but it was called off at the last minute. Bomb bay tanks and baggage racks were taken out to the dispersal area. Maybe we go to Africa pretty soon. An alert was called and then we were released. Everybody is raring to go to the Africa affair. Tanks and racks were not installed, but were to be ready for installation at a moment's notice. Stock brought his plane back from Thurleigh where he had SBA equipment installed. In evening went into Cambridge and saw Doris. Had a pretty good time. Stock and Goetz stayed here as they had to shoot a couple nite landings apiece.
Dec. 9, 1942 Wednesday
We learned that Lt. Hayes and crew, who started on a flight to Northern Ireland to run some fuel consumption flights with pursuits, became lost and ended up in Irish Free State. The Free State is neutral so the crew and plane is probably interned until such a time that arrangements are made for their release. Only 8 planes in squadron now. With his loss, it is doubtful whether he will join us, if and when he is released. Goetz, Stock and myself were going to practice SBA on Stock's plane this morning, but weather prevented it. Believe it or not (according to operations). The squadron flew in the afternoon. It was a formation and landing technique practice. Maj. Sheridan was very well satisfied with the showing we made. We have a mission in the morning. The target is an air depot NE of Paris.
Dec. 10, 1942 Thursday
The Mission was cancelled at the last minute due to weather conditions. The target was to be an air depot and supply base at Romilly, France. There were about 13 huge hangars and repair shops. We were to fly just north of Paris. Fighter support was to accompany us to within about 100 miles of target and then we would pick them up again coming from the target.
(L-R) Mitchell, Swindle, Blankenship, Gross, Mayo, Hand, Jurosek, Byrom, Reber
After the mission was cancelled a Mr. Hayes and Mr. Phillips, representing the New York Times, took pictures of my crew and airplane. Several different shots were taken. They will probably appear in papers and magazines in the States. I was scheduled to fly tonite, but it was cancelled because of high winds and rain. Went into Cambridge dancing, drinking and dining. Had a good time.
Dec. 11, 1942 Friday
No flying today. I went into Kettering and picked up some cleaning. Called Cambridge in the evening and made arrangements for party. Doris invited several of us to her house for XMAS party. I hope we can make it. We have a mission (raid) scheduled for tomorrow. It is the same raid as scheduled for the 10th. Hope weather is good. Two more raids and my crew should get the air award for five raids.
Dec. 12, 1942 Saturday
We got off at 1000. Our target was the Romilly Air Depot, but due to overcast we finally had to hit the marshalling yards at Rouen, France. It was our last resort target. Both the primary and secondary targets were covered by an overcast. We spent about 2-1/2 hours over France trying to find a spot to bomb. All the while we were attacked by enemy fighters. We lost three fortresses and we shot down about 10 enemy fighters. Capt. Frost and Lt. Flickinger were on the plane that went down. Apparently it wasn't my turn yesterday. This is what happened: Lt. Goetz flying on Col. Robinson's right wing, had to turn back due to technical failures on his plane. I was flying the same position in the 2nd element, so I pulled up in the front element and took the place he had vacated. Lt. Flickinger, spare plane with our squadron, took my place in the 2nd element and about 20 minutes later was seen going down with his tail surface torn or shot off. I think the crew got out safely, however as about 9 chutes in all were seen coming from the plane. Pretty close, huh.
We bombed the railroad yards at Rouen, but I don't think it was too effective, We were hampered by poor visibility due to the overcast over most of France. My tail gunner shot down a ME109F over the channel and it was seen to crash into the water. Four bombs on my plane now. I think my ship and crew have been on more complete missions than any on the field. That is the ship and the same crew each time. Went to Cambridge in the evening and helped Capt. Hagenbuch celebrate his birthday. We had dates and had a swell time.
Dec. 13/42 Sunday
Very quiet today. The fellas are taking the loss of the ships and crews yesterday very well. We lost some darn good men and several of my personal friends. I checked my plane today. The pilot's windshield was cracked from the concussion caused by the guns in the upper turret firing at zero azimuth straight ahead. It was about the only damage done. #1 and #4 superchargers are taking a beating, but should hold out for a couple more shows. Had Link for an hour this evening. Called Doris, but could not make connections. I fly SBA in the morning and also fly tomorrow night. Col. Marion and Capt. Lyle off for Africa.
. . . conclusion next month. . .
303rd BG Pilot Col. Dick Johnson was a guest speaker at the monthly meeting of The Citadel Club of Greater Washington. Also speaking was Henry Erck, who volunteers with the Collings Foundation and helps coordinate tours for their B-17.
Pictured are Henry Erck '56, Henry Erck III (Henry Sr's son and also a Collings volunteer), BJ Coleman '84, Dick Johnson, Col. Tom Brett USA ret. '63, LtCol Clint Burrell USA ret. '83 (Vice-President, CCGW).
Sgt Russell F. Terrell, front, was a Power Turret and Gunsight Mechanic in the 444th Sub Depot. He and his friends are reading his very long letter from home. The letter may have been the longest letter received by a serviceman during the war. Do you recognize anyone else in the photo? Sgt Terrell passed away January 1st, 2011. Thanks to his son Mervyn for the photo.
Mae Belle Hardin
Tom Hardin asked that I pass this sad news on to his 303rd Bomb Group friends. Tom's wife, Mae Belle, passed away December 19, 2011. She had been quite ill and in the hospital and hospice care for about a month. She passed peacefully and without pain.
Tom and Mae Belle were married in 1947. With the rank of S/Sgt, Mae Belle served four and a half years in the Women's Army Corps as an Air Traffic Controller in Texas.
She is survived by her husband, Thomas H. Hardin, Jr. Major USAF, retired; son Michael J. Hardin, his wife, Michele; grandchildren, Jessica and Ian Mischloney; daughter, Judy H. Lowry and her husband, Bob; son, Scott A. Hardin, Master Sergeant USAF, retired, his wife Linda; grandson James E. Hardin, Lieutenant USAF, granddaughter Tracey Judd; great-grandson Zachary Judd; brothers, Keith Bryant, Jr. and Walter Bryant. A service for Mae Belle was held at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell on Dec. 28, 2011.
, 93 year old World War II veteran and B-17 pilot, passed away on 6 January 2012 in Everett Washington.
Among WWII awards he received while serving in the famous 303rd "Hells Angels" Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force were: Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters; Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters. He was born March 9, 1918 in Duluth, MN, and was raised by his paternal grandparents in Reynolds, ND. He enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in 1939, received his pilot's wings in March 1942, and flew B-17 missions over Europe (France, BENELUX and Germany) from November 1942 to May 1945. He is credited with 44 missions, including all three missions to Schweinfurt. He began his ETO-tour as a squadron pilot and rose to become the Group Operation Officer, frequently flying as Group lead.
In the post-war period, he had a distinguished career in the US Air Force, retiring as a Colonel at the end of 1965. He was preceded in death by his wife of 40 years, Geraldine Broz Schulstad, a 303rd Station Hospital nurse he met and married while in England.
He dedicated his retirement years to promoting professionalism in the field of alcoholism counseling. He was a recovering alcoholic himself, with 46 years of sobriety at the time of his death. He was the founding president of the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Counselors (NAADAC). He gave love, compassion, laughter, forgiveness, tolerance, and gratitude to every person he met. Most of all, he gave hope to all who struggled with the trauma of addiction by sharing his own story, and the powerful message that recovery is possible and that there is a good and rewarding life to be lived in recovery.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Lee; his brother Thomas J. Schulstad; his four children: Jon Schulstad (Lt Col USAF, ret), Martha Hyde, Eric Schulstad, and Christina Schulstad; two stepchildren: Philese Selden and Sharon Kozik; five grandchildren (Jeff Schulstad, [Lt Col, Nevada Air Guard], Jenny Schulstad Brailey, Karen Schulstad Barney, Ryan Hyde and Maureen Hyde), two step grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, January 23, at American Legion Park, Everett, Washington. Interment will follow on January 24 at Tahoma National Cemetery.
Theron Martin Hayes was born 21 December 1923 to Merton Curtis Hayes and Eleanor Horton Hayes, in Caledonia, NY. He died in San Diego, CA on 23 December 2011.
Hayes aspired to be both an aviator and an artist from early childhood, drawing World War I dogfights in the margins of his school text books, which became animations when he flipped through the pages. From early childhood until the end of his life, he was an expert in World War I aircraft design and warcraft. He worked at the local airport gassing and washing airplanes in order to earn flying lessons as a teenager.
At the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hayes was studying mechanical engineering in order to become an aircraft designer. He attempted to enlist in the Navy, but finally joined the US Army Air Corps from 20 February 1943 to 23 October 1945. He was a technical sergeant serving as a co-pilot in the 303rd Bomb Group, also known as The Hells Angels, in the Eight Air Force, at Molesworth. His crew flew 32 missions over Europe, once ditching in the English Channel, crash landing in France, and crash landing at Molesworth from flak-damaged tires.
Following the war, Hayes attended Delta State College in Cleveland, Mississippi on the GI Bill where he earned his commercial aviation rating. He became a commercial pilot flying cropdusters across America, ranging from Florida to the Dakotas, including a stint flying banana plantations in Equador (1963). During the off-season he had commercial art studios in Memphis, TN and later New Orleans, LA. In 1963, he was hired by NASA to develop conceptual renderings for Apollo project spacecraft that were just being designed to take man to the moon.
He became chief pilot of Mosquito Control for the City of New Orleans in 1965 and was awarded the Key of the City of New Orleans for flying insecticide following Hurricane Camille that saved the Mississippi gulf coast from a typhus epidemic. He was instrumental in the development of the Grumman Agcat cropduster, basing its design on the World War I fighter plane, SE-5.
Hayes suffered a heart condition in 1974 that forced his retirement from aviation and he resumed his career in commercial art in New Orleans, relocating to Oakland, CA in 1977. He had a one-man show of World War I dogfights in New Orleans in 1964 that resulted in being invited by the San Francisco Chronicle to stage a one-man show in San Francisco in 1964. He had a one-man show of his paintings on the Reno Air Races staged at the Oakland Airport and in Reno, Nevada in 1985. He relocated to San Diego in 1987 and became a member of the restoration volunteers at the San Diego Aerospace Museum in Balboa Park, where his paintings of the Reno Air Races are in the permanent collection.
Hayes' last body of work features over forty paintings of “Landmarks of the World” including the Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, the Eiffel Tower, Macchu Pichu, the wall art of Altamira Cave, Stonehenge, and the Goodyear Blimp (itself a landmark of the world and a platform from which to observe the other landmarks depicted in this series.) “Landmarks of the World” was a breakthrough in subject matter and style for Hayes. Moving beyond his whimsical and technically precise illustration style, he started using color and forced perspective to depict iconic landmarks in a manner that causes the viewer to reconsider their importance and role in world culture. Hayes strove for creative breakthroughs; for example, interpreting a sensuality not previously depicted in representations of the Statue of Liberty. Celestial, terrestrial, architectural, archeological, anthropological and natural; these were constructs much beloved by Hayes and the deeply abiding inspiration for these ground breaking paintings. He began work on this series in 2000 and continued painting new pieces through 2011. This series is available for showing by appointment.
Hayes was the author of “Above the Fruited Plains,” and “Make It Look Easy,” fictionalized accounts of his cropdusting experiences.
Hayes will be interred at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery or in a national cemetery in the Boston, MA area later this spring. A celebration of his life will be held on May 5, 2012, anniversary of his surviving the crash of his cropduster in Boyle, Mississippi in 1957. Hayes has three sons, Michael, William and John, several grandchildren, and is survived by his wife, Antoinette Azevedo. Cause of death was complications of congestive heart failure. Donations in Hayes’ memory may be made to the San Diego Aerospace Museum or to organizations supporting veterans in need. Hayes was under the care of San Diego Hospice from late November 2011 and died at home, in his own bed, surrounded by people he loved and who love him.
Orall Ray "Gus" Gustafson, 87, of 2000 Ridgeview Lane, passed away on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at Hospice of the Foothills in Seneca.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30 at the Hospice of the Foothills. Memorial donations may be made in his name to Samaritan's Purse, P. O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607.
He was born in Winthrop, Minn. on Nov. 12, 1923, to Roy and Ruth Gustafson, eldest of seven children. He entered the military on Dec. 6, 1941, and flew 35 missions over Germany as top turret gunner and navigator on a B-17. He also proudly served his country in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. After retiring from the Marine Corps as a CWO-2, he started a landscaping business in Irvine, Calif., which he operated for over 20 years.
Gus loved being outdoors, loved his customers and enjoyed creating beautiful landscapes. Relocating to Seneca in 2003 to be close to his children, he was a member of Foothills Community Church and an avid gardener.
He married Joyce Aklestad on Dec. 3, 1948, and is survived by daughters, Leanne Settles and husband, Ray, of Seneca, and Lonni Gustafson and Carol Gustafson of Seneca; and son David Gustafson and wife, Margie, of Pendleton, S. C.; two granddaughters, Chrissy Bailey, and Hannah Gustafson, both of Seneca; sister, Marion Frazier of Oak Brook, Ill.; brother, Bert Gustafson of Winthrop; and sister, Joan Gustafson of Hutchinson, Minn.; and six greatgrandchildren, Kyle, Caleb and Amanda Morton and Zachary, Chelsey and Emily Bailey.
He was preceded in death by his granddaughter, Sandra Morton; and brothers, Donald and Wayne Gustafson; and sister, Marilyn Ruud.
Gus was a loving father, grandfather, great-grandfather and brother and will be missed deeply by his family and friends. He was a soldier in three wars defending our great nation, but more importantly he was a soldier for Christ.
He ran the good race and is now at home with his Lord.
Ernest Eugene "Gene" Knight, 89, of Great Falls, died of natural causes Monday, Dec. 26, at a local assisted-living home.
A memorial service is 11 a.m. Friday at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fairfield, followed by inurnment at the St. Paul Cemetery. Arrangements are being handled by Croxford Funeral Home and Crematory.
Gene was born Dec. 20, 1922, to Ernest and Edith (Coyle) Knight in Nashua. He was raised in the Greenfield and Fairfield areas, and graduated from Fairfield High School in 1942. He joined the Army Air Force right after graduating, and served until 1946. He was a gunner in World War II. He married Patricia I. Paddock on Sept. 29, 1992, in Coeur d'Alene.
Gene was a grain farmer who also raised show horses, cattle and sheep. He enjoyed bowling, pool, hunting and fishing. He was a people person and good listener, and many of his nieces and nephews looked up to him as a fatherly figure and will miss him greatly. He was a member of American Legion, VFW and Eagles.
He is survived by his wife, Pat; stepdaughters Suzie (Bob) Fitzner and Mary (Wayne) Umphress; sister Betty Ostberg; brothers Jack, Don and Bob Knight; and grandson Cody Umphress
George R. "Bud" Gillen, Milford, MI, passed away Thursday, 12, 8, 2011 at Providence Park Hospital, Novi, MI, age 93. Born 9, 15, 1918 in Ann Arbor, the son of Roman and Edith Gillen. He was married to Naomi R. Knight on 11, 2, 1946, Toledo, Ohio.
In World War II, George served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, 303rd Bomb Group.
He is survived by son, Thomas Gillen of Milford, MI; stepson, Robert Freel; special friend, Shirley J. Green; brother, William Gillen and sister, Florence Addison, both of Arizona. In keeping with Mr. Gillen request he was cremated without services. Contributions can be sent to Stocking Funeral Home, Inc., Harrison, Michigan
Richard G. Naylor, age 87, passed away on Saturday, December 17, 2011 from complications related to hip surgery. He was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Andalusia, PA.
After high school, Dick enlisted in the Army Air Corps. at the height of World War II. He served in the 303rd Bombardment Group "Hells Angels" stationed in Mclesworth, England. As a tail gunner aboard B-17 bombers, Sgt Naylor flew 36 missions over Europe including 4 missions over Normandy in support of the D-Day invasion. He was awarded the Distinguish Flying Cross for his heroism and extraordinary achievements.
Some of the many community service activities that Dick was involved in included being a Boy Scout leader, Little League coach, and he was a Sunday School teacher at the Andalusia Baptist Church.
Following a 30 year career with general contractors Crompton and Seitz out of Feasterville PA, he retired in 1978 and moved to Winter Haven, FL. He worked part time at Scotty's home improvement store and also for Oakwood Estates maintenance department where he resided. Dick enjoyed golfing, playing cards, and meeting people. He would to have something nice to say to everyone and anyone.
Dick was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Lillie (Johnson) Naylor and daughter, Linda Grasela. He is survived by his dear friend Winifred Chambers of Winter Haven, Fl; his sons, Richard and wife Jackie of Atlanta, GA, David and wife Gail of Wakefield, MA, Thomas and wife Peggy of Cape Coral, FL; son-in-law Thaddeus Grasela of Bensalem, PA; 8 grandchildren, Scott, Nicole, Philip, Stephanie, Cheryl and Brooke Naylor, Joseph and Gary Grasela and 6 great-grandchildren: Santi Naylor, Jake, Kylee, Sophie, Mason, and Quinn Grasela. A family memorial service will be held at the National Cemetery in Bushnell, FL at a later date.
Lt. Colonel Edgar Cornelius Miller, Ret., born March 8, 1920, in New Underwood, S.D.; died
December 16, 2011.
Ed Miller passed away of acute kidney disease in the hospice facilities associated with Citrus Memorial hospital in Inverness. Ed leaves a wife, Jewel ("Jill") Wilson Miller 89, and four children, James, David, Suzanne and Robert, along with several grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Ed Miller was a proud member of "The Greatest Generation".
Ed was the son of Mary "Elizabeth" Shoun and John ("E.B.") Miller. Ed was born into a prosperous ranching family in a small town in western South Dakota. Ed's father, E. B. Miller, was a wealthy and industrious rancher who, when Ed was nine years old, lost a sizable fortune in the Great Depression of 1929. Ed's life changed substantially after "the Big Crash".
After graduating from high school in South Dakota, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1940 before the start of World War II. After completing the program at the Army's Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He then signed up to become a pilot in the Army Air Force. He met his future wife, Jill, while in flight school in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Ed completed flight training to become a pilot and trained to fly the B-17 Bomber. He then was assigned to the 8th Army Air Force, 303rd Bomb Group in England in early 1944 and flew 30 missions over occupied France and Germany when the chances of any one member air crew returning home after 30 missions was only about 1 in 3. Almost half of his bomb missions were flown over Berlin, the most heavily protected target in Germany. For his bravery in the air over Germany, he was ultimately awarded several medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and a Purple Heart. He returned to the USA from the War right after D-Day in June of 1944 as a First Lieutenant and married Jill Wilson in
Ed decided to stay in the newly formed U.S. Air Force and was assigned to the Philippines in 1945 and was promoted to Captain in Japan in 1946. Later, in 1948 and 1949, he flew C46's and C47's both day and night into Berlin as part of the famous Berlin Airlift to keep that city from falling into Soviet control. Ed was promoted to Major and was stationed in Germany in the mid-1950s and continued flying for the Air Force. In 1960, he returned to the US on temporary assignment to complete his Bachelor's Degree in Economics in 1957 from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He then went on to obtain his Masters Degree in Political Science in 1959 from the University of Pittsburgh.
His next Air Force assignment was in 1960 as a Lt. Colonel in the office of the Comptroller of the Air Force in the Pentagon. Ed continued flying while working in the Pentagon, and in 1961, Ed went through jet pilot training at Randolph Field, Texas.
In January 1963, Ed retired from the Air Force after 23 years of service. He moved the family to the west coast and took a position in the Long Range Planning Group of North American Aviation in Anaheim, California. Ed rose within that organization to become the Vice President for Planning for North American Rockwell in 1966.
In 1975 at the age of 55, Ed decided to start an entirely new career as a stock broker for Dean Witter in Whittier, California. Ed was
extremely successful at Dean Witter and again rose to become a Vice President as a result of his efforts, finally retiring in 1987 at age 67. Ed and Jill first retired to Temple, Oklahoma, in 1988 and then later moved to Crystal River, Florida, in 2003.
Upon retirement, Ed relaxed through painting modern art in graphic formats and structuring genealogy records on his computer. He was intrigued by the family history and began focusing his efforts at documenting both the lineage of his family and the wartime exploits of the members of the 303rd Bomb Squadron over Germany during World War II. Through years of effort Ed was able trace his family line back into the early 1700s. Ed was a staunch republican, believing that anyone could elevate themselves through their own focused efforts at self-improvement. He was a man of few vices, and didn't drink or ever swear. He was both loved by his family and beloved by everyone who met him. He will be sorely missed by all.
John A. Thompson, Sr. joined his loving wife of sixty-six years , Kathryn R. in eternal bliss on December 17, 2011. They were inseparable in life now joined in death. Their lives serving as an example and legacy for all that knew them. He was born April 11, 1923 the son of Hayden C. and Kathleen Thompson. His youth was spent in Owensboro Kentucky and he was a graduate of Daviess County High School Class of 1940.
Mr. Thompson entered service with the Army Air Corp in January 1943. He was assigned to serve with the 303rd Bomb Group (Hell's Angels) of the 8th Air Force. He flew thirty five mission credits as a B-17 bomber pilot over Nazi Germany. He left active service in June of 1945 and reserve service in 1956. Following WW II he worked with Standard Oil of Kentucky and Chevron Oil from 1945-1976 in Madisonville and Louisville Kentucky. He completed this career in Atlanta Georgia. Following his retirement from Chevron Oil, he founded and served as president of JAT Oil and Supply, Inc. in Chattanooga Tennessee. He sold JAT Oil and retired February 1988, remaining in Chattanooga. Jack, as he was best known and Katy made every effort to travel all fifty states and the world.
Jack was devoted to his God, his church, his wife, his family and his friends. He enjoyed travel, golf and his gardens. He especially enjoyed the summer vacations he provided his family at Hilton Head, South Carolina. Surviving are his children, John A. (Carole) Thompson DMD of Lexington, KY, Mark R. (Sheryl) Thompson of Madison, TN, Debra Kay Thompson of Ooltewah, TN, and Karen Thompson(Mickey) Haddock of Ringgold, GA; grandchildren, John A. (Julie) Thompson III, David (Monica) Thompson, Kristin (Logan) Rogers, Robb (Cindy) Thompson, Shawn Thompson, M. Lee Thompson, Mary Kathryn (Brian) Aston, Adam Saxenian, Susan (Charles) Burton, Steven "Bo" Ray, and Sara (Sam) Lewis; and great-grandchildren, "Zee" Thompson, Layne Thompson, John A. "Jack" Thompson IV, Olivia Thompson, Caroline Aston, Thompson M. Aston, Isabella Thompson and Skylar Thompson; brothers C. Daniel Thompson and A. Michael (Cloa) Thompson; sister Margaret "Peggy" Steinsberger.
A funeral mass will be celebrated at 11am on Thursday December 22nd at Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church, 4029 Fredrica St., Owensboro Kentucky. The family will receive friends at the Glenn Funeral Home, 900 Old Hartford Rd. Owensboro Kentucky from 5 to 8pm Wednesday December 21st .
Arrangements under the direction of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory & Florist-East Chapel, East Ridge, TN.
George R. Harris, 88, Retired USAF Tech Sgt and Boeing Tooling Lead Man, died Saturday, November 12, 2011. George was born July 7, 1923 in Zanesville, Ohio. He married Luella Harris on Feb. 9, 1947 in Wichita.
George served in the 303rd Bomb Group, 360th Bomb Squadron in Molesworth, England as an aircraft mechanic. He later worked on B-29s.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Luella; sister, Evelyn; brothers, Homer and Bill. Survivors: sons, Ken Hayes (Anita) of Humble, TX., Ray Harris (Maureen) of Aliso Viejo, CA., David Harris (Debbie) of Wichita, Suzanne Roeder (Mike) of Newton, Shirley Terry of Wichita, Georgia Reents (John) of Wichita, Barbara Beelby (Mark) of South Bend, IN., Sharon Harris of Wichita, Jessica Capps (Mike) of Wichita, Evelyn Harris of Derby; brother, Barney Harris of Alcoa, TN., 21 grandchildren; 55 great grandchildren; 14 great-great grandchildren
Warren Mauger, 88, of Brandon, Fla., passed away on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011. He was raised in Kenosha, Wis., and moved to Brandon in the 1970's. Warren is survived by his loving wife of 62 years Lovina; his son, Tom; two daughters, Tara and Lorrie; and his five grandchildren. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend.
Mr. Mauger was proud to serve as a B-17 pilot in the United States Air Force. He retired as a Lt. Colonel and was awarded the Purple Heart. A memorial service will be held in his honor at Grace Community Church in Brandon, FL on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Any Soldier Organization at www.anysoldier.org
Keeping the Legacy Alive,
Submissions of 303rd Bomb Group related stories and articles are most welcome.
[A year in the making, here is my] model of "Thunderbird' from a Guillow kit. I fabricate large scale balsa/fabric models. I like to obtain as much detailed info as I can as I go along. This is especially true if I can learn of the crew/missions. The finished product will have a 45 inch wingspan.
Regarding the Tuskegee Airmen, they were part of 15th AF and operated primarily in Italy. They did escort 15 AF "forts" to Germany and encountered the ME 262 jets. I really don't know how escort resources were assigned. However if there was a raid were the 303rd and the TA worked together it would be interesting.
On another topic I came to "know" Fred Gano as the nice looking Cadet in his photo . His exploits were truly heroic, but when I read of his death I was shocked until I realized that the 1942 young man that I "knew" was actually in his nineties in present time.
You are a True Historian.... keep up the good work!
I would very much like to be placed on your mailing list. I have just finished reading the December 18 issue of The MOLESWORTH PILOT. I was given that issue because of my friendship with Captain Bill Heller who died on November 16th. His obituary was included in that issue. I have attached two pictures of Bill Heller that you are free to use as you see fit.
One is very grainy and may not be salvageable. It was printed in the house newspaper of a now defunct airline, Trans International Airlines. I flew with Bill as his co-pilot at that airline and when we both retired to Las Vegas we maintained our friendship by meeting periodically for lunch at the Bellagio Hotel.
The second picture was taken at that hotel on his 89th birthday. He is attacking a huge banana split.
I flew with Bill from the mid ’70's until early 1980. He was a Captain on the DC-10 and I was a First Officer.... Bill was always in command and knew exactly what he wanted to do. He liked doing it the right way the first time and I shared that philosophy, so we got along very well.
I was not with Bill on a particular flight he had that was scheduled to operate from Anchorage to Hong Kong. I was the First Officer waiting in Hong Kong for the airplane.
We operated those flights full, 385 passengers and 11 crew. With fuel to go nonstop the airplane was right up to the maximum allowed take-off weight. On take-off, right at the decision speed V1, he lost an engine. It was a catastrophic failure with fire and vibration. Bill was able to bring that airplane around for a safe landing even though the Flight engineer was not too much help as he was terrified of the situation and was in panic mode. The same thing happened in the cabin with a male flight attendant running up the isle yelling that they were going to crash. With a visible engine fire the passengers were understandably terrified also.
I would very much like to continue reading the Reber diary.
I have no real connection with the group other than in thanks for the brave men of all nationalities and faiths who sacrificed not only their youth but also their lives to save this little island from oppression.
At this time of the year, reading the obituaries and stories, I can only deduce that these guys who participated were all heroes and deserve our heartfelt thanks.
May I wish all involved a 'Very Merry Christmas an a Happy and Prosperous 2012'.
Terry Whenman, Andover, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I noticed in this month's Molesworth Pilot that Wayne Cope passed away in October. He was the last surviving member of the Alvin G. Determan crew. May he rest in peace.