Friday, June 29, 2007

Leslie Moore--63 Years Ago Today

Leslie Moore, Ball Turret Gunner, 100th Bomb Group

Sixty-three years ago today, 100th Bomb Group ball turret gunner Leslie Moore flew his first mission, to Bohlen, Germany. In his diary, Leslie noted:

"Mission I

Target: Bohlen, Germany
Date: June 29th, 1944
Flak: Moderate - Accurate
Bomb Load: 20-250 lbs."

For the most part, he was very terse in his diary although he always described the target, date, flak and bomb load. Sometimes he would write comments like: "my birthday: one of the worst days we had".

Young Leslie Moore was only 23 when this photo was taken (old by the standards of enlisted airmen). The photo was taken about halfway through his tour. This is grandson Les Poitras' favorite photo of his grandfather, who passed away not long ago.


Looking at the photo, Les writes: "I wonder if the piece of skin on his neck is from the cold air while in the ball turret. I never had the chance to ask him, as I did not find this photo until AFTER he passed away."

Herb Alf and Petals of Fire

Geri Morris, Herb Alf, and Rob Morris in Roseburg, Oregon, c. 2003. Geri and Herb are holding some of Herb's original notes he took as a POW in a German prison camp. These notes formed the nucleus of his World War Two novel Petals of Fire. He wrote on both sides of sheets of toilet paper, and hid the work in a secret compartment in his wallet. Herb was one of the only survivors on his B-17 Flying Fortress after it took a direct hit and exploded. He then survived prison camp hardships and a forced march across Germany in 1945.


Today's recommended book is 100th Bomb Group pilot and POW Herbert Alf's Petals of Fire. Herb conceived and wrote this book over a fifty-year span. He began it as a prisoner of war in Germany, writing on BOTH sides of sheets of toilet paper, which he stored in a 'secret compartment' in a dime store wallet. The Germans never found it. In 1999, Petals of Fire was published in a limited quantity of 2,000 books. It is almost impossible to find a copy anymore, but anyone wishing to read it, get in touch with me about possibly borrowing mine. It is a historical novel in which Herb tried to cover all aspects of strategic aerial bombing.


I had the good fortune to get to know Herb quite well while writing my own book. We had several very enjoyable days together at his home in Roseberg, Oregon with Herb and his wife Sylvia.


Herb passed away a few years ago and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was an artist, a sculptor, an educator and one of the finest men I've ever met. His book is must reading for any air war historian or 100th Bomb Group member, especially anyone interested in the POW experience.

One of the only known photos of Herb as a pilot, taken when he was in flight training Stateside. Enlarged and edited for clarity and color by R. Morris

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Three Airmen Meet, Remember their War Years

Les Poitras, mentioned in a previous post, has been spending a lot of his time lately gathering stories and information about the Mighty Eighth, and the 100th BG in particular. His grandfather, Leslie Moore, flew as a B-17 ball turret gunner in the 100th.

In April of this year, 100th BG Lead Navigator Harry Crosby hosted a get-together at his home with several other Air Corps vets. Bill Bates was also in the 100th Bomb Group as a bombardier. John Silvus was a B-24 navigator in the 448th Bomb Group. Along with Harry's daughter and some other younger relatives, Les sat down to an afternoon of reminiscing with these fellows.

Harry Crosby has always been an inspiration to me. I read his book "A Wing and a Prayer" many years ago. It is one of the finest memoirs of the air war and is still in print. Crosby knows a thing or two about writing--he was an English professor after the war. I can't recommend his book highly enough. The Amazon link to the book is http://www.amazon.com/Wing-Prayer-Bloody-Eighth-Action/dp/0595167039/ref=sr_1_6/103-0005295-6637462?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183071810&sr=8-6


Les recounted this meeting in an email in April. Also, near the end of this email, there is a link to additional photos of this meeting. What follows is Les's email from April 21, 2007. Les writes:

"Hi Everyone,

I had a really wonderful experience this weekend that I'd like to share with you all.

Harry Crosby, through the graciousness of himself and his daughter, Rebecca Crosby, welcomed 100th Bomb Group B-17 bombardier Bill Bates, 448th Bomb Group B-24 navigator John Silvis to his home. Also attending were the son of a 100th Bomb Group B-17 waist gunner, Jack O'Leary, and the grandson of a 100th Bomb Group B-17 ball turret gunner, yours truly. We met in Harry's place in Massachusetts.


This was a "mini-reunion", of sorts, of three WWII veterans who risked their lives and fought courageously in the most fearsome air battles the United States has ever encountered in its successful effort to defeat fascism over Nazi occupied Europe.

Harry Crosby, a lead navigator of the 100th Bomb Group from near the beginning of hostilities to the end, is one of the most beloved and legendary members of the 100th Bomb Group and one of the group's founding historians. He saw and experienced it all, from the more experimental missions near the beginning of the war, where most crews were lost in horrific and tragic air battles, through D-Day to the end of hostilities. Two days ago, in his apartment, he simply called himself "very lucky". He is the author of "A Wing and a Prayer", a highly acclaimed and beloved book by 100th Bomb Group veterans, historians and enthusiasts. He has a PHD from Stanford University in American Literature and it shows in his writing. From left: Robert 'Rosie' Rosenthal, Frederick Sutterlin, and Harry Crosby during the war. (100th Photo Archives)

When we walked into his apartment yesterday, I was filled with awe as I witnessed a soft spoken, gentle man. I was choked up as I listened to three guys in their mid-eighties talk, who, just like my grandfather, participated in something so horrific and took so much courage, yet they all pretty much said "they didn't have time to be scared" (paraphrase). They were just "doing their job".

After leaving Harry Crosby's place and driving Bill & John to their assisted living facility, Bill & John invited me to the pub in their place for a drink. We were each poured small glasses of Seagram's V.O. per John's request. I held my glass up and said: "To World War II Heroes" (one hero on each side of me). Both looked up into the air with pride, raised the glass to their mouths and took a drink. Then I looked at each of them and said: "You two are WWII heroes!". They both looked at me, shrugged their shoulders, looked down and said something to the effect of: "naw" and then changed the subject. Like all the other vets, they see the ones who didn't come home as heroes.

It was a great day, as I kept thinking the whole time, these are the great men my grandfather served with. In the case of Bill Bates, on the SAME CREW, same plane where Bill was in the nose and my grandfather was in the ball turret. In a few of the photos, the three vets are side by side. Harry is holding his "A-2 Jacket" and Bill is holding my grandfather's painted A-2 "Yankee Wahine" jacket. Left to right: John Silvus, Harry Crosby, Bill Bates. Harry is holding his A-2 jacket, and Bill is holding Leslie Moore's.

To top off the day, Harry and Rebecca signed our copies of Harry's "A Wing and a Prayer".

Even though it was a great day for me, I could tell it was an even greater day for the vets. Bill and John kept thanking me over and over again. I kept responding with: "the pleasure is all mine". I could tell that they enjoyed the day more than me, because they were there more than 60 years ago.

Anyway, here is the link to the photos, both poor and good quality (I didn't want to delete any of them).

http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=arm7q0na.33uik092&x=0&y=-s1iura

Thank you to all WWII veterans and the historians who keep their memory alive and to all families who provide photos and info to help "fill in the gaps"!"

A Proud Grandson Keeps the Memories Alive


I have been very blessed to make the acquaintance of a gentleman by the name of Les Poitras. Les's grandpa, Leslie B. Moore, was a ball turret gunner in the 100th Bomb Group in World War Two, and Les has been rediscovering the stories of the war years in the past few years. Les is like my twin brother in some ways--neither one of us can get enough of the air war history or talking to the veterans who were there. We read all the books we can find, talk to all the vets that we can catch up to, and write about our findings to each other and to anyone who will listen. Les has volunteered at the 100th BG website as a webmaster and has a good message board going over there. You can check it out by clicking on this link: http://100thbg.com/fubar/index.php?sid=435a3548f408c9d0c6316ab4b21dad3f


I am thankful for guys like Les Poitras, because his passion and his love of air war history ensures that the stories will stay alive.


Les sent this photo taken yesterday of himself with his grandpa's A-2 jacket. Les writes that he treasures this jacket, given to him by his grandpa, and that all these artifacts will end up in a museum if anything happens to him.


Les, you honor your grandfather's memory. He'd be mighty proud of you.


Keep 'em flying!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dan Culler--An American Hero

Dan Culler's story is still relatively unknown, despite the fact that Donald Miller touched on it in his book Masters of the Air, which has been a big seller in the United States. I covered Dan's story in detail in my own book Untold Valor a few years ago, and have maintained a close friendship with Dan to this day.

Dan was imprisoned by the Swiss for trying to escape from internment after his B-24, filled with flak and bullet-holes, was forced to land in Switzerland. He spent time in hell, at the Wauwilermoos Federal Prison, where he was tortured and his wounds were left untreated. He still suffers from these wounds today. The camp was run by a Swiss Nazi named Andre Beguin. The American military attache in Switzerland, a man by the name of Barnwell Legge, did nothing to help the Americans who tried to escape, and in fact refused to acknowledge the existence of this camp. Fifty years later, the President of Switzerland, Kaspar Villager, personally apologized to Dan for his suffering during the war.


Wauwilermoos Swiss Federal Prison. Dan's barracks second from left

This dramatic and heart-rending story only gets worse, but I'm not going to go into detail here. Dan wrote of the experience in a book entitled 'Black Hole of Wauwilermoos', which has never gotten the sales it deserves and which is a tremendous--if highly disturbing--read. Anyone wishing to buy a copy signed by Dan can contact me and I'll see what I can do. I know Dan has copies available.

Dan Culler is one of my heroes. I do not use the term 'hero' lightly. Here is a man who was forgotten by his own government who never stopped loving America . He is an author, an inventor, and a frequent commentator on the state of America. He doesn't so much harp on what is wrong as try to come up with solutions.
Dan receives his Prisoner of War Medal, 1996, accompanied by his wife Betty. Also present, his Distinguished Flying Cross.

Dan Culler, I salute you as a great American.
For more on Wauwilermoos and American internment in Switzerland, check out the Swiss Internee website at http://swissinternees.tripod.com/wauwilermoos.html

More information and reviews on Dan's book can be found on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Black-Hole-Wauwilermoos-Airmans-Story/dp/188777601X/ref=sr_1_1/102-6987722-7900953?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183007683&sr=8-1

Memories for Sale: Airmen's Belongings Thrown Out

A sad scenario is being played out time and again in the United States these days. As our aging World War Two veterans pass away, the things that they treasured and stored for sixty years are being gone through by children and grandchildren who have no idea what they are dealing with. Unknowing or perhaps uncaring, they are throwing away or selling for practically nothing the treasures of their fathers and grandfathers. What's even sadder is that there are many people out there who make a lot of money going to estate sales and buying this stuff for pennies on the dollar and then selling it for hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the huge military collectors' market on the internet. Just look at eBay sometime and you'll find memories for sale by astute estate-sale shoppers who probably never bothered to point out to a grieving child or grandchild that the items they were selling are priceless.

A case in point. About ten or twelve years ago, I was shopping in the Salvation Army thrift store here in Idaho Falls, when there before me was an absolutely unblemished Eighth Air Force airman's uniform, complete with jacket, wool shirt, and trousers. Its original owner was a sergeant in the Eighth, stationed in England, and had the overseas bars to prove it. His name was Newcomb. This pristine uniform was stored for fifty years and then presumably thrown in with the other clothes after the passing of this veteran. I've never been able to trace him or his family. This entire 8th Army Air Corps uniform--coat, patches, shirt with patches, and trousers, cost five dollars.


These items belong in museums, not in the hands of collectors. I use my items frequently for teaching and display. When I can no longer use them to teach about the air war, they will go to a museum, but they will never be sold to collectors. These items are priceless.


If you have a veteran relative, make sure that arrangements are made to keep their treasures in the family or get them to someone who will use them for education and public display.

Remembering Robert 'Rosie' Rosenthal

The passing of a great American and a tremendous human being.

New York Times Obituary, April 2007


Robert Rosenthal, Leader in Bombing Raids and Lawyer at Nuremberg, Dies at 89

By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Published: April 29, 2007
Robert Rosenthal, a highly decorated pilot in World War II who helped usher in a new kind of warfare, the strategic bombing of Germany, in which huge bombers scraped the ice-cold stratosphere while serving as easy targets for enemy fighters and ground guns, died on April 20 in White Plains. He was 89.
The cause was multiple myeloma, his son Steven said. Mr. Rosenthal lived in Harrison, N.Y.
He flew 52 missions over Germany as a bomber pilot, twice survived being shot down and won 16 decorations, including the Distinguished Service Cross for “extraordinary heroism.”
On one mission, his B-17 Flying Fortress was the only one in his group of 13 to return. On another, he was shot down and broke his right arm and nose. The next time he was shot down, he broke the same arm.
On Feb. 3, 1945, Rosie, as he was known, led the entire Third Division, an armada of 1,000 B-17s, on a raid on Berlin. He was later an assistant to the United States prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials, Robert H. Jackson.
Mr. Rosenthal served in the Eighth Air Force, the bomber command created a month after Pearl Harbor to bring Germany’s war machine to a halt through high-altitude strategic bombing. The idea was that long-range, fast-moving bombers could fly unescorted into enemy territory and rain down destruction with impunity.
But there were too few support planes, among other unforeseen difficulties, and the bombers proved to be a fat target for more numerous German fighters and antiaircraft guns. Casualties were enormous; only submarine crews in the Pacific had a higher fatality rate.
Mr. Rosenthal, a 25-year-old newly minted lawyer, had sought out the challenge. He enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor, and, when offered noncombat duties, insisted that he be sent to fight.
“I couldn’t wait to get over there,” he said in an interview with Donald L. Miller for the book “Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany” (2006).
“When I finally arrived, I thought I was at the center of the world, the place where the democracies were gathering to defeat the Nazis,” he continued. “I was right where I wanted to be.”
Robert Rosenthal was born in Brooklyn on June 11, 1917, and went to school in the borough’s Flatbush neighborhood. He was captain of the football and baseball teams at Brooklyn College, from which he graduated in 1938. He graduated summa cum laude from Brooklyn Law School. He had a job at a law firm in Manhattan when World War II started.
After his flight training, Mr. Rosenthal was assigned to the Eighth Air Force’s 100th Bomb Group, later known as “The Bloody Hundredth.” He was stationed at a base in East Anglia in England.
Mr. Miller wrote that Mr. Rosenthal never talked about his passion to risk everything to fight Nazis. A rumor arose that he had relatives in German concentration camps. When asked directly, he replied, “That was a lot of hooey.”
He said: “I have no personal reasons. Everything I’ve done or hope to do is because I hate persecution. A human being has to look out for other human beings or there’s no civilization.”
His third mission was to bomb M√ľnster on Oct. 10, 1943. After the American support fighters reached their range and returned home, the 13 bombers in the group were attacked by some 200 German fighters. The skies were filled with flak and flames, creating “an aerial junkyard,” according to a gunner.
Mr. Rosenthal’s plane dropped its bombs, but had two engines out, a gaping hole in one wing and three injured gunners. He put the 30-ton bomber through a harrowing series of evasive maneuvers and somehow made it back to England. None of the other 12 planes did.
In September 1944, Mr. Rosenthal’s plane was hit by flak over France and he made a forced landing, dulling his consciousness as well as breaking his arm and nose. He did not remember how, but the French resistance got him back to England.
On a February 1945 mission to bomb Berlin, he was shot down and rescued by Russians on the outskirts of the city. He was sent back to England on a circuitous route that wound through Poland, Moscow, Kiev, Tehran, Cairo, Greece and Naples.
That turned out to be his last mission, as the European war soon ended. He volunteered to fight in the Pacific, and was training to fly B-29s in Florida when Japan capitulated.
Mr. Rosenthal returned to his law firm, but seized the chance to join the team prosecuting Nazis in Nuremburg. On the ocean voyage to Germany, he met another lawyer on the prosecutorial staff, Phillis Heller, whom he married in Nuremberg.
In addition to her, he is survived by his sons Steven, of Newton, Mass., and Dan, of White Plains; his daughter, Peggy Rosenthal, of Manhattan; four grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.
As part of his duties during the trials, Mr. Rosenthal interviewed Hermann Goering, commander of the German air force and the second-highest-ranked Nazi during most of the war, and Wilhelm Keitel, the top German general.
“Seeing these strutting conquerors after they were sentenced — powerless, pathetic and preparing for the hangman — was the closure I needed,” he said. “Justice had overtaken evil. My war was over.”
Mr. Rosenthal always wondered about the unexploded cannon shell found rolling around in one of his plane’s tanks after the M√ľnster raid. Had a slave laborer in a Nazi munitions factory sabotaged the shell?

The Gil Cohen painting of Rosie (Center) and his 'Riveters', at Thorpe Abbotts Airfield, 100th BG, 1943.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Website Remembers Baseball Players Killed in World War Two

My previous post recommended a website devoted to baseball in World War Two. One link on this site honors all who died in the war. The post lists every man who fell, from the major leagues down to the collegiate level. Just to give you an example of this fine tribute site, I am posting a memorial to one of the two major leaguers to die in the war. His name was Elmer Gedeon . His story follows:
Elmer Gedeon was born April 15, 1917 in Cleveland, Ohio. He died April 20, 1944 near St Pol, France. One of only two players with major league experience to be killed in World War II.


After a collegiate career at Michigan, Elmer played 67 games in the minor leagues and joined the Washington Senators at the end of the season. His first major league appearance was on September 18, 1939 as a late-inning replacement in Dutch Leonard's 19th win of the season against the Tigers. The following day, Gedeon was the starting centerfielder, collecting three hits in a 10-9 win against the Indians. He would appear in five games before the year was out – four in centerfield and one in rightfield – and collected three hits in 15 at-bats.

In 1940, Gedeon shuttled between the majors and the minors, spending most of his time at Charlotte, NC where he hit .271 in 131 games.

He received his summons for military service in January 1941, and instead of going to spring training, instead reported to Fort Thomas, Kentucky.

Around Memorial Day, 1941, Gedeon transferred to the Air Force. He earned his pilot's wings and a commission as a second lieutenant at Williams Field near Phoenix in May 1942, and trained with the 21st Bomb Group at MacDill Field in Tampa. His life almost ended before he went into combat. On August 9, 1942, Gedeon was the navigator in a North American B-25 Mitchell medium-sized bomber that crashed on take off and burst into flames at Raleigh, North Carolina. Gedeon, suffering three broken ribs, managed to free himself and crawl from the wreckage, then realized a crewmate – Corporal John R Barrat, who had suffered a broken neck and two broken legs – was still inside. Gedeon went back in the burning plane and pulled Barrat free. Two men were killed in the crash and the five other crew members all suffered serious injuries – Gedeon was hospitalized for 12 weeks suffering from broken ribs and burns to his back, hands, face and legs, some of which needed skin grafts.

In July 1943, Gedeon began training on Martin B-26 Marauders at Ardmore AAF base in Oklahoma. On April 20, 1944, just five days after celebrating his 27th birthday, Gedeon piloted one of 30 B-26 Marauders that left Boreham to bomb German construction works at Bois d’Esquerdes. It was the group’s thirteenth mission. Gedeon’s bomber was severely hit by flak over France on the way to the target. “We got caught in searchlights and took a direct hit under the cockpit,” says a fellow crewman. “I watched Gedeon lean forward against the controls as the plane went into a nose dive and the cockpit filled with flames.”
Captain Gedeon at Boreham Airfield in England, 1944

This airman was the only crew member able to escape by parachute as the bomber plunged to earth carrying Gedeon and five others to their death.

Gedeon was reported missing in action, and it was not until May 1945 that his father, Andrew A Gedeon, received word from his son's commanding officer that Elmer's grave had been located in a small British army cemetery in St Pol, France.

Elmer Gedeon's body was later returned to the United States and rests at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. He was inducted in the University of Michigan Hall of Honor for track and baseball in 1983.

"He was a superior gentleman," recalls Taaffe, "with a delightful sense of humor." The 394th Bomb Group's historian, J Guy Ziegler later wrote that Gedeon "was one of the most popular officers in the group."

Take America Out to the Ball Game

Baseball, the All-American game, went to war as well. Every station had a baseball game, whether it was just a few guys with gloves and a bat playing next to an airfield or a bunch of 'kriegies' playing with YMCA-donated equipment in a German Stalag. So many major and minor league baseball players were in the armed services that the quality of play in the professional leagues plummeted during the War Years. Some of the greatest players served with distinction--something that would be rare indeed to see today after the end of the draft.

Below are some photographs of Americans at war, who still had time to play some ball.The team above played for the U.S. 3rd and 5th Fleet in the Pacific in World War Two in 1945.
The team below, the all-stars of the 303rd Bomb Group (H) were the Eighth Air Force Champs in 1943.
These Canadians (and possibly some Americans) in the Royal Canadian Air Force played together in 1942 in Europe.

Sixty-plus years later, we still get together to watch 'America's Game'.

We attended our first Idaho Falls Chukar game of the season tonight. Nothing quite as American or as mellow and relaxing as a good baseball game. The minor league players play for love of the game. The crowd drinks beer and eats hot dogs. The national anthem starts off every game. During the seventh inning stretch, everybody sings 'Take Me out to the Ball Game' for at least the thousandth time. When a ball is fouled into the parking lot, the public address announces, after the sound effect of breaking glass: "If that was your car, it's time to call Falls Auto Glass for a free estimate!" Dizzy-bat races. The wave. The mascot. It just doesn't get any better than this. Idaho Falls is a Single-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, one of the worst teams in baseball. We get the guys that are right out of high school or just drafted out of college. Every few years, one of them makes it to 'the show', but the rest just fade into obscurity like 99% of everybody who ever loved to play the game, myself included, and are destined to watch.

Whether played by homesick servicemen or young men with dreams of big league careers, baseball is one of the common bonds of Americans past and present.

An excellent website about baseball in wartime, with lots of information and photographs, is found at http://www.baseballinwartime.co.uk/teams.htm. It's worth a visit.

The following professional baseball players were killed in action in World War Two. I am listing them all because they are all heroes and should be remembered. If you click on each man's name, it will give you his biography. Please take the time to read a few, and send up a prayer for these guys. Their stories are touching and help us remember the price at which our freedom was preserved for us.

Major League
Key
Name
Experience
Service
Cause of Death
Location
Date


Elmer Gedeon
Major League
USAAF
Killed in Action
ETO
April 20, 1944
Harry O'Neill
Major League
USMC
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
March 6, 1945

Minor League

Name
Experience
Service
Cause of Death
Location
Date
Herman Bauer
Minor League
US Army
Died from Wounds
ETO
July 12, 1944
Fred Beal
Minor League
US Army
Died in hospital
USA
February 11, 1944
Leonard Berry
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
December 24, 1944
Keith Bissonette
Minor League
USAAF
Killed in Action
CBI
1944
Buddy Blewster
Minor League
USMC
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
1943
Lefty Brewer
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
June 6, 1944
Ed Brock
Minor League
US Navy
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
February 26, 1945
Murrill Brown
Minor League
US Navy
Plane Crash
USA
September 1944
Whitey Burch
Minor League
US Army
Military accident
USA
November 29, 1941
George Chandler
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
September 28, 1942
Floyd Christiansen
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
July 10, 1945
Ordway Cisgen
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
July 11, 1944
Les Clotiaux
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
August 9, 1945
Edward Dalton
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
March 30, 1945
Bud Dawson
Minor League
USAAF
Killed in Action
UNKNOWN
1944
Howard DeMartini
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
December 24, 1944
Hal Dobson
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
May 23, 1943
Norman Duncan
Minor League
US Navy
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
April 12, 1945
Louis Elko
Pro Contract
US Army
Military Accident
UNKNOWN
UKNOWN
Charles Etherton
Minor League
USMC
Suicide
USA
December 27, 1945
Herb Fash
Minor League
US Navy
Explosion
PACIFIC
February 21, 1945
Frank Faudem
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
January 1945
George Gamble
Minor League
USAAF
Killed in Action
CBI
December 4, 1944
Robert Gary
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
February 4, 1944
Conrad Graff
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
July 8, 1944
Alan Grant
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
ETO
December 29, 1943
Jim Grilk
Minor League
USAAF
Auto accident
USA
July 16, 1942
Frank Haggerty
Pro Contract
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
September 23, 1943
Bill Hansen
Minor League
US Army
Died from Wounds
ETO
1944
Billy Hebert
Minor League
US Navy
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
October 21, 1942
Nay Hernandez
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
March 22, 1945
Bob Hershey
Minor League
US Navy
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
September 1943
Ernie Holbrook
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
December 16, 1944
Bob Holmes
Minor League
USMC
Died from Wounds
PACIFIC
February 22, 1945
Gordon Houston
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
February 10, 1942
Ernie Hrovatic
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
January 14, 1945
Harry Hughes
Minor League
USMC
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
1945
Harry Imhoff
Minor League
USMC
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
1945
Frank Janik
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
April 29, 1945
Art Keller
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
September 29, 1944
Stan Klores
Minor League
US Navy
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
December 3, 1944
Curly Kopp
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
1944
Harry Ladner
Umpire
US Army
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
April 18, 1945
Walter Lake
Minor League
US Army
Died from Wounds
ETO
July 26, 1944
Whitey Loos
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
PACIFIC
January 16, 1944
Jack Lummus
Minor League
USMC
Died from Wounds
PACIFIC
March 9, 1945
Ted Maillet
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
April 7, 1945
Henry Martinez
Minor League
US Navy
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
January 5, 1945
Duke McKee
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
1945
Joe Moceri
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
June 30, 1944
Leon Mohr
Minor League
USMC
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
1945
John Moller
Minor League
USAAF
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
August 8, 1943
George Myers
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
1945
Walter Navie
Minor League
US Army
Suicide
USA
October 9, 1945
Ed Neusel
Minor League
US Navy
Died from Illness
USA
July 31, 1944
William Niemeyer
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
March 4, 1945
Hank Nowak
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
January 1, 1945
Joe Palatas
Minor League
USAAF
Died as POW
ETO
April 11, 1944
Jack Patterson
Minor League
USMC
Killed in Action
ETO
November 2, 1944
Metro Persoskie
Minor League
USAAF
Flying Accident
ETO
February 22, 1944
Charlie Pescod
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
December 2, 1944
Harold Phillips
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
August 9, 1945
Joe Pinder
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
June 6, 1944
Bob Price
Minor League
US Navy
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
1944
Ernie Raimondi
Minor League
US Army
Died from Wounds
ETO
January 26, 1945
John Regan
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
CBI
May 25, 1944
Pete Rehkamp
Minor League
USAAF
Auto Accident
USA
September 9, 1942
Joseph Rodgers
Minor League
US Navy
Killed in Action
MTO
October 10, 1943
Michael Sambolich
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
November 4, 1944
Glenn Sanford
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
November 6, 1943
Bill Sarver
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
April 6, 1945
Charles Schaube
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
April 16, 1945
Walt Schmisseur
Minor League
US Navy
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
February 20, 1945
Bob Schmukal
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
October 3, 1944
Eddie Schohl
Minor League
US Army
Died from Wounds
MTO
November 1, 1943
Frank Schulz
Minor League
USAAF
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
June 17, 1945
Marcel Serventi
Minor League
US Army
Auto Accident
USA
July 5, 1941
Harold Sherman
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
CBI
July 7, 1945
Jack Siens
Minor League
US Navy
Plane Crash
ETO
September 10, 1943
Art Sinclair
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
MTO
January 26, 1944
John Smith
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
November 4, 1944
Norman Smith
Minor League
US Navy
Missing in action
PACIFIC
August 9, 1942
Marshall Sneed
Minor League
USAAF
Killed in Action
MTO
February 22, 1943
Billy Southworth Jr
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
February 15, 1945
Earl Springer
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
January 25, 1945
Gene Stack
Minor League
US Army
Natural causes
USA
June 26, 1942
Don Stewart
Minor League
Canadian Army
Killed in bombing raid
ETO
March 13, 1941
Sylvester Sturges
Minor League
USAAF
Killed in Action
ETO
June 7, 1944
Fred Swift
Minor League
USAAF
Plane crash
USA
April 23, 1944
Johnny Taylor
Minor League
USMC
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
July 26, 1944
Steve Tonsick
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
MTO
March 28, 1943
Jimmie Trimble
Pro Contract
USMC
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
March 1, 1945
Wirt Twitchell
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
July 1944
Lou Vann
Minor League
USMC
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
May 18, 1944
Art Vivian
Minor League
USMC
Killed in Action
ETO
August 1, 1944
Elmer Wachtler
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
January 5, 1945
Leo Walker
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
November 2, 1941
Roman Wantuck
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
June 16, 1944
Jim Whitfield
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
September 22, 1944
Les Wirkkala
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
September 7, 1944
Stanford Wolfson
Minor League
USAAF
Killed in Action
ETO
November 5, 1944
Elmer Wright
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
ETO
June 6, 1944
Fred Yeske
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
MTO
December 21, 1944
Marion Young
Minor League
USMC
Killed in Action
PACIFIC
December 13, 1944
Peter Zarilla
Minor League
USAAF
Plane Crash
USA
August 9, 1945
John Zulberti
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
MTO
January 1944
George Zwilling
Minor League
US Army
Killed in Action
MTO
March 31, 1943

P-51 Mustang Salute

Three-Mustang low-level flyover
"Old Yeller" taxis in.
"Mormon Mustang" taxis in. Many Mormon pilots dubbed their steeds in honor of their faith.

Last June Geri and I went up to Rexburg to watch the Legacy Museum of Flight Airshow. Here are a few photos of P-51's, several owned by John Bagley of Rexburg. The yellow P-51 is the famous "Old Yeller" formerly owned by stunt pilot Bob Hoover.

95th Bomb Group Legend Robert Cozens Article

Bob's plane, Patsy Ann III, named after his lovely wife.
Bob's crew.

I found an excellent article about 95th Bomb Group pilot Robert (Bob) Cozens that covers his enlistment, training, and combat in wonderful style and detail. Bob was in the original 95th, and flew his missions very early in the war. He went on the infamous Kiel mission and was involved in both Munster and Schweinfurt. I am adding the link to this article with my highest recommendations. Bob and his wife Patsy are alive and well in California, and he has been involved in my novel-writing advisors group. You will need Adobe Reader to read this file.


Bone Run Report


Above: Just outside of Ammon, Idaho, on the flats. Elevation 4,700'. Beautiful summer day.
Below: The first hill climb up to about 6,500', though sagebrush prairie. Snake River plain in background.

Below: Over the top of the first hill, looking southeast. Big windfarm up here. On a clear day, looking northeast, you can see the Grand Tetons from here.
Below: On the upper flats, passing the wind farm.
A beautiful but windy day. Our eight-person team ran the 40-mile course in slightly over six hours, putting us firmly in the middle of the pack. My knee held. It was great fun. There is a single-runner option in this race. One man ran the entire forty miles--alone--in just over six hours. There is no shade on this race--it's across open rangeland, farmland and desert.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bone Race Saturday

Scenery on the Bone Road between Idaho Falls and Bone, Idaho


In March I had surgery on my right knee again. The healing/rehab was slow (partly because I passed on the physical therapy and re-habbed it myself), partly because of the nature of the surgery. I was unable to run until late May. However, I committed to running in a team ultra-marathon June 23, tomorrow, so I have been training every day to prepare for it. Each runner goes 5 miles on variable terrain. Last year I tackled a steep section and did well, but I was in shape. This year will be more of a challenge. My wife is also on our 8-person team.


There is an interesting history behind this race. Many years ago, in the mid-80's, two of my teaching colleagues, Math teacher Chuck Ferguson, an accomplished long-distance runner, and History teacher Norm Stanger, a cowboy, challenged each other to race from Idaho Falls to the small 'town' of Bone, Idaho, population two, and back to Idaho Falls. Norm was allowed to change horses along the way. The distance round-trip is 40 miles. In the first Bone Race, Norm narrowly defeated Chuck, with only a few spectators on hand. They repeated this race in 1989. Sadly, Chuck Ferguson passed away five years ago.


The race now attracts several hundred runners, mostly local but some from far away. I run on a team sponsored by my wife's former boss, a urologist. Our team name is always a play on this, such as the X-Stream Team. One year I drew a little cartoon of a kidney named Kal for our shirts. After we run, we all get together for a barbeque at Dr. Taylor's house. It's great fun.



The Bone Store, Bone, Idaho. In the middle of nowhere, and the turnaround point for the race.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Air Corps Novel


This summer I am writing a WWII novel with a twist, about a man from Montana who goes back in time to try to save his father's life. His father, a B-17 pilot, was killed on a mission over Germany. There are some strange elements in this novel. For instance, the main character goes back in time with an old Blackfeet Indian medicine man who was a ground crew chief in WWII. This results in more than a few misadventures along the way. It's a little bit out in left field, but I think it will be good.

What makes the novel exciting to me is that I have a large staff of experts advising me every step of the way on all things about the Army Air Corps and the air war in Europe. I send them questions every day or two and they faithfully respond. I am keeping a record of all responses, and I'll share some from time to time.

My thanks to my crew of experts, all of which help in all areas:

Ground Crew Expert--Will Lundy, Ground Crewman, 44th Bomb Group

Early Air War Experts--Bob Cozens, 95th Bomb Group; Leonard Herman, 95th Bomb Group; Maurice Rockett, 95th Bomb Group.

Ball Turret Advisor--Delbert Lambson, Ball Gunner, 390th Bomb Group (also a POW)

Prisoner of War Advisors--Don Lewis, 15th Air Force Gunner, Stalag Luft VI; John Carson, 15th Air Force Gunner and Radio Operator, Second Bomb Group; Norris King, B-17 gunner whose plane, Sugarfoot, was shot down by Swiss antiaircraft; Dan Culler, flight engineer, 44th Bomb Group. Detained in Swiss federal prison of Wauwilermoos.

Of course, all these guys are helping with all aspects of the book. It is my hope to be done by summer's end. I get up and work every day on it. I can't guarantee success, but I'll do my best to honor you all.

100th BG Navigator Frank Murphy Flies Final Mission



Another great man has taken off on his final mission. Frank Murphy, a 100th Bomb Group navigator who ended up a POW in World War Two, passed away a few days ago. Frank was always very helpful to historians in their Air Corps research. He could always be counted on to provide great moral and intellectual insight into the air war, and he will be dearly missed.

Frank was a literate and educated man, a Georgia boy, who was both a writer and a musician. His book, Luck of the Draw: Reflections on the Air War in Europe, is one of the best books about the 100th Bomb Group in World War Two up to the time Frank was shot down and captured. The book then becomes an exciting story of survival as Frank becomes a Prisoner of War.

Frank, you will be missed. God speed and God bless.
Frank's book is available on this link at Amazon. It was printed in limited quantities, so get yours soon. http://www.amazon.com/Luck-Draw-Reflections-Air-Europe/dp/0917678516/ref=sr_1_1/103-0005295-6637462?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1182390988&sr=8-1


B-17 Photo:Harlingen TX Formation of Bombers


Photo taken by Richard Havers in Texas in 1982. The plane that is in Idaho Falls, 'Sentimental Journey', is second from left. Can anyone identify the other B-17s in this photo?
John Havers has written me that the bombers are, L-R: Chuckie, Sentimental Journey, Aluminum Overcast, and Texas Ranger.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The 87-Day Winter POW Death March--Lest We Forget



A photo taken by a clandestine camera on the forced march.

Young 390th Bomb Group Ball Turret Gunner Delbert Lambson had the misfortune not only to be shot down, but also to become a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft IV in East Prussia. Even then, his troubles were not over. In February 1945, the Germans decided to evacuate the camp of 6,000 prisoners to prevent the POWs from falling into the hands of the advancing Russians. For the next 87 days, thousands of Allied prisoners would be fighting for their lives against cold, disease, and hopelessness as they covered 600 miles on foot.
It was one of the coldest winters on record. Limited to a diet of only 700 calories a day, and marching many miles a day, the men began to weaken. Typhus, dysentary, pneumonia, diptheria, and pellagra ravaged the weakened marchers. Frostbite was also a terrible problem, resulting in many amputations later. Men slept wherever their guards put them. Sometimes, they were lucky enough to be sheltered in a barn. Often, they slept on the frozen ground.
On May 2, 1945, the weary POWs met Allied forces near Hamburg. They had covered more than 600 miles in 87 days. Of those who started on the march, about 1,500 perished from disease, starvation, or at the hands of German guards while attempting to escape. In terms of percentage of mortality, it came very close to the Bataan Death March.
Much of the above account is from survivor George W. Guderley.


Prisoner of War Memorial at Stalag Luft IV, in what used to be East Prussia but is now Poland.


For more information about this death march, go tohttp://www.b24.net/pow/march.htm


Another Great Book to Recommend


When I Return in Spring: A Promise Kept
Delbert Lambson is a former ball turret gunner and Prisoner of War who wrote his memoirs some years ago. It's a small world. Delbert flew on the same plane as another subject of my book, Gus Mencow. After the Geary Crew, on which Mencow flew, completed its tour, a fresh crew inherited Betty Boop/The Pistol Packin' Mama. One of the young men on the new crew was a Mormon country boy from New Mexico named Delbert Lambson. This crew was shot down on a mission, and Delbert ended up in a German Stalag. He was on a forced march in the winter/spring of 1945.


What I like about Delbert's book is his attempt to tell his story without the use of excessive violence or harsh language, in respect for his Latter-day Saint faith and the sensibilities of his readers. Delbert also stayed strong to his faith throughout his ordeal, remaining true to the love of his life, his new wife, to whom he is still married over 65 years later.
I wrote this review of Delbert's book several years ago.

"As an aviation writer, I have read many memoirs of the men of the Army Air Corps. This one is special, in several ways. First of all, Mr. Lambson has set out to write a book that, while it pulls no punches about the horrors of war, is completely devoid of excessive violence or bad language, making it suitable for all ages. Second, instead of recounting his war as a mission-by-mission journal telling how many hours and minutes each flight was, etc, which has been done a hundred times, sometimes more effectivly than others, Lambson tells us the story of a young Mormon boy from New Mexico whose biggest wish is to get home to his young wife and son and walk the mountains he loves. There is no joy in this war for Lambson. He thinks of the friends who go down each mission, he agonizes about the German civilians under his bombs, and his naturally shy and spiritual nature isolate him from most of his fellow airmen. Near the end of Lambson's tour of duty, flying as the ball turret gunner on the famous Betty Boop/Pistol Packin' Mama, Lambson is shot down and becomes a Prisoner of War. Near death, he is nursed back to life by a nurse working in an enemy hospital, ends up at a Stalag, and then must make an incredible forced march journey with his fellow POWs as their German captors try to stay ahead of the advancing Russian Army. Lambson is not afraid to tell of the time he spends on his knees in prayer, of his refusal to compromise his religious beliefs a time of war, or of his great love and devotion to his wife and son. The reader will find him/herself drawn into the story and experiencing the joys, terrors, and faith of this young man as he struggles to survive. If you enjoy reading about the Mighty Eighth and the men of the Greatest Generation who fought and died for it, then this is a book you will not want to pass up. I recommend it highly."

B-17 Photos

Anyone wishing to copy and use these photos of the B-17 'Sentimental Journey', please feel free. I took them and I am glad to share them.

B-17 Walkaround, Idaho Falls, Sentimental Journey





This week, the Confederate Air Force's B-17G 'Sentimental Journey' is in town. What a lovely aircraft! For five bucks, you can walk through. For $450, you can take a ride. I did the walk-through. It's amazing how cramped for space it is inside this aircraft. I can't imagine getting around in it at fifty degrees below zero, in a bulky flight suit, with a walk-around oxygen bottle, while fighting off fighter attack and trying to maintain my footing despite turbulence, prop-wash, and flak. All the more reason to take our hats off to the men who flew this majestic plane.

Navigator's Station


Bombardier's Station Looking towards the rear, from behind cockpit. Bomb bay with narrow catwalk in center, beyond is radio room and waist. Ball turret is yellow, center.
Radio Room

Ball Turret
Waist

Tail