Issue #81 | April 2021
In This Issue of
Saving Military History One Soldier at a Time
Welcome to the April 2021 Newsletter.

In this issue we cover a KIA in Vietnam, a POW in WWII, a helicopter pilot with over 100 missions, the story of a downed B-17, the issues with finding and recovering an MIA, Nazi Kamikaze (what?) and much more.

Many of our volunteers continue to gather data for our database, an update will be coming in the next couple months with all their work. If you have rosters and award documents, we would love to have a copy.

A thank you to all that have been making artifact donations this past year. We are honored that you entrusted us to preserve and take care of these momentos.

Some news carried over from last month. We have been expanding the collection of artifacts and have accumulated over 1 million pages of digital documents. We are delivering over 500,000 web pages and countless photos and other materials. Now we are in the process of acquiring a large dataset of material that totals nearly 650,000 data points for our database after it gets transcribed. We need volunteers to help with the transcription! With this focus we will be expanding our server farm so we can deliver this material to you.

We hope you enjoy this issue.

Thank you for your support!

Artifacts help tell the stories, money makes the engine run, please

We tell history! Saving Military History One Soldier at a Time.

Remember those that made the #ultimatesacrifice #mia #pow #kia #sonsofliberty. #patriots #army #navy #marines #aircorps #airforce #coastguard #merchantmarine; all those that have worn the cloth.

Join us on this journey.

In Their Memory,
Robert Coalter, Jason Weigler
Executive Directors

"Saving Military History One Soldier At A Time".SM 
"Saving History One Soldier At A Time"SM
The Ultimate Sacrifice

Brigadier General
William Ross Bond
1 April 1970

William Ross "Billy" Bond, born 4 December 1918, enlisted in the US Army in 1940. He was an Army Ranger who participated in the Invasion of Sicily. He also landed at Salerno and Anzio. In the Battle of Cisterna, he was cited for gallantry and awarded the Silver Star. Unfortunately he was captured serving as a POW in Poland until liberated.

In Vietnam he began with MAAG and then moved to the 199th Infantry Brigade (light).. He received a rare field promotion to Brigadier General, a practice seldomly employed since World War II.

On 1 April 1970 he was killed by a sniper shortly after getting off his command helicopter going to oversee troops in an operation.

#killedinaction #ultimatesacrifice

A unique feature of his shirt is that he had worn it as a Colonel. Upon his promotion to General the Eagle was removed and replaced by the Star while in theater. This could have been done by a local seamstress, laundry or even an aide. A beautify "Theater Made / Altered" piece of American military history.
Fatigue Shirt, General William Ross "Billy" Bond
Killed in Action - 1/April/1970
Binh Thuy District, South Vietnam
The Sons of Liberty Museum Collection
Missing in Action & Buried Unknowns
There are still thousands classified as Missing in Action or as Buried Unknowns. In our partnership with the MIA Recovery Network we have established data on our websites regarding MIAs. We are in the process of cataloging research materials instrumental to the researcher and families in this search. The quest to account for those of our nation's Missing in Action is one of the most noble of endeavors. There are also a large number of recovered remains that are buried in ABMC cemeteries where the identity is unknown.
The recovery of MIAs pose a number of challenges. For example, Navy or Merchant Marine ships that were sunk in are unrecoverable and thus ship manifests are the primary and often only source of names for those that have perished but are still accounted for as Missing In Action.
Each conflict has had its own challenges. At the end of World War II the military had established more than 360 temporary cemeteries, but the dead were being found continually, in farm fields, forests, small church cemeteries, and isolated graves and the shores of combat zones. These dead were collected and the remains consolidated into the fourteen permanent European, Mediterranean, and North African Cemeteries maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission, and two permanent cemeteries in the Philippines and Hawaii.

Jesse W. Harris
Technician 4th Grade
US Army
428th Signal Heavy Construction Battalion
MIA 30 September 1944

Jesse Harris’s death sheds light on the typical difficulties of MIA recovery in the Pacific theater. Harris was aboard a vessel attempting to establish communication facilities linking allied forces in Burma. The vessel caught fire, and Harris jumped overboard into the Magaung River. He drowned and his body was recovered about five days later. He was buried about ten yards from the riverbank and a cross with his name on it was placed over the grave. The location of the loss was known and recorded, but the recording of the site was faulty. When graves registration teams attempted to find the site, it was revealed that the initial recording of the location of Harris’s death was improperly established. When the Army tried to narrow the search, they realized that the grave was placed along the bank and successive monsoons of the three years following his death had swept the cross away, and likely the remains of Jesse Harris. It was also realized that vegetation in the area had obliterated the clues to the site. Local villagers in the area reported when interviewed that they knew nothing of any recovered remains and did not know of a burning boat in the area. Once the recovery teams learned of the faulty site location, they realized that the actual error had created a search area of more than thirty miles of riverbank, south of the loss site and mostly uninhabited. The search was cancelled. Harris’s file contains more than 100 pages, much of which concerns the attempts to fix the location of the grave site and narrow the search limits.

Excerpted from:

"Known But to God; America’s 20th Century Wars and the Search to Recover the Missing" by Kenneth Breaux.

Due out in mid-2021.
The New Cinema
In November 2020 we launched our own virtual cinema. Another way to describe it is it's our own Netflix.

We have started out with 130 combat films represented by 209 clips and 1436 minutes of footage.

We will continue to add to the cinema as we have a lot of material and we will be generating much more for you to see.

This is a subscription service of $14.95/month.

Take a few minutes and go see what's "Now Showing" and decide if you want to signup and start watching. Go now !

Sons of Liberty Museum

The Sons of Liberty has hundreds of uniforms and thousands of other artifacts in our collection from the U.S. Civil War to Present day. Our web presence now numbers in excess of 325,000 pages. We continue to accept new material for education and research programs; a number of these items will make their way on to the website. Our collection includes memorabilia from the front line soldier to the rear echelon clerk. Drivers, infantrymen, pilots, tankers, seaman, medical, artillery, armorers, engineers, quartermasters and much more. Those that were drafted or volunteered; those that did a single tour or made it a career. Those that returned with all types of injuries and those that gave their full measure being killed in action (KIA). All MOS are welcome from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines. We are Saving Military History One Soldier At A Time. We are honoring the service of the Citizen Soldier.

Howard Kent Rudeen
This month we welcome the jacket of Harold Rudeen into the collection.

This picture shows a closeup of the patch on the pocket.

Capt. Rudeen served two tours in Vietnam as a pilot with the 197th Armed Helicopter Company in the "Gangbusters" - 4th Platoon and "Playboys" of the 1st Platoon. His missions earned him the Air Medal with 23 Oak Leaf Clusters.

The 197th flew both the Huey and Cobra Gunships.

Allan Dodge Robb
This month we welcome the uniform of then Major Allan Robb into the collection.

Excerpted from his Obituary:
"From the farm in Kansas to West Point Military Academy (1962), he spent his life in service to his country. He graduated with honors at West Point and began a distinguished Field Artillery career. On the day of his West Point graduation, he went from military formation directly to the West Point Chapel to marry the woman of his dreams.
As a young soldier he completed Ranger training and then served two tours in Vietnam. He received the Distinguished Service Medal for his service in Vietnam, the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Army Commendation medals for his extraordinary service. He retired with honors after 30 years of service."

We need volunteers to transcribe award and roster documents. You will place the material into a spreadsheet where it will be added to our database and website. We welcome new dedicated volunteers to work from home and help us with this project!

Interesting Links & Resources


We welcome donations of papers, books, photos, gear, uniforms, jackets, medals, ribbons, weapons, equipment, scrapbooks, biographies, diaries and more. Please Contact Us

Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Cold War, Gulf War and current conflict donations accepted. From small to large multi-item donations, they all tell a story.

We need you ! We need your help to further our mission of preserving and bringing this history to you and your families. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit your qualifying donations are tax deductible.

Army Air Corps Museum

The Air Corps Museum online presence encompasses over 225,000 web pages with thousands of photos and other materials. Our artifact collection contains hundreds of uniforms, albums, logs, medals and more from the Army Air Service, Army Air Forces and U.S. Air Force.

World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Cold War, Gulf War and current conflict donations welcome!


We need volunteers to transcribe documents, placing the material into a spreadsheet. We welcome new dedicated volunteers to help us with this project! Work from home.

Interesting Links & Resources

Trace a Family Members Military Service:


We welcome donations of papers, books, photos, gear, uniforms, jackets, medals, ribbons, weapons, equipment, scrapbooks, biographies, diaries, letters and more. Please Contact Us

You can make monetary donations through the following links. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit your qualifying donations are tax deductible.
John Motsenbocker
78th Fighter Group
8th Air Force
World War II
Prisoner of War (POW)
David Saporta
321st Bomb Squadron
90th Bombardment Group
5th Air Force
World War II

Items have a story, what tale do yours tell?
Historical Studies
The Nazi Kamikaze
By Thomas Laemlein

Desperate times. Desperate measures.
As the situation grew worse for Germany across all battlefronts during the latter part of 1944, certain extreme tactics, some of them suicidal, were put forth. Hitler approved of course. Following up on the Fuhrer’s suggestion that German naval commandos would steer torpedoes into the Allied invasion fleet, a concept was introduced that would combine the latest German technology with old-fashioned desperation. The result was the Fieseler Fi 103R, (code name “Reichenberg”)—a piloted version of the V-1 flying bomb, ultimately designed for a one-way flight that would conclude with a big finale. 

Self-sacrifice missions
Proposals for Germany’s “Selbstopfer” (self-sacrifice) missions planned to use the piloted pulsejet Fi 103 Reichenberg cruise missile and its 1,874-pound warhead against a multitude of targets including US bomber formations, the Allied invasion fleet and critical supply areas, important bridgeheads on the Eastern front, and Soviet power stations. All of these high-value targets could have been attacked by the Reichenberg bombs but there was no way to disguise the suicide nature of the missions. Even if the Reichenberg pilot bailed out before impact or air detonation there was only about a 1% chance that he would survive—with the tiny cockpit placed directly in front of the intake to the pulsejet engine.

Tests and volunteers
Flight tests for the Fi 103 Reichenberg began in September 1944, with the famous Hanna Reitsch as one of the test pilots. There were multiple crashes (Reitsch survived a few) as the Fi 103s were carried aloft and launched from He 111 bombers. The cockpit and canopy were rudimentary, but the Fi 103 was considered good enough for the project to move forward. The Leonidas Squadron of the Luftwaffe’s elite Kampfgeschwader 200 special operations group was assigned to handle the Selbstopfer missions with the Fi 103. Apparently enough volunteers were available, and the recruits were ostensibly required to sign an oath stating: "I voluntarily apply to be enrolled in the suicide group as part of a human glider-bomb. I fully understand that employment in this capacity will entail my own death."

The end of Reichenberg
Lieutenant Colonel Werner Baumbach, in overall command of KG200, was not in favor of the plan to sacrifice men and equipment in suicidal missions. He called on his friend, Reich armaments minister Albert Speer to convince Hitler that the effort would be better invested in specific conventional attacks to slow the Soviet advance in the East. Baumbach and Speer met with Hitler in March 1945 and convinced the Fuhrer that suicide missions were “not part of the German warrior tradition”. Thankfully, Hitler agreed and the Fi 103 Reichenberg project was abandoned.  

Left to Right Below: 1)     The piloted V-1: the Fi 103 Reichenberg on display postwar. The camo and markings were added after capture and are not correct.
2-9) Details of the Fi 103. A group of these aircraft were captured by US troops at the Dannenburg production facility in April 1945.
We have rescued this website. It was available for many years. The creator passed in 2016 and the website disappeared. Fortunately, we had a copy of the site and have recreated it in his and all the other 32nd Squadron members memory. re-launched November 2020.

Read one story below and others on the website.

Survivor's Story

A month after Allied forces landed on the shores of France in 1944 and began their push towards Berlin, Germany, American Forces launched bombing raids on airplane factories in Wiener Neodorf, Austria.

During the course of these raids, some 425 bombers of the 15th Air Force were sent on missions. Two of those planes, AAF Serial No.42-3157 or "Laura" and AAF 4232107 crashed in the eastern region of Styria near St. Jakob im Walde, Austria on July 26, 1944.

Bill Brainard, a radio operator on Laura, now of West Palm Beach Florida, recalls his memories of that day. The plane carried a crew of a 10, five of whom would perish, including the pilot Captain Leo J. MacDonald of Elgin. Brainard's harrowing tale reminds us of the sacrifices made by many of our veterans.

"As a member of the 15th USAF, the 301st Bomb Group H, 32nd Bomb Squadron, I was assigned to be the radio operator on a make-up crew to take part in an air raid July 26, 1944 on an aircraft engine factory in Wiener Neudorf, Austria. We would be flying in a B-17F serial No. 42-3157 with the name of 'Laura.' She was then commonly referred to as simply No. 157 in many records, by its crew and also by the men in the air control towers. Our airfield and base of operation was located in the Italian town of Lucera, a neighbor of Foggia.

At the mission briefing, after breakfast at 4:30 a.m., we learned which plane we would be flying in and also that 1st Lt. Leo J. McDonald would be our pilot. Our co-pilot would be 2nd Lt. Kenneth B. Kai-Kee. Also on board were 2nd Lt. Thomas J. Steed as the Navigator, 2nd Lt. Richard C.Winsor as the Bombardier. The Engineer and top turret gunner would be T.Sgt. Johnny E. Allen.

These five crew members are all positioned to the rear of the bomb bay. The Radio Operator/gunner would be T. Sgt. William W. Brainard, the ball turret gunner would be S. Sgt. Edward W. Forys, and the waist gunner on the left side would be S.Sgt. Edward M. Shallcross and S.Sgt. Wallace A. Tate on the right side. Last, but not least, the tail gunner would be S.Sgt. William H. Jameson. These five crew members had stations aft of the bomb bay. Other info regarding the mission was also delivered.
After the briefing, Gl trucks transported the crews and their flight gear to their particular plane. In general, each plane was deemed ready to fly, but the crews were to inspect their station and report any problems they might find to the ground crew chiefs standing by each plane. Prior to boarding the aircraft there was usually time for the flight crew to gather under one of the wings to have a little chat session, ten minutes perhaps to get to know each other a little better. Lt. McDonald led things off by introducing himself and telling us a little about his experiences flying similar type bombers in the Aleutian Islands combating the Japanese. I don't think all of us even knew that we were fighting in that battle zone. We were highly interested to learn of his flying experience finishing a tour of 50 missions or so. It gave us more confidence in his ability to fly.

Then, Bill Jameson started telling us that this mission we were headed out on would be his 51st and he had volunteered to go on it because he could go home afterward.

By the way, it was Ed Forys's first mission. He added how lucky he had been so far. I recall that Lt. McDonald spoke up quickly to say facetiously, words to the effect that he would not like to hear him talk about how lucky he had been. He went on to say that one of his flying buddies in the Aleutians had mentioned how lucky he had been just prior to going on a mission and he never came back. That turned out to be a rather prophetic statement.

Soon thereafter we were in the air on our way to the target. Shortly after crossing the Austrian border at about 5 minutes to 11 a.m., I was scanning the skies off our left wing. Way out at 9 o'clock level coming out of the clouds I spotted con trails probably nine to 10 miles away. I notified the pilot right away over the interphone system which everyone would hear. He came back calmly, "I see them now; I hope they are our escort!" And, those were the last words that our makeup crew would hear from Leo.
I switched back to our base radio channel to pick up an 11 a.m. signal for my log but I was worried about that 'hope' word from Lt. McDonald so I switched back to the interphone just in time to hear the tail gunner yell, "They look like ME-109s; God (expletive) they are ME-109s!" And the machine guns started blurting their fury - both ours and the enemy's. I grabbed the radio gun and started firing at an echelon of six to eight German fighters that were sitting on our tail about 50 to 60 yards behind and above our turbulence. We could see the 109 guns six to eight mounted in the wings spitting bursts of fire with every tracer bullet they fired.

My gun only held about 75 to 100 rounds and they were getting low. It was also getting time to get the chute on. While reaching for my chute on the floor, the plane gave a quick lunge upward and the floor came up to meet my face. I was pinned to it for several seconds and when I could move again I glanced upward and noticed through the bomb bay door that the bomb bay was no longer there. Looking down I could see the front end of "Laura" headed earthward at a steep angle, engines still running it seemed. I looked to the rear and the tail too was missing and I could see none of the crew so I squatted on the door threshold, grabbed my knees and rolled out.

I delayed pulling the rip cord until I had gone way down stairs, perhaps to 1,000 feet. My chute opened gently and I was drifting in the direction I was facing. I happened to land on a farm's newly mowed field which was lucky for me because there were many trees nearby. It was a perfect landing.

However for Lt. McDonald, Lt. Kai-Kee, Lt. Winsor, T. Sgt. Allen, and S. Sgt. Forys, Richard Winsor it was a horrible landing. They were all killed in action and we that lived often have to wonder, "Why them and not us?" By Bill Brainard

Crew of B-17 F 42-3157 “Laura”

Leo J. McDonald, Pilot (IL, USA)
Kenneth B. Kai-Kee, Co-Pilot (CA, USA) 
Edward W. Forys, Ball Turret Gunner (RI, USA)
Richard C Winsor, Bombardier (FL, USA)
Johnny E. Allen, Engineer (FL, USA) 

Thomas J. Steed, Navigator (IL, USA)
William W. Brainard, Radio Operator (FL, USA)
Milton Edgar Shallcross, Waist Gunner (OH, USA)
Wallace A. Tate, Waist Gunner (OH, USA)
William H. Jameson, Tail Gunner (SC, USA)

And read more stories
Preserve This History, Honor the Service, Provide Education For Future Generations
Thank You For Your Support !
Thank You For Your Support !
---- What is Liberty ? ----

"definition. the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views." 

Merriam-Webster defines it as " the power to do as one pleases, the freedom from physical restraint and freedom from arbitrary or despotic control.

---- So what is a Son of Liberty? ----

In our context and beginning these were the men and women in America who wanted the freedom from the King of England. They desired a right of self-determination for their lives.  They fought for this liberty and codified it in the Constitution of a new country.  To keep this liberty they created a military to ward off the any would-be belligerent. For 244 years the men and women who have worn the cloth of our nation's military are the Sons of Liberty.  They have fought enemies in other nations, they have fought each other and they have stood as sentinels of the watch.
We celebrate the service of these individuals, we tell the historical story of these selfless patriots.

---- The Sons of Liberty Museum ----

Over a decade ago we chose a name for this organization and our sister the Army Air Corps Library and Museum. We believe these names accurately describe these men and women who serve. We will not change any name to satisfy a radical viewpoint or computer algorithm, we don't allow for any revisionist history, we tell the factual stories.

We are Saving Military History One Soldier at a Time.
Need a Good Book?
Check out these titles.
I was a navigator in the 459 Bomb Group 758 Bomb Squadron flying B-24's from Torre Giulia Field, tower named 'Coffee Tower', a gravel airfield near Cerignola, on the Foggia Plains of Southeastern Italy during the period August 4, 1944 to May 16, 1945. I flew 50 combat missions over targets in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia and Northern Italy.

Project Option: 6×9 in, 15×23 cm
# of Pages: 386
IsbnSoftcover: 9781714032860
Publish Date: Dec 12, 2019

Most aircraft of World War II had pictures of sexy girls, tributes to sweethearts, songs and home. The planes were fondly referred to in a feminine manor. That was not the case with this B-17 tail number 42-25233. He was Rigor Mortis.

This is the story of Rigor Mortis and his men who flew over 120 missions from North Africa and Italy in 1943 and 1944.

Project Option: 8×10 in, 20×25 cm
# of Pages: 382
IsbnSoftcover: 9781714727803
Publish Date: Apr 20, 2020

A Novel of MACVSOG in Vietnam. By Gene Pugh a Special Forces Recon Team Member.

Surrender Not an Option

Survivors guilt is not the only thing that is bothering Allen Purvis. He has to relive in his mind the battles in a denied area when he was assigned to MACVSOG the ultimate secret organization during the Viet Nam war. He is put to the test when he commands his friends to sacrifice themselves to save the others of the unit. Wendy Salas, nurse at the 95th Evacuation Hospital sees the horrors of the war everyday. Her pain is personal. A chance meeting on R&R in Hong Kong brings these two people together as soul mates in a hope that one of them can save the other. Purvis like the others wondered why they were saved and the answer was there all the time.

  • Paperback : 312 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1539108333
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1539108337
  • Dimensions : 6 x 0.71 x 9 inches

Gene is a member of our advisory board.
By Tom Laemlein

Tom is a member of our advisory board.

Many of the photos and illustrations in this book, some of them in color, are strong enough to be displayed in full page format. The images deliver the gritty details of USAAF armaments’ use down to their nuts and rivets, and the high-velocity rounds they fired. This is a unique photo-study, with many of the photos never-before published.
U.S.A.A.F. Aircraft Weapons of WWII

This book focuses on the war-winning weaponry of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. With 144 pages containing more than 250 photos it offers stunning visual details of the machine guns, cannons, bombs, and rockets carried into battle by USAAF bombers, fighters, and attack aircraft.Many of the photos and illustrations in this book, some of them in color, are strong enough to be displayed in full page format. The images deliver the gritty details of USAAF armaments’ use down to their nuts and rivets, and the high-velocity rounds they fired. This is the first photo-history of its kind, with many of the photos never-before published.

Combat conditions dictated that many aircraft were adapted into roles for which they were not designed. As necessity is the mother of invention, aircraft were modified in both their roles and their armament. B-25s became ground attackers, A-20s became night fighters, and every wartime USAAF fighter was adapted to carry bombs.
Museum Projects
MIAs - Missing in Action

We have information on over 90,000 MIAs. This includes most all the World War II MIAs and some from World War I, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War.

With our strategic partners, the MIA Recovery Network, we want to tell the last chapter in the life of these Citizen Soldiers.

We would also like your help in telling the first chapters of the lives of those still Missing in Action. Do you have service photos of a family member that is or was MIA? News articles? Service related material?

Material on Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines MIAs:

Air Corps:
X-Files - Buried Unknowns

There are many citizen soldiers whose body was recovered, but they are unidentified. There are thousands of these unknowns buried in American Battle Monument Cemeteries around the world. They are also known as X-Files.

Material on Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines X-Files can be found:

Get Donation Information: Artifacts Monetary
Awards, Rosters
Unit Documents

We need you ! A continued big thanks to our fantastic army of volunteers. We have much more so if you can type and have a couple hours each week we can use you !

Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force

We have received material on many units and are hoping to compile much more.

Unit Citations, Awards, Transfers, Rosters

Many groups received unit citations during their particular conflict. The paperwork, in triplicate, would include a roster of all assigned and attached personnel. We are seeking and requesting copies of those roster documents. Please search your papers, talk to your association and help us out with this information and get them to us pronto!
Attention Website Owners &
Veteran Associations

Many WWII veterans organizations have shut. Many these organizations had developed some type of website, some with enormous amounts of data and history. Sadly, many had/have not made provisions for their website to be continued and thus when the bill stops being paid, the website disappears and all the work and information is lost. We want to help and we need you to help us. If you know of a disbanding group, please have them get in contact with us; we would like to bring their website and information under our wing. If they want to continue to maintain it we can give them access to continue that as well. One of our top goals for this and every year is to preserve this history not lose it!

Not a WW2 unit? That's ok. We are also interested in your history and want to help preserve it. Korea, Vietnam and all other conflicts.

If your organization has physical materials such as uniforms, patches, photos and other memorabilia do you have plans for them when you cease operations? We would be honored to be the custodian of your group's history.
Sons of Liberty Museum
Army Air Corps Library and Museum  

Directors' Line: 214.957.1393

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