Issue #82 | May 2021
In This Issue of
Saving Military History One Soldier at a Time
Welcome to the May 2021 Newsletter.

In this issue we bring you a look at some of our recent donations and additions to our collections. From a front line Special Forces warrior to brothers in service, then an Annapolis grad and others in unique oft overlooked military occupational specialties we are sure you will enjoy the pictures and stories.

We will answer the question, how did small aircraft with limited range get overseas?

Read a story of an aircraft crew following their bailout.

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
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.

Ewart T. Sconiers
1st Lieutenant
US Army Air Forces
414th Bomber Squadron
97th Bomber Group
 
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS

(Pictured Ewart Sconiers and wife Bobelle Harrel Sconiers)

The case of Lt. Ewart Sconiers is remarkable for several reasons. Sconiers had been in pilot training but became a bombardier in a B-17 squadron after being cut from the pilot program. During a mission over Germany on 21 August 1942, Sconiers was forced to pilot his damaged B-17 back home to England with a wounded pilot and co-pilot. For this action he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award for conspicuous bravery in the US Army Air Forces. Two months later, on 21 October, Sconiers plane was shot down and he became a POW. During that winter, he became ill and was taken to a German hospital in Lubin, Poland, where he died. A group of POWs’ from his camp who knew Sconiers were taken by train under guard to Lubin to conduct a military funeral. Photographs of this funeral exist, and at least one witness, a retired General and former Superintendent of the US Air Force Academy, was still living as late as 2004. The cemetery where Sconiers was buried exists today, and the location of many of the war graves was well known at the end of WWII. A US military team was sent to the cemetery at war’s end, and repatriated remains, but Sconiers was not among them. There was an amazing series of events to be revealed.

All MIA stories are an emotional journey for the reader. After I became involved in the Lewis case and had the experience of seeing it resolve to its memorable conclusion, I felt that nothing would surpass the emotional content I knew. But the case of Ewart Sconiers is in some ways, the most remarkable . It is similar to the Lewis case in many ways, but perhaps most astounding for the eventual recovery and identification of Lt. Sconiers. The actual details are numerous and well documented. They tell a tale of the most amazing detective story one might imagine. The brief version of the story will have to suffice here. Sconiers was indeed buried in that cemetery in Poland, and it seemed that his remains must certainly be there. Indeed, they were there, but had been moved, and the rest of that story has been remarkably told. There was even a film made, “Finding Sconiers”, which was awarded a 1st at the International Film Festival. There also exists a very well researched timeline of the final, and successful, result of the search for Sconiers. That can be found  on the web by searching for “Stalag Luft III Newsletter-The Recovery of Lt. Ewart T. Sconiers”.

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.

#sonsofliberty
Louisiana Maneuvers
This medal was given to those troops who participated in the Louisiana Army Maneuvers of 1941.

The maneuvers were held during the months of August-September 1941 and were the largest Military Field exercise ever held in the United States, deploying nearly 500,000 troops. The reverse has the Lords prayer cast in the medal.
Medal Front
Medal Reverse
Brothers-In-Arms
La Vern Erick Weber
This month we welcome the uniforms of brothers into the collection.

La Vern Weber. September 3, 1923 – December 30, 1999 was a US Army officer. He served as Adjutant General of Oklahoma, Director of the Army National Guard and Chief of the National Guard Bureau.

He enlisted in 1942 in the Marines. Commissioned in 1945 remained in Marine Corps Reserve until 1948.

Joined the Oklahoma National Guard 1948.

Served as the Operations (S3) officer of the 2nd Battalion, 180th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division in Korea.
Cameron Weber
Lt. Colonel. Medical Services,
Oklahoma National Guard.
Major General
Kenneth Rhodes Bowra
MG Kenneth Bowra served in the US Army from 1970 to 2003. Bowra saw service with US Special Forces in Vietnam and the Cambodian Civil War. He has worked with the CIA and JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command). He participated in the US Invasion of Greneda and the Somali Civil War followed by the First Gulf War. In 1998 he began command of the JFK Special Warfare Center and School.
Jeff A. Lett, USN
USNA 1983
F-14 Backseater (RIO)
Volunteers

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


Donations

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!

Volunteers

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: https://www.armyaircorpsmuseum.org/veteran-research.cfm

Donations

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.
Ever Wondered ...
How Did Smaller Aircraft Get Overseas?
John George Maniates
John Maniates can tell you how the small aircraft got to their overseas bases. They shipped them in crates and assembled them at their destination. While the big bombers and cargo aircraft flew overseas the smaller fighters were packed into cargo holds of freighters. John Maniates was assigned to the 7th Fighter Command, 375th Base HQ Air Base Squadron. Including his duties as a flight line worker he was an amateur photographer. His tour of the Pacific took him to many locations including Fiji. The next series of photos come from his collection showing the assembly of P-39 fighters for the 68th and 70th Fighter Squadrons.

Then throw in some beer and baseball after a long day's work along from a visit from Hollywood's J.E. Brown. And don't forget to write to mom.
Ernest Lowell King
Ernest King served as a Photo Intelligence Officer with the Northwest African Air Force 1942-1943.
Strike Photo taken by the B-17 41-24361 the Wabash Cannon Ball of the 32nd Bomb Squadron, 301st Bombardment Group of the Harbor at Tunis, Tunisia, April 11, 1943.
Algiers (1942-43)
William Boyd

There were hundreds of training films created in WW2 for the GIs. Who made these films? GIs typically assigned to a sub-unit of the Signal Corps ... One such training film is on the P-38 known as AAF Training Film #109. As with all films there was an audio of voice and music. Lt. William Boyd composed the music for this film and recently we received a donation of the original score for the music of this training film. Following is a single page of sheet music included in this donation.

Items have a story, what tale do yours tell?
Historical Studies
A little known or written about topic of World War II is the battle off the American Coasts. There were bases throughout the Carribean and Gulf, along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Navy and the Army Air Forces patrolled our waters. Some crews used these patrols for training for overseas flights before deployment to forward areas. They used any and all available aircraft, even the obsolete. This is one of those stories.


Night mission over the Caribbean
by Captain Charles D. Frazer
Originally published in Air Force Magazine, April 1943 
 
Our B-18 is in a long turning dive toward the sea. Twelve hundred feet ... now 700 ... 300 . . . 100. In a final rush the bomber levels off at 50 feet and hurls her bulk across the surface like a gallant old cavalry horse making a charge. There may be a sub ahead. We don't know.
 
Dusk has settled on the Caribbean, merging water and sky into a gray, shape less mass. Suddenly, the interphone crackles. It's the bombardier. "I see something, Lieutenant, dead ahead." The pilot steadies the ship, then shouts the order: "Bomb bay doors-c-open." There's a creaking in the belly of the fuselage. And now we all can see something -something dark and indistinct and apparently motionless on the water. Once again, the bombardier cuts in. This time his voice is dead with disappointment. "Too bad, Lieutenant. Only a schooner."
 
The B-18 lifts her nose, starts a climbing turn. A few stars have come out. They seem to spin round in the plexiglass ceiling of the cockpit. At a higher, safer altitude we circle and fly over the vessel, now clearly visible below. Since there is nothing suspicious about it, we resume the original course. Better luck next time; the night's still young. This mission began, at 1645 in the afternoon from the base of an Antisubmarine Command bombardment squadron. Hunting submarines off Latin America in a B-18 is hard, tricky, relentless work. The base is many miles from headquarters. A few barracks, a runway, a control tower, and that's about all. Hidden in thick jungle, the base is raw and rough and damp. Bugs and mosquitos are a constant diversion, malaria and dysentery a constant threat, snakes abundant and varied. But this is a key airfield of the Caribbean Sea Frontier, which, except for part of a shipping lane to the far north, is the most active submarine area in the Atlantic Ocean. Here a Joint Army-Navy Command works ceaselessly to control the raids on vital merchant shipping.
 
The crew on this night mission is made up of First Lieutenant Lionel J. Cormier, pilot; Second Lieutenant Roger T. Shaw, copilot; Second Lieutenant Peter J. Stampon, navigator; Sergeant Hal B. Page, bombardier; Corporal Ralph Bush, radio operator; and Pfc. Allen Guthrie. After an early dinner, we assemble at 1715 in the Operations Control Room for briefing. A blue steel board flanks one side of the room. On it is charted the position of surface ships, the probable positions of submarines, the position of both Army and Navy aircraft out on missions, and a maze of airplane courses, or tracks. These tracks are established hours ahead by Group Headquarters and transmitted to this base. "You will fly the night mission." First Lieutenant Charles Havens, S-2 of the squadron, indicates the course on the board. It is a point-to-point-and-return, first northwest, then practically due west. "This is a preliminary sweep," Havens continues. "A convoy of ships is due into this part of our area. You will sweep it clear tonight, and Navy PBYs will provide cover until the convoy is through. There's a German submarine somewhere in this vicinity." He points to a far-off section of the Caribbean where it was last seen. "It's reported to be 200 feet long, with the conning tower in the middle. "This is the only one we feel certain is in the area. Another was reported-here—by a transport plane but Headquarters has no supporting data on it.”
 
"Two or three other subs, however, may be on their way up from the coast of South America to intercept the convoy. We know they were operating down there just a few days ago because one convoy lost some ships." Havens hands our navigator a map and begins to give more technical instructions. "There are no vessels patrolling your area tonight. But an American submarine is anchored off a harbor-here. Don't drop anything on that. As you know, French or Spanish ships occasionally go through your area. It's particularly important to report their courses.”
 
"The weather should be good. There are clouds over this island but the Mike mission ahead of you reports high ceiling or none at all at sea. With a full moon, your visibility should be excellent. Recognition signals will be good until eight o'clock tonight (midnight Greenwich time, by which all operations are gauged). Weather signals are good until one o’clock. Let us hear from you, of course, if anything unusual happens. Otherwise, maintain radio silence at all times. If you have to break it, break in code only."
 
After one or two questions by Lieutenant Cormier, the briefing is over. We leave the operations barrack, drive in a staff car along a road lined with tall grass to a cleared patch where our B-18 is dispersed. Cormier, a young, heavy-set chap from New Bedford, Massachusetts, turns and grins. "I hope you're not superstitious." He nods toward the nose of the plane. Her nickname is "Friday The 13th."
 
Each crew member is dressed in a coverall and wears a pistol, a long knife and a canteen. If you're forced down in this jungle, it is no cinch to get out. One plane, some months ago, crashed only a few miles to the east and it took twenty days for troops to reach the spot on foot through swamp, trees, vines and bush. Our parachutes have emergency supplies packed in the seats and the airplane itself carries equipment for a landing at sea. There are two rubber rafts containing rations and radio sets which automatically send SOS messages. To one of the rafts is roped a five-gallon wood keg of water. The plane is further equipped with a Tommy gun, a hatchet and a supply of smoke bombs. These smoke bombs may be especially useful. Should we find and attack a sub, one of the bombs can be dropped to serve as a marker while we turn, Or, if we think our navigation is off, we can drop a smoke bomb and get a drift reading. The loading for submarines consists of heavy depth charges slung in the bomb racks. One will do the business, if the hit is close enough but they carry plenty for a pattern if necessary.
 
Boarding the plane, Cormier says: "Remember, if we have to make a water landing for any reason, get in the back of the ship and brace yourselves." Our Mae Wests are strapped on. The engines are switched on, warmed awhile. Then, at a "clear" from the tower, we roll onto the road, taxi along, and finally stop at the foot of the runway. This runway is well concealed between sugar cane paddies on either side. From the ground, you couldn't see it fifty yards away. Rev the engines now. It's 1758 and we're scheduled to be off within two minutes, From the tower: "O.K. You're clear to Number One." "Roger, thank you." Heavy yet somehow graceful and responsive, our B-18 gathers speed, takes off smoothly, gains altitude, and makes an easy bank to the left. Darkness comes quickly in the tropics. The sun is sinking red into the sea ahead and already lights are showing in native shacks behind us. We switch our earphones to the interphone connection and a voice inquires: "Bombardier to pilot. What does your altimeter read, Lieutenant?" After he gets the reading, there's a pause, then: "What's your airspeed?" "120.” "Roger, thank you."
 
Leaving the jungle and sugar fields and swamp, we are out over water now, passing west of the harbor where the American submarine is anchored. Several merchant vessels are also in the harbor, and many of them obviously will not sail for a while. Battered and damaged, some of them listing, they have been hauled in for repairs. Nazi subs are tough down here. Barely half an hour from the base we made that first run on the schooner-and had our first disappointment. You really wouldn't expect to discover a sub so close. But there's no telling. Enemy sub commanders are audacious and tricky. They always get within 1,000 yards of their quarry and have even been known to surface in the middle of a convoy, sending out their torpedoes and shells in all directions at point-blank range. Following that run on the schooner, we regain altitude and fly at 1,200 feet.
 
Stampon, the navigator, comes up from the bombardier's cabin to squint through the driftometer. Since there is virtually no wind, the copilot accuses him of looking for mermaids. Why not? Nice night for it. The pilot glances out his window at the port engine. The exhaust flame is a bright blue. "Blue coal”—too rich a mixture. He adjusts it until the flame is the reddish orange of a lean mixture. Down in the Caribbean, where there is a shortage of many things, you have to conserve gas. The automatic pilot is switched on and we drone along our track, peering out the cockpit windows, scrutinizing the dark gray surface below.
 
Ahead, about fifteen degrees to the left, is a rain squall, a rather lively one. There's another further off to the right. They can nearly always be seen in this climate. Presently the pilot's gaze fixes on the north. A tiny light is twinkling at what appears to be horizon level. "We'll go up and take a look." The bomber turns slowly. There should be no lights, of course. Ships in this area do not carry them, nor do aircraft. Except for the instrument panel, our plane is as dark as the sky around us. This light might be a rescue party at work or something else extraordinary. On and on we fly but seem to get no nearer. That light's a hell of a distance away and the crew, discussing it on the inter phone, decides that it must come from an island fifty miles off. This turns out to be the case. After a little, we can see the deep shadow of land. Since this investigation has taken us some distance from our prescribed track, the navigator is busy with charts and graphs. He will plot a new course from this point.
 
"O.K., Lieutenant, you can change course any time now," he says, and gives us a new compass direction. Friday The 13th swings gently and heads west. We will fly for nearly two hours on this track. Anti-submarine work by this Bombardment Group is offensive warfare. This is quite different from the defensive tactics employed elsewhere-that is, with the day-after-day patrol of specified areas. Colonel Charles A. Born, commanding the group, believes that the true function of aircraft is to attack submarines before they can do any damage. His intelligence staff at headquarters closely analyzes such operations both in and outside the area and predicts future operations. On the basis of known and predicted data, Colonel Born's staff, in collaboration with the Navy, schedules missions according to where subs are expected to be. Squadrons of the Group provide coverage for convoys passing through, naturally, but more often their missions are to seek, find and bomb. If and when four-engine planes become available, Colonel Born hopes to send them ranging far into the mid-Atlantic to intercept the Nazis before they can reach the Caribbean. Headquarters of the Caribbean Sea Frontier plots its information on a master board far more complex than those at operational bases. Working in a Joint Control Room, Army and Navy officers pool their data, chart positions of all ships and aircraft in that entire section of the Atlantic. Every reported submarine has a designation. Every attack on a vessel is charted, as is every sighting or attack on a sub, the location of wreck survivors, the location of torpedoed ships, the estimated past course of a submarine and its possible future courses. Through such intelligence as this, the Control Room establishes complete coordination between Army and Navy aircraft, and between all aircraft and surface patrol vessels. But submarine control remains a most difficult problem. The odds are heavily on the enemy's side. Night air operations are effective only when the moon provides some measure of visibility. On bad nights, aircraft are confined to the actual coverage of convoys. It is hard to hit a sub. Air attacks depend largely on surprise and generally the enemy can see you before you see him, no doubt aided by special aircraft detecting equipment. He can crash-dive in about thirty seconds, leaving only a swirl on the water. You can drop your depth charges ahead of the swirl but he may have turned right or left as he dove. Rarely can you tell whether you hit him. Oil may appear on the surface; he may have shot it up himself. Debris may appear. But subs have been known to carry debris to shoot up, merely to mislead at tackers. The German being what he is, it is not beyond reason to suppose that survivors have been sent up to the surface for the same reason. Contrary to opinion, submarines do not have to come up each night to recharge their batteries (although this must be done frequently), nor do they require mother submarines. An ordinary sub can carry fuel for three months' operation, ample for voyages back and forth to the French coast.
 
The B-18s of the Group attack usually from about 50 feet, using no bombsight whatsoever or only a simple strip of adhesive tape across the nose panel. But it is not frequent that a crew has a chance to sight and attack a U-boat. The crew of "Friday The 13th" had made an attack two weeks before our flight-doing certain damage yet not scoring a "kill". Since then, they hadn't even glimpsed one. The time is 1925-we still have an hour to go in this direction. Cormier turns the stick over to Lieutenant Shaw, copilot, and hunches through to the rear of the plane. Soon, there are sharp cracks heard just behind the starboard engine: a machine gun firing. Back there, to relieve the monotony, the pilot is practicing. As he fires at the ocean, you watch the fiery tracers as they seem to curve downward until they plink into the water. After what seems an endless flight, the navigator announces that we have reached our destination point. It is 2030 and we're two and a half hours from the base. Friday The 13th makes a ninety-degree turn to the south. WHILE the copilot flies, Cormier sets his face toward the moon to carefully scan every square mile of that silver water. Occasionally the sheen is broken by the shadow of a cloud but otherwise there is nothing. Soon we make another turn and are on the track home. We will cover virtually the same route. Ahead of us, the Mike mission is flying a box-like course and later missions will have still different tracks, so by morning the whole area will be checked. Off to our right is a flat, bald island. There's nothing on it except herds of goats. Every so often, however, a plane will make an emergency landing there. Flying low over it, shining our spotlight, we find nothing. Below, on the water, is a slender, wavering line. Down in the bombardier's compartment, Sergeant Page explains it. "That's oil. The wake of a ship. It may stay on the surface for days or even weeks." After many missions of this kind, he knows the habits of submarines intimately and tells us about them.
 
“The best time to catch one is when he's refilling his torpedo tubes. He can't dive until his tubes are closed and that gives you a little bulge on him. If he's only charging batteries, he can crash-dive on you." “It has to be really fast work, then?” "Yes, sir. To be sure of a kill, you've got to drop a charge on him within 30 seconds after he starts to crash-dive. It has to explode within fifteen feet. Otherwise, all you will get is a probable. And it's next to impossible to surprise a sub. They're smart, these Germans. When you spot one, you've got no time to lose."
 
Our plane has been droning on mile after mile. Suddenly Page claps a hand to his earphone, stiffens and peers eagerly ahead. "We've got a target," he whispers. We do not have to be told what to do. Friday The 13th has gone into a dive--steep and aggressive. The water rushes up at us, nearer, nearer, right into our faces, until at last the pilot pulls out and we find ourselves a bare twenty feet above the surface. Our altimeter, set at fifty feet, reads less than zero. We have turned right toward the darkness outside the moonpath. Page pulls a switch to open the bomb bay doors, another to unlock the racks. Maybe, just maybe, we're in luck. There—something dark on the water, directly ahead at our eye level. We're rushing toward it. The Sergeant's hand grasps a lever, ready ... Oh, hell.
 
"Another schooner, Lieutenant," Page cries into the mouthpiece. We're still walloping along toward the schooner and the top of its masts are higher than we are. Had it been a sub we'd have been right on the button. Nice flying. Our plane pulls away to the right, banks and climbs, circles, returns for a closer investigation. Same old story-nothing suspicious. Disgruntled, we head for home, still an hour or so away. Approaching an island base and a harbor, we see flares rising into the sky. It's the American submarine, taking no chance of an attack from us. Don't worry, Captain, we know about you!
 
Soon we're nearing our own field. The runway lights go on and we call the tower. Our radio fails just as we are about to land but that's all right. Old Friday The 13th puts her wheels down exactly at 200. Lieutenant Cormier and his crew will be out again tomorrow night or the following morning. Submarine control is a high priority problem, equipment is limited, and crews here are flying 100 to 200 hours a month. Friday The 13th taxis back to its dispersal point. All tenseness gone, the crew members kid each other like a winning football team in the shower room. A tractor comes out to meet our aircraft and draws us backward into the hardstand. The engines are cut and we climb out, glad for the chance to stretch. Back in Operations, Lieutenant Havens questions us about the flight and makes notes of every detail. The crew answers with the glib cheeriness of men who know they've done a job well. "You couldn't have swept the area better with a broom." Shaw, the copilot, grins and says, "We sorta’ picked our teeth with the masts of that schooner, didn't we?" Soon the mission is completely over. We have done what we could for the convoy, perhaps kept a couple of subs down, at least. Tomorrow the PBYs will take over. We can't go to bed yet, naturally. Everyone has to have a coke in the club and talk a while. But it breaks up around midnight. Tomorrow is another day.
 
Photos:
 
1)     More than 120 Douglas B-18 Bolos were converted for use as anti-submarine warfare aircraft and deployed to the Caribbean.
2)     B-18s of the USAAF over the southeastern United States.
3)     B-18B on anti-submarine patrol over the Caribbean.
www.32ndbombsquadron.org
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.


"THE SADDEST STORY YOU EVER HEARD"

Commanding Officer Donald W. Ewing and Crew Parachute to safety from De De , Plane Number 29-7705

By Waist Gunner S/Sgt. Edward Oulette from Lynn, Maine.

The mission to Blechammer, Germany on December 26, 1944, started out to be a routine flight and no one seemed to expect more than the usual amount of excitement. About the only thing of any concern to happen before we reached the target area, was a little display of independence by the automatic pilot. Our pilot, C.O. Major Ewing, set it up to his satisfaction only to have it pull a little maneuver of its own but outside of confusing the hell out of the formation of ships that were following us and scaring hell out of us, no harm was done.

We flew in 29-7705 De De, a mickey ship, comely know as 705 and the favorite of Colonel Harding, our ex C.O. of the 32nd Bomb Squadron. The colonel demanded that all his crew always wear a pink elephant emblem with an upturned trunk and that's what was painted on the side of the plane. It must have been of some value once the Colonel and his crew flew their 50 and finished uneventfully. Speaking of elephants, they say an elephant never forgets, and there were ten guys in 705 who'll never forget the flak that greeted us at the target.

We hit the initial point right on the button only to have to make a 360 to keep from rubbing noses with another group chiseling in on our right. "Frenchy" Oulette the Group Waist Gunner was throwing out chaff like a demon all this time, and he swears to this day that the reason the flak was so bad over the target was because we ran out of chaff before bombs away. Could be but for some reason they were hitting us with everything they had. Half way down the run the bombardier who claimed to be pretty busy all this time took time out to take note of the evidence of the gunners accuracy "this damn nose is full of holes!" He sounded like he thought he was the only guy getting shot at but there wasn't one man in the crew who couldn't count many a close hit. In fact the ship was so full of holes that if it had started raining all of us would have drowned to death. About this time when the flak really started hitting close and the ship was bouncing like a toy balloon, the bombardier asked the pilot to level the ship. Major Ewing rang out with "This so and so is as level as it's ever going to be!" Now the bombardier didn't like to doubt his word, but the ship was in about a 45 degree bank at this time and looking out the side window you could see the ground below, but the pilot said she was level-so level she was. The target was smoked over and we couldn't see it.

We wished and hoped the flak gunners were having the same trouble seeing us that we were having seeing the refinery but they weren't and every shell had out altitude speed, also our names, ranks, serial numbers, date of birth and shoe size. Bombs finally went away, that is all but one contrary so and so which insisted on hanging up while the bombs above it bounced off to the tune of "The Anvil Chorus." We rallied to the right, the formation rallied to the right, the flak rallied to the right, everything rallied to the right! By this time, one engine feathered, one engine wouldn't work, the bombsight was gone, flux gate compass was off, the A.F.C.E. was only half operative and the ship looked like a flying hunk of Swiss cheese…everything was swell. As someone pointed out about the only thing in working order was the relief tube and it was too late to use that. We couldn't contact the rest of the group and the Major decided we couldn't make it back to our own base. He asked the navigator Howard for a heading to the nearest Russian controlled territory and he got it-that fast. We were losing altitude and the ship was hard to hold on a straight course, impossible would be more like it. The engine that wouldn't feather was giving us plenty of trouble and the ship was shaking like hell, the crew was doing a little shaking on its own too! Sgt. Shutt was busy all this time trying to get the radio to work but it was too badly damaged. We were still heading for the Russian front and the navigator was really sweating it out. To make the tension a little greater on him, it was his last mission and his wife was expecting a baby any day. F/O Poe, now Lt. Poe was holding down the tail position, (I really mean holding down) was still yelling about the smoke he could see from the target area. He was riding as Tail Observer and was in the best position to see it.

Everyone started throwing out all the equipment we could, anything we could rip loose we salvaged. Someone grabbed the Mickey man, but the Major said no soap. About the time the flak suits were being thrown out, someone below started shooting more flak at us. It didn't last long, but even the few minutes it did last it was too much for us in the situation we were in. Howard was doing a good job and we soon spotted an airport we believed was behind the Russian lines. Oulette was busy throwing out the guts of the guns when Martin, the engineer, called out fighters. We could see about four of them. Oulette and Chichetti knew they couldn't fix the guns up fast enough and were just contemplating throwing them at the fighters when they identified them as Russian. We dipped the left wing three to five times, we rocked the wing three to five times, we fired red flares all over the sky as per S.O.P and then prayed like hell. The plane was getting harder to handle by the minute and the Major called on Lt. Hurley, the co-pilot to help hold right rudder. They damn near pushed it through the nose.

About this time we were over the field. We hoped we'd be able to land at coming in on a "wing and a Prayer." Major Ewing asked us if we wanted to bail out or try to land and we all decided to try to land. We wanted to count the holes in the ship anyway. The prop on number one engine was red hot and in trying to shake it off, it came back through the cowling, ripped it off, started the engine on fire and cut through the wing. That was it. We'd had it! Morgan the Mickey man led the way and made a running exit out the waist door and didn't stop running until his chute opened. The waist gunners, ball turret, radio operator and tail followed and could thank the engineer for their safety. As there was no interphone contact with the rear of the ship when the command to bail out was given, Martin went back and made sure that everyone got out. The navigator went back to the waist to bail when he saw the bombardier having trouble getting the nose escape hatch open. The bombardier, co-pilot and pilot bailed out in quick succession after finally opening the hatch. Everyone's chute opened and we all hit the ground in the near vicinity of the town of Mielic, Poland, a Russian controlled area three miles from the front lines. While dropping we could see old 705 in a shallow bank explode and fall to the ground below us. Russian soldiers and civilians surrounded us all, some with automatic rifles, some with bayonets or with pistols. They fired a couple of shots over Major Ewing's head which incidentally is the first time anyone's gone over his head since he was made C. O. of our squadron. Chichetti broke a couple of bones in his foot when he hit the ground and Howard was knocked unconscious and had to be carted away. The rest were okay. A little shaken up but nothing serious.

We met two Russian fighter pilots here. One had shot down a ME 109 that had followed us. There also was an FW 190 following us. He buzzed the wreckage of our ship and headed back across the front. The interrogator asked us questions pertaining to our mission, target number of planes and facts about our base and crew. We gave them as little information as we could, not thinking it advisable at the time to tell them what we did know. The Group of 4 was then taken to another house, obviously the headquarters of that area, where a General talked to them. He repeated the same questions they had heard from the Colonel and added a few of his own. He was interested in their opinion of how the war would end, so Raymond Graham Hurley obliged by giving his views on the subject. All this time there was a little Russian doctor standing in the background, a female doctor and very nice to say the least. This Doctor Kildareski kept asking if any of us were injured. She seemed interested almost eager to pre-flight one of the group and the feelings were mutual. The only one who was the least bit injured was Lt. Howard who in landing had bruised his "flux-gate compass". For some unknown reason he didn't care to have the matter checked into. That was the biggest mistake in the whole episode as far as a couple of the boys were concerned. We'll never forget that doctor though. She was really sharp. She wore a uniform much like the General's and even wore a few medals. Of course her medals stuck out at a little different angle than the General's, but we overlooked that. As an interpreter at this place, there was a Russian officer who could speak a little English. He greeted us with a "good night". We didn't know whether to stay or go and continued with "I have to ask you one question, please." His English was good at times, a little amazing, but we managed to understand him pretty well. Finally the question and answer game was over and we drove the main part of Mielic in American jeeps. We ended up after a fairly long and cold ride to a former German SS camp waiting for the others of our crew to meet us.

We met another Russian officer who could really speak English so from then on we were on guard about cracks we made. Some more questions and then a wait of a couple of hours and the Major and 6 more of the crew came in. There was a general shaking of hands, describing of experiences and complimenting on jobs. Chichetti was having a pretty bad time with his foot and had to be carried all the time. By this time it was again time to eat and all but Chichetti walked a few blocks to a dining room where we had pork and rice, dill pickles, dark bread and hot tea. Chichetti was served his meal on a cot by a Russian gal who immediately received admiring glances from at least one member of our crew, all to no avail. Our Russian friend who looked a lot like Napoleon and to be aware of the resemblance, then took us back to the room where we had met and from there to a hospital where we were put up for the night. There was a Russian truck driver that the boy nicknamed "Herman", who stuck with us all the time. He was quite a character. He did everything but was our backs for us. It was "Herman" who drove us to the town of Kolbuszowa, Poland after a good night's sleep. We stopped on the way while Herman and a Russian officer who looked like one of the Smith brothers from the cough drop fame, repaired the car we were using. While they were working on the motor, we were working on some Russian soldiers and picked up quite a few souvenirs. We were finally on our way again and after an hour more driving we reached Kolbuzowa. Here we parted company with Herman and rewarded him with a parachute for his long and faithful service. In Kolbuszowa they put us up in a house which we supposed had been taken over by the Russians for us. The house was pretty nice, equipped with beds and straw mattresses, hot and cold running Polish girls and a Russian female barber. We all got a swell shave from the barber, in fact Hurley went back for three within a half hour. Captain Bessarabenko, who could speak English pretty well, took us under his wing and saw that we were well taken care of. They gave us a Russian orderly who the boys promptly named "Shorty" and put a phone in the place to give him something to do. Oulette, Martin and Shutt held an English class with "Shorty" as the pupil several times daily and he showed promising results. After the first day he answered the phone with "blow it out" and after the second day he saluted all offices with the same greeting even the Major. Oulette was taken to a corporal right after that, never could figure why. Our first meal here brought us a new character, this time a Polish mess officer. He was quite a guy and really put on the feed for us. Huge breakfast, pickles, cheese, fish, meat and an even larger lunch and dinner. Every meal we toasted Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill with Vodka. Martin lost his voice after the second meal. This mess officer kept yelling "Tak", "Tak" all through the meal and told us a joke to explain his constant use of the word. We never did completely understand the damn thing except that is had something to do with strip tease and that much we understood. Back at the house there was a couple of cute Polish girls and Martin, Shutt and Oulette immediately began looking into the Polish question. Bessarabenko had his hands full keeping the boys away from the girls, he never did succeed entirely. They were feeding us so often and so much the Poles make us a ball to toss around out of a potato wrapped in an escape map and we also did a little wood chopping. The Major saw us playing catch and came up the remark that it was the first time he'd ever seen any of us on the ball. He must have been kidding. About this time Martin took out cross country with one little gal and was very gallantly carrying her basket to market for her. He didn't get far as old mother Bessarabenko was right on the job and stopped him before he could do any good or bad whichever the case may be. Although we liked the Russian treatment, we didn't care much for their "revolutionary latrine". It was out of this world. You had to be an accomplished artist to use it, have an eagle eye and a keen sense of balance and a cast iron stomach also helped. I believe Poe was the first of our crew to attempt it. Major Ewing heard about his bravery and awarded him an Oak Leaf Cluster on the spot. The rest of us even with the possibility of getting a cluster as a reward, kept away from the place, even the Major himself.

It was here in Kolbuszuwa that Capt. Bessarabenko pinned a medal on the Major. It was the Russian Purple Shaftski or something and was pretty sharp. It didn't take long for us all to see that the Russians were interested in rank and medals. As a result we caught the Major in the corner with a can of white paint working over his leaf. He wasn't the only one. Poe scraped the blue off his bar and Morgan immediately mailed a letter to the Squadron to forward his sharpshooter medals, 6.2 mortar and all.

Bessarabenko gave us his picture before we left and his address. We all promised to write. He insisted that we sing "Three Blind Mice" and "How Dry I Am", the two American songs he knew and each night before going to bed he told us one of his Russian bedtime stories.

We left Kolbuszowa on December 29. Bessarabenko rode in the truck with us to an airport north of Raesjow, Poland and there we parted company. Here we met a few other boys, all victims of ack ack sharpshooters. They had been waiting for the C-47 to pick them up and take them to Poltava, the American field in Russia. They put us all together in an underground barracks, sort of a semi-upholstered gopher hole, really sharp. The weather was bad and the field was closed. We were pretty anxious to get on to Poltava but couldn't do anything about it for a couple of days. While we were there, the un-holy three, Shutt, Martin and Oulette picked up another comrade. This one they nicknamed "Oswald" and he was all out for us. He stole some general's car and rode the boys all over the country. He rode us to the mess hall, fixed us up with a private dining room and was working on a few more luxuries but couldn't quite make it. Failing in his last attempt, the boys broke him to a comrade 3rd class. Morgan had a little trouble trying to out drink a couple of Russians and almost died in the attempt. He moaned and groaned in a car dugout until we finally took him out by popular request and dumped him into the nearest snow bank. After 2 hours on ice he was almost as good as new.

A ship from Poltava finally came in, but could only take a few of the 30 men there. They headed for Lublin, Poland to pick up some wounded airmen and couldn't take us all. They wanted to be fair about deciding who to take with them so Major Ewing with his two headed Ruble in his pocket suggested a chance. A few hours later we were on our way to Lublin.

Our C-47 landed in Lublin the same day, December 31st, after about a four hour hop. We got the usual treatment that we had been getting from all the places we had stopped so far, the usual questions and all. New Years' Eve is a big night to the Russians, so that night we saw their display of anti-aircraft and fireworks celebrating the new year. The whole sky was lit up. A little later that evening practically the whole crew was also lit up in a little display of fireworks of their own. I had quite a brawl with our crew out drinking the Russians and with their own vodka.

On New Year's day we took off for Poltava the only American base left in Russia. Everyone was a little air sick after a rough trip, these Russians can't navigate above 3000 feet seems like. The trip was more or less just a long distance buzz job. We arrived in Poltava, got clean clothes, showers and shaves which we all needed pretty bad. We had all been a little constipated ever since looking at the Russian latrine. But a dash of dynamite and exlax and everything fixed us up okay.

Our stay at Poltava was really swell, at least we all enjoyed it. The 32nd Bomb Squadron sort of took over, especially in regards to the liquid refreshment department. But we all figured we had cause to elaborate and celebrate as we did every night we were there. We really got plenty of attention while we were there too, in fact every night the C.O. came to see us at about midnight to very nicely ask us to shut the hell up. They were happy to see us when we came there but I've got a sneaking suspicion they were even happier to see us go. Reluctantly they bid us goodbye on January 4th and away we went, this time heading for Teheran, Iran. That was really the spot, a beautiful field, sort of a summer resort with soldiers. It was really great. They had a bevy of beautiful polish refugees working all over the place, in the bar and in the mess hall. Hurley and a few of the boys tried dating every one they saw using all the Polish they had picked up on the trip which amounted to Yaksimach (how are you?), dobja (good), Jenkuyou (thank you) and also doma spots (the translation of which is pretty hard to explain). It was amazing how many girls refused even with our fluent display of their language. A few of the boys did finally latch on to a couple and Hurley was so impressed with his choice that he wanted to take them back with him. Major Ewing said it wasn't the proper thing to do and he wouldn't allow it and besides the inspectors found her hiding in one our barracks bags when we got on the plane.

The next stop on our cooks tour was Palestine but we only stayed there long enough to cheat a little Arab boy out of a mess of oranges and then went to Cairo. Cairo is a pretty nice place but we really got terrible food while we were there. We all got a big kick out of some corporal who mistook the Major's leaf for a gravy spot on his collar or something and proceeded to give him a hard time. After a short thousand word lecture by the Major the Corporal was a little more rank conscious, in fact he saluted the next private he saw.

We stayed in Cairo a few days, drank some very expensive orange pop and then they finally forced us on a plane and back to sunny Italy we went. We landed in Bari and then back to Foggia, back to combat and if that isn't the saddest story you ever heard I'll miss my guess. All in all we had a fairly rough time and it sort of bothered some of the boys, but it didn't bother me.

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---- 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.

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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.



















301st Bombardment Group DVD

Enjoy this history of the 301st Bombardment Group in World War II with this discovered archival film footage. The first footage is in North Africa where the 301st moved after a short beginning in England. From Maison Blanche to Biskra, Algeria in 1942-1943 then Lucera, Italy in 1944 and many missions in between. Watch the men on the ground and in the air with both black and white and color footage. There are also some scenes with sound. Listen to the commanders recap the North African Campaign and a crew interview.

Watch the mission to bring back repatriated POWs. View the destruction of war on the enemy at the various targets of the 12th and 15th AF heavy bomber units.

View some great color footage of General Spaatz and General Eaker in the desert of North Africa. Listen to Generals Eisenhower, Spaatz and Doolittle talk about the Tunisian Campaign. Watch the bombs drop on missions including the oil fields and production facilities at Ploesti, Romania. View destruction on the ground. Watch as liberated POWs of the 15th AF are brought back to Italy.

This DVD contains a mixture of black and white and color film footage.
There are a number of minutes that contain sound. Runtime: 218 Minutes (3 hours, 38 minutes). Price: $39.99


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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:

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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:


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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!

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