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Monthly Archives: September 2014

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Slowing Down

The posts here on The Arrowhead Club are going to start coming less frequently.  I have been posting three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  I am now at a point where I need to do some more research and need to do some work for the 384th Bomb Group’s website (www.384thbombgroup.com).  Therefore, I will most likely only be posting new content on Wednesdays.

So stay tuned for new information, but now just once a week.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

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Two-hundreth Mission Celebration

 

Invitation to the 384th Bomb Group's 200th Mission Celebration

Invitation to the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission Celebration

On September 23, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group celebrated their two-hundredth mission.  Fortunately for the boys on the air crews, no one had to fly the next day.

Mission 197 was flown on Thursday, September 21.  Everyone had a day off on the 22nd.  The party was on a Saturday – September 23.  Probably anticipating the aftereffects of the party, a mission was not scheduled the next day, the 24th.  Mission 198 was flown on the 25th and 199 on the 26th.

The boys reached mission 200 on Wednesday, September 27.  The 384th Bomb Group formed the 41st CBW “A” wing for Mission 201’s attack on the railroad marshalling yards of Cologne, Germany.

Celebration aside, mission 200 did not go off without incident.  Everyone did make it back to Grafton-Underwood, but there were many mishaps.

  • The Donald George Springsted crew and Bert O. Brown, Jr. crew were involved in a taxi accident prior to takeoff.  The Brown crew’s aircraft, 44-6080, had to be scrapped.  The Springsted’s aircraft, Sneakin’ Deacon, was repaired in time to fly the next day’s mission.
  • The Loren L. Green crew aboard Pro Kid had to abort and turn back due to an internal failure in an engine.
  • The Frank F. Cepits crew aboard The Challenger came back with the #3 engine feathered.
  • The James W. Orr crew aboard Tremblin’ Gremlin II experienced a bomb bay door malfunction over the target.  The bomb bay doors could not be opened, either electrically or manually.  Gremlin returned to base still loaded with all of her bombs.
  • The John H. Hunt, Jr. crew had a harrowing landing.  Boss Lady’s tail wheel would not extend for the landing.  Fortunately, no one was injured.
  • The William J. Blankenmeyer crew landed with wounded aboard.  Rebel came back with an injured tail gunner, Robert H. Hoyman.

The John Oliver Buslee crew, aboard Hale’s Angels, was the high group deputy, the hot camera ship.  They completed mission 200 without incident.  The James Joseph Brodie crew did not fly mission 200.

For the Buslee and Brodie crews, the celebrating would be over all too soon.  It would be the next mission, 201, on Thursday, September 28, 1944 that would be their last.  The Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana and the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy collided coming off the target at Magdeburg on September 28, 1944, at about ten minutes past noon.  Aboard the two ships, fourteen men lost their lives, and four became prisoners of war.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Boeing B17

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Also as a part of his WWII training with the Army Air Corps, my dad learned to recognize all of the different aircraft used in the war.  In his notebook, he included a photo of and information about all of the different aircraft.  The one he ended up crewing was the B-17G heavy bomber.  Here are his notebook entries on the B17.

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© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

High Altitude

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Another part of my dad’s Army Air Corps training involved a couple of other things we don’t encounter in a normal commercial air flight these days.  One was the required use of an oxygen mask and a calculation of the percentage of oxygen needed.

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The other lesson was in “Boyle’s Law” and how the change in pressure of a descending aircraft could affect the crew.

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© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Shooting at a Moving Target 101

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My dad, George Edwin Farrar, performed some of his training for his stint with the US Army Air Forces in Kingman, Arizona.  One important lesson was how to shoot at a moving target.  As an added complication, he would be moving himself – at 225 mph in a B17.  Here are some of his notes and drawings for this lesson.

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© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

James B. Davis

James Davis was not an original member of the John Oliver Buslee crew.  However, his first mission as a bombardier was with the Buslee crew on the August 9, 1944 Mission 176 to the Erding Airdrome & Airfield at Erding, Germany.

What a first mission as a 384th bombardier this must have been for James.  According to the sortie report notes from the 384th’s web site:

The 384th Bombardment Group (H) provided all three groups of the 41st “B” Combat Bombardment Wing – except for three aircraft from the 303rd BG, which formed the high element of the high group. Although the division abandoned operations at the Dutch Coast due to bad weather, the 41st “B” carried on until after they had passed Aachen, at which point the weather had become impenetrable. The wing leader ordered the wing to attack the briefed target of last resort, which the lead and high groups accomplished.  However, the low group’s bombsight gyro “tumbled” just before bombs away, so they went on to bomb a target of opportunity (TOO).

The Buslee crew was part of the low group and their visual target of opportunity was a railroad and highway viaduct in Nohfelden/Hoppstädten, Germany.  This must have been quite a harrowing mission for rookie bombardier, James Davis, but he went on to complete thirty-four missions before finishing his tour and returning to the states.

James was originally assigned to the Howard A. Jung crew of the 544th bomb group on July 26, 1944.  On August 3, 1944, Jung, co-pilot James Allan Vranna, navigator Thomas C. Bates, engineer/top turret gunner Harold L. Perry, and radio operator William Isaac Sellers – who was not a regular member of the Jung crew – were assigned to slow-time a new engine.  On their way back to the base in the darkness, the evening fog settled in.

The aircraft made several passes at the field with landing lights on at a very low altitude but could not see the ground.  The aircraft could not be seen from the ground either, only the glow of his lights in the clouds.  At 2330 hours, even though the crew was unable to locate the runway, Jung attempted to come in under the low ceiling, estimated at 300 feet.  The aircraft struck the trees with a wing tip, tearing off several feet of the wing, crashed and exploded.

Jung, Bates, Perry, and Sellars were killed in the crash.  Vranna, the sole survivor, was seriously wounded (see note below).

With the pilot dead and the co-pilot seriously wounded, the crew broke up.  Ball turret gunner Harold J. Laursen became a member of the Richard H. Groff crew and completed thirty-three missions before finishing his tour and returning to the states.  Radioman Herman J. Wolters flew three missions with the 384th before being transferred to the 36th bomb squad of the 801st bomb group.  Flexible gunners Roland E. Creasy, William F. Peters, and James D. Walker, Jr.’s Army Air Forces careers are unknown.  James B. Davis was the only other Jung crewmember to be reassigned to another 384th crew.

James Davis was born on October 5, 1921 in New Castle, Indiana to Charles R. and Bess Millican Davis.  During his 384th career, he earned three bronze stars, an air medal with five oak leaf clusters, and a presidential citation.  He died on December 20, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Notes

According to his obituary on FindAGrave.com, James Allan Vranna “sustained multiple, devastating injuries which he bore with tremendous grace throughout his lifetime. He spent the next three years undergoing multiple surgical procedures and recovering from his injuries.”  James Vranna died July 22, 2012 and is buried in the North Dakota Veteran’s Cemetery in Mandan, Morton County, North Dakota.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

 

Chester Rybarczyk – After the War

After the war, Chester Rybarczyk returned to Toledo, Ohio where he and wife, Bernadette, raised four children.  For a time, he drove a city bus.  On July 16, 1952, he was accepted into the Toledo Fire Department and assigned badge #109.  On March 9, 1964, Chester was promoted to Lieutenant.

Chester’s son, Tony, remembers that his father was very proud of being on the fire department.  He enjoyed the camaraderie with the other firefighters and he would often take his children to watch them train, or he would arrange demonstrations for their schools.  At the end of his shift, he would come home and tell them stories about things that happened that day.

On September 2, 1967, the Toledo Fire Department Rescue Squad responded to a two-alarm fire at a local north side tavern, Pee Wee’s Inn, at 5101 Suder Avenue.

Lieutenant Chester Rybarczyk, now a fifteen-year veteran with the Toledo Fire Department, was one of the firefighters who entered the building to fight the fire.  Suddenly, conditions inside the building changed and the rescue squad attempted to evacuate the structure.

Four firefighters became trapped behind a partition separating the bar from a game room.  Two of the four men made it out while Chester and another firefighter, James Martin, remained trapped.  Crews on the outside used a ladder in a rescue attempt through a window.  They were able to pull James out first, saving him.  With James safe, they began to pull an unconscious Chester, overcome by smoke, out of the same window.  The fireman that had a hold of Chester’s arm stepped on a power line that had fallen on the ladder.  When the shock of electricity hit him, he lost his grip and Chester fell back into the burning room.  Chester was finally removed from the building, but he died shortly afterward at Riverside Hospital.  The other three managed to escape with only minor injuries.

Chester’s son, Tony, was only eight years old when his father died.  His mother, Bernadette, was able to tell him a bit about his father’s WWII experiences in the 384th Bombardment Group.  She said that Chester did see his original crew, the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th bomb squadron, go down after a mid-air collision on September 28, 1944, but he didn’t talk much about it.

Chester was the navigator on the Buslee crew, but was assigned to fly with a different crew that day.  As a result, he was fortunate to not be involved in the mid-air collision.  Instead, he was a witness to the fiery descent of the plane in which most of his Buslee crewmates were killed, unable to abandon the burning aircraft after it had broken into two pieces and spiraled toward the ground.

A fellow Buslee crew member, bombardier James Davis, was also assigned to fly with a different crew that day.  Chester and James served many of their remaining missions together.  James finished his tour a few weeks before Chester in December 1944 and both returned home to the states.  Chester and James remained friends after the war.  After he got older, Tony was able to contact James, and James was able to tell Tony about his father, so that he could know him a little better.  James died in 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Chester Rybarczyk was born Jan 18, 1923 and died Sept 2, 1967 at the age of 44.  He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio, Grave: S 1/2, Lot 21, Section 34.  Chester’s widow, Berandette, died in 1986 and is buried beside him.

Thank you to Tony Rybarczyk, Chester’s son, for sharing this piece of his family history.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Ed and Bernie Start Their New Life Together

After his marriage to Bernie in Meno, Oklahoma, Ed returned to Chicago to tender his resignation to Neumann, Buslee & Wolfe.  He would then head to Atlanta where his new bride would join him.

Bernie gave notice to Montgomery Ward in Enid, where she did office work and payroll.  She packed up all her worldly possessions and was excited about her move to the big city of Atlanta, Georgia.

My aunt Beverly, Ed’s youngest sister, remembers going with her mother to the train station to greet her new sister-in-law.  She was instructed to “look for the pretty redhead.”  After Bernie arrived on the train and met her new mother-in-law and sister-in-law for the first time, she was escorted back to the Farrar family home in Atlanta.

Once back in Atlanta, Ed applied for a job with Oakite Products, Inc., self-described in 1949 as “originators of specialized cleaning materials and methods for every industry.”  He travelled to New York City on September 26, 1949 for his final interview.  He was officially hired by Oakite that day and began his training that same day.

Ed Farrar's First Oakite Company Photo (1949)

Ed Farrar’s First Oakite Company Photo (1949)

With his training completed, on November 14, 1949, he was assigned to the Columbia-Spartanburg, South Carolina territory.  Ed and Bernie moved to Greenville, South Carolina and rented an apartment in a beautiful large stone home.  Bernie took a job doing office work with an insurance company as Ed began his Oakite career.

Home in Greenville, SC where Ed and Bernie rented an apartment in 1949

Home in Greenville, SC where Ed and Bernie rented an apartment, 1949 to 1950 (photographed in 2010)

Ed succeeded as an Oakite salesman in South Carolina, but his dream was to move back to Atlanta.  On November 13, 1950, he received a letter from Oakite that told him the news he longed to hear.  He was being reassigned to the Atlanta territory as of December 1.

After only about a year in South Carolina, Ed and Bernie made the move to Atlanta.  Ed was happy to be back home.  Ed and Bernie bought their first home and dreamed of starting a family, but it would take many years before their first child (that would be me) was born in 1957.  Three and a half years later, my sister, Nancy, was born, completing our family.

Over the years, Ed was offered opportunities for promotion that would have necessitated him moving away again, but he would never entertain any offer that meant moving away from Atlanta, Georgia.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Ed and Bernie Marry

On June 30, 1949, George Edwin Farrar and Bernice Jane Chase married in Meno, Oklahoma.  It was a small ceremony with just Ed and Bernie standing in front of the Justice of the Peace.  No family.  No photos.  Even though I don’t have a wedding photo, I do have a photo from early in their marriage.

Bernie and Ed Farrar

Bernie and Ed Farrar

My mother, Bernice Jane Chase, was raised on a wheat farm in Meno, Oklahoma.  She was the middle of three daughters of Louis Albert and Mary Selina Chase.  Bethel was the oldest, Bernice in the middle, and Beatrice the youngest.  Mary Chase called them her “three little B’s.”

Left to right:  Beatrice Chase, Bernice Chase, and Bethel Chase

Left to right: Beatrice Chase, Bernice Chase, and Bethel Chase

At some point in the future, I will explore my mother’s life growing up in Meno, Oklahoma.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Safety in Flying

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, saved his life with a parachute after the mid-air collision of Lead Banana and Lazy Daisy on September 28, 1944.  This feat granted him admittance to the Caterpillar Club, whose sole requirement of members was that they had to bail out of a disabled aircraft and were able to save their lives with a parachute.  Note the term “disabled.”  Parachuting from an aircraft for recreational purposes did not make one eligible for membership.

Four and a half years after his bail out, Ed Farrar was still thinking about the parachute that saved his life when he wrote this letter to H. B. Lyon of the Caterpillar Club with an idea.

April 16, 1949

Chicago, Ill.
Caterpillar Club
Attn: Mr. H. B. Lyon, Executive Secretary
Broad Street Bank Bldg.
Trenton, N.J.

Dear Sirs:

As a member of the Caterpillar Club, I naturally have an interest in the furthering of its program, safety in flying. The only way to accomplish this feat is to set up a definite program. That is, let the public hear our ideas. Of course this will take money, more than the club can afford at present I understand.

In the files of the club, I am sure are the largest collection of true, spectacular, and amazing escapes, that could ever be told. This in my opinion would make a wonderful radio program for a national hook-up of about 15 or 30 minutes a week, if presented right. There should be many prospective sponsors for such a program, that would pay well, for this information. The money the club received could be used to further the safety of flying. We could set up a safety school, so problems could be worked out, or at least determine some of the hazards in flying. There would be many details involved, but I will not try to elaborate on any at this time.

I must confess, I haven’t been a very good member. As a traveling salesman on the road most of the time, I haven’t had the opportunity to attend meetings. This idea may have been brought up before, but thought it wouldn’t hurt to mention it.

Will appreciate your reply, at your convenience, am looking forward to seeing all the fellows at a national convention one of these days.

Sincerely,
G. E. Farrar
c/o N.B.W.
224 W. Huron St.
Chicago 10, Ill.

My dad must have thought it important enough to save a copy of this letter he wrote, but to my knowledge, did not receive a reply.  If he did, he did not save it.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014