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The Shadows in the Alley

zombie storyJust a quick post about my latest foray into fiction writing…

My local newspaper, the Ocala Star-Banner, ran a “round robin” story contest for Halloween this year.  Rick Allen started the story and published the first 500 or so words and challenged readers to finish it in 300 words or less.

I won the contest and had my picture and ending to the story published in the Sunday, October 26 paper.

If you’d like to read the story and Rick’s write-up about me, just click here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014


2014 Reunion of the 384th Bomb Group

The 384th Bomb Group held their 2014 reunion this past week in Dayton, Ohio.  I was very proud to attend and meet a wonderful group of veterans that served with the 384th at Grafton Underwood, England.  Of course, meeting and talking to the veterans and hearing their stories of combat and life in the 384th was the top highlight of the event.

Other highlights were touring the restoration and Presidential hangars of the National Museum of the Air Force, and attending a dinner at the museum Friday night.  On Saturday, we were treated to a tour of a new B-17 being built in Urbana, Ohio and a wonderful banquet on Saturday night.  Speakers on Saturday night were Richard Peaslee, son of the first 384th Bomb Group Commander, Budd Peaslee; Brigadier General J. Kemp McLaughlin; and keynote speaker, Lt. General C. D. Moore.

Four 384th veterans signed the wing panel during the reunion.  Lawrence W. “Red” Gerbig wasn’t able to stay for the entire reunion and signed on Friday.  Saturday night during the banquet, Donald Bean, Leonard R. Neimeic, and Warren Tessmer signed.  By the end of the reunion, the wing panel contained 99 signatures.

On a sad note, for Lawrence Gerbig the 2014 reunion would be his final mission.  He returned home on Saturday, and told his family what a wonderful time he had at the reunion.  He passed away unexpectedly on Sunday morning.  Rest in peace, Mr. Gerbig.  The war is finally over.

2014 Reunion of 384th Bomb Group Veterans - Touring the New Build in Progress of B-17 "Champagne Lady", Urbana, Ohio

2014 Reunion of 384th Bomb Group Veterans – Touring the New Build in Progress of B-17 “Champagne Lady”, Urbana, Ohio

2014 Reunion of 384th Bomb Group Veterans in Dayton, Ohio with the Wing Panel

2014 Reunion of 384th Bomb Group Veterans in Dayton, Ohio with the Wing Panel

I’ll try to add identifications and more pictures soon.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

384th Bombardment Group Statistics

Fred Preller, webmaster of the 384th Bomb Group’s web site, has provided me with a few statistics about the group.  Keep in mind these numbers are approximate.  This data reflects the count as of October 8, 2014.  The numbers are subject to change as duplicates and other errors are discovered in the data.

384th Bomb Group Personnel

  • 7,121 personnel are listed in the 384th’s database at
  • 4,380 were combat crewmembers – those recorded with one or more combat missions.
  • 2,741 were non-combat personnel at Grafton Underwood (GU), where the 384th was stationed during WWII (derived from subtracting the 4,380 combat personnel from the 7,121 total personnel).

384th Bomb Group Combat Crews

  • 446 crews have been identified from Special Orders, Squadron Histories, and other non-combat mission documents.
  • 4,214 crewmembers have been identified in the 446 crew assignments.
  • 166 combat crewmembers who had no permanent crew assignment participated in at least one mission (derived from subtracting 4,214 assigned crewmembers from 4,380 total combat crewmembers).

Of the 7,121 384th Bombardment Group Personnel listed in the database,

  • 1,456 completed their tour (CT).
  • 225 flew at least one combat mission, but had not attained a full combat tour of 35 missions by war’s end (FCMEW).
  • 134 transferred out of the 384th (TR).
  • 116 evaded capture and returned to allied control after having been shot down in enemy territory (EV).
  • 4 were wounded in non-combat service, as a result of a non-flying, non-combat cause, seriously enough to end service with the 384th (WNC).
  • 32 were wounded in action, seriously enough to end service with the 384th (WIA).
  • 52 were interned, held by a neutral power in Switzerland or Sweden.  There were a variety of circumstances and experiences to having been interned, ranging from unimaginably bad to country club-like (INT).
  • 884 became prisoners of war (POW).
  • 19 were killed in service, as a result of a non-flying, non-combat cause (KIS).
  • 24 were killed in a flying accident that was not related to combat operations (KIFA).
  • 497 were killed while participating in combat activity, also known as killed in action (KIA).
  • The remaining 3,678 are undetermined.  Efforts are ongoing to reduce this number.

The 384th Combat Crews’ Grim Statistics

Keep in mind, these are approximations derived from the available data.  Of the 4,380 combat crewmembers,

  • 20% (1 in 5) became POWs or Internees
  • 12% (1 in 8) were killed in action or in a flying accident

Thank you to Fred Preller, 384th Bomb Group Webmaster, for providing the above data and allowing me to share it and the grim statistics on The Arrowhead Club.

Fred also reminded me that…

The 384th was special to the personnel who were assigned to it, but in all other respects it was typical of heavy bomb groups of the 8th AF.  Some groups were there longer, some shorter.  Some had greater casualties, some fewer.  Some earned greater honors, some fewer.  And so on…  This information is not intended to glorify the 384th, but only to convey the conditions and hazards of all the bomb groups in the 8th AF, and to a degree, all combat units worldwide, as they fought to defend our Freedoms.

Well put, Fred.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Never Forgotten

Marvin Fryden was the original bombardier of the John Oliver (Jay) Buslee crew.  He trained alongside his other Buslee crewmates in Ardmore, Oklahoma before the crew transferred to the ETO, being stationed with the 384th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force in Grafton Underwood, England.

On August 5, 1944, on only his second mission with the 544th Bomb Squad, Marvin was hit in the chest by a fragment of a shell at the start of the bomb run of Mission 173 to a Luftwaffe controlling station in Langenhagen, Germany.  He was able to press the bomb release and completed his task of getting his bombs on the target before collapsing.  Marvin and the rest of the crew made it back to England in their flying fortress, Tremblin’ Gremlin, on only two engines and riddled with over 100 flak holes, but Marvin was mortally wounded.  He died later in an army hospital with his friend and crewmate, navigator Chester Rybarczyk, by his side, holding his friend in his last moments.

Marvin Fryden was a married man.  He had married the former Marilyn Ash on October 8, 1942 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  At the time, he was a bombardier instructor at the Albuquerque Air Base.

On November 18, 2007, almost sixty-three years after Marvin died, Marilyn Ash Fryden, now Marilyn Samet, posted a request on the 384th Bomb Group’s web site Log Book.  It is still there today in the Log Book archives.  It reads:

My husband, 1st Lt. Marvin Fryden was on his second mission as bombardier aboard the Tremblin Gremlin when he was fatally wounded, remaining conscious only to drop his bombs over Langenhagen..(544th) He had been commissioned and assigned as an instructor in the states. We had almost 2 years together as he constantly said he was not doing his part, He finally requested combat duty and was assigned to the Gremlin with John Buslee, Dick Albrecht and other crew members. He was gone from me less than six weeks when he was killed. I have contacted a lot of old friends..but would love knowing more about Dick Albrecht’s wife, Patty, and the baby girl they had with them in Ardmore Ok. They were from Chico, Ca.

Another six years went by and on October 17, 2013, Marilyn again posted to the 384th’s Log Book.  Marilyn must have had some difficulty typing her message, and I have edited it only to be easier to read.  This original message, too, is still in the 384th’s Log Book archives and can be accessed at under the Resources menu heading.

My husband, 1st Lt Marvin Fryden, left his Bombardier Training in Deming, NM because he felt needed in combat.  Left me to fly the Tremblin’ Gremlin over the pond at the end of July 1944.  Fatally wounded on second mission. Buried in Maddingly in Cambridge.  I am 88, still loving my first love. Ready to leave this world and reunite with my love in England.  Only one survivor of the Tremblin Gremlin.  He died in Akron as a fireman saving someone from a fire.  Will say more later.

Marilyn was mistaken about the lone survivor of the Buslee crew in the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision.  The lone survivor was my dad, George Edwin Farrar.  The firefighter she refers to was Chester Rybarczyk, who was not with the Buslee crew on September 28, 1944 and completed his tour with the 384th.  Chester, the same man who held her husband as he lay dying in 1944, died fighting a fire in Toledo in 1967.

Three days later, on October 20, 2013, Marilyn posted her final message to the 384th Log Book (again, I have edited).

I am inspired by so many still remembering.  My husband Lt Marvin Fryden was a Bombardier Trainer in Deming NM, but on D-Day he woke up and said, “I should be over there.” He requested combat duty, trained with crew on a B-17, and left me on June 23rd.  I went home.  He flew his first mission on 8/4/44.  Next day he was fatally wounded and is buried at Maddingly.  All of the crew were killed on another mission except the navigator who lived to become a firefighter in Toledo and died trying to save someone in a fire.

Two and a half weeks later, on November 7, 2013 Marilyn Ash Fryden Samet passed away after a long illness. She was 88 years old.  Marilyn willed her remains to the Duke Medical School and asked that no service be held, feeling that “good memories make enough of a memorial.”

I did not discover Marilyn’s posts until November 17, 2013.  Not knowing that she had died ten days previously, I e-mailed her, but of course, I was too late.  I was not to discover until early in 2014 that Marilyn had left this world.  I can only hope that she got her wish and has reunited with Marvin in England.  Perhaps their ghosts roam the grounds of the old Grafton Underwood airfield together.  Someday when I get a chance to visit that place, I will stand silent and listen.  With the rumble of the B-17 engines long gone, I may be able to hear their happy laughter at being together again forever.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

The Window

8x10 GU Church Window

The Church of St. James in the village of Grafton Underwood, England has a special stained glass window depicting a B17 Flying Fortress that memorializes the air base that was home to the 384th bombardment group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

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 (  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

Two-hundreth Mission Celebration

Updated March 27, 2019

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

Invitation to the 384th Bomb Group’s 200th Mission Celebration, COURTESY OF THE 384TH BOMB GROUP WEBSITE PHOTO GALLERY

On September 23, 1944, the 384th Bomb Group celebrated their two-hundredth mission, although that milestone mission would actually be flown four days later.

Mission 197 was flown on Thursday, September 21. The party was on a Saturday – September 23. 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 200’s attack on the railroad marshalling yards of Cologne, Germany.

On Mission 200, there were several mishaps and not everyone made it back to Grafton-Underwood alive.

  • 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. (See Note)
  • 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.
  • Navigator Richard Leroy Lovegren of the Raymond J. Gabel crew aboard Fightin’ Hebe was killed by flak. He is buried at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England: Plot E Row 5 Grave 12. I will have the opportunity to visit Lt. Lovegren’s grave during the 384th’s visit to the American Cemetery at Madingley during the reunion.

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, completed Mission 200 with the John Oliver Buslee crew aboard Hale’s Angels, which was the high group deputy and hot camera ship. They completed the mission without incident.

The James Joseph Brodie crew did not fly Mission 200, but both the Buslee and Brodie crews would be part of the bomber stream for Mission 201 on Thursday, September 28, 1944, and it would be their last. The Buslee crew aboard 43-37822 and the Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy collided coming off the target at Magdeburg at about ten minutes past noon. Aboard the two ships, fourteen men lost their lives, and four became prisoners of war.

What a difference one mission could make for an airman in WWII. For the Buslee and Brodie crews, Mission 200 was a celebration, Mission 201, a disaster.


The Challenger was lost on February 3, 1945 when the pilot was forced to ditch in the North Sea. Ball turret gunner Jack Coleman Cook saved the life of navigator Edward Field on this mission and The Challenger sank to the bottom of the North Sea.


384th Bomb Group Photo Gallery

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014, 2019

Boeing B17


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.


© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

High Altitude


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.


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


© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

Shooting at a Moving Target 101


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.


© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014