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Eugene D. Lucynski

Eugene D. Lucynski was born on Wilson Street in Bay Ward 6, Bay County, Michigan around January 1920, according to the 1920 census.  Eugene was the youngest child and only son of Gus (Gustav) and Dominica Lucynski.  He had two older sisters, Gertrude (three years older) and Virginia (two years older).

Eugene, his parents, and both sisters were all born in Michigan.  Gus’s parents were from Prussia (later reported in the census as Poland). Dominica’s father was from Germany, but her mother was born in New York.

In 1930 Eugene was ten years old.  By this time, the family had moved to Flint, Genesee County, Michigan, and lived on Oregon Avenue.

In 1940, Eugene, now twenty years old, worked as a waiter at a lunch counter (according to the 1940 census).  The family still lived in the same house on Oregon Avenue in Flint, but Gertrude had gotten married to Charles Hogue and she and Charles lived with them.  Eugene’s sister Virginia married Steve Plunkey on September 28, 1940.

In 1942 Eugene was listed in the Flint city directory as a machine operator for Fisher Body.

I cannot find an enlistment record for Eugene Lucynski, but sometime in 1942 or 1943, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces.  On June 8, 1944, he was assigned combat crew duty on the same orders as my father, George Edwin Farrar.

Combat Orders

On July 22, 1944, he was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group, 544th Bomb Squad on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144, as Tail Gunner for the John Oliver Buslee crew.

Eugene’s first mission with the 384th was the August 4, 1944 mission 171 to a rocket R&D facility – CROSSBOW (V-Weapons) – in Peenemunde, Germany. He flew twelve total missions with the Buslee crew, the last being September 11, 1944.

For reasons unknown, he flew his next two missions with the Carnes crew, replacing Gerald Lee Andersen as tail gunner.  Mission 195 on September 17, was a tactical mission to s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.  Mission 196 on September 19, was to the railroad marshalling yards in Hamm, Germany.

On the September 19 mission, the Carnes crew was aboard the Tremblin’ Gremlin.  The Gremlin was struck by flak, and after bombs away, left formation under control.  The crew, including Eugene Lucynski, who had replaced Gerald Lee Andersen as tail gunner, bailed out over Binche, Belgium.  Landing in allied territory, the crew eventually returned to duty, with the exception of seriously injured ball turret gunner, James B. King, Jr. This was Eugene Lucynski’s fourteenth and last mission with the 384th.

With the Carnes crew not returning to duty until October, Gerald Lee Andersen flew as the tail gunner aboard the Lead Banana on September 28, 1944.  It was Andersen’s fate, rather than Lucynski’s, to be aboard Lead Banana when it collided with Lazy Daisy coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany.  Whatever the reason behind the switch in tail gunners for the two crews, it saved Lucynski from being on the Lead Banana on September 28, and put Andersen on that ill-fated flight, where he lost his life.

Keith Ellefson, combat data specialist for www.384thbombgroup.com, shared a theory with me. Keith believes that Lucynski must have been wounded on the September 19 mission and subsequently grounded by the Flight Surgeon. He must have either been in the hospital, on convalescence or doing ground duty at Grafton Underwood from the date of his last mission until December 7, 1944 when he was awarded the Purple Heart.

Eugene Lucynski received a Purple Heart on December 7, 1944.  Photo courtesy of www.384thbombgroup.com.

Eugene Lucynski received a Purple Heart on December 7, 1944. Photo courtesy of http://www.384thbombgroup.com.

Lucynski must have served for another year before the end of his service with the Army Air Forces.  A passenger list found on Ancestry.com shows he arrived back in the US on December 16, 1945 on the Queen Mary, arriving at the port of New York, New York.

I cannot find any record of Eugene D. Lucynski after his arrival back in the United States.  I would love to hear from any relatives who can offer any more information about him.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator/Gunner for the Buslee Crew

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator/Gunner for the Buslee Crew

Sebastiano Jospeph Peluso was the radio operator on the John Oliver “Jay” Buslee crew.  Sebastiano, known as Yano to family, was born on July 8, 1924. His parents were Joseph and Antonetta Peluso, Italian immigrants to the United States.  Sebastiano, the youngest of the Peluso children, had two older sisters, Sala (or Sarah) and Jennie (or Jean).  Sala was nine years older and Jennie was seven years older than Sebastiano.  All of the children were born in New York. During WWII, the Pelusos lived in Brooklyn.

On November 4, 1942 at the age of 18, Sebastiano enlisted in the Army Air Corps in New York City.  His enlistment record notes that he was single, had completed one year of college, was 5’9″, and weighed 134 pounds.

Sebastiano served on fifteen missions with the 384th Bomb Group, all of them as Radio Operator of the Buslee crew.  On September 28, 1944, just two months past his twentieth birthday, he was aboard Lead Banana with the Buslee crew and was killed in the mid-air collision with Lazy Daisy.

Sebastiano was the last man of the crew to be identified, and most likely was buried in the Ost Ingersleben cemetery with his crew mates, and then re-interred at the Netherlands American Military Cemetery at Margraten.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on December 30, 1948:

82 Boro War Dead On Way From Europe

The U.S. Army transport Barney Kirschbaum, bearing the bodies of 4,384 war dead, will arrive at the Brooklyn Army Base at about 9 a.m. tomorrow, two days late as the result of storms at sea.

Memorial services, previously announced for yesterday, will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow on the upper level of Pier 3 at the base, 58th St. and 1st Ave.  Next of kin and the public are invited.

Armed forces dead originally interred in temporary military cemeteries in France, Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg are among those being brought back to this country.

A total of 429 remains are being returned upon instructions of next of kin residing in New York, 82 of them in Brooklyn.

Following is a list of the Brooklyn war dead on the ship and their next of kin:

Listed among the war dead was

S/Sgt. Sebastiano J. Peluso.  Joseph Peluso, 2963 W. 24th St.

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso was buried on January 19, 1949 in his final resting place in the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York in Plot J, Site 15423.

Four of the John Buslee Crew, left to right, George Edwin Farrar (waist gunner), Lenard Leroy Bryant (engineer/top turret gunner), Erwin V. Foster (ball turret gunner), and Sebastiano Joseph Peluso (radio operator/gunner)

Four of the John Buslee Crew, left to right, George Edwin Farrar (waist gunner), Lenard Leroy Bryant (engineer/top turret gunner), Erwin V. Foster (ball turret gunner), and Sebastiano Joseph Peluso (radio operator/gunner)

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

384th Bomb Group Commemorative Wing Panel Project

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

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

During WWII, the 384th Bombardment Group was part of the Eighth Air Force and was assigned to the Grafton Underwood Airfield in England. Today, the 384th Bomb Group Commemorative Wing Panel Project provides 384th Veterans a chance to sign their names on a genuine wing skin panel from a WWII B-17G. The panel travels all over the United States for interested 384th Veterans to sign.

In 2008, 384th Bomb Group NexGen (next generation) member Christopher Wilkinson came up with the idea of a B-17 part for 384th Veterans to sign. Chris had seen the  B-17G Aluminum Overcast and noticed the Veterans’ signatures on the bomber’s crew door.  Fellow group members loved the idea and began their search for a suitable B-17 part.  Two years later, Carl Scholl generously donated a genuine B-17G wing skin panel to the group.  Carl is a partner with Aero Trader of Chino, California, a warbird restoration firm.  The panel was built during WWII by the Briggs Manufacturing Company and is a wing stress panel used to enclose the fuel tank.

Wing Panel Color

Cory O’Bryan, a warbird restorer and artist of Ontario, California, generously donated his time to hand-paint the 384th Bomb Group shield and Triangle P tail symbol, the squadron shields, the Eighth Air Force shield, and the list of the support squadrons on the panel.

The first ten Veterans signed on October 12, 2010 at the Group’s reunion in Branson, Missouri.  The panel has been a centerpiece at every reunion since, available for 384th Veterans who haven’t yet had the chance to sign their names.  In addition to signings at the annual reunions, NexGen members travel the United States with the panel to allow all interested 384th Veterans the opportunity to sign their names.

Since the start of the signing project in 2010, over 100 veterans of the 384th have signed. The B-17 wing panel acts as a testimonial to the spirit and camaraderie of the veterans of the Group, and will help to represent their personal message to future generations.

The project continues as 384th Veterans are located.   For Veterans that are unable to travel to reunions, arrangements are made to bring the panel to them, at no cost to the Veterans or their families.  The project is supported by the Group’s NexGen members, and is solely for the benefit of the Veterans.

The opportunity to sign the panel is not restricted to combat crew members. All who served in the 384th during training in the U.S., at the Grafton Underwood airfield in England during combat operations, and in post-war activities in Istres, France, are qualified to sign.

Once all possible signatures have been collected, the wing panel will be placed on permanent display at the Hill Aerospace Museum at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Qualified 384th veterans who would like to sign the panel are urged to e-mail B-17WingPanel@384thBombGroup.com.

For more information about the 384th Bomb Group, click here.

For photos of 384th Veterans signing the wing panel, click here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015

The Ring – December 26, 1948

To review:  The Buslee’s had finally received their son’s ring after a very long wait.  A quest that had begun at the beginning of that year was finally complete.

Mr. B, who had done a great service for the Buslee’s, must not have realized how much the return of their son’s ring must have meant to the them.

December 26, 1948

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee-:

First of all, the best wishes and regards. I just don’t know, how to start this letter and how to express our thanks and appreciation for your nice Xmas presents-!!! And I wish, too, if you just know how ashamed we are, because we did not send you the smallest present-!!! Please, dear Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, if you may, forgive us-! Once again thank you so much for me and my wife and PLEASE, Mrs. Buslee, don’t think a minute, you owe me anything-! If you would do that, I would be more ashamed, than I feel now-!!!

We hope, you have had a nice Xmas-of course, we know your sorrow-and we have been talking about you plenty, last two days. When I listen to the radio, to the nice Carrols and to the nice preaching last two days, I just think, how the world would be happy, if all the peoples in all the countries would be like you or Z’s family, families who are thousands of miles away from each other, but those thousands of miles don’t stop the nice feeling for each family. I don’t know, if you will understand that I try to tell you, but the way I mean it is, that over the radio, in the churches, they tell us, to love each other, but how many peoples, how many nations, put this in reality?-!

Once again, Mr. and Mrs. Buslee, PLEASE never thank me again, because, it really was nothing what I did for you, and everybody would do that-! I stop all my mail to Czechoslovakia, because I hate to make somebody unhappy. Everybody in Czechoslovakia, who is writing letters to USA, is considered as a spy and reactionary. One of my friend, who came with Dr. Beneš from England and used to be his bodyguard commander in the Hradcany castle, -he was a Colonel-is now working in mines. He send me a letter through his friend, who is in Austria, that after the Communist took over, they came to his apartment, search everything and found some mail from me, in which I wrote the truth about the new red master. And now they are after my letters and open all my letters. Besides, I am writing anti-communist articles in Czech papers in USA, and they have me marked, and I would not dare, to go and see my dear mother in Czechoslovakia. I know, I never would return-! It is a terrible life in that unhappy country under the red masters. Brother don’t trust his own brother-! It’s an awful life-! God bless our good USA and all the good peoples, because this still is one spot on the earth, where, if we wish, can say, that we don’t like Mr. Truman, or any of his cabinet members. If somebody would say so in my old country, it would mean 10 Years in mines-!

Once again, we thank you so much for your nice presents, and believe me please, how ashamed I am, that I did not remember you-!

Sincerely yours:
Mr. and Mrs. B

Along with the ring, came the knowledge of details of the death of the Buslee’s son, John Oliver (Jay).  That year, 1948, must have been nearly as painful as 1944 and 1945, when Jay’s plane went down and the Buslee’s endured waiting for word and then finally learning of his death.  They could no longer hold their son, but now they could hold his ring.

ring-cropped

This transcription is a careful reproduction of the original except for occasional spelling and punctuation corrections. Some names have been masked to protect the privacy of those individuals and their families.  In some circumstances, based on relevancy or a desire to mask locations, some material may not have been transcribed.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing these letters with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2015