In a continuation of last week’s post, I’m taking a deeper look at the Buslee crew photo.
Last week, I explored my dilemma with the identification of the bombardier in the photo, Marvin Fryden or James Davis. I won’t spend any more time on that matter, except that although I could not find a photo of Marvin Fryden, I did find one of his younger sister, Florence.
Five and a half years younger than Marvin, Florence was a member of Chicago’s Sullivan High School class of 1944. According to the caption on her yearbook photo, she loved French fried potatoes and nail polish and her future plans were to attend college. I don’t see any family resemblance to the bombardier in the Buslee crew photo, but of course that’s not a definitive reason to make an identification one way or the other.
Moving on to another member of the Buslee crew, I had always wondered about Eugene Lucynski, the crew’s tail gunner. Lucynski flew fourteen missions with the 384th Bomb Group. His first twelve missions were as tail gunner with the Buslee crew, the twelth being on September 11, 1944.
Two days later, on September 13, Buslee flew as pilot with Commander William A. Fairfield, Jr. as the high group lead. The only other Buslee crew members on that flight were Lenard Bryant as engineer/top turret gunner and George Farrar as waist gunner. After that, the Buslee crew did not fly together again until September 25.
In the meantime, Eugene Lucynski flew two missions with the Joe Carnes crew, the first on September 17 and the second on September 19. It was the September 19 mission where he ran into trouble. The target was the railroad marshalling yards at Hamm, Germany. The crew was flying the fort named The Tremblin’ Gremlin. They were flying spare, but joined the formation.
Just before the IP, the initial point of the bomb run, they were struck by flak. They continued to the target, dropped their bombs, and then left the formation, appearing under control. However, the crew had to bail out over Binche, Belgium, landing in allied territory. All of the crew returned to duty except for the ball turret gunner, James Bernard King, Jr., and tail gunner Eugene Lucynski, both of whom were seriously wounded.
Lucynski was wounded by flak, specifically with multiple lacerations of his right hand and left wrist. He was hospitalized from September 19 to November 10, 1944. I know these facts because again, 384th Bomb Group combat data specialist Keith Ellefson found the document for me. Thank you again, Keith.
Keith also alerted me to this picture of Lucynski receiving the Purple Heart for his wounds suffered on that September 19 mission. That’s him kneeling, far right, in the photo.
Lucynski’s wounds kept him off the Buslee crew on the September 28 mission in which their fort Lead Banana was involved in a mid-air collision with the Brodie crew’s Lazy Daisy. In the hospital until November 10, when did Lucynski discover the loss of his original crew? When he did return to Grafton Underwood, he did not fly again, but probably remained there until the end of the war as part of the ground crew. I can’t help but notice that a couple of the men in the above photo are smiling, but it doesn’t look like Lucynski had anything to smile about on that day. He and everyone else were still wondering about the fate of the Buslee crew.
Lucynski’s Individual Sortie Record shows that in addition to an air medal and oak leaf cluster, a penciled in date of June 4, 1945 for recommendation for the Distinguished Flying Cross for extra achievement. I have no record that it was ever awarded.
Note: I have found some new information on Eugene Lucynski since I first wrote about him on March 25, 2015. (You can read that post here).
Eugene was born on December 22, 1919. His middle name was Daniel. He enlisted in WWII on June 23, 1942. He was released from the service on October 30, 1945. He died in Flint, Michigan on April 14, 1981. It seems that after the service, he shortened his last name to Lucyn.
Thank you again, Keith Ellefson, for your help.
Photos courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016