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Edward Field

In April of this year, I wrote a series of articles about the men of the 384th Bomb Group who remain missing in action to this day. One of the stories was about the disappearance of Frederick Arnold Maki, the radio operator of the Robert Clax Long crew. The crew ditched in the North Sea on February 3, 1945. Maki was washed away and never seen again. The remainder of the crew struggled to stay alive while awaiting rescue.

Edward Field, the navigator of the crew, did not have a spot in a life raft, but clung to the side of one of them. When he started going numb from the cold, the ball turret gunner, Jack Coleman Cook, traded places with him, slipping into the icy water as Edward took Jack’s place in the raft.

Even though the crew was rescued, both the pilot, Robert Long, and the ball turret gunner who had given up his spot in the raft, Jack Cook, died from exposure. Edward Field, who began writing poetry during the time he was flying bombing missions in WWII, wrote about the experience in a moving poem entitled “World War II,” which was originally published in 1967, again in several of Edward Field’s books, and in the 2003 Library of America anthology of World War II poems, “Poets of World War II.”

Edward Field has given me permission to share his poem with you here.

World War II

It was over Target Berlin the flak shot up our plane
just as we were dumping bombs on the already
smoking city
on signal from the lead bomber in the squadron.
The plane jumped again and again as the shells burst
under us
sending jagged pieces of steel rattling through our
fuselage.
It was pure chance
that none of us got ripped by those fragments.

Then, being hit, we had to drop out of formation
right away
losing speed and altitude,
and when I figured out our course with trembling hands
on the instruments
(I was navigator)
we set out on the long trip home to England
alone, with two of our four engines gone
and gas streaming out of holes in the wing tanks.
That morning at briefing
we had been warned not to go to nearby Poland
partly liberated then by the Russians,
although later we learned that another crew in trouble
had landed there anyway,
and patching up their plane somehow,
returned gradually to England
roundabout by way of Turkey and North Africa.
But we chose England, and luckily
the Germans had no fighters to send up after us then
for this was just before they developed their jet.
To lighten our load we threw out
guns and ammunition, my navigation books, all the junk
and, in a long descent, made it over Holland
with a few goodbye fireworks from the shore guns.

Over the North Sea the third engine gave out
and we dropped low over the water.
The gas gauge read empty but by keeping the nose
down
a little gas at the bottom of the tank sloshed forward
and kept our single engine going.
High overhead, the squadrons were flying home in
formation
—the raids had gone on for hours after us.
Did they see us down there skimming the waves?
We radioed our final position for help to come
but had no idea if anyone
happened to be tuned in and heard us,
and we crouched together on the floor
knees drawn up and head down
in regulation position for ditching;
listened as the engine stopped, a terrible silence,
and we went down into the sea with a crash,
just like hitting a brick wall,
jarring bones, teeth, eyeballs panicky.
Who would ever think water could be so hard?
You black out, and then come to
with water rushing in like a sinking-ship movie.

All ten of us started getting out of there fast:
there was a convenient door in the roof to climb out by,
one at a time. We stood in line,
water up to our thighs and rising.
The plane was supposed to float for twenty seconds
but with all those flak holes
who could say how long it really would?
The two life rafts popped out of the sides into the water
but one of them only half-inflated
and the other couldn’t hold everyone
although they all piled into it, except the pilot,
who got into the limp raft that just floated.
The radio operator and I, out last,
(did that mean we were least aggressive, least likely
to survive?)
we stood on the wing watching the two rafts
being swept off by waves in different directions.
We had to swim for it.
Later they said the cords holding rafts to plane
broke by themselves, but I wouldn’t have blamed them
for cutting them loose, for fear
that by waiting for us the plane would go down
and drag them with it.

I headed for the overcrowded good raft
and after a clumsy swim in soaked heavy flying clothes
got there and hung onto the side.
The radio operator went for the half-inflated raft
where the pilot lay with water sloshing over him,
but he couldn’t swim, even with his life vest on,
being from the Great Plains—
his strong farmer’s body didn’t know
how to wallow through the water properly
and a wild current seemed to sweep him farther off.
One minute we saw him on top of a swell
and perhaps we glanced away for a minute
but when we looked again he was gone—
just as the plane went down sometime around then
when nobody was looking.

It was midwinter and the waves were mountains
and the water ice water.
You could live in it twenty-five minutes
the Ditching Survival Manual said.
Since most of the crew were squeezed on my raft
I had to stay in the water hanging on.
My raft? It was their raft, they got there first so they
would live.
Twenty-five minutes I had.
Live, live, I said to myself.
You’ve got to live.
There looked like plenty of room on the raft
from where I was and I said so
but they said no.
When I figured the twenty-five minutes were about up
and I was getting numb,
I said I couldn’t hold on anymore,
and a little rat-faced boy from Alabama, one of the
gunners,
got into the icy water in my place,
and I got on the raft in his.
He insisted on taking off his flying clothes
which was probably his downfall because even wet
clothes are protection,
and then worked hard, kicking with his legs, and we all
paddled,
to get to the other raft
and tie them together.
The gunner got in the raft with the pilot
and lay in the wet.
Shortly after, the pilot started gurgling green foam from
his mouth—
maybe he was injured in the crash against the
instruments—
and by the time we were rescued,
he and the little gunner were both dead.

That boy who took my place in the water
who died instead of me
I don’t remember his name even.
It was like those who survived the death camps
by letting others go into the ovens in their place.
It was him or me, and I made up my mind to live.
I’m a good swimmer,
but I didn’t swim off in that scary sea
looking for the radio operator when he was
washed away.
I suppose, then, once and for all,
I chose to live rather than be a hero, as I still do today,
although at that time I believed in being heroic, in
saving the world,
even if, when opportunity knocked,
I instinctively chose survival.

As evening fell the waves calmed down
and we spotted a boat, not far off, and signaled with a
flare gun,
hoping it was English not German.
The only two who cried on being found
were me and a boy from Boston, a gunner.
The rest of the crew kept straight faces.

It was a British air-sea rescue boat:
they hoisted us up on deck,
dried off the living and gave us whisky and put us
to bed,
and rolled the dead up in blankets,
and delivered us all to a hospital on shore
for treatment or disposal.
None of us even caught cold, only the dead.

This was a minor accident of war:
two weeks in a rest camp at Southport on the Irish Sea
and we were back at Grafton-Underwood, our base,
ready for combat again,
the dead crewmen replaced by living ones,
and went on hauling bombs over the continent of
Europe,
destroying the Germans and their cities.

© Edward Field, 1967, 1987

* * * * * * * *

The mission on which Edward Field chose survival over death in the North Sea was only his third mission, but he went on to fly twenty-four more and complete his tour of duty. Today Edward Field is searching for a way to honor the man who saved his life. In his words, “Something should be done to credit Jack Cook’s incredible act of bravery.” I agree. Do you?

Edward Field in WWII

Edward Field in WWII

 

Edward Field, long after the war

Edward Field, long after the war

Edward Field’s books and awards include:

Poetry

  • Stand Up, Friend, With Me (1963)
  • Variety Photoplays (1967)
  • Eskimo Songs and Stories (1973)
  • A Full Heart (1977)
  • Stars in My Eyes (1978)
  • New and Selected Poems from the Book of My Life (1987)
  • Counting Myself Lucky: Selected Poems 1963-1992 (1992)
  • A Frieze for a Temple of Love (1998)
  • Magic Words: Poems (1998)
  • After the Fall: Poems Old and New (2007)

Fiction

  • The Potency Clinic (1978), with Neil Derrick
  • Die PotenzKlinik (1982), translation of The Potency Clinic
  • Village (1982) by Bruce Elliot (pseudonym of Edward Field and Neil Derrick)
  • The Office ( 1987)
  • The Villagers (2000) by Edward Field and Neil Derrick, 2nd revision of Village
  • The Villagers (2009) by Bruce Elliot (pseudonym of Edward Field and Neil Derrick), 3rd revision of Village

Non-fiction

  • The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag, and Other Intimate Literary Profies of the Bohemian Era (2005)
  • Kabuli Days, Travels in Old Afghanistan (2008

Awards

  • The Lamont Award from the Academy of American Poets (1962)
  • Guggenheim Fellowship (1963)
  • An Academy Award for writing narration for the documentary film To Be Alive (1965)
  • The Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America (1974)
  • The Prix de Rome from the American Academy of Arts & Letters (1981)
  • The Lambda Literary Award (1993)
  • Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award (2005)
  • W.H. Auden Award (2005)

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016 (excluding Edward Field’s poem, “World War II”)

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A Wing Panel Signing

I get pretty excited about a 384th Bomb Group wing panel signing. I get absolutely ecstatic when the wing panel signing is close enough to my home for me to attend. And you can’t even imagine how great I felt when I was able to have another 384th veteran (other than the signer) come with me to enjoy the day.

I attempt to explain to family and friends what a wonderful event a wing panel signing is, but I think if I could actually show them what’s involved, it would be much more meaningful. So here goes.

First of all, I’d like to share the background of the wing panel and its history. I’m going to publish here the document that others have created to explain the project. I don’t think they’ll mind since, hopefully, word about the project will reach others by my promotion of it. The project is officially known as “The 384th Bomb Group Veterans Signing Project.”

The 384th Bomb Group Veterans Signing Project arose from a chance observation in 2008. 384th BG NexGen member Christopher Wilkinson was visiting the EAA’s B-17G “Aluminum Overcast” and admired the large number of Veterans’ signatures on the bomber’s crew door. The significance of personally signing the bomber and the affection they had for the B-17s they flew and serviced was apparent. An idea began to form: might it be possible for the Veterans of the 384th BG to personally sign a B-17 part to honor their hard work and the sacrifices of their fallen comrades? The dream began to take shape after discussions with fellow Group members, and so the search for a suitable B-17 part began.

In March 2010, after a long search, a genuine B-17G wing skin panel was generously donated to the 384th Bomb Group, Inc. by Carl Scholl, partner in the warbird restoration firm Aero Trader of Chino, California. The identity of the B-17G that the panel came from is unknown. All that is known, based on the original ID plate affixed to the back, is that it was built during WWII by Briggs Manufacturing Company and its function is a wing stress panel to enclose the fuel tank.

To ready the panel for its first signatures, warbird restorer and artist Cory O’Bryan of Ontario, CA donated his time and artistic skills, hand-painting the 384th Bomb Group shield and Triangle P tail symbol, 544th, 545th, 546th and 547th Bomb Squadron shields, the Eighth Air Force shield, and listed the Group’s support squadrons on the 3-foot by 8-foot long panel.

The wing panel was first presented to the Group at their reunion in Branson, Missouri on October 12, 2010, where the first 10 Veterans signed. Since then, it has been to every annual 384th reunion, giving attending Veterans the opportunity to sign. It has also been shipped to 29 states, The District of Columbia and Canada. As of November 2016, nearly 140 Veterans have signed, and about 15 more Veterans have been identified as potential signers.

The 384th Bomb Group Wing Panel is available for any 384th BG Veteran to sign who served in any capacity in the Group from January 1943 to February 1946. Families and friends of the Veterans are strongly encouraged to participate with the Veteran when they sign the wing panel.

The project is continuing as Veterans are located, and as arrangements can be made for them to sign, even if they are unable to travel to the reunions. As many of our Veterans are unable to travel, this has become very important to them. The project will continue for as long as 384th Veterans can be located.

At the completion of the Project, when all possible signatures have been gathered, the wing panel – known as The 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy) Commemorative Wing Panel – will be placed on permanent display in a place of honor in the 384th Bomb Group display at the Hill Aerospace Museum at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

The project was conceived to be materially and logistically supported by the Group’s NexGen members, solely for the benefit of its Veterans and at no cost to them or their families. This has been an important goal for the project since its inception and has not wavered from this. The project’s success relies entirely on the skill, great dedication and good will of the Group’s NexGen members and friends, and the friendship and great Patriotism of its Veterans. Over two dozen individuals have contributed to the project materially or with their time, without which it could not happen.

b-17-wing-panel-schematic

The original location of the 384th BG Veterans Wing Panel is shown as a red rectangle on the schematic view above.

And this is what the wing panel looks like when it is set up for a signing.

dscn2697

As you can imagine, the wing panel is quite large, although not as heavy as you might think. B-17s were made with thin aluminum skins to keep them light as possible.

When 384th Bomb Group veterans are located, a signing is scheduled and “Wingy” is shipped to the wing panel host. In “Wingy’s” journey across the United States, she is shipped in a large wooden crate, aka, her chariot.

The wing panel host brings the panel to the veteran. Sometimes the signing takes place in the veteran’s home, and sometimes it takes place in a public place such as a veterans park or museum.

The latest wing panel signing was this past Sunday, November 20. Frederick Edward Rubin, a navigator with the group, was the 141st 384th Bomb Group veteran to sign. Keith Ellefson, the wing panel host, drove the wing panel from his home in Alabama to Fred Rubin’s home in Florida. Keith is a 384th Bomb Group NexGen and a combat data specialist.

Fred Rubin, the 141st 384th Bomb Group veteran to sign the wing panel

Fred Rubin, the 141st 384th Bomb Group veteran to sign the wing panel

The wing panel host presents the signer with several gifts:  a 384th bomb group hat, a triangle P (symbol of the 384th) pin, and a handcrafted (by Keith Ellefson) stained glass triangle P memento, complete with stand.

L to R: Keith Ellefson presents Fred Rubin with a 384th bomb group hat, a triangle P pin, and a handmade (by Keith) stained glass triangle P memento.

L to R: Keith Ellefson presents Fred Rubin with a 384th bomb group hat, a triangle P pin, and a handmade (by Keith) stained glass triangle P memento.

Also in attendance was John Joseph DeFrancesco, a pilot with the group. John signed the wing panel in January 2014.

John DeFrancesco points out his signature on the wing panel

John DeFrancesco points out his signature on the wing panel

In addition to signing, the veterans share stories of their time serving in the 384th Bomb Group during WWII. Fred was a navigator who was also trained to be a pilot and a bombardier. He served on the lead crew on bomb runs. John was a pilot whose aircraft was so seriously damaged by flak during his thirty-fifth and final mission that the crew had to bail out over Germany. After evading capture for a time, John was eventually taken prisoner and spent the remainder of the war as a guest of the Germans, being liberated by General Patton himself.

L to R: Cindy Farrar Bryan, John DeFrancesco, Fred Rubin, and Keith Ellefson

L to R: Cindy Farrar Bryan, John DeFrancesco, Fred Rubin, and Keith Ellefson

At the end of the signing, “Wingy” is snuggled comfortably back in her chariot to await transport to her next signing. Even though “Wingy” is in her seventies, she proudly continues her service to the men who knew her so well and protected her so fiercely in WWII.

Man and machine never worked so perfectly together than a ten-man heavy bomber crew in a B-17. She was a part of them and they were a part of her, and we, the next generation, will continue to bring them together again as long as we can find one more to sign.

If you know (or know of) a 384th Bomb Group WWII Veteran, please contact:

B-17WingPanel@384thBombGroup.com.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

Col. Dale O. Smith

COL. DALE O. SMITH

Dale Orville Smith was born March 7, 1911 in Reno, Washoe County, Nevada. He attended Reno schools and the University of Nevada for two years before his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. Upon his graduation from West Point in 1934, Smith spent his summer aboard the battleship Wyoming on a midshipman cruise to Europe. He attended flying school at Randolph and Kelly Fields in Texas upon his return to the states.

Smith initially was interested in flying fighter aircraft, but because of his height (reportedly 6’7″), he was transitioned to bomber training. After flying school, he was assigned to Hamilton Field, California. The Air Corps was testing B-10 and B-12 bombers at Hamilton, but Smith was assigned to assist in the development of the bombing technique using the Norden bomb sight.

On October 13, 1935, he married Elise W. Ivy at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Their son, Kort Ivy Smith (b. Jan. 10, 1937 – d. Feb. 12, 1980), was nominated to the United States Military Academy in 1954. (Dale and Elise later divorced and he remarried).

Col. Dale O. Smith

Col. Dale O. Smith

In 1938 Smith began an assignment as an engineering officer and test pilot at Luke and Hickam Fields in Hawaii. Two years later in 1940, he left Hawaii for Langley Field, Virginia. He was assigned to the 2nd Bomb Group, where he flew the early Flying Fortresses. At the outset of WWII, Smith commanded the 20th Squadron of the 2nd Bomb Group. His squadron was placed under Navy control and assigned to hunt submarines. He held several different positions – group executive officer, group commander, and assistant chief of staff – with the Army Air Forces Anti-Submarine Command until the summer of 1943.

Col. Julius Lacey (on left) hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group on November 23, 1943 to Col. Dale O. Smith (on right)

Col. Julius Lacey (on left) hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group on November 23, 1943 to Col. Dale O. Smith (on right)

On November 23, 1943, Smith replaced Col. Julius K. Lacey as the third commander of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force. Lacey had taken command of the 384th only two months earlier as a temporary replacement for Col. Budd J. Peaslee. Smith’s history is reported as his having flown thirty-one combat missions, and his record with the 384th indicates that he flew twenty-five of them with that group based in Grafton Underwood, England.

The 384th Bomb Group’s photo gallery contains photos of three aircraft named by Smith: B-17s 42-37727 named Elise after his wife, one named Kort after his son (which I cannot find in the 384th’s aircraft database), and 44-8007 named Screaming Eagle .

384th Bomb Group Commander Dale Smith with "Elise," the B-17 named after his wife

384th Bomb Group Commander Dale Smith with “Elise,” the B-17 named after his wife

384th Bomb Group Commander Dale Smith with "Kurt," the B-17 named after his son

384th Bomb Group Commander Dale Smith with “Kurt,” the B-17 named after his son

Dale Smith's aircraft "Screaming Eagle"

Dale Smith’s aircraft “Screaming Eagle”

Smith turned over command of the 384th Bomb Group to Lt. Col. Theodore R. Milton on October 24, 1944. Smith was reassigned to the Pentagon, where he spent the last six months of WWII as chief of the Bombardment Branch, Requirements Division of the Army Air Forces. Shortly after V-J Day he was transferred to March Field, California as the director of operations until he was sent to the Air University at Maxwell Field, Alabama in 1946, where he was appointed Chief of the Research Division.

Smith attended the Air War College as a student for a year from the summer of 1947 to summer 1948. Next he attended Stanford University, graduating in January 1951 with a Master of Arts and Doctor of Education degrees. Smith was assigned to the faculty of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base and later appointed Deputy Director of Education at Headquarters Air University. On May 1, 1952, Smith was appointed Director of Education. In October 1953, he was promoted to Brigadier General. On July 1, 1954, Smith was assigned to the staff of the Operations Coordinating Board in Washington, D.C.

In 1956, Smith returned to the Pentagon where he was assigned as Chief, Policy Division in the Plans Directorate of DCSIO, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. Smith played a significant role in preparing the U.S. position for negotiations carried on with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Dhahran Airfield.

When King Saud visited the United States in February 1957, Smith was the military representative in the talks between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In March 1957 he went to Saudi Arabia as the Department of Defense representative. On July 1, 1957 Smith assumed command of the 2nd Air Division (U.S. Air Forces in Europe) at Dhahran Airfield and the U.S. Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia.

Upon completion of his mission to Saudi Arabia, Smith was transferred to the Far East and on Jan. 8, 1958, he assumed command of the 313th Air Division (Pacific Air Forces) on Okinawa. In March of 1959 Smith participated in the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization maneuver “Air Progress” held in Thailand.

Smith was promoted to Major General June 30, 1959, and a year later, on June 30, 1960 he returned to the United States, to Stewart Air Force Base in New York for his new command of the 64th Air Division.

On July 20, 1961 Smith was assigned to Washington, D.C. as special assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Arms Control. He was responsible for assisting the Joint Chiefs on all matters pertaining to disarmament.

Smith was reassigned on July 8, 1963, as the Air Force Member of the Joint Strategic Survey Council (also known as “The Three Wise Men”), which advises the Joint Chiefs and consists of only three officers of two star rank, one from each service, together with three colonel-captain level officers and secretarial help.

Major General Dale O. Smith retired on July 1, 1964. In retirement, he authored two books, Cradle of Valor: The Intimate Letters of A Plebe at West Point Between the Two World Wars, published in 1988, and Screaming Eagle: Memoirs of A B-17 Group Commander, published in 1990.

Smith died January 5, 1998 in Palm Springs, Riverside County, California, and is buried in the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, Orange County, New York, Plot: Section VI, Row B, Site 100.

Smith was awarded the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross with three clusters, and the Croix de Guerre with palm. During his command, the 384th was cited twice as a Distinguished Unit.

Col. Dale Oliver Smith

Col. Dale Oliver Smith

Sources

Lt. Col Theodore R. Milton

LT. COL. THEODORE R. MILTON

Theodore Ross Milton was born at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on December 29, 1915, the son of a U.S. Cavalry officer. He enlisted in the Army in 1934, and was selected to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1940. After graduation, he entered Army Air Corps flying training, earning his pilot wings in March 1941. He flew the B-24 Liberator Consolidated LB-30 on submarine patrol from Langley Field (now Langley Air Force Base), Virginia.

Starting in 1943, Milton served with the Eighth Air Force in England. In the spring of 1943, he was assigned as an operations officer for the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook. In June 1943/September 13, 1943 (conflicting dates from different sources), he became the Deputy Group Commander of the 91st Bomb Group at Bassingbourn.

On January 11, 1944, Milton was wounded on a mission over Oschersleben, Germany when cannon shells entered the cockpit and exploded. On April 6, 1944, he led a group of 730 B-17s and B-24s on the first successful daylight bombing run of Berlin.

Lt. Col. Theodore R. Milton left the 91st Bomb Group on October 23, 1944 to take over as the the fourth Commanding Officer of the 384th Bomb Group at Grafton Underwood, a position he held from October 24, 1944 to June 16, 1945.

Col. Dale Smith hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group to Col. Theodore Milton, October 24, 1944

Col. Dale Smith hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group to Col. Theodore Milton, October 24, 1944

 

384th Bomb Group Commander Theodore Milton

384th Bomb Group Commander Theodore Milton

 

Col. Theodore Milton announces Germany's surrender to the 384th Bomb Group, May 7, 1945

Col. Theodore Milton announces Germany’s surrender to the 384th Bomb Group, May 7, 1945

 

At the end of hostilities in Europe in 1945, he returned to the United States, where he remained until 1948 when he was reassigned to Europe as chief of staff for the Combined Airlift Task Force, which directed operations for the Berlin Airlift.

Between the years of 1949 to 1957, Milton spent two years as director of operations of the Military Air Transport Service, attended Air War College, and served  as executive assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force for three years.

In October 1957, Milton was promoted to Brigadier General and named Commander of the 41st Air Division, Fifth Air Force, Japan, a tactical fighter-bomber command.

Four years later, in 1961, Milton was promoted to Major General and reassigned to Clark Air Base in the Philippines as commander of the Thirteenth Air Force, a position he held for the next two years.

In 1963, Milton was selected as Deputy Chief of staff, Plans and Operations, to the Commander-in-chief Pacific, headquartered at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

Milton returned to the continental U.S. in 1965, serving for the next year and a half as Chief of Staff, Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. In February 1967 he was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as Inspector General, a position he held for the next six months. In August 1967, he was named Comptroller of the Air Force.

In March 1969, General Milton assumed duties as Deputy Chairman, NATO Military Committee at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. A little over two years later, on Aug. 1, 1971, he assumed duties as the United States Representative to the NATO Military Committee. He was promoted to the grade of General effective Aug. 1, 1971, with date of rank July 31, 1971. Milton retired on July 31, 1974 in that position with thirty-three yeas of service in the U.S. Army Air Corps and Air Force.

General Theodore Ross Milton

General Theodore Ross Milton

Theodore Ross Milton’s military decorations and awards include:

  • Distinguished Service Cross
  • Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
  • Silver Star
  • Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters
  • Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters
  • Bronze Star
  • Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters
  • Purple Heart
  • Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
  • British Distinguished Flying Cross
  • French Croix de Guerre with Palm
  • Various World War II campaign medals.

After he retired, Milton wrote for “Air Force Magazine” and often lectured at the U.S. Air Force Academy. In 1985, he received the Thomas D. White National Defense Award. The award was established in 1962 by the United States Air Force Academy and is presented annually to a U.S. citizen who has contributed significantly to the national defense of the United States.

Theodore Ross Milton died August 24, 2010 in Oro Valley, Pima County, Arizona. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, in Plot: Section 54, Site 6379.

Sources:

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

Researching a Family Member from the 384th Bomb Group

I have been researching my dad’s (George Edwin Farrar) WWII history for several years. Dad was a waist gunner for the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force. When I first started researching, I wasn’t quite sure where to look, but along the way found many resources. For anyone just starting their own search of a family member who was in the 384th Bomb Group, here are some places to start. The headings below are clickable links.

The 384th Bomb Group’s Web Site

You should begin your search on this site. For starters, enter first and last name of the 384th member in the Personnel Database Search box on the home page and click the Lookup button. The member’s Individual Personnel Data page will display.

A lot of interesting information is presented on this one page and note that several fields contain links for more information on the other members of his original crew if he was on a combat crew, mission numbers, sortie reports, and aircraft.

At the top of the Personnel Data page to the right of the Name field, click on the white “Experimental: Personal War Service Records” button to produce a more detailed report on the 384th member. You may find some of the most interesting information at the bottom of the report. There you will find two lists. One list displays all of the aircraft in which the member flew during his service. The other list displays all of the other 384th members with which he flew missions.

This detailed report is also printable. Follow the instructions at the top of the report to convert it into a PDF file. Once converted, the PDF file can be printed to produce a record of the member’s missions with the 384th Bomb Group.

If the member was involved in an accident or was part of a missing air crew, you will most likely find a link to the accident report or missing air crew report at the bottom of the sortie report for that crew for that mission. On the member’s Individual Personnel Data page, click “Sortie” for the particular mission to display the Sortie Report. At the bottom of the Sortie Report, click on the link for the Accident or Missing Air Crew Report for available information.

The 384th Bomb Group’s Photo Gallery

The 384th Bomb Group’s photo gallery contains thousands of photos and tens of thousands of documents. You can browse through the gallery, or enter a specific search in the Quick Search box on the left side of the screen. You may find an original crew photo or other interesting information here. If you have any photos that you do not see on the gallery, we request that you register for an account and upload photos to share with the group.

You may also access the photo gallery through the menu of the 384th Bomb Group’s web site. You will find the Photo Gallery in the menu at the top of the page.

384th Bomber Group Facebook Group

The 384th Bomb Group has its own Facebook page. It is a closed group, and you must request membership in the group to view and become part of the ongoing discussions. The group consists of 384th Bomb Group veterans, 384th NexGens (the next generation – sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, nieces, and nephews of 384th members), friends of the group, and others interested in WWII history.

Many NexGens have connected with other NexGens whose relatives served on the same bomber crews with each other. The 384th Bomb Group researchers also frequent the page and can help with questions and research.

National Archives WWII Enlistment Records

Enter first and last name in the search box and click the Search button. Click View Records in the “Series and Files” returned in the search. You may find the person you are looking for in the list and you may not. If you do find the record you are looking for, click the “View Record” icon to the left to see the record’s detail.

American Air Museum in Britain

You can search for personnel at the American Air Museum’s web site. You may also add and edit information at this site.

Fold3

This is a paid site for military information, but does offer an unpaid trial subscription.

Ancestry

This is another paid site for all kinds of genealogical information, but military information can be found here as well.

National Archives

You can search for military personnel records at the National Archives by mail or in person. I have done both. Depending on how many records exist, the price to receive records by mail could be very costly. On the other hand, a fire in 1973 destroyed many records, so no or very few documents could still be available for your search.

If you opt to visit the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri, you can make your own copies by photographing available records for free. You must schedule an appointment and request records well in advance, though, so records can be made ready for your visit. Camera stands are available for your use and the research staff at the center is very helpful.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016