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Man’s Best Friend

Delbert McNasty was not the only canine to grace the grounds of the Grafton Underwood airbase of the 384th Bomb Group with his presence. Many other dogs provided faithful companionship, joy, and comfort to the men of the group. They all had to be good listeners as I suppose many airmen related the conquests and horrors of the day to their furry friends. These four-legged creatures greeted many men upon the return from their missions, and silently mourned those who didn’t come back.

Salvo

The Alfred Sprague crew was family to Salvo, whom I presume to be a Boston Terrier.  Pictured below are:

  • Back L-R: Lt. Alfred Sprague (P), Lt. Pendleton Baldwin (N), Lt. Albert Doman (CP), Lt. Kermit Pierce (B)
  • Front L-R: Sgt.s Lawrence Reandeau (BT), Sgt. Rudolph Aune (TG), Sgt. George Redding (FG), Sgt. Abraham Abramowitz (FG), Sgt. Clarence Anderson (RO), Sgt. Dean Marshall (TT)
  • Assigned to the 544th BS; Salvo, mascot of the 544th BS, is the dog.
  • Source: The Quentin Bland Collection.

The Alfred Sprague crew with Salvo.

 

Salvo

Delbert McNasty II/Mascott

The Donald P. Ogilvie crew of the 547th Bomb Squadron is pictured below with a pup identified as Delbert McNasty and owned by tail gunner Ray Gregori, but he bears no resemblance to the Delbert McNasty in other photos.

  • Back L-R: 2LT Robert B. Kilmer (CP), 1LT William H. Wilson (B), 1LT Barkley (N), 1LT Donald P. Ogilvie (P).
  • Front L-R: SGT Francis R. Sylvia (WG), TSGT James Murray (RO), SSGT William E. Martin (WG), SSGT James W. McKeon (BT), TSGT Emmett A. Hood (TT), SSGT Louis L. Ratkiewicz (TG).
  • Source: The Quentin Bland Collection.

Donald P. Ogilvie crew with Delbert McNasty. This Delbert’s owner was reported to be tail gunner Ray Gregori.

Tail Gunner Robert Kreuscher, whom I wrote about in a previous post, is pictured in front of the 546th Bomb Squadron sign with what appears to be a similar dog, with the dog’s name reported as “Mascot” or “Mascott.”

Tail gunner Robert Kreuscher with “Mascot.”

Pilot

The Howard Cole crew of the 546th Bomb Squadron was family to “Pilot.”

Back: Francis McKeon (TT), George Hart (BT), Landis Hartranft (TG), Thomas Long (TG).
Front: Howard Cole (P), Horace Smigelsky (CP), Carl Leo Ganapini (see note) (N), Rexford Blackburn (B).
Note: Carl Leo Ganapini is not listed in the 384th BG database, but is identified by one of Howard Cole’s bible pages.

Cole may or may not have taken “Pilot” with him to Grafton Underwood. This is likely a training photo in the states as the Cole crew was assigned to the 384th without a navigator. Ganapini, the navigator in the photo, served with the 389th Bomb Group, a group flying  B-24 Liberators from Hethel, England.

Howard W. Cole crew. Bottom left is Cole, who was from Fannin County, Georgia, with “Pilot.”

Henry

The 546th Bomb Squadron’s ground crew was “Henry’s” family.  Henry was brought to the base at Grafton Underwood as a puppy. Ground Crew Chief Frank Priesnitz’s daughter, Debbie, noted that Henry was a stowaway, “smuggled on the ship that the men went over to England on. I had a letter from one of my dad’s buddies that referenced this puppy.” Debbie added, “I guess they all pitched in to feed him.”

Another 546th Bomb Squadron Ground Crew Chief, Bernerd C. Ollman, is pictured with Henry.

Photo from the Frank Priesnitz collection.

546th Bomb Squadron Ground Crew Chief Bernerd C. Ollman and Henry

Photobombing Dog

So you thought photobombing was a new idea? This unknown dog decided to photobomb this 384th Bomb Group crew of the Rum Pot II. The Rum Pot II failed to return from the April 14, 1944 mission to Schweinfurt, shot down by enemy aircraft. It was the High Group Lead that day. The right wing broke into a mass of flames and it crashed near Gumpen, Germany. The Commander, Joseph Bedsole, was killed and the remainder of the crew were taken prisoner.

Note: the crew pictured is not identified.

The Rum Pot II Crew and Unknown Dog

The Canine Commander

Fourth Commanding Officer of the 384th Bomb Group, Theodore R. Milton, is pictured with a dog perched on his jeep. Could this be a private strategy session with a trusted confidant? He’d never give away any top secret information.

384th Bomb Group Commander Theodore Milton

Mama Dog

Ah, the miracle of life was a welcome distraction for these officers of the 384th Bomb Group when this dog gave birth to her puppies in their Officers’ Club. A reminder that life does go on even in the middle of a war.

A dog gave birth to pups in Officers’ Club, May 5, 1944.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Delbert McNasty

One of the most famous members of the 384th Bomb Group was part of the original group, but flew in a B-17 only once. He walked on four legs and his name was Delbert McNasty.

Delbert McNasty
Photo courtesy of Sam Arauz

While the group was still stateside, bombardier Robert J. Kennedy and his wife Gloria saw the pup in a pet shop window in Salt Lake City and ponied up the hefty sum of ten dollars to take Delbert home. In May 1943, Kennedy and the rest of the Jesse D. Hausenfluck, Jr. crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron smuggled him aboard their B-17 on the Atlantic crossing to their new base in Grafton Underwood, England.

Jesse Hausenfluck crew
Back Row: L-R: Charles Everson (N), Jesse Hausenfluck (P), Robert Kennedy (B), Donald MacKenzie (CP), John Blauer (WG)
Front Row: John Kelley (RO), L-R: Ray Gregori (TG), James Traylor (BT), Sebastian Bucheri (WG), John Kilcourse (TT)
Mascot-Delbert McNasty
Photo courtesy of James Traylor

The flight was twelve hours long and when they reached 10,000 feet in altitude, the crew and Delbert required the use of oxygen. Since a puppy oxygen mask was not standard equipment on a B-17, Delbert was placed in a duffel bag fitted with an oxygen hose. Delbert did not appreciate the confinement of the bag, however, and kept escaping. He was caught and returned to the bag over and over again. Delbert was later known for his peculiar behavior which was blamed on possible brain damage due to lack of oxygen during that flight. Delbert’s flight to Grafton Underwood was his last.

At the base in Grafton Underwood, Delbert spent time in the officers’ quarters and the enlisted men’s quarters and racked up offenses in both. He started relieving himself in shoes. At his “court martial” he calmly listened to the charges against him before repeating the offense. Delbert also had the habit of raiding the mess hall. Shooing him out once again, the mess officer became so exasperated he threatened to kill Delbert if he returned. The Hausenfluck crew’s co-pilot, Donald MacKenzie, stormed into the mess hall, gun in hand, and swore to kill the mess officer if any harm came to Delbert.

As the days and weeks of combat wore on, more and more of the original crews of the 544th Bomb Squadron did not return from their missions. The Hausenfluck crew did not return from the August 17, 1943 mission to the ball bearings factory in Schweinfurt. Hausenfluck and MacKenzie were killed. The remaining crew, including Kennedy, were taken prisoner. Allegedly, Delbert was adopted by a Red Cross Girl and left the 384th Bomb Group base at Grafton Underwood, never to be seen there again.

Story courtesy of James Traylor, ball turret gunner with the Hausenfluck crew, and 384thbombgroup.com.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Join the Club

Early on in the 8th Air Force in WWII, when an airman completed twenty-five missions, his tour of duty with his bomb group was complete and he was allowed to return to the States. That didn’t mean the war was over for him. He was assigned to a stateside unit or began training for another assignment. Later, the number of missions was increased to thirty, and even later to thirty-five.

An airman who completed his tour of duty became a member of an elite club, the Happy Warrior’s Club and/or the Lucky Bastard Club.

Robert Edward Kreuscher, a flexible gunner with the Raymond Causa crew of the 546th Bomb Squadron, completed his thirty-fifth mission on December 18, 1944, earning his ticket home.

Happy Warrior's Club certificate of S/Sgt. Robert C. Kreuscher

Happy Warrior’s Club certificate of S/Sgt. Robert C. Kreuscher

James Kermit “Short Round” Kangas, the ball turret gunner with the Raymond D. Cook crew of the 546th Bomb Squadron, completed his thirty-fifth mission on April 25, 1945, which was the very last 384th Bomb Group mission of WWII.

Happy Warrior's Club certificate of S/Sgt. James K. Kangas

Happy Warrior’s Club certificate of S/Sgt. James K. Kangas

The Happy Warrior’s Club certificates read:

On this date, the Fickle Finger of Fate has inscribed on the Rolls of the “Happy Warriors Club” the name of …

…who on this date achieved the Remarkable Record of having sallied forth, and returned no fewer than thirty-five times bearing tons and tons of High Explosive Goodwill to the Fuehrer and Would Be Fuehrers, through the courtesy of the Eighth Air Force, A.A.F., who sponsors these programs in the interest of “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Lucky Bastard Club certificate of S/Sgt. James K. Kangas

Lucky Bastard Club certificate of S/Sgt. James K. Kangas

The Lucky Bastard Club certificate reads:

On this day, April 25, 1945, the brass balls go up for entrance into The Lucky Bastard Club. S/Sgt. James Kangas, who finished his tour with the four-leaf clover imprinted firmly on his posterior, after zig-zagging through space in his Flying Fortress on 35 missions of a re-arranging operation on Der Fuehrer’s domain – using tools issued by the 8th Air Force and provided by a nation dedicated to exterminating the paper-hanger’s crackpot ideas on altering the face of the earth.

The “ground pounders”, or those servicemen who were not members of an air crew, were shown appreciation for their service in the form of an Army Air Forces Certificate of Appreciation for War Service. This one was presented to Theodore J. Bakalarski, an Airplane Electrical Mechanic with the 443rd Sub Depot.

Certificate of Appreciation of Theodore. J. Bakalarski

Certificate of Appreciation of Theodore. J. Bakalarski

Signed by none other than Hap Arnold, it reads:

I cannot meet you personally to thank you for a job well done; nor can I hope to put in written words the great hope I have for your success in future life.

Together we built the striking force that swept the Luftwaffe from the skies and broke the German power to resist. The total might of that striking force was then unleashed upon the Japanese. Although you no longer play an active military part, the contribution you made to the Air Forces was essential in making us the greatest team in the world.

The ties that bound us under stress of combat must not be broken in peacetime. Together we share the responsibility for guarding our country in the air. We who stay will never forget the part you have played while in uniform. We know you will continue to play a comparable role as a civilian. As our ways part, let me wish you God speed and the best of luck on your road in life. Our gratitude and respect go with you.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

WWII Timeline – The Early 1930’s

I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at the early 1930’s, specifically 1930, 1931, and 1932, in this post. By the time 1933 rolls around, things really start heating up, so I’ll be concentrating on only one year at a time in future WWII Timeline series posts.

A Timeline of WWII, the Early 1930’s

September 14, 1930

After the German federal election, the Nazis become the second largest political party in Germany. The Social Democratic Party remains the largest.

 September 18, 1931

Japanese troops bombed their own railway tracks near the Chinese city of Mukden (currently the city of Shen-yang) and blamed Chinese nationalists for the attack. The bombing did so little damage that a train was able to pass through the damaged section of track soon after the explosion. Known as the “Mukden Incident,” it gave the Japanese the opportunity to invade and occupy Manchuria, and was the start of the Fifteen Year War (1931 to 1945).

November 8, 1932

Franklin Roosevelt is elected President of the United States.

Sources:

This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:

The Holocaust Encyclopedia:

https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007306

The History Place:

http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/ww2time.htm

http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/pacificwar/timeline.htm

http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/holocaust/timeline.html

The National WWII Museum:

http://www.nationalww2museum.org/history/final/interactive_timeline.html

Previous posts from the series:

The 1920’s: https://thearrowheadclub.com/2017/02/22/wwii-timeline-1920s/

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Budd Peaslee – Part 3

Budd Peaslee – Part 2 was published February 1, 2017 here. (Scroll to the end of this post for links to Parts 1 and 2).

Budd Peaslee and his 384th Bomb Group left Wendover, Utah on April 1, 1943 and headed to Sioux City, Iowa. In Sioux City, the Group received their new B-17’s. They were beautiful, but there was a problem with the engines. The problem was blamed on the never-ending dust that blew across the airfield, but some thought the problem was actually poor workmanship and metallurgy due to production pressures.

While at Sioux City, the Group was ordered to the West Coast for joint maneuvers with two other combat groups in training. They were based at Salinas Army Air Base in central California and the highlight of the excursion was a show of a hundred bombers over San Francisco as a display of air power. Returning to Sioux City, the Group had their only accident in the United States.

Major Selden “Mac” McMillin, deputy group commander, brought up the rear on the flight back to Iowa. He had been the Group’s dispatcher, sending B-17’s off at three-minute intervals from Salinas, so he was the last to take off. As he approached Sioux City, he could not lower the landing wheels on his bomber.

Technicians worked with him from the tower as McMillin circled the base while attempting to lower the gear, but it was not to be. He had no choice but to land the bomber on its belly, with the ball turret grinding against the runway. It came to a stop after sliding along the runway for about half a mile. The bomber was not badly damaged and there were no injuries.

Training was complete for the first members of the 384th Bomb Group by the end of April. From classroom study, to combat training in firing machine guns and dropping bombs, to mock briefings, and even drills in how to ditch in the North Sea, they were as ready for combat as they could be. The 384th was the first group on record that completed its training without a death.

All that was left was the final inspection by the Second Air Force. The inspectors studied the Group’s training records, made final checks of the combat groups, and examined the state of the organization. Pop Dolan’s intelligence section was commended as the best in the Second Air Force. With every other section satisfactory, the Group, now over a thousand strong, packed for combat duty and took final leaves to visit their families for the last time before shipping overseas.

* * * * *

384th Bomb Group Model Crews

The first crews assigned to each squadron, and the dates of assignment, are given in the following section. These crews were termed “Model Crews” in the squadron histories.

  • Assigned to the 544th Bomb Squad on 31 December 1942: 2nd Lt Kelmer J Hall
  • Assigned to the 545th Bomb Squad on 31 December 1942: 2nd Lt Richard T Carrington
  • Assigned to the 546th Bomb Squad on 31 December 1942: 2nd Lt Philip A Algar
  • Assigned to the 547th Bomb Squad on 27 January 1943: 1st Lt James W Smith

384th Bomb Group Initial Aircrews

The following 12 aircrews were assigned to the 384th BG on Gowen Field (Idaho) Special Orders #32 dated 1 February 1943. Personnel on this list were transferred from the 29th BG at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho, to the 384th BG at Wendover Field, Utah.

  1. 2nd Lt Halseth, Edwin S, 544th
  2. 2nd Lt Estes, Thomas J, 544th
  3. 2nd Lt Hausenfluck, Jesse D, Jr, 544th
  4. 2nd Lt Edwards, Floyd C, 545th
  5. 2nd Lt Armstrong, Lloyd R, 545th
  6. 2nd Lt Mattes, Frank G, 545th
  7. 2nd Lt Henderson, Lykes S, 546th
  8. 2nd Lt Dietel, William, Jr, 546th
  9. 2nd Lt Kelly, James H, 546th
  10. 2nd Lt Pulcipher, Ralph R, 547th
  11. 2nd Lt Ogilvie, Don P, 547th
  12. 2nd Lt Disney, Frederick G, 547th

Final Allotment of 384th Bomb Group Aircrews

The following 20 aircrews were assigned to the 384th BG on Gowen Field Special Orders #70 dated 11 March 1943. Personnel on this list were transferred from the 29th BG at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho, to the 384th BG at Wendover Field, Utah.

  1. F/O Erickson, Gordon B, 544th
  2. F/O Wheat, Delton G, 544th
  3. 2nd Lt Kilmer, Robert B, 547th
  4. F/O Cuddeback, Thomas A, 544th
  5. 2nd Lt Way, John R, 544th
  6. F/O Burgoon, Howard C, 544th
  7. 2nd Lt Myer, Lawrence W, 545th
  8. 2nd Lt Manning, Raymond W, 545th
  9. F/O Lecates, Robert L, 545th
  10. F/O Bishop, Charles W, 546th
  11. F/O Rosio, Joseph, 546th
  12. F/O Wilson, Clayton R, 546th
  13. 2nd Lt Kowalski, Elwood D, 546th
  14. F/O Lee, Roy J, 545th
  15. F/O Hall, Ralph J, 545th
  16. 2nd Lt Riches, George T, 545th
  17. 2nd Lt Olbinski, Robert J, 545th
  18. 2nd Lt Witt, Francis J, 547th
  19. 2nd Lt Koch, William S, 547th
  20. 2nd Lt LeFevre, Charles H, 547th (Frink, Horace Everett “Ev”  replaced LeFevre before going to England)

To be continued…

Sources

Budd Peaslee – Part 1 was published January 4, 2017 here.

Budd Peaslee – Part 2 was published February 1, 2017 here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Excerpts from Heritage of Valor by Budd J. Peaslee, © Budd J. Peaslee, 1963