Have you ever toured a WWII B-17? Climbed the ladder up through the front hatch near the nose? (No, that ladder wasn’t original standard equipment). Looked to your left into the nose where the bombardier and navigator sat? Crawled up through the cockpit and top turret area? Crossed the catwalk over the bomb bays? Walked through the radio room, circled the ball turret, and strode past the waist guns to peer back into the tail before exiting through the waist door down a shorter ladder? (No, not original standard equipment either).
How about going for a flight in one? There are a few touring B-17’s in the United States that travel to from city to city offering both walk-through tours and flights. I have walked through both the Nine O Nine and the Aluminum Overcast. I have flown in the Nine O Nine. Though the flight was only a half hour long, it was probably the most exciting half hour of my life. I can’t seem to get enough of the B-17 and anytime one is in the vicinity of central Florida, I’ll go to see it. And I think that even though the flights in one are very expensive, I think I’ll have to do that again one day, too.
The Collings Foundation
Update January 4, 2020: The Collings Foundation returns to touring on January 17, 2020, starting in Deland, Florida. Their web site lists several Florida tour stops in January and February, with other locations listed starting in July. Check their web site’s schedule for additional stops later in the year. The Wings of Freedom tour will continue without the B-17, Nine O Nine, which suffered a total loss along with the loss of the pilot, co-pilot, and five passengers in the October 2, 2019 crash.
Update October 2, 2019: Sadly, the Collings Foundation’s B-17 Nine O Nine crashed this morning at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut around 10 a.m.
You can check the Collings Foundation’s touring schedule here.
The Collings Foundation show tours include a Consolidated B-24J Liberator, Witchcraft, a B-25, and a TF-51D (P51) Mustang. The B-24 flight experience is 30 minutes and the B-25 flight experience is 25 minutes. The P-51 Mustang can be reserved for either a half or full hour of flight instruction. If you are considering a flight experience, check here for more information and pricing.
Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
The EAA’s B-17 is the Aluminum Overcast. You can check the EAA’s touring schedule and pricing here.
The B-17 flight experience lasts approximately one hour, with twenty-four minutes in the air. If you are considering a flight experience, check here for more information.
In addition to the B-17 Aluminum Overcast, the EAA also tours with a Ford Tri-Motor, the Tin Goose, however it has a different schedule of tour stops. To view the Tri-Motor tour stops, check here.
The Liberty Foundation
The Liberty Foundation’s B-17 is the Ye Olde Pub (previously Madras Maiden). You can check the Liberty Foundation’s touring schedule and pricing here.
The Liberty Foundation’s flight experience lasts approximately 45 minutes, with fifteen minutes in history briefings and a half hour in the air.
Commemorative Air Force, Gulf Coast Wing (GCWCAF)
The GCWCAF’s B-17 is Texas Raiders. You can check the GCWCAF’s touring schedule here.
The flight experience is approximately ninety minutes and includes approximately twenty-five to thirty minutes in the air. If you are considering a flight experience, check here for more information and pricing.
Commemorative Air Force, Airbase Arizona
The Arizona Commemorative Air Force’s B-17 is Sentimental Journey. You can check their summer touring schedule here. At other times of year, rides occur out of their museum in Mesa, Arizona.
The flight experience is approximately forty to forty-five minutes and includes approximately twenty to twenty-five minutes in the air. If you are considering a flight experience, more information and pricing are included on the same web page, but additional pricing for sitting in the nose is displayed upon selecting to book a seat.
See the Flight Info and Schedule page and Flight FAQ page for more information.
Yankee Air Museum
The Yankee Air Museum’s B-17 is Yankee Lady. The Yankee Lady’s touring schedule is posted here.
In addition to the B-17 Flying Fortress Yankee Lady, the Yankee Air Museum show tours include a B-25, Yankee Warrior, a C-47, Skytrain, and a Waco Biplane. Flight time in the B-17 and B-25 is 25 minutes from departure to arrival, and the C-47 and Waco Biplane flights last 15 minutes. If you are considering a flight experience, also check here for more information and pricing.
Other Surviving B-17s
There are more surviving B-17’s in the world, but I believe the ones on the above list are the only ones that schedule tour stops around the United States. Please contact me if you know of another one I should add to this list.
For a list of surviving B-17’s, including those that are air worthy and those that are not, please see Wikipedia’s list here. It includes other B-17’s that you can tour at their home museums in the United States that do not go on tour around the country.
Links last updated January 4, 2020
Links previously updated April 12, 2019
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017
Budd Peaslee – Part 4 was published April 5, 2017 here. (Scroll to the end of this post for links to the entire series).
Almost a year before the 384th Bomb Group arrived at their home base, the initial air strike of the 8th Air Force was launched from the Grafton Underwood airdrome on July 4, 1942, American Independence Day. It was carried out by a light bombardment squadron, the 15th, using aircraft borrowed from the RAF. Six American crews were led by six British crews and they attacked airdromes in Holland.
The next year, the B-17’s of the 384th Bomb Group moved in. This new home of the 384th, Grafton Underwood, was in rolling wooded hills in the English Midlands. The airdrome site was previously a treeless meadow in a game preserve with private herds of deer and owned by an English nobleman. His family castle, which dated back to the days of Robin Hood, stood a short distance away.
The base was originally built by British Bomber Command and had been operated by the RAF. The formal transfer from the RAF to American ownership was scheduled to take place on the one year anniversary of the July 4 mission.
The airdrome was made up of two crossing runways and the end of each was connected by a circular taxi strip. From the taxis strips, about fifty short strips led to the concrete hard stands, or parking areas, for the Group’s B-17’s. There were several buildings: a small two-story control tower, operations and intelligence buildings, and a hangar and shop area. Other buildings, such as administrative headquarters, the bomb and fuel dumps, and squadron living quarters were scattered in the surrounding woodlands.
Two narrow paved roads led from the airfield to the living areas, but the remainder of the roads were gravel or dirt which would turn to mud for the majority of the time. Grafton Underwood was nicknamed “Grafton Undermud” due to the usual condition of the roads. The base had three exit roads which led to neighboring villages. The closest cities were Kettering, about three miles from GU, and Northampton, about six miles from the base.
Once the 384th moved in to GU, they were given only two weeks to get organized and establish their routines. The flyers also took flights over the English Midlands to familiarize themselves with the countryside and learn how to find their way back to base. There were many airdromes that looked similar from the air.
The 384th waited for their moment, their debut, through a week of poor weather conditions after being declared combat-ready. Finally, on June 21, the message came across the teletype machine: ATTENTION, ATTENTION ALL BOMBER GROUPS: ALL GROUPS ASSUME A CONDITION OF ALERT FOR PROBABLE FIELD ORDER FOR JUNE 22, 1943.
With the receipt of this message, all passes were canceled and the gates were closed to all but specially authorized outbound traffic. The bar in the Officers Club was closed. The waiting began for the call that the field order was in. The 384th’s Mission #1 would be the 8th Air Force’s Mission #65. Take-off, or H hour, was set at 0700 hours, briefing at 0500, and breakfast at 0400. The crews were called at 0330.
At the combat briefing, Intelligence Officer Major William Edward “Pop” Dolan told the crews that the main force would strike the synthetic rubber industry at Huls. But the 384th’s part in the mission would be to confuse the German fighters by making themselves obvious while the main force climbed in altitude in secrecy over the North Sea before turning inland toward the Ruhr Valley. The 384th’s target would be the Ford and General Motors factories at Antwerp, surrounded by flak guns. The 384th was selected to lead the attack with the 381st Bomb Group trailing them. Their attack on Antwerp would divert the German fighters from the main force heading to Huls. They were told to expect an air battle. Other speakers at the briefing covered the various phases and data for the mission.
The last speaker of the briefing was Group Commander Budd Peaslee. Peaslee reminded the air crews of their responsibilities, the importance of holding their close defensive formations, and warned them about the tactics of the enemy fighters and that they should remain calm when shooting at the enemy, holding fire until the target was within range. He said they were “each their brothers’ keeper aloft in a hostile sky” and that he would lead them to success on this mission.
The 384th Bomb Group’s web site records the following information for this first mission of the Group:
Col. Budd J. Peaslee led the 384th Bombardment Group (H) on this mission aboard 42-30043, Ruthless.
Combat Chronology: VIII Bomber Command Mission Number 65: In the first large-scale daylight raid on the Ruhr, 235 B-17’s are dispatched to hit the chemical works and synthetic rubber plant at Huls in the main attack; 183 bomb the target; we claim 46-21-35 Luftwaffe aircraft; we lose 16 and 75 others are damaged; casualties are 2 KIA, 16 WIA and 151 MIA; this plant, representing a large percentage of the country’s producing capacity, is severely damaged. 11 YB-40’s accompany the Huls raid; 1 is lost.
In a second raid, 42 B-17’s are dispatched to bomb the former Ford and General Motors plants at Antwerp; 39 hit the target; they claim 1-2-9 Luftwaffe aircraft; we lose 4, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 17 others are damaged; casualties are 1 KIA, 3 WIA and 40 MIA. An additional 21 B-17’s fly an uneventful diversion.
Two of the 384th’s B-17’s failed to return from this mission. The Frederick Disney crew aboard 42-5853, Salvage Queen, was damaged by enemy aircraft and ditched in the English Channel. The Robert Oblinski crew aboard 42-30076 was shot down by enemy aircraft and crashed near Wilhelminadoorp, the Netherlands.
The 384th Bomb Group had officially entered the war.
To be continued…
“Heritage of Valor” by Budd J. Peaslee.
Budd Peaslee – Part 1 was published January 4, 2017 here.
Budd Peaslee – Part 2 was published February 1, 2017 here.
Budd Peaslee – Part 3 was published March 1, 2017 here.
Budd Peaslee – Part 4 was published April 5, 2017 here.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017
Excerpts from Heritage of Valor by Budd J. Peaslee, © Budd J. Peaslee, 1963
I don’t know how many of you are members of the Eighth Air Force Historical Society, but I am a member and receive their 8th AF News magazine. I was intrigued by the cover of the March 2017 issue I received in the mail. The cover photo was a woman named Ellen Weaver Hartman holding dog tags and surrounded by photos and other items. The item that caught my eye was a small piece of wood inscribed with “Stalag Luft IV 1944.” Stalag Luft IV was the prison camp in which my dad was held POW in 1944 and 1945.
I quickly turned to the article, “Band of Daughters.” It was a reprint of an article by Josh Green for the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper. You can read the entire article here.
I went on to read the story of Ellen Weaver Hartman and Laura Witt Edge. Ellen’s dad was Joseph (Joe) Donald Weaver, who was a Radio Operator/Mechanic Gunner with the 9th Air Force, 386th Bomb Group, 554th Bomb Squad.
According to the American Air Museum in Britain, the 386th Bomb Group flew B-26 Marauders for the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces. While assigned to the Eighth Air Force, the 386th developed the formation release procedure for the B-26, a medium bomber, on missions from Great Dunmow, England in the winter of 1943 – 1944 to aerodromes, marshalling yards and V-weapon sites along the coast of France. In October 1944, the 386th moved to Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris, and on to St. Trond, Belgium in support of the push eastward by ground forces.
Laura’s dad was Lawrence (Larry) Lee Witt, who was an Engineer/Waist Gunner with the 8th Air Force, 96th Bomb Group, 338th Bomb Squad.
According the the American Air Museum in Britain, the 96th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses to targets across occupied Europe from May 1943 to April 1945. They were awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, the first for bombing an aircraft factory at Regensburg on August 17, 1943 under intense pressure from enemy fighters. The second was for leading the 45th Bomb Wing through difficult weather conditions and anti-aircraft fire on a mission to an aircraft components factories at Poznan on April 9, 1944.
Laura Edge knows a great deal about her father’s service in WWII. When her father was in his eighties, Laura sat down with him and one of his old crewmates and they told her their stories of WWII, Stalag Luft IV, and the Black March they endured while prisoners of war. Laura wrote a book, On the Wings of Dawn, a well-written and excellent record of the experiences of the American airmen who shared those experiences. I consider it a must-read for anyone whose father was confined in Stalag Luft IV during WWII and I will write more about it in a future post.
While Laura Edge knows a great deal about her father’s service in WWII, Ellen Weaver Hartman does not have as much information about her father’s service, but she would like to learn more. Who were the members of Joe Weaver’s originally assigned crew? How can she find a photo of that crew? If you have found your way to this article through an internet search on one of the names I’ve mentioned here, or if you recognize any of the faces in the included photos, and you have any information to share, I urge you to comment on this post or e-mail Ellen directly.
Joseph (Joe) Donald Weaver was born on August 28, 1923 in Ackerman, Mississippi. On October 8, 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. At the time, he was living in Choctaw County. He was assigned service number 14150971. Joe served in the 8th AF, 386th Bomb Group, 554th Bomb Squad as a radio operator/gunner on a B-26 Maurader. The 386th Bomb Group started out with the 8th AF, but transferred to the 9th AF in 1944.
Early in his overseas service, Joe was in a training accident in Ireland with pilot Robert G. Fry. The American Air Museum in Britain describes Fry as an Instructor (Pilot) with the 3rd Combat Crew Replacement Center. On December 27, 1943, B-26 #41-17961 was involved in a landing accident at Froome Airfield (Station 236) near Antrim, Northern Ireland after a local training flight. The aircraft landed in a small field. Joe Weaver and four others returned.
The four others mentioned were:
- S/Sgt. Pierre S. Buckner, tail gunner
- 2nd Lt. Vernon R. Hodges, pilot
- Sgt. John G. Latiloasis, engineer
- Captain Robert G. Fry, pilot instructor
John Latiloasis was from Louisiana and remained friends with Joe Weaver after the war.
The American Air Museum in Britain web site notes that after flying fifty-one missions with the Lt. Fry crew, Joe Weaver was assigned to the 386th Bomb Group, 554th Bomb Squadron of the 9th Air Force. Joe was a Radio Operator/Mechanical Gunner. On the August 6, 1944 mission to bomb fuel dumps near the Forêt d’Andainnein, east of the Domfront region of Calvados, France, Joe was flying with pilot Walter Edward Payne in B-26 #42-96184. This was Joe’s fifty-second mission, but his and the other gunners’ first mission with Captain Payne. Joe replaced Payne’s regular radio operator who had just completed his tour. Hit by flak, the plane crashed in the English Channel, one mile off the coast at Trouville-sur-Mer. Joe Weaver was made prisoner (POW) and was interned at Stalag Luft IV in Gross Tychow/Tychowo, Poland. Four others, including Captain Payne, were also made prisoners of war. Gunner Franklin E. Swanson was killed.
Aboard B-26 42-96184 that day were officers…
- Pilot/Captain Walter E. Payne
- Co-Pilot 1st Lt Hubert M. Altvater
- Bombardier/Navigator 1st Lt Edward William Roggenkamp
Payne, Altvater, and Roggenkamp were all on their 63rd mission. All three were made prisoner.
And enlisted men…
- Radio Operator/Mechanical Gunner T/Sgt Joseph D. Weaver (Ellen’s Dad) (POW)
- Ap. Armorer Gunner Cpl William L. Salyer (POW)
- Ap. Armorer Gunner Sgt Franklin E. Swanson (KIA) (injured by flak and his chute failed to open – Killed In Action).
The three enlisted men on board were all experienced gunners who had flown on earlier missions and were replacing the Payne crew’s regular gunners who had flown more than the sixty-five required missions (some with other crews) and had completed their tours.
The AAM (American Air Museum) reports that B-26 42-96184 was on its second mission of the day when it was hit by an 88mm flak shell above Le Havre, causing a fire in the right engine. Included in the missing air crew report, MACR7875, is this eyewitness statement from S/Sgt. Leonard J. Zuckerman:
I was flying as tail gunner in lead aircraft of formation in which Captain Payne was flying deputy lead.
Capt. Payne’s aircraft was hit by flak, causing fire in the right engine, which didn’t seem too large and was apparently unnoticed because ship was equipped with engine fire extinguishers. The flames subsided for a moment then flared up brightly and I saw three chutes from the tail end of the ship.
The pilot held the ship in formation for a time but was losing altitude slowly and the engine was burning brightly.
Two more chutes which evidently came from the front end of the ship, blossomed out as the ship began to lose altitude more rapidly. When about one mile off shore the right engine and wing came away from the ship and the ship itself spiraled into the channel.
I did not see a sixth chute from this aircraft. My vision was blurred after the first few minutes by hydraulic fluid which was smearing my plexiglass windshield.
This map, included in the missing air crew report was likely drawn by S/Sgt. Zuckerman to indicate the path of the aircraft, flying through the flak area and over the English Channel until it crashed in the Channel. Zuckerman also includes lattitude and longitude markings on his drawing. Zuckerman has drawn an outline around the flak area. Note the zig-zagging pattern of the aircraft through the flak area, attempting to evade the flak guns. The crew bailed out somewhere along the line indicating the aircraft’s path and probably landed somewhere between the flak area and the coastline at Trouville-sur-Mer, except for the co-pilot who actually landed in the channel about fifty feet offshore on a sandbar.
More information is provided in the Missing Air Crew Report, MACR7875, and in a narrative of “Mission 63” written by co-pilot H. Mark Altvater. Among the details are these:
- According to Lt. Altvater, bombardier/navigator Lt. Roggenkamp commented on the return trip from the target that they were getting too close to Le Havre, which was heavily defended by flak guns. He did not understand why the formation did not turn to avoid Le Havre, but they had no choice but to follow the lead aircraft.
- Lt. Altvater reported an ear-splitting explosion and realized that they had taken a direct hit from the 88mm flak guns in Le Havre. The windshield was hit and the pilot compartment was littered with dust, debris, Plexiglass splinters, and shell fragments. The fuel tanks in the right wing were punctured and spewing aviation fuel. Shortly after, they were on fire.
- About four minutes before the crew bailed out, Sgt. Swanson announced by interphone that he had been hit by flak, but that he would not leave his guns.
- They left formation approximately three minutes south of Trouville-sur-Mer.
- Lt. Roggenkamp, then Lt. Altvater bailed out of the aircraft through the bomb bay slightly west of Trouville, France. Cpl. Salyer, then Sgt. Weaver, then Sgt. Swanson left the aircraft through the waist window over Trouville. The last to bail out, Payne followed Altvater and Roggenkamp out the bomb bay.
- Captain Payne reported that his aircraft struck the ground in the English Channel approximately 10 miles west of Trouville and that none of the crew were in the aircraft at that time. (Although the witness, Zuckerman, noted the crash as one mile off shore, Payne noted ten miles off shore).
- The other gunners reported seeing blood on Swanson’s clothing near his groin, but they did not believe he was badly wounded before he bailed out. They saw his chute come out of its pack, but it did not canopy. It merely trailed behind, apparently caused by cut shrouds.
- After bailing out, Joe Weaver watched Franklin Swanson pass him on the way down. Swanson was trying to get his chute open as he passed Weaver. Weaver reported that Swanson’s chute was “one long streamer” and that he watched Swanson almost to the ground.
- Payne’s supposition was that at the time that Swanson was injured, his parachute was also hit by flak causing it to fail to function properly.
- The Germans provided Swanson’s dog tags and reported him found dead in a nearby woods. The Germans also said they buried him. He was likely buried in a local French cemetery, probably near Trouville-sur-Mer.
- The exact locations of where all of the crew landed are not noted other than Swanson’s body was found “in a nearby woods” and Altvater reported landing in the Channel, having to wade ashore.
After enduring six months in Stalag Luft IV and three more months on the road in the Black March, Joseph Donald Weaver was liberated and returned to the US. His formal date of separation from the Army Air Forces was October, 15 1945.
Ellen Weaver Hartman would like to find relatives her dad’s crew mates, and especially relatives of Franklin Swanson, the only crew member killed aboard 42-96184 that day. When Ellen’s dad, Joe Weaver, was picking up his gear for the August 6 mission, he didn’t pick up the parachute that he was supposed to get. Instead, he picked up the previous one in the gear line. Franklin Swanson picked up the parachute that was intended for Joe, the chute that didn’t open properly and didn’t deliver him safely to the ground. Joe Weaver was so upset over this that when he was liberated and returned home after the war, he and his parents drove from Mississippi to New York to visit Franklin’s parents. But, probably not considered by Joe was the possibility that the parachute Swanson picked up from the gear line was damaged by flak rather than defective.
Sgt. Franklin Swanson was born in 1923. His parents were Charles and Margaret Swanson and he had a younger brother named Carl. They were from Buffalo, Erie County, New York. Franklin enlisted in the Army Air Corps on August 28, 1942 in Buffalo and his service number was 12139321. He was noted, at the time of his enlistment, as being employed in the building of aircraft and also as single, without dependents. He served as an Ap. (airplane) Armorer Gunner with the 386th Bomb Group (Medium), 554th Bomb Squadron in WWII.
Franklin Swanson died August 6, 1944. He was awarded the Air Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart. He was re-interred in the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, Plot B Row 9 Grave 6. Ellen plans to visit Franklin Swanson’s grave this summer.
Ellen Weaver Hartman would like to find the names of the men on which her father, Joseph Donald Weaver, served as an original crew and would also like to find a photo of the crew. Was the pilot of his original crew Robert Fry? Or did Weaver only fly with Fry on training missions?
She’d also like to find the exact location where the crew bailed out of the aircraft before it crashed into the channel, and also the places they landed and where Franklin Swanson’s body was found. In sixty seconds after bail out, the plane would have been over the sea, so it must have been very near the coastline, probably within a mile of Trouville-sur-Mer.
Ellen would also like to know what happened next. Her dad mentioned going to Chalon, France, and her mother told of a packed train ride to Dusseldorf, Germany.
Ellen would like to find more information about Franklin Swanson, pilot instructor Robert G. Fry, and the other men with which her father served in WWII. If any relatives of any of the men mentioned in this article stumble across it, Ellen Weaver Hartman would love to hear from you to learn more about the men her father flew with under pilot Robert Fry (Robert G. Fry, Pierre S. Buckner, Vernon R. Hodges, and John G. Latiloasis), and the men he flew with under pilot Walter Payne (Walter E. Payne, Hubert M. Altvater, Edward William Roggenkamp, William L. Salyer, and Franklin E. Swanson).
If you are related to any of these men or have any information for Joe Weaver’s daughter Ellen, please contact her through e-mail using this link: contact Ellen Weaver Hartman.
To learn more about the B-26 Marauder, click here.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017
A couple of months ago, I received a call from Todd Touton. Todd is the son of William F. Touton, a pilot with the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group. Todd and I collaborated on the video, “A Tribute to the 384th Bomb Group in WWII.” I created the video from photos in my dad’s (George Edwin Farrar, 544th Bomb Squad of the 384th) personal collection and from the vast collection of photos from the 384th Bomb Group’s photo gallery. Todd provided the music, a song named “Damn Yankee,” which he co-wrote with Evan Wallach, and performs on the video.
Todd’s grandfather, Forrest C. Touton, fought in WWI. He was with the 128th Infantry of the 32nd Division.
Todd wanted me to help him create a video with a number of WWI photos he had collected from the National Archive in Washington, DC and the State Historical Society Collection in Madison, Wisconsin along with several from his grandfather’s personal collection. And he and Evan had a song named “Doughboys” that he wanted to set it all to music with.
The video, “A Tribute to the 32nd Division in WWI,” is finally finished and I uploaded it to YouTube earlier this week. If you want to take a little break from WWII history with me to go back a few years to WWI, please take a look. “A Tribute to the 32nd Division in WWI” can be viewed here.
And if you’d like to see “A Tribute to the 384th Bomb Group in WWII,” you can see that one here.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017
Today’s post is a continuation of last week’s post, “The Boys.” Last week, I took a look at the Buslee and Brodie crews as they were composed on the September 28, 1944 mission to Magdeburg. This week, I want to look at the two crews as they were originally formed, with one exception. I am including two bombardiers for the Buslee crew. The original bombardier was killed on the crew’s second mission, so I am also including the crew’s replacement bombardier.
Both crews were originally made up of ten members. The crews each trained with two flexible, or waist, gunners. At their base at Grafton Underwood, England, by the Fall of 1944, a B-17 crew flew missions with only one flexible/waist gunner, meaning only nine members of the crew flew at one time. I imagine that this was one of the first stressful situations faced by the crews, knowing that the close connection the ten had made with each other in training was jeopardized. One man, one waist gunner, was going to have to fly with a different crew. I’ll look into how that played out for the Buslee and Brodie crews.
These are the two crews as they were originally assigned to the 384th Bomb Group:
The Buslee Crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron
PILOT John Oliver Buslee, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944
CO-PILOT David Franklin Albrecht, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944
NAVIGATOR Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, original Buslee crew member, completed tour
BOMBARDIER Marvin Fryden, original Buslee crew member, KIA 8/5/1944 on the crew’s second mission
BOMBARDIER James Buford Davis, replacement for Marvin Fryden, completed tour
RADIO OPERATOR Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944
ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Clarence Benjamin “Ben” Seeley, original Buslee crew member, completed tour
BALL TURRET GUNNER Erwin Vernon Foster, original Buslee crew member, completed tour
TAIL GUNNER Eugene Daniel Lucynski, original Buslee crew member, WIA (wounded in action) 9/19/1944
FLEXIBLE/WAIST GUNNER Lenard Leroy Bryant, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944
Bryant was originally assigned as a flexible/waist gunner with the Buslee crew and flew on the crew’s first mission. He alternated with the crew’s other waist gunner, George Edwin Farrar, who flew the crew’s second mission. When Clarence “Ben” Seeley was seriously wounded on the crew’s second mission, Bryant took his place in the top turret for the remainder of the Buslee crew’s missions.
FLEXIBLE GUNNER George Edwin Farrar, original Buslee crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV 9/28/1944
The Brodie Crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron
PILOT James Joseph Brodie, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944
CO-PILOT Lloyd Oliver Vevle, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944
NAVIGATOR George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., original Brodie crew member, POW Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (served Stalag 9-C)
No photo available
BOMBARDIER William Douglas Barnes, Jr., original Brodie crew member, completed tour
RADIO OPERATOR William Edson Taylor, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV 10/5/1944
No photo available
ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Robert Doyle Crumpton, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944
BALL TURRET GUNNER Gordon Eugene Hetu, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944
No photo available
TAIL GUNNER Wilfred Frank Miller, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV
No photo available
FLEXIBLE/WAIST GUNNER Leonard Wood Opie, original Brodie crew member, TBD (to be determined)
Opie and the other Brodie crew waist gunner, Harry Liniger, alternated flying waist with the Brodie crew in the month of August 1944. Opie flew only three missions with the crew and his record with the 384th ends there. The remainder of his WWII service remains unknown.
No photo available
FLEXIBLE/WAIST GUNNER Harry Allen Liniger, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV
Five of the enlisted men of the Brodie crew
I have connected with many children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews of these boys. If I have not connected with you yet, and you are related to any of them, please comment or e-mail me. If anyone can provide pictures of those I don’t have yet, that would be greatly appreciated. They all deserve to be honored for their service and their fight for our freedom.
Original crew lists provided by the 384th Bomb Group.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017