Late last year, 384th Bomb Group NexGen Christopher Wilkinson requested my help with a special project. Back in 2014, Chris sat down with Col. Robert E. Thacker in the Colonel’s home for a lengthy interview. Chris wanted to turn that raw interview footage into a video, but didn’t have the tools to do it himself. He knew I had dabbled in video production, so Chris asked if I would take his footage and some photos of the Colonel and put it all together. Colonel Thacker’s 100th birthday was approaching and Chris wanted to give the Colonel a copy of the interview on DVD as a birthday present. And Chris wanted to upload the video to YouTube so that he could share the interview with others.
I finished the video just in time for Col. Thacker’s birthday and Chris has now uploaded it to YouTube. It covers a lot of ground and is quite interesting. Before I began working on the project, I did not know anything about the experiences and accomplishments of Colonel Robert E. Thacker. The Colonel has led an amazing life and each story he tells tops the one he told previous.
Colonel Thacker was an important player in the 384th Bomb Group in WWII, which was Chris’s initial interest in interviewing him. But Thacker was so much more than a respected Deputy Commander of the Group as you will learn watching the video.
I’m happy I had the chance to be involved with the making of the video and I feel honored to have played my part in bringing Colonel Thacker’s story in his own words to the public.
If you’d like to view the video, it is on YouTube in two parts. These links will take you to YouTube to watch them.
Part 1 Topics and Highlights…
- 00:28 Growing up in El Centro, California
- 02:54 Early interest in aviation
- 03:42 Airplane modeling
- 04:32 High school
- 05:15 Entry in the Air Corps
- 10:50 Strategic bombing training
- 11:52 Family
- 13:05 The romance of flying
- 13:34 Marriage to Betty Joe
- 14:00 First assignment
- 16:43 Transition to B-17’s and Pearl Harbor
- 32:15 The Pacific Theater in WWII
Part 2 Topics and Highlights…
- 00:48 The Pacific Theater in WWII
- 08:05 The WWII Battle of the Coral Sea and a close call with the USS Chicago
- 11:00 Strategic bombing in the Pacific Theater
- 12:10 Repatriated back to the States to train B-17 crews
- 13:12 Thacker Provisional Group took forty B-17’s to North Africa and on into Foggia, Italy
- 15:05 A military man goes to Europe
- 16:20 Flying B-17’s with the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th AF out of Grafton Underwood, England in the WWII European Theater
- 31:25 Back to the States and reassignment
- 33:30 Flight Test Division Assignment at the Experimental Test Pilot Academy of the US Air Force at Wright Patterson in Dayton, Ohio
- 35:10 Flying the P-82 non-stop between Honolulu and New York City
- 43:50 Test pilot days with Chuck Yeager and Bob Hoover
Like I said, it’s a long interview, so get comfortable and sit back, put your feet up and take a look. You’ll learn a lot about the life and aviation career of Col. Robert E. Thacker. He’s a fascinating storyteller and will leave you wanting more.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018