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Home » 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) » John Bregant, Tail Gunner of the “Frigham Young” Crew

John Bregant, Tail Gunner of the “Frigham Young” Crew

Almost four years ago I wrote about a crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group whose enlisted men appeared in photos in my father’s, George Edwin Farrar’s, collection from World War II.

The crew called themselves the Frigham Young crew. The name was not taken from one of the B-17’s they used in combat, but was rather their own personal crew name which was a play on words on the name of Mormon leader Brigham Young. The crew’s commander, pilot Paul Norton, was reportedly a Mormon.

The men of the crew painted the name on the backs of their flight jackets, like this,

Standing, L to R: John Bregant, Carl Guinn, and Lester Noble
Kneeling with jacket: Clarence Bigley
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

I recently became acquainted with the granddaughter of the crew’s tail gunner, John James Bregant. He’s the one with the pipe in the photo above.

John’s granddaughter, Kathryn Bregant Smith, aptly described her grandfather as having “movie star hair and crystal blue sparkling eyes to go along with it,” a man who “usually was playfully smiling.” Kathryn shared this photo of John Bregant earlier in his military career,

Corporal John Bregant
Photo courtesy of Kathryn Smith, John Bregant’s granddaughter

The enlisted men of the Frigham Young crew appeared in many of my dad’s photos, especially John Bregant and Carl Guinn. I think it’s possible their enlisted crew and my dad’s enlisted crew shared living quarters during their time at Grafton Underwood. At least I think that could be the reason my dad had so many photos of their crew. Like this one of Carl and John,

L to R: Carl Guinn and John Bregant
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

Kathryn shared this photo of the back of John Bregant’s flight jacket. It looks to me like the crew name was painted onto both Bigley’s and Bregant’s jackets by the same person. But instead of painting a bomb for each completed mission on the back of his like Clarence Bigley had done, John Bregant chose to paint a set of wings and a scroll with the year of his missions (1944) and a list of mission locations.

John Bregant’s “Frigham Young flight jacket
Photo courtesy of Kathryn Smith, John Bregant’s granddaughter

John Bregant served in WWII as an airman of the 384th Bomb Group from 13 June 1944 to 5 October 1944. He completed his tour with a total of thirty-four missions shortly after my dad’s crew, the John Oliver Buslee crew, went missing on the mission to Magdeburg, Germany on 28 September 1944.

Kathryn has several items her grandfather John Bregant saved from the war. He completed his crew training and aerial gunnery training at Ardmore, Oklahoma where my father was an instructor.

Next week, I’ll share some things I learned from the 222nd Combat Crew Training School yearbook John Bregant saved from his training in Ardmore.

Notes

John James Bregant 384th Bomb Group Personnel Record

Previous post, Frigham Young

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022


8 Comments

  1. I wish my Dad had saved his photos. Actually, I don’t even know if he took any… I certainly never saw them if he did. Thanks for sharing all these stories and photos!

    • You’re welcome, Donna. I don’t think my dad had a camera to take any photos with, but glad others shared photos with him and continue to share them with me! And their stories!

  2. It’s great to read stories like this, it takes history out of the history books and makes it far more personal. I’m sure I read somewhere, that crews were encouraged not to paint mission statistics on their jackets/aircraft in case they were shot down as it could lead to even worse incriminations and so more severe treatment from the Germans.

    • I suppose that’s possible about the severe treatment, but I wonder how many of the airmen actually wore their jackets on missions what with all the electric suits and other heavy flying clothes they had to wear in the frigid cold of high altitude flying. I will try to follow up on that!

    • I asked a B-17 pilot if they wore their A2 jackets on missions and he said no. In the bitter cold of high altitude flying, usually around 25,000 feet for the B-17, the airmen would wear heavy flying clothes and electrically heated suits, although not all of the ships were equipped with the electrical systems into which they could plug their suits.

  3. That makes a lot of sense. Seeing how much they had to wear wouldn’t allow for ‘additional’ clothing. From the horses mouth so to speak! Thank you.

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