Memorial Day 2022 was on Monday, earlier this week, but I must take this opportunity a couple of days past the holiday to remember Marvin Fryden today. He was the John Oliver Buslee crew’s original bombardier. Marvin was killed on his second B-17 combat mission of WWII on 5 August 1944.
The mission was my dad’s first. Dad, George Edwin Farrar, served as the Buslee crew’s waist gunner that day and it was the most memorable and tragic mission of his combat career until the mid-air collision in which he was involved on 28 September 1944.
You see, the only B-17 Dad ever mentioned by name when I was growing up was Tremblin’ Gremlin. That was the ship that Dad, Marvin Fryden, and the rest of the Buslee crew manned on that 5 August 1944 mission to a German Air Force (Luftwaffe) target in Langenhagen, Germany.
On that mission, a flak shell exploded just outside the nose of Tremblin’ Gremlin where Marvin Fryden sat in position ready to drop his bombs. A piece of flak hit Marvin in the chest, but he was able to release his bombs on the target. He collapsed and survived the return trip to England, but died in the arms of his friend, navigator Chester Rybarczyk, in the hospital.
Marvin Fryden is buried at the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Coton, South Cambridgeshire District, Cambridgeshire, England, Plot E, Row 2, Grave 4.
There were other less severe injuries among the crew and the ship was severely damaged, including 106 flak holes. Tremblin’ Gremlin barely made it back to England, but not as far as Grafton Underwood, landing at AAF Station 365 at Halesworth, about eight miles (13 km) inland from the English coastline of the North Sea.
The Buslee crew lost their bombardier on 5 August 1944, but Marvin was a married man, and Marilyn Ash Fryden lost her husband that day, too. Marilyn saw her future with the man she loved disappear in an instant.
The couple had this portrait made on 13 June 1944 in Ardmore, Oklahoma where Marvin was completing his crew training shortly before he and the Buslee crew left the States for England and combat duty.
On the back of the photo, Marilyn noted,
Marv left for combat 6-26-1944, is buried in Cambridge, England. By 8-5-44 was dead! Less than 2 mo before “gone” forever!
Finding herself a widow at the young age of eighteen, Marilyn found love again, and a few days before Christmas 1945 Marilyn married Jerome Samet. Jerome was a member of the US Army Air Forces stationed at Marana Air Base in Arizona. Jerome was discharged from the AAF in February 1946 and the Samets began a family.
Recently, Marilyn and Jerome’s grandson, Ash Samet, found my stories of Marvin and Marilyn and shared the portrait with me. Ash said about the photo,
Marilyn had it hanging in her room for as long as I could remember, and always spoke so lovingly of Marv, even 69 years after his death.
Marilyn died on November 7, 2013 at the age of 88. Ash said that after her death he kept the photo, even though Marvin wasn’t his grandfather, because it meant so much to his grandmother.
Even though Marilyn lost Marvin almost seventy years earlier, shortly before her death she recorded this message in the 384th Bomb Group’s online log book.
I am 88, still loving my first love. Ready to leave this world and reunite with my love in England.
Her grandson, Ash, remembers,
She said the “next time around” she’d be born in England, since that was where her heart would always be.
Thank you Ash Samet for sharing the portrait of Marilyn and Marvin Fryden.
Marvin Fryden’s Personnel Record, courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
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© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2022