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Frank Furiga

2nd Lt. Frank D. Furiga, bombardier/navigator, 384th Bomb Group, 547th Bomb Squadron. Photo courtesy of son Paul Furiga.

I have previously written about Frank Dominic Furiga, 384th Bomb Group Bombardier-Navigator and father of my fellow 384th NexGen member Paul Furiga. Frank and my dad, George Edwin Farrar, completed their combat crew training at Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time and traveled to the European Theater of Operations at the same time, with both of their crews ferrying brand new B-17’s into the war zone.

Frank recorded many of his memories from World War II, and his son, Paul, kindly shared them with me. As the stories Frank wrote also reflect my father’s WWII history, they are, of course, very interesting to me.

There are several different subjects in which I’ve been able to learn more about the actions of my dad and his crew through Frank’s stories, so expect to see several future posts which rely on information from Frank Furiga.

I’d like to start with a little about Frank himself, and then my next post will add to some information I’ve already written about, their crossing into the ETO (European Theater of Operations).

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Frank Furiga was fascinated with airplanes at least as early as the age of five when the sound of a low-flying bi-plane caught his attention. By then he knew all about American aviator “Charlie Lindbergh” from an older brother. Growing up, Frank immersed himself in aviation from every source possible, from books and movies, and in making his own aircraft from orange crate wood and model plane kits.

Frank had three older brothers and all four of the Furiga boys became involved in the war effort in WWII. The oldest, John, served in a Special Forces group, the next, Michael, was in the Medical Corps, the third, Stephen, was an early member of the 82nd Airborne paratroopers, and Frank was a B-17 bombardier and navigator.

Frank was part of a large Catholic family from Avella, Washington County, Pennsylvania. His parents Andrew Furiga and Anna Pankovic Furiga also had three girls, Mary, Helen, and Pauline.

Frank Furiga was born on February 9, 1925. At the age of seventeen, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps with his enlistment delayed until he reached his eighteenth birthday. On his eighteenth birthday in February 1943, Frank was ready to begin his service to his country and was classified for Bombardier training at the Nashville Classification Center. He began his service on April 12, 1943 and attended basic cadet training in Santa Ana, California.

Following basic training, Frank attended gunnery training in Kingman, Arizona, where my dad was a flexible gunnery instructor for seven months in 1943. Although I see no mention of it in Frank’s writings, perhaps they crossed paths in Kingman at that time.

Frank would follow gunnery training with bombardier training in Deming, New Mexico, arriving there in the last week of October 1943 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on February 26, 1944. While training at Deming, Marvin Fryden – future Buslee crew bombardier and one of my dad’s crew mates – was one of Furiga’s instructors. They later became friends on their shared path into combat.

Furiga next reported to Salt Lake City, Utah in March for crew assembly and spent about three weeks there. His crew, number #338, consisted of Bert Oliver Brown (Pilot), William Davis Bayne (Co-pilot), Raymond Julius Scherer (Navigator), Frank Dominic Furiga (Bombardier), Richard George Regan (Top turret gunner / Engineer), Marvin John Ondrusek (Radio operator), Joseph William Chalkus (Left waist gunner), Walter Dewitt Franklin (Right waist gunner), William Jesse Jones (Ball turret gunner), and Raymond George Palmer (Tail gunner).

Following crew assembly, the Bert Brown crew attended combat training in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where my dad was an aerial gunnery instructor for six months before joining a combat crew himself, the John Oliver Buslee crew. The RTU, or combat, training at Ardmore lasted about one and a half months.

Furiga wrote about this experience,

We simulated all sorts of combat conditions and near the end flew quite a few combat formation missions. It was a great experience flying in the big B-17ʼs. I dropped a number of bombs and liked the way the big ship responded to the Norden Bomb-sight compared to the AT-11 trainers in Bombardierʼs School.

In one of his recorded stories, Frank Furiga related a heartbreaking incident that happened in his last week of combat training at Ardmore,

I received a telegram from my oldest sister Mary in Pittsburgh that my parents had received a telegram from the U.S. Government that our oldest brother John had been killed at Anzio, Italy on May 23rd. I was quite shocked as I always looked up to him.

At this time, Lt. Marvin Fryden, the bombardier on Lt. Busleeʼs crew expressed great sympathy for me. He had been one of our Bombardier instructors at Deming, New Mexico, and signed up for combat when we graduated. He took it upon himself to see if I could get emergency leave of a few days to go home to Pennsylvania. He went so far as to contact the base commander at a country club.

My request was denied.

More about Frank Furiga, his World War II experiences, and connections with my father’s crew to come…

Links

Frank Dominic Furiga, 384th Bomb Group Personnel Record

American Air Museum in Britain, Frank Dominic Furiga

Veterans History Project, Interview with Frank Furiga (Transcript)

Veterans History Project, Interview with Frank Furiga (Audio)

Imperial War Museum, Frank D Furiga (Oral History)

Obituary, Frank D. Furiga

Find-a-Grave, Frank Dominic Furiga

Notes

RTU is an abbreviation for Replacement Training Units

Thank you, Paul Furiga, for sharing your dad’s stories and diaries!

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

The B-17 Radio Operator/Gunner

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a waist/flexible gunner with the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in World War II. On 28 September 1944, the Buslee crew and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the same group became forever connected when the B-17’s they were aboard on a combat mission over Germany suffered a mid-air collision.

I am currently updating the biographical information of the men of these two crews, and I thought it would be a good time to explain the duties involved in each position of the airmen aboard the aircraft, the B-17. I have recently updated the information of the three 384th Bomb Group Radio Operators/Gunners who flew with the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron.

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, assigned Buslee crew radio operator

William Edson Taylor, assigned Brodie crew radio operator

Donald William Dooley, Headquarters, but radio operator of the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944

For a list of all of the airmen of the Buslee and Brodie crews, see permanent page The Buslee and Brodie Crews, which is maintained with new information/posts.

Duties and Responsibilities of the B-17 Radio Operator/Gunner

According to the 303rd Bomb Group’s website,

Training in the various phases of the heavy bomber program is designed to fit each member of the crew for the handling of his jobs. The radio operator will be required to:

  1. Render position reports every 30 minutes.
  2. Assist the navigator in taking fixes.
  3. Keep the liaison and command sets properly tuned and in good operating order.
  4. Understand from an operational point of view Instrument landing, IFF, VHF, and other navigational aids equipment in the airplane.
  5. Maintain a log.

In addition to being a radio operator, the radio man is also a gunner. During periods of combat he will be required to leave his watch at the radio and take up his guns. He is often required to learn photography. Some of the best pictures taken in the Southwest Pacific were taken by radio operators.

Aside from these duties noted by the 303rd, I have read that when B-17 crews were reduced from ten airmen to nine, losing one of the waist gunners, the radio operator was tasked with manning the left waist gun if needed while the lone waist gunner manned the right waist gun. That may have been true in some B-17 groups and may have been true for some crews in the 384th Bomb Group, but one of the group’s veterans once told me that was not the case.

The 384th veteran told me that the lone waist gunner would man both waist guns and the side he manned – left or right – depended on where his B-17 was in the formation, and which side of the aircraft was more vulnerable to enemy attack. He said that the radio operator, aside from his radio duties, was also tasked with distributing chaff, the aluminum strips dropped from aircraft in the formation to confuse enemy radar.

Radio communications during the war needed to be precise and understandable and the phonetic alphabet helped in the effort. The 384th Bomb Group’s website includes this chart and explanation.

Combined Phonetic Alphabet

This phonetic code was adopted for 8th AF use in 1942. The purpose of the code is to improve the accuracy of radio voice communications by providing an unambiguous key word for each letter that would improve recognition of the intended letter through static, intermittent transmissions, and jamming.

Letter Phonetic Letter Phonetic Letter Phonetic
A Able J Jig S Sugar
B Baker K King T Tare
C Charlie L Love U Uncle
D Dog M Mike V Victor
E Easy N Nan W William
F Fox O Oboe X X-ray
G George P Peter Y Yoke
H How Q Queen Z Zebra
I Item R Roger

Phonetic Alphabet Chart courtesy of 384thBombGroup.com

Location of the Radio Room in a B-17

The radio room of a B-17 sits between the bomb bay and the ball turret. Should the radio operator have to bail out of the aircraft, he would likely bail out through the bomb bay doors.

In the following diagram, Sebastiano Peluso is noted in the radio room of the aircraft along with the other Buslee crew members in their positions on September 28, 1944.

Buslee Crew in Position on September 28, 1944
Diagram courtesy of 91st Bomb Group and modified by Cindy Farrar Bryan in 2014

B-17 Radio Room Photos

I took the following photos of the Collings Foundation’s B-17 Nine-O-Nine a few years before its tragic crash.

Entry of the radio room from the bomb bay catwalk of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

 

Radio operator’s desk of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

 

Radio room of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

 

Radio room of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G Nine-o-Nine In Leesburg, Florida, November 4, 2017

Stories of 384th Bomb Group Radio Operators

I thought it might also be interesting to read stories, diaries, and journals written by or view video interviews of some of the 384th’s own radio operators. You’ll find a chart of several radio operators of the 384th Bomb Group below with links to their personnel records and their written and oral histories as are provided on the Stories page of 384thBombGroup.com.

Airman Personnel Record Stories, Diaries, Journals, and Interviews
Grosbier, Gordon Joseph⇗ Grosbier, Combat Mission Diary⇓ (8.508 MB)
Grosbier, Gordon Joseph⇗ Grosbier, Daily Journal⇓ (6.235 MB)
Levison, Jules Sidney, “Julie”⇗ Jules Levison Diary⇓ (3.622 MB)
Misch, Henry Conrad⇗ Henry C Misch WWII Diary⇓ (7.671 MB)
Pratt, John Butler⇗ Diary of John Butler Pratt⇓ (7.246 MB)
Spearman, Eugene (NMI)⇗ The Eighth Air Force in World War II⇓ (3.588 MB)
Williamson, Albert (NMI)⇗ The Trip of a Lifetime⇓ (3.296 MB)
Kovach, Joseph William⇗ Oral History Interview⇗
Lustig, David Carl, “Dave”, Jr⇗ 2003 Oral History Interview⇗
Lustig, David Carl, “Dave”, Jr⇗ Book:  “Initial Point: Reminiscences of a World War II B-17 Bomber Crewman” (out of print, but occasionally available on used book sites)
Wininger, Dexter Gene⇗ Oral History Interview⇗

Sources and Further Reading

303rd Bomb Group:  Duties and Responsibilities of the Radio Operator

384th Bomb Group:  Combined Phonetic Alphabet

303rd Bomb Group:  Military Occupational Specialty

TM 12-427 Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel

The Military Yearbook Project – Army Air Force WWII Codes

The Army Air Forces in World War II: VI, Men and Planes, Edited by W.F. Craven and J.L. Cate, Chapter 19: Training of Ground Technicians and Service Personnel

Training to Fly:  Military Flight Training 1907 – 1945 by Rebecca Hancock Cameron

Thank you to the 91st Bomb Group for granting me permission in 2014 to use and modify their B-17 diagram for use on The Arrowhead Club.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Buslee and Brodie Crew Buried at Margraten

On Memorial Day this year (May 31, 2021), I posted a memorial on my Facebook page honoring the eight men of my father’s B-17 crew who lost their lives on September 28, 1944 in a mid-air collision over Germany. My father, George Edwin Farrar, was the only survivor on the ship.

The eight lost were Pilot John Oliver Buslee, Co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht, Navigator William Alvin Henson II, Bombardier Robert Sumner Stearns, Radio Operator/Gunner Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner Lenard Leroy Bryant, Ball Turret Gunner George Francis McMann, Jr., and Tail Gunner Gerald Lee Andersen.

My Facebook friend, Arjan van Prooijen, who lives in Holland, saw the post and responded,

Margraten cemetery has been opened recently after COVID 19 lockdown restrictions had been in order since December 2020. I will make a visit this summer and if you are interested I will make pictures of their graves.

I gladly accepted Arjan’s generous offer and gave him the names of the men of both the Buslee and Brodie crews who lost their lives in the mid-air collision and are buried at Margraten.

Three of the men of the Buslee crew – Co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht, Engineer Lenard Leroy Bryant, and Ball Turret Gunner George Francis McMann, Jr. – are buried at Margraten. Two men of the Brodie crew, whose B-17 collided with the Buslee crew’s B-17, are also buried at Margraten – Pilot James Joseph Brodie and Engineer Robert Doyle Crumpton.

Following up on his Memorial Day promise to take pictures, Arjan visited Margraten on Saturday, August 14. Arjan said,

A clear blue sky and temperatures around 25C (77F) and the cemetery immaculate as usual all combined to make it a beautiful and impressive visit.

Arjan was also at Margraten to visit his adopted grave, that of Eugene L. Longley, a private in the 261st Infantry, 65th Division. Longley was from Iowa and died April 7, 1945, sadly so close to the end of the war.

After his visit, Arjan shared these beautiful photos with me of Margraten, including the memorial and photos of all of the graves of the Buslee and Brodie crew members who lost their lives on September 28, 1944.

Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten

Memorial and reflecting pool at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

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Memorial at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

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David Franklin Albrecht

Buslee Crew

Grave marker of David F. Albrecht at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

 

David Franklin Albrecht

  • Born 1 March 1922 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot C, Row 2, Grave 11

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Lenard Leroy Bryant

Buslee Crew

Grave marker of Lenard L. Bryant at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

 

Lenard Leroy Bryant

  • Born 7 March 1919 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot G, Row 7, Grave 22

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George Francis McMann, Jr.

Gilbert Crew

Flew with Buslee Crew 28 September 1944

Grave marker of George F. McMann, Jr. at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

  • Born 26 September 1924 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot N, Row 22, Grave 4

* * * * *

James Joseph Brodie

Grave marker of James J. Brodie at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

 

James Joseph Brodie

  • Born 14 November 1917 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot J, Row 13, Grave 4

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Robert Doyle Crumpton

Brodie Crew

Grave marker of Robert D. Crumpton at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

 

Robert Doyle Crumpton

  • Born 26 July 1920 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot E, Row 19, Grave 22

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American flag and graves at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
Photo taken August 14, 2021 by Arjan van Prooijen

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Earlier this year, World War II Genealogist Teresa (Terry) Hirsch educated me about American Military Overseas Burials and American Overseas Military Grave Adopters. I also compiled a list of the Buslee and Brodie Crew Burial Locations for all the men of these 384th Bomb Group crews.

Thank you, Arjan van Prooijen, for performing this greatly appreciated kindness and helping me honor these World War II heroes who gave their lives for our freedom.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Update

A new search on Ancestry.com has provided me with some new and updated/corrected information regarding my father’s (George Edwin Farrar’s) WWII crewmate Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, radio operator of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. He was on board Buslee’s B-17 on the 28 September 1944 mission to Magdeburg. Corrected information is bolded.

To view my original post and other information about Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, please see the links at the end of this post.

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Radio Operator/Gunner for the Buslee Crew

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso was the radio operator on the John Oliver “Jay” Buslee crew. Sebastiano, known as Yano (or Yono) to family, was born on July 7 or 8, 1924. His parents were Giuseppe (Joseph) Peluso and Antonetta Fiore Peluso, Italian immigrants to the United States. Sebastiano had two older sisters, Sara and Gina. All three children were born in New York. During WWII, the Peluso’s lived in Brooklyn, New York.

To update the information I know about Sebastiano Peluso, I searched back through Peluso family records in Ancestry.com. Unfortunately, I did not uncover much new information about Sebastiano himself, but I did learn a lot more about his family.

Sebastiano’s father, Giuseppe (changed to Joseph in the U.S.) Peluso was born on September 1 or 7, 1887 in Augusta, Italy. Augusta is in the Province of Syracuse and is on the east coast of the island of Sicily. Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy.

Sebastiano’s mother, Antonetta Fiore Peluso, was born on December 1, 1894 or 1895 in Marigliano, Italy, a metropolitan city of Naples, also noted in some records as in the Italian province of Caserta.

Both of Sebastiano’s parents would emigrate from their native Italy, and, of course, this means Sebastiano’s parents were first generation Americans, arriving in the United States in the early 1900’s.

On September 5, 1908, Antonetta Fiore boarded the Sannio in Naples, Italy with her family. Antonetta was fourteen years old. Prior to coming to America, the Fiore family resided in Marigliano, Caserta, Italy. For everyone in the Fiore family, it was their first time in the United States except for Antonetta’s father. The Fiore family arrived in the US on September 30, 1908, at the port of New York, New York, but their final destination was indicated to be New Jersey. The arrival records indicate Antonetta’s father had previously been in the U.S. from 1904 to 1908, so he possibly returned to Italy to accompany the rest of his family to America.

Early the next year, on April 23, 1909, Giuseppe (Jospeh) Peluso boarded the Liguria in Napoli (Naples), Italy. Giuseppe was twenty-one years old and single. Prior to coming to America, Giuseppe last resided in Augusta, Siracusa (Syracuse Province), Italy. Giuseppe arrived in the United States on May 7, 1909, at the port of New York, New York, with twelve dollars in his pocket. His final destination was New York and noted a person he knew in the U.S. was Eugenio De Filippo. He had left his father, named Sebastiano, behind in Augusta.

Seven months later, on December 4, 1909, Giuseppe’s older brother Salvatore Peluso, age twenty-four, departed Augusta via Napoli on the Oceania. He arrived in America on December 16 or 17, 1909, with eleven dollars in his pocket.  His arrival port was, like his brother, New York, New York and that was his final destination.

Settling into life in America, both Antonetta and Giuseppe (and also Salvatore) show up on the 1910 Federal Census.

In 1910, Antonetta Fiore (age 15) and her family lived in Manhattan Ward 12 in New York. The family included her father, Giacinto (age 50 and a varnisher in a piano factory), her mother, Rochele (age 37), sister Maria (age 18), sister Elvira (age 16), sister Cirio (age 13), sister Maddalena (age 9), brother Francesco (age 6), and brother Peitro (age 1 1/2 and the only Fiore child born in the United States). The census record indicates Giacinto immigrated prior to the rest of the family, in 1900 (differing from arrival records).

In 1910, Giuseppe (now known as Joseph) Peluso (age 23) was single and was employed as a tailor. He and his brother Salvatore (age 26) were living in the home of their cousin Giovanni Daniele (known in the U.S. as John Daniels) and John’s mother Vincenza Daniels, both of whom had immigrated to the U.S. in 1906, on First Avenue in the Borough of Manhattan. John Daniels owned a cigar store.

At some point, Joseph’s brother Salvatore (now 28 years old) must have returned to Italy because records indicate he again left Italy, departing Napoli on January 14, 1914 and arriving in New York on January 28, 1914 on the Taormina. On this arrival, Salvatore was carrying twenty-five dollars.

On January 13, 1916, Giuseppe (Joseph) Peluso married Antonetta Fiore in Manhattan. Their first daughter, Sara, was born on November 17, 1916 in Manhattan.

On June 5, 1917, Joseph Peluso, under the name Giuseppe Peluso, registered for the World War I draft. He noted on his registration form that he was married, was age 29, was a “Declarant” concerning citizenship, and was born September 1, 1887 in Augusta, Siracusa, Italy. Joseph was employed as a presser and his mother, father, and brothers were dependent upon him for support. He had no previous military service, no disabilities, and he signed his form as Giuseppe (after scratching through the name “Joseph”) Peluso. At the time, he resided in Manhattan on E. 113th Street.

On May 22, 1918, Joseph and Antonetta Peluso’s second daughter, Gina, was born in Manhattan.

The 1920 Federal Census shows the Peluso family lived at 1920 East 119th Street in Manhattan Assembly District 20 in New York. The family was reported as Joseph Peluso (age 31, occupation Presser on Suits, head of household, and naturalization status Alien), wife Antonette (age 24), daughter Sara (listed as Sala, age 3), and daughter Gina (listed as Jennie, age 1 9/12).

On June 17, 1924, Joseph Peluso petitioned for Naturalization. His documents listed his age as 36, born September 7, 1887 in Augusta, Italy, and arrived May 7, 1909 on the vessel Liguria in New York, New York from Naples. His spouse was Antonietta and their residence was 2869 W 17th St. Coney Island, NY. His occupation was Presser. Joseph noted these facts in his declaration of intention to become a U.S. citizen:

  • I declared my intention to become a citizen of the US on November 12, 1917 in New York, NY.
  • My wife’s name is Antonietta. She was born on December 1, 1895 in Marigliano, Italy.
  • Have two children. Sara, born November 17, 1916 and Gina, born May 22, 1918. Both born at New York, NY and reside at same res.

The next month after Joseph Peluso petitioned for U.S. citizenship, on July 7 (or 8), 1924, his and Antonetta’s son Sebastiano was born.

On September 18, 1924, Giuseppe Peluso took the oath of allegiance to the United States and by the Order of Court Admitting Petitioner, Joseph Peluso became a citizen of the United States. I don’t know how hard a life the Peluso family had in New York as Italian immigrants in the 1920’s, but 1924 seemed a fortunate year for Joseph Peluso. He became the proud father of a son, whom he named Sebastiano after his own father, and he became an American.

As life seemed good for the Peluso family in America in the 1920’s, things were going differently in Europe. On July 29, 1921, Adolf Hitler became the leader of National Socialist (Nazi) Party. On October 28, 1922, Benito Mussolini, the first of 20th-century Europe’s fascist dictators, became head of the Italian government.

The year before Joseph Peluso welcomed his son into the world and became an American citizen, on November 8, 1923, Adolf Hitler and other Nazis attempted a government takeover, known as Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, in Munich, Germany. Approximately two thousand Nazis marched on the Feldherrnhalle in the Munich city center, but were confronted by a police line, which resulted in the deaths of sixteen Nazi Party members and four police officers.

Hitler was wounded during the clash and temporarily escaped arrest. Two days later, Hitler was arrested and charged with treason. Hitler generated front-page headlines in newspapers around the world, especially garnering attention in Germany. His twenty-four day trial was the perfect platform for him to express his nationalist sentiments to the German nation. He was found guilty of treason and sentenced to five years in prison, but on December 20, 1924, he was released after serving only nine months, free to develop his Nazi propaganda.

Little did Joseph Peluso know during those happy moments of 1924 that twenty years later he would lose his son to the American war effort to fight Hitler’s Nazism in World War II, the ultimate sacrifice for American freedom, because of history in the making halfway around the world in Germany.

In 1929, the U.S. stock market crashed leading to the Great Depression. I do not know how the Peluso family fared early on during this terrible time. I do not find a 1930 Federal Census record for the family, but the 1933 New York City Directory for Brooklyn does list Joe and Antoinette Peluso and indicates that they lived in Brooklyn and that Joseph Peluso was a garment worker.

In the 1940 Federal Census record, the Peluso family lived at 6802 Thirteenth Avenue in New York, Kings County, New York, and all three children were still living at home. Joseph Peluso (head of household, age 52, was a naturalized citizen, occupation Presser, Industry Dresses, rented the home, and noted his highest grade completed was elementary school 2nd grade).

Antoinette (Antonetta) Peluso (wife, age 44), Sarah (Sara) Peluso (daughter, age 24, Occupation Examiner, Industry Dresses), Jean (Gina) Peluso (daughter, age 22, Occupation Secretary, Industry Fur Industry), and Yano Peluso (son, age 15) were all listed in the census record. “Yano” was short for Sebastiano and Yano or Yono was also the name his mother referred to him by in letters to my grandmother in 1945.

On January 5, 1942, Sara Peluso married Joseph Cambria in New York, Manhattan, New York. At the time, her occupation was airbrush artist.

On April 26, 1942, Joseph Peluso registered for the World War II “old man’s” draft. At the time he was 54 years old and resided at 6802 13 Ave., Bklyn, Kings, NY. This document notes his birthdate as September 1, 1887.

On November 4, 1942, at the age of 18, Sebastiano J. Peluso enlisted in the Army Air Corps in New York City. He resided in Kings County, New York City, New York. Although I don’t see this information in his enlistment record online for NARA, his enlistment record in Ancestry.com states he was 69 inches (5 ft 9 inches) tall and weighed 134 pounds. The Ancestry record also noted that he had completed one year of college.

On April 6, 1944, Antonetta Peluso, age 48, and residing at 6802 – 13th Av. Bklyn, Kgs. NY, became a naturalized United States citizen.

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) of the 384th Bombardment Group based in Grafton Underwood, England, per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated 22 July 1944.

Sebastiano Peluso’s 384th Bomb Group Sortie Record indicates he had the rank of Sgt. (Sergeant), his duty was Radio Operator, and his pay was $140.40 per month. He listed his Home Address as Mrs. Antonetta Peluso, 2963 West 24th St., Brooklyn, N.Y.

On his second combat mission on 5 AUGUST 1944, Sebastiano narrowly escaped serious injury or possibly death during a flak attack on the Buslee crew’s B-17. A newspaper report notes that,

Probably the fact that the radio operator, Sgt. Sebastino Peluso, 20, 2963 West 24th   Street, Brooklyn, N.Y., was bending over attending to a chore, saved him from becoming a casualty when the flak pierced the sides of the big bomber and so thoroughly smashed up his radio compartment.  More than a dozen flak holes ringed his section of the ship.

On 9 SEPTEMBER 1944, Sebastiano Peluso was promoted to Staff Sergeant on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #180.

On his fifteenth and final mission with the 384th Bomb Group on 28 SEPTEMBER 1944, Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany (Target was Industry, Steelworks), Sebastiano Peluso, flying with the John Oliver Buslee crew, went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action). He was subsequently declared KIA (Killed in Action).

On September 28, 1944, just two months past his twentieth birthday, he was aboard B-17 43-37822 with the Buslee crew and was killed in the mid-air collision with B-17 42‑31222 Lazy Daisy.

Sebastiano was the last man of the crew to be identified, and most likely was buried in the Ost Ingersleben cemetery near Magdeburg with his crew mates, and later re-interred at the Netherlands American Military Cemetery at Margraten.

Sebastiano’s mother and father corresponded with my dad’s mother in 1945, attempting to learn more about their son’s fate. You can read their letters to my grandmother here.

In 1924, Joseph Peluso had become an American citizen and welcomed his son Sebastiano into the world. In 1944, Antonetta Peluso became an American citizen and they lost him.

On June 21, 1947, Gina Peluso married Carmelo Mesite in Meriden, Connecticut.

On December 31, 1948, the U.S. Army transport Barney Kirschbaum returned the body of Sebastiano Peluso to his parents, one of 4,384 war dead returned on the ship. Sebastiano Joseph Peluso was buried on January 19, 1949 in his final resting place in the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York in Plot J, Site 15423.

On July 3, 1953, according to a List of Outward-Bound Passengers, Joseph and Antonetta Peluso departed New York, New York on the S.S. Homeland. They were bound for Genoa Italy. They indicated they intended to remain abroad for three months, with their country of Destination listed as Italy.

On September 28, 1953 (the ninth anniversary of the day of the mid-air collision), Joseph and Antonetta Peluso departed Naples, Italy on the S.S. Homeland, heading back to America. According to the List of In-Bound Passengers, they arrived back in New York on October 12, 1953.

On March 25, 1987, Antonetta Fiore Peluso died in Meriden, New Haven, CT. Her death record indicates she was a homemaker, was widowed from Joseph, and was 92 years old. She is buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Meriden, New Haven County, Connecticut. I have been unable to find a death record for Joseph Peluso.

In 1994, Jospeh’s and Antonetta’s daughter Gina lived in Brooklyn and Sara lived in Meriden, Connecticut.

On April 2, 1999, Gina Peluso Mesite died as the widow of Carmelo D. Mesite (b. 1920 – d. 1990) in Meriden, New Haven, Connecticut at 80 years old. Her occupation was Cafeteria worker for the Meriden School System. Gina is also buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Meriden, New Haven County, Connecticut, the same cemetery as her mother.

On June 21, 2007, Sara Peluso Cambria died at age of 90, as the widow of Joseph Cambria, in Meriden, New Haven, Connecticut. Sara is buried at South Main St., Middletown. Sara and Joseph Cambria had two children, Lisa Cambria and Gina Dunlap.

If any family or friends of Sebastiano Joseph Peluso has information about him or photos of him to share, please contact me. I would very much like to connect with descendants of Giuseppe (Joseph) and Antonetta Peluso.

Left to right: George Edwin Farrar, Lenard Leroy Bryant, Erwin V. Foster, and Sebastiano Joseph Peluso.

Notes/Links

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Donald William Dooley, Update

A new search on Ancestry.com has provided me with some new and updated/corrected information regarding Donald William Dooley, radio operator on the 28 September 1944 mission of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. Corrected information is bolded.

To view my original post and other information about Donald William Dooley, please see the links at the end of this post.

Donald William Dooley
Indiana University 1940

Donald William Dooley was born 26 July 1919 in Wheatfield, Jasper County, Indiana. Donald’s parents were Guy Tobias Dooley (born 22 September 1893 in Marshall, Parke County, Indiana, died 16 August 1992 in Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana) and Medora LaVerne McWilliams Dooley (born 15 June 1893, died 28 August 1988 in Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan). Donald had an older sister, Dorothy Elizabeth Dooley, (born 27 August 1916 in Wheatfield, Jasper County, Indiana, died 8 January 2007 in Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan).

Donald’s sister, Dorothy, married LeRoy Dugan, Jr., in 1938. Dorothy and LeRoy had three children, Ronald Lee Dugan (1943 – 2012), Maureen Kay Dugan (1948 – 2018), and one child who is still living (and therefore unidentified in Ancestry family trees).

The 1920 Federal census indicates that the Dooley family lived in Walker, Jasper County Indiana and Mrs. Dooley was known as Dora.

The 1930 Federal census indicates that the Dooley family lived in Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana and Mrs. Dooley was known as LaVerne.

I cannot find a 1940 Federal census record for the family, but Donald’s WWII draft card, which he filled out on 16 October 1940, indicates he lived in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana where he attended Indiana University at that time, and his father lived in Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana.

Donald’s WWII draft card also notes he was 21 years old when he registered for the draft, and worked for Sears, Roebuck & Company at Alabama & Vermont Streets, Indianapolis, Indiana. He was 5’11” tall, weighed 135 pounds, had blue eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion. He listed his father as the person who would always know his address.

On September 10, 1941, Donald enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. He resided in Marion County, Indiana (Indianapolis area) at the time of enlistment.

Donald’s 384th Bomb Group Sortie record notes that his rank was T/Sgt. (Technical Sergeant), his duty was Radio Operator, and his pay was $205.20 per month.

His sortie record also notes his home address as Mrs. LaVerne Wysong, Roosevelt Hotel, Indianapolis, Indiana. This indicates that in 1944 his mother and father were no longer married to each other, his mother had remarried, and that Donald considered his mother’s residence – rather than his father’s – as his home address. Other records at Ancestry.com note that Donald’s mother was also known as Laverne Tenbrook at some point in her life, indicating an additional marriage.

Although his Sortie record indicates his mother’s residence as his home address in 1944, Donald’s next of kin listed in the Missing Air Crew Report for the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944 was, however, his father with a Bloomington, Indiana address.

Page 2 of Donald’s sortie record lists only one mission, Date 9-28-44, Target Magdeburg, Wounds M/A (missing in action).

Morning Reports of the 384th Bombardment Group indicate the following for Donald William Dooley:

  • On 25 JULY 1944, Donald William Dooley was assigned to the 384th Bombardment Group Headquarters Detachment, per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #147 dated 25 July 1944 as a radar mechanic/bombardment.
  • On 8 SEPTEMBER 1944, Tech Sergeant Donald Dooley was reclassified from MOS 867 (radar mechanic/bombardment) to MOS 757 (radio operator/gunner) and transferred from Headquarters Detachment 384th BG to 545th BS on SO #179, AAF Station 106, SPO 557, dated 8 September 1944.
  • On 28 SEPTEMBER 1944, on Mission 201 to Magdeburg, Germany (Target was Industry, Steelworks), Donald William Dooley, flying with the James Joseph Brodie crew, went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action). He was subsequently declared KIA (Killed in Action).

Donald lost his life at the young age of twenty-five. He is buried at the Valhalla Memory Gardens in Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana.

Notes/Links

  • Previous post, Donald William Dooley
  • Previous post, Timeline for Brodie Crewmembers and Substitutes, 545th Bomb Squadron
  • Donald William Dooley’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
  • Missing Air Crew Report 9366 for the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944 courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
  • Missing Air Crew Report 9753 provides more information about the 28 September 1944 mid-air collision in which Donald was killed, courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
  • Donald William Dooley was with the 482nd Bombardment Group Pathfinders before being transferred to the 384th Bomb Group. For information on the 482nd Bombardment Group, please see http://www.482nd.org/.
  • Donald William Dooley on Find a Grave
  • MOS means Military Occupational Specialty

If any family or friends of Donald William Dooley has information about him or photos of him to share, please contact me. I would like to learn more about his family life before the war and his service in the 482nd Bombardment Group (Pathfinders).

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

William Edson Taylor, Update

A new search on Ancestry.com has provided me with some new and updated/corrected information regarding William Edson Taylor, radio operator of the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. Corrected information is bolded.

William Edson Taylor was born in Ishpeming, Michigan on on April 21, 1923 to Carroll Cushing (1895 to 1993) and Ruth Edna Parmelee (1895 to 1985) Taylor. William’s sister, Carol Jane, was born December 2, 1924.

According to the 1930 Federal census, William’s father, Carroll Taylor, was born in Massachusetts. Carroll’s father was born in Massachusetts and his mother in Kansas. William’s mother, Edna Parmelee Taylor, was born in Michigan. Her father was born in Michigan and her mother in Wisconsin. The Taylor family lived in Ironwood, Michigan in 1930. According to the 1940 Federal census, the Taylor family still lived in Ironwood, Michigan and Edna’s parents lived with them.

William Edson Taylor graduated from Luther L. Wright High School in Ironwood, Michigan in 1941.

William E Taylor in the 1941 Yearbook of Luther L Wright High School in Ironwood, Michigan

William’s high school yearbook notes that he participated in many sports including football, volleyball, basketball, and track, and was a member of the I Club and Hi-Y. He was also an ROTC officer and member of the National Honor Society.

William’s younger sister, Carol Jane, was a Junior at the same high school in the 1940 – 1941 academic year, and the next year was Treasurer of the Senior Class of 1942.

On June 30, 1942, William registered for the WWII draft. He listed his address as 165 E. Ridge Street in Ironwood, Michigan. He was nineteen years old and his listed employer was Republic Steel Corporation in Bessemer, Michigan. He was 5’11” tall, weighed 170 pounds, had gray eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion.

On August 27, 1942, at the age of nineteen, William enlisted in the Army Air Corps in Ironwood, Michigan. (Alternate enlistment date was February 8, 1943 with discharge date of October 24, 1945 from Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS death file. The date discrepancy may have been due to a deferment).

On May 23, 1944, shortly before William shipped off to England to join the 384th Bomb Group, Carol Jane married Donald Martyn McDonald (b. 1921 – d. 2013) in Ironwood, Michigan. Donald was also from Ironwood and graduated from the same high school, but a few years earlier, in 1939.

Prior to his marriage to Carol, Donald enlisted in the Marine Corps in June 1942 and served in the Asia Pacific area on Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, where he was wounded in action against the enemy. He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal and was honorably discharged in November 1945.

On July 26, 1944, William Taylor was assigned as radio operator to the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bombardment Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces, per AAF Station 106 (Grafton Underwood, England) Special Orders #148. The 384th was a B-17 heavy bombardment group. According to his Sortie record, his combat pay was $172.80 per month.

These wartime photos include William Edson Taylor and other enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew. These photos were provided by Harry Liniger, Jr., son of 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger, of the Brodie crew. Identifications were provided by Harry Liniger, Jr., and Patrick Miller, son of 384th Tail Gunner Wilfred Miller.

 

Enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew
Left to right: Harry Allen Liniger (Waist/Flexible Gunner), Robert Doyle Crumpton (Engineer/Top Turret Gunner), Wilfred Frank Miller (Tail Gunner), William Edson Taylor (Radio Operator), Unidentified.
Photo contributed by Harry Allen Liniger, Jr. ID’s provided by Harry Liniger, Jr. and Patrick Miller.

 

Enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew
Left to right: Harry Allen Liniger (Waist/Flexible Gunner), Robert Doyle Crumpton (Engineer/Top Turret Gunner), Wilfred Frank Miller (Tail Gunner), Unidentified, William Edson Taylor (Radio Operator).
Photo contributed by Harry Allen Liniger, Jr. ID’s provided by Harry Liniger, Jr. and Patrick Miller.

 

Enlisted men of the James Joseph Brodie crew
Left to right: Harry Allen Liniger (Waist/Flexible Gunner), Unidentified, Robert Doyle Crumpton (Engineer/Top Turret Gunner), William Edson Taylor (Radio Operator).
Photo contributed by Harry Allen Liniger, Jr. ID’s provided by Harry Liniger, Jr. and Patrick Miller.

On August 14, 1944, William Taylor was promoted to Staff Sergeant per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #163.

On October 5, 1944, William Taylor went from duty to MIA (Missing in Action) over Cologne, Germany. Subsequently, he was declared POW (Prisoner of War). On that date, Taylor flew a mission over Germany with the Robert Birckhead crew of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces on a mission to Cologne aboard unnamed flying fortress 43-38579. The Birckhead crew’s fort was damaged by flak and left the formation under control prior to the target.

The damage was too great to make it back to their airbase at Grafton Underwood, England and the fort crashed near Munchen-Gladbach, according to the MACR (missing air crew report). Four of the crew were killed, including pilot Robert Birckhead. Five became POWs, including radio operator William Edson Taylor.

However, the site of the crash is in dispute as discovered by Stewart Lanham, a WWII military aircraft researcher. The crash site likely was east of Dorsten, Germany, near where members of the crew bailed out near Gelsenkirchen.

William Edson Taylor survived POW life at Stalag Luft IV and he survived the eighty-six day, five hundred mile forced march out of the prison camp westward across Germany. I am unsure of the date of his liberation, but according to his NARA POW record, his last Report Date was June 26, 1945.

After the war, William’s sister Carol and brother-in-law Donald McDonald moved to the Boston area where he attended Harvard University. After graduation in 1948, he joined the First National Bank of Boston, becoming vice president. Carol and Donald had three children: Donald, of Chicago, Illinois, Roderick, who died in 2001, and Janice McDonald Rogers (married to Brian Rogers) of Winchester, Massachusetts.

On September 14, 1946, William Edson Taylor married Frances Joyce “Franny” Killeen (b. 13 JAN 1927, Ironwood, Gogebic, Michigan – d. 24 JAN 2016, Largo, Pinellas, Florida). William and Franny had a son, Bradley Thomas Taylor (b. 10 OCT 1954, Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota – d. 6 OCT 2002, New Brighton, Ramsey, Minnesota), and a grandson, Nathan Thomas Taylor (the son of Bradley Thomas Taylor and Marlene Dunsmore), born around 1988. William Taylor married a second time in 1967 to Barbara Elizabeth Magill (1925 – 2010).

William Edson Taylor died on January 29, 2002 in New Hope, Bucks, Pennsylvania, USA and was cremated.

If any family or friends of William Edson Taylor has information about him or photos of him to share, please contact me. I would particularly like to positively identify him in the above wartime photos and am still looking for a full crew photo of the James Joseph Brodie crew.

Notes/Links

Previous post, William Edson Taylor

Previous post, Timeline for Brodie Crewmembers and Substitutes, 545th Bomb Squadron

Donald Martyn McDonald on Find a Grave.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

John DeFrancesco in the News

WWII 384th Bomb Group Pilot John DeFrancesco
Photo by Doug Engle, Ocala StarBanner

Well, he’s done it again. My friend and fellow Ocala resident, John DeFrancesco, has made the local paper – again. And, not only is John the subject of a great article in the Ocala StarBanner by Andy Fillmore, with photos by Doug Engle, John made the front page of said newspaper.

Ocala StarBanner Newspaper Front Page
Saturday, July 10, 2021

John was a B-17 pilot during WWII and served with the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces, the same group in which my dad, George Edwin Farrar, served, although at a different time.

The entire article can be read online on the paper’s website.

John’s reaction to making the front page of his local newspaper. “Wow!”

I have to agree. Wow! Thank you, Andy, for the awesome article, and thank you, Doug, for the excellent photos.

A follow-up to John’s article…

After John’s article appeared in our Ocala newspaper, I had a phone call from a 90-year-old woman named Myrna. Myrna lives in Ocala, and after reading the article in the paper, was interested in talking to John (yes, I have passed the message along to him).

From 1953 to 1954, Myrna and her late husband lived in Moosburg, the German town where John’s WWII POW camp was located (Stalag VII-A was actually located just north of the town of Moosburg).

Myrna’s husband was stationed in Moosburg for the US military. They resided in military housing, an apartment in a building divided into two apartments. Myrna said that during WWII, the building had been a Nazi headquarters.

She said in the basement of that building, there was a barricaded area that they were told was off limits to them. They learned that past the barricaded area, there was an escape tunnel that led to the river. They followed instructions and never explored the barricaded area or tunnel. Her husband is no longer living, but now, at 90, Myrna wishes she had investigated that tunnel!

For more information about John DeFrancesco, see previous post, John DeFrancesco, Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, which contains links to even more posts about John.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Airmen of the Buslee and Brodie Crews of the 384th Bomb Group

I have been writing about the men of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII for many years, particularly those airmen who served on the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron. The 384th was a B-17 heavy bomber group based in Grafton Underwood, England during the war.

My connection with these two crews is my father, George Edwin Farrar, who was a waist gunner on the Buslee crew.

Both the Buslee and Brodie crew departed the states from their final combat crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other.

On 28 September 1944, the Buslee and Brodie crews participated in the 384th’s Mission 201 (which was the 8th Air Force’s numbered Mission 652).

On the mission, coming off the bomb run on the target, the B-17 42-31222, Lazy Daisy, piloted by James Joseph Brodie, collided with the unnamed B-17 43-37822 piloted by John Oliver Buslee with my father manning the machine guns in the waist.

All aboard Buslee’s aircraft were killed in the collision, ensuing explosion, and crash except for my father, the sole survivor of his fortress. Eight of my father’s bomber brothers perished on this one B-17 on this one day.

Three men survived aboard Brodie’s aircraft, and the remaining six perished, a total of fourteen killed in the collision of the two aircraft.

I have been researching the lives of these airmen for many years and am about to embark on another search for new information on each, so I thought it was time to recap what I have already learned and share links of what I have previously written about them.

Keep in mind, there are more than eighteen men (the number of airmen that made up the two crews on 28 September 1944) involved in this story. Each crew was originally made up of ten men, although neither crew ever flew missions with all ten aboard. All of their missions were flown with a crew of nine containing only one waist gunner instead of two, a change from earlier in the war.

And neither crew flew as all original members on every mission. Substitutes were more common on missions for the Buslee crew, but both crews flew with substitute airmen on the fatal mission of 28 September 1944. My histories of the men of the Buslee and Brodie crews include both original members and those who were substituting for them on that final mission.

Including original crew members and substitute crew members on 28 September 1944 for both crews, plus two key witnesses to the collision, the number of airmen whose family history I research is twenty-nine, thirty including Lloyd Vevle’s twin brother, Floyd.

In the list below, I’m listing all of the airmen by position in the B-17 and noting who were original crew members, who were crew substitutions, and who were key witnesses to the mid-air collision. I’m also including very brief biographical information (birth, death, and burial data), links to each airman’s personnel record on the 384th Bomb Group’s website, and links to histories I’ve previously written about them.

This post will also be available as a permanent page which will be updated with additional links to posts of any new findings from my research.


The Pilots

John Oliver Buslee, pilot of the 544th Bomb Squadron

James Joseph Brodie, pilot of the 545th Bomb Squadron

  • Born 14 November 1917
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 26
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot J, Row 13, Grave 4
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • James Joseph Brodie

The Co-pilots

David Franklin Albrecht, assigned Buslee crew co-pilot

  • Born 1 March 1922
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 22
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot C, Row 2, Grave 11
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • David Franklin Albrecht

Lloyd Oliver Vevle, assigned Brodie crew co-pilot

  • Born 9 December 1922
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 21
  • Buried Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial, Neuville-en-Condroz, Arrondissement de Liège, Liège, Belgium, Plot C, Row 37, Grave 20
  • Lloyd’s twin brother Floyd Martin Vevle (Born 9 December 1922 – Died 14 January 1945, age 22) of the 390th Bomb Group is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at  the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Henri-Chapelle, Belgium.
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Lloyd Oliver Vevle
  • Floyd Martin Vevle
  • The Vevle Twins

The Navigators

Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, assigned Buslee crew navigator

William Alvin Henson II, Sammons crew navigator, but navigator of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., assigned Brodie crew navigator

The Bombardiers

Marvin Fryden, assigned Buslee crew bombardier

James Buford Davis, Jung crew bombardier & Buslee crew replacement bombardier after Fryden’s death

Robert Sumner Stearns, Durdin crew bombardier, but bombardier of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

  • Born 25 August 1923
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 21
  • Buried Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA, Section B, Site 302
  • Memorial marker at Family/Home Cemetery at Juniper Haven Cemetery, Prineville, Crook County, Oregon, USA
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Robert Sumner Stearns

William Douglas Barnes, Jr., assigned Brodie crew bombardier

Byron Leverne Atkins, Chadwick crew flexible (waist) gunner, but togglier of the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944

The Radio Operators/Gunners

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, assigned Buslee crew radio operator

William Edson Taylor, assigned Brodie crew radio operator

Donald William Dooley, Headquarters, but radio operator of the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944

The Engineers/Top Turret Gunners

Clarence Burdell Seeley, assigned Buslee crew engineer

Robert Doyle Crumpton, assigned Brodie crew engineer

  • Born 26 July 1920
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 24
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot E, Row 19, Grave 22
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Robert Doyle Crumpton

The Ball Turret Gunners

Erwin Vernon Foster, assigned Buslee crew ball turret gunner

George Francis McMann, Jr., Gilbert crew ball turret gunner, but ball turret gunner of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

  • Born 26 September 1924
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 20, two days past his 20th birthday
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot N, Row 22, Grave 4
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • George Francis McMann, Jr.

Gordon Eugene Hetu, assigned Brodie crew ball turret gunner

  • Born 26 September 1925
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 19, two days past his 19th birthday
  • Buried Oakland Hills Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Novi, Oakland County, Michigan, USA
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Gordon Eugene Hetu

The Tail Gunners

Eugene Daniel Lucynski, assigned Buslee crew tail gunner

  • Born 22 December 1919
  • Died 14 April 1981, age 61
  • Burial information unknown, but parents (Gustave and Dominica Lucynski) are buried All Saints Church Cemetery, Flint, Genesee County, Michigan, USA
  • Also known as Eugene D. or Dan Lucyn
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Eugene D. Lucynski

Gerald Lee Andersen, Carnes crew tail gunner, but tail gunner of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

Wilfred Frank Miller, assigned Brodie crew tail gunner

The Flexible (Waist) Gunners

Lenard Leroy Bryant, assigned Buslee crew waist gunner, reassigned to top turret gunner after 5 August 1944 mission

George Edwin Farrar, assigned Buslee crew waist gunner

Leonard Wood Opie, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Harry Allen Liniger, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Witnesses to the 28 September 1944 Mid-air Collision

Wallace Arnold Storey, Gross crew co-pilot

Robert McKinley Mitchell, Jr., Allred crew ball turret gunner

Thank you to Fred Preller, webmaster of 384thBombGroup.com, and his volunteer researchers for providing and sharing information of the Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

John DeFrancesco, Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor

384th Bomb Group WWII pilot John DeFrancesco with his French Legion on Honour medal

John DeFrancesco was awarded the French Legion of Honour medal this week. John, a WWII B-17 pilot of the 384th Bomb Group of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, was appointed Chevalier (Knight) of the French Legion of Honour, having served during the 1944 campaigns to liberate France. The Legion of Honour is the highest French order of merit, both military and civil. Congratulations, John!

Previous posts with John

John DeFrancesco

Missing in Action, 1945 (See the January 8, 1945 entry)

Paul Bureau and the Marion County Florida Veterans Memorial Park

A Wing Panel Signing

Rendezvous in Savannah

2017 8th Air Force Reunion in New Orleans

An Italian-American Airman in WWII

An Italian-American Airman on Television

2017 Collings Foundation Tour Stop in Leesburg, Florida

2018 384th Bomb Group Reunion in Dayton

For more information about the French Legion of Honour Award

French Consulate in Miami website, Legion of Honor for US Veterans

French Consulate in Miami Facebook page

Wikipedia: Legion of Honour

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

“Sparks” Artist John Graham Forster

Last week, in a post about 384th Bomb Group waist gunner Harry Allen Liniger, I included a drawing of Harry titled “Sparks Liniger” that was drawn by J. G. Forster. I believe Forster was John Graham Forster, a fellow radio student of Harry’s at radio school at Scott Field, Illinois.

Harry “Sparks” Liniger at Radio School training at Scott Field. Drawing by John Graham Forster, fellow radio student.

I believe “Sparks” was derived at radio school as a nickname for Liniger from the obsolete (today) type of radio equipment called a “spark-gap” transmitter which generated radio waves by means of an electric spark.

Liniger’s fellow radio student, John Graham Forster, did not serve in combat in the same bombardment group as Harry. While in training in the states, servicemen (and servicewomen) were transferred to various stations around the country for different phases of their training and most likely lost track of others they trained with over time.

Regardless of whether they stayed in touch or lost track of each other, Liniger thought enough of the drawing to save it and his son still has it almost eighty years after it was drawn.

It is easier to learn more about men who served in combat together if those historical records have been gathered and presented for future generations by a historical association. But finding someone who served with a relative in a training setting can be quite difficult. Generally, those types of records or lists don’t exist.

So since I have been able to identify the artist who drew Liniger as “Sparks,” I’m going to take the opportunity to look into where Forster came from and a little of his WWII history as it serves to illustrate the differences in the backgrounds of those who were brought together to fight a world war and the enormous movement of those personnel as part of the American war machine to various points across the globe.

I usually research and write about those who served in the Eighth Air Force in WWII, and mostly about the specific B-17 heavy bombardment group in which my father served, the 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy). But there were many other divisions of the United States Air Forces serving in different parts of the world during WWII, and this is a good opportunity to introduce the subject, which I will write more about at a later date.

John Forster was a third generation American. He was named after his grandfather, John Graham Forster of St. Louis Parish, Kent County, New Brunswick, Canada. Grandfather John immigrated to America at eighteen years old, settled in Waltham, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and married and raised a family there. Grandson John was born there in 1922.

John Graham Forster, Senior Year photo from Waltham High School Yearbook

In the 1940 Waltham High School Yearbook, John’s Senior year, he noted his first ambition was to,

Go round the world and see our 48 states

He liked nice girls and baseball, planned to enter an art career, and was Art Manager of the Senior Play.

In 1942, John enlisted in the United States Air Corps. After his training, including his and Harry’s time at radio school, John was assigned to the 764th Bomb Squadron of the 461st Bomb Group.

But the 461st was stationed nowhere near Harry’s 8th Air Force base with the 384th in Grafton Underwood, England. In fact, the 461st was not even part of the 8th Air Force, but was instead part of the 49th Bombardment Wing of the Fifteenth Air Force. The 461st flew B-24 Liberators and the group was known as the “Liberaiders.”

The Fifteenth Air Force operated in the WWII Mediterranean Theater of Operations and mainly operated out of bases in southern Italy. The 461st was based at Torretto Field, about 12 km (about 7 1/2 miles) south of the town of Cerignola, Italy.

John Forster was assigned to the Carl J. Schultz crew as radio operator/gunner. The Schultz (#3-1) crew consisted of:

  • Carl J. Schultz, Pilot
  • William R. Baird, Co-Pilot
  • James R. Merkel, Navigator
  • Joshua Loring, Jr., Bombardier
  • John G. Forster, Radio Operator/Gunner
  • John W. Rice, Engineer/Gunner
  • William F. Sanders, Gunner
  • Glenn A. Sligar, Engineer/Gunner
  • Don R. Trail, Gunner
  • William R. Vaitkunas, Gunner

On 23 March 1945, John Forster participated in the 461st’s Mission 200 to bomb a high priority target, the Kagran Oil Refinery in Vienna, Austria. Thirteen of the 461st’s thirty aircraft were hit by flak over the target and the lead bombardier, Lt. Rosulek, was wounded just before bombs away.

On this mission, William Baird was pilot of the unnamed B-24J 44-41091 with Dwight B. Olson serving as his co-pilot. Other original crew members included John Rice, Glenn Sligar, William Sanders, William Vaitkunas, and of course, John Forster. Substitutes, besides Olson, included Edward T. Wenslik as Bombardier, Richard C. Davis as Navigator, and Marlin R. Smith as Gunner.

At about the time of bombs away, the Number 2 engine of 44-41091 was hit by flak and knocked completely off the ship. They dropped back in the formation with a fire in the wing. Following an unsuccessful attempt to put out the fire, they lost altitude and dropped about 5,000 feet. Five chutes were seen to emerge before the plane went into a dive and exploded.

Davis, the Navigator of the crew, reported that he was reunited in the next few days with all of the crew except for Lt. Baird, the pilot. A German guard reported that Baird was found dead with an unopened chute some distance from the wreckage of the aircraft.

One of the crew wrote in his Individual Casualty Questionaire that,

Lt. Baird … went beyond the “call of duty” that day in fighting the ship to keep it from going into a spin, and then momentarily leveling it out with the trim tabs giving us all, the nine of us, time to jump.

With the exception of Baird, the entire crew was held prisoner of war at Moosburg, Stalag VIIA. All were liberated from Moosburg on 29 April 1945 and were taken to Camp Lucky Strike in La Harve, France to begin their journey back to America.

Forster did become an artist after the war. In the 1952 Waltham Massachusetts City Directory, he listed his occupation as artist. He married a nice girl and had seven children.

John Graham Forster died on 24 June 1982 at the age of 59 in Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He is buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Maynard, Middlesex County, Massachusetts in Section 23-N, Lot 48-A.

I don’t know if he ever saw all of our “48 states” (or additionally Alaska and Hawaii), but he did see quite a bit of the world, including Italy, France, Austria, and Germany, and saw things he couldn’t imagine during high school from the radio room of a B-24.

Thank you to Chuck Parsonon, Admin of the 461st Bombardment Group’s Facebook group for providing me with information for this post.

Thank you to the folks running the 461st Bombardment Group website for the excellent information on the group and its service members you provide.

Sources

Last week’s post, Harry Liniger’s Letters and Guardian Angel

461st Bombardment Group on Facebook

461st Bombardment Group

15th Air Force

March 1945 Missions

23 March 1945 Mission

Missing Air Crew Report, MACR13190

Wikipedia: Spark-gap Transmitter

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021