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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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

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 27 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

Marilyn Fryden’s Letter and Photos Sixty Years Later

Marvin Fryden was the original bombardier of the 384th Bomb Group’s John Oliver Buslee crew on which my dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a waist gunner. Marvin was killed on his second mission on August 5, 1944 after being hit by flak. The young wife he left behind to grieve for him for the rest of her life was named Marilyn.

The photo above of Marvin Fryden is not of very good quality, but it is the first portrait I have seen of him. This new find is thanks to Frank Furiga, original bombardier of the 384th Bomb Group’s Bert Brown crew, and the amazing volume of information he kept from the war, and to Frank’s son, Paul, for sharing it with me.

Before deciding to join a combat crew, Marvin Fryden was a bombardier training instructor in Deming, New Mexico. He and Frank Furiga crossed paths in Deming where Frank did his bombardier training.

2nd Lt. Frank D. Furiga

I know that’s where the two men met because Furiga noted it on the bottom of a page of the 8th Air Force Magazine that included Marvin’s photo and Marilyn’s letter. Frank wrote,

Met him at Deming for 1st time where I trained.

From that point, or sometime thereafter, Fryden and Furiga would continue on the same path into World War II combat, and both performed their final combat crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma. They were sent to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) at the same time, and were both assigned to the 384th Bomb Group based in Grafton Underwood, England.

Frank Furiga remembered Marvin when he saw the photos in the September 2005 issue of the 8th Air Force Magazine and read Marilyn’s letter, sixty-one years after their first meeting.


This is the page from the magazine that Frank Furiga kept and his son Paul recently ran across. Below, I have transcribed Marilyn’s letter, and noted a few discrepancies [in numbered brackets] in my transcribed copy.

Courtesy of Paul Furiga, son of 384th BG bombardier Frank Furiga

Marilyn Fryden’s letter as published in the September 2005 issue of the 8th Air Force Magazine

1st LT. MARVIN FRYDEN
384th Bomb Group   544th Bomb Squadron   8th Air Force

Marv enlisted on January 13, 1942 from his home in Chicago. He was sent for pilot training but then went on to Bombardier School in Albuquerque where he got his Wings in October 1942.

We married and went to training command at Chandler, Airzona and Deming, New Mexico. In Deming on June 6th – D-Day – his comment was, “I should be there helping them,” after which he was assigned to advanced training in Midland, Texas. There he met bombardiers who had returned from their missions, and he became even more dedicated to serving in a combat zone. He requested combat duty and was sent to Salt Lake City, was assigned to a crew, and went on to Ardmore, Oklahoma for B-17 training.

His pilot, John Buslee, was from Forest, Illinois [1]. The copilot, his wife and infant daughter [2] were from Chico, California. They lived at the same place we did. I think that his name was Dick Albrecht or Albright and that her name was Patty [2], but I can’t recall for certain. The navigator was from Pennsylvania [3] and was the only survivor of that crew. [Frank circled this section and noted: Ray Sherer, Pittsburgh, PA]

They left Ardmore on the 26th of June in 1944 [4], flew to Kearney, Nebraska, picked up the Tremblin Gremlin [5], and flew it to England via Iceland. On August 4th they flew their first mission. Marv wrote me, “Your pappy’s a veteran now…”

On the mission flown the next day, Marv was fatally wounded and died in a hospital of chest wounds. He is buried in Cambridge, England. I have seen several of his student classmates’ names on the Wall of the Missing at the cemetery there. The crew’s plane was blown up on a subsequent mission and all of the crew but the navigator, who was not aboard, perished [6].

I treasure the 8th AF News Magazine. I wear Marv’s wedding ring, proudly. I remember it all and read your magazine eagerly, knowing that so many might share my story.

Sincerely,
Marilyn A. Fryden-Samet
Cary, North Carolina
Memorial Day, 2005

Postscript: I am a member of the 8th AF Historical Society Chapter here in Raleigh, North Carolina. I am also a Gold Star wife. Although over sixty years have passed since those terrible war years, I am still deeply affected by the tragedy which shaped my life. Sometimes, I can’t read the articles in the magazine because they touch me so specially. I hope that I will be notified when renewal times comes for my subscription.

Keep up your wonderful work … even as those of us who remember are passing into the other world.

Notes/Discrepancies Explained

[1] Pilot John Buslee was from Park Ridge, Illinois

[2] Co-pilot was David Albrecht. His and his wife Patricia (Patty’s) daughter was not born until December 1944, after he was declared MIA. He did not have an infant daughter before leaving the States.

[3] Buslee crew navigator Chester Rybarczyk was from Toledo, Ohio. The navigator on Frank Furiga’s crew was named Raymond Scherer and was from Pittsburgh, PA.

[4] The officers of the Buslee crew may have flown to Kearney on June 26, 1944, but the enlisted men were already in Kearney as of this date, likely having traveled by train. I know this because my father wrote a letter home from Kearney on June 25.

[5] The name of the B-17 that the Buslee crew ferried to the ETO is unknown. The B-17 in which Marvin Fryden received a fatal flak injury on August 5 was named the Tremblin’ Gremlin. Marilyn may have assumed that the B-17 the Buslee crew ferried across the Atlantic was the same B-17 in which her husband was killed, but it was not the same ship.

[6] The Buslee crew’s aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision on September 28, 1944. Of the nine crew members aboard, only five of them were original Buslee crew members: John Buslee (pilot), David Albrecht (co-pilot), Lenard Bryant (waist gunner turned engineer/top turret gunner), Sebastiano Peluso (radio operator), and George Edwin Farrar (waist gunner, my dad). My dad was the only survivor on the plane. Other original Buslee crew members who survived the war because they were not on Buslee’s plane on September 28, 1944 were Chester Rybarczyk (navigator), James Davis (permanent replacement bombardier), Clarence Seeley (engineer/top turret gunner), Erwin Foster (ball turret gunner), and Eugene Lucynski (tail gunner).

There were also a few discrepancies in the included crew photo identifications and I have noted those in the photo caption,

Standing L to R: John Buslee, David Albrecht, Chester Rybarczyk (from Toledo, Ohio), and Marvin Fryden
Kneeling L to R: Sebastiano Peluso, Erwin Foster, Clarence Seeley, and Unidentified (possibly Lenard Bryant)

My dad, George Edwin Farrar, is not in the crew photo and neither was Eugene Lucynski, and possibly Lenard Bryant.

Thank you again, Paul Furiga, for sharing these pieces of history with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

John Buslee’s Ring

John Oliver (Jay) Buslee died September 28, 1944 when the B-17 he was piloting, the 384th Bomb Group’s B-17G 43‑37822, crashed after a mid-air collision with his own group’s B-17G 42‑31222 Lazy Daisy.  His parents were notified shortly thereafter that he was missing in action, but it would be another four months before they received news that he had died in the collision.

Jay’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Buslee of Park Ridge, IL, a suburb of Chicago, eventually received Jay’s possessions, only to find that the Air Force ring they had given him as a gift was not among the items returned to them.  They assumed he must have been wearing the ring on his last mission, but it was not recovered with his body as far as they knew.

Several years after the war, in 1948, Jay’s ring surfaced.  At the time, my dad, George Edwin Farrar, the waist gunner and sole survivor on Buslee’s aircraft, was working for Jay’s father and living in the Buslee home.  I believe in that situation, he would have been aware of the ring’s discovery, but it’s not anything he ever mentioned to me.  He was a traveling salesman and it was the same year he met and courted my mother, and it probably wasn’t as important of a discovery to him as it was to Mr. and Mrs. Buslee.

The surfacing of the ring was one thing.  Getting the ring back was another.  Distance and politics and the state of the world in the 1940’s made this a very difficult task. This task was orchestrated between the finder of the ring (a Czech man the Nazis forced into slave labor in Germany), the finder’s parents in Czechoslovakia, a Czech immigrant living in Texas, the Adjutant General of the US Department of the Army, the American Embassy in Czechoslovakia, and Jay’s parents in Illinois.

From November 2014 to March 2015, I published the group’s communications through a series of letters they exchanged between January 21 and December 26, 1948, from the time of first contact to the expressions of gratitude between the parties after the return of the ring.

John Dale Kielhofer, Jay Buslee’s nephew, shared the letters with me, and with his permission, I share with you the story of the recovery and return of John Buslee’s ring.

This list of links below includes all of my original posts and all of the letters between the parties.

Note: The original posts indicate the name of Buslee’s aircraft B-17G 43‑37822 was “Lead Banana.” I learned after writing the posts that the name was mistakenly applied in 384th Bomb Group documents and photos to that particular aircraft and wrote an explanatory post regarding the error.

The Ring (Original post of this Introduction to the letters)

The Ring – Letter of January 21, 1948

The Ring – Letter of January 28, 1948

The Ring – Letter of February 20, 1948

The Ring – Letter of March 8, 1948 – Letter to Mr B

The Ring – Letter of March 8, 1948 – Letter to Z

The Ring – Letter of March 11, 1948

The Ring – Letter of March 16, 1948

The Ring – Letter of March 26, 1948

The Ring – Letter of April 12, 1948

The Ring – Letter of April 17, 1948

The Ring – Letter of August 25, 1948

The Ring – Letter Undated

The Ring – Letter of September 23, 1948

The Ring – Letter of December 4, 1948

The Ring – Letter of December 26, 1948

This post is also included on this site as a permanent page here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Assigned Military Operational Specialties of the Buslee and Brodie Crews

I previously wrote about the special orders, Special Orders 86, for the John Oliver Buslee crew (Crew #4679) of the 384th Bomb Group (of which my dad was waist gunner). The orders, dated 23 JUNE 1944, released the airmen from their combat crew training assignment and duty at the 222nd Combat Crew Training School (H) at the Ardmore Army Air Field and transferred them to AAB, Kearney, Nebraska, the next leg of their journey to their permanent duty station in England.

Special Orders #86, Buslee crew

The James Joseph Brodie crew (Crew #4659) was assigned on the same special orders, on page 4 of the same document.

Special Orders #86, Brodie crew

I had a chance recently to review those orders and pull some more information from them, specifically (at time of the orders),

  • Assigned occupation in the B-17 and MOS (Military Operational Specialty)/Job Assignment number
  • Rank
  • Whether Married or Single (Married status was indicated by the * preceding their rank in the list)

The MOS (Military Operation Specialties)/Job Assignments, of which there were many in the United States Military, of the Buslee and Brodie crews at the time of these Special Orders were limited to these:

  • 1022 Pilot – Twin Engine (A-20, B-25, B-26, etc)
  • 1024 Pilot – Four Engine (Usually Transport Pilots)
  • 1034 Bombardier
  • 1035 Navigator
  • 748 Aerial Engineer Gunner, specifically Top Turret Gunner/Flight Engineer. Earlier, 748 was Airplane Mechanic Gunner, but the MOS changed when TM 12-427 (see Sources below) was updated/revised.
  • 757 Radio Operator/Mechanic/Gunner, the radio operator who could man a weapon and perform some basic repairs in flight as well as basic maintenance tasks.
  • 611 Aerial Gunner (Waist, Ball & Tail), a general classification for aerial gunner. That indicates the service member did not have additional formal school training on a specialty like RO (radio operator) or flight engineer.  Typically WG (waist gunners) and BT (ball turret gunners) are listed as assistant armorers, flight engineers or radio operators.  They are the fill-in guy to attempt to fulfill one of those jobs if needed.
  • 612 Armorer Gunner (Togglier), an Airplane Armorer Gunner.  He performs basic maintenance and repairs on various weapons-related equipment.  A togglier could be a guy – someone who isn’t busy with constant duties, performing a specific role on the bomb run (to toggle the switch to release the bombs at the same time as the lead bombardier), and someone who can get back to another position quickly.

Specific details in the above list were provided by 384th Bomb Group Historian John Edwards.

* * * * *

From the crew lists on Special Orders 86, I can produce a “Who’s Who” for the Buslee and Brodie crews at the time of those orders.

P – Pilot, classified as MOS 1024 Pilot – Four Engine (Usually Transport Pilots), but later, according to 384th Bomb Group records, re-classified as MOS 1091, Pilot, B-17

  • 2nd Lt. John O. Buslee, SN O-764209, marital status Single
  • 2nd Lt. James J. Brodie, SN O-1012186, marital status Married

CP – Co-pilot, classified as MOS 1022 Pilot – Twin Engine (A-20, B-25, B-26, etc), but later, according to 384th Bomb Group records, re-classified as MOS 1091, Pilot, B-17

  • [Buslee crew] 2nd Lt. David F. Albrecht, SN O-767423, marital status Married
  • [Brodie crew] 2nd Lt. Lloyd O. Vevle, SN O-768760, marital status Single

N – Navigator, classified as MOS 1035 Navigator

  • [Buslee crew] 2nd Lt. Chester A. Rybarczyk, SN O-0720014, marital status Single
  • [Brodie crew] 2nd Lt. George M. Hawkins, Jr., SN O-719944, marital status Single

B – Bombardier, classified as MOS 1034 Bombardier

  • [Buslee crew] 1st Lt. Marvin [NMI] Fryden, SN O-731492, marital status Married
  • [Brodie crew] 2nd Lt. William D. Barnes, Jr., SN O-768921, marital status Single

Marvin Fryden was a stateside instructor in the Army Air Forces before joining a combat crew, likely explaining why his rank was greater than the other officers of the two crews at the time of these orders.

AEG – Army Airplane Mechanic/Gunner, Flight Engineer (Top Turret Gunner/Flight Engineer), classified as MOS 748 Aerial Engineer Gunner

  • [Buslee crew] Sgt. Clarence B. Seeley, SN 39270874, marital status Single
  • [Brodie crew] S/Sgt. Robert D. Crumpton, SN 19056991, marital status Single

ROG – Radio Operator/Mechanic/Gunner, AAF, classified as MOS 757 Radio Operator/Mechanic/Gunner

  • [Buslee crew] Sgt. Sebastiano J. Peluso, SN 12182596, marital status Single
  • [Brodie crew] Sgt. William E. Taylor, SN 16115332, marital status Single

AAEG – Assistant Aerial Engineer Gunner (Assistant Flight Engineer/Gunner), classified as MOS 611 Aerial Gunner (Waist, Ball & Tail)

  • [Buslee crew] Cpl. Lenard L. Bryant, SN 38344446, one of the crew’s two waist gunners, marital status Married (although not indicated on SO 86)
  • [Brodie crew] Cpl. Leonard W. Opie, SN 36431961, one of the crew’s two waist gunners, marital status Single

Lenard Bryant later became the Buslee crew’s top turret gunner after Clarence Seeley was seriously injured.

GUN – Airplane Armorer/Gunner (classified as a 612 MOS) or Aerial Gunner (classified as a 611 MOS)

  • [Buslee crew] S/Sgt. Eugene D. Lucynski, SN 36507488, the crew’s tail gunner, classified as MOS 612 Airplane Armorer/Gunner, marital status Single
  • [Brodie crew] Cpl. Gordon E. Hetu, SN 16189148, the crew’s ball turret gunner, classified as MOS 611 Aerial Gunner, marital status Single

AG – Aerial Gunner (Waist, Ball & Tail), classified as a basic 611 MOS

  • [Buslee crew] Cpl. Erwin V. Foster, SN 32588280, the crew’s ball turret gunner, marital status Single
  • [Brodie crew] Cpl. Harry A. Liniger, SN 34670187, one of the crew’s two waist gunners, marital status Single

AAG – Airplane Armorer/Gunner (classified as a 612 MOS) or Aerial Gunner (classified as a 611 MOS)

  • [Buslee crew] Sgt. George E. Farrar, SN 14119873, one of the crew’s two waist gunners, classified as MOS 612 Airplane Armorer/Gunner, marital status Single
  • [Brodie crew] Cpl. Wilfred F. Miller, SN 36834864, the crew’s tail gunner, classified as MOS 611 Aerial Gunner, marital status Single

George Farrar was a stateside instructor in the Army Air Forces before joining a combat crew (with his last assignment as an instructor at Ardmore Army Air Field), likely explaining why his rank was Sgt. at the time of these orders.

Buslee crew tail gunner Eugene Lucynski was assigned on the same Combat Crew Detachment Orders Number 52 as George Farrar, possibly indicating that he also held a position (maybe also instructor) at Ardmore, and possibly explaining why he held the rank of S/Sgt. at the time of these orders.

In some cases, the makeup of the airmen assigned to a bomber crew changed before the crew reached the final destination of its overseas duty station. For instance, if one of the airmen became ill en route, he might be left behind while the remainder of the crew continued on with a replacement assigned in his stead. In this case, both the Buslee and Brodie crews arrived intact, as assigned on Special Orders 86, at the 384th Bomb Group’s Station #106 in the English midlands village of Grafton Underwood, and began flying missions as assigned in Special Orders 86.

Notes

[NMI] indicates No Middle Initial in name.

After discovering that Lenard Bryant’s marital status was incorrect on the SO, I realize that I need to review the marital status of the other airmen on these two crews, but will do so at a later date.

Sources

303rd Bomb Group website

384th Bomb Group Historian John Edwards, referencing “TM 12-427 Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel” dated 12 JULY 1944.

TM 12-427 Military Occupational Classification of Enlisted Personnel

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

David Franklin Albrecht

David Franklin Albrecht, co-pilot of the Buslee crew, 384th Bomb Group

David Franklink Albrecht was born March 1, 1922 in Litchfield, Sherman County, Nebraska. His parents were Louis Michael Albrecht (1896 – 1969) and Minnie Jane Corder Albrecht (1895 – 1983). Louis’s heritage was German, Russian, and Polish. Louis’s father immigrated to America in 1873 as a child. Minnie’s family immigrated at some point prior to that as her parents were both born in the United States. Louis and Minnie were both born in Iowa.

According to the 1930 Federal census, Louis and Minnie Albrecht and their children lived in Newark Township, Kearney County, Nebraska. Louis, at 33 years old, was a high school teacher. Minnie, at 34, did not work outside the home. Their children were listed as son David F. (born in 1922, 8 years old), son Louis J. (born in 1924, 5 years old), and daughter Minnie M. (born in 1928, 2 years old). All of the children were born in Nebraska.

According to the 1940 Federal census, the Albrecht family lived in Hackberry Precinct, Polk County, Nebraska. The family’s last name was transcribed from the census record as Albracht rather than Albrecht, but the family members were the same, with everyone reported ten years older, but with the addition of another daughter, Lillian Lavon (5 years old and perhaps known as Bunny according to a newspaper article), also born in Nebraska. A middle name of Marie was recorded for daughter Minnie. Louis Sr. was a public school teacher. The 1940 census also noted that the family lived in the same home in 1935.

Although David’s father, Louis Albrecht, was listed in census records as a school teacher, he was identified as Reverend Louis M. Albrecht in the crew’s next-of-kin list and as Pastor of the Congregational Church of Scribner, Nebraska in the letterhead of the letter he sent to my grandmother in June 1945.

David Albrecht enlisted in the Army Air Corps on June 22, 1942. His Army serial number was initially assigned as 15125471, but once he completed pilot training and became an officer, his number changed to O-767423. His enlistment record also noted that his residence county/state was Gage County, Nebraska and he enlisted in Columbus, Ohio.

Although he enlisted on June 22, 1942, he received a deferred date of June 1943, one year from his enlistment. His nativity (the state in which he was born) was noted as Nebraska and the year of his birth as 1922. He had had three years of college as of his enlistment date.

On June 30, 1942, David registered for the draft in Marion, Marion County, Ohio. He listed his place of residence as Courtland, Gage County, Nebraska. He noted he was born on March 1, 1922 in Litchfield, Nebraska. The person he listed as the “person who will always know your address” was Rev. Louis M. Albrecht, Courtland, Nebraska. He listed his employer’s name as F. & Y. Construction Co. at RFD, Marion, Marion County, Ohio.

He listed his height as 5′ 8 1/2″, weight as 146 pounds, with blue eyes, blonde hair, and a light complexion.

David Franklin Albrecht married Patricia Hendrix of Chico, California on December 24, 1943 in Stockton, San Joaquin County, California at the First Congregational Church. She was born on September 20, 1926.

Patricia Hendrix Ross

David Albrecht  was assigned to the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) of the 384th Bombardment Group stationed in Grafton Underwood, England, per Army Air Forces Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated 22 July 1944. He flew his first of eighteen missions on August 4, 1944.

On September 28, 1944, David Franklin Albrecht was co-pilot aboard 43-37822 with the Buslee crew when it was involved in a mid-air collision coming off the target at Magdeburg. He was killed in the collision and is buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten in the Netherlands in Plot C, Row 2, Grave 11.

On December 8, 1944, Patricia Albrecht gave birth to her and David’s baby girl, still not knowing if her husband was dead or alive. She would not learn of his death until after the first of the next year.

Patricia remarried on April 7, 1947 to Albert Louis Ross in Chico, California and divorced him in March 1968. She died on December 10, 1991 at the age of 65 and is buried in Chico Cemetery, Chico, Butte County, California.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Clarence Burdell Seeley

Clarence Burdell Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner of the John Oliver Buslee Crew
Photo courtesy of grandson Jess Seeley

Clarence Burdell Seeley was born in Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska on December 12, 1921, and grew up in Halsey, Thomas County, Nebraska. His parent were Ferris and Esther M. Rasmussen Seeley. Rather than Clarence, he preferred to go by his middle name, Burdell.

Burdell’s father, Ferris Seeley, was born in Nebraska in 1894. Ferris’s parents, John and Clara Seeley, were born in Iowa (John) and Illinois (Clara).

Burdell’s mother, Esther M. Rasmussen Seeley, was born in Christiansand, Norway in 1898. Her parents, George August and Gunnild Gurine Rasmussen, were both born in Norway. The Rasmussen’s immigrated to the United States in 1903 when Esther was five years old.

Ferris and Esther married on June 18, 1918 in Omaha, Nebraska shortly before Ferris enlisted for WWI service. He enlisted on July 25, 1918 and served in the Balloon Corps during the war. He was released from his military service on January 15, 1919.

I cannot locate a census record for Ferris and Esther Seeley for 1920, but their first son Donald Ferris Seeley was born that year in Omaha.

In 1930, according to the Federal census, the Seeley family lived at 2786 E. Street, Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska, where Ferris Seeley worked as a delivery man in the construction industry. Ferris and Esther had four children – ten year old son Donald Ferris, eight year old son Clarence Burdell, six year old son Harold Floyd, and two months shy of four year old daughter Margaret Gwendolyn. All of the Seeley children were born in Nebraska.

In 1940, according to the Federal census and family records, the Seeley family lived in the village of Halsey in the Natick Precinct of Thomas County, Nebraska. The census record reported that on April 1, 1935, the family still lived in Lincoln, so the move to Halsey occurred after that point. Ferris worked as a “Care of Stock Rancher” on a ranch. Donald was no longer listed as living at home, but Burdell, Harold, and Margaret Gwendolyn were still at home with their parents. Burdell also worked as a “Care of Stock Rancher.”

In 1942, at twenty years old, Burdell was living in San Diego, California and working for Consolidated Air Craft when he registered for the draft on February 15. He listed his mother, Mrs. Esther Seeley of Halsey, Nebraska as the “person who will always know your address.” He listed his height at 5 feet 11 1/2 inches, weight at 167 pounds, and with brown hair, brown eyes, and a ruddy complexion.

Although I cannot find an enlistment record for Burdell in the National Archives under the Serial Number recorded for him in his 384th Bomb Group website’s personnel record (39270874), according to his U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, he enlisted in the Army on December 22, 1942.

Of course, at the time, the Air Force was part of the Army, so he either signed up for the Army Air Forces or he was designated so because of his aviation employment at Consolidated Air Craft. [Even without finding an actual enlistment record, I believe the December 22 date to be accurate because Burdell’s Social Security Number as indicated on the BIRLS file matches the SSN for him in the Social Security Death Index (both records found on Ancestry.com).]

Burdell’s two brothers also served in WWII. Older brother Donald Ferris Seeley (1920 – 1974) served in the Navy aboard the ammunition ship USS Rainier, and younger brother Harold Floyd Seeley served in the Army in a clerical position.

Clarence B. Seeley, Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Buslee Crew

At the completion of his military training in the states, Clarence Burdell Seeley became the Engineer/Top Turret Gunner with the John Oliver (Jay) Buslee crew.  After final crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma, the Buslee crew was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group based in Grafton Underwood, England on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated July 22, 1944. The crew flew heavy bomber missions in B-17s over Germany.  The ten-man crew included:

  • Pilot – John Oliver Buslee
  • Co-Pilot – David Franklin Albrecht
  • Navigator – Chester A. Rybarczyk
  • Bombardier – Marvin B. Fryden
  • Radio Operator/Gunner – Sebastiano Joseph Peluso
  • Engineer/Top Turret Gunner – Clarence B. Seeley
  • Ball Turret Gunner – Erwin V. Foster
  • Tail Gunner – Eugene D. Lucynski
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – Lenard Leroy Bryant
  • Waist Gunner/Flexible Gunner – George Edwin Farrar

Once the Buslee crew of ten reached Grafton Underwood, flight crews had been reduced to only nine men per aircraft and included only one waist gunner rather than two. On the crew’s first mission on August 4, 1944 to Rocket R&D, Crossbow (V-Weapons), Peenemunde, Germany, Jay Buslee co-piloted alongside pilot Arthur Shwery, giving Buslee some combat training. This resulted in co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht flying with the Paul E. Norton crew, and George Edwin Farrar sitting out the mission as Lenard Leroy Bryant had been selected to fly as sole waist gunner on the Buslee crew’s first mission. Clarence Burdell Seeley completed his first mission as Engineer/Top Turret Gunner.

On the crew’s next mission, Shwery again provided combat training for Buslee, and Albrecht flew with the Norton crew. Farrar was rotated in as waist gunner and Bryant sat out this mission. This August 5 mission was to a military airfield in Langenhagen, Germany with the Buslee crew aboard aircraft 42-37982, The Tremblin’ Gremlin. At the beginning of the bomb run over the target, they were met with anti-aircraft fire. A shell exploded to the side of the Tremblin’ Gremlin’s nose and a shell fragment pierced the flying fortress and struck bombardier Marvin Fryden in the chest. Fryden managed to maintain his position and released Tremblin’ Gremlin’s bombs on the target before collapsing.

The engineer and top turret gunner, Clarence Burdell Seeley, sustained the second most serious injury. A piece of flak tore through the lower part of his right leg above the ankle. Also incurring minor injuries on the mission were navigator Chester A. Rybarczyk, pilot Arthur J. Shwery, co-pilot John Oliver Buslee, and waist gunner George E. Farrar.

The fort had sustained heavy battle damage. The right inboard engine was out. The radio compartment was riddled with flak holes and the radio equipment was destroyed. The trim tabs that control the plane’s balance were shredded. The hydraulic brake system was shot out. Part of the oxygen system was also out, causing the men up forward to use emergency supplies or tap other lines.

Only Fryden and Seeley needed immediate first aid treatment during the return trip. Navigator Chester Rybarczyk assisted Fryden, who remained conscious during the entire mission. Seeley attended to his own leg wound.

The left inboard engine went out as they reached the English coast and Buslee headed for the nearest airfield. Even with his brakes gone, Buslee managed to bring the plane in on the concrete landing strip and slide it off onto the grass to reduce the speed before finally coming to a halt.

Bombardier Marvin B. Fryden died later in an Army hospital with his friend Chester Rybarczyk at his side.

Engineer/Top Turret Gunner Clarence Burdell Seeley was seriously wounded and was taken to the 65th General Hospital for treatment. In the report written up regarding his qualification for the Purple Heart, the circumstances surrounding the receipt of wounds were reported as:

S/Sgt. Seeley was WIA by flak while serving as Top Turret Gunner on a B-17 aircraft on a bombardment mission over enemy occupied territory.

The report continued, describing that the wound consisted of:

Wound, penetrating, right, lower leg due to flak, 5 Aug., 1944. Hospitalized at 65th General Hospital, 35 days.

The 65th General Hospital during World War II was a reserve unit made up of staff from Duke University Medical Center of Durham, North Carolina, and was located in England on the grounds of Redgrave Park in Suffolk County. It was mainly Nissen Hut construction supplemented by ward tents. The hospital had 1456 beds and served from February 1944 to August 1945 as the major hospital center for the surrounding U.S. 8th Army Air Force.

Combat Data Specialist Keith Ellefson speculated that,

I suspect the 65th General Hospital was the general hospital closest to the field (Halesworth, Station 365) that they landed at upon return from the mission. Once he [Seeley] was ambulatory and it was determined that he would possibly recover well enough to go back on flight status, I imagine he would be returned to GU [the 384th’s base at Grafton Underwood] for convalescence and evaluation by the squadron flight surgeon.

Following his flak injury, Burdell Seeley was not able to fly again for almost two months.  As a result, he was grounded until October 1944.

With Seeley out as the Buslee crew’s engineer/top turret gunner, and the fact that flight crews had been reduced to only one waist gunner, Lenard Leroy Bryant was moved into the engineer/top turret gunner position on the crew. This left George Edwin Farrar as the sole waist gunner for the Buslee crew.

On September 28, just days before Seeley would return to flight duty, Lazy Daisy carrying the Brodie crew collided with 43-37822 carrying the Buslee crew after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Of the Buslee crew, only waist gunner George Edwin Farrar survived. The other eight members of the crew (see note below) were killed in the mid-air collision.

Burdell Seeley returned to flight duty for Mission 203 on October 2, 1944. He safely completed his tour with 34 missions, the last being Mission 285 on March 10, 1945, and was able to return home.

Clarence Burdell Seeley was released from military service on June 12, 1945. He and Patricia Louise Johnson of Merna, Nebraska were married that year.

Burdell returned to cattle ranching after the war and he and Patricia had two children. Burdell died on March 18, 1980 at 58 years old of a heart attack while working cattle in the corral with a neighbor. He is buried at the Kilfoil Cemetery in Merna, Custer County, Nebraska.

Note

On the September 28, 1944 mission the Buslee crew was made up of:

  • 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.
  • Tail Gunner – Gerald Lee Andersen
  • Waist Gunner – George Edwin Farrar (my dad)

Note of Apology

In an earlier post, I incorrectly identified Clarence B. Seeley, engineer/top turret gunner of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 384th Bomb Group, as Clarence Benjamin Seeley, born on February 26, 1921 to Clarence A. and Marie A. Seeley, died August 17, 2007 in Portland, Clackamas County, Oregon. Interestingly, both Seeley families had roots in both Iowa and Nebraska, so I think it’s possible there could be a family relationship somewhere between them. Regardless, I apologize to both Seeley families for the mis-identification and thank Clarence Burdell Seeley’s grandson, Jess Seeley, for correcting me and providing me with biographical information on his grandfather, Burdell.

Sources

Press Release of the Buslee Crew’s August 5, 1944 Mission as reported in the Park Ridge, Illinois Advocate

65th General Hospital

Clarence Burdell Seeley and family memorial infomation on FindaGrave.com

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Crewmates, Part 2 of 2

Continued from Crewmates, Part 1 of 2…

Photos of my dad, George Edwin Farrar, and the 32 airmen he flew missions with on B-17’s in WWII

Albrecht, David Franklin

Co-Pilot
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

David Franklin Albrecht

Andersen, Gerald Lee

Tail Gunner
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

Gerald Lee Andersen

Bryant, Lenard Leroy

Top Turret Gunner
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

Lenard Leroy Bryant

Buslee, John Oliver

Pilot
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

John Oliver “Jay” Buslee

Davis, James Buford

Bombardier
Completed Tour

James Buford Davis, second bombardier of the John Buslee crew

Fairfield, William Adelbert

Commander
Completed Tour

William A. Fairfield

Farrar, George Edwin (my dad)

Waist Gunner
Prisoner of War – Stalag Luft IV, September 28, 1944

George Edwin Farrar

Foster, Erwin Vernon

Ball Turret Gunner
Completed Tour

Erwin Vernon Foster

Fryden, Marvin

Bombardier
Killed in Action, August 5, 1944

Possibly Marvin Fryden

Galloway, Leonard (NMI)

Navigator
Completed Tour

Leonard Galloway

Henson, William Alvin

Navigator
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

William Alvin Henson II

Jacobs, Edward Gregory

Navigator
Prisoner of War, November 16, 1944
Edward Gregory Jacobs was part of the Dale McKinney crew and is likely in this photo, but unidentified. Individual photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

Dale M McKinney Crew. All unidentified except:
Albert Richard Macuch (flexible gunner): second row, second from left.
Donald George Springsted (co-pilot): first row second from left.

Jacobson, George John

Navigator
Completed Tour

George John Jacobson

La Chine, Lloyd Earl

Tail Gunner
Completed Tour

LLoyd E. La Chine

Leschak, Nickolas

Togglier
Completed Tour

Nickolas (or Nicholas) Leschak

Lord, Kenneth Smith

Navigator
Completed Tour

Kenneth S. Lord

Lucynski, Eugene Daniel

Tail Gunner
Wounded in Action, September 19, 1944

Eugene Daniel Lucynski

Macuch, Albert Richard

Tail Gunner
Wounded in Action, November 16, 1944

Albert Richard Macuch

McMann, George Francis

Ball Turret Gunner
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944
Photo unavailable.  If you have one to share, please contact me.

Meyer, Melvin J

Radio Operator
Completed Tour
Melvin J Meyer was part of the Dale McKinney crew and is likely in the crew photo above, but unidentified. Individual photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

Miller, Irving L

Ball Turret Gunner
Completed Tour

Irving L. Miller

Mitchell, Robert McKinley

Ball Turret Gunner
Completed Tour

Robert McKinley Mitchell

Murphy, William C

Top Turret Gunner
Killed in Action, November 16, 1944
William C Murphy was part of the Dale McKinney crew and is likely in the crew photo above, but unidentified. Individual photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

Peluso, Sebastiano Joseph

Radio Operator
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944

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

Reed, William M

Pilot
Completed Tour

William Reed

Rybarczyk, Chester Anthony

Navigator
Completed Tour

Chester Anthony Rybarczyk

Seeley, Clarence Benjamin

Top Turret Gunner
Completed Tour

Clarence Benjamin “Ben” Seeley

Sherriff, Albert Keith

Radio Operator
Completed Tour

Albert K. Sherriff

Shwery, Arthur J

Pilot/Training Mission
Completed Tour

Arthur Shwery

Springsted, Donald George

Co-Pilot
Completed Tour
Donald George Springsted was part of the Dale McKinney crew and is identified in the crew photo above. Otherwise, individual photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

Donald George Springstead

Stearns, Robert Sumner

Bombardier
Killed in Action, September 28, 1944
Military era photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

(Possibly) Robert Sumner Stearns

Ward, Donald L

Bombardier
Completed Tour

Donald L. Ward

Watson, Paul Leland

Ball Turret Gunner
Prisoner of War – Stalag Luft IV, November 16, 1944
Military era photo unavailable. If you have one to share, please contact me.

Paul Leland Watson Washington Iowa HS 1941 Yearbook Photo (Freshman)

Photos courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s personal collection and that of the 384th Bomb Group photo gallery.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020