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Budd Peaslee – Part 5

Budd Peaslee – Part 4 was published April 5, 2017 here. (Scroll to the end of this post for links to the entire series).

Almost a year before the 384th Bomb Group arrived at their home base, the initial air strike of the 8th Air Force was launched from the Grafton Underwood airdrome on July 4, 1942, American Independence Day. It was carried out by a light bombardment squadron, the 15th, using aircraft borrowed from the RAF. Six American crews were led by six British crews and they attacked airdromes in Holland.

The next year, the B-17’s of the 384th Bomb Group moved in. This new home of the 384th, Grafton Underwood, was in rolling wooded hills in the English Midlands. The airdrome site was previously a treeless meadow in a game preserve with private herds of deer and owned by an English nobleman. His family castle, which dated back to the days of Robin Hood, stood a short distance away.

The base was originally built by British Bomber Command and had been operated by the RAF. The formal transfer from the RAF to American ownership was scheduled to take place on the one year anniversary of the July 4 mission.

The airdrome was made up of two crossing runways and the end of each was connected by a circular taxi strip. From the taxis strips, about fifty short strips led to the concrete hard stands, or parking areas, for the Group’s B-17’s. There were several buildings: a small two-story control tower, operations and intelligence buildings, and a hangar and shop area. Other buildings, such as administrative headquarters, the bomb and fuel dumps, and squadron living quarters were scattered in the surrounding woodlands.

Two narrow paved roads led from the airfield to the living areas, but the remainder of the roads were gravel or dirt which would turn to mud for the majority of the time. Grafton Underwood was nicknamed “Grafton Undermud” due to the usual condition of the roads. The base had three exit roads which led to neighboring villages. The closest cities were Kettering, about three miles from GU, and Northampton, about six miles from the base.

Once the 384th moved in to GU, they were given only two weeks to get organized and establish their routines. The flyers also took flights over the English Midlands to familiarize themselves with the countryside and learn how to find their way back to base. There were many airdromes that looked similar from the air.

The 384th waited for their moment, their debut, through a week of poor weather conditions after being declared combat-ready. Finally, on June 21, the message came across the teletype machine: ATTENTION, ATTENTION ALL BOMBER GROUPS: ALL GROUPS ASSUME A CONDITION OF ALERT FOR PROBABLE FIELD ORDER FOR JUNE 22, 1943.

With the receipt of this message, all passes were canceled and the gates were closed to all but specially authorized outbound traffic. The bar in the Officers Club was closed. The waiting began for the call that the field order was in. The 384th’s Mission #1 would be the 8th Air Force’s Mission #65. Take-off, or H hour, was set at 0700 hours, briefing at 0500, and breakfast at 0400. The crews were called at 0330.

At the combat briefing, Intelligence Officer Major William Edward “Pop” Dolan told the crews that the main force would strike the synthetic rubber industry at Huls. But the 384th’s part in the mission would be to confuse the German fighters by making themselves obvious while the main force climbed in altitude in secrecy over the North Sea before turning inland toward the Ruhr Valley. The 384th’s target would be the Ford and General Motors factories at Antwerp, surrounded by flak guns. The 384th was selected to lead the attack with the 381st Bomb Group trailing them. Their attack on Antwerp would divert the German fighters from the main force heading to Huls. They were told to expect an air battle. Other speakers at the briefing covered the various phases and data for the mission.

The last speaker of the briefing was Group Commander Budd Peaslee. Peaslee reminded the air crews of their responsibilities, the importance of holding their close defensive formations, and warned them about the tactics of the enemy fighters and that they should remain calm when shooting at the enemy, holding fire until the target was within range. He said they were “each their brothers’ keeper aloft in a hostile sky” and that he would lead them to success on this mission.

22 June 1943, Antwerp Belgium (Industry)
Aircraft: B-17F 547th BS 42-30043 SO*V Ruthless
Source: The Quentin Bland Collection.

The 384th Bomb Group’s web site records the following information for this first mission of the Group:

Col. Budd J. Peaslee led the 384th Bombardment Group (H) on this mission aboard 42-30043, Ruthless.

Combat Chronology: VIII Bomber Command Mission Number 65: In the first large-scale daylight raid on the Ruhr, 235 B-17’s are dispatched to hit the chemical works and synthetic rubber plant at Huls in the main attack; 183 bomb the target; we claim 46-21-35 Luftwaffe aircraft; we lose 16 and 75 others are damaged; casualties are 2 KIA, 16 WIA and 151 MIA; this plant, representing a large percentage of the country’s producing capacity, is severely damaged. 11 YB-40’s accompany the Huls raid; 1 is lost.

In a second raid, 42 B-17’s are dispatched to bomb the former Ford and General Motors plants at Antwerp; 39 hit the target; they claim 1-2-9 Luftwaffe aircraft; we lose 4, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 17 others are damaged; casualties are 1 KIA, 3 WIA and 40 MIA. An additional 21 B-17’s fly an uneventful diversion.

Two of the 384th’s B-17’s failed to return from this mission. The Frederick Disney crew aboard 42-5853, Salvage Queen, was damaged by enemy aircraft and ditched in the English Channel. The Robert Oblinski crew aboard 42-30076 was shot down by enemy aircraft and crashed near Wilhelminadoorp, the Netherlands.

The 384th Bomb Group had officially entered the war.


“Heritage of Valor” by Budd J. Peaslee.

To be continued…

Budd Peaslee – Part 1 was published January 4, 2017 here.

Budd Peaslee – Part 2 was published February 1, 2017 here.

Budd Peaslee – Part 3 was published March 1, 2017 here.

Budd Peaslee – Part 4 was published April 5, 2017 here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017


Budd Peaslee – Part 4

Colonel Budd Peaslee

Budd Peaslee – Part 3 was published March 1, 2017 here. (Scroll to the end of this post for links to the entire series).

In late April 1943, Budd Peaslee received orders from the Second Air Force Headquarters detailing the coordinated movements of his 384th Bomb Group to their base in England. Key officers would be dispatched first to Atlantic City, New Jersey. There they would be instructed in the procedures required to move such a large group. They would greet the ground troops who would travel by troop train the following week to a then-undisclosed location on the East Coast. The air personnel would first proceed to a final staging air base at Camp Kearney, Nebraska.

Following the staging, ground troops would arrive at the point of embarkation via ground transportation, followed by a voyage by ship to England. Air personnel would travel to England via air in their new B-17’s.

On May 9, 1943, movement began to the staging point at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey. The ground troops were at Camp Kilmer for three weeks, and departed May 26 by train for the Port of New York. In fear of German submarines waiting to send them to watery graves, they boarded the Queen Elizabeth and departed the United States on May 27. An escort of destroyers guided them on their way, but turned back the first night out of New York.

After a three and one-half week journey across the Atlantic, on June 2, 1943, the Queen Elizabeth and her precious cargo arrived at the Firth of Clyde and dropped anchor off Greenock, Scotland. The crew staggered ashore on their sea legs and then set off for their final destination.

At Camp Kearney, Nebraska, the air personnel were fitted with new flying gear, and the B-17’s were serviced, checked, and inspected.

In late May 1943, Major Selden McMillin and a hand-picked crew left for their undisclosed location in England. It was their duty to travel ahead of the group to prepare for the entire group’s arrival at their final destination.

A few days later, the rest of the group took off for Presque Isle, Maine. First to take off was Group Commander Budd Peaslee in a B-17F, serial number 43-0063. The aircraft almost immediately experienced engine problems and the crew had to land after less than five minutes in the air and just prior to the takeoff of the next bomber in line. The remainder of the group departed Camp Kearney with Budd Peaslee and his crew forced to wait for repairs, grounding them until the next day.

Aircraft 43-0063 was still experiencing problems the next day, but nothing more could be found wrong with the plane. Midway between Toledo and Buffalo, manifold pressure dropped unexpectedly and the crew had to land in Rome, New York for repairs. A check of the engines the next morning showed everything to be operating normally, so no repairs were made before the crew departed for Presque Isle, where they successfully arrived without further incident.

The day following the arrival of Budd Peaslee and the crew of 43-0063, the group joined the bomber stream to the next destination of Gander, Newfoundland. The route took them across New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and on a two hundred mile overwater flight across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the southern tip of the island of Newfoundland. Part of the bomber stream was then routed to Goose Bay, Labrador.

Peaslee’s aircraft flew perfectly until time for landfall. Aircraft 43-0063 began to slowly lose power as fog was forming over the base. They were redirected to land at a base in Stephenville on St. George Bay, which was clear of fog.

Shortly after daylight the next day, Peaslee and his crew were again airborne. He caught up with the rest of his unit at Gander, as the weather had grounded everyone for several days.

Once the weather changed over the Atlantic, the air crews of the 384th Bomb Group were set to take off. They had to fly above 12,000 feet to avoid a storm. The flight path would be directly across the North Atlantic. Landfall would be northern Ireland, then across the North Channel to the Irish Sea and Firth of Clyde to Prestwick, Scotland.

At takeoff, the engines of 43-0063 ran smoothly, having been once again pronounced perfect by the aircraft mechanics. But four hundred miles from Gander and twelve hundred miles from Ireland, the Number 4 engine was going bad again, with power continuing to drop, causing the ship to veer off course. They had to drop to an altitude of 8,000 feet and reduce air speed, but decided to continue on their course on three engines.

The bomber stream continued four thousand feet above Peaslee’s aircraft. Shortly after daybreak, 43-0063 began to receive radio signals from a station in Ireland. The radio compass indicated that the station was a considerable distance south of the aircraft heading. The navigator believed the ship to be on course and a check with a radio station at Prestwick, Scotland confirmed his belief, so the heading was not changed. The crew later learned that a false radio station had been set up in enemy-occupied France to lure ocean-crossing aircraft off course. Peaslee’s crew would not have been the first to be lost through this deception had they believed the ruse. Instead, they landed safely in Scotland only three hours behind schedule.

All of Peaslee’s group successfully arrived in Prestwick except for Kelmer Hall’s crew. They experienced engine failure in flight and attempted to return to base, but a second engine failed causing them to ditch in the sea. The aircraft broke up and sank, but the entire crew made it into the rubber rafts, spending a cold night afloat. The next morning, a search ship sighted them and the crew was rescued.

The next morning following their arrival in Scotland, the group was guided to their home base of Grafton Underwood in the Midlands of England by Colonel Chuck Marion of the Eighth Air Force Bomber Command. With so many American bases in the area, new crews often landed at the wrong one, so they would follow Marion in group formations.

Peaslee’s aircraft was checked by the mechanics in Prestwick and pronounced ready for flight. About mid-point in takeoff, the Number 4 engine died, but became airborne on three engines.

From Prestwick in southwest Scotland, the bomber stream flew along the coastline of the Irish Sea south toward London and the English Midlands. Sixty miles north of London, over Grafton Underwood, Budd Peaslee made radio contact with flight control, established the landing pattern, and the aircraft of the 384th Bomb Group landed in their new home. They were greeted by familiar faces, the ground crew that they had not seen since Sioux City, Iowa. It was the first week of June and the 384th Bomb Group had arrived in England and was ready to go to war.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017


“Heritage of Valor” by Budd J. Peaslee.

To be continued…

Budd Peaslee – Part 1 was published January 4, 2017 here.

Budd Peaslee – Part 2 was published February 1, 2017 here.

Budd Peaslee – Part 3 was published March 1, 2017 here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Budd Peaslee – Part 3

Budd Peaslee – Part 2 was published February 1, 2017 here. (Scroll to the end of this post for links to Parts 1 and 2).

Budd Peaslee and his 384th Bomb Group left Wendover, Utah on April 1, 1943 and headed to Sioux City, Iowa. In Sioux City, the Group received their new B-17’s. They were beautiful, but there was a problem with the engines. The problem was blamed on the never-ending dust that blew across the airfield, but some thought the problem was actually poor workmanship and metallurgy due to production pressures.

While at Sioux City, the Group was ordered to the West Coast for joint maneuvers with two other combat groups in training. They were based at Salinas Army Air Base in central California and the highlight of the excursion was a show of a hundred bombers over San Francisco as a display of air power. Returning to Sioux City, the Group had their only accident in the United States.

Major Selden “Mac” McMillin, deputy group commander, brought up the rear on the flight back to Iowa. He had been the Group’s dispatcher, sending B-17’s off at three-minute intervals from Salinas, so he was the last to take off. As he approached Sioux City, he could not lower the landing wheels on his bomber.

Technicians worked with him from the tower as McMillin circled the base while attempting to lower the gear, but it was not to be. He had no choice but to land the bomber on its belly, with the ball turret grinding against the runway. It came to a stop after sliding along the runway for about half a mile. The bomber was not badly damaged and there were no injuries.

Training was complete for the first members of the 384th Bomb Group by the end of April. From classroom study, to combat training in firing machine guns and dropping bombs, to mock briefings, and even drills in how to ditch in the North Sea, they were as ready for combat as they could be. The 384th was the first group on record that completed its training without a death.

All that was left was the final inspection by the Second Air Force. The inspectors studied the Group’s training records, made final checks of the combat groups, and examined the state of the organization. Pop Dolan’s intelligence section was commended as the best in the Second Air Force. With every other section satisfactory, the Group, now over a thousand strong, packed for combat duty and took final leaves to visit their families for the last time before shipping overseas.

* * * * *

384th Bomb Group Model Crews

The first crews assigned to each squadron, and the dates of assignment, are given in the following section. These crews were termed “Model Crews” in the squadron histories.

  • Assigned to the 544th Bomb Squad on 31 December 1942: 2nd Lt Kelmer J Hall
  • Assigned to the 545th Bomb Squad on 31 December 1942: 2nd Lt Richard T Carrington
  • Assigned to the 546th Bomb Squad on 31 December 1942: 2nd Lt Philip A Algar
  • Assigned to the 547th Bomb Squad on 27 January 1943: 1st Lt James W Smith

384th Bomb Group Initial Aircrews

The following 12 aircrews were assigned to the 384th BG on Gowen Field (Idaho) Special Orders #32 dated 1 February 1943. Personnel on this list were transferred from the 29th BG at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho, to the 384th BG at Wendover Field, Utah.

  1. 2nd Lt Halseth, Edwin S, 544th
  2. 2nd Lt Estes, Thomas J, 544th
  3. 2nd Lt Hausenfluck, Jesse D, Jr, 544th
  4. 2nd Lt Edwards, Floyd C, 545th
  5. 2nd Lt Armstrong, Lloyd R, 545th
  6. 2nd Lt Mattes, Frank G, 545th
  7. 2nd Lt Henderson, Lykes S, 546th
  8. 2nd Lt Dietel, William, Jr, 546th
  9. 2nd Lt Kelly, James H, 546th
  10. 2nd Lt Pulcipher, Ralph R, 547th
  11. 2nd Lt Ogilvie, Don P, 547th
  12. 2nd Lt Disney, Frederick G, 547th

Final Allotment of 384th Bomb Group Aircrews

The following 20 aircrews were assigned to the 384th BG on Gowen Field Special Orders #70 dated 11 March 1943. Personnel on this list were transferred from the 29th BG at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho, to the 384th BG at Wendover Field, Utah.

  1. F/O Erickson, Gordon B, 544th
  2. F/O Wheat, Delton G, 544th
  3. 2nd Lt Kilmer, Robert B, 547th
  4. F/O Cuddeback, Thomas A, 544th
  5. 2nd Lt Way, John R, 544th
  6. F/O Burgoon, Howard C, 544th
  7. 2nd Lt Myer, Lawrence W, 545th
  8. 2nd Lt Manning, Raymond W, 545th
  9. F/O Lecates, Robert L, 545th
  10. F/O Bishop, Charles W, 546th
  11. F/O Rosio, Joseph, 546th
  12. F/O Wilson, Clayton R, 546th
  13. 2nd Lt Kowalski, Elwood D, 546th
  14. F/O Lee, Roy J, 545th
  15. F/O Hall, Ralph J, 545th
  16. 2nd Lt Riches, George T, 545th
  17. 2nd Lt Olbinski, Robert J, 545th
  18. 2nd Lt Witt, Francis J, 547th
  19. 2nd Lt Koch, William S, 547th
  20. 2nd Lt LeFevre, Charles H, 547th (Frink, Horace Everett “Ev”  replaced LeFevre before going to England)


To be continued…

Budd Peaslee – Part 1 was published January 4, 2017 here.

Budd Peaslee – Part 2 was published February 1, 2017 here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Budd Peaslee – Part 2

Budd Peaslee – Part 1 was published January 4, 2017 here.

Shortly after the 384th Bomb Group officially came into existence on January 1, 1943, ten-man combat crews began arriving from Gowan Field. Gowan Field was near Boise, Idaho, about three hundred miles northwest of Wendover Army Air Base. The crews had already begun transitional training in B-17’s. At Wendover, they would begin combat crew training and the final phases before being shipped overseas to combat. Budd Peaslee was their group commander during this period.

Other troops also began arriving at Wendover from a variety of specialized schools across the country. These men were necessary for a bombardment group to be self-sustaining and included every specialty from housekeeping and cooks to automotive, armament, communications, and more.

Flight operations began with the assignment of training bombers. In his book, “Heritage of Valor,” Peaslee describes the training aircraft as “dogs with an extremely high out-of-commission rate.” Maintenance crews worked around the clock to keep aircraft in the air.

Peaslee reflected that even with the kind of pressure the crews experienced, morale remained good. He credited it with the responsibility the maintenance crews felt to those who would soon face the enemy in combat.

The endless training and maintenance were not the only factors affecting the crews. The winter weather took its toll, too. The winds were bitterly cold and rain and snow squalls were frequent. Winter storms complicated the normal hazards of the training flights.

Training went on day after day with the exception of religious services on Sunday. And once a month, a three day pass to Salt Lake City broke up the routine. This was the norm for the first three months of 1943 except for one ten day period.

The weather officers of the Second Air Force predicted two weeks of foul weather and fog for the Salt Lake Basin and the commanding general did not like the idea of grounding the 384th for such an extended period of time. The 384th had two hours to pack up combat crews and maintenance personnel and take off for a base at Great Falls, Montana for an expected stay of two weeks. All B-17’s in commission were manned by combat crews that were behind in their training and took off for Great Falls, six hundred miles away. Operations at the Great Salt Lake bombing ranges were halted due to fog for the next ten days.

In Great Falls, though it was bitter cold, the weather remained clear and the crews were able to gain valuable experience they would have been without had they stayed at Wendover. They also had ten days of the sights and sounds and girls of the city and managed to balance their work and play without a single incident.

To be continued…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Budd J. Peaslee – Part 1

I have previously written about all of the commanders of the 384th Bomb Group except one. If you ask anyone who commanded the Group, the first – and sometimes only – answer will be Budd Peaslee. Budd was the most beloved of those in charge of leading this group of heavy bomber boys into war. I think he mattered most to them because they knew that they mattered most to him.

Why did I wait to write about the first commander last? Because I found him the most interesting and realized that I could not cover the story of Budd Peaslee in one blog post. I don’t know how many posts it will take to share everything I want to share about this man, but my plan is to write about him once a month in this weekly blog until I’ve said all I want to say.

Otherwise, I plan to return primarily to writing about my dad and his crew and their families during WWII. There are many, many wonderful stories that came out of all the boys of the 384th’s experiences, but I do not have time to write about them all. So I have decided to return my focus to the Buslee and Brodie crews of the 544th and 545th Bomb Squads of the 384th.

I constantly discover new relatives, NexGens, of these boys and want to share the story of their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and great uncles with them, and with anyone else who will listen. We all need to be reminded of their sacrifice in their fight for our freedom. When we are reminded of that cost, it makes our sense of freedom all the sweeter. Know it. Feel it. And share it with the next generation.

And now I turn my attention to that first commander…



Budd John Peaslee was born May 26, 1902 in Napoli, Cattaragus County, New York, to Geoffrey J. and Zella Ida Glover Peaslee. Budd’s father was a native of New York and his mother was from Michigan. While Budd was still a young boy, the family moved across the country and by 1910, Geoff, Zella, and Budd were living in Monterey in Monterey County, California.  The 1910 census lists Geoff as a helper at an oil pumping station.

Ten years later, according to the 1920 census, the family was living in Toro in Monterey County. Today the area is known as Toro Park. Geoff was the Chief Stationary Engineer for the oil pumping station. Geoff and Zella’s family had grown from one to four children. Budd, now 17, had been joined by a sister and two brothers, Julia J. 7, Everett C. 5, and Richard T. 3 years old.

In 1922, Budd graduated from Salinas High School. A later publication of the Salinas High School Yearbook reported that in 1923, Budd worked for Associated Oil Co.

On July 2, 1927, at twenty-five years old, Budd enlisted in the military.

In 1930, Budd was twenty-eight years old and was a married man. His wife was Nettie Caroline Phelps, who was nineteen years old (born June 29, 1911 in New Berlin, Chenango County, New York). Some records show they married in 1933, but the census records show them as married and living together in 1930. Budd was a lieutenant in the United States Army and the Peaslees were stationed in Wahiawa, Honolulu, Hawaii Territory.

By 1935, Budd and Nettie had returned to the mainland and were living in Monroe, Amherst County, Virginia. That year Nettie gave birth to their son, Richard John.

On January 31, 1940, Budd’s wife Nettie died in Riverside, Riverside County, California.

The attack on Pearl Harbor came on December 7, 1941. Just short of a year later, the 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated on December 1, 1942 at Gowen Field, Idaho. Budd Peaslee was named commander of the group on December 18. By now Budd was a veteran pilot with extensive flying experience, including the B-17.

Budd Peaslee could tell you best about the start of the 384th Bomb Group’s training phase at Wendover Army Air Base in Utah on January 1, 1943 in this excerpt from Budd’s book, “Heritage of Valor.”

The 384th, destined to be a combat group of the Eighth Air Force, European Theater of Operations, came into official existence on January 1, 1943, with two officers present. The writer as the commanding officer, and one Captain “Pop” Dolan, intelligence officer extraordinaire. The station of organization was located 125 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah, and about 500 miles to the east of San Francisco, Calif., on as barren a piece of desert as any in the United States. This Wendover Army Air Base stood about a hundred yards east of the Nevada-Utah border. The first official act of the group came when Capt. Dolan, his face whipped to a cherry red by the icy wind, presented himself smartly to the colonel, “Reporting for duty.”

A month later, on February 4, 1943, Budd lost his father, Geoffrey J. Peaslee, who died in Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County, California. Budd didn’t have much time to mourn his father’s passing while he was preparing a B-17 heavy bomber group for war.

To be continued…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Julius K. Lacey


Col. Julius Kahn Lacey was the second Commander of the 384th Bomb Group from September 6, 1943 to November 23, 1943. He was a temporary replacement for Col. Peaslee.

Col. Budd Peaslee hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group to Col. Julius Lacey, September 6, 1943

Col. Budd Peaslee hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group to Col. Julius Lacey, September 6, 1943

Julius Kahn Lacey was born in Elizabethton, Tennessee on September 18, 1904. He grew up in Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

In February 1929, he enlisted in the military as a flying cadet and entered Primary Flying School at Brooks Field, Texas. In February 1930, he graduated from Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas. He was appointed second lieutenant in the Air Reserves.

In May 1930, he received his regular army commission orders and reported to Selfridge Field, Michigan, where he served with the 17th Pursuit Squadron. He later served with the 57th Service Squadron.

In August 1931, he entered the Air Corps Technical School at Chanute Field, Illinois. Following graduation in June 1932, he was assigned to the Fifth Observation Squadron at Mitchel Field, New York.

Before leaving for New York in 1932, Julius Lacey married Page Denman Browne (born April 23, 1913 in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas) in Champaign, Illinois.

Page Browne Lacey, wife of Julius K. Lacey, in a school yearbook photo. Caption reads: A small person that radiates pep and joyousness.

Page Browne Lacey, wife of Julius K. Lacey, in a school yearbook photo. Caption reads: A small person that radiates pep and joyousness.

In January 1934, Lacey served with the Eastern Zone Army Air Corps air mail operation out of Langley Field, Virginia. In May, he returned to Mitchel Field, serving with the Ninth Observation Group.

In September 1934, he enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After graduation in June 1936 with a master’s degree in meteorology, Lacey went to Norway and Germany to study weather conditions and research aircraft icing.

Lacey returned to Langley Field in September 1936 as base meteorological officer. He put the new Weather Service into place for the Air Corps. It was Lacey who proposed transferring the meteorological service from the Signal Corps and he planned and formulated the new organization.

In March 1937, he became the meteorological officer of the Second Wing of the Air Corps. Three months later, he assumed command of the Second Weather Squadron and was regional control officer of the Second Weather Region.

In December 1939, he graduated from a four-month course at the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field in Alabama, and then returned to Langley Field.

In 1940, Lacey was selected to survey port facilities and possible locations for air bases in Greenland. By December, he assumed command of the Fourth Weather Region at Maxwell Field, Alabama.

In August 1941, Lacey was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Air Corps and in January 1942, he became Deputy Director of the Weather Service.

In 1942, he was sent to Europe to analyze meteorological problems that affected the Royal Air Force and US Bomber Command.

In 1943, Lacey commanded the Provisional Group at Boise Air Base, Idaho, and then assumed command of the 103rd Combat Wing at Walla Walla Air Base in Washington.

In the latter part of 1943, Lacey went to England where he commanded the 384th Bomb Group for about three months from September 6 to November 23, replacing Colonel Budd Peaslee.

Col. Julius Lacey, 384th Bomb Group Commander at Grafton Underwood

Col. Julius Lacey, 384th Bomb Group Commander at Grafton Underwood


Col. Julius K. Lacey at a mission briefing, Grafton Underwood

Col. Julius K. Lacey leads a mission briefing, Grafton Underwood


Col. Lacey hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group to Col. Dale Smith on November 23, 1943

Col. Lacey hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group to Col. Dale Smith on November 23, 1943

Following his command of the 384th, Brigadier General Julius Lacey was given command of the 94th Bombardment Wing, which was officially activated on December 12, 1943. The Wing was comprised of the 351st Bomb Group, 401st Bomb Group, and 457th Bomb Group. Lacey commanded the wing until June 1945.

In July 1945, Lacey went on to command the 15th Bombardment Training Wing, and then the Second Air Force from November 1945 to February 1946. (One source alternately states Lacey’s service at this time as: in July 1945, he became Deputy Commander for Operations and Training of the Second Air Force at Colorado Springs, Colorado).

In June 1946, Lacey entered the National War College at Washington, D.C. He graduated a year later and was appointed Commandant of the Air Tactical School, Tyndall Field, Florida.

In 1950, General Lacey joined the Air Training Command and assumed command of Mather Air Force Base, California and the 3535th Bomb Training Wing there.

In February 1952, Lacey was appointed combat crew training Air Force project officer at ATRC headquarters, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, and assumed command of the Crew Training Air Force, ATRC, at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in March.

In October 1953, Lacey transferred to Far East Air Forces, and became Vice Commander of the Fifth Air Force. He was named special assistant to the commander, FEAF, on May 5, 1954. On July 15, 1954 he was appointed J-3, Far East Command, FEAF, and on April 26, 1955 became Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans, FEAF.

General Lacey returned to the United States in November 1955, and was appointed Commandant, USAF Institute of Technology, Air University, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He retired in 1957 as a US Air Force Major General.

Julius Kahn Lacey

Julius Kahn Lacey

Julius Lacey’s decorations include the Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and the French Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre with Palm.

Julius Kahn Lacey died in July 5, 1992 in San Antonio, Bexar, Texas. He is buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, Plot: Section 4 Site 25-A. He also has a cenotaph memorial at Lacey Cemetery in Carter County Tennessee. His wife Page died less than a year later on April 1, 1993 and is buried beside him.

Note:  Also buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery is Robert Fish, fifth commander of the 384th Bomb Group.


© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

Col. Dale O. Smith


Dale Orville Smith was born March 7, 1911 in Reno, Washoe County, Nevada. He attended Reno schools and the University of Nevada for two years before his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. Upon his graduation from West Point in 1934, Smith spent his summer aboard the battleship Wyoming on a midshipman cruise to Europe. He attended flying school at Randolph and Kelly Fields in Texas upon his return to the states.

Smith initially was interested in flying fighter aircraft, but because of his height (reportedly 6’7″), he was transitioned to bomber training. After flying school, he was assigned to Hamilton Field, California. The Air Corps was testing B-10 and B-12 bombers at Hamilton, but Smith was assigned to assist in the development of the bombing technique using the Norden bomb sight.

On October 13, 1935, he married Elise W. Ivy at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Their son, Kort Ivy Smith (b. Jan. 10, 1937 – d. Feb. 12, 1980), was nominated to the United States Military Academy in 1954. (Dale and Elise later divorced and he remarried).

Col. Dale O. Smith

Col. Dale O. Smith

In 1938 Smith began an assignment as an engineering officer and test pilot at Luke and Hickam Fields in Hawaii. Two years later in 1940, he left Hawaii for Langley Field, Virginia. He was assigned to the 2nd Bomb Group, where he flew the early Flying Fortresses. At the outset of WWII, Smith commanded the 20th Squadron of the 2nd Bomb Group. His squadron was placed under Navy control and assigned to hunt submarines. He held several different positions – group executive officer, group commander, and assistant chief of staff – with the Army Air Forces Anti-Submarine Command until the summer of 1943.

Col. Julius Lacey (on left) hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group on November 23, 1943 to Col. Dale O. Smith (on right)

Col. Julius Lacey (on left) hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group on November 23, 1943 to Col. Dale O. Smith (on right)

On November 23, 1943, Smith replaced Col. Julius K. Lacey as the third commander of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force. Lacey had taken command of the 384th only two months earlier as a temporary replacement for Col. Budd J. Peaslee. Smith’s history is reported as his having flown thirty-one combat missions, and his record with the 384th indicates that he flew twenty-five of them with that group based in Grafton Underwood, England.

The 384th Bomb Group’s photo gallery contains photos of three aircraft named by Smith: B-17s 42-37727 named Elise after his wife, one named Kort after his son (which I cannot find in the 384th’s aircraft database), and 44-8007 named Screaming Eagle .

384th Bomb Group Commander Dale Smith with "Elise," the B-17 named after his wife

384th Bomb Group Commander Dale Smith with “Elise,” the B-17 named after his wife

384th Bomb Group Commander Dale Smith with "Kurt," the B-17 named after his son

384th Bomb Group Commander Dale Smith with “Kurt,” the B-17 named after his son

Dale Smith's aircraft "Screaming Eagle"

Dale Smith’s aircraft “Screaming Eagle”

Smith turned over command of the 384th Bomb Group to Lt. Col. Theodore R. Milton on October 24, 1944. Smith was reassigned to the Pentagon, where he spent the last six months of WWII as chief of the Bombardment Branch, Requirements Division of the Army Air Forces. Shortly after V-J Day he was transferred to March Field, California as the director of operations until he was sent to the Air University at Maxwell Field, Alabama in 1946, where he was appointed Chief of the Research Division.

Smith attended the Air War College as a student for a year from the summer of 1947 to summer 1948. Next he attended Stanford University, graduating in January 1951 with a Master of Arts and Doctor of Education degrees. Smith was assigned to the faculty of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base and later appointed Deputy Director of Education at Headquarters Air University. On May 1, 1952, Smith was appointed Director of Education. In October 1953, he was promoted to Brigadier General. On July 1, 1954, Smith was assigned to the staff of the Operations Coordinating Board in Washington, D.C.

In 1956, Smith returned to the Pentagon where he was assigned as Chief, Policy Division in the Plans Directorate of DCSIO, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. Smith played a significant role in preparing the U.S. position for negotiations carried on with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Dhahran Airfield.

When King Saud visited the United States in February 1957, Smith was the military representative in the talks between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In March 1957 he went to Saudi Arabia as the Department of Defense representative. On July 1, 1957 Smith assumed command of the 2nd Air Division (U.S. Air Forces in Europe) at Dhahran Airfield and the U.S. Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia.

Upon completion of his mission to Saudi Arabia, Smith was transferred to the Far East and on Jan. 8, 1958, he assumed command of the 313th Air Division (Pacific Air Forces) on Okinawa. In March of 1959 Smith participated in the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization maneuver “Air Progress” held in Thailand.

Smith was promoted to Major General June 30, 1959, and a year later, on June 30, 1960 he returned to the United States, to Stewart Air Force Base in New York for his new command of the 64th Air Division.

On July 20, 1961 Smith was assigned to Washington, D.C. as special assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Arms Control. He was responsible for assisting the Joint Chiefs on all matters pertaining to disarmament.

Smith was reassigned on July 8, 1963, as the Air Force Member of the Joint Strategic Survey Council (also known as “The Three Wise Men”), which advises the Joint Chiefs and consists of only three officers of two star rank, one from each service, together with three colonel-captain level officers and secretarial help.

Major General Dale O. Smith retired on July 1, 1964. In retirement, he authored two books, Cradle of Valor: The Intimate Letters of A Plebe at West Point Between the Two World Wars, published in 1988, and Screaming Eagle: Memoirs of A B-17 Group Commander, published in 1990.

Smith died January 5, 1998 in Palm Springs, Riverside County, California, and is buried in the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, Orange County, New York, Plot: Section VI, Row B, Site 100.

Smith was awarded the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross with three clusters, and the Croix de Guerre with palm. During his command, the 384th was cited twice as a Distinguished Unit.

Col. Dale Oliver Smith

Col. Dale Oliver Smith


Lt. Col Theodore R. Milton


Theodore Ross Milton was born at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on December 29, 1915, the son of a U.S. Cavalry officer. He enlisted in the Army in 1934, and was selected to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1940. After graduation, he entered Army Air Corps flying training, earning his pilot wings in March 1941. He flew the B-24 Liberator Consolidated LB-30 on submarine patrol from Langley Field (now Langley Air Force Base), Virginia.

Starting in 1943, Milton served with the Eighth Air Force in England. In the spring of 1943, he was assigned as an operations officer for the 351st Bomb Group at Polebrook. In June 1943/September 13, 1943 (conflicting dates from different sources), he became the Deputy Group Commander of the 91st Bomb Group at Bassingbourn.

On January 11, 1944, Milton was wounded on a mission over Oschersleben, Germany when cannon shells entered the cockpit and exploded. On April 6, 1944, he led a group of 730 B-17s and B-24s on the first successful daylight bombing run of Berlin.

Lt. Col. Theodore R. Milton left the 91st Bomb Group on October 23, 1944 to take over as the the fourth Commanding Officer of the 384th Bomb Group at Grafton Underwood, a position he held from October 24, 1944 to June 16, 1945.

Col. Dale Smith hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group to Col. Theodore Milton, October 24, 1944

Col. Dale Smith hands off command of the 384th Bomb Group to Col. Theodore Milton, October 24, 1944


384th Bomb Group Commander Theodore Milton

384th Bomb Group Commander Theodore Milton


Col. Theodore Milton announces Germany's surrender to the 384th Bomb Group, May 7, 1945

Col. Theodore Milton announces Germany’s surrender to the 384th Bomb Group, May 7, 1945


At the end of hostilities in Europe in 1945, he returned to the United States, where he remained until 1948 when he was reassigned to Europe as chief of staff for the Combined Airlift Task Force, which directed operations for the Berlin Airlift.

Between the years of 1949 to 1957, Milton spent two years as director of operations of the Military Air Transport Service, attended Air War College, and served  as executive assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force for three years.

In October 1957, Milton was promoted to Brigadier General and named Commander of the 41st Air Division, Fifth Air Force, Japan, a tactical fighter-bomber command.

Four years later, in 1961, Milton was promoted to Major General and reassigned to Clark Air Base in the Philippines as commander of the Thirteenth Air Force, a position he held for the next two years.

In 1963, Milton was selected as Deputy Chief of staff, Plans and Operations, to the Commander-in-chief Pacific, headquartered at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

Milton returned to the continental U.S. in 1965, serving for the next year and a half as Chief of Staff, Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. In February 1967 he was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force as Inspector General, a position he held for the next six months. In August 1967, he was named Comptroller of the Air Force.

In March 1969, General Milton assumed duties as Deputy Chairman, NATO Military Committee at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. A little over two years later, on Aug. 1, 1971, he assumed duties as the United States Representative to the NATO Military Committee. He was promoted to the grade of General effective Aug. 1, 1971, with date of rank July 31, 1971. Milton retired on July 31, 1974 in that position with thirty-three yeas of service in the U.S. Army Air Corps and Air Force.

General Theodore Ross Milton

General Theodore Ross Milton

Theodore Ross Milton’s military decorations and awards include:

  • Distinguished Service Cross
  • Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
  • Silver Star
  • Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters
  • Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters
  • Bronze Star
  • Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters
  • Purple Heart
  • Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
  • British Distinguished Flying Cross
  • French Croix de Guerre with Palm
  • Various World War II campaign medals.

After he retired, Milton wrote for “Air Force Magazine” and often lectured at the U.S. Air Force Academy. In 1985, he received the Thomas D. White National Defense Award. The award was established in 1962 by the United States Air Force Academy and is presented annually to a U.S. citizen who has contributed significantly to the national defense of the United States.

Theodore Ross Milton died August 24, 2010 in Oro Valley, Pima County, Arizona. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, in Plot: Section 54, Site 6379.


© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

Lt. Col. Robert W. Fish

Robert William Fish

Robert William Fish

Lt. Col. Robert W. Fish was the fifth Commander of the 384th Bomb Group. He assumed command from Col. Theodore R. Milton on June 17, 1945 and served as commander of the group until October 18, 1945 in Istres, France, where the group moved after the end of the war in Europe. He served only four months as commander of the 384th and described his mission at Istres:

…was to fly “high point” U.S. Service men to Casa Blanca, Africa on the first leg of their air lift trip home. Also flew displaced forced laborers from Germany to their respective homelands, i.e. Greece, Turkey, Africa, etc.

Symbolic change of command: Col. Theodore R. Milton hands over command of the 384th to Lt. Col. Robert W. Fish on 17 June 1945 at Grafton Underwood.

Symbolic change of command: Col. Theodore R. Milton hands over command of the 384th to Lt. Col. Robert W. Fish on 17 June 1945 at Grafton Underwood.

Robert William Fish was born on May 30, 1917 in Gladwin County, Michigan. His parents were Amon Emil and Ethel Bevis Fish and Robert was the third of their seven children.

In 1923, the family moved to Ohio. The 1930 Census reports the Fish family living in Claibourne, Union County, Ohio. And the 1940 Census reports that Robert Fish lived in Peoria, Ohio in 1935.

In 1939 Robert joined the Army Air Corps and was trained as a pilot. The 1940 Census (recorded April 9, 1940) shows him living in the Flying Cadet Detachment at Kelly Field in Bexar County, Texas. He had completed two years of college and his occupation was Flying Cadet. His enlistment date is recorded as June 22, 1940, but clearly he was already in pilot training by then.

In 1941, he married Jean Young. She was born in 1920 and was from San Antonio.

In addition to pilot training, Robert graduated from the Air Tactical School, the Air Command and Staff school, and from the National War College. He also taught in both the Air Tactical and the Air Command and Staff schools. As far as civilian education, he earned a degree in Electrical Engineering (before his service) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a major in Industrial Management (after WWII) from Ohio State University and a Master’s of Arts degree with a major in International Relations from George Washington University.

Robert served in many Air Force command and staff positions including twelve years in Washington D.C. He also served in Taipei, Taiwan as Military Attache to the Nationalist Chinese government for two years, which he called an “interesting assignment.” He was the only Defense Attache assigned to a country at war.

Before his short assignment with the 384th Bomb Group at the end of WWII, Robert Fish was a Carpetbagger. In his book, “They Flew by Night,” Fish describes the beginning of the secret Carpetbagger Operation:

On 24 October 1943, Lt. Col. Clifford J. Heflin, the Squadron Commander of the 22nd Anti-Submarine Squadron; Major Robert W. Fish, Squadron Operations Officer; Lt. Robert Sullivan, and Lt. Bruce Akers, the Squadron Engineering Officer, were called to a meeting at Bovingdon Air Base west of London…

…At this meeting the officers of the 22nd Squadron were sworn to secrecy and then they were briefed on a new mission being assigned to their unit. This new mission was designated by the code name “Carpetbaggers.” All of the personnel of the 22nd Squadron and only the non-aircrew personnel of the 4th Squadron would be involved. Two new squadrons would be organized from the manpower pool of the two anti-submarine squadrons.

Under the code name, “Carpetbaggers,” the two squadrons would be assigned the mission of parachuting saboteurs, intelligence agents, weapons and other supplies to the underground forces of the countries on the continent of Europe that had been overrun by the German Armed Forces.

To read more about the Carpetbaggers, see a link to “They Flew by Night” in the Sources below.

Robert William Fish’s military decorations include:

  • Legion of Merit with two Bronze Stars
  • U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross
  • R.A.F. Distinguished Flying Cross
  • French Croix de Guerre a vec Palm
  • Danish Liberation Medal
  • Norwegian Liberation Medal
  • Belgian Liberation Medal
  • U.S. Air Medal with four Clusters
  • Outstanding Unit Award
  • American Defense Medal
  • American Campaign Medal with one Bronze Star
  • Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
  • European-African Campaign Medal with one Silver and one Bronze Star
  • WWII Victory Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Air Force Longevity Service Medal with four Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Republic of China Cloud and Banner

After serving his country for thirty years and through three wars – WWII, Korea, and Vietnam – Robert retired from the United States Air Force on January 31, 1970.

In 1990, Robert published a book entitled “They Flew By Night.” It is subtitled “Memories of 801st/492nd Bombardment Group ‘Carpetbaggers’ as told to Col. Robert W. Fish.” It was privately printed by the 801st/492nd Bombardment Group Association as a memorial to the men of the 801st/492nd Bombardment Group in WWII.

The book is a compilation of stories mostly contributed by the men who were members of the group during WWII. It also includes the history of Robert Fish and the group, as well as stories written by Fish. “They Flew by Night” is over four hundred pages long, but can be read in its entirety on the internet. A link to the PDF file is listed below in Sources.

In retirement in his home on the shores of Falcon Lake at Zapata, Texas, Robert became active in preserving the history of the Zapata County area and he instigated the formation of the Zapata County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse to carry the fourteen “Flags of Zapata” (the fourteen different flags that have been used to claim jurisdiction over the Zapata County area) in formal parades throughout south Texas.

Robert died on October 12, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas. He and Jean had been married sixty-seven years. He is buried in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas in Plot: Section 49, Site 104.

Robert’s wife, Jean Young Fish, died March 16 this year and is buried next to her husband.


  • Robert W. Fish’s obituary as published in the San Antonio Express, can be read in its entirety here at
  • Robert Fish’s book, “They Flew by Night” can be read here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016

Lt. Col. Lloyd Douglas Chapman – the Last Commander

I previously published a list of commanders of the 384th Bomb Group and it seems that I left one out. At the end of the war in Europe, the 384th Bomb Group moved from Grafton Underwood, England to Istres, France in June 1945. Lt. Col. Robert W. Fish took command on June 17, 1945 and stayed in that position until October 18, 1945, just a day over four months. Lt. Col. Fish is the last commander of the 384th I listed.

But the story of the 384th in Istres actually continues into 1946. On October 18, 1945, Lt. Col. Lloyd D. Chapman took command and led the group until the 384th Bomb Group was inactivated on February 28, 1946.

Lt. Col Lloyd D. Chapman

Lt. Col Lloyd D. Chapman

Lloyd Douglas Chapman was born on April 21, 1919 in Walters, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on September 11, 1940. His enlistment record shows that his term of enlistment was for the Philippine Department. It also shows he had four years of high school and his civilian occupation was in building aircraft. Lloyd was single at the time he enlisted, but on June 6, 1941, he married Vivian Jernigan of Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

Though Chapman had only a four plus-month stint with the 384th, he had a long career of service to his country. During WWII, he was both a B-17 (his personal favorite aircraft) and B-24 bomber pilot and flew missions over Europe from both England and Africa.

In 1951 he flew in combat again, leading the first B-29 Bomb Squadron over Korea. Later in his career he went on to fly the B-36 Heavy bomber, B-47 Medium bomber, B-52 Heavy bomber, B-58 Hustler bomber, KC 135 Strato tanker, and the T39 six passenger executive jet.

In his thirty years of honorable service with the US Air Force, Chapman made seventeen permanent changes of station. Some of the positions he held were Instructor Pilot, Director of Operations 303rd Bomb Wing (Medium), Director of Operations Strategic Air Command, Chief of Staff 2nd Air Force, member of the National Security Council where he briefed President Eisenhower on security issues, and the Air Attache to Oslo, Norway.

Col. Chapman was highly awarded, receiving the following decorations during his Air Force career: Legion of Merit – one oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross – 17 oak leaf clusters, Bronze Star – two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal – three oak leaf clusters, American Defense Service Medal – two oak leaf clusters, American Campaign Medal-Europe, African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal – five oak leaf clusters, World War II Victory Medal, Army Occupation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Command Pilot Wings and the National Security Council badge.

After he retired from the Air Force, Northrop Aircraft hired him as the director of the Scandinavian Division where he worked for ten years in Oslo, Norway. While in Oslo he was also the President of the American Lutheran Church Council and consulted for the American Businessman’s Club of the World.

Once he retired from Northrop Aircraft, he moved to Honolulu, Hawaii where he and his wife Vivian lived for 14 years. In Honolulu, he was President of the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church Council. He also advised islanders how to start their own businesses, again through the American Businessman’s Club. He also worked with AFTA helping the islanders with insurance claims, grants, and loans for repairs after hurricanes.

He later suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and he and Vivian moved back to the mainland so they could be closer to family in Scottsdale, Arizona. After a five year battle, he succumbed to the disease. Chapman died December 9, 2004 in Scottsdale, Airzona.

Lloyd Douglas Chapman

Lloyd Douglas Chapman

Note:  Information on Chapman was found on from Chapman’s obituary published in The Arizona Republic on December 12, 2004. His service with the 384th Bomb Group is listed here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016