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Collecting Very Special Signatures

The 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy) Commemorative Wing Panel with 147 Signatures

Calling all Veterans of the 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII!

If you are a WWII veteran of the 384th Bomb Group and you have not yet had the opportunity to sign the Group’s Commemorative Wing Panel, or if you know, or know of, a 384th Bomb Group Veteran who would be interested in signing, please e-mail:

B-17WingPanel@384thBombGroup.com

The 384th Bomb Group was based in Grafton Underwood, England during WWII. One hundred forty-seven Veterans of the 384th have already signed and three more Veterans are scheduled to sign in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan in November.

A few weeks ago, Veterans, NexGens (Next Generation members), and friends of the 384th Bomb Group all came together in New Orleans for the annual 8th Air Force/384th Bomb Group Reunion. While the Group’s Veterans were the obvious stars of the show, “Wingy,” as our Commemorative Wing Panel is affectionately known, was a much sought-after celebrity for photo opportunities.

History of the 384th Bomb Group’s Signing Project

The 384th Bomb Group Veterans Signing Project arose from a chance observation in 2008. 384th BG NexGen member Christopher Wilkinson was visiting the EAA’s B-17G “Aluminum Overcast” and admired the large number of Veterans’ signatures on the bomber’s crew door. The significance of personally signing the bomber and the affection they had for the B-17s they flew and serviced was apparent. An idea began to form: might it be possible for the Veterans of the 384th BG to personally sign a B-17 part to honor their hard work? The dream began to take shape after discussions with fellow Group members, and so the search for a suitable B-17 part began.

In March 2010, after a long search, a genuine B-17G wing skin panel was generously donated to the 384th Bomb Group, Inc. by Carl Scholl, partner in the warbird restoration firm Aero Trader of Chino, California. The identity of the B-17G that the panel came from is unknown. All that is known, based on the original ID plate affixed to the back, is that it was built during WWII by Briggs Manufacturing Company and its function is a wing stress panel to enclose the fuel tank.

To ready the panel for its first signatures, warbird restorer and artist Cory O’Bryan of Ontario, CA donated his time and artistic skills hand-painting the 384th Bomb Group shield and Triangle P tail symbol, 544th, 545th, 546th and 547th Bomb Squadron shields, the Eighth Air Force shield, and listed the Group’s support squadrons on the 3-foot by 8-foot long panel.

The wing panel was first presented to the Group at their reunion in Branson, Missouri on October 12, 2010, where the first 10 Veterans signed. Since then, it has been to every annual 384th reunion and has also been shipped to all corners of the country, and has visited 147 Veterans and their families.

The 384th Bomb Group Wing Panel is available for any 384th Bomb Group Veteran to sign who served in any capacity in the Group between January 1943 to February 1946. Families and friends of the Veterans are strongly encouraged to participate with the Veteran when they sign the wing panel.

The project is continuing as Veterans are located, and as arrangements can be made for them to sign, even if they are unable to travel to the reunions. As many of our Veterans are unable to travel, this has become very important to them. The project will continue for as long as 384th Veterans can be located.

At the completion of the Project, when all possible signatures have been gathered, the wing panel – formally known as The 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy) Commemorative Wing Panel – will be placed on permanent display in a place of honor in the 384th Bomb Group display at the Hill Aerospace Museum at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

The project was conceived to be materially and logistically supported by the Group’s NexGen members, solely for the benefit of its Veterans and at no cost to them or their families. This has been an important goal for the project since its inception and has not wavered from this. The project’s success relies entirely on the skill, great dedication and good will of the Group’s NexGen members and friends, and the friendship and great Patriotism of its Veterans. Over two dozen individuals have contributed to the project materially or with their time, without which it could not happen.

History of the wing panel provided by 384thBombGroup.com.

For more information about the wing panel project and past signings, click here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

2014 Reunion of the 384th Bomb Group

The 384th Bomb Group held their 2014 reunion this past week in Dayton, Ohio.  I was very proud to attend and meet a wonderful group of veterans that served with the 384th at Grafton Underwood, England.  Of course, meeting and talking to the veterans and hearing their stories of combat and life in the 384th was the top highlight of the event.

Other highlights were touring the restoration and Presidential hangars of the National Museum of the Air Force, and attending a dinner at the museum Friday night.  On Saturday, we were treated to a tour of a new B-17 being built in Urbana, Ohio and a wonderful banquet on Saturday night.  Speakers on Saturday night were Richard Peaslee, son of the first 384th Bomb Group Commander, Budd Peaslee; Brigadier General J. Kemp McLaughlin; and keynote speaker, Lt. General C. D. Moore.

Four 384th veterans signed the wing panel during the reunion.  Lawrence W. “Red” Gerbig wasn’t able to stay for the entire reunion and signed on Friday.  Saturday night during the banquet, Donald Bean, Leonard R. Neimeic, and Warren Tessmer signed.  By the end of the reunion, the wing panel contained 99 signatures.

On a sad note, for Lawrence Gerbig the 2014 reunion would be his final mission.  He returned home on Saturday, and told his family what a wonderful time he had at the reunion.  He passed away unexpectedly on Sunday morning.  Rest in peace, Mr. Gerbig.  The war is finally over.

2014 Reunion of 384th Bomb Group Veterans - Touring the New Build in Progress of B-17 "Champagne Lady", Urbana, Ohio

2014 Reunion of 384th Bomb Group Veterans – Touring the New Build in Progress of B-17 “Champagne Lady”, Urbana, Ohio

2014 Reunion of 384th Bomb Group Veterans in Dayton, Ohio with the Wing Panel

2014 Reunion of 384th Bomb Group Veterans in Dayton, Ohio with the Wing Panel

I’ll try to add identifications and more pictures soon.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014

384th Bomb Group Wing Panel Signing Project

The Eighth Air Force played a crucial role in WWII.  The 384th Bombardment Group was part of the Eighth and was assigned to the Grafton Underwood Airfield in England.  My dad, George Edwin Farrar, was a waist gunner in the 384th.  As part of my research into my dad’s war history, I learned of a special project – the 384th Bomb Group Wing Panel Signing Project.

The project provides 384th veterans an opportunity to inscribe their names on a piece of history – a skin panel from the wing of a WWII B-17G.  By signing the panel, 384th veterans show their affiliation, pride and respect for each other, their service to Country, and honor the sacrifice of many in the war.  The panel travels all over the United States for interested 384th veterans to sign.

The Wing Panel Project is coming to Florida in January.  The organizers of the project have located one 384th veteran in Ocala who will be signing the panel, but they are seeking more 384th veterans in the Ocala area.  They are seeking only veterans of the 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy) who served during WWII, specifically from December 1942 through the end of the war in mid-1945.

The opportunity to sign the panel is not restricted to combat crewmembers.  All who served in the 384th during training in the US, at the Grafton Underwood airfield in England during combat operations, and in post-war activities in Istres, France, are qualified to sign.

The panel will be in Ocala the latter part of January, currently scheduled from January 24th to the 27th.  Qualified 384th veterans who would like to sign the panel are urged to contact Fred Preller at B-17WingPanel@384thBombGroup.com.