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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Each crew was originally made up of ten men, although neither crew ever flew missions with all ten aboard.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

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

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

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

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


The Pilots

John Oliver Buslee, pilot of the 544th Bomb Squadron

James Joseph Brodie, pilot of the 545th Bomb Squadron

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

The Co-pilots

David Franklin Albrecht, assigned Buslee crew co-pilot

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

Lloyd Oliver Vevle, assigned Brodie crew co-pilot

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

The Navigators

Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, assigned Buslee crew navigator

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

George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., assigned Brodie crew navigator

The Bombardiers

Marvin Fryden, assigned Buslee crew bombardier

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

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

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

William Douglas Barnes, Jr., assigned Brodie crew bombardier

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

The Radio Operators/Gunners

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, assigned Buslee crew radio operator

William Edson Taylor, assigned Brodie crew radio operator

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

The Engineers/Top Turret Gunners

Clarence Burdell Seeley, assigned Buslee crew engineer

Robert Doyle Crumpton, assigned Brodie crew engineer

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

The Ball Turret Gunners

Erwin Vernon Foster, assigned Buslee crew ball turret gunner

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

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

Gordon Eugene Hetu, assigned Brodie crew ball turret gunner

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

The Tail Gunners

Eugene Daniel Lucynski, assigned Buslee crew tail gunner

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

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

Wilfred Frank Miller, assigned Brodie crew tail gunner

The Flexible (Waist) Gunners

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

George Edwin Farrar, assigned Buslee crew waist gunner

Leonard Wood Opie, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Harry Allen Liniger, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Witnesses to the 28 September 1944 Mid-air Collision

Wallace Arnold Storey, Gross crew co-pilot

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

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

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Patricia Albrecht’s Letter to Mrs. Buslee

In mid-March 1945, Patricia Albrecht, the wife of Buslee crew co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht, sent Mrs. Buslee, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s mother, this letter. Both the Albrecht and Buslee families had learned the sad fate of their sons who died side by side in the cockpit of the B-17 43-37822 in the skies above Magdeburg, Germany on September 28, 1944.

March 18, 1945
Scribner, Nebr.

Dearest Mrs. Buslee:

Your letter went on to Chico, and then back here. I’ve been with Dave’s folks just a week now.

It was grand to hear from you. I haven’t written any letters since I received the news. It doesn’t seem possible and I hope it isn’t true, but I would hate to believe him alive and then someday realize he wasn’t. We heard that the boys’ plane was cut in half by another B-17, out of control. The only hope is that they may have bailed out before, but if they didn’t I can’t imagine them living through such a collision, but as you, am not going to give up hope entirely until the war in Germany is over.

I guess as far as the Government is concerned the case is closed. They have been sending me papers to fill out for Dave’s insurance. I can’t hardly bring myself to fill them out, but suppose I will have to.

I mailed Marilyn a card yesterday telling her about it. Now, I realize I shouldn’t have, but too late now. She made me promise to tell her when I heard something.

I received the pkg. and should have thanked you before now, but you know how you just can’t write now and then. The robe was beautiful and the baby has started to play with toys a little and the toy really catches her eyes. I have a picture to send you of the baby when she was 6 weeks old. She will be 4 months the 8 and weighs about 14 lbs. She looks exactly like Dave did and is just beautiful. I can’t even dream what I’d do without her.

Do you have Chet’s address? I was so glad for him. I imagine it seems pretty swell to him to be home again.

Write again soon please. We don’t know any more about the boys, and the minute we hear some news I’ll write. I’ve been thinking about you folks and Janice a lot. Tell Janice to drop a line. I thought so much of Janice and Gene. I hope to remain

Your Friend Always,
Pat & Nancy

Notes

  • David and Patricia Albrecht married on December 24, 1943. Their daughter, Nancy, was born on December 8, 1944, while Dave Albrecht was still considered missing in action over Germany. Patricia was from Chico, California.
  • Marilyn was Marilyn Fryden, widow of Marvin Fryden, the original bombardier of the Buslee crew who was killed on his second mission on August 5, 1944.
  • Chet was Chester Rybarczyk, original navigator of the Buslee crew who was not on board the Buslee crew’s B-17 on September 28, 1944 when it collided with another B-17.
  • Janice was Janice Buslee, the Buslee’s daughter and John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s sister, married to Gene Kielhofer.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing this family letter with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

A Deep Hurt That Cannot Be Reached

Four days after his last note to the Buslee family, Louis Albrecht, father of the Buslee crew co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht, sent them this letter of sympathy. Both the Albrecht and Buslee families had learned the sad fate of their sons who died side by side in the cockpit of the B-17 43-37822 in the skies above Magdeburg, Germany on September 28, 1944.

Feb. 3, 1945
Congregational Church
Scribner, Nebr.
Louis M. Albrecht, Pastor

Mr. & Mrs. John Buslee
Chicago, Ill.

Dear Friends: Your letter received. We received the same kind of a message. Our sympathy is with you. There is little that a person can say. Just a deep hurt that can not be reached. Our boys have done their duty and I try to feel that this is more than life. I wouldn’t want David to be alive in some men’s shoes. Our younger son was wounded Dec. 1. He was still in the hospital the last we heard. We expect David’s wife to come to be with us soon. May God’s power be with you in our prayer.

Rev. & Mrs. Louis M. Albrecht & Girls

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing this family letter with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Sad News from Louis Albrecht

Eight days after his first letter to the Buslee family, Louis Albrecht, father of the Buslee crew co-pilot David Franklin Albrecht, sent them this short, sad note.

January 30, 1945
(Incorrectly dated Dec. 30, 1945)

Dear Friends. We have just received word that David was killed in action Sept. 28, 1944. We hope you have had better news.

Truly Yours,
Louis M. Albrecht
Scribner, Nebr.

Unfortunately, the Buslee family had received the same sad news on January 28, 1945, which they shared in a letter to my grandmother, Raleigh Mae Farrar, the mother of Buslee crew waist gunner, George Edwin Farrar, my father.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing this family letter with me.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2020

Louis Albrecht Letter to the Buslees

Almost four months since the B-17’s of the Buslee and Brodie crews of the 384th Bomb Group collided over Magdeburg, Germany, the father of David Franklin Albrecht, co-pilot of the Buslee crew, wrote a letter to Jay Buslee’s (the pilot’s) parents. The boys were still considered Missing in Action.

January 22, 1945
(Letter incorrectly dated December 22, 1945)
Congregational Church
Scribner, Nebr.
Louis M. Albrecht, Pastor

Mr. John Buslee
Park Ridge, Illinois.

Dear Friends:  We appreciate your letters and interest and wish to thank you.  I am enclosing a copy of a circular letter which we sent to a number of our friends.  There is very little to add.  We are anxiously waiting every day for more news.

Pat [David Albrect’s wife Patricia] has had her baby girl now.  She is getting along real well.  Since her folks are working that leaves her with the house work and she seems to be very busy.  She plans to come out to be with us soon.

Our second boy had a very narrow escape.  A machine gun was turned onto his buddy and himself.  His buddy was killed.  Junior received some scalp wounds.  The last letter was written Jan. 8.  He doesn’t expect to get to the front line till spring.  We hope and pray that the war may be over before he has to get into action.

We have also been writing to different members of the families of our boys crew.  The news and response was similar to that which you received.  We also hope with you for more and better news.

Sincerely yours,
Louis M. Albrecht

Mr. Albrecht included the circular letter,

Undated
(Enclosed Circular Letter)
Congregational Church
Scribner, Nebr.
Louis M. Albrecht, Pastor

Dear Friends:  As you can see by the heading we are now located at Scribner.  Several factors entered to make moving advisable.  This is a large town, a bigger field, and has more desirable school facilities.  It seemed to be an advicable step from every viewpoint.

The people here are just wonderful, but that is nothing unusual, as we have always found excellent people wherever we were.  We have had extremes of joys and sorrows during the past few months and found that friends from everywhere prayed for and sympathized with us.  During the last three months we received in the neighborhood of three hundred lovely cards and messages of sympathy and good will.  It is almost impossible to write a personal letter to all but we want you to know that we appreciate your kindnesses and thoughtfulness.  We would enjoy a visit from you.

Our older son, David, has been missing since Sept 28 1944.  We have not received any other information.  He had been commended for meritorious service and had attained the rank of First Lieut.  The younger boy, Louis Jr. through a series of bad breaks caused mostly by political bungling, was finally reverted to the infantry and went into active service in Holland and Germany.  He was wounded while in action at the front in Germany on Dec. 1 and is now recuperating in England.  He is probably back at the front by this time.  He has been awarded the purple heart.  Last letter written Dec. 26.

The rest of us are here; the girls in school and Mrs. A. and I are trying to do the pastoral work for this parish.  This is a town of about one thousand, mixed nationalities but a majority of German descent.  It is a beautiful town located on the Elkhorn River.  The church and parsonage are side by side and the city park is just across the street to the east.  The church had been re-decorated during the past year.  New chancel and pews.  We have a nice pipe organ and gas heat throughout.  No coal to carry nor ashes to clean out.  Just keep warm and pay the bills at the end of every month.

There have been quite a number of deaths this fall.  Mostly older people.  This town was hit by a terrific flood last June 11.  It has almost fully recovered.  The people set to work with a will and have re-built better than ever.  The railroad to Dodge and beyond is almost ready for use.

We hope that this circular letter will partly compensate for the nice messages and cards we have received.  May God’s blessings be with you and protect you and yours is our prayer.

Mr. and Mrs. Louis K. Albrecht and Girls.

The 1st Congregational Church of Scribner, Nebraska is today known as United Church of Christ. It is located at 614 Howard Street.

Thank you to John Dale Kielhofer, John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s nephew, for sharing this family letter with me.

© 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

Frigham Young

A few weeks ago, in an article about the B-17 Lead Banana, I published a poem about that Flying Fortress by Lawrence Vallo, radio operator of the Paul Norton crew of the 384th Bomb Group. Vallo was a Native American airman and you can read much more about him in that previous post. I immediately recognized the Vallo name when I read the poem and that got me to thinking about some Norton crew photos I had in my collection.

There is a connection between the Paul Norton crew and the John Buslee crew of which my dad, George Edwin Farrar, was the waist gunner. The Buslee crew arrived at their air base in Grafton Underwood, England about seven weeks after the Norton crew. They were both part of the 544th Bomb Squadron and therefore lived in the same area of the airbase.

Map of Grafton Underwood airbase

Note the circled 544th SQDN in the bottom right corner of the map of the Grafton Underwood airbase. I speculate that the enlisted men of the Buslee crew may have even shared living quarters with the enlisted men of the Norton crew. Among my dad’s photos from Grafton Underwood are several of the enlisted men of the Norton crew, which I share below with further descriptions. I believe all of these casual photos may have been taken in the same time period as this one of my dad and some of his Buslee enlisted crewmates.

Buslee crewmates left to right: George Edwin Farrar (waist gunner), Lenard Leroy Bryant (top turret gunner), Erwin V. Foster (ball turret gunner), and Sebastiano Joseph Peluso (radio operator). In the background (left) are tents, and (right) a latrine.

The Buslee crew’s first mission with the 384th Bomb Group was on August 4, 1944. It was a training mission for crew pilot John Buslee. With Buslee in the co-pilot seat and Arthur Shwery showing him the ropes, that didn’t leave a spot in the cockpit for Buslee’s co-pilot David Albrecht. So Albrecht got in some training himself flying as co-pilot with the Paul Norton crew.

 

L to R: (I believe) David Albrecht and Carl Guinn
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

I think the photo (above) is of the Buslee crew’s David Albrecht on the left and the Norton crew’s Carl Guinn on the right. Carl was the Norton crew’s engineer/top turret gunner and his position in the aircraft was directly behind the pilot’s compartment. The engineer interacted with and assisted the pilot and co-pilot and was in charge of interpreting the instrument readings during flight. A good engineer knew what the combination of instrument readings meant as far as condition of the engines, etc.

I believe the photo, and most of the others included here, were taken after the completion of the August 4, 1944 mission. The next photo will explain why.

Standing, L to R: (I believe) John Bregant, Carl Guinn, and Lester Noble
Kneeling with jacket: Clarence Bigley
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

Notice the flight jacket in the above photo. The man holding it was Norton crew waist gunner turned togglier Clarence Bigley. Bigley decorated the back of his jacket with the crew’s nickname Frigham Young and twenty bombs. I don’t believe it was coincidence that the August 4, 1944 mission was Bigley’s twentieth. As for the name Frigham Young, it was a play on words on the name of Mormon leader Brigham Young as the crew’s commander, pilot Paul Norton, was reportedly a Mormon.

Also appearing in the above photo are Norton crew tail gunner John Bregant, engineer/top turret gunner Carl Guinn, and ball turret gunner Lester Noble. In the crew photo of the entire Norton crew, I cannot identify Bregant. However, I have managed to find a few school yearbook photos of him, and his thick mass of hair gives him away. I am quite certain that it is Bregant in the above photo.

Paul E. Norton crew
Co-pilot Robert C. Barnes standing on left, Togglier Clarence Bigley kneeling 2nd from left, Engineer Carl Guinn kneeling 3rd from left, Ball turret gunner Lester Noble kneeling 2nd from right, Radio operator Lawrence Vallo kneeling far right
Photo courtesy of Tracie Guinn Coons, Carl Guinn’s daughter

The man standing on the right in the above flight jacket photo has Les painted on the front of his flight jacket. He must be Norton crew ball turret gunner Lester Noble.

It took me years to identify Carl Guinn in the photo, but with the help of his relatives on Facebook, we made a positive ID about a year ago. I could never make out the name on the front of his flight jacket, but Carl’s daughter Tracie was able to clear up that mystery. The name painted on the front of her dad’s flight jacket is Jelly. Carl was a southern boy, born in Mississippi and was living in Louisiana when he enlisted in June of 1942. At the Grafton Underwood enlisted mess breakfasts, the other men would tease Carl about his southern accent when he asked “would y’all pass the jelly.”

All four of these men of the Paul Norton crew were on the August 4, 1944 initiation flight of Buslee co-pilot David Albrecht aboard the B-17 Little Kenny. The poet of the crew, Lawrence Vallo, was aboard, too, and so was Thomas Everitt, the Norton crew’s waist gunner.

Thomas Everitt and Carl Guinn…

L to R: Thomas B. Everitt and Carl Guinn
From a lead crew photo courtesy of Mark Léautaud of The Netherlands

and Native American airman Lawrence Vallo…

Lawrence Jonathan Vallo

who later wrote a book, Tales of a Pueblo Boy, about his life growing up in an Indian Pueblo, which can still be found on used book sites and Amazon.com.

Remember the tents in the background of the photo of my dad and three of his crewmates at the beginning of this article? The tents in that photo look to be the same tents that Carl Guinn and John Bregant are standing in front of in this photo.

L to R: Carl Guinn and (I believe) John Bregant
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

Also, in both photos, Carl Guinn and Lenard Bryant are both wearing the same type of coveralls. Carl was the top turret gunner for the Norton crew, and after the Buslee crew’s top turret gunner, Clarence Seeley, was injured on the August 5, 1944 mission, Lenard, previously trained as a waist gunner, took over that position. I believe it was Carl who gave Lenard some pointers as to what tasks a B-17 engineer/top turret gunner performed.

Lenard attended radio school for a while during his training in the states, and was familiar with reading switches and settings, so probably was a quick study for the requirements of adapting to the position of engineer/top turret gunner for the Buslee crew. From his first mission on August 4 as a waist gunner, Lenard had only five days to figure out his new job as top turret gunner on the August 9 mission, not much time for any kind of formal training.

L to R: Lenard Bryant and Carl Guinn
Courtesy of George Edwin Farrar’s WWII photo collection

All members of the Frigham Young crew, including pilot Paul Norton, navigator John Lezenby, and original bombardier Hugh Green completed their tours with the 384th Bomb Group with the exception of one. Co-pilot Robert C. Barnes was killed while flying with a different crew on November 16, 1944.

Paul Norton crew co-pilot Robert C. Barnes

I must conclude, considering that my dad had these photos of the enlisted men of the Norton crew in his collection, that though most men didn’t make a lot of friends outside of their own crew, the enlisted men of the Buslee crew and Norton crew must have been friends and may have even shared living quarters in the 544th Bomb Squadron enlisted housing.

I’d even like to go a bit further in thinking that my dad, from Georgia, and Lenard, from Texas, took a liking to Carl because he was a fellow Southerner. Living so far from their families in America, hearing “y’all” from a fellow airman in England probably helped them feel at home.

Wouldn’t our dads be amazed to know that their children had “met” through a Facebook group because of some long-forgotten photos saved from their time in WWII? Long after my dad, George Edwin Farrar, and Tracie and Debbie’s dad, Carl Guinn, served in that great war, we were able to find each other and make a new connection in the 384th Bomb Group NexGen family.

I have made many such connections over the years of researching my dad’s time in the war and I know I will make many more as my journey to learn more about the 384th Bomb Group and Grafton Underwood continues…

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018

The Boys, Part II

Today’s post is a continuation of last week’s post, “The Boys.” Last week, I took a look at the Buslee and Brodie crews as they were composed on the September 28, 1944 mission to Magdeburg. This week, I want to look at the two crews as they were originally formed, with one exception. I am including two bombardiers for the Buslee crew. The original bombardier was killed on the crew’s second mission, so I am also including the crew’s replacement bombardier.

Both crews were originally made up of ten members. The crews each trained with two flexible, or waist, gunners. At their base at Grafton Underwood, England, by the Fall of 1944, a B-17 crew flew missions with only one flexible/waist gunner, meaning only nine members of the crew flew at one time. I imagine that this was one of the first stressful situations faced by the crews, knowing that the close connection the ten had made with each other in training was jeopardized. One man, one waist gunner, was going to have to fly with a different crew. I’ll look into how that played out for the Buslee and Brodie crews.

These are the two crews as they were originally assigned to the 384th Bomb Group:

The Buslee Crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron

PILOT John Oliver Buslee, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

John Oliver Buslee

CO-PILOT David Franklin Albrecht, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

David Franklin Albrecht

NAVIGATOR Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, original Buslee crew member, completed tour

BOMBARDIER Marvin Fryden, original Buslee crew member, KIA 8/5/1944 on the crew’s second mission

Possibly Marvin Fryden (if not, James Davis)

BOMBARDIER James Buford Davis, replacement for Marvin Fryden, completed tour

James Buford Davis

RADIO OPERATOR Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Clarence Benjamin “Ben” Seeley, original Buslee crew member, completed tour

Clarence Benjamin “Ben” Seeley

BALL TURRET GUNNER Erwin Vernon Foster, original Buslee crew member, completed tour

Erwin Vernon Foster

TAIL GUNNER Eugene Daniel Lucynski, original Buslee crew member, WIA (wounded in action) 9/19/1944

Eugene Daniel Lucynski

FLEXIBLE/WAIST GUNNER Lenard Leroy Bryant, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Bryant was originally assigned as a flexible/waist gunner with the Buslee crew and flew on the crew’s first mission. He alternated with the crew’s other waist gunner, George Edwin Farrar, who flew the crew’s second mission. When Clarence “Ben” Seeley was seriously wounded on the crew’s second mission, Bryant took his place in the top turret for the remainder of the Buslee crew’s missions.

Lenard Leroy Bryant

FLEXIBLE GUNNER George Edwin Farrar, original Buslee crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV 9/28/1944

George Edwin Farrar

The Brodie Crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron

PILOT James Joseph Brodie, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

James Joseph Brodie

CO-PILOT Lloyd Oliver Vevle, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Lloyd Oliver Vevlve

NAVIGATOR George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., original Brodie crew member, POW Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (served Stalag 9-C)

No photo available

BOMBARDIER William Douglas Barnes, Jr., original Brodie crew member, completed tour

William Douglas Barnes, Jr.

RADIO OPERATOR William Edson Taylor, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV 10/5/1944

No photo available

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Robert Doyle Crumpton, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Robert Doyle Crumpton

BALL TURRET GUNNER Gordon Eugene Hetu, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

TAIL GUNNER Wilfred Frank Miller, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

No photo available

FLEXIBLE/WAIST GUNNER Leonard Wood Opie, original Brodie crew member, TBD (to be determined)

Opie and the other Brodie crew waist gunner, Harry Liniger, alternated flying waist with the Brodie crew in the month of August 1944. Opie flew only three missions with the crew and his record with the 384th ends there. The remainder of his WWII service remains unknown.

No photo available

FLEXIBLE/WAIST GUNNER Harry Allen Liniger, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

Harry Allen Liniger

Five of the enlisted men of the Brodie crew

Far left: Harry Allen Liniger, Waist/Flexible Gunner on the James J. Brodie Crew

I have connected with many children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews of these boys. If I have not connected with you yet, and you are related to any of them, please comment or e-mail me. If anyone can provide pictures of those I don’t have yet, that would be greatly appreciated. They all deserve to be honored for their service and their fight for our freedom.

Original crew lists provided by the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

The Boys

On September 28, 1944, the Lead Banana, manned by the Buslee crew, and the Lazy Daisy, manned by the Brodie crew collided after coming off the target at Magdeburg, Germany. Neither crew of the 384th Bomb Group was the original crew as assigned.

That day, the Buslee crew was made up of five original crew members and four fill-ins. The Brodie crew was made up of seven original members and two fill-ins.

These are the two crews as they were that day:

The Buslee crew aboard Lead Banana, 544th Bomb Squad

PILOT John Oliver Buslee, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

John Oliver Buslee

CO-PILOT David Franklin Albrecht, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

David Franklin Albrecht

NAVIGATOR William Alvin Henson II, Gerald Sammons crew, KIA 9/28/1944

William Alvin Henson II

BOMBARDIER Robert Sumner Stearns, Larkin Durden crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

RADIO OPERATOR Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Lenard Leroy Bryant, original Buslee crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Lenard Leroy Bryant

BALL TURRET GUNNER George Francis McMann, Jr., Stanley Gilbert crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

TAIL GUNNER Gerald Lee Andersen, Joe Ross Carnes crew, KIA 9/28/1944

Gerald Lee Andersen

FLEXIBLE GUNNER George Edwin Farrar, original Buslee crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

George Edwin Farrar

 

The Brodie crew aboard Lazy Daisy, 545th Bomb Squad

PILOT James Joseph Brodie, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

James Joseph Brodie

CO-PILOT Lloyd Oliver Vevle, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Lloyd Oliver Vevlve

NAVIGATOR George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., original Brodie crew member, POW Obermassfeld Hospital #1249 (served Stalag 9-C)

No photo available

TOGGLIER Byron Leverne Atkins, James Chadwick crew, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

RADIO OPERATOR Donald William Dooley, from Group Headquarters, KIA 9/28/1944

Donald William Dooley

ENGINEER/TOP TURRET GUNNER Robert Doyle Crumpton, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

Robert Doyle Crumpton

BALL TURRET GUNNER Gordon Eugene Hetu, original Brodie crew member, KIA 9/28/1944

No photo available

TAIL GUNNER Wilfred Frank Miller, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

No photo available

FLEXIBLE GUNNER Harry Allen Liniger, original Brodie crew member, POW Stalag Luft IV

Harry Allen Liniger

Fourteen out of the eighteen boys aboard the two B-17’s were lost that day. Not only did they leave behind grieving parents and siblings, but they also left behind at least five wives and three children.

I have connected with many children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews of these boys. If I have not connected with you yet, and you are related to any of them, please comment or e-mail me. If anyone can provide pictures of those I don’t have yet, that would be greatly appreciated. They all deserve to be honored for their service and their fight for our freedom.

Sortie reports provided by the 384th Bomb Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017