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Rest in Peace, Delbert Storm

I am sad to share the news that the 384th Bomb Group ball turret gunner who became a social media sensation a couple of years ago has passed away just a few months after his ninety-fifth birthday. Delbert Storm’s daughter posted a photo of him on Facebook and asked folks to please share his plea to find other survivors of his group. Delbert was able to connect with his group, but I imagine his photo is still circulating on Facebook.

Delbert was born January 15, 1922 in Blackwell, Oklahoma to George Franklin Storm and Mary Amanda (Armstrong) Storm. In WWII, he served as ball turret gunner on a B-17 on the Edward Sienkiewicz crew.

BACK L-R: LT Edwin Frederick, LT Edward Sienkiewicz, LT William Stockman
FRONT L-R: SSGT Gene Foster, TSGT Alvin Orth, TSGT John Ballenger, SSGT Delbert Storm, TSGT Hollis Crowell.

The website of the American Air Museum in Britain includes a quote from Delbert describing his position in the plane. “Ball Turret Gunners did the job that no one else wanted. A special breed. Flew my last mission in the waist and really felt exposed.”

SSGT Delbert Storm, ball turret gunner of the Edward A. Sienkiewicz crew of the 547th Bomb Squad, on completion of his last mission.

Soon after he completed his service in WWII, Delbert married Betty Dean on January 23, 1945. As a civilian, he worked for the National Cooperative Refinery Association, and held offices in the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union. Delbert retired after thirty-two years of service with the Association. He was a member of the V.F.W., Moose Lodge and Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia.

Betty and Delbert Storm

Delbert’s granddaughter, Sara, shared a memory about her grandfather’s love of the time he was a ball turret gunner in WWII with me. “The Army Air Corp was the time in his life he talked about most. There was ALWAYS a story about it. He loved airplanes and loved to show people his pictures from the war. He was also super smart, super talented (he could literally build or fix ANYTHING) and funny.”

Delbert Storm, trying on his Air Force uniform 71 years later.

Delbert Storm died April 2, 2017. Thank you, Delbert, for sharing your stories and pictures from your time in WWII with your grandchildren. You have enriched their lives and have helped, as the 384th motto goes, to “Keep the Show on the Road.”

Delbert Storm

My previous post about Delbert Storm is here.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017

Delbert Storm Finds His Group

Oh, the power of the Internet. And the power of Facebook. A 384th Bomb Group veteran named Delbert Storm wanted to find other surviving veterans of the group. His daughter posted this picture of him on Facebook.

Delbert Storm original request

He asked for shares and he got them. Last Fall, the picture found its way to the 384th Bomb Group’s Facebook page – many, many times. The picture is still being shared on Facebook, and still being shared with the Group’s Facebook page. (You can all stop now – he found us).

Staff Sergeant Delbert Storm was a ball turret gunner with the 384th’s 547th Bomb Squadron. He was assigned with the Edward A. Sienkiewicz crew on AAF Station 106 Special Orders #146 on July 24, 1944, just two days after my dad, George Edwin Farrar, was assigned to the group with the John Oliver Buslee crew. I doubt they ever crossed paths as the Buslee crew was assigned to the 544th Bomb Squadron.

STORMDelbert547Sq

The Sienkiewicz crew and the Buslee crew also flew the same first mission – August 4, 1944. Delbert survived four-plus months of one of the most dangerous places to be in a B-17 – the ball turret, which hung from the belly of the plane. He completed his thirty-fifth mission on December 11, 1944 and earned his ticket home. Despite flying his first thirty-four missions as a ball turret gunner with the Sienkiewicz crew, Delbert flew his thirty-fifth as a flexible gunner with the Merton D. Klatt crew. Edward Sienkiewicz had completed his tour on December 9, leaving Delbert to complete his last mission with a different crew.

Delbert Storm was assigned to the 384th Bomb Group with the following crew:

  • 2nd Lt Edward A. Sienkiewicz, Pilot
  • 2nd Lt Edwin B. Frederick, Co-pilot
  • 2nd Lt William A. Stockman, Navigator
  • 2nd Lt Anthony John Zanin, Bombardier
  • S/Sgt Hollis S. Crowell, Radio Operator
  • S/Sgt John S. Ballenger, Engineer
  • S/Sgt Delbert Storm, Ball Turret Gunner
  • Sgt. August F. Wilson, Tail Gunner
  • Sgt. Garnet E. Foster, Flexible Gunner
  • Pvt. Alvin W. Orth, Flexible Gunner

A common occurrence in the 384th, at times the Sienkiewicz crew needed replacement personnel. As a result, Delbert Storm served on at least one mission with 31 different crew mates:

Rank Name Position Missions Flown
Together
2Lt Baker, John R CP 1
S/S-T/S Ballenger, John S TT 37
S-S/S Clairday, Willard Lee TG 1
S/S-T/S Crowell, Hollis H R 36
Cpl-S/S Davidson, Charles Wayne WG-TOG 1
S-S/S Dippold, Robert J TG 1
Cpl-T/S Dufur, William S R 2
S Dunn, Lawrence W FG 13
S-S/S Foster, Garnet E WG 38
2Lt Frederick, Edwin B CP 37
2Lt Gronemeyer, Lyle J N 6
S-S/S Grubbs, Wilmer H TG 8
Cpl-S/S Harper, Jack R WG 1
Cpl-S/S Jones, Lilburn H TG 1
Cpl-S/S King, Carleon W TG 1
2Lt Klatt, Merton D P 1
S-S/S Kugler, James H WG-TT 3
S-S/S McCullough, Robert E TG 2
S-S/S Menchaca, Jose R WG-TG 1
Pvt-S/S Orth, Alvin W WG 36
S-S/S Patrizio, Angelo A WG 1
Cpl-T/S Pattison, Carroll E R 1
Cpl-T/S Potts, Raymond L R 1
2Lt Sienkiewicz, Edward A P 37
2Lt Stockman, William A N 31
F/O-2Lt Titus, William L N 1
Cpl-S/S Warner, Homer J BT 1
Cpl-T/S Wetherbee, Owen L TT 1
S-S/S Wilson, August F TG 8
2Lt Zanin, Anthony John B 7

While Delbert Storm has found his group, I don’t know if he has actually found any survivors that he actually served with on a mission or any of those that were in his original crew. If you recognize any of the names on this page as an elderly (in his 90’s by now) friend or relative that served with the 384th Bomb Group at Grafton Underwood, England, please e-mail me or post a message to the 384th Bomber Group’s Facebook page (you’ll have to join the group before posting).

In the meantime, Mr. Delbert Storm is now on the list to sign the 384th Bomb Group Commemorative Wing Panel, and has received a beautiful stained-glass Triangle-P memento crafted by NexGen member Keith Ellefson. As 384th Webmaster Fred Preller explains, “these projects are entirely conducted and supported by NexGen members of the Group, to honor the Gift of Freedom our Veterans have secured for us.”

Delbert Storm 1

Thank you, Mr. Storm, and welcome back to your group. We’re thrilled that you found us.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016