Up until now I have not personalized this website, but since some people are interested in our wartime experiences, and as I have put a lot of work into this website, I have rationalized that I am entitled to misuse it to this extent.
I was in college at
camp was an experience! Reveille was
very early. Fortunately, I never
overslept. If one did, the barracks
corporal would lift one side of his canvas cot and dump the offender on the
floor. Artie Shaw’s ”
I spent one of the most miserable days of my life at Keesler. I was assigned to KP, which turned out to be on an island. The weather was cloudy and cold with rain blowing horizontally through the tent which had no sides. I was dressed for warm weather. I peeled potatoes for about ten hours (no gloves). I thought I would never get my fingers straightened out! I was about ready for the foxhole and rifle at that point.
I had had some exercise-induced asthma (which I neglected to mention to the military) in earlier years, but I had no problem with physical training (PT). I was delighted, because I did not want to be 4F (unfit for military service).
I was at Keesler for about a month, the month of March. Then I moved on.
stands for College Training Detachment.
Although we had classes and training, the main purpose of CTD was to keep
us in a pipeline until the flying program was ready for us. I went there in early April and stayed for
about two months. I was sent to a
college whose name I would have to look up.
It was on the 7th, 8th, and 9th floors of a tall building in
Our building faced on a busy street whose name escapes me, but the best thing about it was that Stan Kenton was playing nightly at a place just across the street. Stan’s band was a little far out, moving toward what became bebop, I suppose. I preferred Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, etc., but enjoyed Stan.
pleased that my parents got to visit me once or twice from our home in western
was a flying program in CTD, to what purpose I am not sure. We were not taught to fly; no one
soloed. The purpose must have been to
determine whether someone had a fear of flying or uncontrollable air sickness. The airplanes were Piper Cubs. We flew at a field north of the
I was in CTD for about two months, say April and May.
June and July in the
August 1, we moved “across the street” to
enjoyed getting to go to town. A
highlight was that I went in a rotary door at the
Pre-flight lasted through August and September, approximately.
to primary at
Each part of our training lasted about two months. I was in Primary during October and November.
I went to Basic at Perrin Field near Sherman and Denison, Texas. We flew the BT-13, affectionately known as the Vultee Vibrator, because in a spin it made so much noise that you “could not hear yourself think.” Actually, the plane was a good one at this point. It had a 450 hp radial engine, a two-position prop (I think), a wide, fixed landing gear, so one could not forget to put the gear down, and it did not easily ground loop. I did not fly the single-engine advanced trainer, the AT-6, until the 1950s. It had a 650 hp engine and a much narrower retractable gear; it would ground loop, if one were careless.
Although the BT had a fixed gear, I believe that we were introduced to simple checklists at about this point. The first, which one normally completed on the downwind leg, was the GUMP check. G was for Gas—to make sure you were not on a tank that was about to go empty; U was for undercarriage--to verify that your wheels were down and locked; M was for Mixture—to return your fuel mixture to RICH, if you had been cruising on a leaner mixture; and P was for prop—to return the blade angle to low so that you could develop high rpm and power in case you had to abort the landing and go around.
My instructor in Basic may have been a gentleman, but he was one of the most difficult persons I ever had to deal with. In the airplane I was so intimidated that I would literally jump when he spoke. At the time, of course, I disliked him intensely, but later I came to think that perhaps the experience was good for me, toughening me for combat, etc. I know his name but won’t mention it. We never had contact later.
I will describe how his technique was different, to say the least. The students were seemingly all soloing after 6 or 7 hours of dual instruction. I did not. I had 8, 9, 10, 11, finally soloed at 12 hours, the last to solo, I think. Of course, I thought that I was on the verge of washing out. Surprise! The day after I soloed I was put up for my 20-hour check, did it and passed. So I went from being the last to solo to being the first to pass the 20-hour check. Then my instructor told me that he would not solo a student who could not pass the 20-hour check. Great, except it would have helped a lot, if he had told me.
Another example was formation flying. The first day of formation training we took off on the leader’s right wing in a three ship element. It was a dismal, cloudy day, and I thought that we were about to enter the clouds. In the middle of the first turn, which was toward us, my instructor growled, “You’ve got it. Three stars every time you get out of position.” He must have been both incredibly brave and confident that he could handle any situation. I don’t know how I managed not to hit the lead airplane.
one of my loneliest Christmases there.
Many cadets, who lived reasonably close, went home. Others had established a serious relationship
with a young lady in
At some point, probably sometime in basic, we had to express a preference for going to either single-engine or multi-engine advanced flying school. For some reason, I had become enamored of the Martin B-26, so I asked for multi-engine. I have often wondered what would have ensued had I asked for fighters. Since I came through combat without injury, I suppose that I should not wonder.
The worst thing about Ellington was the scud (low clouds) that blew in from the Gulf about sundown each day. It was only 200 or 300 feet above the ground, and it complicated our training, as we were not yet equipped to handle it. We lost one plane and two cadets to it.
A second thing that I did not like was having to fly with other students, some of whom seemed marginal to me. Very hairy at times!
I had to make another of those life-changing decisions here. I did well in instrument training. My instrument instructor wanted to nominate me to stay there as an instrument instructor, and he said that I would certainly be accepted. I declined, and as I am here, the decision worked out, but I have always wondered about how the other course would have changed my life. I would have become a skilled instrument pilot with quite a few flying hours, which might have led to my becoming an airline pilot. Overall, I would have had more time at home and would have made more money, but my retirement plan might not have been as good as my military retirement.
One of my father’s brother’s elder daughter, Evelyn Gibson, and her family lived in Houston. They were very good to me, having me to their home and taking me out to dinner more than once. They had two daughters who I have lost track of. Their father died quite young, and I also lost track of Evelyn when her parents died. She and her family came to graduation which I much appreciated.
We flew the AT-10; it was not the infamous “bamboo bomber,” the UC 78, but I think it was made of plywood. The airplane would ground loop rather easily, but I managed to avoid that. Here we learned another memorized checklist, the CIGFTPR check, which one performed before takeoff. C stood for CONTROLS—one manipulated them to insure that external control locks had been removed; I was for Instrument Functioning; G was for GAS--to make sure that the fuel indicators showed full (or sufficient) and that the mixture control was set to the proper RICH mixture for takeoff; F was for FLAPS—to make sure that the flaps were set for takeoff; T was for TRIM—it can be very difficult to maintain control, if the trim is set badly; P was for PROP, to verify low pitch; and R was for RUNUP, to make sure that the power for takeoff could be attained and that the rpm drop upon switching to one magneto was not excessive.
I should point out that these memorized checklists were used only in training; there were two reasons—the airplanes were simpler, and students needed to learn to keep their “head out of the cockpit.” Written checklists were required for the more complicated airplanes, but by then the pilots were more capable of multi-tasking or there were two pilots to share the work in bombers and cargo planes. I think that I can safely assure you, however, that the GUMP check saved many people’s bacon, when they came back from a hectic mission with airplane problems and wounded aboard.
graduated on April 15, 1944. Getting the
silver wings was great, something that has always been special, and I did get
the B-26. The only bit of disappointment
was that I was to go directly to Replacement Training Unit (RTU) as a co-pilot
rather than to
I am not
at all sure how the first pilot/co-pilot determination is made. I suspect that my instrument instructor did
not bother to emphasize my good showing, after I turned down his offer. I think that my regular instructor and I were
on good terms, and I was not aware of any flying incident or deficiency that
affected me adversely. In discussing the
matter later with other co-pilots, many believed that some administrative
person went down the list and assigned blocks of people to this job or that
unless an individual was outstandingly good or outstandingly bad. World War II preceded computers and even card
sorters, so many important decisions were made by corporals. After my recall to active duty during
REPLACEMENT TRAINING UNIT
RTU is where crews are put together and where they undergo training as a crew. Our crew consisted of the following:
J. Kelley Pilot
Leroy Q. Gresham Bombardier/Navigator Mississippi
T. Towery Flight Engineer,
F. German Armorer, Tail
We were all lucky in that Kelley had been an Instructor Pilot in RTU for a year and a half. We got to go on to more advanced training. I was particularly lucky in that Kelley let me fly as first pilot on all but practice bombing missions on which the pilot and bombardier were scored. These were called PDI missions (Pilot’s Directional Indicator). The PDI deflected as the bombardier was working the Norden bombsight, and the pilot tried to keep it centered. Kelley said several times that the better I was trained, the better his chances were of getting back, if he was wounded, and I had to fly the plane.
We meshed well as a team. Leroy was obviously talented and
knowledgeable. Towery was head and
shoulders above most Flight Engineers, knew the airplane inside out, and was
experienced. He had been on B-26's since
early 1942, had been at McDill Field in the days of "A Plane a Day in
After slightly more than two
months, I headed home on 7 July for my final leave before going overseas. My family did not belong to the Country Club,
but we soldiers and sailors were allowed to play golf. It was at this time that I got the golf bug. I played nearly every day, badly, of
course. I reported back to Barksdale on
22 July, and after a week of doing nothing, boarded a troop train on 29 July
for Hunter Field at
We arrived at Hunter Field on 31 July. We picked up our new B-26G and ran tests and calibrations for four days. I saw my first aircraft accident there. We were at the flight line around our airplane and watched a B-26 take off, seemingly normally, but at about 100 feet it did a half roll and went in. Of course, with full fuel, there was an immediate, huge fireball. An unusual incident occurred. A fire truck parked nearby started up and slowly passed in front of our airplane. A young man hanging on was laughing (I think, perhaps, that he had not see the crash), but Towery assumed that he had, and Towery pulled him off of the truck, intending to do him harm. We were able to bring the proceedings to a halt, but the crash was a very emotional thing for all of us, and Towery’s action was understandable on the face of it.
FLYING OVERSEAS BY THE NORTHERN ROUTE
We took off on Saturday, 5
August, for Dow Field,
We left Dow Field on the 6th for
Elsewhere in the website, I
describe the flight into Bluie West One.
The weather was warmer than
On Friday the 11th, we took off
for Meeks Field,
The last leg of our flight was to
IN THE PIPELINE
spending the night in Bishop’s Stortford, we rode GI trucks to the Replacement
Depot at Stone,
that we might have spent the night at Stone, then went by train overnight,
two missions from Matching, which I will describe, and then we moved to
mission was to
second mission, on 29 September, was a tough one. It was a long one to
By the way, I have included a direct link to a list of my missions.
was a terrible incident on 24 September.
Six ships went on a ferry mission to our new base in
was lucky that General LeMay wasn’t running the 9th Air Force.
Group moved to
In his wonderful book about his time in the 391st, “W.W. II: We Flew on Bombers’ Wings”, Homer Buerlein, 573rd, mentions a jerry-rigged shower and eating out of mess kits. We in the 572nd had none of that. The 572nd lucked out.
The bad sides of our situation were that we were a couple of miles away from the mess hall, the field, the briefing room, and everything else. We had to ride in the back end of a 6 by 6; soon there were a couple of feet of snow on the ground which stayed for the winter. I don’t know why I did not make an effort to get a bicycle so that I could be mobile on my schedule.
I flew my third mission on 2 October. Fortunately, it was milk run.
not fly again for nearly two weeks for a reason that, even today, seems
unreal. According to my erstwhile diary,
on 12 October Kelley went out for the evening.
Another of the pilots, Joe Grow, was in the group, but left and returned
to base before the following incident.
The military did not give me anything like an official report of what
happened. The story, as I got it, was
that on the way back from
I don’t know whether the Army ever made an issue of the matter. I was a 2nd Lieutenant in a new situation, somewhat intimidated by officers of high rank, and it never occurred to me to demand a full account. I suspect that no one in the FFI even had his hand slapped.
The bullet went through Kelley’s left wrist; the sleeves of his trench coat, blouse and shirt were frayed at the end. There was a bullet hole in the skirt each of the blouse and shirt, but there was not a bullet hole in the skirt of the trench coat. There was a bullet hole in his pants and in his shirttail. This arrangement meant that Kelley had his left hand in his pants pocket with the skirt of his trench coat behind his hand and arm. I cannot believe that they thought he was going for a gun. Of course, the bullet penetrated his intestines a number of times.
I thought for sure that I would be promoted to first pilot, because I assumed that Kelley had indicated how much training as first pilot he had given me. I think that I would have been given the crew but for an unusual circumstance. An older captain with 2500 hours in BT-13’s had just arrived. His name was Jack Crumal. He was given our crew. He had 100 hours in a B-25 and 20 hours in a B-26. We had some hairy times. It was clear that the Colonel wanted Crumal to lead as soon as possible, probably because of his rank. If I seem critical of him at times, please know that he and I became lifelong friends. He was thrown in over his head and did a credible job.
I flew my 4th mission with Capt Schleicher on Friday the 13th. I flew again on the 14th, my 5th mission, but I don’t know with whom I flew.
22nd, I went with a group on a 48-hour pass to
mission was on 2 November with Capt Crumal flying his first mission. We flew Number 2 position which requires the
pilot to do most of the formation flying.
I noted that Crumal did fine. I
suppose that our crew’s unusual situation made it somewhat awkward to schedule
us. In any event, I was given another
I had been playing guitar since age 9. It turned out that Dick Penneman, one of the first pilots, knew the words to all of the old pop and swing tunes of the 20’s, 30,s and early 40’s. We had a lot of fun entertaining in our wing. I found out that I could sing harmony, so we were not too bad. I remember that we composed a song about our situation. I don’t remember it all, but it was in a blues format and began, “Been looking at the black puffs for thirty-odd missions or more”.
I flew my 7th mission on 19 November with Joe Phalon, a very good pilot and a wonderful guy. Lots of flak, and Mikochik was wounded in the leg.
Somebody pulled out all of the stops for our Thanksgiving dinner. It was a terrific turkey dinner.
My 8th mission was a milk run, fortunately, because a bad situation developed. This was Crumal’s second mission. We flew the slot, Number 4 position. Jack kept getting up in Number 1’s propwash, causing us to rock around and making things very difficult for our wingmen. I told Jack repeatedly that he needed to put the airplane down out of the propwash, but he seemed to be unable to do it. I think that he was being brought along too fast. Finally, after this had gone on for a long time, I took the controls and flew the rest of the formation time.
He landed, of course, and when we cut the mag switches, he turned to me and said, “Lieutenant, if you ever take an airplane away from me again, I will have you court martialed.” Needless to say, our relationship was strained for quite some time, and also needless to say, I never took the airplane away from him again.
became the Squadron Operations Officer, and although he let me check out in the
A-26, he did not keep me with the 391st.
I think that my taking the airplane was a factor. We were stationed together at
Wright-Patterson AFB during
I still feel that I did what I had to do. And I know that the wingmen appreciated it. Despite my assertiveness in this instance, I think that Crumal perceived me as usually not assertive enough.
On his third mission, Crumal led a flight and on every mission thereafter he flew lead of a flight, a box or the group. Therefore, I became a co-pilot in a lead plane. The duties are different from those on the wing. I had to do most of the radio work, check navigation, watch for enemy fighters, watch for uncharted flak, and keep an eye on the weather. When Crumal had to do radio, check navigation, etc., I flew the plane.
A lead bombardier had to be able to get good bombing results in a run of no more than a minute. Leroy Gresham was able to do this and so stayed with Crumal. Crews much preferred to fly on missions that were led by a team like Schleicher and Johnson. They were tops in bombing accuracy and took less than a half minute on the bomb run.
There was one special hazard to flying lead. Panzer Divisions were generally not plotted. You usually became aware of them when accurate flak came at you unexpectedly. They always went after the lead aircraft, and they had considerable success.
You will notice that we flew 836, McCarty’s Party, a lot. Mac had gone home, and we inherited it. It treated us well. We were very lucky. None of our crew was wounded. We never lost a major system, an engine, propeller, tire, or hydraulic system, etc. Many times, however, we had many holes in the aircraft.
I won’t talk about individual missions for the most part. Winter weather restricted our operations a great deal. There were months when one flew only two or three times.
Most people who have studied the air war know about the 391st’s Ahrweiler mission on 23 December when we lost 16 out of 30 airplanes. The 572nd was “off ops” and so lost no people or planes on this mission. We were immediately put on ops, and I flew one mission on Christmas Eve and two on Christmas Day.
one of my best friends on the Ahrweiler mission. I had met Clayton Abraham in RTU, and we
became fast friends. After we got to
not a piece of cake. The Germans must
have brought their guns back into the homeland with them, as it seemed to me
that flak became more intense. The missions became longer, as we flew to the
south edge of the
interesting historical footnote has to do with the
With considerable trepidation, we flew a special mission on 22 February 1945. It was mission number 233 and was named Operation Clarion. Generals Vandenberg and Anderson came and gave us a special briefing or pep talk about Clarion. The purpose of the mission was to disrupt German rail traffic by actual attack and by persuading the workers to stay away. Our understanding was that leaflets had been dropped telling the workers to stay away. We were not clear about whether a specific date had been mentioned, but we had a feeling that the enemy had been warned and would be expecting us. We also had reservations about the mission plan. It called for us to bomb (marshalling yards) from an altitude of 8000 feet instead of the usual 12000 feet. Then we were to do a descending teardrop, coming back at ground level to strafe the rail yard. The actual event went rather well. I do not remember that the defenses were all that strong.
Perhaps I should digress again to say something about fear. Surprisingly, some people ask about one’s reaction. Yes, I felt fear, and I will try to describe it, but I must emphasize that I do not consider myself an expert on the subject. One reason is that we did not have battle injuries or death on our crew. From watching TV shows I can imagine that one’s fear level or pattern could change drastically after a horrible experience. First of all, it is no fun to be awakened at 0400 on a cold winter morning for any reason, but one gets off on the wrong foot, if the reason is to go get shot at. My first sensation was an extreme tightness in the upper abdomen; this sensation became worse or better based upon the anticipated difficulty of the mission. It also went away when the mission got underway. In light to medium flak there was a tendency to become tense, but one cannot fly tight formation and be tense, so one just has to suck it up and do what has to be done. In heavy flak I seemed to have a feeling of resignation; what can you do? Accept it! There were several times when I thought that there was no way that we could survive, but I was wrong, which was encouraging for future reference. I think that we may have had one or two cases where fear was incapacitating to an individual or crew, but I do not know of any specifics. There were several instances of crews being transferred to non-combat assignments, some of which were probably more dangerous than combat, such as flying regularly into Bluie West One. I avoided the special war-ending fear (not wanting to get killed in the last month, the last week, the last day), because I was transferred, as I describe below.
my last mission with the 391st on 9 April 1945.
I was then sent on a week’s R&R to
Immediately upon my return to France, I was transferred.
LEAVING THE 391st
I have already mentioned that I did not stay after the conversion to A-26’s. Per SO-104, 9th Bomb Division, dated 15 April 1944, I was transferred to the 323rd Bomb Group. Theoretically, Thelbert Thomas and I were to “share” a crew. In addition to myself, the personnel were:
Thelbert Thomas 1Lt Bill White’s co-pilot
James A. Burgess TSgt Not in Garnham’s nor my database
Lawrence Stoerkel TSgt R/G on my original crew
Cameron H. Lowe SSgt FE on Jack Steven’s crew
orders do not list a bombardier. The
323rd was stationed at
BG Memo, 27 April 1944, transferred me from the 453rd Sqdn to the 454th. Shortly after this, I was selected to go to
The war ended on 8 May 1945, and I cannot remember whether the following trip happened before or after that date. I was sent with a small party in a jeep to verify what had happened to one of the 323rd aircraft that had gone down in the area some months before. We went through many small villages; the same thing happened every time. Heads would appear in the windows, and when they saw that we were Americans, the shutters would slam closed. We finally arrived at our destination and found the Catholic priest. He took us to the crash site, and we verified the aircraft tail number. Then he took us to the cemetery and showed us where he had supervised the burial of the crew. He had dog tags and personal effects.
result of the war ending, the move to
A strange occurrence was that we were taken to a school for handicapped children for a day; I don’t remember why. I think, perhaps, it was so they could see the people who had saved them from the Germans, and so they could thank us. They showed us much love, and my heart was really touched.
I was then assigned to the 387th BG, 557th Sqdn, by their SO-52, dated 8 June 1944. We were stationed at the field northwest of Roye, where the Australians or New Zealanders in their Mosquitoes had been stationed during the war. I spent the entire summer here, until I finally got to head home in late August. We lived in tents, and the weather was hot at times. There was a lot of flying. It must have been the policy of the higher ups for us to intimidate the Germans. We flew almost daily and were instructed to fly on the deck--legal buzzing. We loved it. Usually we were in three-ship elements; sometimes I led, sometimes I was on the wing. I remember flying by the Cologne cathedral and looking up, way up, at the spires (the area around the cathedral was mainly rubble).
I mentioned that our crew never had an emergency from enemy action during combat. I don’t know how close one of those pieces of shrapnel came to me. During the summer of 1945 I had two very close brushes with death. One night I left a poker game, $300 ahead, because I was scheduled to fly. An hour or so into the flight, as I was in a shallow climbing turn to the right, I saw the lights of another plane in a shallow descent heading for us, perhaps a mile away. I pushed the nose down, beginning a descent, and continued turning to the right. A turn to the left would have been wrong, as I would have been turning into him and would have lost sight of him behind the co-pilot. The other plane had several easy options. He could simply have leveled off or could have begun a shallow turn to the right or both. Instead, he continued descending and turned left into me. I racked the plane into a steep right dive, just in time to see his lights pass within about ten or 15 feet of us. When I got back to the poker game, I must have thrown caution to the wind, as I quickly lost the $300 plus a couple of hundred more.
The second incident came out of nowhere, as most accidents do, I suppose. The field had been a German fighter base with small hangars back in the woods. We parked on the concrete taxiways, headed out. This time I had been up for an hour or two and came back in about 0830 (8:30 am). I swung out to the right in the usual manner, hit the left brake, gunned the right engine to swing around onto the taxiway. Evidently, I was down-grain (to use a golfing expression) on the long grass, and it was covered with dew. Instead of turning, the airplane began “crow-hopping” at a 45 degree angle. I chopped everything and braked as fast as I could, and the plane stopped with the nose 6 inches from the tank of a fuel truck. Another six inches, and we would have been “toast.” I still get the willies when I think about it. One would never imagine such a happening. A flying school would never have such an item in its curriculum. One obvious conclusion was that the fuel trucks should be another hundred yards or so away.
The group commander, whose name I do not remember, required us to have a full dress parade every Saturday morning. When it was over, we played bridge for the rest of the day and again on Sunday.
Hq 9th Air Division, 7 August 1945, sent me on leave from 11-19 August. I went to
I had been selected for return to the ZI (Zone of the Interior—continental US)
before going on leave. SO-89, Hq 387th
BG, 3 August 1944, selected me for return.
I am pretty sure that I did not fly again after returning from
leave. I don’t remember dates, but the
drill was something like this. We were
flown back to England, went to our familiar replacement depot at Stone, then
went by train to Southampton, where I boarded the captured German liner, the
Europa, then the third largest ocean liner, behind the two Queens. The ship was still manned by its German
crew. Because of the possibility of
sabotage, we were accompanied across the Atlantic by the cruiser
first night out we went through a big storm with 50-foot waves (I would guess
because they broke way over the bow of this huge ship). I don’t know how I kept from getting seasick,
but I was okay. The remainder of the
trip was smooth. By the way, the ship
was given later to the French who renamed it the Liberte’. When we arrived in
Korean War came along, I had gotten an engineering degree from
I decided to stay in, had a very interesting career, and retired as a Colonel. I would not have made Colonel had I not learned to be assertive when I needed to be.
I had a number of interesting and unusual assignments. In 1952 and 53, I was on TDY (temporary duty) from Wright Field at the Nevada Test Site with a large number of airplanes, studying the effects of nuclear weapons on parked aircraft. Next I had two academic years at the California Institute of Technology and received two advanced degrees in Aeronautical engineering.
I went on TDY from Wright Field to Eniwetok in the
Because of supporting the program so much, I was rewarded with a student assignment to the Jet Qualification Course at Randolph AFB, where I learned to fly the T-33. I had an unusual incident on my first solo. I hit two birds who knocked off my pitot tube, leaving me without an airspeed indicator. My instructor came up and got on my wing, and I made it back in okay with his help.
In 1962 I was assigned as a student in the Air Command and Staff School, a nine-month school. Then I spent two years on an Air University Briefing Team, a non-technical job that I managed to get out of early. In 1965 I got a gem of an assignment to the Satellite Test Center in Sunnyvale, California. We supervised a worldwide network of remote tracking stations and commanded and controlled the military satellites. I was the Commander when I retired in 1974. I had spent 8 of my last 9 years on active duty there (I had spent one year in the middle on a remote tour at Osan AB, Korea, running the control center in the forward operating location for an F-4 wing).
Regarding our crew in the postwar era, I have mentioned my contact with Crumal. I spent a whole day in Bellaire, TX, which I mistakenly thought was Gresham’s hometown and later searched the internet but was never able to find him. I recently was contacted by his daughter who told me that he is deceased. I have been in frequent contact with Towery and see him at our reunions. Stoerkel does not attend the reunions, but we were stationed together for a while at Wright-Patterson AFB. I located German just before he passed away but was unable to talk to him as Parkinson’s disease had garbled his speech. I did talk with his wife. Theirs was an interesting love story, as probably was true for all of us, but that is a story for another time and place.
Our crew was a good group! The best!