Bob Schrock missed the war in Europe and when he ended up in the Philippines the war in the Pacific Theatre of Operations was over too.
From U.S. Army Air Corps
Former Staff Sgt. Jim Hicks was tail-gunner on B-25 attack bomber in CBI during WW II
Former Staff Sgt. Jim Hicks of Emerald Lake Mobile Home Park in Punta Gorda, Fla. was the tail-gunner on a B-25, twin-engine attack bomber, part of 81st Squadron, 12th Bombardment Group, 10th Air Force in the China Burma and India Theatre (CBI) during World War II.
Pfc. Bud Jaderholm acted his way through the occupation in Japan shortly after WW II
“I tried to enlist in the Army, Navy, Air Corps and the Coast Guard near the end of World War II, but they all turned me down because of my eyes,” Bud Jaderholm of Oyster Creek Subdivision in Englewood, Fla. recalled. “Then for some reason the Air Corps drafted me and sent me to Wichita…
Lt. Jim Horner flew B-24 bomber on 46 combat missions in the Pacific during WW II
Jim Horner of Oyster Creek Subdivision in Englewood, Fla. was a second lieutenant and pilot of a B-24 “Liberator,” four-engine bomber who flew 46 combat missions in the Pacific during World War II as a member of the 320th Squadron, 90th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force.
He was a ‘Carpetbagger’ – 2nd Lt. Jim Paton dropped saboteurs into Nazi occupied Europe in WW II
They called themselves the “Carpetbaggers,” the 801st Bomb Squadron, 492nd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force flying out of North Hampton England for the Office of Strategic Services. Their mission: to drop saboteurs and their equipment at night behind enemy lines during World War II.
Maj. Thomas McGuire, #2 air ace shot down in P-38 fighter in Philippines
Maj. Thomas McGuire, the number two fighter ace-of-aces in the U.S. Air Force with 38 kills during World War II, was searching the Philippine sky on Jan. 7, 1945 for three more Japanese plans to splash when he was shot down and killed in “Pudgy V” his P-38 “Lightning” twin-engine fighter.
Cliff Hill recalls ‘Rebel Devil’ was a miracle fighter plane
Clifford Hill, a former resident of Englewood, who now lives in Venice, Fla, flew a P-47 Thunderbolt and later a P-51 Mustang fighter plane in Europe during World War II. He was a member of the 318th Fighter Squadron, 325th Fighter Group of the 15th Air Force in North Africa and Italy. This is his…
New Guinea cannibals eye Air Corps Sgt. Francis Drab for Sunday dinner
Sgt. Francis Drab of Venice, Fla. was a member of the 5th Air Force stationed in the Pacific during World War II. He has a war story that almost rivals James Mitchner’s “Tales of the South Pacific.”
Young aviation cadet writes to mom from Arcadia, Fla. in 1918 near end of WW I
I was recently given copies of 14 letters from a young flying cadet named “Clarence” taking “Pursuit Training” at Carlstrom Field, just south of Arcadia, Fla. in the fall of 1918. He sent the letters to his mother. DeSoto County historian Howard Melton let me read them. The letters are interesting and talk a little…
Shot down over Germany – Ed Dostie of Englewood survived 690 days, mostly in Stalag-17
He was on his fourth mission over Germany in a B-17 bomber called “Sky Wolf” when his luck ran out. It was June 13, 1943, their target: the submarine pens at Wilhelmshaven, a major North Sea port.
Sgt. John Adams kept secret electronics going aboard B-24 for Office of Strategic Services in WW II
Sgt. John Adams had a top secret security clearance in the Army Air Corps because he worked for the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was in charge of keeping all of the electronic equipment operational aboard an all black B -24 “Liberator” four-engine bomber that delivered supplies and…
Lt. Floyd Coffield bombed German oil refineries at Ploesti during World War II
Floyd Coffield underwent his baptism of fire on a bombing raid over Ploesti, Romania, flying a B-24 “Liberator” four-engine bomber on May 18, 1944. Some 600 B-24s and B-17 “Flying Fortresses” bombed Ploesti in an attempt to knock out the refineries. The German war machine derived one-third of its oil supply from Ploesti.
Three WWII warriors return to China for memorial dedication in CBI Theatre
Time changes all things, three World War II soldiers learned when they revisited China with their wives last month. [May 2000] The senior warriors from Charlotte County, Fla. were part of a group of 330 Americans who recently spent a week or more in China as guests of the Beijing Aviators Association.
Capt. Stanley Ackerman led “Marauder” bombers on mission to destroy Po River bridge in WW II
The target: A major bridge over the Po River near Pavia in northern Italy used by the Germans in World War II to move men and equipment south to the front line. The mission: 50 B-26 “Marauder,” twin-engine, attack bombers struck the span. Each carried four 1,000 pound high explosive bombs.
Tuskegee Airman tells his tale – Dr. Yenwith Whitney flew 34 missions over Nazi-occupied Europe
World War II was the most segregated war the United States ever fought, according Dr. Yenwith Whitney, a former Tuskegee Airman from Sarasota, Fla. “Many commanders didn’t want blacks doing anything but menial labor in World War II. They didn’t think blacks were smart enough to do things like fly airplanes,” Whitney, who flew in…
Fred Davis of Englewood served in Europe during WW II and 2 tours in Vietnam
Fred Davis of Englewood, Fla. graduated from high school in 1942 and immediately signed up for the Army Air Corps during the middle of World War II.
Sgt. Dick Samuelson of Tangerine Woods kept B-24s flying over Germany
Dick Samuelson of Tangerine Woods in Englewood, Fla. admits “I was no big war hero.”
Elbert Bishop and crew of ‘Betty-J’ watched mushroom cloud rise over Nagasaki
It was their last mission aboard “Betty-J,” a B-24 four-engine bomber named for the pilot, Jack Bates’ wife, that Elbert Bishop of Paradise Park, east of Punta Gorda, remembers most. The crew was part of the 42nd Bomb Squadron, 11th Bomb Group, 7th Air Force.
Former B-17 pilot recalls dangerous missions near end of WWII – Combat flight over Cologne, Germany, most hazardous
By the time Capt. Bill Haase reached England and the 8th Air Force during the last half of World War II, he was an experienced aviator with 15 months under his belt flying new bombardiers on practice bombing missions stateside.
Sgt. Buster Yates stopped Nazi spy ring during World War II
Retired Staff Sgt. Buster Yates decided to volunteer for the U.S. Army Air Corps before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, launching the United States into World War II.
Pvt. Sherfick used his 1903 Springfield to shoot at Pearl Harbor attackers
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, Pvt. Stan Sherfick of Punta Gorda, Fla. was playing catch with a buddy at Haleiwa Field on the north side of Oahu Island, where the 47th Pursuit Squadron was based.
Old note brings former airman and Englishman together again
More than 60 years after a former B-17 bomber mechanic wrote a goodbye note to a 9-year-old English boy during a going-away party for Americans near the close of World War II, the two were once again united through a computer.
B-17 pilot Ernest Erickson wrote about a bombing raid on Berlin during WW II
Ernest Erickson flew a “Flying Fortress,” four-engine bomber dubbed “Lili of the Lamplight,” from a base near Ipswich, England on 35 combat missions over Nazi-occupied Europe in 1943 and ’44 during World War II. It was one of thousands of B-17s flown by the 8th Air Force that devastated Germany.
Arcadia flying-bomb basis for WW II German ‘Buzz Bomb’
The devastating German V-1 rockets that rained terror and death down on the inhabitants of London in World War II, during the ‘Blitz,’ had their birth in Arcadia, Fla.
Lt. Bruno Virgili and Lulubelle Gaehner got ‘hitched’ before he flew off to WW II
Before flying off to war in North African in the spring of 1942 during World War II, Bruno Virgili married Lulubelle Gaehner. It wasn’t easy. He was a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps stationed in Long Beach, Calif. She was working in a munitions plant in Connecticut.
1st Lt. Rex Wilkinson bombed Ploiesti oil refineries and almost lost his B-24 bomber
1st Lt. Rex Wilkinson flew a shiny, silver B-24 “Liberator” bomber he named “Alberta K,” for his wife, from a base at Stornara, Italy on 51 combat missions in 1944 as part of the 745th Squadron, 456 Bomb Group, 15th Air Force.
Herb May of Port Charlotte, Fla. flew as tail gunner in B-24 called ‘Wild Pussy’
A tail gunner in a B-24 bomber dubbed “Wild Pussy,” Staff Sgt. Herb May was on one of the first daylight mission flown by the U.S. Air Force over Berlin in May 1944. He had plenty of company — there were 800 heavy bombers in the armada that day attacking the German capital.
George Hardy of Sarasota was a Tuskegee Airman in World War II
EDITOR’S NOTE: First of a two-part story. George Hardy of Sarasota, Fla. was a Tuskegee Airman. The retired lieutenant colonel began his military career as a member of the all-black 99th Fighter Squadron, flying 21 combat missions over Germany during the final two months before V-E Day in World War II in a P-51 “Mustang” fighter plane.
George Lentz was B-17 top turret gunner in 8th Air Force
George Lentz of Rotonda, Fla. was a staff sergeant in the 385th Bomb Group, 549th Bomb Squadron, 92nd Wing of the 8th Air Force in World War II. He flew 29 combat missions as an engineer and top turret gunner in a B-17 “Flying Fortress” at the end of the war from a base near…
Otto Glass in Air Force months before Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor
Otto Glass was the first young man in his hometown of St. Mary’s, Ohio drafted in World War II. He went in the Army Air Force almost a year before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Dick Holmes was a crew chief on C-47 ‘Gooney Bird’ during WW II
At 17, shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Dick Holmes of North Port, Fla. tired to enlist, but his mom wouldn’t sign him into the military. The following year he was drafted and ended up joining the paratroopers.
Lt. Col. Bill Brown flew KC-135 tankers in Alaska, Vietnam and Japan
Lt. Col. Bill Brown was flying a “Red Anchor” mission off the Russian Coast out of Thule, Greenland in his KC-135 refueling tanker when he got an emergency call on his radar scope.
Floyd Cole flew 30 combat missions over German territory piloting a B-17
Floyd Cole piloted a B-17 bomber on 30 combat missions over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. He was a member of the 452nd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force that flew from a field near Norwich, England.
He twice crashed in B-24s and shot down 2 German fighter planes
Former Staff Sgt. Charlie Collins of Brookside Bluff mobile home park north of Arcadia was a member of “The Cottontails.” He flew as nose gunner in a B-24 “Liberator” four-engine bomber during World War II. His bomb group had cotton bulbs painted on their tails, thus the “Cottontails” moniker.
Alex Brast flew a B-26, twin-engine ‘Widowmaker” in WW II and survived
Alex Brast of Blue Heron Pines mobile home park, south of Punta Gorda, flew a B-26, twin-engine bomber in North Africa, Sicily, Sardinia and Italy during World War II. These bombers were called “The Widowmaker.” Because the planes were hard to land, particularly with one engine out, a lot of airmen died when the hot…
Belgium Underground saves P-47 pilot shot down over Nazi territory
Their target was a railroad marshaling yard along the German-Belgium border. Second Lt. Robert Grace was making his initial pass over the target at Prum, Germany in a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane on May 29, 1944 when he was shot down.
Last of the 7 Bailey Brothers was Tuskegee Airman
Lt. Charles Bailey, Sr. was the last of the line. He was the last of Punta Gorda, Fla.’s “Fighting Bailey Brothers.” The last of a family of seven sons and two daughters who distinguished themselves in war and in life during World War II, Korea and much of the 20th Century.
Airman first meets Lindbergh flying P-38 fighters in Port Moresby, New Guinea
Von Spahr, an Englewood, Fla. retiree, was a 19-year-old armorer in 1943 attached to the 431st Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, 5th Air Corps based at Port Moresby, New Guinea during World War II. His company commander told him to take a Jeep and pick up a pilot flying into the local airstrip in a…