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.
Jim Dewhirst was a radio operator aboard one of the many B-24 “Liberator” bombers comprising the 467th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force flying out of Rackheath, England that was turning Germany into rubble.
On most of his 35 combat missions over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, Staff Sgt. Michael Tristano of Heron Creek subdivision in North Port, Fla. flew as a ball-turret gunner on a “Flying Fortress,” a B-17 bomber.
After his first mission over Germany as a navigator aboard a B-17 bomber during World War II, 1st Lt. Ray Griffith of Lake Suzy, Fla. wrote in a pocket notebook he carried during the war: ‘I’m not going to survive my tour.’”
“We caught it on our third trip. All three of our flights were over Berlin,” James Estrep of Englewood recalled.
1st Lt. Wallace Spencer of Tangerine Woods in Englewood, Fla. was on his 28th and last combat mission on March 24, 1945 when the B-24 “Liberator” four-engine bomber he served as bombardier in was shot out of the sky at 20,000 feet by anti-aircraft flak while bombing a railroad marshaling yard in Münster, Germany.
Doug Danforth of Englewood, Fla. was a precocious kid. He graduated from high school at 15, joined the United States Air Force at 17 and went to war with the 27th Fighter Escort Wing, 8th Air Force in Korea on Dec. 7, 1950.
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.
Hugh Bennett of Englewood, Fla. was a radio operator on a B-24 “Liberator” bomber dubbed “The Hard Way.” They were part of the 854th Bomb Squadron, 491st Bomb Group, 14th Wing of the 8th Air Force flying out of a base 90 miles north of London at Metfield, England.
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 wore once again united through a computer.
1st Lt. Matt Williams of Englewood, Fla. flew his first combat mission piloting a B-24 “Liberator,” four-engine bomber over Nazi-occupied France during the D-Day Invasion, June 6, 1944, along the beaches of Normandy in World War II.
On an overcast April night in 1943 a lone B-17 bomber dubbed “Hotfoot Two” flew from Newfoundland to Greenland on its way to Scotland, Ireland, England and the war zone in Europe. The “Flying Fortress” was destined for the 8th Air Force to became one of the thousands of American, four-engine, heavy bombers to wield…
First Lt. Adam Kubinciak was the pilot of a B-24 “Liberator” bomber named “Miss Liberty,” part of the 706th Bomb Squadron, 446 Bomb Group, 8th Air Force stationed at Bungay, in southwestern England, during World War II.
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.
It was the railroad yard at Mannheim, Germany that was almost T/Sgt. Howard W. Dillingham’s and the other seven members of his B-17 bomber crew’s undoing.
“The DAY of Aug. 17, 1943 was to be, perhaps the most important and certainly the most eventful of my life to date,” the late Martin Fetherolf of Punta Gorda Isles, Fla. wrote in his “War Log” from Stalag Luft-3 in the heart of Germany during World War II. It’s where he spent most of…
Like a lot of other young men his age, Ed Lukach wanted to be a pilot when he signed up at 19 for the Army’s Aviation Cadet Program in 1942 near the start of World War II.
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…
John Ross, who until relatively recently lived in North Port, Fla. for 33 years, was the pilot of a B-17 Bomber during World War II. He and his bomber crew were members of the 388th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force flying out of a field near Cambridge, England.
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.
It was June 20, 1944 and 1st Lt. Leslie Nielsen was on his 28th combat mission over Nazi occupied Europe during World War II with only two more missions to fly. Their target: an oil refinery in Hamburg, Germany.
It was supposed to be a “milk run.” The crew of “Angel in Di-Skies,” a B-17 flying as part of the 8th Air Force from a base in Framlington, England, during World War II, was sent on a low-level mission to knock out a railroad bridge near Jussy, France.
2nd Lt. Carl Citron hadn’t been in England but a few weeks when his unit, the 466 Bomb Group, 786 Squadron, of the 8th Air Force, was assigned to a low-level bombing mission in their B-24 Liberators against the German submarine pens at Brest along the coast of Nazi-occupied France.
Col. Carl Citron (Ret.) took a sentimental journey last Thursday morning at Venice , Fla. Municipal Airport on a B-24 “Liberator” bomber like the one he piloted a lifetime ago on 33 combat missions over Nazi occupied Europe in World War II. He was in ecstasy during the 30 minute flight down memory lane as the four-engine heavy bomber circled Venice a 1,000 feet below.
Second Lt. Leonard Pogue knew he and the other eight members of his B-17 bomber crew were in for a bad day when they were informed of their target. For the second day in a row, the crew of “Straighten Up and Fly Right” was ordered, along with the rest of the 493rd Bomb Group,…
They were supposed to fly their final bombing mission, their 35th, over Cologne, Germany on Friday 13th, 1944. They didn’t do it. That was a big mistake.