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.
Stanley Niemczura of Gardens of Gulf Cove south of Englewood, Fla. was a tail gunner in a B-24 “Liberator” in the 15th Air Force in Italy 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.
George French piloted a B-24 “Liberator,” four-engine bomber in the Pacific during World War II. He was a member of the “Long Rangers,” the 370th Squadron, 307th Bomb Group, 13th Air Force flying most of the time from a base on Morati Island, southeast of the Philippines.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, when tens of thousands of Allied troops were storming the beaches of Normandy, France, Staff Sgt. Wilbur Butler was flying as nose gunner aboard a B-24 bomber called “Boobie Trap” on a mission to bomb the Ploesti oil refineries in Romania.
When Bill Bingham bailed out of “Lemon Squirts,” his doomed B-24 “Liberator” bomber over northern Italy on Mar. 4, 1945, he never considered the possibility the silk parachute that saved his life would become a family heirloom.
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.
Vern Greenwood of Punta Gorda, Fla. signed up for the Aviation Cadet Program on Dec. 1, 1942, almost a year after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor dragging the United States into World War II.
As a kid Hal Johnson wanted to be a fighter pilot. When he joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 they made him a B-24 “Liberator” bomber pilot.
The American 8th Air Force saved the English from being invaded and defeated by Germany during World War II, according to Wes Belleson, who served as a tail gunner in a B-24 “Liberator” flying from a field near Norwich, England during the Second World War.
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.
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.
Carl Driver of Alligator Mobile Home Park on Taylor Road south of Punta Gorda, Fla. was the tail gunner in a B-24 “Liberator” four-engine, heavy bomber dubbed “Passionate Witch.” They were part of the 13 Air Force, 50th Bomb Group, 23 Bomb Squadron that flew from captured island air bases built by the Japanese in…
Their target: A road intersection near Schonberg, Germany, at the close of the Battle of the Bulge. It was Hitler’s last and largest offensive on the western front during World War II, aimed at blunting the allied advance into the “Fatherland.”
Tom Rebel of Burnt Store Isles, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. said, “I wanted to be a bomber pilot. I wanted to fly the biggest thing they had.” He ended up piloting a four-engine B-29 “Superfortress,” the largest bomber mass-produced in the United States during World War II.
Almost 63 years after a bombing raid in a B-24 “Liberator” over German oil refineries in Romania, former Tech. Sgt. Jay T. Fish of Englewood, Fla. received the Distinguished Flying Cross in an elaborate award ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 2007 along with the other eight members of the bomber’s crew.
Buried in a box of old pictures and military records tucked away in a chest of drawers in Vincent Durand’s Port Charlotte, Fla. home is a medal from long ago.
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.
Old “Iron Pants” decreed that the B-29 bombers would fly firebomb raids over Tokyo at 7,000 feet after taking command of the 20th Air Force. The “Superfortress” crews had been flying raids at 25,000 feet, Bob Althoff, pilot of one of the bombers, recalled decades later.
America’s airborne military might in Europe during World War II was hammered home by thousands of four-engine B-17 “Flying Fortress” and B-24, four-engine “Liberator” heavy bombers that dropped thousands of tons of bombs on Hitler’s “Fortress Europe” from 1943 until the end of the war two years later. By then, there was little left of…
“Glamour Girl” is what Lt. Joe Hart and his B-24 “Liberator” crew were going to call their World War II bomber. But they never got a chance to paint it on the nose of their four-engine plane because they were shot down by Japanese fighters over China on their second combat mission during WWII.
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.
Cpl. Arnold Heins escaped death when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor 61 years ago today because he had just gotten off dining room duty at the mess hall at Hickam Field in Honolulu.
Jimmy Stewart taught former 2nd Lt. Nick Radosevich of Englewood, Fla. how to fly a B-17 and B-24 bombers during World War II.
David McKalip flew 30 combat missions as a radio operator on a B-24 “Liberator” bomber during World War II. The mission that made the biggest impression on him 65 years later was the flight that leveled Dresden, Germany.
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.
Staff Sgt. Raymond Hook , radio operator on a B-24 Liberator called the “Hubba-Hubba,” and the other eight members of his crew were shot down on their sixth combat mission to destroy a German oil refinery during the final months of World War II.
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.
2nd Lt. Carl Citron hadn’t been in England but a few weeks when his unit, the 466th 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.
Disaster struck on Friday, October 13, 1944 for 2nd Lt. Victor Barber a 21-year-old bombardier aboard a B-24 “Liberator” four-engine bomber flying from a base in Foggia, Italy. He was a member of the 251st Bomb Group, 724th Squadron, 15th Air Force.
“Jimmy Stewart was just one of the guys after we got to know him,” Jim Myers said. The Englewood, Fla. aviator flew with the movie star in a B-24 Liberator bomber during World War II.