Bob Weiler was the left waist-gunner on a B-29 Superfortress dubbed “Sky Scrapper,” part of the 61th Bomb Squadron, 39th Bomb Group, 314h Bomb Wing of the 20th Air Force, based on Guam in the Mariana Islands bombing Japan late in World War II.
Larry Rhodes of Venice grew up in Far Rockaway, N.Y. Just out of high school in 1941 he went to work for Republic Aviation building P-47 “Thunderbolt” fighter planes on Long Island, N.Y. for World War II.
It was Capt. Harold Keathley’s 33rd combat mission flying “Skookum,” a B-29 “Superfortress” over Japan loaded with incendiary bombs. The target: Aomori, located along the coast of Honshu, the northernmost main island. What made this bombing mission special was that the crew flew from Tinian Island in the Pacific to Aomori and back, a distance…
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.
1st. Lt. Guice Johnson was the bombardier on the 12-man crew of the first B-29 to land on Tinian Island during the closing months of World War II. In fact, when Capt. Walter Schroder put down the wheels, the Seabees were still working to build the runway.
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.
“Ferrets flights” are what they were called. They were aptly named because the super-secret missions in modified B-29 bombers immediately after World War II were made to ferret out information about the Soviet Union’s most sensitive military sites.
By Jim Hussmann Special to the Sun After graduating from the Air Corps’ Navigation School in San Marcos, Texas in December 1944, Jim Hussmann of Plantation Golf and Country Club south of Venice, Fla. was ordered to report to Alamogordo, N.M., where he and 10 other airmen specialists were to begin training as B-29 bomber…
1st Lt. Bob Wachter of Port Charlotte, Fla. was the navigator on a B-29 bomber called “Old Upper Cut” that flew on the last “Super Fortress” mission of World War II. When his squadron left Guam on Aug. 14, 1945, he didn’t know they would fly not only the last, but the longest bomber raid…
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.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Second of a two-part story. When the Korean War broke out in June 1950 George Hardy’s World War II service was long behind him. He flew a P-51 “Mustang” in the 99th Fighter Squadron as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black fighter group, during the Second World War.
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 Gallagher of Englewood, Fla. was serving aboard the USS Trutta, a Tench-Class submarine, as a motor machinist-mate 2nd/class when they picked up a downed P-51 Mustang fighter pilot who was shot down and adrift almost a week in a yellow life raft in the East China Sea.
1st Lt. Ken Stetson, was at the controls of a B-29 “Superfortress” the crew named “Tanaka Termite” when it was attacked by Japanese fighter planes while flying in formation over Mount Fuji on their first of 30 combat missions to Japan.
Dick Honyak walked into the Charlotte Sun newspaper office in Englewood, Fla. six years ago and dropped a big, thick, loose leaf notebook full of 8 by 10 black and white photographs on my desk. The historic photos were of the Marines taking Iwo Jima from the Japanese at the close of World War II.
It was March 9, 1945. Sgt. Bob Wallace was a radioman aboard “Pride of the Yankees,” a B-29 Superfortress flying lead bomber on the first firebomb raid over Tokyo during World War II.