97th BG  Wm Ross  Website Comments and Corrections



Hello Doug,


I just stumbled over the announcement of your great new homepage.


I am especially interested in your coverage of 97th BG.

Having done quite some research into the bombing of my home town Feldkirch in Austria – which was carried out by planes from 97th BG on 1st October 1943 – I try to get us much information on the history of this group as possible.


I could find the mission report of 1st October 1943 through NARA and AFHRA – but so far was unable to gather anything in pictures of planes, crews and the airfield in Tunisia from where the mission originated.

I still do not know, which planes and crews from 97th BG took part in the raid, which was directed against the Messerschmitt factory in Augsburg, Southern Germany, but failed to reach the primary target.

One of my (futile?) projects is to find the bomb strike photos of 97th BG taken on 1st October 1943.


Possibly your father-in-law even took part in that mission?

I am looking forward very much to what you will display from his collection. Apart from the forum in armyairforces.com unfortunately there has not been much on the internet concerning 97th BG.

Maybe you can correct that.


With Greetings from Austria,


Gerhard Winkler

Gerhard Winkler [e.g.winkler@schule.at]




Hello Gerhard,


I share your frustration in not getting much from the web on the 97th BG.  I tried to piece together what I could like a puzzle.   I may at some point do some research in the US Archives in MD.   I would like to get more info. on my own fathers B-25 487th Squadron.   I will update the websites as more becomes available.  I will look specifically for the Oct 1 43 mission.   My father-in-law was back in the States since August 43.


Greetings from Saudi Arabia,


Doug Cook
Northwest Arabia Team Leader
Central Area Exploration Division
Saudi Aramco




Dear Doug,


I have already visited the US Archives in MD personally and found nothing specific. However this does not mean, that nothing can be found there – because my “research” there was restricted to a few hours.

However I have enjoyed the visit there extremely, because NARA is such a fascinating institution. I found the staff there very helpful. I add a picture of my visit at NARA.


I feel, that there is not much on BG level concerning 97th BG to find at NARA, maybe a bit more at AFHRA.

The key to success could be to search documents at wing level (5th wing) or at AF level (12th AF, later 15th AF).

So I appreciate it, if you have a look at Oct 1 43 mission, when you go to NARA.


What I have so far, I have on CD – there is even a version in English. If you are interested, please let me know. And you would have to tell me your current snail mail address.


Even if your father-in-law left the MTO in August 1943, I am looking forward very much to what your website will show, especially in terms of pictures from planes, crews and bases.


At the moment here in Austria, we do only scarcely have more snow than in Saudi Arabia. But as I look out of the window this seems to improve today.


Greetings from Austria


Gerhard Winkler







Thanks!   I look forward to the rest of the scans.


Doug Cook


From: Gerhard Winkler [mailto:e.g.winkler@schule.at]
Sent: Wednesday, February 14, 2007 10:51 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: AW: History of 97th BG

Hello Doug,


I have something that might be of interrest to you.


In 1943 the famous photographer Margaret Bourke-White, working for LIFE, went on a combat mission against the airfield of Tunis with the 97th BG.

The date is not given in the newspaper article but was January 22, 1943, according to the biography of Mrs. White.

This date would fall within the tour of duty of your father-in-law.


I have bought the issue of LIFE magazine and am in the process of scanning the article.

I enclose scan of the first page of the article.


Please be aware that the copyright of course is with LIFE.


Greetings from Austria


Gerhard Winkler



Von: Cook, Douglas J. [mailto:douglas.cook@aramco.com]
Gesendet: Samstag, 27.
Jänner 2007 05:09
An: Gerhard Winkler
Betreff: RE: History of 97th BG


Hello Gerhard,


I share your frustration in not getting much from the web on the 97th BG.  I tried to piece together what I could like a puzzle.   I may at some point do some research in the US Archives in MD.   I would like to get more info. on my own fathers B-25 487th Squadron.   I will update the websites as more becomes available.  I will look specifically for the Oct 1 43 mission.   My father-in-law was back in the States since August 43.


Greetings from Saudi Arabia,


Doug Cook
Northwest Arabia Team Leader
Central Area Exploration Division
Saudi Aramco
Phone  966-3-873-7724








Hi Doug,



Found it a very interesting site and I'll certainly visit it again when I have more time.

Really impressed by the high quality photographs and information + details from Google Earth.


Keep up the good work !


Best regards from cold Belgium


Luc   Luc Vervoort from ArmyAirForces [AF9th@yahoo.co.uk]


Hi Luc,


Thanks for the message.  Can you be more specific on where the typo was found.  I checked back on the announcement at the 97th BG Forum and I find it is correct.   I enjoyed the project and will continue to update it as I find more material or corrections.


Greetings from Saudi Arabia,


Doug Cook

Northwest Arabia Team Leader

Central Area Exploration Division

Saudi Aramco






Subject:   RE: New Site 97th BG 414th Squadron



Hi Doug,


I enjoyed looking at your new website.  My uncle was in the 97th BG, the 341st Bomb Sq. at Polebrook.  He arrived in England in June 1942 and died Nov 17, 1942 when his plane developed engine trouble and crashed in the Bay of Biscay enroute to North Africa.  So my uncle was among the first arrivals in England, and it has been a little more difficult trying to find out information.  Your website helps to give me a better idea of what his life was like during that time.  My husband and I were fortunate to attend the last 97th BG reunion this past October in DC.  What a wonderful group of men, none of whom considered themselves heroes...only doing their job.  I had hoped to meet someone who might have known my uncle or knew of the crash.  I did talk to one gentleman who knew about the plane crash (Brig Gen Asa N. Duncan was onboard--all were killed) and had known the squadron commander, Maj John Knox, who was also on board.  This website certainly helped direct me to more information (a book that gives an eyewitness account of the crash) than my family had previously.


My husband is retired AF, and when you mentioned in your father-in-law's biography that he had worked at Famous Barr, it caught my attention because we were stationed at Scott AFB, Illinois and always enjoyed our trips to St.Louis.


Thanks again for compiling and creating the website in tribute to your father-in -law.




Hi Doug,

I enjoyed looking at your new website.  My uncle was in the 97th BG, the 341st Bomb Sq. at Polebrook.  He arrived in England in June 1942 and died Nov 17, 1942 when his plane developed engine trouble and crashed in the Bay of Biscay enroute to North Africa.  So my uncle was among the first arrivals in England, and it has been a little more difficult trying to find out information.  Your website helps to give me a better idea of what his life was like during that time.  My husband and I were fortunate to attend the last 97th BG reunion this past October in DC.  What a wonderful group of men, none of whom considered themselves heroes...only doing their job.  I had hoped to meet someone who might have known my uncle or knew of the crash.  I did talk to one gentleman who knew about the plane crash (Brig Gen Asa N. Duncan was onboard--all were killed) and had known the squadron commander, Maj John Knox, who was also on board.  This website certainly helped direct me to more information (a book that gives an eyewitness account of the crash) than my family had previously.

My husband is retired AF, and when you mentioned in your father-in-law's biography that he had worked at Famous Barr, it caught my attention because we were stationed at Scott AFB, Illinois and always enjoyed our trips to St.Louis.

Thanks again for compiling and creating the website in tribute to your father-in -law.


Jan Lindquist
niece of B-17 top turret gunner
killed November 17, 1942





It has been fantastic to read through the pages of your website and check out the great images, maps etc.  I am writing a book about Col. Hank Tillman, Jr. a good friend who was a B17 pilot who flew 52 combat missions in the 414th BS from July 15, 1943 to January 24, 1944.   Col. Tillman and I have met numerous times.  since March of 2006 and I was fortunate to attend the 97th's reunion in October of 2006 with him.  At the reunion I met many wonderful vets and my favorite was Tillman's ball turret gunner, Frank Dancey.  I would love to talk to you and share information about the 414th since your Father in Law's service with the 414th finished the month after Col. Tillman's service commenced.  Col. Tillman and Frank Dancey flew together on Aug.25, 1943 in the Smokey Stover and their first mission was on Stinky Jr. on July 15, 1943.  You have more info collected on the 414th than I have seen anywhere.  I am still hoping to buy a copy of the 97th history so that I understand the entire evolution of the group in North Africa and Italy.  I have lots of photos taken at the USAF Memorial dedication, the 97th Reunion and scanned photos from Frank Dancey who took many rolls of film during his tour.  I will be glad to share any digital photos with you as I feel is it most important to keep these memories and images in our history so that we do not forget the sacrifices made and challenges taken on by our veterans.


The attached image is Col. Tillman and his crew on his first plane "Sweet Adaline" named after his mother.


I will be home this evening and my phone number is 703-938-0603.  My work number on weekdays is 703-918-4359. 


Please call me when you can or email me so that we can share information.




David Shelby

David Shelby [david.shelby@ddlomni.com]








I appreciate your comments and am thrilled that you are in contact with the 414th.   I would be glad to put up a website section with images and anecdotes from Col. Tillman and Frank Dancey.  I would not want to "scoop" your book but complement it. Its your call on what you want to share with full credit given to the source.  When your book is in print,  I can "advertise" it.


I live in Saudi Arabia but will be in Colorado Mar. 20-26  at 719-260-6814.


Cheers from the Magic Kingdom,


Doug Cook

Northwest Arabia Team Leader

Central Area Exploration Division

Saudi Aramco

Phone  966-3-873-7724   GMT +3


Hi David,


I look forward to working on the web site with you. Thanks for the 414th Mission Pages!  I found a little treasure there for the mission 4/10/43 hitting the Cruiser Gorzia.  My father-in-law was on that mission and is referenced in a news clipping on the we site.  I Google Gorzia and found her history and photo so I will add that to the website also.


Text in MS Word is great.   I am no web site wizard.  My daughter will attest to that!   I actually make my HTML files in MS Word.  JPGs are great also.  I scan at 200 to 300 dpi Large original make large files but I crop and resize.  The images on the webpage I have decimated to have the largest pixel dimension no bigger than about 800 x 1200 so that the file size is under 300kb.   You can send me your high res images and I will work with them  e.g. I cropped the mission sheets,  lightened, added contrast, cut back the blue and saved the files at 260kb size.


My background:


Born Mar. 25, 1955 in Ohio.  Grew up in Michigan.  BS Oceanography (and scuba instructor)Univ. of Michigan.  Moved to Key Largo and ran a diving charter boat and business for 5 years.  Got married during that time in 1980.  1984  MS Geology  Univ. of Florida then joined Conoco in Houston.  Worked deep water Gulf of Mexico and Nigeria in oil field development and exploration.  Moved to BHP in Houston in 1992 and continued exploration in deep water Gulf of Mexico for 5 years.  My Gulf of Mexico experience had a big highlight for me.  I participated in 6 research cruises with the Johnson Sea-Link submersibles diving to 2600 feet to study oil seeps and chemosynthetic communities (critters that live on oil and gas!) Eager to get out of Houston traffic, we moved to Saudi Aramco in 1998. I am the Team Leader for exploring Northwest Saudi to the Jordan and Iraq borders. I have two successful wells drilling now on my prospects that have discovered significant new oil and gas reserves.  We live in Dhahran on the Persian Gulf. It is a very large compound- actually a walled secure city with lots of trees and grass and recreation.  We have a yacht club where I sail my Hobie Cat.  I am an astronomy buff.  I collect aeronautical and aerospace memorabilia.  I scuba dive in Red Sea several times a year.   We get to do a lot of traveling.  E.g. last year we went to South Africa, Bali, Australia, and to the US 3 times. We have a condo in Manitou Springs, CO that is our US base. I have a 21 year old daughter just out of college and working in San Francisco.  Daughter number 2 (surprise) was born here and is in second grade.


Now you know my story!






-----Original Message-----

From: David Shelby [mailto:david.shelby@ddlomni.com]

Sent: Sunday, February 04, 2007 10:40 PM

To: Cook, Douglas J.

Subject: RE: 97th Bomb Group 414th Squadron History website




I'm so glad that you liked the photos.  I met with Col. Tillman yesterday and it was enjoyable as always.  We talked specifically about the huge amount of energy and time required for both of us in order to

complete and publish a books and how daunting the task is.   I described

your website and how we could take some of the Colonel's info and his photos along with Sgt. Dancey and make it immediately available to anyone that can get to the web.  He is agreeable, with the understanding that he would review a printed copy that I give him prior to going online with it. 


With that said, I will begin to gather images and text that will be interesting that relate to Col. Tillman's 414th experiences along with Sgt. Danceys.  After I get approval, can I just send you the text in MS Word?  Are JPGs OK for the images?  What dpi and number of pixels would

work for you?   I like the way that you photos are very clear and large

and that you cannot right click on them and save your own high res version (of course I tried that already!).  This will keep the high quality images protected and in the possession of the owner.  Can you do the same with my section?


I don't want to pry to much personally about you, but could you describe a bit of your background so that I can pass it on to Col. Tillman and Sgt Dancey?  I understand that your Father served in the Med Theater as did your Father in law was in 414th, and your Uncle was in the Pacific Theater.  That's a lot of family Air Corp. history!


This web method will be a wonderful way to move ahead quickly and share photos and Air Corp. history sooner than later.  I still hope to make a book or short documentary eventually but I like the idea of visible progress.


If you are a NFL fan I hope you will be able to see the Super Bowl where you are.


Best regards




PS - I copied this document (see attachments) yesterday but have not

cleaned it up yet.   This may be out on the web or in a book somewhere

but it was the first time I had seen it.  I do not know where the Col.

got it but can find out if you post it on your page.





David Shelby

DDL OMNI Engineering







I just recently found your web site and I find it as very nice.  My grandfather, William "Bill" Watson was a bombardier on War Pappy 42-30407 with 414th Bomber Squadron, 97th Bomber Group.  Any idea how I can find information about the air crew for his plane.  The pilot's list is listed as Richter.  I have black and white photographs of them, it looks while they were in North Africa.  I also have photographs from the air where the bombs have hit the ground (smoke and craters), I don't if its through the bomb scope.  On the bottom of the photos, it has notations (date, place, bomber squadron). 




Rob Valentine





We exchanged a few emails earlier this year and I described my project of interviewing Col. Hank Tillman, Jr. B17 pilot, 12th and 15th Air Forces, 414th Bomb Squadron for a book.  I have met with the Col. twice this year so far and talked a few more times.  I told him about your website and we discussed the idea of you posting some photos and details of his service with the Air Corp.  He was a bit hesitant to go ahead with this since he gets so many phone calls, letters and requests as he shares his WWII stories with many and he is written up in his local paper frequently.  He asked me if we post text and photos on your website, that it would mean that he would receive more letters and calls and I said probably not, since you would not list his address or phone number etc.  Anyway I expect to call him tomorrow April 1, on his birthday, and will mention the concept of posting photos and perhaps and stories and not featuring him too much.


With that being said, the good news follows.


I just spoke with Frank Dancey for 45 minutes.  He is a great guy and one that I always learn so much from.   Sgt. Frank Dancey was Tillman's ball turret gunner for 50 missions.  He said that it would be fine if you posted his photos on the web.  If you would like to add a section about Frank for now, that would be most excellent!  I don't remember what photos I sent you in the past so I will send a few more now.   The mission logs were copied from his original diary which I haven't seen yet.  He is trying to find this at his home!  He shot this photo of Jimmy Doolittle and I think it was in North Africa.


I recently purchased some original WWII photos from a seller on ebay.




I have a lot of photographs taken by an Army Photographer assigned to the 15th Air Force, 1943-1945. He began service in 1943 in Watertown, South Dakota. From there he went to Photographer's School at Lowry Field, Colorado. After school he went to the 15th Air Force in North Africa. From there, still with the 15th, he went to Italy.



I do not know the photographers name other than "Jack" and the seller would only give it to the person that one a separate auction!  My thoughts were that since I own about 20 originals that relate to North Africa and Italy, that you might want to post some of these on your website as well.  I am including as starters a neat shot that I am certain is of Eddie Rickenbacker (center) and I am reasonably certain Ernest Hemingway (right) and perhaps Jimmy Doolittle (left).  The additional photos of Doolittle and Hemingway are included so that you can help me ID the guys in my photo. 


My main idea is to share this history with other's that are researching it and to get it "out there" before all of the vets from this war are gone.  I hope that you have the time and can post some of these and that you find it helpful with your research. 


 I will send you another batch of pics taken by Frank Dancey and some more from my new collection this coming week.


FYI - I just met a B17 tail gunner last week in the middle of a parking lot just 2 blocks from my house in Vienna VA.  He said that they bombed Berlin 3 times on different raids and that he would talk with me soon.  I hope that this happens.  :>)







David Shelby

DDL OMNI Engineering  703-903-9777  ddlomni.com

Hi David,


I just got back from my trip to the US  (CA and CO) and am going throuh emails.   Thanks for the photos.  Yes,  I would like to put up a section on Frank Dancey.   You have sent some great photos and mission logs.  I see the "Smokey Stover", my father-in-law's plane on one mission.   I wonder if Frank remembers pilot Bill Ross?  I would like to get a bio and some anecdotes from Frank if possible  to add to the section.   The Doolittle photos are interesting.  I am a collector abd have a signed Doolittle photo.  If the Doolittle, Rickenbacher, Hemingway photo is real and from N. Africa its a nice historic piece like the Churchill photo in Bill Ross' collection.   I am trying to enhace it to bring out more detail.


Hoping to hear more from you soon.




Doug Cook

Hello Doug,


I trust that your trip was fun and that you fit in some relaxation.  Our family is looking forward to the weekend of May 11th for a trip to the Jamestown VA 400th anniversary celebration.  We will be staying in a home directly across the river from the original Jamestown Fort and settlement.  A much easier trek that you just made!  I do love to travel and hope to make it to England and Europe again.


I am very excited that you are ready to post the section on Frank Dancey.  I will ask him about Bill Ross and the Smokey Stover when I contact him in the near future.  I hope that you can give me an idea of how many images you want to post in Dancey's section and then I can then send with proper annotation.   I have taken notes during my discussion with Frank and already have some details from him in Col. Tillman's write-up.   


The info in the following paragraph is accurate and can be used as an introduction:   Sgt. Frank Dancey flew 50 combat missions as a ball turret gunner and all but one with Col. Hank Tillman, Jr. as pilot.  Frank and Hank were in the 414th Bomb Squadron with the 12th Air Force in North Africa.  They were eventually assigned to the 15th Air Force in Italy.  The dates of their missions were July 1943 to January 1944.  They bombed Rome with Jimmy Doolittle leading the way on July 19th 1943.  They were told during briefings for this mission to avoid many parts of the city where civilians were present and especially to stay away from the Vatican and the surrounding area.  German radio helped to circulate rumors that Catholic airmen did not have to fly this particular mission unless they wanted to, so that arguments and controversy would occur between the men.  (Dakar Natives shot) - Frank told me that these men would help to guard their tents and camp while they were out on missions.  Some things still disappeared at times as the security was difficult to maintain with the temporary nature of the bases.  


I am sure that Elaine P is one of Frank's photos but I don't know where it was taken.   Great nose art!


Back to work for me.  I will write again this week and send you more photos and descriptions.


Have a great week.



Put up Tillman and Dancey 1st Draft:


What a great way to start the day.  I will forward a link to your site to Frank's sons and to his daughter. 


The only correction I see right now is that in the Sweet Adaline photo caption Frank Dancey is the shortest guy on the far left and Hank Tillman is the second guy from the right. This photo was taken in Rabat, West Africa in July of 1943.   I will send you more info about the Sweet Adaline 42-30307, which was named after Tillman's mother.  Frank said that they never flew this in combat and it was transferred to another crew and renamed the "Bonnie Sue".   It was shot down by an Italian captured P-38 on 11 August 1943.  I will condense a few more quotes from Frank and send more photos this week.  I have tons going on but this will stay high on my to-do list.


 The winds are whipping around the East coast today.


Have a terrific week



From: Robert Kalinak [mailto:robert.kalinak@gmail.com]

Subject: 97 BG 414 Squadron

Good day, I like your web site, perhaps you could help me in research I am doing for my family.

A cousin of my Mother, Tech Sgt. Andrew Poczik Jr. was a member of the 97th BG, 414th

Squadron.  He was lost July 8, 1943, B-17F, 42-5090, MACR 69, which I obtained from Lynn

Gamma at Maxwell AFB.  Seeing that your website deals with the 414th Squadron, I was curious if you had any info on the crew of 42-5090, I f you do have any info. or leads I would appreciate anything you could share, Thanks.




Robert Kalinak, Grandson of Charles Poczik


Hi Robert,


Thanks for the email.   I wish I did have more information.  This line is on my website:

 B-17F-35-BO                42-5090    (97th BG, 414th BS) MIA Jul 8, 1943.  All crew KIA.  MACR 69

 I got this from:  http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/1942_1.html

 Maxwell Research  http://www.au.af.mil/au/afhra/

 You may be able to his miltary service record from:    http://www.archives.gov/

I filled out their form and got my father-in-law's service record. 

Good luck!

 Doug Cook




Thanks for the photo.  I wll add it to the website with credit to you.   I have not heard from TimeLife, so after many weeks, I put the article up anyway.  If I ever get an objection, I will take it down.




From: Gerhard Winkler [mailto:e.g.winkler@schule.at]
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 12:51 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: LIFE Permission to use an article from 1943 granted?

Hello Doug,


I just would like to ask you, if you ever got an answer from LIFE, concerning their copyright.


I enclose a picture I cropped from GoogleEarth and “enhanced” a little bit.

It shows the airfield at Oudna, Tunisia, from where the 97th BG flew the airstrike against Feldkirch on 1st October 1943.

Even the hardstands around the airstrip still clearly show through the soil and vegetation.


From your website I conclude, that your father-in-law holds pictures from the camp in Tunisia.

I would be mightily interested…


Greetings from Austria,



From: Steven Nelson [mailto:steveo05196@yahoo.com]
Sent: Monday, June 25, 2007 12:58 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: my grand father


i saw your site and thought id email you. im researching my grandfather and his wwII days he was in the 414th. he went down on april 3 1944 his macr is 3962 and tail number 42-30436. im in army aviation also im an apache crew chief in the 101st airborne. My Grandfather passed away last year when i was in iraq. if you have any information on him i would greatly appreciate it if you emailed it to me. thank you




Thanks for the email.   I wish I did have more information.  This line is on my website:

B-17F-105-BO     42-30436  (97th BG, 414th BS) lost Apr 3, 1944.  MACR 3962

I got this from:  http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/1942_1.html


Maxwell Research  http://www.au.af.mil/au/afhra/


You may be able to his military service record from:    http://www.archives.gov/


I filled out their form and got my father-in-law's service record.


If you are able to gather enough information for a story, I would be glad to post it on the website.


 Good luck!  

Doug Cook

From: Doorknob52@aol.com [mailto:Doorknob52@aol.com]
Sent: Sunday, August 26, 2007 1:36 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Re: P-38 Fighter Pilot Book etc. winning bid


In a message dated 8/24/2007 10:18:57 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time, douglas.cook@aramco.com writes:


You must be very proud of your father. Remarkable man!


Amazing coincidence! One stanza of the poem, Lightnings in the Sky, is quoted in my book (Page 104) in a letter from my brother in 1943. Like the author of the poem, Bob was also a radio-operator gunner on B-17s.


More amazing - checked my combat flight log and almost half my B-17 escort missions matched the mission logs of the 97th Bomb Group. Same days. Same targets. We were there!





Fredric Arnold



It’s an honor to correspond with you.  It seems obvious that you were connected to my father-in-law in the 97th BG as fighter escort.  I wonder who did write the poem if not in fact your brother?  May I briefly quote you and promote your book on the website?


My father was in Corsica as a B-25 pilot in 1944, also on the website: http://www.redog1944.com


Thanks again,


Doug Cook


The author of the poem Lightnings in the Sky was Tech. Sgt. Robert H. Bryson, Radio Operator-Gunner. He wrote it while on an unescorted mission in a B-17 Flying Fortress over North Africa. The P-38 was the only fighter plane capable of escorting bombers to their targets and return.


The poem first appeared in a publication, the Lockheed "Star" in 1943.


Our Squadron escorted B-17s, B-25s, and B-26s. We also dive bombed and strafed military targets. I finished my 50 mission tour of combat duty in July 1943 before your father was in Corsica.


Of our original 14 P-38 fighter pilots, 12 were killed. I was one of the two survivors. The tragic loss of my comrades is memorialized in the film documentary, Between Two Worlds, presently being screened at film Festivals throughout the country and has won several Best Documentary Awards. I have listed DVDs on eBay. For details: www.doorknob52.com.


After you have read my book, I hope you will be able to make favorable comments for the public.


Our correspondence has touched me deeply.


With warm regards

Fredric Arnold

-----Original Message-----
From: jakeegan@twcny.rr.com [mailto:jakeegan@twcny.rr.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 02, 2007 7:17 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: re: Contacts from 97th BG and 414th Squadron Welcome!


Mr. Cook:

I am doing some research about my grandfathers service with the 97th Bomb


I have a small collection of digital copies of the photoes he took in North

Africe between Jan - Nov 1943.


Some of the pictures are of planes, and I have some names of the people he

served with.


Anyway, I've got a bit of a puzzle, and you seem to have some information,

so I'd like to know if you could help.


Your website listed a scheme for squadron markings:


1 for the 340th, 2 for the 341st, 3 for the 342nd and 4 for the 414th.


But the book I was perusing the other day (B-17 Flying Fortress Units of the

MTO, Hess, Osprey Publishing) said the following:


0 for the 340th

1 for the 341st

2 for the 342nd

4 for the 414th


The same book however ALSO contains color plates and some photos of planes identified as with the 414th Bomb Squadron, but bearing the "triangle over #1" markings that seem more consistent with the 341/340th according to the schema you (or the Hess book) mention.


SO.  Something isn't quite right.


Now -- the photos I have show planes with 2 types of tail markings --

Triangle over 0 and Triangle over 1 -- the triangle over 0 markings seem to be more consistent with the Hess book schema -- those planes most likely belonging to the 340th Bomb Squadron.


The pictures I have of the "triangle over 1" marking seem like they could be either 414th squadron planes OR 341st Squadron planes.


Now -- specific questions for you.re:



1. the first 3 or so "formation pictures" on the page clearly show the

"triangle over 4" schema.     Do you know roughly when those shots were taken?  Do you have any specifics from them about who took them and what mission?


2. The "Roster of Officers Emergency Addresses" -- same question -- do you have a date or a source on that?     If you did, it would give some indication about this little puzzle.


The two schemas described yours and Ness's seem to be logical -- so I

wouldn't be surprised if the Ness schema is more an early 1943 thing and the schema you describe is more a 1944 thing.


I was told by some other researchers with more knowledge than myself that in 1943-1944 squadron markings were changing around all the time.


AND -- it's not that hard to convert a 1 to a 4.


Anyway -- all of this means my grandfather likely served with either the

341st bomb squadron OR the 414th.  It was most definitely the 97th Bomb



The markings are puzzling me, so let me know if you can advise,


gratefully, John Keegan


Tiocfaidh ár






I am not an expert on the markings but what I have found on the web is fairly consistent with my father-in-law' pictures of planes from the 97th BG 414th (obvious triangle above 4- other markings not seen, missions and dates

unknown) BS as shown on my web page:

http://www.reddog1944.com/414th_Squadron_Planes_and_Crews.htm  These photos are certainly 414th BS and circa Jan to Aug, 1943.  Note that other photos of 97th BG planes from my father-in-laws collection only have serial numbers on the tail so the schema is not universal.


I got the schema from the link below:





The emergency contact list was my father-in-law's and obviously he was counting the missions to the magic 50 that would get you sent home.  He left the theater in Aug. 1943.


You may be able to get your grandfathers military service record from:




I filled out their form (SSN and/or service record number required) and got my father-in-law's service record.


If you are able to gather enough information for a story and want to share photos, I would be glad to post it on the website.


Good luck! Keep in touch 

Doug Cook


From: jakeegan@twcny.rr.com [mailto:jakeegan@twcny.rr.com]
Sent: Monday, September 03, 2007 5:33 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: RE: Contacts from 97th BG and 414th Squadron Welcome!




Thank you.  That basically explains it.


      1. I think the 4 = 414 was consistent, even in the early part of 1943.


      2. I think the colour plates pictured in the Ness book are incorrect and likely the result of artistic error.  There are PHOTOs in the same     book that contradict that schema and are more in line with your information.


      3. I do think the original Ness explanation is correct 0 = 340th, 1 = 341st

and 2 = 342nd and 4 = 414th.  This is because I've never seen any pictures of a "triangle over #3" but I have seen 0, 1, 2 and 4.


I think the book is in error.  I will send you some of the pictures if you'd like. They are nearly certainly from the 341st Squadron.


My grandfather served from Jan 1943 to Nov 1943, flew his 50 missions, came home, had 11 kids.


Best regards and thank you!!!



Thank you for sharing all this.

I went back after what you told me and reviewed the Ness book.  It's a pretty simple explanation.


      1. Ness is correct about the basic squadron numbering scheme from 1943 on.

      It did not change and remained the same for the 97th, although

      the markings changed somewhat. He correctly explained the markings in the appendix as 340 = 0, 341 = 1, 342 = 2, 4 = 414.


      2. At least one and likely both of the planes pictured in the colour plates of the Ness book with squadron # 1 are mislabelled as 414th planes when in fact they are 341st squadron planes.  I did a aircraft serial number search on 42-30267 and it went down in Romania with the 341st/97th and not the 414th.

      (97th BG, 341st BS, 'Hustlin' Hussy') shot down Jun 23, 1944 near Mizil, Romania.  MACR 6951


      3. Ness's explanation (Appendix pg. 88) of 0 = 340th, 1 = 341st, 2 = 342nd and 4 = 414th is correct and the only squadron numbering ever used.

      The two colour plates in the book with 1 pictured on the tail are mislabelled and should say 341st, at least definately for 42-30267 and

probably for      42-5346 as well.  The tail markings did change some in that

the squadron number eventually is in a circle and the Y is added inside the

triangle -- but   the triangle and 0,1,2 and 4 markings are consistent.


      4. I've done some scouring of existing 97th bomb group photoes on the web and in books, there are no units with a 3 for the squadron markings for the 97th that I can find.  However, the Ness book and my grandfathers photoes

both show planes with a 0 for the squadron number.   That is consistent with

the explanation in Ness's appendix of 340 = 0, 341 = 1, 342 = 2 and 414 = 4.



My grandfather served from January 1943 to November 1943, departing the 12th AF about the same time that the units moved from N. Africa.


He was a radio operator and we believe most or all of the men in his aircrew returned home safely after completing 50 missions.


So the book is both correct and in error. (Osprey Publishing, go figure!)


Anyway, thanks for all your help.


Tiocfaidh ár


John A. Keegan



Hi again John,


Thanks for the research answers. I will correct my webpage accordingly.  What will you do with your grandfather's photos?   I would be more than happy to make a web section devoted to him if want to share photos, bio, anecdotes...  Proper credit would be given.  The pictures can't be directly copied with a right mouse click.  My website has mushroomed over the last few years with similar contributions.  I keep making corrections and additions to make it a historical reference for families and researchers who live in the formerly Nazi occupied countries of Europe that our father's and grandfathers help liberate.




Doug Cook

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia




From: John A WAKELIN [mailto:jwakelin@msn.com]
Sent: Saturday, September 08, 2007 11:42 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: B17G-Our Baby



Good evening

I met Mr Lowell D. Morrow - Bombardier on 42-31392 Our Baby on its 27th and final mission. He was one of those who walked out after the crash.

His son does not have any history of his dad - I have managed to put together, some stuff, including a photograph of the Bf 109 and pilot that shot them down, I know the crew captain was James N Clem, but that is about the extent of what I can find, any help will be greatly appreciated.


Can you direct me to a site which may have a photograph of this aircraft, I noticed on a Croatian web site mention of there being several photographs of this aircraft, but I was unable to negotiate my way through such a 'foreign' language. Also (from a rough translation) this aircraft at one time held a record for ????most missions without an abort or turnback?????


Has the 97th BG website been closed or is it 'hidden away' somewhere.


Thanks for you site

Kindest regards

John A Wakelin. Indianapolis, Indiana




Hi John,


My apologies if you were unable get to the website.  I was doing some major upload/maintenance Thurs-Fri.


For the 97th BG try:






Note that I have not found a great deal out there about the details of planes from the 97th BG and I tried to focus on my father-in-law’s  414th squadron.


 If you know Mr. Morrow’s SSN or military ID number his son can try to get his service records:




I was successful getting a gold mine of records for my father-in-law.


I would be happy to put a web page dedicated to Mr Morrow if we can put together more pieces of the puzzle.


I just noted my webpage had the plane listed and it was from the 97th BG 414th Squadron:


B-17G-15-BO      42-31392 (97th BG, 414th BS) shot down by Bf 109 fighter May 24, 1944 over Zagreb, Yugoslavia.  MACR 5187


http://www.accident-report.com/Crew_Names/namec_clay.html     You can file a request on the MACR report.  There may be a fee.


Conflicting information from a forum site:





Fred :-) You may already have this informaton....This is from the 5th Wing History of Aircraft Assigned.....a/c 42-31392 97th BG 341 Sq MIA Ploesti.. 24-5-44..fighters..crashed at Sisak. James Clem crew,..Keenan, Gardner, Morrow, Reisenberger,Churchill, Ray, Cottrell,Cwierz, Gilbert. ( MACR 5187) Jim :-) [signature]


Its got the crew members and plane numbers but the squadron and crash site don’t match.  The 97th did not bomb Ploesti to my knowledge.

Sisak is near Zagreb-  that rings true:



Sisak (German: Sissek, Hungarian: Sziszek, Italian: Siscia) is a city in central Croatia. The city's population in 2001 was 52,236 [1] and it is the administrative centre of Sisak-Moslavina county. Sisak is located at the confluence of the Kupa, Sava, and Odra rivers, 57 km southeast of the Croatian capital Zagreb.


I will keep looking.  Lets try to compile something on this.


Cheers from Saudi Arabia,


Doug Cook




Perhaps you have been through this forum already:






The forum has a lot of chatter about the crash.



I have emailed through the forum (blind email) Zeljko Bocek  who lives in Sisak and has parts of the plane and newspaper accounts.   If he gets back to me,  I will share and try to get you in direct contact.





Doug Cook






I have website on the 97th BG  414th Sq:







A reader wrote the query below and I have since found your thread in a forum about two downed planes.  Can you provide a photo and further information on the mission?




Doug Cook

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia


RE: B17G-Our Baby-  some confusion on planes but maybe we're getting somewhere:





viliam klabnik -> RE: Looking for info on Sgt Thomas Edward Burke, 341st Squadron (1/5/2005 1:38:05 AM)

Kathleen ,

I was checking my archive . I have there two losses of the 97th BG for mission on 24. May 1944 in my database :
MACR No. 5070 , B-17 F , Ser. No. 42-30169 , 414th BS - Yugoslavia
MACR No. 5187 , B-17 G , Ser. No. 42-31392 , 341st BS - Austria - this is plane of your grandfather . You can order MACR No. 5187 from AFHRA . I can send you account about mission on 24. May 1944 . Please write me to my home e-mail address : aquam@slofanet.sk
Regards ,





There is a Burke shown as a crewmember on 42-30169 "Lady Luck" of the 414th BS,
was MIA Atzgersdorf 24 May 44. Attacked by fighters,crashed at St. Marien. Robert Close crew, Welch,Greenfield,England, Marlow,Haight,Burke,Theusen,Shafres,Fullerton. (MACR 5070. Usual listing order is P,CP,N,B, FE,RO,BT,LW,RW, and TG. However, that was not always correct. Sometimes, a crwmwmbwer was "borrowed" from another Sq, to fill in a position..other possibilty is that the squadron designation is incorrect,and he actually was in the 414th.

I am including an email address for a lady whose hsuband was in the 414th BS, and she may be able to assist you further, regarding the 97th BG and the 414thBS.
Her name is Ruth Hermann, her email is rherman@theriver.com



9/19/07   David Shelby [david.shelby@ddlomni.com]




Greetings to you!    I am including some additional photos relating to Col Hank Tillman and Sgt. Frank Dancey I have talked and written to Col. Tillman several times during the last few months.  He is still doing reasonably well at home but unfortunately has not had the energy for any additional interviews with me.  He is still undergoing many visits and tests at Walter Reid Hospital for his numerous medical conditions.


Info on attached photos that you can post on your website (if you will be so kind).


Tillman receiving DFC - probably Air Corp photo


Tillman at controls - no writing on the back of this one so unsure if this was training or combat mission etc. - credit Frank Dancey


Dancey Tillman Jocko (pet monkey) from Dancey's camera looks very similar to other camp photos in Africa by Dancey - credit Frank Dancey


Kan-Do! photo - crew unknown to me although Tillman and Dancey flew #438 in two combat missions.  This is not Tillman's crew - photographer unknown


Tillman and P-38  - photographer unknown



I am sure that you have heard of Ken Burn's WWII seven part documentary which begins this Sunday Sept 23rd.  Don't miss this one!


I have interviewed my Uncle Capt. James Cheatham twice this year.  He was in the 26th Yankee Division, 102nd Field Artillery, and served as Battery B commander.  He has an amazing collection of photos that he shot including Battle of the Bulge.  He was in charge of 20,000 Germans in a POW camp just after the war at Ebensee Austria.  I have had some other fascinating WWII vet experiences including making friends with an 82nd Airborne, 505th PIR Sgt. named James Rodier who made 4 combat jumps including Normandy.  I am planning on meeting and talking to another Air Corp vet next week that is a good friend of my mother in laws.  In October I will be joining Historic Vienna Inc. 




as a board member and hope to be able to ask WWII vets from our town to contact me through the Historic group to discuss and record their experiences.  If I can get this going right away it will tie in nicely with Ken Burns series since many people will be more interested in saving and recording history.  I pray that all is well with you and your family.






PS - I included a photo by Capt. James Cheatham for you to see.  I think that you will agree that he is a very excellent photographer


From: Cook, Douglas J. [mailto:douglas.cook@aramco.com]
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2007 12:28 AM
To: David Shelby
Subject: RE: Tillman and Dancey photos for you to post

Hi David,


I have been making a lot of modifications to the web pages including material being sent to me.  I will be glad to add these photos.


http://www.reddog1944.com/414th_Squadron_Tillan_Dancey.htm     See the new reference--

SPERRYBALL TURRET DETAILS.  It would be nice to get some stories from Frank Dancey who spent a lot of time in that freezing (-40 deg F) turret!


I also added this section on a P38 squadron that flew missions escorting the 97th BG and 414th Sq.   I have corresponded with Fredric Arnold and read his book.





Cheers from Saudi Arabia,


Doug Cook




Excellent site additions for you.  Bravo!   I do plan on talking to Frank again soon and capturing more history from someone who sat in that contraption during combat and will be glad to share it with you.  I do have detailed notes from a prior meeting with Frank that I can check for additional info your site.   I often wish for more time to interview and thank these amazing men.  I will be meeting a new Air Corp vet next week who served in Africa.  MSGT Thomas Ulam is a friend of my mother in laws.  He knows that I am interested in WWII vets so I am looking forward to learning from him and sharing as well.  I watched the first segment of the Ken Burns doc last night and it was wonderful.  I learned that more civilians were killed during the war than all of the soldiers, sailors and airmen combined.


Thank you in advance for adding these additional photos on your site.  I am understanding more each day that there are still many untold stories and undiscovered images out there - many are heartbreaking, some are humorous and some show bravery beyond comprehension.


I will write again very soon.


Your friend






Hi David,


I have added photos to the web pages for Hank Tillman and Frank Dancey.  The ‘Kan Do’ photo is the page about planes and crews.




Thanks for the submissions!


Doug Cook



Greetings Doug,


A super fast turn-around on the updates!  You are AWESOME!  A++


On your title for the Kan-Do, you could elaborate if you care to.  These details in black are from my notes that Frank Dancey's and Col. T provided relating to that particular day's events:


Col. Tillman and his crew were scheduled not to fly on Oct 14, 1943.  Sgt. Paul Fuchs was the Engineer and gunner with Col. Tillman and Frank Dancey's crew.  Paul had accepted an additional mission on the "Kan-Do" on October 14th as Frank Dancey had done on "Ther-N-Back" so that they could get in their required missions sooner . Frank said that when the two of them showed up at the field for duty as volunteer replacement gunners, that Paul was sent to one ship and Frank to another.   Paul Fuchs was killed when the Kan-Do was lost in action.  The gunner that replaced Paul's slot on Tillman's crew was the "Kan- Do" crew member who was sick the day that the Kan-Do was lost.  The transfer of the airman without a crew, to Tillman's crew who had lost their gunner, was made because they fit each other's needs.


Please rephrase or use what you would like of the above text as it is not perfect.



Last night I did find my notes from interviews with Frank Dancey relating to being in the ball turret.  I will write them up and send what can be posted to you as soon as time permits.  I may call Frank and get permission to include some very personal notes.


It is quite wonderful to have projects such as this to be a part of.  Thanks again to you for including me in your efforts.


When you have the time, would you consider emailing me some high quality JPGs of any of the ships listed below that you have?   I realize that I am asking for a lot.  Please do not go out of your way searching for these if you don't already have them.  I will also take a few pointers on websites with images or other sources where I can look fif you care to share.   I will send printed copies to Col. T and Frank.  I have searched for these planes previously on the web without much success.  I can see the photos of some of them on your site but cannot SAVE AS.  This is fine as I said before to you, as it protects your wonderful collection from being swiped! 


342 Stinky Jr.

254 Flamingo

147 Old Ironsides

731 Smokey Stover

117 F.O. #1 (I wonder what that stands for?) :>)

696 Fort Alamo 2nd

336 Virgin Sturgeon

348 Kan-Do

346 Reluctant Dragon

223 There-N-Back

405 Frank said No Name for this ship in his log

407 No Name provided

436 Phantom Lady

943 Joe Blow


Have a beautiful day.



PS - I will be sending you a couple of photos later today of an original There-N-Back jacket!




I don't believe that I have sent you the attached images previously but they may fit in somewhere on your site.  I shot the attached photos of the 414th BS and the 97th Memorial Wreath at the 97th BG's Reunion on October 22, 2006 when they visitied the WWII memorial in Washington DC.  The USO Liberty Belles were at another event the same weekend at a hotel in Arlington.  They sang "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and danced with Col. Tillman.  What a wonderful moment that was!


Please credit the shot of the hangar in Foggia Italy and the German sign inside to Sgt. Frank Dancey.


I still need to work on some more text for you that is approved to post by Frank.







The website additions are perfect.  I can now see and access the text links to missions from the typed mission list which just showed up as lines on my PC previously.  Thanks so much for continuing to add to these sections as it will allow others to share and understand details about the Air Corps that they may never have seen before.  I talked with Frank Dancey and Col. Hank this weekend and also mailed them printed copies of some sections of your website that I thought that they would enjoy.   Frank has some new descriptions about being in the ball turret that I will forward to you after I write it up properly.  We talked for about 40 minutes last Saturday!


The photos you sent of Ther-N-Bak and Smokey Stover are superb.  I will print copies and mail to Col. Hank and Sgt. Frank, with your permission.


Enjoy your UK visit and stay safe during your travels.  Attached are a couple of pics from my Oct 2005 trip with my parents and brother Mason.




From: Glock57@bellsouth.net [mailto:Glock57@bellsouth.net]
Sent: Friday, November 23, 2007 3:17 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Looking for info. on my uncle
Importance: High


Mr. Cook,


My name is Jim Upton, orginally from West Palm Beach, Fla. now residing in Dandridge, TN after retiring from Law Enforcement.  My uncle, Staff Sgt. James W. Sandiford was a left waist gunner on a B-17 and was assigned to the 414th. Bomb Squadron--97th. Bomb group.  On 11/27/43 his plane(42-30705) was enroute to bomb a Marshalling yard in Rimini, Italy along with other B-17,s when they were attacked by German ME-109,s  His plane along with another B-17 were shot down and the pilot and right waist gunner managed to bail out and were taken POW upon landing.  My uncle and the rest of the crew went down with the plane.  After a year of investigation and obtaining all of the Government reports, the location of my uncles plane has been located on the side of a mountain in Apecchio, Italy and will soon be searched by a group called "Area" from Italy.  My contact in Italy (Lorenzo Fresi) is in charge of this and is a great person.  I have spoken with the lone survivor of my uncles plane (right waist gunner Joseph Christie) who resides in PA., but he really does not want to talk much about it as I feel he is still haunted by the memories and I can fully understand.  I have never been able to find out the name of my uncles plane and was wondering if you could help me on this.  Once the crash site is searched, any personal items will be photographed, collected and will be sent to me and I will make every effort to have them returned to the family members as I have all the names of the crew and their home towns.  I will have this story released to the Associated Press so they can assist me on this.  My uncle was returned to West Palm Beach, Fla. and was buried in March of 1949.  I was three years old at the time and for some reason remember attending the funeral, but that is my only memory.  If there is any way you or someone you know can obtain the name of my uncles plane, I would really appreciate it .  The MACR listing for his plane is 1303 and the other B-17 is MACR 1304 (tail number 42-5875).  The crash site for this B-17 has also been located.




James M. Upton

1316 Old Chisholm Trail

Dandridge,TN  37725


Cell---(865)  654-7719




Everything I have on the 414th Squadron is on  my website.  I am always eager to expand it.


 If you know Staff Sgt. James W. Sandiford ‘s SSN or military ID number his son can try to get his service records:




I was successful getting a gold mine of records for my father-in-law.


I would be happy to put a web page dedicated to Mr Morrow if we can put together more pieces of the puzzle.


I just noted my webpage had the plane listed and it was from the 97th BG 414th Squadron:


B-17F-115-BO     42-30705 (97th BG, 414th BS) lost Nov 27, 1943.  MACR 1303

The MACR list was gotten from the imbedded link maintained by the email below.  He may be of some help.



Also try the links below:


http://www.accident-report.com/Crew_Names/namec_clay.html     You can file a request on the MACR report.  There may be a fee.




I hope you get all the information you want and are successful locating the plane(s).  I would be happy to put up a web page dedicated to your Uncle’s service and the story of finding his plane.




Doug Cook

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia






Greetings to you!


I have talked to Frank several times over the last few months and recorded and transcribed our conversations and taken notes.  In general I tried to be as accurate as possible with this account - even though it needs more organization.  I sent a copy to Frank for review a week or so ago but have not heard back from him.  I think that any of this could be posted by you, but perhaps picking out a few paragraphs describing mission details s would work best for your section on Frank and Hank and the ball turret functions.  Please let me know what you think.


David Shelby [david.shelby@ddlomni.com]


Hi David,


I just got back after a weeks field trip in NW Arabia near Iraq and Jordan.  Great geology.  


I will work on adding the material soon.


Thanks to you and Frank,


Doug Cook



I will pass on your well wishes to Col. Tillman the next time we are in touch.  Thanks so very much for adding all of the new text from Frank.  I apologize that my writings have so many errors.  I need to add more quotations in order to show where Frank's exact words are used, but I will concentrate for starters accuracy of the text.



Corrections below are marked in green, errors in red.  I worked from top to bottom so it would be easier for you to make the changes.


Here are the corrections:


Frank would be helped out of the ball turret when the pilots determined that they (PLEASE CHANGE THEY to the) ship was out of danger.




"We didn’t fly that (PLEASE CHANGE THAT TO one) day and around noon Flak became excited and ran down to the spot where his crew normally parked their B17 and acted upset and strange.  When the rest of the crews told us later that Flak’s crew was knocked down, we (PLEASE CHANGE AS IS MARKED IN GREEN) asked the other crews what time they hit the target."




Col. Tillman’s (SHOULD READ Col. Tillman) was the wingman for Doolittle when they bombed Rome.




I asked Frank if he thought about the fact that other young kids were trying to kill them and that they had to kill other young men on the opposing side.  He said “We all thought about that a lot but he had decided that he did not care who he had to kill as long as he was able to return to his hometown in Asbury Park NJ.”


Correct as follows:  "We all thought about that a lot, but I decided that I didn't care who I had to kill, as long as I could return to my hometown in Asbury Park, NJ".


Please strike the entire sentence about the ball turret spinning and the 20mm rounds, Frank said that this is wrong.  I must have heard this incorrectly from Frank.




This prisoner said on the Jewish holiday they had no Germany because all of the stores where (PLEASE CHANGE TO were) closed.




One German on the boat said that you were never going to see the United States.  We’ve got a lot of submarines out here that will sink this ship.



One German prisoner on the ship said "You are never going to see the United States again.  We’ve got a lot of submarines out here that will sink this ship."




Frank Dancey told the story of how a little boy from a Catholic family was complaining about having to eat fish sticks every Friday night for dinner.  His parents said, “We do this because Jesus died on a Friday for our sins”.  “That’s true” said the boy “but he didn’t have to die EVERY Friday!”




Frank Dancey told the story about what his daughter said during a Friday night dinner at home,  “How come we have to eat fish sticks every Friday night for dinner?” said Cathy. Frank replied, “We do this to remember Jesus because he died on a Friday for our sins”.  “That’s true,” said Cathy “but he didn’t have to die EVERY Friday!”  Frank said that he told this to some nuns that he knew and they loved this story.


I am glad (and embarrased) that I found these errors, as I need to update the same info in my master file on Frank.









Thanks for taking action on these corrections when you have the time. The most important one is the removal of the turret spinning sentence.


It is most rewarding to see these images and stories from Frank and Hank on the web after getting info from these guys during the last two years.  I have been passing links on to your site to friends who are interested in the Air Corps.  Col. Tillman submitted a DVD, 100 scanned images, and the text I have compiled on the Col. and the completed forms to Congressman Gilcrest's (MD) office in December 2006 for the Library of Congress - Veteran's History Project and they still haven't been turned it in yet!  I talked a lady at their office Friday and they are waiting for a large batch to do all at once and have college volunteers processing them and making sure the packages are correct.  They said that I still need to provide a detailed video summary for the contents of the DVD but that is the first that I heard of that so I will have to get it done this week.  I am ready for the Col.'s info to be posted NOW while the vets are around to see it!


Have a good week.





Hi Doug, 


Please replace the paragraph about Flak (the dog) knowing about his downed crew with the following text:




“Talking about crazy stuff, a crew that had a tent near mine had a dog named Flak.  We didn’t fly one day and around noon Flak became excited and ran down to the spot where his crew normally parked their B17 and acted upset and strange.  When we heard that Flak’s crew was knocked down, we asked the other crews what time they hit the target.   The time that we were told was just about the same time that Flak became upset.  It was crazy that the dog knew what was happening.”




You can keep it in quotes as well as this is what Frank told me.




Col. Tillman is home from Walter Reed and doing reasonably well.  My friend Tom said that his memory is in good shape!  I know that he is glad to be home and I will call later today to see how he feels.




CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING about some new vets I met this past weekend:


This past Saturday I was fortunate enough to meet and visit with several WW2 vets in a retirement home in Chantilly, Virginia.  My neighbor’s uncle, Woody Jones, came ashore in a landing craft on D Day at 0625 hours.  He was with the 29th Division, 116th Regiment, E Company and landed on Omaha Beach.  He is 91 years young and still remembers many of his fellow soldiers with a little bit of prompting by his nephew, who had notes from one of their discussions from several years ago.  It was an honor to shake his hand and spend an hour with him.  I gave him some photographs that I shot at the D Day memorial in Bedford.  We recorded his recollections today so that his family can eventually have a copy so that they will know his history.  Woody received the Silver Star for his actions on D Day which included using a bangalore torpedo that took out a pillbox.






 Hi Brandon,


I just got back from a two week holiday.   Thanks for the information.  I will gladly update the webpage.  If you have any other photos, stories, or information on your grandfather, I will add it dedicate it to him.




Doug Cook

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia



From: Garretson, Brandon [mailto:bgarretson@camber.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 9:01 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Kan-Do #438 "crew unknown"


For what its worth, I can help you with a piece to the puzzle.

In that photo of the Kan-Do you have on your website, my grandfather is in the front row, far left.

His name was Roland Garretson, he was a waist gunner on that plane.

From what I understand, he was grounded with an illness on the day the Kan-Do made her last flight.

I suppose Sergeant Paul Fuchs was the man who volunteered to fly in my grandfathers place.

I never met my grandfather, but I think he carried a great remorse after the Kan-Do was lost, I think he regretted not being with his crew that day for the rest of his life.



Brandon Roland Garretson




From: Glock57@bellsouth.net [mailto:Glock57@bellsouth.net]
Sent: Monday, December 31, 2007 3:07 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Web site on Tillman and Dancey
Importance: High




After speaking with you via e-mail on my uncle James W. Sandiford who was shot down over Italy on 11/27/43 and my search for the remains of the aircraft, I re-read your web page and noticed at the very bottom it list a B-17 called "Ther N Bak."  Yesterday I was cataloging all of my research and reading this over, and I found the following that had been sent to me back in June of 2005.  When the B-17 was attacked by ME-109's, the right waist gunner and the pilot manged to parachute out before it blew up and crashed.  Mr. Joseph Christie was the right waist gunner, and along with the pilot were taken P.O.W. for the duration of the war.  Re-reading some of my research, found this entry on item number 108 and it reads as follows:  JOSEPH CHRISTIE JR. P.O.W. 18 MONTHS.  PLANE BLEW UP OVER RIMINI NOV.27,1943.  "THER N BAK."


I have a picture of the crew that was taken days prior to the crash and Mr. Christie was the one who sent me the pictures along with the crew members identified in the picture.  If you want a copy of the picture, send me your mailing address and I will send it to you so you  update your web site for that entry.


Hope this helps you.  Weather permitting according to my contact in Italy the search will start shortly----I HOPE.


Jim Upton



Hi Jim,


Thanks for the information on ‘Ther n Bak’.  I would like the crew picture to include in the website.  Can you scan it to a jpg file and send as an email attachment?  If not, my mailing address is:


Douglas Cook

PO Box 12253

Saudi Aramco

Dhahran, 31311

Saudi Arabia




Doug Cook





 Dear Crew member of Bombardier's Lounge WWII Big Band Jazz on KRML,



      Happy New Year (1942, `43, `44 or `45).


      Attached is a Desktop Image for your PC or Macthe cockpit of a B-17G, compliments of Capt. Mike and Bombardier's Lounge WWII Big Band Jazz,  with the music that helped save the World.


Desktop jpeg:    







From: A. W. [mailto:pillar7@yahoo.com]

Sent: Friday, January 04, 2008 6:53 PM

To: Cook, Douglas J.

Subject: 97th Bomb Group 414 Sqdn website



Mr. Cook,


I noticed your website (below) on the 97BG/414Sqdn

operations of WWII. I enjoy finding sites such as

yours, as they bring some contemporary insight into

the locations I visit.


Please accept only one minor criticism of your site:

the photos which you identify as Gerbini are actually

the Catania airfield (Fontanarossa), which was and

remains a dual-use civ-mil facility. (You will note

the curve of the highway at the bottom of your modern

satellite photo of Catania matches the road passing

abreast of Fontanarossa in the satellite photo you

identify as Gerbini.)


Gerbini, which was actually a complex of several (up

to 12) grass fields, is further inland from the coast.

The  Sigonella airfield used today by the Italian Air

Force and the U.S. Navy (under NATO) was one of the

satellite fields of the Gerbini complex. Gerbini

proper was located to the north-west of Sigonella.

Both are around 10 miles from Catania Fontanarossa.


Ciao from Catania!








Thanks for the correction,


Putting together the website was like a big puzzle with too few clews at times.  Input from readers has been very helpful.  I will make the change.




Doug Cook

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia




Thanks for the reply.   You could try to reach Tillman or Dancey through David Shelby [david.shelby@ddlomni.com].   David has been documenting their story and feeding it to me.




Doug Cook



From: Glock57@bellsouth.net [mailto:Glock57@bellsouth.net]
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 1:11 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: RE: mail



I did what you said to do and was able to get it.  THANKS A LOT.  I just wonder if Col. Tillman or Sgt. Dancey might remember my uncle and the plane as they were there in Italy during that period I think.

How could I find out?



-------------- Original message from "Cook, Douglas J." <douglas.cook@aramco.com>: --------------

Hi Jim,


Yes,  I just got the envelope yesterday.  I will get it scanned and on the website soon.  I’m a little uncertain of the ID’s on the picture.  You listed left to right with 2 unknown.  Did the listing include the guy kneeling in front or is he an unknown?


Website access:


http://www.reddog1944.com/   home page


scroll down to 414th Squadron Tillman and Dancey and click that…


It takes you to this link:




An intermediate page is for the 97th BG 414th Squadron you can get this from the home page and then to Tillman and Dancey from the index on the left.



I upload this stuff from home but it works from every computer I’ve tried here and in the US.  Are you able to navigate other pages from the home page?  Most have a lot of pictures to load.  If you are on a slow modem, it may take a while.  I’m on broadband and the pages open almost instantly.


Let me know if you get there.








The one to the far right next to the open crew door is unknown, and the one kneeling is also unknown.  I believe that either Mr. Christie has moved from Pa. or he is deceased.  No phone number listing in Pa. for him anymore.  The other crew members I identified in the letter I had attached to the picture.  Anything else you need, do not hesitate to ask.

 Jim Upton

Blitz W [blitz4569@yahoo.com]    Jan 27, 2008


Doug,  You've done a wonderful job of the web site of the 414th.  My Father was a waist gunner in 'Stinky Jr" tail# 342.    My father, Harrison William Welch, flew in N. Africa from 10 Mar 43 thru 26 Aug 43, thats when he completed his 50 missions.  I've attached some  photos they aren't all that great but real.  One photo is of his jacket patch.  Please pass this info along to other interested parties.


Blitz Welch


I'm researching B-17F 42-5090, which belonged to the 97th BG, 414 BS, I have a copy of MACR 69, I know the plane was lost near Sicily, July 8, 1943,
T. Sgt. Andrew Poczik is a relation of mine, he was Aerial Engineer.  I would like to know if there is info pertaining to the crew & mission and what other missions this crew flew on.  Thanks in advance.

Bob Kalinak


Glad that you received the CD.  You have my permission to post any of the photos on your site.   I have sent you the masters (my highest quality files) so you may need to resample to keep the sizes down.  If I can do any of that work, just email me:


1. File names needed


2. Pixels sizes desired


3. File type desired


and I will resample and email the smaller files back to you. 


Below is a short article that I submitted as per Col. Tillman's suggestion.  This was printed in the Kent Island Bay Times last week (a small local Eastern Shore paper).  I have not seen the printed copy yet, so I don't know what they named the article.  I have attached the two photos that I submitted with the article.  You can use any part of this story on your site that you want as well.


I have referred lots of people to your site and have heard rave reviews from them about it.  Keep up the GREAT WORK! 


My son is helping me to add some of my WWII vet friends and their stories and photos to the web.  I will send you the link when I can get a bit more details uploaded.


Isn't it terrific to see two Big Ten rivals teaming up to do good historical work together? 


your friend

David Shelby - PSU - BA Art - 1980!




On February 16th, Col. Hank Tillman enjoyed a visit at his home on Kent Island with David Shelby and Dave Miller, two friends from Vienna Virginia, who are documenting the Colonel’s military history.  Very interesting experiences are always related by Col. Hank during these interviews.  The following is a story that he told on this particular visit.  “We flew from West Palm Beach, Florida to Puerto Rico, then on to British Guiana and from there to Belem Field, Brazil.  Near Belem, we buzzed the Amazon River in our B17.  Some surprised locals paddling below in a canoe, were waving at the plane and they capsized during their excitement.  It was quite challenging to take off from the very short runway in Belem.  We were briefed before our departure that it was a very touch and go take off.  The officer at the base would come out and stand next to the runway and signal when the engines were revved to the proper power level, when to release your brakes, and when to put down half flaps.  The landing gear had to be retracted immediately upon clearing the ground.  Our B17 just cleared the treetops, and upon our arrival in Africa we found debris from those trees in the wheel wells and landing gear.  To cross the Atlantic, we flew from Natal, Brazil to Dakar, North Africa.  The flight took 11 hours and 45 minutes and covered 1630 miles.”


The Colonel enjoys sharing these memories with others since so many veterans never made it back to tell the stories themselves.  Col. Hank sends out his sincere thanks to all and feels blessed to have his family, friends and his home care staff watching over him and helping him in so many ways.  The support by so many friends on the island have been a source of strength and great inspiration for him.  On Sunday February 24th a child at his church gave him a wonderful card that expressed the family’s appreciation of the Colonel’s continued attendance and service.



David Shelby (left) Col. Tillman (center) Dave Miller (right) holding framed flag that was flown in space and given to Col. Tillman when he and his wife Betty visited the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas

Mar 16, 2008



I am overwhelmed at the amount of excellent new text, photos and interactive links added to your site.  You have done a fine job of selecting words and photos that will honor these vets, inspire others and help all of us understand more about this important part of the world's history.  I have not been able to proof everything carefully yet and will do so this coming week.  I understand from your note that the omitted letter in the Tillman links will be very hard to correct.


I will plan on trying to get the full image of Col. T's letter home after being wounded as that is a very interesting part of his story.   You do have a place in an index listing in a box on the left side of a page that shows blue highlighted text that says LINKS but the box is clipping it so it can not be selected.


I am still trying to assist Congressman Gilchrest's office in submitting Col. Tillman's Library of Congress - Veteran's History Project information that I gave them in December of 2006!  I don't know when that will be complete or accessable to researchers so it is terrific that you have posted all of this powerful info NOW so that others can enjoy it.  Thanks again for your wonderful tribute to our veterans.  You have accomplished something that you can be proud of.


I will continue to forward your links to others that are interested in this collection of history.


Your friend,


David Shelby

Mar 17, 2008

 Good evening Doug,


Earlier this afternoon I found the comments of the replacement gunner's grandson on your website and have emailed him, hoping that he will call or email me so that we can talk.


Here's my message:




It was quite interesting to read your comments relating to your Grandfather on Doug's website this morning as I have been researching and meeting various vets from the 97th for the past few years.  I have a great respect for all of these men and the service that they provided our country.  It must have truly been a terrible thing to lose the rest of your crew as your grandfather did on that day.  I just can't imagine the pain and confusion of wondering why things played out that way.  During several discussions with Col. Tillman, who became your Grandfather's pilot, and Frank Dancey, the ball turret gunner on the same crew, I have come to learn that there were many strange twists of fate that took lives during the war, and that you never knew when your number would be called.


I am so grateful to Doug for posting all of the history and I would like to talk to you about your grandfather's service at some time in the near future if you are willing.


David Shelby


Have a great week.





I just got back to my desk from a trip to the States.  Thanks for the corrections.  I will make the changes.


As I wrote before, I requested permission from Life on the putting up the article but never got a reply.  I will take it down if they protest.


Thanks again,


Doug Cook


From: Gerhard Winkler [mailto:e.g.winkler@schule.at]
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 9:39 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: your website


Dear Doug,


just stumbled across the new part of your website.

Great photographs, especially those with the VIPs.


Thank you for including Feldkirch.

May I point out, that your sources misled you in two points, which however can easily be corrected:

1)       The primary target on 10/1/43 was not “Rusberg” but “Augsburg” in Germany (the fault lies with the typewriter, then used to write the lists of targets).

2)       Google led you to another “Feldkirch” I did not even know until now.

The correct place is Feldkirch in Austria. I enclose another view from Google Earth (the river across the background is the Rhine again – forming the border to Switzerland, in the background too is Lake Constance / Bodensee)


How could you convince LIFE to allow publication and what did they write you?

Do you plan to put more pictures of 97th BG on the net (airplanes, crews, bases in Northern Africa)?


If you are still in contact with the old folks, please do ask them, if they have a strike photograph from 10/1/1943, what ever the name of the target is.


All the best





From: Steven Nelson [mailto:steveo05196@yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 6:11 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: my grandfather


I’m researching my grandfather and say your webpage. He was in the 414th he flew in 42-30436 which you do have listed on your website.I was wondering if you had any further information about his aircraft, crew, or anything else. I would appreciate anything. I’m in army aviation also. i crewed apache helicopters for 4 years and now I maintain Chinooks.


Thank you.





Thanks for writing.  I have posted all the information I have and am always looking for more.


 If you know your grandfather’s SSN or military ID number you can try to get his service records:




I was successful getting a gold mine of records for my father-in-law.



I note that the plane was B-17F-105-BO     42-30436  (97th BG, 414th BS) lost Apr 3, 1944.  MACR 3962.  Was your grandfather on the plane when lost?


For a fee you can get the MACR report:



I would be happy put up a section dedicated to him if you can put his story together.




Doug Cook


Saudi Arabia



From: Mark Arsenault [mailto:mark0079@comcast.net]
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 6:35 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: 414th squadron


Hi Doug,

I believe that my grandmother's brother, Anthony P. Hajkowski, was in the 414th during the war. His B-17 went missing on Oct. 14, 1943, and he was never found.

I'm interested in learning more about the squad.

Do you know what model B-17 the 414th flew at the time?

Are there other resources you could guide me to?


-Mark Arsenault

Easton, Mass.




Thanks for writing.   I have posted virtually everything I have on the 414th BS.  My webpages, much of which I credit to other contributors, do not list a mission objective for that date.




However, the planes and crews site does list a plane downed on that date:




B-17F-105-BO     42-30438 (97th BG, 414th BS) lost Oct 14, 1943.  MACR 973    (B-17 F Model 105 Boeing)


 If you know your grandmother's brother’s  SSN or military ID number you can try to get his service records:




I was successful getting a gold mine of records for my father-in-law.


For a fee you can get the MACR  Missing Air Crew Report) report:







I would be happy put up a section dedicated to him if you can put his story together.




Doug Cook


Saudi Arabia



From: David Shelby [mailto:david.shelby@ddlomni.com]
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2008 4:11 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: FW: Kan Do info
Importance: High


Hi Doug,


I had a nice talk yesterday with Mark Arsenault, who's Great Uncle was lost on the Kan Do.    I have included my response to him (see below).  It is wonderful to be able to help him out relating to his interests in the 97th etc.  I am not sure what anecdote you were referring to from Col. Tillman during your last email and can't find it so far on your site. 


My wife Allison and I attended a tribute to Col. T at his church yesterday which was very nice.  They could not get his White House speech converted to DVD from VHS in time to show on a big screen so he spoke for 20 minutes! about his memories, mainly honoring those veterans that have fallen that he knew.  Col. Hank told me that you had called him from Saudi and was very excited about that.  I am glad that you talked and know that it must have meant a great deal to you as well.


I will send more pics from the Col.'s tribute as time permits.


From: David Shelby
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2008 8:23 AM
To: Mark Arsenault (mark0079@comcast.net)
Subject: Kan Do info
Importance: High



It was a great pleasure talking with you last night about your Great Uncle and your interest in the Kan Do and the 97th Bomb Group. This photo is owned by Col. Tillman and he may remember where he originally got it.  I have attached the highest quality cleaned up image I have of the Kan Do photo and the original that I shot at Col. Tillman's home.  The next time I visit with him I can bring a better camera and get you a higher quality version.    I don't remember if I looked on the back to see if there were any notes or markings.  The other attached image I sent is the details from the B17 book called "The B17 Flying Fortress Story" which lists B17's and where they were first shipped from etc.  The text "w/Walker" follows the date of the loss of the plane so that may have the pilot's name when the crash occured.  


I am sure that Col. Tillman and Frank Dancey will be glad to talk to you in relation to this.  It will not be easy for them since they lost their great friend Paul Fuchs in the same crash.  Please email me your Great Uncle's name so that I can keep it with my collected information.  Also, remember that many different crews may have flown the "Kan Do" even though it only was in action from August 1, 1943 until October 14th.  If you can be certain of the identity of your Great Uncle in this photo then this may well be the entire crew, with the possible exception that Paul Fuchs could be in this photo or it may be the gunner who was sick and couldn't fly the day of the crash.   You can ask Col. Tillman if Paul is in the photo as he would probably recognize him.   I am fairly certain that the gunner from the Kan Do that was replaced by Paul, has passed away as Col. Hank and Frank have told me that they are the last two men still living from their crew. 


If you find any another info relating to the 414th or the Kan Do etc. please let me know.   Doug Cook will probably add more details on his site to tell the story of that ship and your Great Uncle if you can give him the text or any additional photos, diary pages etc.


I will call Frank today and let him know that you may call this week to prepare him for your call and since I want to tell him about Col. Tillman's tribute by his church that was held yesterday.




From the data that David Shelby sent:



This lists the Bases the ship was stationed.   Pont-du-Fahs and Depienne are in Tunisia where my father-in-law was stationed in 414th.



I am doing some more research:




MEDITERRANEAN (Twelfth Air Force):
   In Italy, XII Bomber Command B-25's hit Argos Airfield and B-17's bomb the
Terni marshalling yard. Other B-17's and B-24's attack a bridge at Giulianova,
the town area of Piano-Vomano and railroad and highway bridges N of Pescara and
along the E coast of Italy. Weather hinders tactical aircraft operations, but
the XII Air Support Command and RAF DAF hit trains and vehicles and fly patrols
from N of the Volturno River to Formia and N of Pescara.
   HQ 31st Fighter Group and it's 308th and 309th Fighter Squadrons transfer
from Montecorvino to Pomigliano, Italy with Spitfires.
   The 5th Photographic Squadron (Light), Twelfth Air Force, based at La Marsa,
Tunisia with F-5's transfers operations from Pontecagnano to Pomigliano, Italy.
   The 111th Reconnaissance Squadron (Fighter), 68th Reconnaissance Group,
ceases operating from Capaccio and returns to it's base at Pomigliano, Italy
with P-51's.
   The 525th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 86th Fighter-Bomber Group, transfers from
Sele Airfield to Serretella Airfield, Italy with A-36's.
   550+ B-17s and B-24s attack targets in Italy; B-17s hit a marshalling yard
at Mestre and oil storage and marshalling yard at Porto Marghera; B-24s hit oil
refinery at Trieste, air depot at Ferrara and the town of Ancona. P-51s and
P-38s fly escort, and in Rumania, strafe targets of opportunity between
Bucharest and the Danube River and S of Craiova, and dive-bomb an oil refinery
at Ploesti.
   450+ bombers hit targets in Italy and Yugoslavia; the B-17s bomb the
marshalling yard at Ancona, Italy and troop concentrations at Bihac,
Yugoslavia; the B-24s bomb the port areas at San Stefano al Mare, Piombino,
Portoferraio and Orbetello, Italy; P-38s strafe airfields at Ghedi, Villafranca
di Verona, Modena, Forli and Reggio Emilia, Italy while other fighters fly 130+
sorties of escort duty.



The RR marshalling yards as bombing target can be seen in this closer image of Ancona below at center.   It seems that the weather did not permit successfully dropping their bombs so it did not count as a combat mission even though they obviously did encounter resistance.  The ‘Kan Do’  must be lying nearby offshore.



Thats it for now.




Doug Cook


From: Allison Lukenich [mailto:allukeni@hacc.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 7:03 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Reddog1944


Hi Doug,


My name is Allison and Frank Dancey is my PopPop. John is my dad. Your site is great and we often don't have time to sit and learn about these things that he did in the war. The information was great and I can picture PopPop retelling his stories. I think I have always been reluctant to ask him questions about it because I know it was a rough time for all the soldiers so it was nice to read your interview.

Thank you for getting this up and running. It is greatly appreciated and admired.



Allison (Dancey) Lukenich  


Hi Allison,

Thanks for writing.  I have enjoyed putting the website together to honor the heroes in our families.  I have especially appreciated the submissions from Frank Dancey.  I believe David Shelby submitted a picture with you and Frank at the Smithsonian.  We had a special visit there with my father-in-law Col. Bill Ross (414th BS same time as Frank) just before he passed on.


Doug Cook

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia




I got the missing crew report for the Kan-Do from the National Archives. There's not a lot of info, but all the crewmen are named, including my great uncle, Anthony Hajkowski. There's also a crude map that shows their last known position. I have attached scans.

My great aunt confirms that her brother is in the Kan-Do photo, front row, third from left.


Very best

Mark Arsenault


Editor’s Notes:   Tillman and Dancey files fix links on Kan Do to Dancey’s Log ref and the More on Kan Do ref


414th Planes and Crews  add Kan Do MACR


Pilot                              Laird K. Walker              1ST Lt

Copilot                          Leo L. Magee                2nd Lt   

Bombardier                    John R. Shores              2nd Lt   

Navigator                       Daniel Ulrich                  2nd Lt   

Aerial Engineer              Paul H. Fuchs               T/Sgt

Radio Operator              Anthony P. Hajkowski    T/Sgt

Ball Turret Gunner          John H. Carruthers         S/Sgt

Right Waist Gunner        Wayne E.Herrick           S/Sgt

Tail Gunner                    Norman K. Mathews       S/Sgt

Left Waist Gunner          John S. Michalik            S/Sgt




From: Vintage Boating Life [mailto:boats@vintageboatinglife.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 07, 2008 11:42 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Stinky Jr. B-17 WWII




I happened across your web site as related to the B-17F, "Stinky Jr." during WWII.


My father was the pilot of that B-17. He is now 89 years old and lives in Nashville, TN and his name is Cooper M. Schley. His co-pilot was Lee Wood who is also still alive. If you would like more information about him or would like to contact him, please let me know... I'm sure he would be delighted to talk with you...




Tom Schley (pronounced as "Sly")



From: HCarr46981@aol.com [mailto:HCarr46981@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 10:16 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Looking for info on my father member of the 414th Bomb Squadron


My father, SMSGT (RET) USAF Harry J. Carroll (Deceased Jan 3, 2006) was a waist gunner and was one of two survivors of Aircraft # 42-5147, MACR 720, Shot down on the 8th of Sept 1943 over Frasotti Italy.

I was doing some research and found this was the only aircraft downed on that mission of 131 aircraft.

I don't think my father knew that fact as he never made mention of it. He spent 18 months in Stalag  17B. I think there were 3 survivors. My father said he and the tail gunner were the only one to get out, but there are only seven names on the list of crew members from a 1986 97th bomb group reunion paper I have. I would like any pictures of my fathers plane before that terrible day they were shot down. I would also like any contact names for patches and memorabilia.   


Thank You

Harry Jay Carroll

MSGT (Retired) USAF







Thanks for writing.  I have posted all that I have on the 97th BG 414th BS.   I do get and post submissions from vets and families of vets.  I am going to suggest some research options and would love some feedback if you get any farther.


Try the link below, register and go the 97th BG forum and post the questions you posed to me:




A pay site with MACR reports:





You may be able to get your grandfather’s military service record from:




I filled out their form (SSN and/or service record number required) and got my father-in-law's service record.


If you are able to gather enough information for a story and want to share photos, I would be glad to post it on the website.


Good luck! Keep in touch 



Doug Cook



From: Bruce Womack [mailto:rockeyecrm@eoni.com]
Sent: Saturday, January 03, 2009 2:16 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: B-17 Ther-N-Bak #223


Your site is fantastic!! My father was Sgt Raymond M Womack, 97th Bomb Group, 414th Squadron, Flight Engineer on B-17 # 223 Ther-N-Bak. He arrived with the 414th in Jan 1943 and was grounded with 50 missions in July same year. One of the photos on your site labeled Rollout for takeoff… shows the Ther-N-Bak. I can tell from the nose art. I have some great photos of B-17 # 223, several views of the bomber and crew. Also a shot after the plane made an emergency landing, bullet holes in the wind screen. I also have an original copy of his mission list which matches exactly with your list of mission flown by the 414th. <<<<<<Bruce>>>>>>>

From: Bruce Womack [mailto:rockeyecrm@eoni.com]
Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 11:35 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: RE: B-17 Ther-N-Bak #223


The disk is sounding better all the time. Send me an address and I will burn a disk a snail mail it. How much stuff do you want? I have shots of what have to be the 414th camp, people digging fox holes and slit trenches, people (the crew) in a slit trench, individual crew members standing next to their gun positions, etc. I think I mentioned this, but I also have the original of his “Individual Record Combat Crew Member, Operational Time, and Awards”. This document as well as the letter that I think I sent you indicate that he was put in for the DFC, but his discharge records only refer to the Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, Middle Eastern Campaign and Good Conduct Medal. I wonder if it would be possible to get him the DFC  after the fact, so to speak. You mentioned a separate page, what would that involve? I think there is enough stuff. Based on your email address, you are probably a busy person, so let me know if this gets to be too much. <<<<<Bruce>>>>>


Hi Bruce,


This is great stuff.  I have the letter, two crew photos, the bullet hole, and plane being towed.  


I will post anything you think is worthy.  I have lots of space on my web site.  The time is my hobby time on the weekends.   If you send a disk,  please include a word doc with the file names and captions.  Contributions from vets and their families have helped the website become a resource for others.


I don’t know what the possibility is of getting the DFC posthumously.  You might try the link below, register and go the 97th BG forum and post the question you posed to me:







Doug Cook


 From: Guy York [mailto:guy@omnimassage.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 11:16 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.


Hello Doug


I am looking for information on 2 LT Paul (Pete) Slaten my Great Uncle


Reported KIA July 6th 1943


414th Squadron  97th BG


B-17 # 42-301212


I have searched your site with no luck as yet (great site)


Can you help?


Guy W. York
2301 E. 2nd Street
Odessa, TX  79761



Thanks for writing.  I have posted all that I have on the 97th BG 414th BS.   I do get and post submissions from vets and families of vets.  I am going to suggest some research options and would love some feedback if you get any farther.


Try the link below, register and go the 97th BG forum and post the questions you posed to me:




A pay site with MACR reports:





You may be able to get your grandfather’s military service record from:




I filled out their form (SSN and/or service record number required) and got my father-in-law's service record.


If you are able to gather enough information for a story, I would be glad to post it on the website.


Good luck! Keep in touch 



Doug Cook

From: Guy York [guy@omnimassage.com]
Sent: Monday, February 09, 2009 11:33 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Re: RE:Pete Slaten

Hello Doug,                                           


Thanks again for your help.


Attached is the accident report for the crash on 6 July 1943. The details listed are very limited but a full crew list is here. I am wondering if you might post the report to your site. It could possibly help others who are searching for information and it might also bring some information our on my uncle, Lt. Paul B. Slaten.


I read an account on you site of another 17 "ground looping" into fuel barrels along the runway due to a 20 MPH crosswind. They were lucky and walked away where as the entire crew of 16152 was killed.


Kind Regards,


Guy W. York

2301 E. 2nd Street
Odessa, TX  79761

From: aeromiltec [aeromiltec@bluewin.ch]
Sent: Sunday, February 15, 2009 9:39 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: 97BG at Ploesti

Hi Doug


I am HALPRO, TW and Rumania bombings historian and worked

many years on my book which is going to be ready by end of this

year. I have the MACRs on most of the Rumania losses of 97BG


Is there any way you could assist me with material on the aircraft

and crew losses of yourBG towards my book ?


Best Regards

Alex Kandel




Thanks for writing.  I am very interested in your research endeavor.  However, all of the information I have is posted on my website.  I would be glad to provide digital copies of anything you need since the copy option from the pages is disabled.


The best source of information may be a book on the 97th BG titled 'Venit Hora'.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate a copy.  I learned about it from this site:




97th BG Forum:




Note there are recent referces to Romania.  You can register and post queries.  I would be very interested to add to my website with information you have uncovered.




Doug Cook

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia



I just found this:


The 97th Bombardment Group History Book Venit Hora, Available for $65, including shipping in the USA, from: 97th Bomb Group History c/o Louis Barwick 2311 N.W. 63rd Terrace Sunrise, FL 33313.


From: Scuba268@aol.com [mailto:Scuba268@aol.com]
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2009 2:53 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Question


My father was a tail gunner from 1941-1945. Do you know of anyway I can find out what plane he was assigned to ? Or do you know any way I can find out any kind of information ? He is now 91 and ahlzimers. I am trying to gather any kind of information that I can. He still talks about some of his missions and gets sort of excited. I am trying to do anything I can to keep his mind working. His most famous story is either about bombing Berlin on Christmas or the fact that he was the only survivor of a mid air collision between 2 B-17's. If you can offer any help or tell me where to look, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.


From: Upchurch, Marty [mailto:Marty_Upchurch@efiglobal.com]

Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 9:46 PM

To: Cook, Douglas J.

Subject: Photo of Ther-N-Bak


Hi again,


On your website for the 97th BG 414th BS, you have several photos of the plane Ther-N-Bak.  I was wondering if you would be willing to send me a copy of one of the photos.  I am a member of the 99th BGHS and am trying to help gather documents and photos for the group, and we do not have any photos of this plane.  It would be greatly appreciated if you could provide a copy for our archives.  The photo would not be passed on to anyone without your prior permission.




Marty Upchurch

Nephew of Fred Eulert, 347th BS, 99th BG, KIA April 2, 1944 & Nephew of Lloyd Upchurch, 775th BS, 463rd BG, KIA June 10, 1944



I have attached photos of Ther-N-Bak for you.


Thanks for writing.




Doug Cook


From: Upchurch, Marty [mailto:Marty_Upchurch@efiglobal.com]

Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 5:57 PM

To: Cook, Douglas J.

Subject: Possible 97th BG 414th BS member Carl Edwin Jennings




There is a post on Armyairforces.com by a man who is trying to find any info he can on his father who is dying.  Some of the info he has is that his dad was a tail gunner in B-17s, and was supposedly a sole survivor of a mid-air collision between two B-17s.  Something he has indicates that his dad may have been in the 414th BS.  If you have any info he would greatly appreciate it as soon as possible.  It sounds like his dad will be passing any time now.  The link to the posted message is below:




By the way, you have an awesome site on the 97th/414th.



From: Paul Duff [mailto:airborneyellow@hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 02, 2009 11:32 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Your 97th BG website


Hi Doug
Nice site with some great photos!

One small point. On this page:
a little way down from the top, you have a photo of Churchill at an air mission briefing in a tent in Algeria. Though the person next to him is labelled as Alan Brooke in the enlarged extract, in fact it's Anthony Eden (British Foreign Secretary thoughout the war, later Prime Minister) who accompanied Churchill throughout the Tehran conference & this trip.
However, I'm almost sure that Brooke is also in the photo - sitting on the end of the bench third to the left of Churchill, with his chin in his hand.

Just thought you might be interested



I just got back in country. Thanks for the correction.   There is a strong resemblance between Eden and Brooke but I will agree that Eden’s eyebrows are a good clue.   I will redocument the photo with three British VIP’s!   This photo was in my father-in-law’s photo album undocumented.  I don’t know who took the photo.  Have you seen it published anywhere?




Doug Cook

From: Guy York [mailto:guy@omnimassage.com]
Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2009 3:29 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Re: RE:Pete Slaten


Hello Doug,


Just wanted to give you an update...I still plan on putting together the information on Pete for your web site but I have gotten distracted the last couple of months. (see attached photos)


I built a B-17 Waist Gunner Simulator complete with .50 cal machine gun that shoots paintballs. Our first outing is on the 4th of July...we will set up the Simulator and our targets on a baseball field in Fort Stockton, TX...Am very anxious to see how the public likes it.


Best Regards



From: John Myshrall [mailto:myshrallbayou@hotmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, August 02, 2009 3:17 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: 414th BS, 97th BG


Hello Doug:
My name is John Myshrall, I recently visited your website. Thank you for sharing so much information, I'm sure your family is grateful for how you have honored your father. I wish I had started much earlier in my search for my father's military information. He is age 89 now and remembers so very little. I have been researching for several months now and still have a long way to go. I hope to build a website soon to honor my dad as you did yours. If your father is still living I hope he is in good health.
My father, Joseph R. "Rod" Myshrall, served with your father in the 97th BG. He arrived in England in Jun 1942, but didn't begin missions until 1943. He was stationed in N.Africa fom 1 Jan - 13 Sep 1943. He was in the 341st BS, tail gunner on the "Thunderbird" (41-24437). My father's combat mission record indicates that
he flew with th 414th at least once on 4 Apr 1943, Naples, Italy. I don't know if it was with your father or not. He was a big fan of the pilot's so I'm sure they must have rubbed elbows at some time or another. My childhood was filled with stories of the pilots he served with.
I was wondering if you have any records regarding the flight I mentioned above. Also, do you have any info on a plane known as the "Flying Patch" that flew with the 97th (I assume in the 341st) during this time? We believe this may have been the plane my father flew his first 24 missions on, his last 26 were flown on the "Thunderbird". He has asked me to try and find pictures of them both and I have been unsuccessful to date.
Well, thanks for reading my ramblings. I hope to hear back from you.
John Myshrall (a proud son)
4107 Glenview Ct
Columbia, MO 65202



You might try the link below, register and go the 97th BG forum and post the question you posed to me:




Good hunting!





Doug Cook

From: Bridges, Tyler [mailto:tbridges@mcclatchydc.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 12:24 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: FW: Oudna Air Base


Hi Doug:


Still hoping to hear back from you.


Best, Tyler



From: Bridges, Tyler
Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2009 3:33 PM
To: 'douglas.cook@aramco.com'
Subject: Oudna Air Base

Hi Doug:


I got your name from a web page on the 97th Bomb Group.


I am conducting the research for a book on what happened to the Fascinatin' Witch and its crew. The plane (which belonged to the 44th Bomb Group, 66th Squadron) was a B-24 shot down just after bombing Wiener Neustadt, Austria, on October 1, 1943. The pilot was my father, Richard W. Bridges.


The Fascinatin' Witch took off that day from Oudna. I'm trying to recreate what life was like during the two weeks that the 44th Bomb Group spent there. Have you come across anyone writing about what life was like there?


Is the base still there?




Tyler Bridges


Hi Tyler,


I thought I had answered your email.  I am sorry to say that I can be of little help to you directly.  All the information I have is posted on my websites.   I don’t have anything about that bomb group.  However


You might try the link below, register and go the 97th BG forum and post the question you posed to me:




 If you know your father's  SSN or military ID number you can try to get his service records:




I was successful getting a gold mine of records for my father-in-law.


Although not of the same bomb group, this diary may help you with the story of what life was like for a bomber pilot in N. Africa:





(not Oudna but you get the idea)   Camp life in Tunisia:




Life off base on R&R:






Doug Cook


From: CHRIS TABERY [mailto:christabery@verizon.net]
Sent: Saturday, December 12, 2009 10:47 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: hello


I have been reading my fathers diary from his 50 missions he flew on B17's will  97th Bomb group, 414th. Each mission is detailed. One entry is July 9th, 1943 concerning Ther N Bak. He mentions last seeing it with 12 Nazi fighters on it, at 20,000 feet in steep glide. That night he says "there were two empty beds in our tent".  Names he mentions are Andy Poczak, Hester, Worfson, Kutchuk, and the "others". Do you have knowledge of their fate? These names do not fit what I find on your website.


Thanks for any info.

Chris Tabery

Hemet, Ca.




I am very interested in your father’s diary.  Could you scan it and send it to me?   I would love to dedicate a web page to your father and include the diary and any other material you would want to share:  bio, photos, anecdotes.   All credit would be given to you and your father.  This is how my website has grown from just material from my family to now include many other vets stories.  It is by no means a complete resource.


To answer you specific question- all that I have is posted.


You might try the link below, register and go the 97th BG forum and post the question you posed to me:




Another possible source would be to get a copy of this book:


The 97th Bombardment Group History Book Venit Hora, Available for $65, including shipping in the USA, from: 97th Bomb Group History c/o Louis Barwick 2311 N.W. 63rd Terrace Sunrise, FL 33313. 954-742-6646





Doug Cook


Hello Doug,

I found your web site while looking for any information I can find on my late father, Victor M. Thompson, who served in WWII. My dad was a radioman aboard the B17, but my brother tells me at times he was the bombardier.His plane was called the "Kwitcherbitchen", not totally sure of the spelling.I am wondering if there was more than one B17 with that name and spelled differently? We did find a picture with the crew of a B17 with that name and bought it on Ebay but we didn't recognize our father as being in the picture. I do remember him talking about Italy and Africa. Do you know how I can find out which squadron my father belonged to? 

Any help you could give me would be appreciated.


From: CHRIS TABERY [mailto:christabery@verizon.net]
Sent: Sunday, December 13, 2009 6:55 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Re: hello


Thanks, Doug. I will work on it. It is a lot, but may interface with some one else's stories. Perhaps I will just send the highlights. I had the privilege of flying in the B17 a few years ago. What a thrill and emotional to get a small glimpse of the toughness those men had to survive 50 missions! Of course, many did not. It makes one realize how close we were to NOT being born. I am the one in the red shirt. Thanks for the information.

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Hi again Chris.  I am thrilled that you may be willing to contribute to the growing website to honor our fathers.  You may have gathered that it was my father-in-law in the 97th BG 414th squadron.  I looked for Tabery and the others on the officer’s roster I have.  What was your father’s name and what crew position did he have? 


My father was in the same theater (Mediterranean) as a B-25 pilot. 




He did not talk much about the war but he survived 70 missions. They upped it from 25 to 50 to 70 (after which you were deemed mentally unfit for combat) while he was there.  The book Catch-22 was written by a man in my father’s bomb group.  He came out as a Captain and wing leader.  He saw men under his command get shot down on almost every mission.  He was there almost to the day when the Germans surrendered from Italy.  I wish to fly in a B-25 or B-17 some day.   I have an open invitation but the logistics of my living in Saudi Arabia make it difficult.




Doug Cook

From: CHRIS TABERY [mailto:christabery@verizon.net]
Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 7:59 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Re: hello


My father was Earl M. Hansen T-sgt . He was a radio operator and waist gunner. He wrote a book of his 50 missions and other lively experiences while in North Africa. it actually is very humorous at times and the family thinks it would make a great movie. He has been gone 5 years now and I wish I had asked him more questions. His 50 missions are from 5-13-43 thru 12-14-43. Each entry has the plane number, not necessarily the name. Is there a list of plane numbers with their names some where? Also, his brother was shot down over Germany Nov 25, 1944. He was seen alive on the crowd, but later found with a bullet in his back. He was 19 and a Second Lt./navigator in the 8th airforce. I would love to find the name of his plane or crew. Any ideas on that? His name was Ray (or Raymond) Arthur Hansen. Thanks for your interest. I wonder if your wife's father knew mine. That would be something.

Hi Chris,


I can offer no more information but condolences on your father and uncle.   The forum I previously mentioned may be your best source of information.  The ‘Venit Hora’ book (wish I had a copy) may be able to match up planes and their fate.


If you know your uncle Arthur Hansen’s  SSN or military ID number try to get his service records:




I was successful getting a gold mine of records for my father-in-law.






Doug Cook




From: Deb O'Hara [mailto:debby.ohara@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 07, 2010 6:41 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Re: looking for information


Hello Doug,

I still have to take a look at all your links but I thought I would let you know that I found the son of one of the other crewmen from my dad's B-17 online on a forum, and he had actually posted a photo that included my dad!!

It was the 97th BG. 342nd Squdron. His pilot was Nick Kantar, though there were missions with different pilots at times I am finding out. The missing piece to the puzzle is the that my dad always talked about his B-17 being named the Kwiturbitchin, and now I find there were many B-17s by that name and the son of the crewman I found said his dad never mentioned that name to him?? I have found some pictures online of a B-17 by that name but it's says it's from the 414th.....could they have borrowed a plane from the 342nd to run a mission?

Thanks again



Hi Deb,


I don’t by any means have an exhaustive list of planes from the 97th BG. The trail can be somewhat confusing. Yes, the crews did mix and match crew members and planes.  A given crew may have trained together on one plane and then flew it over to Africa as their plane.  Once the action really started the mix and match was inevitable. Yes there can be several planes with the same informal name. The only way to uniquely ID a plane is by its serial number.  I have also an example of a plane going from the 414th BS to another squadron but keeping the same name.




Doug Cook

From: Scott Wolf [mailto:wobblybootipa@yahoo.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 07, 2010 7:23 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: WW 2


  My father was Lt. Raymond C. Wolf, Bombadier 97th 414 Air Medal, 3 Purple Hearts, and Dist Flying Cross for this mission over Hungary... jettisoned all bombs but one and threaded the needle. I have priceless photos, negs and artifacts. (The commander spelled our name wrong in the photo>)




Thanks for writing.  That’s a great bomb run photo. Would you like to contribute so that I can make web pages dedicated to your father?


Photos with captions; bio; anecdotes; awards; citations; etc.  




Doug Cook


From: Herzig, Jürg [mailto:Juerg.Herzig@sisclear.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 10:42 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: FW: B-17 crash Feb. 27, 1945 in Trimbach Switzerland - 15th Air Force, 97th Bomb Group, 414th Squadron
Importance: High


Dear Sir


My name is Juerg Herzig, I am Swiss and researching the crash of a B-17 of the 15th Air Force, 97th Bomb Group, 414th Squadron, near my hometown. The B-17 call sign Mickey 4 crashed on Feb 27, 1945 in Trimbach, Switzerland after the crew bailed out. The plane was part of a bombing raid of Augsburg/Germany.


I have the missing aircrew report but I am looking for a photo showing the plane Mickey or even one of the crew or crew members. The crew was:


Pilot: George, L. Albin, Maj - became a P.O.W
Copilot: John B. Campbell, Maj - became a P.O.W
Navigator: Billy F. Bolton, Cpt - became a P.O.W
Navigator: Alvin F. Smith, 1st Lt - became a P.O.W
Bombardier: Robert M. Martin, 1st Lt - became a P.O.W
Engineer: Paul E. Culley, S/Sgt -  became a P.O.W
Radio: Harold C. Isaacson, S/Sgt  - became a P.O.W
Waist Gunner: William D. Beavers, Jr., S/Sgt - became a P.O.W
Waist Gunner: Roy Zermeno, S/Sgt - became a P.O.W
Tail Gunner: Richard L. Adkins, S/Sgt – whereabouts unknown


Any help is appreciated. I also have photos of the crashed Mickey 4 B-17. Please reply soon.



Cordial Greetings


Juerg Herzig


St. Laurentiusstrasse 12

CH-4613 Rickenbach



Tel: ++41-62-216-03-86

E-Mail: outlaws@bluewin.ch





Thank you for writing.   All that I have on the 97th BG 414th BS is online but I am always looking for more.  You have given me more information than I can give you.  However,  I can suggest some reserach tools:


You might try the link below, register and go the 97th BG forum and post the question you posed to me:




Another possible source would be to get a copy of this book:


The 97th Bombardment Group History Book Venit Hora, Available for $65, including shipping in the USA, from: 97th Bomb Group History c/o Louis Barwick 2311 N.W. 63rd Terrace Sunrise, FL 33313. 954-742-6646


If you can get more information and if you would like me to post your photos,  I would be glad to add it to the website.





Doug Cook


From: Herzig, Jürg [mailto:Juerg.Herzig@sisclear.com]
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 12:08 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: RE: B-17 crash Feb. 27, 1945 in Trimbach Switzerland - 15th Air Force, 97th Bomb Group, 414th Squadron


Hi Doug


On my website http://standwheretheyfought.jimdo.com/b-17-flying-fortress-crash-in-trimbach-february-27-1945/


I also found a photo of Dottie somewhere in the net


There are 3 photos plus then and now


However; I will send them to do and hope to visit the farmer in Trimbach soon


From: tim merrifield [mailto:tsm_35@hotmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 5:35 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: 97 bomb group 414 squadron


dear, doug.   
I ran across your site, and found it very interesting. i believe my father was a member of the 414, I remember him talking about being in italy and also North Africa, not sure of the dates.  he would only talk if asked about these things, He passed away in 2003 and i wish i had asked him so many questions. Not sure if your interested, but i have many pictures of places, people, and bombers, not sure if these pictures are some you already have, i know my father was into photography and developing his own. If this is still a work in progress i could scan and send you some pics if not, then thanks again its a site i will keep going back to. I feel i owe a lot to these men that fought for our country, and they should never be forgot.
My fathers name was Lloyd A Merrifield.
thanks again,  Tim Merrifield        


I will try to get some pictures scanned this weekend, and sent out.  Not sure about a couple things.  I found my fathers record and report of seperation papers, they have his organization listed as 97th fighter squadron 82d fighter group, but i also have a couple liberty passes  and they have his name and org. as the 414 B.S. 
I also found a paper listing the 97th bomb GP and the names in the 341 bomb SQ. and the names of the men in the 414th bomb SQ.  his name is listed under the 414th.
His seperation papers list him as Sgt. and his military occupation as power turret  and gunsight specialist and that he worked exclusively on the b 17s in the mediterranean theater. He departed in aug 1943 destiation Eur Afr Mid  ET ,and shipped back to the states aug of 45. 
Decorations, good conduct medal, Distinguished unit badge(oak leaf cluster)and middle eastern theater campaign ribbon.
I will keep digging into things and get some photos out. 



From: tim merrifield [mailto:tsm_35@hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 4:19 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.


I am not that great with computers,but i tried to send you a few pictures. the only pictures that had something written on them were pictures that were taken when on leave i believe, like pics of st peters,swiss guard, pompeii,venice
i have many pictures of planes and other things,but have no idea if they were from the 414th ,and is it ok to send pictures of men standing with or around the planes if i do have any idea who they are ? couple pictures of my father(sitting on the wing) (under the plane with frag bombs) let me know if you get these or can open them...thanks  



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Hello Will,

I'm Blitz Welch and my father was Harrison William Welch and was a waist gunner on a B-17 and his jacket patch was of the "Nut Cracker".  But funny thing my father would rarely talk about his exploits except for the funny ones. But do have all of his military records when he was in the Army Air Corp.  I've had to try to piece together his history in North Africa where he flew 50 missions and just over 250 hours before being grounded.

If you would please give me information on the plane(tail numbers, serial numbers, model..) and I'll give you what info that I have.  Also I'm going to forward this to another gentleman who is also researching information about the "Nut Cracker". 


From: william merryman <isisthedog@hotmail.com>
Subject: 414th 97group(h)
To: blitz4569@yahoo.com
Date: Friday, December 4, 2009, 6:25 PM

   Hello, My name is William James Merryman.
My grand father William James Shea was in the 414th and was a mechanic on A B-17 called the NUTCRACKER. I am trying  my hardest to find out any info I can about this, sadly my grandfather passed away saveral years ago. I am very interested in the picture of the (nutcracker) patch that you posted on reddog. I have a photo of the plane framed in my home, and the it is the same name and logo as the patch. I would greatly appreciate any help You may be able to offer me.
    The story I was told was told,was that the plane was hit in the wing by flack and was lost on It's 51st mission, and for that reason it dropped more tonnage of bombs than any other plane in the war. I don't know if this is true. I do know that my grandfather spent some very unpleasant time in A P.O.W. camp.   
    In my mind anybody that had the Will to do the things that our parents and grandparents did in the wars of the past is worth remembering. They are all hero's and should be treated as such.
Humbly: Will Merryman



From: Sam Silvey [samsilvey@qwest.net]
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 6:11 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: B-17 All American



I had the occasion to do a Google search knowing full well that the ‘All American’ is forever remembered. I was excited to see your site and go over the many historic accounts of the many B-17s and especially the ‘All American’, my Uncle Ralph Burbridge’s plane. In February, 3 of my brothers and myself fl to Mesa, AZ to celebrate Ralph’s 90th birthday.


Ralph was the bombardier on the ‘All American’ and was and still is our war hero in addition to our father who served in the Navy in the Pacific.


I have a favor to ask. I would sure like to have a digital image or two of the pictures you have of the ‘All American’ and the document that shows the Emergency List of those that made it through 50 missions. I noticed Ralph and Kenny Bragg’s (the pilot) names on it.


I’m somewhat the de facto family historian of our family having done genealogy for 30 some years and I think it would be great to include these things in our history. In exchange I would gladly supply to you some of the things I’ve collected over the years on my Uncle Ralph and the crew as well.


Thanks so much for taking the time to document all of this.




Sam Silvey




Thanks for writing.  I have attached a .doc file with the images you requested.  You can copy and paste them as needed.  Note that I got the "All American" images and story are from the sites referenced.  The roster images are scanned from my father-in-law's war album which I am curator of.


My website has expanded dramatically with submissions from readers/ squadron members and families.  I would be honored to make web pages dedicated to your uncle Ralph and your father.  I only started this project after my father and father-in-law had passed. 


Items needed: 

Photos with captions; bio including family and photos, post war life; anecdotes; medals, awards; citations; etc.  


Keep in touch,


Doug Cook

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia


From: tim merrifield [mailto:tsm_35@hotmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, March 14, 2010 8:02 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: RE: 414th Photos are great!


I want to thank you, you did a very nice job.  Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. Do you get many emails about your site? or much interest?  It was an amazing time in our history, and i am glad you are doing the work you are to keep those men and times in our minds, I have a cousin that is in his late 70s, he is in a veterans home and i go visit him every couple weeks. I don't like (nursing homes) for the most part, but that veterans home is really just so full of history and men that fought for our country, its a place i enjoy going. thanks again, and keep up the good work.

Thanks Tim,


I will keep working on the upload problems that make some of the pictures incomplete.  I do enjoy getting comments and submissions from visitors of the website.  Yes, each veteran is part of our history and has a tale worth telling.




Doug Cook

414th - My Dad flew on the Superstitious Aloysius begining July 8, 1943


Dear Doug,


I recently joined the ArmyAirForce site to determine if there was any information on the 414th that I could match up to names and pictures I found last year in my Dad’s flight bag.  I came across your website and I was able to match a picture of the “Reluctant Dragon” ( requested by Dave in an e-mail to you 0 which was sitting on the ground nearby my Dad’s B-17.


Besides the military photos, I found pictures of  Bob Hope  and Frances Langford entertaining the 97th Group at the local airfield. I just sent the negatives out for development and to be burned to a CD so I will begin to gather notes and names from my Dad’s files and forward then to you.


I recently posted a message on the AAF website regarding the raid on Villa San Giovanni on 16th of July 1943 that may give a little insight into my Dad.


I accidentally stumbled into his combat activities during WWll while I was doing research on my Dad’s involvement with the Israeli Air force June 1948. Turns out he was one of the first members of that group when he flew a surplus B-17 overseas. I had hoped to find the links back to his original crew/friends in WWll that got him involved in the 1948 situation. It is remarkable that an Irish Catholic kid who grew up in Woodhaven NY was recruited in 1948….but that will be another story some day.


I look forward to communicating with you.


Larry Craven ( son of Lawrence F. Craven)

425 Birchtree Lane

Northvale, NJ 07647

201.767.1020 ( h


From: James Wiseman [mailto:jwiseman@carrollu.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 3:23 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Web Site


Mr. Cook,


I absolutely love your site about the 97th Bomb Group.  My dad (James V. Wiseman, JR Lavernia, Texas – B17 Reluctant Dragon) served in this group as a pilot and co-pilot.  He passed away this last Dec.  He rarely talked about his experiences, but on those rare occasions we could get him started the stories were amazing.  Thanks for honoring this group of amazing men.




Jim Wiseman

Vice President of Enrollment

Carroll University




From: Laurance Thomas [mailto:lkt1710@yahoo.com]
Sent: Saturday, May 29, 2010 10:44 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Wonderful site!!!


 Dear Mr. Cook,

  I was browsing the net today looking for infomation on the AAF stationed in N. Africa and Italy during WW2. My father Joe G. Thomas had enlisted in January 1942 so he could be a part of the Air Force rather than getting drafted into the infantry. He served with the 50th Air Service Squadron which supported the B-17 Bombers. His crew consisted of....

Tech Sgt---Walker

Staff Sgt---Clista

Buck Sgt--Thomas




 Before shipping out from Fort Dix Walker recieved an ear injury and was kept stateside. Putting Dad as #2 incharge. They shipped to Scotland, then England and then Algeria. There Clista was hospitalized with T.B. and Dad moved up to Tech. Sgt.. He was assigned to the repairs of the "All American". In Dads memoirs he had included an excerpt from another source claiming... A 22 year old pilot came into the mess hall looking for a ball turret gunner. Elton Conda replied. Ken Bragg  explained his gunner fell ill and Conda would fly with him today. The brash young gunner asked, "Can you fly the damn plane?" Bragg answered with, " Can you shoot the damn guns?" Before the day was half over Conda found out how well Ken Bragg could fly.

 From Biskra they moved to Chateau-Dun-Du-Rhumel,Depienne,Bizerta,Toronto Italy and Foggia before returning home in May 1945.

 I had found your site to be a wonderful inspiration to me in my memories on this Memorial day of my father who passed away 9-11-1995.

Thankyou for keeping this piece of history alive.

Laurance Thomas


Dear Mr. Cook,

 Yes, you definately have my permission to use what I have sent you. However, as I stated in my first correspondance, the piece referring to how Mr. Bragg and Mr. Conda had become connected was an excerpt from a publication that Dad had added. I don't know what the legal obligations would be for that section. Robert R. Kerwood, 12543 Oxford Ave. Apt.1 Hawthorne California (978-8295) had printed a History Of the 50th A.S.S. and sent Dad a copy in 1989. In most publications I have read on the "All American" (via the net) they do not make mention that the 50th squadron had her flying and combat ready in just 3 weeks after the ME 109 collision.

 I did make a topographical error previously, (and will catch grief from my siblings if you print it wrong) Dad had passed away on 9-11-2005. Not 1995, I must have had an old timers moment.

 Dads passion was music, primarily country swing, jazz, big band.....He had understood what the song "On a Wing and a Prayer" had meant since it was released in the 1940's. Dad and his band mates from Plano Texas had hooked up with Bill and Norman Nettles from Shreveport,La. in 1940 or '41 and recorded three 78rpm records (6 songs). They were on the Victor label who was working out of the Jefferson Hotel in Dallas. In 1942, while stationed in Savannah Georgia, Dad entered a Kress dept store and the girl working the record dept. had all three records. She graciously played them for him and his buddy. It was the first time he'd heard them since they were recorded. His buddy was excited to know a "real recording star"!

 Here I go rambling on...

 Thankyou again for your wonderful site,






Good luck on your search and THANKS for the Maxwell access sites!!!


At the Archives in College Park, Md. the game plan is to get there early.  I think they open at 9 AM.  You have to fill out papers and get a photo ID badge to get up to the research wing.  There are very friendly people to help you through their filig cards of what boxed material they have.  You request the boxes at set times of the day and then collect a cart with them to go to a table to inspect the actual documents.  You can take photos or use their copy machines.   I came away with over 100 bomb run photos and detailed mission descriptions.  I did not get the mission sheets with crew names that I was after.  They suggested Maxwell.


I wil give that a try online as you have given me the paths.




Doug Cook


Dhahran,  Saudi Arabia


From: Jonathan Rasch [jonathan.rasch@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 7:41 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Re: Question about 487th Sqd. Files on the website.

I appreciate you getting back to me.  I began researching my grandfather's service when we located a box containing some of his medals after my grandmother's death.  I still don't know if anyone else in the family has items of his from the war, and I am waiting to find out what else we may have.


All I had to start with was a couple of handwritten notes of his, a few pairs of flight wings, and 2 medals.  My research has provided a lot of great information and I was able to put a lot of the story together.  I've come a long way in the process.  I know he was a bombardier in the 440th Bomb Squadron, 319th Bomb Group, 42nd Bomb Wing, 12th Air Force.  He was shot down around his 19th mission and captured as a POW.  He was taken to Stalag Luft III where he stayed until they were forced to march quite a distance to a rail car for transport to Stalag VIIA.  He was finally liberated and came back to the states in late 1945.  I've come a long way but there are still some areas where we would like to continue research.


I have some very difficult to read copies of some of his documents, and I have contacted the AFHRA and the NPRC about records.  I am waiting to receive copies of what the NPRC has in his reconstructed file, but it was destroyed by the fire in 1973.


I am looking to expand my research about his group and when I located the site you had put together I was amazed at the number of photos you have online and that you had some of the copies of his documents.


I have identified some items I am going to request from the AFHRA at Maxwell AFB, in addition to that there are some items from his bomb group in a historical archive at the University of Akron.  I'm located in MN so that will be a little bit of a trip to get down there to access and see what they have.  It's good to hear that you located some of those items from the National Archives.  I had considered going there to do some research, but it is hard to find information on what they have and if it would be worth it for a trip.


I appreciate you getting back to me, and I would love to hear more about the process you went through going to the National Archives and how you located items that were relevant to what you were looking for.


As far as the Air Force Historical Research Association at Maxwell AFB, I do have a few things to share with you.  You mentioned that in your email.  I was in the process of ordering some information from them when I accidentally found what I was looking for online.  There is a site set up that took all of the raw data of what they hold and created a search engine of the holdings in their archive.


If you go to the following address it will take you to the site.  http://airforcehistoryindex.org/


I know a few years ago they started rescanning the paper documents that were originally kept on microfilm.  Those scans are a pdf document that contains the contents of some of the paperwork that they received.


Check out this link for an example. http://57thbombwing.com/446th_History/19431001_19431031.pdf


I've done quite a bit of searching, and I think I've figured out how to effectively search for a specific groups files.  The great news is that if there are specific files located for a squadron, group or bomb wing those files can be requested and are sent to the person on a cd containing the .pdf files.  For a fee of $30 the AFHRA will send you a CD containing the files that would be on one microfilm roll.  It is a considerable savings considering in the past someone would have to travel to Maxwell AFB to research on their own or pay to get a roll of microfilm duplicated and then go to the library to view it or pay additional money to have it converted.


I located the files from my grandfather's bomb group and squadron, but it is not really focused on individuals, it does give a good picture of what the unit was doing throughout the war.


If you're interested I can help identify some of the microfilm rolls that would be relevant to the 340th or 487th if you're not able to locate it. 


I hope this information helps, if you are still researching.  I would still like to hear more about going to the National Archives whenever you have time.  It's amazing the amount of information that is available online, and I commend you for sharing all of the info you've found.  In 5 years there may be a son, daughter or grandchild that is looking for information on their family members and sites like yours are going to be of great benefit.


Thanks again


Jonathan Rasch


From: Robert Lineberger [aircobra1@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 4:09 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Bro-in-law of Bob Rast of 97th 414 flew "Nut Cracker" B-17 lost right wing


     I am Bob Lineberger, an 80 year old Lutheran pastor whose sister, Dolly Lineberger, was married to Bob Rast who was shot down on his 49th mission and whose plane's picture is the lead picture of the history of the 97th..

   If you get this, please respond...THANKS


Hi Bob,


Thanks for writing.  I'm always glad to get more material to expand and correct what is on the website.


The only reference I can find to the "Nut Cracker" is patch of the plane's nose art submitted by Blitz Welch  blitz4569@yahoo.com from his father Harrison who flew in that plane.  I don't know any of the other history especially the shoot down.  This patch picture is in the link below.





If you have photos, biographical info, and historical details or anecdotes to submit, I would be glad to dedicate pages to Bob Rast to the website.


Regards from Saudi Arabia,


Doug Cook



Dear Mr. Cook,

     Bob Rast was the assistant manager of the 5 Points Theater here in Col. SC in the late 1930s.  My sister, Sarah (Dolly) Lineberger, worked in the restaurant next door.  Bob went over each morning for coffee.  They fell in love, were married when he was commissioned.  I'm send you a LOAD of email that I have on my computer and you can do with it what you want.  He flew the Nutcracker which is the lead picture in the history of the 97th.  It was flying left to the lead ship.  After the bomb run there were turning to come home when flack cut off his right wing.  4 in the plane were killed.  It seems that a second shell penetrated the bottom with the wing flack and killed the men in the back blowing off part of the top or something.  The lead ship, as I recolect, was taking pictures every 15 seconds of the bomb run which was just finished.  The details are in that book August 1, 1943.  I'm sending you a copy of a letter which tells about this.. Pardon the volume of email, but I want to send you what I have and you can use it as you like.  Thanks for returning an email to me.  Bob was closer to me than my brother's by geography as I was growing up...he was indeed like a brother to me. He has 3 great children. I'm 80 years old now.  ...a retired Lutheran pastor who lives in Columbia, SC where I was born and where Bob was born and raised.  My dad was a pastor and built a Lutheran church just two blocks from where Bob worked in the theater.

  Hope the emails don't swamp you, I'm old enought to appreciate what all you men did back then!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Sincerely,

     Bob Lineberger 2317 Exton Shore Dr., Columbia, SC  29209   aircobra1@gmail.com  


From: Robert Lineberger [aircobra1@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2010 3:25 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Lette I wrote which has info about Rast in it



Suite D-2

741 Miller Drive SE

Leesburg, VA 20175

Dear Sir:

On page 82 of WORLD WAR II, April 2006 edition, you have pictured the B-17 named “The Nut Cracker,” Serial Number 42-2985. The name came from the nose art in one of the enclosed pictures of the heads of Hirohito, Mussolini and Hitler in a commonly used nutcracker.

The pilot and aircraft commander was my brother-in-law. His name was Robert H. Rast, II. That picture is the lead picture in the “coffee table” book of the 97th Bombardment Group with a prayer under it, “Immortal Is The Name.” This picture has been published many times but no publisher has ever connected his name to the picture. I wish you would give him the well-deserved honor of doing that. Documentation is given in a photo copy of an excerpt from the history of the 97th Bombardment Group book.

He was born in Columbia, SC. He took the U. S. Army Air Corp entrance exam twice, with his friend, and they both flunked. They hired a tutor to teach them the math they needed. They had only graduated from high school. They took it a third time and passed. He was the assistant manager of the Five Points Theater in Columbia at the time. He and my sister, Sarah, were married after he graduated from flight school and was commissioned.

He flew his B-17 to Brazil from Florida, refueled and then on to North Africa.

He was shot down on his 49th mission over Naples, Italy. He was captured by an Italian soldier on foot. He was imprisoned there until the war in Italy ended. The population of the prison was going on foot to the American lines and a German patrol recaptured all of them. The were put in cattle cars in the railroad yard at Naples. There were 8,000 American prisoners in the yard. The yard was bombed by B-17s. Four thousand prisoners were killed in the bombing. This was told me by Rast.

Page 2

They were then shipped to a stalag in Germany. They had to walk 90 miles to another stalag in the dead of winter. On that trip his knee which he injured in the parachute landing gave out and a German guard approached him to shoot him in the head as they were doing to the prisoners who fell by the side instead of letting them freeze to death. His friend, also a prisoner, spoke German fluently and convinced him to permit him to tie two of the

sleds together which they were pulling with their Red Cross supplies on them. That done, his friend pulled both sleds with him on one the rest of the distance. Then other prisoners who fell by the side were also treated in the same manner.

He remained in prison for the remainder of the war. He first night of freedom was in a German flag factory. He picked up a 4’ x 6’ Luftwaffe Banner, red with a white field (circle) with the Luftwaffe Cross in it and hand carried that to me at my home in Wilson, NC. I was 16 at the time.  He worked with Metropolitan Insurance company a while here in Columbia, SC.

He later re-enlisted, was sent to Biloxi for special training, then sent to Greenville, SC, at an AF base, back to Biloxi, the to Cassels, Germany, as commander of a detached radar outpost.

He then went into SAC.  Then he flew KC 97s in Texas. Then he flew KC135s at Westover AFB in Massachusetts. Many pilots were being discharged before they could retire and he obtained a spot in Okinawa as commander of another radar site.

There he was in an H 19 helicopter with 4 others in the passenger compartment with the pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit. A rotor blade began to shake, the pilot descended to 400’ over the ocean, then the rotor broke and the helicopter hit the water head first. The open passenger compartment door slammed shut. Rast saw a blur of light in the compartment filled with fuel and water. He made his way have through the escape hatch and inflated his May West and lost consciousness. Okinawa fishermen rescued the pilots and passengers. Rast was the 4th person out. The 5th person did not get out and died.

He retired in Tampa, Fl, as Col.. After surviving being shot down on his 49th mission and a helicopter crash prostate cancer killed him

Page 3

His wife and he died about 3 months apart. He leaves three, children: Patti, Mark and Robert, III.

Mark spent 5 years in the Navy and 15 years as an air traffic controller at the air base near Miami, FL. He is now a police dispatcher for Tampa.

He was more than a brother to me, even though he was my brother-in-law. If you can, please give him the honor of being the pilot of the “Nutcracker” when it was shot down in that picture. Two 88 mm anti aircraft shells hit the B-17. On cut off the wing at the RIGHT outboard engine. The other penetrated the rear of the plane and killed 4 of the crew.

He could not see that the wing tip was gone from his left seat. The bombardier went out at 25,000 feet knowing the plan could not fly. He free fell to the altitude of oxygen. Rast could not get the plane righted but held it steady while the four men that were alive could get out and it circled the parachutist as they descended.




Robert B. Lineberger

2317 Exton Shore Dr.

Columbia, SC 29209





From: Robert Lineberger [aircobra1@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2010 3:34 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: RC Model 5' wingspan

   Encouraged by Rast I got my private pilot's license in Jan. 1982
and had a heart attack in July of that year on my 52nd birthday.  Laid
out for two years. (Spent 8 years as a chaplain in the Civil Air
  Got recertified for 6 months.  Couldn't afford the required
medical tests to keep my medical certificate updated and that's when I
got into remote control models.  I have 4 P-47's this size.  They fly
about 75/80 mph.  All have retracts, some have flaps.  They're fun for
a now OLD guy.  Also have a 5' span biplane Waco and Sopwith
Camel.  They help keep me out of trouble.
    This is all I am sending you.  I hope I haven't caused a breakdown
of your income email, but I thought Rast's history might be of
interest to you.  He was good to my sister and their children.
Sincerely, Bob Lineberger


From: Robert Lineberger [aircobra1@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2010 4:39 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Page 114 of VENIT HORA

    In this squib for the "coffee table" book of the 97th it indicates
that Rast is a 1Lt    .  Bob was the last to leave the plane.  Four
were killed.  A German and and Italian soldier came to where he
landed.  He hurt his kneww in the jump.  He went with the Italian guy
knowing Italy would soon surrender.  The whole compound was freed when
Italy did surrender but a German ..large.. patrol recaptured them all
and put them in the railroad yard in Naples.  He said there were 8,000
PWs there in cattle cars... Some where I got the idea that they were
bombed because the US did not know they were prisoners in the cattle
cars and 4000 were killed.  I can't prove that in writing anywhere.
    Bob didn't say, or I don't remember, what happened to the other 4
who parachuted.  Bob



From: Robert Lineberger [aircobra1@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2010 4:47 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Rast was command pilot..left seat..he could not see right wing gone

This picture appears on page 115 of VENIT HORA  with the cut lines,
"Death of a Queen"  It also appears in an OLD book by Jablonski,
FLYING FORTRESS, published about 20-40 years ago.  it is a full page
picture but gives no indication to which group it was from or who was
pilot.  I have seen it several times but it has NEVER listed the name
of the pilot or any of the crew.  I'm getting an article together for
a reporter to put in THE STATE, a paper published here in Columbia to
coninside with a B-17G that will be coming to Columbia on October
18,19 in which one of my daughters has given me a ride.  It is owned
by the EAA....$400 for the ride.  I'm thrilled.
   This picture appears in the web site you have but at an earlier
date than when it was shot down.  This picture was made by the lead
ship to which Rast was flying on the left, just back of it when the
wing was cut off.  The lead shep was taking pictures every 15 seconds
and got it.  The credit is given to someone else on your web site.
I'll try to find it and send the address to you.  Bob

You have been sent 1 picture.



Doug, the picture I just sent also appears on Page 4 of VENIT HORA as the lead on the page just past the table of contents.  Almost a full page picture with a poem under it, "Immortal is the Name."


Lord, hold them in thy mighty hand

Above the ocean and the land

Like wings of Eagles mounting high

Along the pathways of the sky.


Immortal is the name they bear

And high the nonour that they share

Until a thousand years have rolled,

Their deeds of valour shall be told.


In dark ofnight and light of day

God speed and bless them on their way.

And homeward safely guide each one

Wdith glory gained and duty done.





From: Robert Lineberger [aircobra1@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, September 24, 2010 12:19 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: a little about me


    I am a retired Lutheran Pastor..born in Columbia, SC.  Lived here until 10 years old. Born 1930.  89th birthday July. Graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, NC '52.  Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary here '55.  Wife of 52 years died in 2004 of colon, liver and lung cancer..dr. missed it.  He was treating her for asthma..let her loose 27 lbs before he took the first xray..died in 30 days after that.  remarried 5 years ago.  Lovely lady 10 years younger.  New her since 1990. Hadn't seen her in 15 years. Ran into her in grocery store. She had been divorced.  Two sons, two grandsons. 7 bros &sisters most in Sumter 30 miles away.  Daughter in Cincinnati, Orlando, son in Richmond VA.

    Got private license in Jan. '82.  Found aircraft owners who had instructor rating.  first 1946 J-3  Instructor and plane $14 an hour..tot. 12 hours; next 1968 Cessna 150 $25 hr.  1800' strip in woods..had heart attack July 1982 (52 yrs old..average age of male heart attack..if you ever start sweating for no reason see a cardiologist immediately .... That happened again at 78 years of age..two arteries blocked 90%..got to card. two stints..front and rear arteries..long story...

    Started flying RC models in summer of '82..love 5'span war birds.  Had Corsair, Aircobra (my favorite but hard to build}, settled n P-47s have 3 flying, two bipes, one 47 on shelf waiting for radio and engine.  We now have a 2.4 gight radio that is "bound" transmitter to receiver and vice/versa that only talk to each other.  I saw 75 models with these radios fly at ONE TIME at the same place..marvelous

    VENIT HORA was published by Taylor Publishing Co.1993...I bought it from a guy in Florida who had the supply at the time..paid $60 for it... the picture of the Nutcracker was also in FLYING FORTRESS by JaBlonski about 20-40 years ago... no one ever associated Rast's name with the photo...I've tried to get that done through the museum at Dayton and other places...

    I had a black and white my sister gave me from the original..

    She (Sarah Lineberger) worked in a restaurant next door to the Five Points Theater here in Col. where Bob was Asst. Mnghe went over each morning for coffee.  they fell in love, were married when he was commissioned...she lived with us in Wilson, NC while he was overseas.  A guy in Wilson..a gunner whose name I cannot remember came home from the 97 414 and told her Bob would be home in two weeks.  She sat on the steps waiting everyday...a guy comes up on a bicycle with a missing in action telegraph.  She cried for weeks.  She had won a "Miss Wilson" Tobacco Festival beauty contest at which Bob smoked a pack of cigarettes in the early 40s.... He really was a great guy.  He was an asst. mng for Metropolitan Life with my brother Ted (who retired as supervisor of Florida Division of Met Life) here in Col.  They..Dolly and Bob took me to Myrtle Beach when I was 15 (1946 after WWII)..wore my belly out on a rubber raft...first time I saw the ocean.... My dad was a Luth. Pastor...mom taught piano all her life...had 95 music pupils come to the house when school was not in session when she was 85..two older bros also Luth pastors...

    I'm in the ELCA.  Retired in 1995 after 40 years as a pastor.  My pension is now being cut 27% for 3 years during this economy mess....I've played trumpet since the second grade..Mom taught her six kids to play musical instruments..in late 20s and early 30s they had a Playing Parson's Band....did concerts and stuff...made some change, too. I'll send you a family pic before I was born...

   I was pastor in Bluefield WV 1987-89 and a geologist in my cong. showed me a lump of coal from 4000' under the surface with the impression of a fern in it!!!   A sea captain in Hampton VA showed me a tooth he caught in a net that was 4000 yrs old...a molar of a mastodon from an ice berg from the silt on the ocean floor in the North Atlantic before it settled into the ocean floor...I'm fascinated with stuff like that...I wake up early and sometimes get back to sleep..call o f mother nature..leaving for Orlando at 7 this morning..it's about 5 now, I think....

   I appreciate what you do for the 97..those were great men...If you ever get to Columbia look me up..if you fly here I'll let you use my car... have a '96 Pontiac with 102,000 miles on it.  I'll have to drive it til it quits...I had no time..not much anyway with my wife while I worked...I was tied up on weekends and she taught school..when I retired I QUIT..we chased kids and leaves in every state east of the Mississippi .I've driven 500,000 miles since I retired..we spent a great time together since then...Was able to get a 15 year mortgage on the first home we owned here in Columbia.  Had a house allowance instead of parsonage..lived in parsonages all my life.  We got it paid for in April and she died in May...I sold my house and moved in with my wife.  She was a nurse at the VA hospital here and was divorced before she bought this house...so her husband had never lived here..that made it good for both of us...

   I'm going to eat a banana and go back to bed....keep in touch and tell me more about yourself...Bob Lineberger


Doug, this is a picture of my family except for my father..looking at the picture, I'm on the left, back row, then from left to right, my brothers Corley, Henry, Ted.

  Front row left to right  Dolly (sara, bob's wife)  then the older lady is my mother and the other lady is my sister Betty.  I'm in Orlando this week end visiting my second daughter and don't have the picture in front of me.  It was taken years ago.  I sent it to you to show you Bob's wife.  Bob was still alive then but not there.  I don't know what medals he received.  Bob


Hi Doug...As i indicated on the previous email, I am visiting my daughter in Orlando and am using her IMAC to check my email.  I've got you site saved as favorite on my PC at home and will get back to you on that the first part of next week.  I looked for that one shot but did not find it.  I was scanning each of the great pictures you have on it but have not found it again.  When I do, I will give you the link.  As well as I remember is was given credit to someone as a picture PRIOR to August 1, 1943, the day Bob was shot down.  I've sent you so much stuff I don't remember what all.... I have never seen the second picture you sent in this email group...the one when the plane was on its SIDE at a much lower altitude..



    The picture in  the book (Venit Hora????) is the close up of the plane inverted.  I know THAT picture was taken by the lead plane in the bombing run that day.  It got that shot automatically taking a picture every 15 seconds and they had turned to come home when the shells hit Bob... The Nutcracker just happened to be in the right place for the picture to be made...  It is THAT picture that is on...I think Page 4...by itself with the "'prayer" underneath the picture...  nothing else is on that page.  When I get home I'll try to find out who had the remainder of the books...then he had about 50 left and it cost about $50/60 dollars.  

    A few years ago in putting questions about Rast on sites where you could leave questions and others reading them could respond, I made contact with a detective in Detroit who had breakfast every Saturday (at the time) with a small clutch of guys from the 414th...and one of them was the secretary of the squad.  He sent me a c of pics on a disk from the 414th.  That was before I retired (1995) and since then my wife died, I've remarried, I've moved my treasures into half of a single bedroom and a few boxes in a shed in the back yard.  I will search to see if I can find that disc, and if I find it I will make a copy of it and snail mail it to you.  When I get home I will use my favorite search engine...www.dogpile.com (which uses 30 other search engines) to find stuff and let you know if I can locate that guy again.  I really can't do anything else from here.  I will write you again next week.  THANKS for all you are doing.....Bob


From: Roxie Rawley [tnrhydrant@yahoo.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 4:07 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: 414 th

My father-in-law was in the 8th air force 97th bomb group 414 squadron based in england. We are trying to find any aircraft he might have flew in . He told us he bombed german submarine pens. He has  passed away and we would like to research some of his service time in WWII. Thanks for any help, Don Rawley Largo fl.





Thanks for writing.  I will try to help.  What was your father-in-law's name?  Rank?  Crew Position?  If we can put together some information, I would love to dediacte a webpage to him.  Do you have any photos?  A brief bio would add a lot.


 First the 97th BG 414th Squadron tenure in England was short:



 The first USAAF Flying Fortress (B-17E serial number 41-9085) arrived at Prestwick in Scotland on July 1, 1942. The first Flying Fortress raid over Europe was launched on August 17, 1942 by 18 B-17Es of the 97th Bombardment Group against railroad marshaling yards at Rouen-Sotteville in France. Twelve planes made the actual attack and the remaining six flew a diversionary sweep up the coast. Brig Gen Ira Eaker flew along on this raid in B-17E 41-9023 "Yankee Doodle". The formation was escorted by Spitfires. No opposition was encountered from the Luftwaffe.

Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress, “Yankee Doodle,” 414th Squadron, 97th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force

 On September 20, 1942, General James (Jimmy) Doolittle formed the nucleus of the 12th Air Force in England, and early in October the 97th, 99th, 301st, and 2nd Bombardment Groups were transferred to the new formation.

The main part of the aircraft left Polebrook on the 18th of November 1942 for Hurn, prior to flying directly to North Africa. The ground unit sailed in convoy late in November 1942. Operations in the Mediterranean theater with the 12th Air Force for a year.

It is likely that your father-in-law transferred to North Africa before his tour was over.



Do you find your father-in-law on this 1943 crew roster?



If you know your father-in-law's SSN or military ID number you can try to get his service records:


I was successful getting a gold mine of records for my father-in-law.


 Doug Cook

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia


Doug thank you so much for your reply. I will be out of town until Sunday, i will then try to find as much  info as i can. Name was Ernest G Thornton, Gunner. He was a  Sargent he actually was wounded by ack ack fire and returned home to A base in  Columbus Miss. He had scars on him  the day he died ,but never was given  a medal for his wounds. I will get back to ASAP when i return home Thanks again. Don Rawley Largo, Florida.


From: wandatgoodwin <wandatgoodwin@aol.com>
To: tsm_35 <tsm_35@hotmail.com>
Sent: Tue, Oct 19, 2010 10:03 pm
Subject: 97th Bomb Group Web Site and new book 'Last Roll Call"


I was so surprised when I stumbled upon this site tonight. About two years ago I began a journey to help my father, Kenneth Tucker, write his WWII memoir. He was with the 97th Bomb Group - 414th Bomb Squadron and at the time I could find NOTHING on the internet except that there were no longer reunions or newsletters. Somehow I missed your site until tonight when I followed a link from the Army Air Force Forum. We actually finished the book about a year ago. We just self published because I really thought we would sell a few hundred copies in our area BUT the book has sold over 1500 copies and has made its way into local high school curriculums, warbird museums and even flys with the Yankee Air Museum airshow circuit. My father was not a decorated hero nor is the book a tale of valor. It is a simple story about his crew and the beloved B-17 where he was the tailgunner. I didn't post this on the site because the last post was 2007 so I'm not sure if you're still active. I would like to see if you could put some information about the book on your site. I can't wait to show it to my dad tomorrow. Some of  the very pictures on the site are in his book. He's 85 and in pretty good health. He still does book signings and short guest speeches. If you guys will send me your addresses I will be happy to send you a book in appreciation for what you do to keep this valuable part of our history alive. If you want my dad to personalize it to you let me know. He autographs all copies. Please visit the website though I'm sorry to say it needs to be updated. As a result of the book my dad has been contacted by the family of the only crew member who did not survive (Killed in a concentration camp) long long story that I need to get on the web site. Hope to hear from you guys soon. Please forward this to anyone else who might be interested in hearing about my dad's book.  www.lastrollcall.net  


Wanda Tucker Goodwin

co-author Last Roll Call



Great to hear from you. Yes, please add my father's name and link to the book to your website. I'll get a book in the mail to you very soon. I'll see my dad in a few days and I can't wait to show him the website.




-----Original Message-----
From: Cook, Douglas J. <douglas.cook@aramco.com>
To: wandatgoodwin <wandatgoodwin@aol.com>
Sent: Tue, Oct 19, 2010 11:18 pm
Subject: RE: 97th Bomb Group Web Site and new book 'Last Roll Call"



Thanks for writing and telling me about your book. I am very interested in the story.  May I include a link to your website and book on my 97th BG 414th BS website?




I would list Kenneth Tucker the left column as a tailgunner and link to your website.  My website has grown only by submissions from readers.  I started with my father’s and father-in-law’s stories.


The latest addition to the website turns out to be quite a story that deserved a book also:




I would very much like to get a copy signed.  It would go in my collection of aviation authors signed books that includes Charles Lindbergh, Gen. Hap Arnold, etc, etc.


My mailing address is:


PO Box 12253

Saudi Aramco

Dharan, 31311

Saudi Arabia.


USPS Airmail works great.



Thanks and Regards,


Doug Cook

From: jcummings247@aol.com [jcummings247@aol.com]
Sent: Monday, November 15, 2010 4:26 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.; rockeyecrm@eoni.com
Subject: Re: Capt. Truman Cummings

Hi Doug,

I'm very impressed with the site you started for Capt. Cook and Col. Ross. I think I have looked at all of the pages, but particularly the ones on Cook, Ross, and Womack, of course. It has been very interesting being in contact with Bruce Womack, as he said, we both grew up staring at the same photographs of Ther-N-Bak. Bruce was definitely able to get more information from his father, including the names of everyone in that crew. I have a lot of photos, but I never knew who anyone else was.


Included in my dad's belongings are about 3 thick folders of papers that include his certificate of service, the extract detailing how he got the Distinguished Flying Cross, lots of certification paperwork from 1944-45 while he was being trained on other planes and ferrying them, and reams of papers over a battle he had with the State of Illinois for some service bonus he was supposed to have received. There are also many newspaper clippings since he was from the small town of Earlville, Iowa where if you sneezed too loud it made the news.


I have about 75 photographs, and some of them are duplicates of what is already on your site, for instance the crew photos of Ther-N-Bak and the photo of Winston Churchill. I also have one of Churchill getting out of his car and another getting back into the car. There are also photos in dad's file that don't appear to be on your site, such as a boneyard of Nazi planes, a shot of Peaches II with some guys who have painted "from Mildred USA" on the bomb, rifle practice, a funny one of a GI Victory Garden where they're growing Spam, aerial photos of targets which include the bombs, dad sitting very close to some woman (which my mother would be annoyed if I posted!), war bond rallies, Bob Hope and Frances Langford, and some that must be from 44-45 when he was at Fairfield-Suisan base in the ferrying division. I've attached two photos now, because they've always given me chills. There's nothing written on the back of the photos, so I have no idea which plane this is, but it is clearly one that didn't make it back. As many times as I've looked at them, it was only when I scanned them that I finally realized that the B17 is already upside down (and half its wing missing). The second shot you can see it's sideways.

One thing that is missing is dad's mission log. I can assume it either matches or is very similar to Womack's. Dad left on January 10, 1943 and returned on September 26, 1943. His 50 missions were completed sometime in August, but he stayed over longer to serve as some general's personal pilot, and the general never went anywhere! Dad sat around for several weeks just hoping to be able to fly him somewhere. It's sad I can't remember the general's name, but I'll ask mom, she probably remembers. My dad lived to the age of 87 but the last several years were rough, he had Alzheimer's, and it's an excrutiatingly sad disease. He always recognized me as his child, but in the last few years I turned into his "son." He'd always ask where I'd flown that day (I'm not a pilot), and though he admired my swimming abilities couldn't understand why I wore flowered swimsuits.


I'd be delighted and honored to contribute to your site. I think I could select about a dozen photographs and write a decent short bio that includes whatever stories I can remember him telling me and mom. As usual for those men, he didn't speak of the war much, and I had to cajole a few stories out of him. He'd always say, like they all did, he wasn't a hero, he was just doing his job and trying to get back in one piece. He sure loved to fly though. At the cusp of the Korean war, the service gave him the option to re-enlist, but Pan Am also offered him a job. He was very tempted to serve again, but instead he took the Pan Am job and flew with them for 31 years (and never took a sick day).


I understand you lived in Key Largo for awhile? I live in Coral Gables, FL and love going to the Keys for a weekend when I get the chance. I'll start writing a bio of Capt. Truman William Cummings over the next few weeks. He went by Bill during the war, no one wanted to call him Truman. Later on he went by Slim, he was tall and skinny.

Thanks for your wonderful website!

Jennifer Cummings





Thanks for writing back and sharing.  I can relate to your saying that you grew up looking at your father's service pictures.  I did the same with my father's war album. He was a B-25 pilot in Corsica in 1944.  I did not get compelled to research my father's and father-in-law's military service until they passed on.  It's hard for me to imagine what they went through (especially having responsibility for flight crews in combat and seeing other crews perish) at such a young age. 


You have a great collection to share and I would be honored to help putting together a web page for Truman Cummings.  We can include whatever you want to post including his traing and post combat service back in the states and with Pan Am.  My father never wanted to fly again after the war.  Your scan detail is fine and the attachments came through.


I can help with the story of that B-17 going down.  I just recently got it from thge brother-in-law of the pilot, Robert Rast, in that plane and have his story dedicated on a new page.   The B-17 is "Nut Cracker".




B-17F-10-DL       42-2985  “Nut Cracker’  97th BG, 414th BS  ( MACR 355; missing air crew report) .  Shot down by anti-aircraft flak Aug 1, 1943 at Naples. Italy.  5 killed; 5 POW (including Rast). 


Yes,  I lived in Key Largo from 1977 to 1982 as a scuba instructor and ran my own dive boat.  I left for graduate school in geology at the Univ of Fla and have been in the oil industry ever since.  I don't know if you got linked to my other website:


www.reddog-diving.com   You can find my Key Largo story there.   My wife was a waitress at the Bagel Emporium and lived in Coral Gables before we met in 1980.








From: Joe [jmode@mindspring.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 4:26 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: 97th BG


I stumbled upon your site and am very grateful that you have compiled so much information on the various bomb groups and the memories of those who served. My great uncle, William Robert Bowers, was with the 97th BG, 340th BS. Enclosed you will find some information related to his service and a few pictures to boot. You have my permission to post the material as you see fit. I have included biography information from my genealogy on our Bowers line, some of which I am sure you do not need, but will include for you to decide. I will send some emails from Robert Betette whose father flew with my uncle and names for the pictures


William Robert Bowers was born 1 July 1918 and married Ann Marie Mashburn on 19 December 1945. Ann was born on 16 October 1937? He died on 8 November 1985 in Florida of lung cancer. On 19 July 2007 Uncle Carl told me that Robert ran the #2 Trolley in Knoxville and that’s where he met Ann. Her husband, who played baseball, had died of a heart attack. Children from her first marriage were Vivian and Robby. Ann and Robert then had Susie, Betty, Ann, David, and Billy. Robert adopted Vivian and Robby. Uncle Carl gave Robby (Robert) his Silver Star. Mom recalled that Robert drove a bus and once she got on a bus and someone asked her if she was a Bowers. A friend of Uncle Arts asked mom out of the blue if she was a Bowers and thought mom was her mother Dora.Robert was a Tail Gunner during W.W.II with the 340th Bomb Squadron, 97th Bomb Group, 3rd Air Force. The 97th BG was established on 28 January 1942 and activated on 3 February 1942.  It moved to England and was with the 8th Air Force between May and July 1942.  In November 1942 it moved to the Mediterranean Theater and joined the 12th Air Force.  In November 1943, it moved to the 15th Air Force.  The 97th BG was inactivated in Italy on 29 October 1945. Uncle Art said he flew in a bomber called “Thunderbird”, which was named by its crew. Robert was wounded by shrapnel two or three times, lost a lung, knocked unconscious, and had to be pulled out of the tail section by his feet. He was stationed in England then North Africa and participated in invasion of Africa, bombed Germany, and destroyed oil fields in Romania. He ran out of fuel and had to ditch in the desert as well as having two planes shot out from under him. On 25 April 2007 Uncle Carl Bowers told me that Robert used to haul “corn liquor” in his truck and would park the truck on the street in front of their house, would make his dad so mad. In the back the truck would have “fertilizer on top and corn liquor underneath.” Robert used to deliver prescriptions for Coles Drug Store on a motorcycle and put corn liquor in the saddlebags. Once he was on his motorcycle, crossing the Grainger Street Bridge, and hit a patch of ice. “He laid that motorcycle down and busted all his corn liquor.” Uncle Robert had dark hair and brown eyes and was, according to Art, good at leather and woodworking. At one time he had an orange grove, but lost it to a freeze. I believe Uncle Carl said that Robert had owned a gas station, but the health department shut him down because they thought lung X-rays showed evidence of tuberculosis. The dark spots were actually pieces of shrapnel from when he was wounded during WWII. Robert told them this, but they did not listen.(Mom said that Uncle Robert had married three times.  By his second wife, Julie, they had a son, little Robert who died. They lived around 5th Avenue in Knoxville at the time)

Obituary-Story for Willam R. Bowers, Jr.
DIED: William Bowers, Jr.
Funeral for William Robert Bowers, Jr. 9-month-old son of Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Bowers , will be held today at 10:30 at Rose’s Chapel, the Rev. J.K. Smith officiating. Victim of a freak Thanksgiving accident, Robert died after an orange seed was lodged in his lung.
William R. Bowers, Jr., 9-month-old son of Mr. and Mrs. William R. Bowers, 810 North Fifth Avenue, died at 11:45 a.m. today at General Hospital after an illness of two days. Surviving, in addition to parents, are grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Bowers and Mrs. Julia Weaver, all of Knoxville. Services will be at 10:30 on Monday at Rose’s Chapel. Rev. J.K. Smith will be in charge.

My mothers' name is Ann Marie Mashburn, born June 26, 1919. I think her and daddy married December 19, 1945. I was their 1st child and I was born on Feb. 19th 1947 at Knox County Hospital. My mother had 2 children Robert Larry and Vivian Gail by her previous marriage. Her first husband had died of a heart attack when my sister Vivian was about 6 months old. Then in addition to me there is my younger brother William Mark born July 27, 1957. He is the Assistant Fire Chief in Plant City Fl. He is married to Shelia and they have 2 daughters, Toni Ann and Tiffany Sue. Then next is Bettye Ann born July 12, 1951. She is married to Eddie Gschwender and has 2 children, Sherri Ann and Ronald David. Then there is Charles David married to Camille who have two children, Kenneth Davis and Monica Ann. (Letter from Sue Wirt 1 Feb. 06.) (Aunt Nell Bowers mentioned on 11-15-2010 that Vivian had a son, Robby, who went out on a fishing trip on Christmas Day and never returned.)


It was so wonderful to hear from you! I am so excited to finally get a connection with someone else on my daddy's side of the family.

I was born in Knoxville, but daddy and momma moved to Fl when I was very young. We came up to Knoxville mainly in the summer time and of course there were many times that Grandma Bowers visited with us in FL. I loved her so very much and have so many wonderful memories of her. It was quite amazing, Uncle Carl, gave me a picture of her when she was a very young girl, and Joe, my granddaughter, Sarah looks so amazingly like her!
I try so hard to remember everyone but unfortunately, the only siblings of my daddy's that I really know is my Uncle Carl.  I say "my" because he has always been so dear to me, and such apart of my life. In fact we just spoke on Tuesday evening. And, Ricky, he is so very special. He refers to me as his Susie. Uncle Carl, Aunt Nita, Steve, Mike & Ricky were very much a part of my life growing up. I still see Steve on occasion but have not seen Mike in many years.

The last time I saw Uncle Art and Aunt Willy, I think was in the late 70's.  As for your mamaw, my Aunt Dora, I have a dim memory of her, in that, she and daddy looked alike and that she was a very beautiful lady. It is the same for your Mother, Bettye. I just remember how beautiful she was.

My daughter, Cheryl, has also has done some extensive genealogy with Bowers/Grant side. If you would like to contact her via email her address it is: themagnesgroup@bellsouth.net. I will forward your email to her. I know she will be most anxious to be in touch with you.

Yes, I know what your mean about my momma. We have attempted on many occasions to talk with her about daddy and his activities during the war but she just does not have the information. It was not until recently, that I became aware that they were not married during his tour in the military and that I have a half sister named Carolyn. I would just love to come to Knoxville and see all of my family. There are so many missing pieces to the puzzle. My brothers and sisters just keep trying to put it together based upon what we can remember daddy telling us.

The picture which is attached to the email from Mr., Bette in CA, is that my daddy in the picture on the Isle of Capri? In 1980 for my daughter's 16th birthday we went to Italy. Before we left my daddy told us his stories of being in Italy, flying there, I believe he said from Germany on a bombing mission. He said they stayed in Salerno and went to the Isle of Capri. In fact, I have a picture of my daughter and me in a setting with a background identical to the one that is attached to one of the emails you sent. Aside from that, when we returned from Italy daddy remembered so many of the sights in the pictures that we had taken. We made a point to visit the Isle of Capri and Salerno, as well.

I loved my daddy very much and although it has been more than 20 years since he went to be with Jesus, I still miss him terribly. I feel as if I am rambling but I am just so excited to be actually able to communicate with a cousin! Let's see, I can remember coming to Grandma Bowers' and playing with Barbara, Marvin and Jack on the "mountain" by Grandma's house. I do remember visiting at Uncle Melvin's home with Aunt Nell and Frankie and Brenda. (Letter from Sue Wirt, 27 January 2006)

United States Army, Army Air Force. Be it known that SERGEANT WILLIAM R. BOWERS, 34289151, unassigned, has satisfactorily completed the course of instruction prescribed for AERIAL GUNNERS, at the LAS VEGAS ARMY GUNNERY School. In testimony whereof and by virtue of vested authority I do confer upon him this DIPLOMA. Given at Las Vegas, Nevada this Seventh day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and forty-two.  Curtis E Wood, Air Corps Echelon Commander. W.H. Endicott, Captain, Air Corps Secretary.

Army of the United States. To all who shall see these presents, greeting: Know ye, that reposing special trust and confidence in the fidelity and abilities of PRIVATE WILLIAM R. BOWERS, 34289151, I do hereby appoint him SERGEANT (TEMPORARY) ARMY AIR FORCES UNASSIGNED on the SEVENTH day of SEPTEMBER 1942. Given under my hand at LAS VEGAS ARMY GUNNERY SCHOOL, LAS VEGAS, NEVADA this SEVENTH day of SEPTEMBER in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and FORTY-TWO FOR THE COMMANDING OFFICER: Herbert W. Anderson, Colonel, Air Corps, Executive.

Following is a letter that was found at Gillespie Avenue Baptist Church recently regarding Robert:

2nd Timothy: 2-3. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

A word to let you know that we have not forgotten you. Written 17 December 1943 by Rev. J.K. Smith, pastor of Gillespie Avenue Baptist Church.
Robert Bowers is at home now. He was wounded in North Africa, again in Sicily, and a third time in Italy. He was in the hospital in the U.S. several weeks, but is now at home for 30 days. Then he is to return to the hospital in Palm Beach, Florida. He hopes to get strong enough to return to his post in Europe. He has the distinction of being the first Knoxville boy to shoot down an enemy plane in North Africa. He has shot down three in all.

POSTAL TELEGRAPHS sent to William E. Bowers at 514 7th Avenue from Washington D.C. on 25
May and 30 September 1943 state the following:
(Wounded twice, on May 5th and again on September 12, 1943)

  Certificate-14 January 1944
The undersigned certifies that the medical records of Staff Sergeant William R. Bowers, ASN 34289151, 340th Bomb Squadron, 97th Bomb Group, Army Air Force, show that the above enlisted man received a combat injury while on a bombing mission over Rome, Italy on 12 September 1943.
Signed: Frederick P. Maibauer, Captain, M.C. Flight Surgeon Consultant. (A mission record, #169, shows a bomb run on Frosinone A/D, Italy, 12 Sept. 1943. Flak moderate, very accurate. 11 air craft suffered flak damage. Another landed at friendly field. Four men wounded: Lt Connors, Bombadier ; Lt. Fountain, Navigator; Lt. Hanson, Bombadere, SSgt Bower (Bowers) Tail Gunner)

  Section T, MaDill Field RTU (HB) 14 June 1944.
Subject: Recommendation for Flying Cadet School.
To: To whom it may concern.
1. S/Sgt. William R. Bowers, #34289151, has been known to the undersigned for approximately three (3) months. During this time he has discharged his duties as an armorer in a superior manner. He has taken cheerfully and willingly all responsibilities and consistently has looked for work beyond the actual scope of his duties. He further has shown leadership in his handling of men assigned to him.
 2. It is the opinion of the undersigned that S/Sgt. Bowers has all the requisites to make a most capable flying officer and that his combat experience will prove valuable in this office, both to himself and those with whom he will come in contact. Thomas C. Hassett, 1st Lt., Ordnance Dept. Acting Armament Officer.

Separation Qualification Record For: William R. Bowers, #34289151, Born: 1 July 1918. Date of  Entry Into Active Service: 8 July 1942. Permanent Address: 1503 North 6th Avenue, Knoxville, Tenn. Highest Grade Achieved: 9th Grade. Last year of Attendance: 1934. Major course of Study: Academic. Last School Attended: Park Jr. High, Knoxville, Tennessee. Service School: Gunnery School. Course: Flexible Gunnery. Weeks or Hours: 6 weeks. Civilian Occupation: Machine operator, knitting mill. Operated all types of machines in dye department for 5 years. Last date of Employment: 17 June 1942. Employer: Standard Knitting Mill. Military Specialties: Principle Duties: Gunner in Air Force and Flying Instructor. Military Occupation: As gunner, had charge of bomb loading; knowledge of all armament was necessary. Cal. 50 guns used. Final inspector of guns. Instructor in complete cruise in aerial gunnery. Cal. 50 guns. Final inspector of guns. Date of Separation: 23 December 1944. Lt. Charles R. Gibbs, 2d Lt., Separation Officer, Thayer General Hospital, Nashville, Tennessee.

Hey Doug,


I really appreciate your adding this material to your site. I haven't forgotten your request to put the material together into some logical format; I have too many pots on the fire right now. I will work with what you have and correct a few things here and there. The only thing right off of the bat is in a few places you have Uncle Robert's name listed, I believe, as William R. Roberts rather than William Robert Bowers. For some reason he was Bob to some, and Bill to others. Go figure. If it is pertinent, regarding the picture of Robert and the older lady, this is his mother, my great grandmother, Jerusha Edith Grant Bowers. I assume this was taken when he was on leave, or just prior to leaving. Will see if I can find out.


3 more pictures:


1st picture is of Robert and his sister, my mamaw, Dora Katherine Bowers Davis.

2nd picture was taken when Robert was in the hospital recovering from wounds.

3rd picture is of Robert, far right, recovering from wounds at unknown hospital.


Will holler at you soon and have a great Thanksgiving. I forwarded the link to Uncle Robert's daughter, Sue Bowers Wirt. She will be very pleased indeed.


Take care and I remain,

Gratefully yours,





3 more pictures:

First picture: Here is the original bomber crew picture you requested minus the inserted names. Uncle Robert back row, right with cast on leg.

Second picture: Postal Message regarding Uncle Robert being wounded.

Third picture: Postal Message regarding Uncle Robert being wounded.


If you can use the postal messages, they may not be legible unless you expand them and make them larger once you have inserted them.


Have a few more to send,




4th set of pictures:


First picture: Uncle Robert before joining up, 1942 Second picture: War Bond from Uncle Robert to his dad.

Third picture: Uncle Robert recovering from wound in hospital somewhere.



Hi Craig,


You might say that I chose to focus on the 97th BG that my father-in-law was in Jan-Nov 1943.  The 97th formed under the 8th AF in 1942 and was under the 15th AF for 18 months after Nov 1943.   I will rethink how I present the webpage.


A better history is here:




Would you like me to post a web page for him?  I'm always open for submissions.




Doug Cook

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

From: craigsmith48@comcast.net [mailto:craigsmith48@comcast.net]
Sent: Sunday, November 21, 2010 8:57 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Re: 97th BG


Hi Doug,


Thanks for getting back to me. My dad (Ned S. Smith) was in the 97bg 414th squadron. I believe he was a tail gunner in the B-17 named Tuff Titty. I'll attach pictures. I'll also send you a screen shot to your page that has my YouTube video. 


I would really like you to post a page about my dad. That would be a great honor. 


Hope to hear from you soon.

Craig Smith





From: Jacandorbotts@aol.com [mailto:Jacandorbotts@aol.com]
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2011 7:00 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: tiny correction


Congratulations again on the nice job of collecting all that material for the public and for all of us who were in the 414th--97th. 

One photo in the nice photo collection purports to be that of the "Foggia airfield" site "now returned to farm land."  I don't know what it's a picture of, but it doesn't show the field at Amendola, where we were stationed.  That field is still there, now much improved, of course, and operated by the Italian air force.  I was there for a visit in 1990, and the layout of runways and hardstands is much the same today, only very modern. Google or Mapquest will get you a nice satellite view.   Jack Botts 





Thanks for the correction.  I’m not sure how I came to that image.  On Google Earth would I search for Amedola, Italy?


I take it you were stationed there with the 97th BG 414th BS.  I am honored to be contacted by you.  What was your service duty?  Would you be interested in sharing your story and having a webpage dedicated to you?  I would be glad to work with you on it. 




Doug Cook


From: Mike [mailto:mshort3502@bresnan.net]
Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2011 3:04 AM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: B-17 "Stinky Jr."
Importance: High




What a wonderful website and a great tribute to the greatest generation.


My brother-in-law was the pilot of Stinky Jr. on 9/7/1943 and was shot down over Foggia, Italy.  Two of the crew survived; my brother-in-law, 1st Lt. Glenn J. Rhodes, pilot; and Brian Johnson from New Jersey, the waist gunner.  They both were taken as POW's.  Rhodes ended up in Stalag Luft 1 in Barth, Germany.  He was liberated by the Russian Army in May 1945. Johnson's whereabouts as a POW is not known to me.  He did survive the war as my brother-in-law received a letter from him after the war.


Glenn Rhodes passed away May 14, 2009.


If you learn of any more information about this plane and crew I would appreciate hearing about it.


Thank You for all your research.




Mike Short



Hi Mike,


Thanks for writing.   As you have seen,  what I have on the website is incorrect. You have given me the correct history with a story to tell.  I would be glad to dedicate a webpage to  the crew. Would it be possible to get more from Glenn Rhodes?   Here is an example of a similar story I put together with material from Robert Rast’s brother-in-law:







Doug Cook


From: chad smith [mailto:chadsmith@frenship.us]
Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 4:32 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: 414 Squadron


I got your email address from Bob Lineberger and he said you might be able to assist me.  I am trying to get information on my grandfather who was a pilot of a B-17 in WW2.  I have not been able to find a lot of information until I found Bob on a web site then he directed me to you.  I have created a blog and I am following my grandfather through his days in the war.  Any information that you could send my way would be greatly appreciated.  What my blog centers around right now is bombing missions.  I am trying to tell where he flew, the area he bombed, why that area was valuable and then stats on that bombing run like X amount of planes dropped so many bombs, they meet this much resistance, lost this many planes.  Things like that.  I would also love to find out what planes my grandfather flew in.  He always said that they changed planes every trip so he never had a plane like the "Memphis Belle".  And if somehow I stumbled across a picture of him while he was in Italy that would be amazing.  Below is his information, any help you could give me or direction you could point me would be great.  Thanks.

2nd Lt. Raymond R. Benham

414 Bomb Squadron

97th Bomb Group

15th Air Force

Shot down Oct 4 1944, plane tail number 44-8586

Blog Address





I went to your blog site.  Congratulations on a your history project!  I wish I could be of more help but everything I have is posted.  If you have not been to my 414th BS site it may be of some help:




I would be glad to put up a webpage dedicated to your grandfather if you have material you would like to share here.  I could also link it to your blog.

If you know his  SSN or military ID number try to get his service records:




I was successful getting a gold mine of records for my father-in-law.





Doug Cook


From: Laura Raybourn [laura.raybourn@comcast.net]
Sent: Sunday, July 24, 2011 4:27 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.; Susan Klein
Subject: Lt. Col. (USA RET.) Jesse S. Raybourn

Dear Mr. Cook ~

My father, Lt. Col. Jesse Raybourn was one of the few surviving members of the 97th Bomb Group and was at the reunion in Washington several years ago.  I am trying to locate a website where I can publish his obituary for the remaining members of the 97th and I came across a history you edited and thus have your email address.


Would you have any contact information that might be helpful in my search?


If so, it would be a great service to my family if you could just pass it along.   Thank you so much ~

Laura Raybourn



Sent: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 4:02 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: Re: Lt. Col. (USA RET.) Jesse S. Raybourn


Dear Doug ~

Thank you so much for getting back to me.  We are all reeling from the unexpected loss of my father and are travelling an hour in different directions to plan his services etc and take care of my mother (his wife of 70 years!).  So needless to say I am barely keeping my head above water.  I have attached a copy of his obituary which we just finished.  If you are able to include it in your website that would be great.  Wherever you feel is most appropriate. 


Also,  I am a filmmaker and several years ago I videotaped my father telling his life story.  Of course I am just now sitting down to try and edit it to screen at his memorial service, but if you are interested in video clips down the line, I would be happy to send you a disc.  (Don't hold your breath though!)


Thanks so much for taking the time to keep these stories alive!


Laura Raybourn

From: "Douglas J. Cook" <douglas.cook@aramco.com>
To: "Laura Raybourn" <laura.raybourn@comcast.net>, "Susan Klein" <srpk@comcast.net>
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2011 3:09:18 PM
Subject: RE: Lt. Col. (USA RET.) Jesse S. Raybourn



I was not sure if my first reply got sent:


Thanks for writing.  If it suits you, I would be honored to dedicate a web page on my site to your father.  Once uploaded, anyone could find it by Google.  I'm not sure what level you entered my website but let me guide you in:


http://www.reddog1944.com/97th_Bomb_Group_414th_Squadron_Index.htm   top level for 97th Bomb Group probably where you found the history. 


Did you see the link to the 2006 reunion?  Perhaps your father was there.



I have links to individual veterans pages from submissions from people like you.  For example:








Doug Cook


The obituary has been posted: 


It is linked to my 97th BG page: 


Let me know if its OK.  You should be able find it from a Google search in few days.


Doug Cook


From: jcummings247@aol.com [mailto:jcummings247@aol.com]
Sent: Monday, September 12, 2011 5:37 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Cc: rockeyecrm@eoni.com
Subject: Re: Capt. Truman Cummings


Hi Doug,
At long last, I'm writing back to send you the bio and photos of my father, Truman Cummings, who was the pilot of Ther-N-Bak. I apologize for the delay, but it turned into an emotional project for me. I again looked through all the pages of your website in order to make every effort not to send you duplicate photos, such as the Churchill photos, aerial mission photos, the Nut Cracker, etc. I believe that the mission photo from Cagliari, Sardinia isn't on your website anywhere.

I've attached the bio and a list of suggested captions for the photos. Please edit as you see fit. Once again, I very much appreciate the time and effort you've put into this website; it is a valuable resource for researchers, history buffs, and the families of the servicemen. I looked through all the pages all over again this weekend, which ended up being a better way to spend 9/11 than watching t.v. I've noticed more additions. What a great website! I will send the photos in separate emails.
Thanks again. I hope all is well with you and your family.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Jennifer Cummings


From: Lindamae [mailto:oldgeneralstorewestfall@yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2011 11:45 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: reddog1944 site info


Thank you Doug for your great site.

I would like to update your info however, as my father was the navigator on the All American in 1943 when it sustained injury. Mom kept a wonderful scrapbook and I have more photos to send you if you wish to post them. But for today, in honor of Veteran’s Day and all veterans...here is the list of crew members and a note from my dad. Let me know if you would like more, including his written account of the incident.


Linda Nuessle





This is a very precious piece of 97th BG history for Veteran’s Day!   I would love to receive more to share with 97th BG vets and families.  Thank you for contacting me.




Doug Cook



From: Sime Lisica [mailto:simelisica79@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 7:14 PM
To: Cook, Douglas J.
Subject: 97th B.G 414th Sq. information


Hello Doug,


My name is Sime Lisica and I live in Croatia, part of the former Yugoslavia. I'm researching the planes and crews that bailed out, crashed or ditched in my country during the WW2. While searching through the internet, I've found interesting detail regarding one 97th B.G. 414th B.S. crew. I wonder if you could help me about it. 

The crew listed below was picked up by the Catalina of the 1st emergency rescue squadron on the morning of October 16th 1944 on the island, just a few miles SW from the place where I live today. I believe the plane crashed the day, or a couple of days earlier, somewhere in the area. In the text from the 1st E.R.S. it is mentioned that the plane ditched, but somehow I believe it crashlanded on the nearby island. Do you maybe have any information regarding the crew or plane from the story I've attached below in the email. 

I couldn't find the information or the MACR on the footnote website (Fold3) or anywhere else about this crew. I'm wondering if there is an escape statement somewhere, since it could help a lot. 

Do you know what happened to other at least two crewmembers, since usually the crew was consisted of 10 members ? 

If you maybe have any information about this crew and plane, or might know someone that could know something, please let me know. It is interesting that on this date October 16th 44, just a few hours later a B-24 from the 485th B.G. had been crashed in the sea at the same area. My friends and I were able to locate the wreck on the sea bottom in 2005 and we made a contact with one of the survived crewmembers. After he bailed, he was rescued and hidden from the Germans by the young lady, who is still alive. My friend Jerry Whiting, a historian of the 485th B.G. wrote the story about this, in one of his books. 


Great website by the way ! Thanks for sharing the information, photos and stories with all of us who are interested. Couple of the photos of the B-17s in flight on your website were pictured over Croatia, actually one photo was pictured over the islands, very close to the place where this particular 97th B.G. crew was picked up by the Catalina. Here is the information I've copied from the documents of the 1st emergency rescue squadron: 


Best regards, 

                     Sime Lisica 



16 October l944:


            Early Morning take-off at 0700. Lt Walker and his crew had the flight to a fix given as 44 l7'N l4 48’E. Upon arriving there and landing in the harbor of an island, contact was made with a British underground Captain who informed the pilot the men who were ditched had been moved to another island.  Take off from the harbor was effected immediately and the PBY, proceeded to the designated spot. Circling the village indicated, Lt Walker shot flares but receiving no reply decided to circle the, entire island. After doing this, they returned to the village and received a reply to his signal.  Landing in the harbor, the flight surgeon, Capt. Jack T Haskins, went a shore and dressed the wounds of three of the men who had ditched. After taking care of these wounded men all the downed crew members were taken aboard the PBY. These eight survivors were from the 414 Bomb Squadron, 97th Bomb Group, and included:


    1st Lt Jack DeHaas

    2nd Lt Robert E Parker

    T Sgt Foster B Powell

    T Sgt Paul J Frierech

    T Sgt Samuel Schinasi

    S Sgt William C. Hamilton

    Sgt Eugene A Albo

    Sgt William Straton





All the crew information I have is posted.  You may try posting your query on 97th Bomb Group Forum. 




There are members there who have a book called ‘Venit Hora’ that may have more information.


Thanks for writing.  Let me know if you find more.  I will post it.




Doug Cook


From: Noah Levy [mailto:noah