RON'S LAST FLYER    (WINTER 1998)             

1997 - 98--- 319th. ASSOCIATION OFFICERS

President ****Ted Rammelkamp--1904 Mound, Jacksonville, IL, 62650- (217)245-6981
Vice Pres ****Mike Hutton--11726 Pebbleton Dr. Houston, TX 77070, (281) 376-6978
Sec/Treas ****Joseph Madrano--5842 Winterhaven Dr. Windcrest, TX 78239, (210) 654-6749
Corp Agent **Charlie Wolf--PO Box 1733, Lytle, TX 78052, (Deceased)

Hdqtrs ******Warren Thrailkill--306 McAlpine Dr. SE, Huntsville, AL 35803, (205) 852-6038
437th. *******H.A. Watson
438th. *******Paul Romesburg--317 N. 12th. St., Arkadelphia, AR 71923, (870) 246-2650
439th. *******Elmer Huston--2104 Kelly Ave, Mission, TX 78572, (956) 585-7658
440th. *******Norm Rippee--509 N Ellen, Nixa, MO 65714, (417) 725-0453

Important: Direct 319th Association donations and business correspondence to: Sec/Treas Joe Madrano at the address shown above. Send "FLYER" stories, "SHORT BURSTS" and "TAPS" to 319th Flyer Editor, who is temporarily also Joe Madrano...I'm sure Joe will inform me when this changes. BW 9/29/00

319th BGRA c’est fini! Twenty five year run over on 31 Dec 1999
By Joe Madrano, 319th Sec/Treas

At the business meeting of the 319th Bomb Group Reunion Association held at San Diego, CA on 26 Sept 1998, the membership voted to dissolve the Association as a not for profit corporation on 31 Dec 1999; that the USAF Academy receive an additional $2500 to ensure the perpetuity of the  Holzapple Award; that remaining funds (after payment of all financial obligations) be equally disbursed to the Air Force Aid Society, the WWII War Memorial and to presently recognized B-26 Restoration Projects.
Current financial obligations, in addition to the month to month expenses, include continuation of The 319th Flyer, a memorial plaque at Arlington National Cemetery and the production of a video tape covering the years following “The Men of the 319th” video produced by Jim McKim several years ago.
While the formal structure of the 319th Association will be dissolved, plans are underway to continue with a newsletter and reunions, either with or without joining forces with the 17th and/or 320th Bomb Groups. In the event of a joint reunion, the only thing that would change would be a joint banquet.
Stay tuned for additional details as plans are finalized 

From the editor’s desk...
Ron Randall, 440th
It was a great reunion, one of the best we’ve had the pleasure of attending. It’s a shame that more of our west coast members didn’t show up for the fun and fellowship...never could understand why, but some folks wouldn’t come if the reunion was held in their backyard....too bad, ‘cause they’ll never know what they’ve been missing!
Had hoped to have this issue in the mail last month, but my health took a nosedive following the reunion. Too many years of smoking too many packs of cigarettes...quit cold turkey about ten months ago, but that’s sorta like locking the barn after the horses are stolen. Have been on a nebulizer program since February also now on a supplementary oxygen regime 12 hrs each day (can rack up eight hours of that while sleeping) and now I’ve got a classic case of shingles! It’s really fun and games time in Randallville...NOT!!
Was quick to jump all over friend Gene Ryan’s generous offer to put together the special San Diego photo spread insert which will be included in the next Flyer...also owe Al Falcone a big pat on the back for giving up most of his free time at the reunion  to man the video history taping sessions...and we thank Jim McKim for volunteering to write and produce a video tape capturing highlights of past reunions and activities...Jim hopes to have it available for members attending the Silver Anniversary reunion at Savannah next year.
And a special tip of our old flak helmet to our new Associate Editor John Mooney for picking up the loose ends of this issue and getting it ready for the printer! Sure is great  to have willing and capable volunteers step up and lend a helping hand when needed....and at the rate things have been going of recent, yore old editor can use all the help he can get! May you and your loved ones have a Blessed, Happy and Healthy 1999!
Squadron Short Bursts . . .

HQS Appreciated Chuck Ohanian’s  “sad news” call informing us of Robert T. “Bud” Shipler’s recent passing (see “Taps”). Chuck said he received a call from Bud’s wife, Bethel, better known to their friends as “Peach”, saying Bud had lost his long battle with cancer. Chuck said he was also fixing to pass along the sad news to fellow Hqs member Warren Thrailkill. Enjoyed talking to Chuck about the great time we had at San Diego reunion and his wish that they could go on and on, but said he knew we had to face up to the reality of the situation and thought we were going about it in a proper fashion. All we can add to that is, Amen!
These sad tidings from Helen Sanders: “I’m writing to inform his 319th friends that my husband , Maj. O. C. Sanders, Jr., passed away on 23 June 1998 (see “Taps”).” Ed: Our records show that O. C. served as a bombardier and had been assigned to Hqs and the 438th Sqdn. Our heartfelt condolences go to Helen on the loss of her loving husband. Her address is: 1216 W 12th St., Nitro, WV 25143.
This from Warren Thrailkill: “It was so good seeing you and Betty again at the San Diego reunion...everything went so well, I don’t believe you can ask for more than that! Will be hard to see us “shut down” in 1999 although we know that to be the best. Am looking forward to seeing you both again at the April Board meeting in Dallas. The way time seems to move these days April will be here before we know it. The enclosed Mary Cash obituary is from Nathile Ivy. We shall all miss Dan and Mary Cash, they were faithful reunion attendees. Dan was Adjutant to the Group so we in Hqs saw him a lot. I sent a progress report to Joe M on the Arlington memorial project...the project is moving right along.” Ed: Warren, because some of our members aren’t aware of it, maybe between Joe M and yourself we can get a write up on the Arlington memorial project to include in the next newsletter, okay? And thanks for the extra obit.

437 Heard from Joe M that Bob Cowan had run up against some eye problems so we called and learned that during an eye exam a cataract was detected in his right eye. He underwent what was termed a successful cataract and cornea implant operation on 8 July., but four days later he suffered a small stroke behind the eye and lost sight in same for several days. He now has limited vision in the eye and is hopeful he’ll find some procedure to restore additional sight. Bob said wife Doris still has problems with her twice-operated on knee, and faces another operation to restore blood circulation in her leg following the reunion. None of the above stopped them from joining us at San Diego! We enjoyed visiting with them as usual. Hey, ain’t it great to be senior citizens!
John Gaffey called to get clarification on the e-mail address we’d  listed for Gabe Morris in Ed Brock’s “Big Tail Birds” web site in the last 319th Flyer. Asked John if he had a computer and if he was “on line”, he replied negative to both questions...said his wife Margaret who is new to computers, was handling those duties. Forgot to ask him for their e-mail address, hope Margaret will send it to Brock for addition to his list of e-mail addresses. Asked John if we’d see him at San Diego...said he hoped so, but he’s been having some health problems so everything was kind of “iffy” at the time.
This brief note from Charles Vannoy: “I don’t expect to attend the San Diego reunion, my health isn’t all that good at present, am hoping it will improve so I can make it to Savannah next year. I received a message from Grace Corso, daughter of Joe (deceased) & Grace Perniciaro, stating that her mother had passed away 16 July 1998 (see ‘Taps’). Hope things work out for us next year.” Ed: Thanks for the notice, Charlie...pass along our condolences to Grace on the loss of her mother. And we’ll keep our fingers and toes crossed that we’ll see you at Savannah!
John & Teene Young sent this e-mail “Taps” notice: “John N. Week, 437 pilot, died 13 Nov 1998 of lymphoma at his home in Kanehoe, Hawaii. My wife and I had visited him just two weeks earlier and knew how sick he was, but this was still unexpected. We had been close friends for 57 years; we went thru cadet school together; joined the 320th in FL together; and flew a war-weary home together. I was the best man at his wedding and we have kept close thru these many years, so you can see how deeply his death affects us. John’s wife preceded him in death. He has two sons, both live on the big island. Cards and condolences will reach them at John’s address: Yacht Club Knolls, 44-302-2 Olina St., Kanehoe, HI 96744. And Ron, thanks for your good work.” Ed: The good times you shared together will be treasured forever John...death can never take those happy times away, so rejoice in those golden memories now and forever.

438 These words of praise from Gene & Dorothy Dahm: “We think the reunion in San Diego was great, with so many things to see and do in the area, along with a nice variety and over-view on the tours. We do appreciate all the advance planning and work that goes into each reunion, and we are already looking forward to the next one. Of course being the winner’s of the 438th door prize for one night’s free lodging added to our appreciation and enjoyment...that is a door prize well worth winning, and we were so surprised to do so! Our thanks to all.” Ed: You can bet the planning committee appreciates your pat on the back and says y’all join us at Savannah in ‘99!
James (Jim?) Downham’s short note read: “I read on page 11 of the last Flyer that Mike Kraker wrote giving you his new address. I know Mike real well and would like to write him a letter. Enclosed is a pre-stamped self-addressed envelope for your reply. Many thanks!” Ed: We’re always happy to help get old friends back together again, Jim...and we appreciated the SASE, too...a penny saved, etc., etc.
Past Prez Al Falcone writ: “At long last an uneventful trip from NY to FL...just a lot of riding. The new motor home purred like a tiger and I roar every time I make a payment. Expect to see a few 319th members while in FL and hope they’ll share their story for our audio/video history project. Am enclosing my cellular phone number in case you try to call and tell me I won the lottery. Hope all’s going well with you and best to all. Happy Holidays! Ed: Didn’t publish that cell tel # Al, didn’t want everybody else to horn in on the lottery action!
Here’s Michi Geraghty’s reply to the note Past Prez Al Falcone sent her way saying that we missed her at the reunion held in her San Diego backyard: “Hi Al. Thank you for the card, sorry to have missed you...I was in Hawaii working on my tan! Everything is well with me, busy with family, cat and dog. I’ll try to attend the next reunion at Savannah. Enclosed is a contribution to the 319th BG, Fred’s favorite organization. Note the check is dated 17 Oct, which also was Fred’s birth date. Thanks again, it’s especially nice to be remembered.” Ed: Thanks for the generous contribution, Michi, we know Fred will approve your thoughtfulness. See you in Savannah!
This to Joe M from John Lonsky: “Here’s a little something for the kitty...sorry it’s late, but I had a heart attack back on 8 July. The doctors put in a stint and it turned out okay...I’m doing alright now, able to do some light work and all that stuff. Sure wish it would be possible to keep up the reunions and have them in the central states so it would be easier for everyone to attend.” Ed: Be sure to read Joe’s item about what’s in the offing in the way of 319th reunions, John...we ain’t put the plane in the hangar yet!
Bill Robbins writ to let us know he’d changed digs from St Pete, FL to 703 Grants Pkwy, Arlington, TX 76014 and hoped we had a good time at San Diego. We did, Bill, and now we’re almost next door neighbors. How about joining up with the Marauder Men of the Metroplex they meet for b & b lunch (barbeque n’ bullshit) every other month in Arlington...good group! Give me a call for the next meeting date and I’ll meet you there, okay?
Howard Scott called to let us know that Donald H. Cone, a 438th bombsight maintenance specialist,  passed away on 13 Oct 1998 (see “Taps”). Howard said Don’s sister called him with the sad news. She said he had been experiencing heart problems for some time, had undergone surgery earlier this year and should have had another operation but wasn’t strong enough to get through it. You’ll note in “Taps” that Don lost his wife Geraldine about a year ago. Our heartfelt condolences go to Don’s family on the loss of their mom and dad.

439 Received these sad tidings from Ethel Perry, sister of 439 Engineer/Gunner Guy M. “Buck” Miller, deceased (see “Taps”): “My brother, Guy M. Miller died in the IHS Hospital in Sarasota, FL 19 September 1996. “Buck” was a member of the 439th Bomb Squadron, 319th Bomb Group. I am truly sorry it has taken me so long to report his death to you.” Ed: We extend condolences to you on the loss of your brother, Ethel. We know that it was painful for you to write the sad news of “Buck’s” passing...we appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Roger Rhodarmer e-mailed us the sad news that Revoe Hill had passed away (see “Taps”). He attached the following note from Terry Newman, Revoe’s friend who was instrumental in getting us in touch with him after all these years. Terry said, “I  remember the last time he and I were talking, he told me that when he went to heaven he was going to have a long talk with Col Holzapple. Well I guess he is having that long talk about now. All I know is that Revoe Hill, a proud B-26 pilot will be missed...he was a true American to the very end.”  Roger added, ”I was deeply saddened to get the message that old Revoe is gone but am thankful we made contact and he got to the reunion at San Diego.” Ed: We got to meet Revoe at San Diego and know how much it meant for him to be reunited with his old 439th friends once again...fate is a cruel hunter.
This to Joe M from Ed & Stella Ryan: “We had hoped to attend the reunion in San Diego but I had a light stroke in March of this year so we’ve reluctantly decided not to attend. I’m getting along pretty good except for the aches and pains of being 80. It’s just that I’m not quite ready to travel that far from our home in Iowa. Received a call from Revoe Hill this summer and he plans to attend the reunion, I surely will miss seeing him. His wife wrote saying that he is in the early stage of Alzheimers, so I hope he gets to see some of his old friends. We hope the reunion goes well, as it usually does...maybe I’ll make it next year or the year following, if there’ll be one in 2000. Our best regards to all.” Ed: We know how much you’d like to join us at San Diego, guys, but there’s always next year, so start making plans now for Savannah in 1999...and Honolulu in 2000...hey, just kidding!
This from Earl St. Jeor to Joe M: “I noticed, while reading the local Bountiful (UT) paper that Robert T. ‘Bud’ Shipman (see “Taps”) had passed away during the last week of Oct 1998. A copy of the notice is included. Four of the 319th BG members were from appears that I am now the only one still living. Have enclosed a donation to help the cause.” Ed: Our ranks are shrinking, Earl, and we miss the companionship of those who have gone on ahead, but that’s life!
This one from Denny Wolff got waylaid by those dadgummed gremlins! He writ: “Was cleaning up my desk and found the #100 Flyer, had to stop and read it again, cover to cover. How you can put together 16 pages of memories and current news is awe inspiring. You must have been a used car salesman to come up with so much info. Can’t remember when I last sent a few pennies along so the enclosed may help pay some of the postage. You guys deserve some kind of medal for the work you do. Esther Oyster is really tops in my book. I’m proud to even be associated with such people. Am waiting for your OK report.” Ed: Geez, what a lucky guess, Denny..I did sell new & used cars and trucks following the war and my college days. Didn’t think anybody would ever figger that out. The report is A-OK for San Diego. Will be looking to see you there.

440 Received this request from Art Ahlbrecht: “Noted Leo Smith’s item on pg 13 of the last Flyer stating he had heard from Donald Treadwell Robertson, son of 440 Pilot Don Treadwell (KIA 19 Oct 1944). I would like Donald Treadwell’s address so I can write and tell him that I shared a house on Sardinia and a tent on Corsica with his father and remember well the joy we shared with him when his son Donald was born in August of 1944...he should be 54 now. SASE envelope enclosed. Thanks much.” Ed: We SNAFU’d Art’s request...sent him a wrong address so we called Leo Smith to get the right address...sorry, Art...some days we can’t git nuthin rite!
This nice note from Phyllis Baumann, widow of 440 Pilot Roy L. Baumann, Sr. (see “Taps”): “My long overdue apology for the lapse in this correspondence (about 10 yrs), only hope you will accept it.   My husband served with the 319th from June 1943 to August 1944, flew 65 missions; was an AF career officer from 1952-65; served in the Civil Service in Hawaii 1968-73.  Roy died in 1987 of Alzheimers at age 65 and now his son Roy Jr. is covering for him in golf....Roy, when he retired, was a ‘scratch golfer.’ I and Roy Jr., who lives in the San Diego area, hope to meet you when we attend the reunion there on Friday the 25 th.” Ed: Glad that you and Roy Jr. will be joining us at San Diego, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
Dan Callahan’s note said: “Enclosed is an ‘obit’ from The Rock Island Argus (IL) for Jack Clark who died 19 Sep !998 (see “Taps”).  Jack was a 440th S/Sgt Bombardier/Gunner in the late 1943 early 1944 era in Sardinia. As I recall, he attended the reunion in Washington DC and the one the following year. The interesting thing about Jack’s obit is that he married his wife two months before he was born! The obit is with the compliments of my sister who was a nurse at the Rock Island Arsenal and knew Jack when he worked there. Sorry I missed San Diego, the timing was bad. Best regards to all.” Ed: Our thanks to Dan for Jack’s obit which said he was born 21 Oct 1923 and married his wife on 21 Aug 1923...obviously a goof...nice to know we aren’t the only editors those %#@$ gremlins hit on!
Tommy Perkins writ to say he was sorry about not being able to make it to San Diego this year and sent some $$ to help the cause. Said he’d been having some leg problem, sciatica nerves I think. Tommy allowed as how he’d be at Savannah next year, seeing as how it’s just down the road a piece from his home in Whigham, GA. Said he hopes we’ll have a great reunion and that the board and members will reconsider the 1999 association termination date, and make it at least the year 2000. Ed: Good suggestion, Tommy, ‘cause the year 2000 would encompass the 319th’s 25th Silver Anniversary Reunion.
These sad tidings from Bernie Rienhart: “Sending notice of Virgil Thulin’s passing after a short illness (see ‘Taps’). Virgil was a 440th crew chief, and a darn good one. John Borba and myself attended the memorial services held for him at the United Lutheran Church in Newman, CA.” Ed: We extend heartfelt condolences to Virgil’s wife Helen and family members. We know Virgil would’ve appreciated the presence of two old 440th friends for his final check ride.
This from Lew & Effie Robinson: “Here are our winter & summer addresses. Thank you for all the work you do in putting out the 319th Flyer...I sure enjoy reading it from cover to cover several times. Am sending along an overdue stipend that was forgotten during all the turmoil of our recent move...hope it’ll help cover some of the publishing expenses. May see you next fall at the reunion because we’re planning to attend that one on our way to Vermont to visit our birthplaces and the rest of our families back there, some of whom we have not seen in years. Thanks again for everything and Happy Holidays to All!” Ed: Thanks for the $$$ and pre-dated addresses Lew, but I’d suggest you drop us a card close to the dates reminding us to make those changes....not that we’re getting old and forgetful, golly no...senile is a better word!
Been a tad chilly where you live? You’ll warm up after reading this Bend, OR weather report from my only remaining original crew member, Fritz Schwab: “It’s 0o outside, the snow is frozen into arctic mounds, the water system is frozen and Christmas is upon us. Bah! Humbug! Thank heavens for a good wood stove and the large wood pile I laid in last fall. After while, when it warms up to at least 10o, I’ll trudge through the winter wonderland to the well house and attempt to restart the system. Oh! Joy! Wife Jenny is doing well as I am, in spite of my grousing we are blessed. Hope all is well with you and yours. That’s all from Nanook of the North.” Ed:
Jack Tarbutton sent this “thank you” note to Joe Jost for his “extra mile” effort in promoting the 1998 reunion. Joe mailed first class letters to all 440th Texas members urging them to attend the reunion at San Diego. While it wasn’t what he really wanted to hear, Joe did appreciated the note from Jack which read: “Thanks for your personal invitation to the 319th Bomb Group reunion. I certainly appreciate your dedication. As you may know, I was a pilot in the 400 th but was shot down on 19 Oct 1944 and became a prisoner of the Germans. I will not be able to join the group at San Diego, but I do appreciate the invitation.” Ed: We tip our old flak helmet to Joe for his reunion promotion, don’t know how many it helped motivate to attend, but they know they were thought of! And Jack, you should plan to meet all the other 440th POWs who will gather at Savannah next fall, believe me, you’ll be welcomed with open arms!
This note from Carl & Mildred Warner: “Another year almost gone and we need to get this donation in the mail because even if we’re sick, tired or busy, we always enjoy reading the newsletters and about the reunions. Just can’t seem to get ready for the trips as we once did. We think of the many good people we met during the years when we were attending the reunions. Carl is still in good health but I don’t get around very much. Keep hoping to feel better next year and maybe I will. Use the donation where needed. Our hello to everyone.” Ed: We’ll be down the road just a piece from Little Rock in ‘99, guys, so take your vitamins, stash some travel bucks in your mattress and join us at Savannah next fall!
These belated sad tidings from Elizabeth Warren, sister of 440th member Andrew Yurkowsky. She wrote: “I regret to inform you of the death of my brother, Andrew Yurkowsky on 7 July 1998 (see “Taps”). He passed away at the Ohio Veteran’s Home in Sandusky, OH. He was 78 years of age and died of complications of pneumonia. Thank you for sending the Flyer for the many years. Andy did enjoy it.” Ed: We extend heartfelt condolences to Elizabeth and her family on the loss of her brother and our comrade. We’re glad Andy enjoyed reading the newsletters.

ASSOCIATES We’ve added three Associate members in recent weeks:
John L. Brouillette sent Joe M a couple of checks, one for a copy of the “319th in Action”, the other for membership and the 319th Flyer. John’s father, Lawrence J. Brouillette, 440 eng/gunner. Passed away in Jul 1985. Son John enclosed a wealth of background on his dad’s 319 service; mentioned names on photos of B-26 “Miss Eveready” (lost over Italy 19 Dec 1943): Tom Fisher (MIA), Al (Skipper) Weiss, Eddie Matthews (MIA), George Abbott (POW , escaped), Dale King (MIA), and  John C. Dean; and B-26 “Vera”: Lt. Robb (deceased), Tom Roike, Mike Pognik, and Julian Whitman. Names on other photos: Lt G. S. Hunter, Rowland, Mannix, Lee and Coyle. Son John said “Aviation has a real bonding nature to it, difficult to explain in rational terms. Don’t hesitate to put anyone in touch with me who may be looking for any additional information from dad’s photos, orders, etc. My address is: P.O. Box 1597, Cody, WY 82414".
Ed: It’s heartening to see the interest shown by the younger generation in what their dads and granddads did when they served their country over a half century ago.
Past Prez Al Falcone passed along the request he received from Louise Hampton, daughter of Charles E. Smith, deceased 440 pilot to join the Association and our help in securing 319th embroidered emblems to be incorporated in memory boxes she is putting together for her grandchildren...a truly meaningful idea. She would also like emblems from the 42nd, 57th and 308th Wings to which her father was attached (got any ideas where she can get the latter?). Louise said they just got a computer and her e-mail address is: < > or you can “snail mail” her at: 1125 Swallow La., Florissant, MO 63031.
John J, McCarthy, who wrote: “I knew “Skeez” Ecklund for about 9 years, attended the 57th Wing reunion with him in 1997. We were like brothers and I miss him very much. He often spoke of the 319th Flyer. Is there any way I can get on your mailing list, I certainly would appreciate it. Jerry’s “obit” was included in the Spring 1998 issue of Men & Women of the 57th Wing.” Ed: John’s AF service included stints with the 57th Bm Wg, 321st BG and 447th Bm Sqdn. His address is: 12723 Ottawa Ave., Savage, MN 55378.

57 years and still enjoying the ride
From Jeff Josephs, 437th
It was at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, CO 1941 at a USO dance that I met my lovely future wife, Bernice.
We dated just one month, almost to the day when I was transferred to Hunter Field at Savannah, GA. We corresponded almost daily for six months when we decided to get married. Bernice came down to Savannah and we were married by a Presbyterian Minister at his home.
That was 57 years ago. The 319th reunion next fall will be like a second honeymoon for us since we have never been back to Savannah.
And who said it wouldn’t last?
Ed: Weren’t us that said it wouldn’t last, Jeff...seems to us that there was more of that special ingredient known as “commitment” back then, right? Congrats and we’ll drink a toast to your 58th anniversary at Savannah!
Anatomy of an armament section
By Pat N. Walker, 437th
Part One
The purpose of this treatise is to try and set out in detail the table of organization (T.O.), the table of basic allowance (T.B.A.) And the functioning of a B-26 Marauder armament section.
This information was compiled by the ex-M/Sgt author as a result of his service in the 319th Bomb Group, 437th Squadron covering the period from 24 June 1942 through 14 Sept 1945. The area of combat covers England, Northwest Africa, Mediterranean, Italy, Sardinia, Sicily, Corsica, Southern France and Okinawa in the Pacific Theater.
A Marauder armament section was authorized 60 men, according to the T.O., and that for an armament section that was supposed to be in a squadron , authorized 12 aircraft. The section was commanded by a Capt. who was assisted, when an assistant was available, by an assistant armament officer who was usually a 2nd Lt. The ranking enlisted man was a M/Sgt who had responsibility over armament generally, bomb racks, ammunition, machine gun functioning, gunnery, bomb sight and power gun turret maintenance.
The bomb sight maintenance section was headed up by a T/Sgt and he had as his assistants one S/Sgt and one buck-Sgt. The gun turret section was headed by a T/Sgt and his three assistants were all S/Sgts. Once we got away from the forgoing specialists, the rest of the armament section was simply made up of people who had usually attended armament school and there was little or no rank. My recollection is that the basic armament section had 4 buck-Sgts, 6 Cpls and all the rest were Pvts. Aside from the speciality groups of gun turret mechanics and bomb sight maintenance people, the armament section had no organization by flights as was found in the engineering sections, but was just simply a group of men to be organized according to the whims of the person in charge.
It did not take long, once we entered combat in Africa, to discover that the T.O. had over staffed us with gun turret and bomb sight maintenance people because the instrumentalities they were to maintain were almost maintenance free. As planes grew older and mechanical linkage between the door opening handle and the bomb bay doors began ro wear and lose tension, we began to experience many types of malfunctions with bomb racks, intervalometers and electrical bomb releases. Because of the regularity of reconfiguring guns on the aircraft, such as the addition of nose section package guns, tail turret modifications and other innovations, we found ourselves overwhelmed with gun stoppages for mechanical reasons, either in ammunition storage, tracking or in feed chutes. The armament section T.O. made no allowances for people who specialized in repairing mechanical or electrical equipment, so many times a plane that was in perfectly good flying condition was grounded because its guns or bomb racks were not operable, and there were no specialists to put them in operating condition.
Practically all of the men in the squadron were relatively new to the army, some of them had never received any basic training, but all had gone to armament school and basically knew how to load ammunition and bombs, clean guns and police up the area. Fortunately, the 437 th squadron had two previous experienced service men, me, the author of this article and another man who was a veteran of World War I. Once the unit moved into Africa, into extreme primitive personal and working conditions, it became the responsibility of those two previous service men to take in hand a bunch of young men who were very enthusiastic, but who not very well trained for their responsibilities.
In due time, it became obvious that the T.O. created by Air Corps higher ups was not working as well as it could, so with some concurrence of the armament officer, Capt. Wayne Stroup of Hazen, ND, I completely re-constructured the 437th armament section. I left the bomb sight maintenance in charge of T/Sgt Edwin Saye from MO and left him one buck-Sgt to assist him and took one of his S/Sgts and placed him in the general armament section. I reduced the four person turret maintenance section by three S/Sgts and likewise assigned them to the general armament section. This left the T/Sgt alone to look after turret maintenance, but he could have back-up by his specialists who had been moved into the general armament section. I then divided the section into four flights along the lines that the engineering section was divided and placed a S/Sgt in charge of each flight. To each flight we assigned the rest of the men with the exception of two buck-Sgts who we pulled in, making one of them a bomb rack specialist and the other a gun/ammunition specialist.
With this reorganization of the armament section, we now had in place some very competent people in key positions and we also had the necessary specialists in place to take care of electrical bomb rack malfunctioning and mechanical malfunctioning of guns and ammunition. I appointed George Federighi from Chicago, IL to head up the bomb rack maintenance section. George was simply an electrical genius and once he was given responsibility for bomb rack maintenance, all bomb rack failures ceased and he was in great demand by other squadrons to help them set up the same system.
The problems of ammunition tracks not working and guns jamming was turned over to Sgt William Capps of NB who was a sheep farmer prior to his entry into the service. Sgt Capps was one of those people that didn’t say “yep” over twice a day, the rest of the time he just nodded yes or no when you asked him something. He did for guns and ammunition what Sgt Federighi did for bomb racks and electrical problems. While the Air Corps recommended that a Marauder bomb loading crew consist of six people, the previous two servicemen, along with Sgt Percy A. Fox of Calias, ME, developed a system whereby two men could load a B-26 with eight 500-pound bombs in less than 20 minutes.
While the T.O. for the armament section called for 60 men, including the turret and bomb sight maintenance people, we rarely had on our roster more than 30 people. Because of the training and background of armament personnel in guns and use of bomb racks, that section was a fertile field from which “gunners” and “toggleers” (bombardiers in wing planes who toggled their loads when the lead ship bombardier dropped his bombs) were recruited.
The nightmare of the armament section was that you would be given a bomb load at night, perhaps say at 2100 hours, and it was expected that the bombs would be loaded immediately...but during the course of the evening, as target selections were changed,  the loads might be changed as many as five times. Earlier, on such occasions, the loaders simply exhausted themselves moving and man-handling the 500-pound general purpose bombs. However, as the men became more adept at loading and unloading bombs, all under the direction of Sgt Fox, we learned that we could ignore the bomb loads that were being passed on all during the night. Thus, when the operations Sgt woke me during the night to tell me of bomb load changes, I politely (?) thanked him and told him to come back and wake me up when he woke up the combat crews, and then went back to sleep. Capt. Stroup had complete confidence in what I told him we could do, and  he allowed me to ignore the first bomb loads and load the last one received. His confidence in our abilities was justified, not once did a failure on our part to load bombs or ammunition on time cause a mission delay.
One of the unique things about the 319th Bomb Group was that it was led by a brilliant young colonel named Randy Holzapple. The colonel believed his men were invincible and that there was no task so great that they could not perform it with ease. In proof of this, while the T.B.A. allotted 12 planes per squadron, Colonel Holzapple saw to it that we always had at least 20 and most of the time 24 planes. Somehow, though we had only half the personnel allotted for 12 aircraft, we managed to perform the service and maintenance for 24 planes. If I figure correctly, this was simply a quadrupling of armament responsibilities. When we were informed in Oct of 1944 that we would be losing our beloved Marauders and would be assigned Mitchell B-25s, the group never lost a day out of combat during this transition, which meant that most off the time during that period the squadron had an average of 36 planes to be maintained, fought and flown. Just as Colonel Randy said, “his men were equal to the task.”
During the course of 2½ years in Europe, the 437th Squadron Armament Section probably saw 90 to 100 men pass through its roster. Many of them went on to fly combat missions, a few were rotated home because of age and illness, and some were transferred to other units. When we were told on 31 Dec 1944 that we were going home, everyone was elated at the prospects of once again being back home. By this time there were only ten of the old desert hands remaining in the armament section. After having arrived back in the States and enjoyed 30 days of R&R, the group was reassembled at Columbia, SC and told that we would be receiving new Douglas A-26 aircraft and would be going to the Pacific theater. However, anyone who had been with the groups in N Africa would be excused from the Pacific tour of duty if they put in a request stating same. Our armament officer, Captain Wayne A. Stroup, decided that he’d had enough of the war and opted not to go along.
Captain Richard W. Best was appointed as the new 437th Armament Officer. Capt Best was a great southern gentleman form GA, but he had absolutely no experience in armament or service overseas. He called me in and explained his inadequacies and asked if I would consider going to the Pacific and assist him. He said he would also like at least six of the of the old desert hands to go as well, if I could persuade them to do so. I assembled the ten men and explained Captain Best’s dilemma and his hope that five of them and myself would join him in going to the Pacific. I told them they had earned the right to stay home, and that no was obligated to go, but I would like for five of them to accept the new assignment. As usual, when asking for volunteers, you get total and complete silence. After a minute or so Sgt R. M. Forsberg spoke up and said, “Why in hell just five of us, Sgt Walker, can’t we all go?”
In due time, after receiving replacements for our departed friends, we arrived in Okinawa with A-26 aircraft and went back into combat on 7 July, 1945, where we remained pounding away at the Japanese every day until they finally ran up the white flag. With the end of the war in the Pacific, all of the old 437 th hands left the service and went on to their future pursuits. Captain Stroup became a successful country banker in ND: Sgt Forsberg, a Duke University psychology graduate, went back to the academic world; Sgt Federighi became an electrical engineer; Sgt Capps went back to raising sheep in the western hills of Nebraska; and when this writer left the service he started as a freshman at Baylor University and finally graduated from law school in Nov 1949, just in time to enjoy an all expense paid trip to Korea as an infantry officer.
In closing, I paraphrase John Terraine who is his book “The Right of the Line” said this about the men of the RAF, and it applies equally to the men of our Air Corp. “The overwhelming majority of the Air Corp’s million were to be found in its ground crews–that assembly of skilled, educated, individualistic, irreverent, dependable men without whose untiring labors the aircraft would not have flown, the operations would not have happened, victory could never have been won, and history would forever been changed. The off-hand diffidence of their generation still causes many to brush aside their war service with comic or sardonic antidotes, and attitude reflected in their scurrilous and joyful songs, summed up what could almost be called “the Anthem of the Erks.”
Bless (or otherwise) ‘em all.
Bless all the sergeants and WOI’s.
Bless all the corporals and their bleeding sons–]
We are saying good-bye to them all.
Many off these men would rather die than to admit to any pride on their part in what they would like to present as a most almighty “eff-up” from beginning to end, “binding every inch of the way, they made victory possible; they were splendid.”
Great Britain’s Royal Navy has a tradition that when the Navy passes in review, there is assigned a place of honor for the ship or section that has greatly distinguished itself in action against the enemy. That place of honor is called “The Right of the Line.”
In a few short years, when all the old Marauder armorers have passed on and the powers that be call for one last grand review; I say to the 437th armorers in general and the old desert hands in particular, “Take your position of honor—Go to the right of the line.”
Ed: To ex-M/Sgt Pat Walker’s tribute to the 437th armorers, we add all the 319th ground crew personnel, from clerk-typists, men in the motor pool, docs, nurses and medics, cooks and technician, and especially the mechanics and crew chiefs who died a thousand deaths until their planes returned safely from missions...from Col Randy to the rawest recruit, all will take their place on the right of the line when they answer the final review call.
WEBMASTER: Having "been there, done that" You guys summed it up great.
Holiday gift ideas for 319th guys

In response to requests for some holiday gift ideas received from several wives and family members, we suggest the following books that are sure to be enjoyed by 319th members, and a striking “Last of a Breed” T-shirt featuring a colorful Marauder imprint.
“Blue Battlefields” is a personal account of flying 71 combat missions during WWII in the Martin Marauder, “the flying coffin”. In its second printing, “Blue Battlefields” is a large format hardback, with 16 pages of color photos taken in 1944/45 on missions over Italy, France and Germany. Also 85 B&W photos and cartoons by Bill Mauldin. Author Chuck Mahoney, wasn’t a 319th pilot, but he sweated out his missions...just like our guys did! Publisher: Koen Book Distributors. Discounted by Barnes & Noble @ $27.96 plus tax (regular price $39.95).
“Bombs Brew, Boredom” will be of special interest to 319th men (and families) who served in the S Pacific. This  book was compiled by Gene & Frances Ryan from the wartime diary entries of 439 Pilot Tom Lorbreer. Recorded in Tom’s words, the book describes the missions, the living conditions, the people and the places. It covers the overseas flight to and life on Okinawa, the time spent in the Philippines, breakup of the 319th and time spent in Japan during the first months of the Occupation. The 175 page book contains some 45 pictures and mentions about 100 people. The cost for this very limited edition is $13.50, postage included. Send check to: Gene Ryan, P.O. Box 2044 Oretech Br., Klamath Falls, OR 97601.
“The Martin B-26 Marauder” by Jack Havener is one of the best books ever published on the B-26 Marauder. Havener flew over 50 combat missions in the Marauder, and was also a B-26 transitional training instructor. Included are more than 150 previously unpublished photographs which add to this book’s realistic portrayal of the Marauder’s history from cradle to grave. Originally published in 1988, the new printing features 12 additional pages of color photos on a better paper stock. Publisher: Special price for former Marauder unit men, $14.95 plus $2.50 shipping. Send order to: Southern Heritage Press, P.O. Box 10937, St. Pete, FL 33733; or order by phone: 800/282-3823.
The white crew neck T-shirt features a colorful silk screen scene on the back showing the world’s last and only flying B-26 Marauder in flight against a background of clouds with the lettering “Fantasy of Flight’s B-26 Magnificent Marauder—The Last of a Breed.”  Silk screened in blue on the front left breast is a small Fantasy of Flight logo. Great gift for giving or getting. Available in Men’s: S-M-L-XL & XXL sizes. Price, including shipping is $16.95 ea., plus $1.20 sales tax. Order from: Fantasy of Flight, 1400 Broadway Blvd. SE, Polk City, FL 33868; or order by phone: 941/984-3500.

We’re playing catch-up, sort of

While clearing off our desk the other day (a semi-annual ordeal) we unearthed this epistle from Billy Vial to Joe M dated 21 Aug 1997. He writ:
“Thought I should send along something for the pot and tell you about my meeting with an impressive young man (young to us) I had the honor to converse with a couple or so months ago.
Jeffrey L. Ethell visited the next door neighbor at my summer place to pick up some color slides made by my childhood friend who was a B-29 navigator out of Tinian while we were in the Pacific. His widow had offered the photos to Jeff for use in the latest book he was working on.
Jeff has written quite a number of books on all areas of military aviation from WWI up through today and was an advisor to NBC during the Gulf War. His dad flew fighters in N Africa to cover some of our guy’s butts, and the son was very well informed about the 319th. He said he never had the pleasure of meeting our Col. but had enjoyed conversations with Chuck Myers.
He had been scheduled to fly the CAF’s “Caroline” the day it crashed but deferred to a Senior who wanted to take her up. He implied that he had flown the plane before but the other guy was real anxious.
While visiting here he addressed a dinner meeting to help raise funds for the Tappahannock, VA Library, and delivered one of the best balanced lectures I’d ever had the pleasure of hearing; even the women of all ages in the audience hung on his every word.
Sadly, this brilliant young man was killed a month or so ago flying a restored P-38 Lightning somewhere on the west coast. I’m not sure, but I believe his father flew that type plane in combat.
I really don’t know how to end this note gracefully, but I just felt the urge to tell of a kindred sole, and what a loss his dedication meant to those of us who are interested in all that flies.”

The Chaplain’s corner
Charles Brewton, 437th

A speaker I once heard said that you should never go to God for a cupful of blessings because God wants to give us an ocean’s worth of His blessings. We do find it difficult to grasp how great is the love and richness of life we are intended to have. We glimpse it, but then allow someone or something to overwhelm and pull us into a prison of anxiety and fear.
Our Lord has shown us love beyond our comprehension and the freedom to be who we are, truly human, truly alive. We have been given fullness of life. Let us thank God for it. For the joy of finding ourselves forgiven when we have confessed a transgression. For the joy of taking a leap forward in faith and finding God’s arms waiting to catch us. For the joy of finding peace in the middle of turmoil, confirmation in the midst of confusion and life in the very act of dying.
Let us overflow with Thankfulness during this Holy Season and throughout the year, that others may  likewise know and be blessed by God’s unending love.
Ed: In addition to his words of assurance in each Flyer, we wish to thank Chaplain Charles Brewton for organizing and conducting the memorial services at our reunions. They are a most meaningful feature of our annual get-togethers.

Remembered as a “family man”
By John Carlisle, 439th
I am sad to report the 14 Aug 1998 passing of Griffith “Griff” Williams, Pilot, 440th Squadron (see “Taps”). Griff was one of the Doolittle Raiders and later a prisoner in Germany. I have enclosed the obituary detailing his life. Services for Griff were held on 27 Aug at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
Griff was one off the finest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He was unfailingly modest and unassuming, always minimizing the importance of his accomplishments. At his service the minister read a letter written by Griff to a member of his Hoover High School class. The alumni association had nominated Griff to be honored as an outstanding alumnus.. In his letter Griff expressed his appreciation but said he didn’t feel he deserved the honor. He said that other than the Doolittle raid and two years spent in a prison camp, his military career had been unremarkable. He went on to say that of far more importance in his life were his fifty year plus marriage to his beloved wife, Barbara, and his children. He concluded by requesting that, unless there was a category for “family man,” his name be withdrawn from consideration. The sentiments he expressed in that letter were typical of Griff’s attitude.
Ed: That several members wrote or called to let us know of Griff’s passing is a real testimonial to this self-professed “family man.” We extend heartfelt condolences to Barbara and family on the loss of a loving husband and father. It’s ironic that his death came just a few short weeks before his old 319th friends met in his home town of San Diego.