Lil is Back!
Gear swings on Diamond Lil
Congratulations Congratulations to to the the CAF CAF B-29 B-29 // B-24 B-24 Maintenance Maintenance Crew Crew and and our our Volunteers Volunteers for for repairing repairing Diamond Diamond Lil Lil
B-29/B-24 Squadron Officer & Staff Listing Position
Adjutant & Personnel Officer
Debbie Travis King
Operations Officer & B-29 Tour Coordinator
Public Information Officer
Safety & Training Officer B-29 Scheduling Officer
B-24 Scheduling Officer
The Flyer Editor
In this Issue: • • • • • • • • • • •
FIFI pays tribute during services for a B-29 veteran
Summer and Fall Tour Schedule Officer Reports “Keep FIFI Flying” Fundraiser & Website Diamond Lil B-24 Go Team Report Get Ready for Oshkosh! Member News Special Feature “A Genuine Rosie the Riveter” Special Feature “Alex Mena: The Story of Crew 713” Special Feature “Dan Owens’ Travel Journal” Editor’s Corner Squadron Contact Information
“Thank you so very much for honoring my grandfather, Robert James Kruer, with such a special fly over today at his funeral! It was a "God Wink" to us! He was a navigator of a B-29 stationed in Tinian. He was part of the 504th group and 313BW. I'm so thankful that I was able to see this piece of history!” Heather Douglas Brown, granddaughter
See the news story: http://www.11alive.com/news/article/293735/ 40/Unusual-Sendoff-for-WWII-Veteran
Special Feature “Dan Owens’ Owens’ Travel Journal” Journal”
Summer Tour A Birmingham, AL Atlanta, GA Charlotte, NC Manassas, VA Baltimore, MD Reading, PA Pittsburgh, PA Akron, OH Dayton, OH Cincinnati, OH Nashville, TN
May 16 – 19 May 20 – 22 May 23 – 27 May 29 – June 2 June 3 – 5 June 6 – 9 June 12 – 16 June 17 – 19 June 20 – 23 June 26 – 30 July 2 – 7
July 8 – 18
B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / SBD / PT-26 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / SBD / PT-26 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / BT-13 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 Airshow B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 Airshow B-29 / B-25 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / T-28 B-29 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 Airshow
Summer Tour B Carbondale, IL Rockford, IL Madison, WI Oshkosh, WI Duluth, MN Fargo, ND Sioux Falls, SD Denver, CO Colorado Springs, CO Kansas City, MO
July 19 – 21 July 22 – 24 July 25 – 28 July 29 – Aug 4 Aug 5 – 7 Aug 8 – 11 Aug 12 - 14 Aug 16 – 18 Aug 19 – 21 Aug 23 - 25
B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman / EAA B-17 B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6/ Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 / Stearman
Lancaster, TX Fayetteville, AR
Aug 31 Sept 19 – 22
B-24 “Warbirds on Parade”
Dallas, TX Midland, TX Houston, TX
Oct 3 – 6 Oct 11 – 13 Oct 25 – 27
Fall Events B-29 / B-24 / B-25 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 Bikers, Blues, BarBQ and Bombers B-29 / B-24 / B-17 / B-25 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 + many more B-29 / B-24 / CAF fleet of aircraft: CAF AirSho B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 Airshow
Red/Bold indicates both bombers appearing together
Please check www.AirPowerTour.org for the latest schedule
Rocky’s new trailer wrap for the AirPower History Tour
Squadron Report FIFI is out on the road, having completed more than half the current tour. Weâ€™ve hit a little snag here and there with weather, but otherwise she is having another successful tour, always the star of the show. It is hard not to be proud of our entire operation. It is so well-planned and executed. We have a large number of people involved in all aspects of what we do and everyone works so well together; a very cohesive team. The result is that the public that supports us has a positive experience. The stories in the newspapers and on social media postings are glowing and positive. None of this would be possible but for the hard work and dedication of so many good Colonels. Regarding the potential move of CAF headquarters, I can report that the Bidders Conference takes place next week and many communities have expressed interest. I am expecting a large crowd there. Plans for the museum and improved presence of the CAF in Midland are on track as well. I am confident in these decisions will be a win-win for all when it all comes to pass. The next tour is just around the corner. I hope to see everyone on the road. Neils Agather Squadron Leader
Cockpit tours underway
Photo by Rod Reilly
Maintenance Report B-29 / B-24 Maintenance Photo Collage by Rick Garvis, Crew Chief
Overhauled landing gear
Crew Chief Don assembling nose landing gear
Terry Rogers after finishing repairs on LIL. Terry and his team were a great help getting LIL back in the air.
Don Thurston and interns Kyle and Jake installing nose gear assembly.
LIL's glass nose section complete. Repairs by Crew Chief Rick Nose gear strut going in!
Kyle and Jake putting the finishing touches on LIL's nose wheel Nose gear installed!
A very beautiful sight!
After a year on jacks, LIL's ready to roll out for engine runs!
Intern Kyle and Joel Kimmel assembling nose wheel
Runs went well, It was like we had just run them the day before.
A little message for Gary Austin.
Assistant Crew Chief, Don Thurston, inspecting FIFI at a tour stop.
Intern Michael Szemplinski working on the Bucket
Photo by Rod Reilly
Photo by Kim Pardon
Flight Operations Report B-29 Pilots I'm happy to report we are a well-oiled machine for pilots this year. We have a great roster of both captains and copilots and are keeping the pipeline flowing. We have conducted all of our SIC training between cities on the road and this has saved us countless dollars instead of dedicated training flights. Mark Novak and Steve Swift, our newest captains, are doing very well and have quickly earned the respect of our crews. I expect another pilot or two to transition to the left seat later this next year. B-24 Pilots It will no doubt be a process to restart the pipeline of pilots for the B-24. Unfortunately, not having many hours in the last two years has significantly impacted our pilot roster. Right now, we are no doubt in need of B-24 captains and we will be looking to recruit from our ranks for those pilots who can get up to speed quickly in the left seat. I'm excited for the possibilities that the B-24 holds for Tour B and the best way to train pilots is to get the aircraft on tour and flying multiple hours. Backend training for the B-24 will commence as soon as she is flying here in Dallas and we plan to put more than a few hours on the airplane before sending it out for Tour B. Priority will be given to those who are scheduled to tour with the airplane. Summer Tour B Tour B is set for the 5-week period starting in Mid July. The first stop is Carbondale, Illinois in conjunction with Marion Airport. Additionally, the Kansas City AirPower Expo is going to end the tour as the CAF Heart of America wing has decided to move their dates in order to receive and host the CAF AirPower Tour. We are excited about this addition. Please see the schedule for details. We are also glad to announce that the B-24 will be attending all the stops on Tour B. It will be great to see the B-29 & B-24 traveling together once again. Squadron Interns We are proud to have three interns this year from Southern Illinois University and they have represented the school well. There is no doubt we will continue to carry this program into the future. When you see them, be sure to thank Kyle Householder, Jake Baldwin, & Michael Szemplinkski for their weeks of service to the squadron. Jake and Kyle are scheduled to continue their volunteer hours on Tour B. Tour Volunteers John Flynn is looking for tour volunteers for certain days of the tour. Oshkosh is primarily filled up but please contact John Flynn to see what positions are still open. If your going to be at Oshkosh this year and don't require lodging, please contact John Flynn or Allen Benzing to talk about volunteering. We always need more help, and with FIFI at Appleton and Diamond Lil at Oshkosh we need all the crew we can get. David Oliver Flight Operations Officer
Training & Safety Report We are currently out on the CAF AirPower History Tour (Summer Tour A) with FIFI, “The Bucket of Bolts”, the Cavanaugh P-51 “Brat” and other CAF aircraft. As I write this, we are in Reading, Pennsylvania for the Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s 2013 World War II Weekend. Our tour thus far has been operated on schedule and safely by the squadron members who stepped up to the plate and volunteered to participate in our mission. Safety will be paramount over the next three days here at Reading. Each day, we are scheduled to fly four B-29 ride flights plus the daily air show flight. Additionally, “The Bucket of Bolts” will be flying numerous ride flights during this very busy weekend.
REMEMBER: IF THE JOB IS DONE RIGHT, IT IS SAFE! John Flynn Safety Officer
FIFI flyby in Reading, PA
Photo by Rod Reilly
PIO Report I returned home Sunday night from what I lovingly refer to as "the trenches," after spending a month traveling with the airplanes. It was sad leaving the crew, but I am looking forward to rest and being able to do my job without the distraction of all the other work that needs to be done each day at every stop. We have had some good stops on Summer Tour A. The weather has not been kind, however, taking a day away from us at a few locations. Rain, rain go away! One thing I have noticed out there is the number of children on the ramp. We have had a lot of kiddos at each of our stops -- all of them excited about the airplanes. There is no better history lesson than the sight, sound and smell of these old airplanes doing what they are built to do. The CAF mission is education and it makes me proud to be a member when I see the actuation of that charge. The CAF is doing good work and the B29/B24 Squadron is helping lead the way. Thanks to the CAF Dixie Wing, National Capitol Squadron, West Texas Wing and Cleveland Wing for bringing airplanes and people to many of our tour stops. Also a big thank you to Steve Schapiro for his posts from Reading. Steve works hard on the ramp and still finds time to seek out the interesting stories. Until next time, Kim Pardon Public Information Officer
Kim and the AirPower Tour Crew
Financial Report By Gerald Oliver, Finance Officer I am happy to report good financial results through June 15, 2013. The AirPower History Tour continues to enjoy good crowds and acceptance from the public. So far Summer Tour A has visited Birmingham, Atlanta, Charlotte, Manassas (outside Washington DC), Baltimore, Reading, PA and Pittsburgh. We sold 25 B-29 rides at those stops. We are doing better than previous years in selling more of the seats. Our average is 90% of available seats sold. This means each time the B-29 goes out she is averaging 9 paying passengers out of 10 seats available. Thatâ€™s amazing. We really need to thank the crews for their hard work. It can be taxing to work every day outside, often answering the same questions. But for our experienced crew, they love it and consider it an honor. And, its lots of fun. Please think about how you can get some time off and join up for a tour stop or two. It is well worth the effort. Special thanks go to John Flynn for serving as Tour Leader from Addison to Pittsburgh. Thanks John! Here is a financial summary of the Spring Tour and Summer Tour A thru the Pittsburgh stop.
B-24 Go Team Report In last month's report, the focus was on having Lil flying in time for the Dayton Airshow June 20-23. While most of the work on Lil should be finished by then, additional time is needed for maintenance flights, working through minor issues and crew training. With those requirements in mind, the decision has been made to focus on the Summer B tour, which begins in mid-July. We plan to leave ADS for Carbondale about July 17th or 18th, to be in position for an event over the weekend of July 20-21 at SIU in Carbondale and Marion, IL. Diamond Lil will accompany FIFI for all stops on this tour, through Aug 25th. On August 31st we plan to take Lil to "Warbirds on Parade" in Lancaster, TX. This will be an opportunity for a group of local volunteers to ride along, and to participate in cockpit tours and conducting a ride flight. October 3-6th is the Dallas AirPower-Expo in McKinney. This will be a very large event, with all Squadron aircraft - and many others. There will be a need for a lot of local volunteers for aircraft Marshalling, Ride Desk, Cockpit Tours and more. October 9-11th will have our aircraft at Ft Worth's Meacham Field for AOPA's annual convention for cockpit tours and ride flights. October 19-20th is the Alliance Airshow. While not yet on our official calendar, we are considering an appearance by Diamond Lil, to conduct cockpit tours. Please keep these in mind if you wish to participate in local events! Contact Chuck Burton firstname.lastname@example.org (972) 839-7911 to volunteer. Photo by Scott Slocum
Al Benzing B-24 Go Team 13
Member News June, 2013 Spitfire “Beer Truck” The CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron welcomed these new members in May, 2013 Bob Culmer, Dallas, Texas Michael Schmit, Plano, Texas
Let’s salute our RAF allies again this month! On June 13, 1944 an English brewery donated a large amount of beer for troops fighting in Normandy. A unique delivery method of strapping kegs to the wings of Spitfires being shipped to forward airfields is introduced. Flying at 12,000 ft. chills the beer perfectly. It was a limited operation but had a huge propaganda impact and literally lifted the “spirits” of allied soldiers.
Spitfire Mk. IXc w/beer kegs
CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron member, Tracy Toth, celebrating WASP history flanked by real life WASP, Bee Haydu and Shutsy Reynolds on June 10 at the Mid Atlantic Air Show in Reading, PA. Photo by Rod Reilly
B-29 / B-24 Squadron PX Squadron Monthly Meeting July 20, 2013 3 p.m. @ the Addison Hangar
http://www.b24b29px.org/ Find us on
Special Feature A Genuine “Rosie the Riveter” Mary Juanita Hyche By John Flynn Mary Juanita Hyche visited FIFI in Birmingham on the first stop of our summer tour. She said,” You can call me Nita.” That was the name she went by when she worked on B-29’s at the Birmingham modification center as a 20-year old electrician during WWII. Nita was born on January 28, 1924 in Avondale, Alabama and was in the 11th grade at Woodlawn high school when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She was the eldest child and had to quit school to help her mother and take care of her younger siblings. Nita said she applied for a job at the newly built Army Air Corps modification center after the B-29’s arrived at Birmingham. She went on to tell us she was sent to school to learn how to work on the B-29 electrical wiring when she was hired. Her first job was to build B-29 electrical wiring harnesses.
This is Mary standing on the flightline where she worked on B-29’s so many years ago. The series of hangars she worked in are in the background. There are 10 hangars connected in series. Each hangar would accommodate 7 B-29’s; for a total of 70 B29’s. We placed FIFI in one of the hangars at night. FIFI looked lost in such a large hangar.
Nita said she would assemble the harnesses and take them to a quality control inspector for final approval. She was very emphatic in describing her dealings with this particular inspector. She said he would always tell her, “This is not right!” “It is wrong here, here and here!” She would take the harness back to her workbench, find nothing wrong, wait a few minutes (without changing anything) and take the wire harness back to the inspector. The inspector would then tell her the harness was correct. She said that after the war she found that the inspector had been doing this just to get to see her more often. They were married shortly thereafter.
Nita went on to say that after working at a bench, making wiring harnesses, she was assigned to the flightline installing wiring in the B-29’s. She was a small girl and was given jobs that required her to get into small spaces the men could not fit into. She said that she would be soldering wires lying on her back in the tail gunner’s position and hot solder would sometimes run down onto her legs. Nita had tears in her eyes as she stood looking at FIFI and remembering her experiences in the B-29’s that were parked on the exact spot where FIFI was sitting. 16
Special Feature “Alex Mena: The Story of Crew 713” Interviewed by Konley Kelley I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Alejandro “Alex” Mena. Alex is a Filmmaker working in Dallas. He has been employed in the film industry for over 20 years. Alex has worked on feature films, commercials, music videos, corporate videos and television shows. For the last three years he has served as Director of Operations for the Dallas International Film Festival and has been actively involved with that festival for the last six years. Alex is the Writer/Director/Producer of a new documentary film, CREW 713: The men who flew “The Irishman’s Shanty.” It’s the story of his father’s B-24 Liberator bomber crew from WWII. Alex’s father, Nemesio Mena, was a Radio Operator on a B-24 in the Eighth Air Force, 2nd Air Division, 14th Bomb Wing, 492nd Bomb Group. The 492nd BG would go on to become the most devastated American heavy bombardment group in the war. Of the 70 B-24 aircraft and crews that comprised the group that flew over in April of 1944, only 15 original crews remained after 89 days of combat. They were literally wiped out. To this day, the 492nd remains the only heavy bomb group to be removed from combat in the history of the United States Air Force due to high losses. It is a dubious honor that most likely will never be challenged. Nemesio Mena was very lucky. He and his crewmates were the first in the 492nd to complete a 30 mission combat tour. Despite several harrowing experiences in combat, the crew, known as the “O’Sullivan Crew 713” after their pilot; David G. O’Sullivan, were never shot down or unable to return safely to base. Alex’s father survived the war and served his country through the Korean and Vietnam wars. He was the longest living member of his crew, passing away in 2007. Alex is fortunate to have access to oral interviews and documents from his father and other veterans of the 492nd. The men who flew “The Irishman’s Shanty” held a deep seated sense of duty, honor, courage and brotherhood – qualities true of all our Liberator crews and airmen in WW2. The documentary is a tribute to them and a story Alex is determined to share with others. I interviewed Alex for our newsletter. 17
What was it like growing up and hearing your Father’s stories about the war? Dad was very proud of his service. He served 24 years in the Air Force. He was not reluctant to talk about his experiences. I have found, through my research, that veterans are basically divided into two groups: those who talk about their experiences and those who don’t. Further, (and this is very un-scientific), I have found that the vets who only served a short time (say the War Years of 1941-1945) tend to not talk about their experiences as much as the Lifers do. I think the Lifers were more exposed to the rigors of a long military career and realized that if they served in a theater of war, that death could strike at any moment. I think they were more accepting of this and thus more willing to talk about their experiences. The other group, the ones who choose not to talk about their experiences, I think this is a coping mechanism. It’s something they need in order to continue with their lives. They segregate, and isolate those thoughts and remembrances. Dad was always willing to talk about WWII, Korea and Viet Nam but you had to engage him. He wouldn’t volunteer it. He was much too modest for that. But if you sat him down and started asking questions, then he would tell you. He had a real sense of self and of his place in history as well. He was part of the early Air Force, all through the Cold War, then the conflict in Viet Nam. He had a ton of stories to tell, as one can imagine after serving 24 years in locations as diverse as England, Spain, France, The Phillipines, Japan, South Korea and various bases around the USA, his last stop being Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, North Carolina. General Leon Johnson awards the Distinguished Flying Cross to Sgt. Mena for 30 missions
What was he especially proud of regarding his service to our country? I think he took great pride in being part of the nascent Air Force. Being part of something new. He really loved the Air Force. I think he especially enjoyed the discipline that the military lifestyle requires. My Dad was a radio operator and continued in that field of communications throughout his military career. So he was keenly aware of science and cutting edge technology. As you know, the military ALWAYS gets first dibs on new technology. It was true in 1950 and it’s still true in 2013. So I think my Dad really enjoyed the challenges of new equipment, new aircraft, often he was a beta tester for new technology that the Air Force was experimenting with. He was also sort of a real life Forrest Gump. Here are a couple of examples. After flying 30 missions over Germany and Occupied Europe, he was rotated stateside, (which by the way, completing a 30-35 mission combat tour in the ETO was an accomplishment in and of itself-the average lifespan of a heavy bomber crew in the ETO was 12 missions). In 1945, he was stationed at Biggs Field, El Paso, TX and was part of the crew that loaded the first atomic bomb, (built at nearby Los Alamos in New Mexico) into a transport for the first leg of its journey into history. That’s amazing. 18
Later, beginning in 1961, he was a member of Airborne Command Post; Strategic Air Command (SAC) supporting Operation Looking Glass. This aircraft was the ancestor of the modern AWACs we know today. A converted tanker, this aircraft, A Boeing EC-135, (SN-53118) is now on permanent display at McConnell AFB, Wichita, KS. She was the very first to roll off the assembly line in 1956. A few years back, I spoke with his commander from that era and he spoke highly about my Dad. He said with pride, ‘your Dad was a good soldier’. Boeing EC-135 (SN-53118) nicknamed “City of Renton”
He said you were asked to join the crews. They were handpicked. The USAF reviewed thousands of military personnel files to find the right guys for these crews. They asked Dad to be the head radio operator. He would supervise a crew of 4-5 radio operators who served on the aircraft during missions. The commander also remarked that Dad’s file stood out because, “he was the only radio operator who was on the list who had served in WWII.” He said the decision-makers got a chuckle out of this. Dad was a Master Sergeant by this time, but this commander assured me that many an officer drew him aside and often asked him his advice regarding various aspects of missions, etc., relying on Dad’s vast knowledge and experience of flying and serving in the Air Force for so long. I’m sure my Dad took great pride in that. The confidence that others had in him and the confidence he instilled in others. He was a true team player. Master Sgt. Mena (standing) aboard Airborne Command post
How did the documentary project evolve? Well, I went to a family reunion in El Paso in the Summer of 2007. My Dad was already in failing health and I made an effort to really visit with him and my Mom during my stay. He had several books on the 492nd BG in his small library and every night I read whole chapters from these books. I was really inspired and amazed by the stories that were told in those pages. Anyways, one night while I was up reading one of the books, I had an epiphany and realized that I had to make this film about my Father’s experiences on board that liberator bomber. On the day we were returning to Dallas, right before we left, I leaned in and quietly whispered in his ear…”I’m going to make a film about your bomber crew”, he looked at me, didn’t say a word, just nodded his head in acknowledgement. And that was that. The Deal was done. 5 months later he was gone. I realized that I had made a promise to a dying man. A dying man who just happened to be my Father. So that’s how the project came about. 19
Tell me about your visit to the 492nd Bomb Group Reunion in 2008. In a word terrifying. I had arranged to meet and interview as many veterans as I could. In order to acquaint myself with the Bomber War, The B-24, and the 492nd Bomb Group, I had read and studied up on the subjects. I went on the internet, read article after article. (I went to the 492nd Bomb Group website; www.492ndbombgroup.com.) I also read a ton of books on the subject as well. There are approximately 9 books which have been written about the history of the 492nd BG. A recurring theme in many of them was that there were certain key voices who repeatedly showed up in all the various books. Naturally these were the same men most active in the 492nd Bomb Group Association and I was going to meet them and interview them. It was kind of intimidating. I thought,’ these guys are going to eat me up’. But they turned out to be such a great group of guys, and they opened up their hearts and told me their stories for our film crew. It was an incredible bonding experience. These were men who had flown in the same bomb group, same formations, same missions as my Father…these were the guys who participated in D-Day, the liberation of Europe, Operation Market Garden, and so many other missions. Afterwards, I came to look upon these men as long lost uncles. I also met so many wonderful friends and supporters of the film. Sons and daughters of the men who served in the 492nd BG. We call ourselves ‘492nd BG Cousins’ and they are a great group of folks indeed, keeping the memory of this bomb group alive for future generations. What has been most challenging for the documentary? I think the biggest challenge has been getting the necessary funding in order to complete the film. I started on this project in 2008 and I really thought it was going to be relatively easy to raise the funds for this film. It didn’t turn out that way. So many variables came into play and we made the decision to start producing the film about the time the nation was going into a deep economic depression. I think we just weren’t lucky in meeting the key ‘angel’ donors or investors for the first few years of production. We are hopeful 2013 will be the year we finally get our funding in place. I still have the passion and belief that this story needs to be told. We lose more of these veterans every year. In 2008, I interviewed 9 veterans from the 492nd BG at the Reunion. Six of them have since died. There is sense of urgency to finish the film, in order that at least a few of these men can see their story and their unit history being told on the big screen. What has been the most rewarding experience making the documentary? I think making all the many friendships I have made over the last six years. This film has touched so many people. Here’s an analogy of sorts. Imagine the 492nd BG as this quiet pond out in the country somewhere. Nothing disturbs the tranquility. All is very peaceful. Imagine my film is a small pebble thrown into the center of the pond. The ripples go out and touch all sections of that pond, nothing is spared. The film touched all these strangers, across the country, in the UK, in Germany, in Scandinavia, in The Czech Republic, their response was overwhelming! I was astonished and happy to know that so many people shared my passion and belief in getting this story out there. It has been a very humbling experience. After six years, you don’t want to disappoint them. They want to see this film almost as badly as I do. So the making and completion of CREW 713 becomes my personal mission in a way. My Dad flew 30 missions in 1944. I’ve got one mission: to tell his story so the world will remember. 20
As of June, 2013, where does the project stand? We have the majority of our interviews in the can. We’re only lacking 3 interviews to complete what we call principal photography. We have approximately 10-12 minutes of animation in the film and we are working on scripts to pitch to the various animation companies which have expressed an interest in working with us. We have rare archival footage of the 492nd BG available to us. Some of this footage is in color and is OUTSTANDING photography of B-24 liberators on missions into Europe and Germany. We are securing music rights for the film and hopefully will begin talking with our musical composer for the original score as well. We also would like to begin the rough cut edit of the film, but everything I have just mentioned is contingent on securing the funding for the film. So right now, my producers, Fiona Hall, Kelly McNichol and myself, are all focusing our energies on securing funding. What are your future plans for the documentary? We are exploring the various distribution paths available to us. We think our film would fit in nicely with any number of cable networks, for example The Military Channel, History Channel, Nat Geo, Lifetime Network, etc. We want to pitch the film to PBS’ American Experience. We also want to do the film festival circuit as well. Afterwards, we know the film would be a welcome addition at military and aviation museums, and certainly would be a great teaching aid in grade schools, high schools and colleges. I promised to donate my edited veteran interviews to The National Archives in Washington DC, so future scholars may study these bomber crewmen who flew the Liberator. Why is CREW 713 important? I envision CREW 713 as a bridge to an era that now seems so long ago, and yet is still within living memory for some. It is a window, a peek, a mere glimpse into a short period of time, a real life Star Wars, when massive air armadas assembled over the skies of England to go forth and do battle with an implacable foe. In many ways, I am grateful that we will never see such terrifying numbers of weapons of mass destruction assembled ever again… and yet, for a brief moment in time the world trembled to the rumble of the mighty four engine bombers and the world had peace. For a short time at least. That is something quite remarkable and awful at the same time. At some level, CREW 713 is also a warning and a danger call to the present generation about the proliferation of war, the arms buildup and the war profiteering that followed WWII. It continues to this day and is quite possibly the single most pressing issue we need to solve as Americans today. I think a lot of the problems we face as a nation today, at least internationally, can be traced to the arms buildup after WWII. Ultimately though, CREW 713 honors the warriors who served in the Bomber Air War of WWII. It is remembering their service. Editor’s note: Many of you may not know Alex is also part of our B-24 Go Team and promotional activities for Diamond Lil. About a month ago, Alex brought his crew to the hangar to video Lil and interview B-29/B-24 Flight Operations Officer, David Oliver. Alex has pieced together historical footage of Lil and the B-24 story and present day footage into a promotional video “Keep Diamond Lil Flying.” The video will generate awareness for Lil and help with fundraising efforts to replace the depleted funds used in Lil’s extensive repairs. Alex is a tremendous asset for our Squadron in the DFW creative community. We applaud him for work on the documentary and thank him for his work to support our B-24. Next time you see him, be sure to shake his hand and pass along your thanks. For more information on Crew 713, see www.crew713.com You can also e-mail Alex at email@example.com
Special Feature Dan Owens’ Travel Journal From March 11-23, Dan Owens and his daughter Melissa visited historic sites in the South Pacific and Japan capped by a memorable visit to a Japanese community forever tied to the B-29 story. Thank you, Dan, for sharing with us your wonderful trip in words and pictures. Konley Kelley, THE FLYER editor
My daughter and I began our tour on Guam. The Valor Tour didn’t start until the next day so we rented a car and headed out to see what we could spot on our own. The first thing we saw was the Marine Memorial Park. This is right next to the Invasion beach on Guam which is where the Marines landed. There is a very nice Memorial there honoring all the services involved in the fighting. There were also a couple of Japanese bunkers. From there we continued around the island just taking in the sights, when we came across a sign pointing to the Yokoi Cave. Once we got there we learned it was the cave where a Japanese soldier had been living 28 years after the war ended. He was discovered in the seventies and repatriated back to Japan to live out his life. The next day we joined the official tour which was led by Andy (Anderson) Giles. It is a 45 minute flight on a Yokoi’s cave United Airlines turboprop from Guam to Saipan. As we made our approach I was looking out the window when I finally began to see land. Thinking it was Saipan, I got really excited when I saw North Field and the Atomic Bomb pits just below us on approach to Saipan. I learned That Tinian and Saipan are only a few miles apart and Saipan Airport is right on the south end of the island, so the approach is right over Tinian. We were greeted at the airport by a local guide named Gordon Marciano. Gordon is a native of Saipan and is a DJ on the local radio station KKMP. If you ever want to tune in Gordon has a morning talk show that starts at 6:00 am or 3-4:00 pm CDT. www.cnmiradio.com. Professor Giles always introduced me as being a crew member on FIFI. Everyone on Saipan and Tinian is very aware of FIFI, so I got a lot of attention because I was a crew member. Sugar Dock
Beach where the 4th Marine Division made their assault
One of our first stops on Saipan was the Sugar Dock. Saipan and Tinian had been large sugar plantations before the war, and supplied the Japanese with the majority of their sugar. The sugar dock was used to load sugar on ships, but after the Americans took the island it was used to bring supplies to our soldiers. The Sugar Dock sits right in the middle of the invasion beaches where the 2nd and 4th Marine divisions came ashore. There are even a couple of tanks whose turrets are still 22
visible in the water near the beach. As we went from one Japanese artillery location to the other and see how they were placed in the hills overlooking the beaches you begin to realize what a daring fete the invasion by the Marines really was. It was just short of suicide. We didn’t visit any airfields specifically on Saipan. There was 1 north south runway that was used by the Japanese that is now a street. One site we visited that I can’t understand and was most perplexed at was the suicide cliffs on both Saipan and Tinian. On one hand the blue ocean and waves crashing against the rocks is really a beautiful sight, on the other it is hard to imagine anyone fearing Americans to the point of wanting to jump from those cliffs with your children in your arms. Then when you see the memorials the Japanese have built on the location, for me it was very Japanese monuments near Suicide Cliffs. Suicide Cliffs on Saipan difficult to understand.
Japanese tank on Saipan
Signs warn “Do not handle old ammunition”
As we traveled from location to location, we kept seeing Tinian and North Field off in the distance. Of course this is where I wanted to be. After 2 days on Saipan we finally flew to Tinian. The first thing we did was load in our van and head straight down Broadway to North Field and on to Runway Able. I just stood and tried to imagine 4 B-29’s at a time taking off from the 4 runways, 1 minute apart. The local people told us stories how, many times the B-29, of course heavily loaded, would drop right down on the water trying to gain speed, so close they would kick up a spray of water off the ocean. It’s hard to imagine, but not impossible. We tried to get our van driver to simulate a takeoff from North Field, but the fastest she went was about 50 mph.
Japanese bunker with 14” shell damage
Dan and Melissa on Runway Able
That same day we went to the site of the Japanese Air Operations which is near the area now called Memorial Plaza. All the bomb groups that were stationed on North Field have monuments there as well as the 2nd and 4th Marine divisions. It is here that I visited the 505th BG memorial, which I have a connection to. 505th BG Memorial When we went to the bomb pits, our tour guide Andy Giles was able to explain something not many people know. Since there are 2 pits, everyone assumes that each pit was dug for each bomb, but he has learned this is not the case. The bomb pit on the west was used for loading both bombs. The pit on the east was used for what was called “Pumpkin Bombs”. Pumpkin bombs were bombs that were somewhat smaller and resembled the atomic bombs but had normal explosives. We carried these bombs in single aircraft missions to get the Japanese accustomed to seeing a single bomber dropping just 1 bomb. This way the Japanese began ignoring just 1 bomber since it was going to do very little damage anyway. This way we were able to get our atomic bomb airplanes into Japan without opposition. One very interesting place we visited was the site of the bomb assembly building. I had my picture taken with my daughter standing on the exact site the bombs were assembled.
Atom bomb pit (top) Assembly area (bottom)
Our tour was officially named the “6th BG Tour”. It was put together for members of the 6th BG. Unfortunately there was no member of the 6th there, but there was one man whose father had been a gunner in the 6th BG. It was a real experience for him, since they had cleared the jungle from the NCO club and the Officers Club of the 6th BG. He also got to visit the site where his father’s Quonset hut had been. The morning we were leaving Tinian we were told there was a bone ceremony being held on Tinian that morning and that we would be able to attend. There are bones of Japanese civilians and soldiers still being discovered in the caves around Tinian. When found the bones are turned over to authorities and they try to identify them as best they can. Then every 2 years a group from Japan comes to Tinian to make final attempt to identify the remains. Then they have an outdoor cremation and ceremonial for the remains as is the Japanese custom. We were fortunate to be there on the day they had the ceremony that only occurs every 2 years. Japanese Bone Ceremony 24
The next part of my trip requires a little set up. All my interest in Tinian and B-29 originates from the fact I was named after my dadâ€™s best friend, Dan Godsy who was lost on a mission to bomb the Nakajima aircraft plant at Ota, Japan. When I decided to take the tour I decided to extend my trip to include a trip to the crash site near a town named Akizuma. I have had email contact with a Japanese man there and told him of my desire to visit the crash site. He seemed very excited that I was coming. As the time drew nearer for my trip, I began getting messages that the people at Akizuma were planning to erect a monument memorializing the 23 men who died in the crash of the 2 airplanes. As it got closer I learned they had planned quite a memorial dedication ceremony. The ceremony was held at the Seigan-Ji (pr. say gun gee) temple at Akizuma. There were approximately 250 villagers in attendance as well as about 30 Air Force personnel and a small band and color guard from the Yokota Air Base. There were 3 national television stations, 2 newspapers, and the Stars and Stripes. The ceremony was conducted in both English and Japanese so that everyoneâ€™s speech was understood by all. The High Priest, of course, was the most prominent person there and conducted the ceremony.
Memorial to B-29 crews who died
After the ceremony the host had a very nice dinner and lecture at the local hotel we were staying. While the lecture was going on, I had a photo of FIFI, that Mark Russell was kind enough to let me have, passed around the room and autographed by as many people as there was room for. It was autographed in English by Isao Arai, who was our host, and the High priest and his daughter. This is definitely an experience I will never forget.
Greeting the High Priest and other dignitaries at Seigan Ji Temple (Say-Gun-Gee)
After the event at Ota we traveled by train to Tokyo. My neighbor across the street is Japanese and still has family there. We were guided by her nephew Chiharu Ohara, who speaks not only English and Japanese, but French and Italian. We visited both Shinto and Buddhist Temples. He arranged for a boat to take us on a site seeing tour around Tokyo Bay. We were fortunate to be in Tokyo when the Cherry Blossom Trees were in bloom. They were blooming actually 2 weeks early this year so it was a real treat for us to get to see. As is the case with all vacations it came to an end all too soon. But we had a great time and plan on going back for the 70th anniversary on Tinian.
Sunset from Tinian
Editor’s Corner Target Practice Diamond Lil waist gun cockpit tour activity and crew fitness program A tongue in cheek proposal With Diamond Lil’s return to the tour, several informational and historical displays have been added. Cockpit tours will be streamlined and standardized. Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun. Using pictures of enemy aircraft, visitors can practice their aim on the bad guys who stalked the B-24. Crew members can also burn off calories, with quick moves to challenge the gunners. More fit crewman can have a picture of a ME-262.
Calling All Modelers!
Jim Neill holds the target
1:48 WWII Aircraft Display at CAF Dallas Air Expo
Kon Kelley is putting out the word to scale modelers in our membership and DFW-area scale modelers to participate in a display of 1:48 scale model aircraft at the October 4-6, Dallas CAF Air Expo in McKinney, TX. Bring something you’ve built or make a new kit to showcase at this event. Kon has dibs on FIFI and another flying warbird pictured to the far right. Contact Kon at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to bring your plastic masterpiece.
Duane Moreland’s Zero work-in-progress Kon’s warm-up to FIFI. Can you guess the warbird?
THE FLYER WANTS YOU! You are welcome to contribute a story, photographs and artwork for this decades-old newsletter. If you are a veteran, please tell us your story. Squadron members continually meet veterans at the hangar, on tour and everyday life – let us know their stories. We’re also looking for contributors for “This Month in History” and news spotlighting our aircraft and members. Thank you and “Keep ‘em Flying!” Konley Kelley THE FLYER editor email@example.com
B-29 / B-24 Squadron Addison Airport 4730 George Haddaway Drive Addison, Texas 75001 www.cafb29b24.org 972-387-2924 (Hangar) 432-413-4100 (Ride Desk) 28