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Smoke follows beauty

Diamond Lil at Airsho 2013

October 2013

B-29/B-24 Squadron Officer & Staff Listing Position




Squadron Leader

Neils Agather


Executive Officer

Tom Travis


Adjutant & Personnel Officer

Debbie Travis King


Crew Chief

Rick Garvis


Finance Officer

Gerald Oliver


Maintenance Officer

Don Obreiter


Operations Officer & B-29 Tour Coordinator

David Oliver


Public Information Officer

Kim Pardon


Ride Captain

Jon Oliver


Safety & Training Officer B-29 Scheduling Officer

John Flynn


B-24 Scheduling Officer

Chuck Burton


Facility Manager

Jim Neill


Appearance Captain

Henry Bordelon


Docent Emeritus

Jack Bradshaw



Rick Greer

The Flyer Editor

Konley Kelley



WWII veterans about to fly aboard Diamond Lil pose with our B-24 crew at the CAF AirPower EXPO in McKinney

In this Issue:

• AirPower History Tour Schedule • Officer Reports “Keep FIFI Flying” Fundraiser & Website • Diamond Lil B-24 Go Team Report • “Keep Diamond Lil Flying” Fundraiser & Website • Member News • Elections, Awards and Squadron Chili Cook-off • Feature Story: “Using Physics to Win a War” the story of Squadron Member, Alex Green • Feature Story: “A USAAF Crew Engages a German Submarine in the Caribbean” by Sparky Barnes Sargent • AirPower EXPO Photo Album • Editor’s Corner • Squadron Contact Information

In this issue: “A USAAF Crew Engages a German Submarine in the Caribbean” A story by Sparky Barnes Sargent Photo courtesy Fenton Robinson Collection


Fall Events Houston, TX

Oct 25 – 27

B-29 / B-24 / P-51 / C-45 / T-6 Airshow

That’s all for 2013 folks! Flyby arrival at Airsho!

Photo by Rick Garvis

FIFI at AirSho

Formation flight with BOB on the way toAirsho, All hail BOB!!

Photo by Rick Garvis

Photo by John Schauer


Squadron Report No doubt it will come as a relief to everyone this will be the last Flyer that will have anything from me about voting for the move of CAF HQ. So, bear with me, we are in the home stretch. By now everyone should have received from CAF HQ the ballot they requested. Actually, there are two ballots printed on brightly colored paper. One is for the by-law change giving authority to the General Staff to select a new location for CAF HQ from the six finalist cities. Essentially, this ballot is a yes or no vote on the move of CAF HQ. I hope you feel as I do and vote yes. The other is to vote for candidates for the General Staff. There are four candidates put forth by the Nominating Committee. All these candidates presently serve on the General Staff and are in favor of the move. Please follow the instructions printed on the white paper. You will also see other papers in the envelope that provide you with descriptions of the cities under consideration for CAF HQ along with informational statistics. We have had a record number of absentee ballot requests indicating a keen interest in the move of CAF HQ. If you are in favor of the move, it is terribly important for you to be sure to cast your vote. It takes a 75% majority to permit the by-law change. In other words if you are in favor of the move of CAF HQ, it takes 3 YES votes to counter each NO vote. Please be sure to vote. We are wrapping up another successful year. It is extra special to see Diamond Lil out on the road with FIFI. She is well received and popular. It was special to see them fly together at Airsho. Your elected Staff will be meeting shortly to begin the plans for next year. Already it looks to be another year of exciting and fun-filled tours. Elsewhere in The Flyer you will see details on the plan for Ground Schools, our November meeting, which is set for 16 November at twelve noon, elections and other Squadron activities. The year may be nearing its end, but our Squadron is still very active. I hope to see you all at the meetings Neils Agather Squadron Leader Neils watching the Bucket start engines in McKinney


Executive Officer Report We had a very nice turnout at McKinney the first weekend of October both in terms of aircraft and visitors. Guests were able to park near the venue and the ramp access for airplanes and guests was as good as it gets. We sold some ride flights which helped the bottom line. Both aircraft were at the AOPA Expo in Ft Worth and we did one ride flight on the B-29 before transitioning to Midland. We were able to get some favorable press in the largest aviation magazine in the world. There’s an old saying in Texas that if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes. That proved to be true at Airsho in Midland this year. Thursday we had strong winds and blowing dust. Friday and Saturday were both sunny and warm. The show went well on Saturday. Sunday we had rain of Biblical proportions and, of course, the show was canceled. Lots of airplanes were left on the ramp while crews rented cars and drove home. Sometimes that’s the way it goes in this business. The annual meeting on Friday at Midland was spirited to say the least. No matter where you stand on the issue of moving the CAF headquarters, your vote is important. If you requested an absentee ballot, be sure to vote. Tom Travis Executive Officer

Debbie Travis King and Tom Travis aboard Diamond Lil


Maintenance Report Rick Garvis, Crew Chief This month’s report by Don Obreiter, Maintenance Officer As another tour year winds down, I can’t thank the efforts of our maintenance staff enough for all they have done! Each year our bombers fly more and travel further than they ever have and Rick, Don, Ben, and the volunteers that maintain them have kept them flying more reliably and safer each year! So what is next…? The never-ending process of winter maintenance begins right after the Wings Over Houston airshow. FIFI’s annual inspection will come first and run thru January. In addition to the required inspection items we will be swapping out the #3 engine with our new spare engine. Nothing is wrong with the engine; this is being done as a precautionary evaluation. FIFI’s highest time engine (450+ hours) will be removed and undergo an in-depth inspection by Anderson Aeromotive. This proactive approach will help enhance reliability and longevity as well as, helping to rotate flight hours on our available engines. The biggest improvement planned this winter will be designing and building a new exhaust system for FIFI. As those of you that have the un-pleasure of dealing with this system already know and the amount of labor it takes to keep the current configuration together this is a much needed improvement! What’s even better about this project is it will be our first “co-op” type project with the Doc crew. During FIFI’s inspection, Lil will relocate and do her tour of duty in Midland. Once FIFI is airworthy James Lil will come home and have her annual winter West back maintenance inspection performed. in the Please, if you can come out and help with winter maintenance! As with anything our Squadron does, it is very rewarding work and a great opportunity to see and learn the inner workings of these magnificent machines.

Nose repairs holding very well!

saddle as FE!

Thank you! Don Photos by Rick Garvis


Flight Operations Report Operations Report I'm proud to say this year has been a big success for crews. We have had no major incidents or accidents and our Squadron aircraft and flight crews performed flawlessly. It’s now time to turn towards winding down this season and preparing for next. I also think it’s important to debrief this year’s flight activities. We are looking for suggestions to improve next year. If you’re interested please send any operational comments, checklist changes, manual updates, or concerns to & Al Benzing and I will be debriefing from this year and looking to improve our operation for next year. Ground School SAVE the DATE! February 8 & 9, 2014 is on the calendar as the date to save for B-29 Ground School. Watch for more emails and information about how to attend and join. Even if you’re not interested in a flight crew position but would like to be a part of the best Squadron in the CAF, please plan to attend. Thanks, David Oliver Flight Operations Officer

David and his son joined on stage by Charles Chauncey in McKinney


Training & Safety Report We have been very busy this October with The Dallas Airpower Expo at McKinney, The AOPA Summit at Meacham and AIRSHO at Midland. The weather cooperated with us until Sunday, the second day of AIRSHO, when rain caused us to cancel our flights. However, Al Benzing, Jim Neill and others persevered and still got in some cockpit tours on Diamond Lil. We left Diamond Lil and FIFI at Midland because of the weather and the crew drove back to Addison through some heavy rain. We all arrived home safely in spite of the weather and traffic on Interstate 20. Gene Dickinson unfortunately injured his leg when he fell from the aft compartment ladder while securing FIFI’s aft compartment door at AIRSHO. Let’s all work hard and continue to make sure we safely do our jobs as we wrap up our tour season with the Alliance Air Show and Wings over Houston.


Tom Travis and John Flynn brief riders before a flight on Diamond Lil in McKinney


PIO Report The CAF AirPower History Tour made it through its first season! We learned a lot along the way – mostly that managing a lot of stops and a lot of different aircraft is sometimes an overwhelming job. Last year at this time the AirPower Tour concept didn’t exist. It was December before we even talked about it and January before we started planning. Needless to say, David and I both struggled to keep our heads above water on more than one occasion. But we had many, many great stops and great experiences along the way. And, that knowledge and experience we gained last year gives us a lot of momentum going into our next season. McKinney taught us a lot about utilizing local resources – what a terrific Convention and Visitors Bureau they have there along with a great volunteer pool and other resources. A lot of my focus this year will be on developing those kinds of relationships with the communities we plan to visit. Even our smaller tour stops will benefit from this strategy. The AirPower Expo at McKinney was a great way to wrap up the season. Check out some of the news and radio coverage for the event: Channel 8: Channel 11: Channel 5:!/news/local/Greatest-Generation-Takes-Flight-Again/226380151 Steve Brown and David Oliver also appeared on the Fox Saturday morning news. I remarked to Steve as we were driving from McKinney to the Fox studio in downtown Dallas at 6:15 a.m. – it is amazing (and sometimes embarrassing) what we will do, how hard we will work, how far we will go for just 3 minutes of television news coverage. The payoff, however, is huge. Our event did well because of the coverage. Getting coverage in the Dallas Morning News, the four major news stations and multiple other online and local outlets is a difficult thing to do in a market as large as Dallas. I had great help from a number of sources. 10

Most fun was the WBAP Morning News live broadcast from the airport. I took one for the team and showed up at 5 a.m. for the first interview – then David and Debbie came through for the 6 a.m. Charles Chauncey, Larry Lumpkin and Ed Vesley also helped us out. We have a great MP3 file of Chauncey’s interview I will have on the website shortly.

WBAP Morning Team interviewing Charles Chauncey

WBAP Morning Sports Anchor, Steve Lamb, doing his remote in the cockpit of Gunfighter

Many of the CAF units who partner with us (and many who want to) are limited by their ability to keep a crew with their aircraft for all of these events. Seeing some of those units struggle with crew issues makes me grateful for all of the wonderful volunteers we have who are so committed to keeping our airplanes out on the road earning money so critical for their survival. And how on earth could we do it without Chief? Thank you, Chief, for all you do for us! Enjoying a little R & R in Westwood, Kansas – Kim Pardon PIO

Chief taking a call on Diamond Lil



B-24 Go Team Report Diamond Lil has been busy, and so have her crews. She flew to Fayetteville, AR, Sep 19-22 for “Bikers, Blues, BBQ & Bombers.” FIFI, Bucket of Bolts and other Warbirds were there as well. As usual, there were many veterans who came to see this rare aircraft and we heard memorial stories of crewmember's missions. We flew a ride flight on Saturday and on Sunday we had the honor of dispersing the ashes of a WWII pilot and POW while enroute to Tulsa. Employees of the American Airlines heavy maintenance center in Tulsa performed a great deal of work on repairing Diamond Lil this past year. To show our appreciation, we were able to provide tours of the much admired aircraft to many, and a ride flight to 12 of those who helped keep her flying. Jim Gentry, who was instrumental in the efforts in Tulsa was Flight Engineer for the flight. The Dallas AirPower Expo at McKinney, October 3 - 6th was a great event for our Squadron. We had a good turnout of local members to help with aircraft tours, ride flights and hangar events. Konley Kelley gave talks on 3D Modeling for many Aviation students, and provided hands-on building of models for the kids. There were stage presentations describing our B-24 with Debbie Travis King and much more. The volunteers enjoyed good food and drink provided by the hard work and long hours of Kathy Oliver and some Squadron wives. Then it was on to the AOPA Summit at Ft Worth Meacham on Oct 9-11th. Again, this was an opportunity for local members to participate and for us to show DFW our unique aircraft. There was good media coverage, including AOPA's online video service. Lil flew a ride flight on Thursday afternoon and by Friday morning we were westbound to Midland. The Midland Airsho, Oct 11-13th was interesting. Friday was the CAF meeting, Saturday was busy with aircraft tours - including 20 members of the 456th Bomb Group who flew B-24s. Then Lil flew in the Airsho, an interesting first for me, and then flew a ride flight. Sunday was a different - wet - story. The airshow was canceled and crews made the long trek home via I-20.

Jim Neill at Diamond Lil’s door

This weekend is the Alliance Airshow with all of the Squadron aircraft on static display. Another opportunity to show our aircraft to DFW. Wings Over Houston is Oct 25-27th, which will wrap of the tour season. Lil has been running great and we are starting the planning process for touring in 2014. Thanks to all who helped make these tour stops a success! Al Benzing B-24 Go Team Leader

Photo by Leslie Garvis



Member News October, 2013

In September, the Squadron welcomed the following new members:

Lawrence Carner, Centerton, Arkansas Ralph Heaton, Jr., Springdale, Arkansas Russ Sundby, Horace, North Dakota, Natasha Sanders, Dallas, Texas Toni Rabroker, Carrollton, Texas Danny Dunn from Lewisville, Texas and welcome back to Albert DiFlumeri, Saugus, Massachusetts

Endless Talent in our Squadron

If you have any membership questions, please feel free to contact me at: Dues and new member applications can be mailed to: Debbie King 13562 Braemar Drive Dallas, Texas 75234 B29/B24 Squadron Adjutant 469-688-1709

During the Squadron party at the CAF AirPower EXPO, members, volunteers and special guests enjoyed a special treat. Torc Torcoletti, who kept the main stage sound running smoothly for our air show, got together with a few of his friends to perform. Henry Bordelon joined in for vocals and harmonica. Thanks for making it a memorable night.

REMINDER: Squadron staff elections will be held at the general membership meeting on November 16. The nominees include: Adjutant Safety Officer Maintenance Officer

Debbie King (incumbent) John Flynn (incumbent) Don Obreiter (incumbent)

Floor nominees are also permitted. Voting will be by show of hands at the meeting. Absentee ballots are available for those unable to attend. To request an absentee ballot please email:

B-29 / B-24 Squadron PX Find us on


SQUADRON CHILI COOK-OFF! DON’T MISS IT! November General Membership Meeting November 16, 2013 Noon We know everyone in Texas has a winning chili recipe so we’re inviting each of our members to participate in our Chili Cook-Off at the November general membership meeting. We realize one man’s chili is another man’s poison – but here are the rules: •Participants will remain anonymous until after the judging. •Some chili contests prohibit chili with beans and other non-traditional ingredients. We’re not that particular here. By all means be creative and include some beans.

To limit subjectivity, the following criteria will be used: •Color – Is the chili bright? Colorful? Does it look appetizing? •Aroma – Does it smell good? Does one sniff water your eyes? •Consistency – Is the meat-to-sauce ratio okay? Too runny? Too thick? •Taste – How is the flavor? Do the flavors blend well? Does the first bite make you want another bite or does it make you want to dash to the fire bottle? •Lingering Aftertaste – Does the chili leave a pleasant spicy bite that stays on your tongue after you swallow it? (Now, imagine that aftertaste 12 hours from now.)

We will also have a few “not so official” categories: •Most creative ingredients. •Spiciest. •Best looking. (Best looking chili – not best looking contestant.) Prizes will be awarded to winning contestants. I know we will have at least a couple of entries from our non-Texan members. Come on you Texan chefs – step up to the chili bowl. You must notify the contest chairman you will be participating in advance. Deadline for entries is one week prior (Saturday, November 9, 2013). Note to contestants: We will provide a condiment bar that will include tortilla chips, crackers, shredded cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, chopped onions and baked potatoes. All you need to bring is one crock pot full of chili. Don’t want to be judged? Bring a dessert and feel the love from all the Squadron members. Kim is keeping track of who is bringing what. Let her know your plans. Please contact Kim Pardon (913) 636-6250 or to get your chili in the contest.


Feature Story

“Using Physics to Win the War” The Story of Squadron Member, Alex Green Original Title: Professor emeritus made major contributions to WWII effort Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Newsletter, University of Florida, Writer, Amanda Milligan, Spring 2013

Since high school, Alex Green’s goal was to get an advanced degree in physics. But while he was working on his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology, Pearl Harbor was attacked, and he decided to narrow his professional focus — he wanted to help win the war. Green used his technical and scientific training to make significant contributions to the World War II effort. It began while working on Caltech’s Rocket Program. He proposed the idea of a Firing Error Indicator (FEI) to help gunners-in training to shoot at moving targets. In August 1942, the Office of Scientific Research and Development and the National Defense Research Committee funded the FEI concept.

On March 12, 1945, the B-29 made an emergency landing with empty gas tanks at the 14th AF fighter field in Xian, China.(Green standing third from the right.)

The Caltech team developed multiple prototypes to measure the shock wave of supersonic bullets. In 1945, the FEI was functionally adapted into a shock wave instrument that participated in a major historic event — the dropping of the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. “The instrument’s 15,000-ton TNT yield measurement of the bomb effectively announced to the world the Dawn of the Nuclear Energy Age,” Green said. In 1944, Green’s work on the FEI at Caltech led to his induction as a gunnery expert with the U.S. Army Air Forces. He was sent to the China Burma India headquarters of the 20th air force to evaluate the effectiveness of the new B-29 bomber’s gunnery system. His analysis of their first 25 combat missions showed a completely different perspective than that of a large combat simulation study done in the U.S. In light of the new information he uncovered, he said tactics were modified and improved. It wasn’t long before Green started working on a new project — increasing the accuracy of ship identifications made by B-29 crew members. Because of Green’s knowledge of the gunnery system, he was able to use measurements made with the gun sights and calculations with his specially designed slide rule to improve ship identifications. It just so happened that on his first reconnaissance mission, they discovered the Japanese fleet that had been lost by the U.S. for five months. Just before the Battle of Okinawa, the American Navy sank half of the ships in Hiroshima Bay and Kure Anchorage.


“It was a historic battle I happened to get involved in thanks to the ability to measure ships from 30,000 feet with the help of the B-29 gunnery system,” Green said. After Green solved this problem, he was transferred to 20th AF headquarters on Guam, where other headquarters staff heard that he could design special slide rules. Because of the demand, Green developed a uniform frame that could go from one problem to another just by inserting a special computing chart. “It caught on,” Green said, “and before a few months went by, every B-29 had at least two of his slide rule computers.” Green’s contributions were all made while he was a part of a service most people aren’t familiar with. They were called Operation Analysts. Most of them were scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians who were there to solve technical combat problems. “Because we spent most of our time on solving unanticipated technical combat problems rather than on analyzing operations,” Green said, “I think a better name today would be Combat STEMs.” While Green may have originally wanted to do fundamental physics, he said the war made him an applied physicist.“An applied physicist is basically an engineer,” he said. “I was involved in so many different types of problems that I became used to going from one problem to another.” This mentality didn’t fade when he became a graduate research professor at the University of Florida in 1963. He made sure to keep his lecture material relevant and up-to-date. “When I dried up in one subject, I would move over into a new subject and tried to take advantage of some of the methods I developed earlier in my other work,” he said. “I mainly tended to get involved in problems before they were established as university subject areas.” On top of teaching at UF, he researched nuclear and coal power and alternatives to oil issues. His last UF work was on converting biomass and waste to energy using special processes. In fact, his Green Pyrolyzer Gasifier, which is an oven system that creates energy by pyrolyzing waste, was a finalist for the Cade prize. Green, now in emeritus status, still writes technical reviews and does manuscript reviews for journals. He has contributed a significant amount, and his contributions have yet to stop. Alex and Freda “Freddie” Green, his wife of 67 years.

To learn more about slide rules and Green’s role in WWII, you can view “How Slide Rules Helped Win the War,” an online lecture at:



“A USAAF Crew Engages a German Submarine in the Caribbean” Copyright © 2013 by Sparky Barnes Sargent

My father, Homer M. Barnes, was a combat crew member in the Antilles Air Command of the United States Army Air Forces, operating in the Latin America Theater of Operations. Specifically, he served as a radar operator on a B-24D Liberator. In 1943, he and his crew were assigned to fly antisubmarine patrols from Zandery Field in Dutch Surinam. I interviewed my father in 1995 about his experiences in World War II, and have continued intermittently researching available resources to gather more information relevant to his experiences. There was one event in particular that he vividly remembered until close to his passing in August 2012 – it was an encounter with a surfaced German submarine on 19 July 1943. After this mission, each member of the crew was awarded an Air Medal. Additionally, two crew members – my father and the radio operator, Fenton Robinson – were wounded during this encounter, and each were awarded a Purple Heart. Staff Sergeant Homer M. Barnes, radar

General Orders Number 58, dated 5 Oct 1943, from the Headquarters Antilles operator, 1943. Courtesy Sparky Barnes Sargent Air Command, provides the following citation for the Air Medal: “For extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight in the Caribbean area on 19 July 1943. While on a routine anti-submarine patrol flight, a contact was made with an enemy submarine. An attack was made on the bow of the submarine from a head-on angle dropping all depth charges and one bomb. Then a second machinegunning attack was made. Anti-aircraft and machine gun fire were encountered on both attacks, causing much damage to the aircraft, and injuries to members of the crew. While circling the submarine to make another attack, the extent of the damage to the aircraft was found to be so vital that it was deemed necessary to return to the nearest base without further contact with the submarine, inasmuch as the aircraft had become difficult to maneuver. These services are considered particularly meritorious in that each member of the crew remained steadfastly alert at his position, regardless of the danger encountered. These services reflect highest credit on themselves and the military forces of the United States.” Fast forward to AirVenture 2013 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, when I walked aboard the Commemorative Air Force’s Diamond Lil and talked with pilot Al Benzing. He expressed a great interest in my father’s memories of that submarine encounter, and I was inspired anew to further research information regarding that event, and especially the crew members. My father welcomed the opportunity to share his memory of that encounter with those who were truly interested, and in that spirit, I share his personal story now. After completing two months of radar operator school, Barnes was assigned to an Army Air Force anti-submarine squadron based at 36th Street Airport in Miami, Florida. He flew on a Lockheed B-34 Ventura, patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. After several months, Barnes and his crew were dispatched from Florida to Cuba, where they flew on a Douglas B-18 Bolo. After staying in Cuba for several months, the crew was reassigned to patrol the waters off South America in a Consolidated B-24 Liberator. 19

“We were based in Dutch Surinam, and we were five degrees above the equator, back in the jungles. They carved out an airstrip for us,” said Barnes, “and we flew from there toward the Azores Islands. We covered the whole Caribbean area; those flights could last ten to twelve hours, and we flew about 500 feet above the water.”

The crew on the left-hand side of their damaged B-24. Front Row (L-R): Howard S. Carney (Assistant Aerial Engineer and gunner, Staff Sergeant); George A. Long (Assistant Radio Operator and gunner, Staff Sergeant); Fenton L. Robinson (Radio Operator, Technical Sergeant); John L. McDonald (Navigator, 2nd Lt); James L. Spicer (Aerial Gunner, Staff Sergeant) Back Row (L-R): John F. Keller (Aerial Engineer, Technical Staff Sergeant); Ben L. Minkin (Co-pilot, 2nd Lieutenant); Homer M. Barnes (Radar Operator, Staff Sergeant); Joseph F. P. Murphy (Bombardier, 2nd Lieutenant); William P. Destiche (Pilot, 2nd Lieutenant) Courtesy Fenton Robinson Collection

Praising the B-24, Barnes recalled, “That plane had tremendous range, and we had a full crew on board. You had the bombardier [Joseph F. P. Murphy] and navigator [John L. McDonald] up in the nose, the pilot [William P. Destiche] and co-pilot [Ben L. Minkin] in the cockpit, and the radar and radio operators [Homer M. Barnes and Fenton L. Robinson] were in their compartment behind the cockpit. Then you had the bomb bay, which was a big part of the plane, with racks on either side of it where they carried depth charges and bombs. There were two big waist windows, which resembled a big doorway in the side of the fuselage, past the trailing edge of the wings. The two waist gunners [George A. Long and James L. Spicer] stayed back in that part, as well as the tail gunner [Howard S. Carney]. The flight engineer [John F. Keller], who was our crew chief, rambled all around. His combat position was the top turret, but he was always up and down checking things – he was really an important person, and a good guy, too.”

As radar operator, Barnes’ position was right behind the pilot. “I had all my radar equipment with me, but the radar antenna was in the belly turret. It just fit inside the turret, and I had to lower that antenna after we took off. Then I could start up my radar, and the antenna sat back there and turned around and around. I had to retract it before we landed,” he recalled, chuckling, “so the pilot wouldn’t scrub it off! Anyway, that was a good radar set; I could pick up objects long distance with it. It had a little problem with its voltage regulators though, and occasionally I had to beat and bang on it to keep it going! We had to have that radar operational during our night missions; otherwise those missions were aborted.” They flew their missions regardless of weather conditions, and were occasionally caught in thunderstorms, according to Barnes. But severe weather wasn’t the only thing they had to be concerned about. Sometimes the enemy submarines, whose presence Barnes carefully sought on his radar, would stay on the surface to challenge the aircraft overhead. “I remember a period of time when the submarines had been staying surfaced and were shooting down PBYs, which were amphibious airplanes used by the Navy. The PBYs were kind of slow,” Barnes recalled, “and the submarines stayed up to fight them with their deck-mounted anti-aircraft guns.” Barnes and his crew located one of those submarines on 19 July 1943, and managed to survive the fury of its antiaircraft guns. “We had an encounter with a German submarine out in the Caribbean area. I picked up a good strong signal about 75 miles out from our position, and got on the intercom and described its location to the pilot. We kept talking back and forth, and he was steering toward it all the time. My radar had ranges on it, so I could flip a switch


as we came in closer, which gave me a wider range where I could spot it more accurately. Finally I heard the bombardier and the navigator both up front screaming, and then the pilot, ‘we see it! It’s a submarine! It’s got a swastika on the conning tower – we can see it all!” said Barnes, eyes sparkling as he relived the excitement of the moment. “From then on, it was kind of pandemonium. The bombardier was getting his bomb bay doors open and everybody was getting excited. We were going for it, and of course, they didn’t need radar anymore. I’d located the submarine and had stayed in my seat, but I could look out the front and I saw it also. I peered out through the windshield between the pilot and co-pilot, and I saw it sitting out there in the water. It looked really big as we were coming in on it, because the pilot was just kind of diving at the side of it, and they were sitting there waiting on us. As we got within their range, here came the flak from their anti-aircraft guns – it sounded like we were going through a hailstorm! One piece of flak clipped my headset wire off, and another piece hit a heavy, aluminum metal mess cup that I had hanging on the left side of my belt. It caved that cup in until its sides were touching! Other pieces of it came through the plane and kind of got under my skin in my back, because I was kind of turning away from it, I guess. “About that time, I was looking at the radio operator over to my right. He had his right hand pounding that key – all of his communication was Morse code, because we didn’t have voice radio that would carry out as far as we were – and he was pounding away, sending a message back about what was going on. I was looking at his arm as he was pounding the key,” Barnes stated slowly, “and as I was getting up, I saw the flesh just part on his arm, where a piece of flak had struck him. I saw the white bone, and the tendons showing in his arm. He looked down at it, then reached back here,” Barnes described, motioning to his back pocket, “with his left hand and grabbed his handkerchief, wrapped it around his arm, and then held it in place as he just kept pounding away on his key with that cut-open arm.” By that time, Barnes was standing behind the pilot and co-pilot. “For some strange reason, the throttle controls for the two engines on the left wing were throttled way on back, and I thought, golly whiz, maybe they’re knocked out. I wanted to see power on, so I started to reach down to push the throttles, and the pilot and I got to them about the same time. Those engines were still running, and he pulled up, standing that old B-24 up on a wing, and came back at the submarine again!” Barnes decided he wanted to go back to the waist gunner’s area and get in on some of the action. “I was going to crawl over the catwalk that ran through the bomb bay to the back of the plane, and I felt my back burning from shrapnel, but I didn’t’ think much of it because there were too many other things going on. But the co-pilot was a premed student before he got into pilot training, and he stood up about that time and saw the wounded radio operator, and he saw me about to crawl out on the catwalk. He grabbed me by the collar and the back of my coveralls, and yanked me back in there so fast,” said Barnes, “that I didn’t’ know what had happened! He was very concerned and asked me if I was hurt – he had thought that I was about to fall out of the plane through the bomb bay. I told him I had a little burning in my back, and he pulled my coveralls down and got out his first aid kit, doctoring both of us real fast and furious.” Discovering the surfaced submarine was somewhat of a surprise for the crew, according to Barnes. “The tail gunner and waist gunners still had their guns all covered up with the canvas covers – they just never had expected anything. But they were all getting ready by the time the pilot headed back, and he told everyone, ‘we’re going back to get them!’ He was talking to the tail gunner on the intercom, and he was telling him, ‘I’m coming up on them, I’m coming up, now get your guns pointed straight down, and I’ll tell you when we’ll pass over them. When you see them come under you, pull the triggers!” Barnes recalled. The B-24 received more anti-aircraft fire from the submarine on the second pass, according to Barnes, “but they were running to get in the conning tower this time; we had already dropped our depth charges, which were set to go off shallow because the submarines had been surfacing. The bombardier dropped everything he had, including a bomb, when we went over it the first time. I remember looking out the bomb bay doors as we went over it, and I saw that


submarine on a big mountain of water – it was just boiling up. So this time, they were all headed for the conning tower, except for the gunner, who was staying out there getting in a few last shots. But the tail gunner said he saw his tracer bullets going right down in the conning tower with them. “By that time, we were pretty full of holes, and we had to leave. We’d done all we could do except go in the water. So we flew back toward our base. We couldn’t tell whether our tires had been punctured or not – there was no way to tell. We were all anxiously watching the wheels when they were lowered, and then that old hot shot pilot landed that plane with hardly a whisper – those wheels never knew they touched the runway! The tires stayed up and we taxied on in. Later on, we heard what happened to that particular submarine. We were told that the Navy got our Morse code message about what was happening, and went out to find it. It was still on the surface, because all those depth charges and the bomb had collapsed its ballast tanks, and it couldn’t take on water to submerge. The Navy sunk it, and supposedly they picked up a few survivors – that’s the story I heard, but I have no real knowledge of what happened to them.” After the injured crew members had their wounds treated, the crew posed for official photographs with the damaged B-24. Barnes recalled the co-pilot standing beside one of the two, double-row radial engines on the left wing, putting his finger through a hole in that three-bladed propeller – why that blade never broke off, I’ll never understand. That hole looked like it had just melted through the propeller blade, and the engine cowlings were peppered with holes. There were also lots of holes throughout the length of the fuselage, and the rudders and vertical stabilizers were torn away below the horizontal stabilizer.

The crew’s B-24, with engines running. Courtesy Sparky Barnes Sargent.

Homer M. Barnes noted the location of his position as radar operator on this photograph – note the holes peppered through the fuselage. Courtesy Sparky Barnes Sargent.

Note the holes in the engine cowling and the hole in the propeller blade. Courtesy Fenton Robinson Collection.

View from the waist gunner’s window of the damaged lower portion of the vertical stabilizer. Courtesy Fenton Robinson Collection.


“After a while, things got pretty quiet down there, as far as submarines go, and we were sent back to the States. We loaded all of our baggage up and got on our airplane, ascended to about 10,000 feet, and flew all the way back to 36th Street Airport in Miami, Florida. Then we flew to Langley Field in Virginia, where we were waiting reassignment to the South Pacific as a replacement bomber crew. We were supposed to get a new airplane then, and they kept us at Langley Field for several months.” All told, Barnes had accumulated 600 hours of anti-submarine patrol time during a 16-month period. While the crew was at Langley Field, Barnes discovered that he could finally qualify for pilot training, since the two-year college requirement for pilot training had been rescinded. He quickly obtained recommendations from his commanding officer, applied for pilot training, and was accepted. Ben Minkin of Ohio was the co-pilot on that mission, and I had the pleasure of talking with him recently; he celebrated his 94th birthday in September 2013. He kindly gave me permission to share his personal memories: “Homer had a sighting on his radar; it was off to our left and we were heading away from it. So we did a tight turn and came down on it, and we had a man in the nose turret, but his gun failed – he had nothing to fire. We just kept coming in and we dropped our bombs and apparently we weren't successful that time. We were in a hurry to get the sub, so we didn’t keep our altitude … we made another tight turn which was a bit dangerous, because the wingtip could catch the water! Coming back at it, we didn’t hit it directly but we got it on the side and apparently some of the men on the submarine came out and waved their hands. I was copilot and I told the radio operator, ‘go ahead and call our position to the Navy, and hopefully they’ll get here in time.’ We were told afterward that he was acknowledged by the Navy and we were given credit for the catch. “If I recall correctly, it took us about two and a half hours to get to land. The anti-aircraft fire was successful in hitting one of the flight control cables, but we made base and reported it when we landed. Our field was about 40 miles inland, so they could have as much base as possible, and that would keep the men on the base rather than go roaring around because there was nothing in the [village of Zanderij]. “There is an incident I’d like to tell you about. When they came in to award us the Air Medal, a General was there and he was telling us, ‘you should have done this, and you should have done that, and you should have done everything that you could!’ I don’t know who it was on our crew, but he looked up and he said, ‘G** D***it, General, you weren't even there! How do you know what to do and what not to do?’ And the General shut up.

A composite photo of the crew (with the exception of the man on the far left front row, who is not part of the known crew). Front Row (L-R): unidentified, Destiche, Murphy, Robinson Back Row (L-R): Minkin, Carney, McDonald, Spicer, Long, Barnes, Keller. Courtesy Fenton Robinson Collection.

“When we got back to Langley Field, it was like living at a country club – we had a 9-hole golf course there! We’d go to the Officer’s Club for dinner, and the enlisted men had similar treatment. We were there for a couple of months and the crew sort of broke up, and we formed another crew. When the announcement came that there was an opening to go to China, we put in for it. “People have asked me what it was like, being in the War. Well, it was like this: Every morning you got up, and you were looking at death. You lived with death. You knew that that day, something may happen and you would no longer be here. And you lived through that.”


Fenton Robinson of New York was the crew’s radio operator; he died in September 2009. I contacted his daughter, Linda Pasnak, who recalls that her father didn’t talk much about the War. But she was able to locate his photographs of the B-24D and its crew members, and graciously shared those, as well as her father’s handwritten outline of his personal experiences and memories during 1943. The portion of that outline which is relevant to this story reads as follows: “XII.




Arrival at Miami, 36th St. Airport, 8th Anti-sub Sq. 1. Four days there and city of Miami 2. Flight to Cuba Batista Field, Cuba. 1. Flying patrols 2. Radio set-up, Barnes added as Radar Operator. Gillespie removed from crew 3. Havana, and Lt. Col. Bailey, C.O. 4. Trip back to Miami, all night job. 5. Take off for Trinidad. Edinburgh Field, Trinidad. 1. Few days there 2. Condition of runways 3. Flight to D. Guiana Zandery Field, Dutch Guiana or Surinam 1. Arrival there and flight to Atkinson Field, B. G. 2. Return to Zandery 3. Time at Z, field condition, native customs 4. Patrols 5. Attack on sub; July 19, 1943 6. Time in hospital 7. Trip to Waller Field, Trinidad, July 31”

Research regarding these B-24 crew members has revealed the following which is thought to be accurate; however, additional or corrected information is welcomed. The author may be contacted via Homer M. Barnes, (radar operator), North Carolina – served as radio and radar operator on anti-submarine patrol with 600 hours of operation in the air. Received combat and tactical pilot training with 289 hours of pilot time. Awarded a Purple Heart, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and American Theater Medal. Died August 2012. Ben L. Minkin (co-pilot), Ohio – co-pilot of B-24J and bailed out over Japan-occupied China; Anti-shipping enemy locations destroyed; flew the Hump for supplies. Awarded Air Medal, two Clusters, and Distinguished Flying Cross. (Source: Fenton L. Robinson (radio operator), New York – radio operator on B-24J and bailed out over Japan-occupied China. Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, Air Medal with Bronze Service Star, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, WWII Victory Medal, and Honorable Service Lapel Button. Died September 2009.


The first “home show� for the CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron was a huge success. On the next few pages are just a few of the many pictures that captured this event. Be sure and watch for some amazing stories from this event in future issues of The Flyer. Konley Kelley, Editor, The Flyer Konley Kelley

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Konley Kelley Kevin Hong Paul Tibbets IV in FIFI

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Editor’s Corner “WWII Bat Bomb” With this the month of Halloween, I decided to do some research on the famed “bat bomb.” I’ve talked about this military experiment with B-29 visitors but what is the real story? While visiting Carlsbad Caverns, NM, Lytle Adams, a dental surgeon, came up with the idea of using bats as a strategy to bomb Japan. The idea was simple. Bombers, such as the B-29, could drop thousands of bats (which could carry 3x their weight in explosives) over enemy cities during the day. Bats would instinctively search for a dark place – presumably the rafters of buildings. The incendiaries carried by the bats would explode on a timer unleashing a firestorm. Beginning in March 1943, the military spent $2M testing Adams’ theory, even at the cost of a fire accidentally set by bats damaging the test facility. After a year of research, it was determined the project would not be combat-ready in time and the “bat bomb” was canceled before it could be fully developed.

IPMS-NCT volunteers at the CAF AirPower EXPO A personal thank you from the Editor for IPMS-NCT. Members Frank Landrus, Ed Grune, Buddy Wolfe and Mike Horchler ran a “make n’ take” activity for kids in the “IPMS-NCT modeling bunker”. On Sat-Sun, over 360 donated models were made with families who attended our event. I saw a little girl holding a model she made of the “Spirit of St. Louis” climb into the cockpit of Sarah Wilson’s Steerman Speedmail, an aircraft once flown by Charles Lindberg. She definitely had a story to tell her friends. I talked to the modelers after the show, they are ready to “do it again.”

Favorite Member Pics from 2013! Please send me your favorite pictures from 2013 for our annual “Year in Review” in the December 2013 issue of THE FLYER. Send your pictures to me by November 30 for submission in the newsletter. Thanks!

Sample of 2012 entries

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 in 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


B-29 / B-24 Squadron Addison Airport 4730 George Haddaway Drive Addison, Texas 75001 972-387-2924 (Hangar) 432-413-4100 (Ride Desk) 30

The Flyer October 2013  
The Flyer October 2013