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SGT  Robert L. BLAIR


Comments1: 20 APR 45 ORANIEBURG




2nd Lt Carl E.Hellerlch           P  FEH   (spelled Hellrich in some reports)
2nd Lt Eddie W.Whitney     CP  FEH:
2nd Lt Eldred N.Stein       NAV  FEH  TAPS 10 JAN 69
T/Sgt Angelo A.Alfier       TOG  FEH ( toggler on the Crew until they became Lead Crew, then went to spare gunner/tog pool and eventually to Lee Jacobs Crew) 
T/Sgt James J.Finn           ROG  FEH
T/Sgt W.W. "Pete" Miller   TTE  FEH
S/Sgt Glenn L.Hatfield       BTG  FEH  TAPS 27 MAR 87
Sgt Robert L.Blair,Jr.          WG  FEH
Sgt Wlliam A.Platzner          TG  FEH  TAPS 05 SEP 87 

418th Sqdn.  Crew,as above,joined the 100th Group on 21/1/45. See p.166"CONTXAILS" Crew 
flew final mission of 100th Group on 20/4/45.  Leroy W.Duncan from the Appleton crew (Nav) 
flew a number of missions with this crew. Including that of 20/4/45.

Alexander A. Affier
Major, USAF Retired
132 Woodgate Rd.
Middletown, N. J. 07748

 December 26,2007
Hi, Jan;
I always enjoy going to the 100thBG web site; however, I would like to comment on the inaccurateness concerning my assignment to the Group. (Incidentally, my given name at that time was Angelo A. Alfier.)
The Web site data base shows me as a waist gunner on Carl Hellerich's crew and does not show me on Lee Jacob's crew.  That information is not accurate!
My initial gunnery training was in the ball turret position, which occurred sometimes in 1944.  Sometimes in the middle of the year I was selected to train as a TOGGELIER.  This position was established to replace commissioned officer bombardier position.  This occurred because the pattern bombing technique used did not need a bombardier in each plane.  Bombardiers and the use of the bomb site was only needed in the Lead Crew positions.  However, toggeliers did control bomb release but did not use a bombsight.  Bomb release was done with manual switches and signals given by smoke bombs that were released from the group's lead planes.
Initially, I was assigned to Carl Hellerich's crew and did crew training in Rapid City, S.D.  This crew training consisted primarily of duties for the pilot, copilot, navigator, flight engineer, and radio operator.  The rest of the crew was there for crew unity and esprit de corps.
Our crew went over seas sometime in December of 1944 and we flew our fist mission in January 1945.  On all missions I flew as a toggelier. I never flew as a waist gunner.
After approximately five missions, Carl Hellerich was chosen to move up to Lead Crew and therefore a bombardier and new navigator were assigned to the crew.  This meant that I did not have a crew assignment.  After a short time I was assigned to a group of people who acted as "spares".  All bomb groups had this structure because of sudden crew vacancies that continually occurred for various reasons.  I flew in this status for approximately ten missions.
I was then permanently assigned to Lee Jacobs' crew as their toggelier. Also, incidentally, Lee's bombardier, Anthony Shurba, was assigned to Carl Hellerich's crew when he was selected as one of the group lead crews.  I flew with this crew until the end of the European War.  I flew 21 combat missions and some food drop missions to Holland.
The toggelier was responsible for all of the armor (guns, bomb, etc) on the plane, take the period crew oxygen check, remove all fuse safety pins from the fuses prior to arriving at the enemy air psace, while monitoring all switch panels to insure that the bombs were released on time.  Also being able to release bombs manually during electrical failure by walking ou on a narrow catwalk while holding an oxygen bottle in one hand when all of the bomb bay doors are open.  Also he was responsible for dropping the special anti-personnel time fused bombs that had special release procedures to ensure that the were released in specific areas when missions were cancelled.  The bombs could not be left in the aircraft for seventy two hours.  Note that that toggelier also manned the nose guns and or the chin turret on the late madels of the B-17.  Again, note these same duties were performed by the commissioned bombardier.
In reference to the rank of the toggelier, at this time the 100th Bomb Group Table of Organization (T07E) identified the rank of the toggelier as Technical Sergeant along with the position of flight engineer.  All of the other ranks were Staff Sergeant.
To sum up, I was trained as a ball turret gunner and a toggelier.  I was never trained as a waist gunner and I never flew combat as a ball turret gunner.  I flew as a trained toggelier with the rank of Technical Sergeant.
If you can change the information in the database it would be accurate, informative and hopefully interesting.  AS a final note, the Bomb Group should do more research of their archives and devote more to gathering information that depict the whole pictures of the part the Toggelies played in the bombing effort of the Army Air Forces of WWII.  Thank you, Alexander A. Affier




 Command Pilot              Capt.R.J. Albrecht
 Pilot                            Lt. C. Hellerich (spelled Hellrich in some reports…pw)
 Co-Pilot  (Tail Observer) Lt. E. Whitney
 Navigator                     Lt. L.W. Duncan
 Radar Navigator            F/O J.H. Clinton
 Bombardier                  Lt. A.J. Shiurba (from Lee Jacobs original Crew)
 Radio Operator             S/Sgt J.J. Finn
 Top Turret Engineer     S/Sgt W.W. Miller
 Waist Gunner               Sgt R.L.Blair
 Waist Gunner               Sgt W.A. Platzner

Hi Dusty and Mike;
Here is what I have in my  files for your Grandfather. Carl flew on 5 of my dads crews (1st lt. W. Griswold "Gris" Smith) 10 combat missions…4,7,8,10,11, April,1945…
His info is limited I believe because he was busy training for a Lead Crew for an extended period…(Usually ran 3 to 4 weeks before flying as Lead crew on combat missions)..Also 1945 records are very limited,known of,found as yet. All the missions below were his Lead Crew missions,all on (PFF) Pathfinder aircraft. Also reference Hellerich records as marked on records,i.e., also as Hellerick
The format below is Date,Mission Target,Aircraft # Flown,Sqdn Code,radio tail call letter, Hardstand (HS) aircraft assigned to,Commany Pilot,Pilot, Position in Group Formation 
(KNOWN MISSIONS,INCOMPLETE, Jack O'Leary 1945 100thBG database) 
23 MARCH,1945  UNNA                          44-8009   XR-E    HS 14        LILENQUIST-HELLERICH D-SQDN LEAD
4 APRIL,1945      KEIL                           44-8776   LN-U    HS 30        HELLERICH  D-SQDN LEAD
7 APRIL,1945     BUCHEN                       44-8719   LN-W   HS 35        HELLERICH  C-SQDN LEAD
8 APRIL,1945     EGER                           44-8183             HS 43         ROBBS-HELLERICH  B-SQDN LEAD
10 APRIL,1945   BURG-bei-MAGDEBURG,  44-8009   XR-E    HS 14         HELLERICH   C-SQDN LEAD
11 APRIL,1945  LANDSHUT                    44-8794   LD-B    HS RW/04   HELLERICH  C-SQDN LEAD
15 APRIL,1945   ROYAN                        44-8209   EP-A    HS 8           HELLERICH   D-SQDN LEAD
20 APRIL,1945  ORANIENBURG                                                         STIVERS-HELLERICH  100TH BG LEAD,A-SQDN
CREW FLYING AT WARS END..MISSION OF 20 APR 45 IS ORANIEBURG; Led last mission of War for 100th Bomb Group:

 Command Pilot           Maj. R.W.  Stivers
 Pilot                          Lt. C. Hellerich (spelled Hellrich in some reports…pw)
 Co-Pilot(Tail Observer) Lt. E. Whitney
 Navigator                  Lt.  L.W. Duncan
 Radar Navigator         F/O J.H. Clinton
 Bombardier               Lt.  A.J. Shiurba (from Lee Jacobs origninal Crew)
 Radio Operator       S/Sgt   J.J. Finn
 Engineer                S/Sgt  W.W. Miller
 Waist Gunner            Sgt   R.L.Blair
 Waist Gunner            Sgt  W.A. Platzner

6 MAY,1945   CHOWHOUND   44-8794   LD-B   HS 40   HELLERICH  D- SQDN LEAD
3 JUNE,1945  DP/POW  FERRY MISSION   908  W   HS 49   DAWSON-HELLERICH        C-SQDN LEAD   AUSTRIA TO PARIS   (note- a/c hardstand change from  HS  RW/04) 
44-8719 LN-W
44-8009  XR-E
44-8776  LN-U
44-8794  LD-B
44-8183  LD-Q
44-8209  EP-A  "THE BRASS HAT"
     908    W  (currently  unknown a/c details) 


UNAME = Jeffrey C. Alfier
CONNECTION = I am a relative of a 100th veteran
COMMENTS = If you like, I could send you a scanned photo of my father, Angelo A. Alfier (he changed his first name to Alexander in 1968).  In the photo he is in his flying clothing climbing into his B-17G. He was a member of the 418th BS, and flew 30+ missions from Dec 44 till May 45.

Dear Mr. Faley,
Thank you very much for your letters regarding the photo of my dad.  He did mention Hellerich a few times, mainly for the fact that he was so calm under fire, apparently when the fortress was being buffered by either flak or bad weather.
I am sorry that I do not have any information on his crew, although I am sure he can provide that (I've info-copied this email to him).  If I remember correctly, crews had numbers assigned to them. He did fly on a B-17G named 'Lady Geraldine,' and I noticed a couple of photos of that aircraft on the 100th website.  At home there is a photo of my dad and another unnamed crewmember sitting on top of a wrecked B-17 named 'Varga Venus.'  Eventually my dad plans on scanning all the photos in his album, so we'll send more later on.
Dad retired from the Air Force in 1968, and I enlisted in 1974 for three years, then returned after college as an officer and put in another 22 years, retiring last November.  Currently, I work as a government contractor in the squadron I served with on active duty from 96 to 99.
I've attached the photo here in a Word document with a brief biographical note.  Please let me know if it doesn't come out.
Thanks again for your letters, and I look forward to reading updates on the 100th BG website.
Jeffrey C. Alfier
Ramstein, Germany

Subj: RE: 100thBG Feedback Form  
Date: 7/1/2003 1:09:16 AM Pacific Daylight Time 

Dear Mike,
Thanks for the note. Yes, that is correct on his crew position: he was a 'togglier' as it says in some official correspondence he has from the war.  He also told me he was trained as a ball turret gunner but never actually flew in that crew position.  He never mentioned being trained for the waist gunner position.  I do have a certificate he earned from Las Vegas AAF (now Nellis AFB) that says he graduated from 'Flexible Gunnery School.' But he doesn't talk much about the war; the few things he's said over the years are interesting, and formed the basis of a few poems I had published about his wartime service.
Thanks again!  You must be up very late wherever you are in the States (it's 0400 now on the East coast; 1000 here in Germany).


My name is Dusty Spurlock and I am the grandson of Carl Hellerich.  Grandpa passed away a few years ago and I am trying to find out more about him.  I know he flew B-17s, but not much else since he rarely talk about the war.  I am now serving in the AF Reserves and am very interested in learning about my grandfather and his involvement in the war.  Is there anyone who might be able to give me some information?  I appreciate your help in this matter and any information you can provide me.  Thank you

Dusty Spurlock







 Carl Hellerich Crew (left to right) Standing: Bob Blair, Carl Hellerich, Eddie Whitney, Leroy Duncan, Jim Finn Kneeling: Eddie (Pete) Miller, John Clinton, and Tony SHIURBA(Photo Courtesy of Pat Hardenstine) Hellerich crew information 

 Carl Hellerich Crew (Right to Left) Standing: LeRoy Duncan, Carl Herrerich, Eddie (Pete) Miller, Bob Blair. Kneeling: Jim Finn, Tony Shiurba, John Clinton, Eddie Whitney. (Photo courtesy of Pat Hardenstine) Hellerich crew information



Crew 1

ID: 387