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LT  Chester A. BOWERS

UNIT: 351st BOMB Sqdn POSITION: CP

Captain Chet Bowers, CP on Lt  Pete Grenier Crew

Capt Chet Bowers & Unk

Chet Bowers 

SERIAL #: STATUS: CPT
MACR:

Comments1: 12 JUN 44 DUNKIRK

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

1ST LT WILLIAM L."PETE" "Grind-em-out" GREINER      P  POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG (OIL)
2ND LT CHESTER A. BOWERS                                   CP CPT 12 JUN 44 ROSIERES & DUNKIRD SHORE DEF (see letter below)
2ND LT GEORGE T."BIRD DOG" LEWIS                     NAV CPT 18 JUL 44  KIEL, HEMMINGSTADT, OIL 
2ND LT GEORGE A. MEYER                                     BOM CPT 17 JUL 44  MONTGOURNOY (NOBALL)
T/SGT WARREN H. WAKEFIELD                               ROG CPT 17 JUL 44  MONTGOURNOY (NOBALL)
T/SGT JACK POAGE                                               TTE CPT 17 JUL 44  MONTGOURNOY (NOBALL)
S/SGT EDWARD BUCHANAN                                    BTG CPT 13 JUL 44  MUNCIH (JET ENGINES)
S/SGT CHARLES E. WEHNER                                   LWG CPT 17 JUL 44  MONTGOURNOY (NOBALL)
S/SGT ROBERT. L. "RED" MCDANIEL                        RWG WIA 31 MAY 44 OSNABRUCK  (flew 18 Missions)  
S/SGT ERNEST A. FARKAS                                        TG CPT 17 JUL 44  MONTGOURNOY (NOBALL

351st Sqdn. Crew joined the group in March 1944.   Crew flew "Fools Rush In"  SN# 42-31066
Crew Chief was Sgt Ed Seidel
Lt Bowers went to Wing HQ after completing his tour. 

S/Sgt "Red"McDaniel flew his last combat mission on May 31, 1944, he was wounded by flak,  and fill in WG's finished out the tour. They included: 
S/Sgt Herbert Fern from Lt Mylius Crew who flew on
 6/2/1944  BOULOGNE
 6/4/1944  BOULOGNE
 6/5/1944  BOULOGNE

Sgt G.H. Head from Lt Monrad Crew who flew on:
 6/6/1944   FALAISE
 6/6/1944   OUISTREHAM

S/Sgt A.M. Hunt flew on:
 6/7/1944   NANTES (BRIDGES)
 6/24/1944 GRAND COURONNE (SEC T)
 7/4/1944   GEIN (RECALLED)
 7/7/1944   BOHLEN/MERSEBURG
 7/8/1944   CLAMECY-JOLGYN
 7/11/1944 MUNICH (AERO ENGINES)
 7/12/1944 MUNICH (IND. AREA)
 7/13/1944 MUNICH (JET ENGINES)
 7/14/1944 SOUTH OF FRANCE
 7/17/1944 AUXERRE & MONTGOURNOY

MISSIONS OF LT WILLIAM L. GREINER

 Date       Position Aircraft Nbr Target
 3/23/1944 CP              18 BRUNSWICK/ WAGGUM
 3/26/1944 P          31066 SCHKEUDITZ/JU-88 PLANT
 3/27/1944 P          31066 BORDEAUX/ MERIGNAC
 3/28/1944 P          31066 CHATEAUDUN/ EVREUX
 4/7/1944   P          31066 QUACKENBRUCK (SCRB)
 4/8/1944   P          31066 QUACKENBRUCK
 4/13/1944 P          31066 AUGSBURG
 5/1/1944   P          31389 SAARGUEMINES/WIZERNES
 5/7/1944   P          31066 BERLIN
 5/8/1944   P          31066 BERLIN & LAGLACERIE
 5/9/1944   P          31066 LAON/COUVRON; ANTHIES
 5/24/1944 P          31066 BERLIN
 5/28/1944 P          31066 MAGDEBURG
 5/29/1944 P          31066 LEIPZIG
 5/31/1944 P          38047 OSNABRUCK
 6/2/1944   P          30218 BOULOGNE
 6/4/1944   P          32018 BOULOGNE
 6/5/1944   P          31066 BOULOGNE
 6/6/1944   P          31066 FALAISE
 6/6/1944   P          31066 OUISTREHAM
 6/7/1944   P          31412 NANTES (BRIDGES)
 6/24/1944 P          39867 GRAND COURONNE (SEC T)
 7/4/1944   P          31676 GEIN (RECALLED)
 7/7/1944   P          31708 BOHLEN/MERSEBURG
 7/8/1944   P          31708 CLAMECY-JOLGYN
 7/11/1944 P          37521 MUNICH (AERO ENGINES)
 7/12/1944 P          31412 MUNICH (IND. AREA)
 7/13/1944 P          31708 MUNICH (JET ENGINES)
 7/14/1944 P          31066 SOUTH OF FRANCE
 7/17/1944 P          39867 AUXERRE & MONTGOURNOY
 7/18/1944 P          31066 KIEL & HEMMINGSTADT
 7/29/1944 P          107007 MERSEBURG

CREW
DATE: 29 July 1944  351st Sqdn.           A/C #42-107007 "SHE HASTA" 

MISSION: Merseburg                             MACR #7815lMicro-fiche #2862

1st Lt William L.Greiner,Jr.      P         POW
2nd Lt James D.Coccia          CP        POW
2nd Lt Robert D.Fulkerson     NAV     POW
2nd Lt Robert E.Marsho        BOM     POW
 S/Sgt Harry E.Whitford,Jr.    ROG     POW
 S/Sgt John R.Vuchetich       TTE      POW
   Sgt Frank Madrid               BTG      POW
   Sgt Bernard V.Baumgarten  WG     KIA
   Sgt Harry G.Feldkamp          TG      POW

All of the above except for William Greiner were members of the James D.Coccia crew which had joined the 100th Gp. On 17/7/44. Greiner was flying as pilot on 29/7/44 "to break in a new crew".

EYEWITNESS: " A/C #007 was observed to have one engine smoking as it went over
            the target. It dropped back and took over the lead of the second
            element of the low squadron and gradually lagged further and fur-
            ther behind. Friendly fighters were all around and when last seen
            the A/C was under control and appeared to be in good condition.
            This A/C later was seen over Wesermunde by a flight of P-38s from
            Station 337,479th Fighter Group. A jet propelled E/A was attacking
            and was driven off by the P-38's. The B-17 was escorted until it
            reached the Frisian Islands where the P-38's were forced to return
            to England because of a shortage of gasoline. When last seen all
            engines were operating and the A/C was headed for home at 10,000 feet."

The A/C ditched in the North sea a few miles off the island of Ameland and all save Baumgarten made it to shore in the rafts. They were immediately taken prisoner.

Sgt.Baumgarten had been badly injured by flak (Left leg nearly torn off & wounds in abdomen) and was unconscious in radio room when plane ditched. Attempts by Sgt,Vuchetich & another to get him to a raft were not successful. Ship stayed afloat only about 30/45 seconds.
This was the 2nd mission for the Coccia crew.

MISSIONS FLOWN BY LT ROBERT FULKERSON (Nav)  (mpf 2001)

1. 24/7/44 ST LO (with Lt E.J. Simmons Crew) Replacement Nav.
2. 25/7/44 ST LO (with Lt E.J. Simmons Crew) Replacement Nav.
3. 28/7/44 MERSEBURG
4. 29/7/44 MERSEBURG-Flak damage

"I was the navigator on the James Coccia's crew in the 351st Squadron, 100th Bomb Group and arrived at Thorpe Abbotts on July 17, 1944.  July 24 & 25 I flew as a replacement Navigator with the EJ  Simmons Crew on the two St Lo Missions.  July 28 & 29th, Coccia's crew flew on the Merseburg Missions.  William Greiner, whose crew finished all their missions, flew with Coccia's crew on the July 29th Mission to "help break them in" and to fly his "last mission".  On the July 29th mission, my fourth mission, as a result of losing one engine over the target, subsequent loss of a second engine by more flak and a brief encounter wiht  a ME 163 German Jet fighter, our crew ditched our B-17 "SheHasta" in the North Sea.  After four days at sea, having been spurned by a Danish ship on our second day at sea, we landed on Ameland, one of the Frisian Islands North of Holland.  We were captured by the Germans as we landed on the beach.


                             JULY 29, 1944, A DAY TO REMEMBER
                               By Lt Robert Fulkerson, Navigator
                          351st Bomb Squadron, 100th Bomb Group

July 29, 1944, the 100th Bomb Group target for the day was the Leuna oil refinery at Merseburg, Germany.  This mission was the second day in row that the 100th bombed Merseburg.  As a navigator with the 351st Squadron, 100th Bomb Group, this was my fourth mission having recently been assigned to the 100th on July 17, 1944. Our Crew was flying the B-17 “She-Hasta”.  Bill Greiner was flying as a replacement pilot on his “last” mission and Jim Coccia, our regular pilot, was flying as co-pilot.

Once in Germany and arriving at the IP, we flew to the target at the altitude of 26,000 feet. As we approached the target, we encountered a very dense, black carpet of flak.  The flak was so thick one would think that one could walk on it!  We lost one engine as we dropped our bombs and encountered other damage forcing us to leave the formation.  The entire low squadron of the 100th A-group failed to return home along with two of the B-group of which we were one, accounting for eight B-17’s lost.

Flak had knocked out the oxygen in the nose of the aircraft forcing the bombardier and me to retreat to the radio room.  I had given the one walk around bottle of oxygen to the bombardier and told him to go on to the radio room and that I would follow him.  Upon entering the entrance to the bomb bay my parachute harness caught on to something and became entangled.  Still being at altitude and without oxygen, I soon passed out.  Fortunately for me, John Vuchetich, our flight engineer, who was in the top turret saw me and plugged in my oxygen mask.  Upon recovering, I noticed that the bomb bay doors had not completely closed and upon passing out I had dropped most of my navigational aids out the bomb bay doors.  With a map or two I proceeded to the radio room.  By this time we had lost a lot of altitude and while limping along, encountered more flak at about 10,000 feet. Another engine was lost and Bernie Baumgarten, one of our waist gunners, was severely wounded in his abdominal area and upper left leg.  Shortly after this, near Weserbunds, Germany, a squadron of P-38’s appeared on the scene.  Apparently they had spotted a Me 163 KOMET rocket fighter on our tail.  The German pilot, on seeing the squadron leaders P-38, turned in his direction until he saw the squadron leaders wingman and decided to turn away.  The P-38’s pursued the Me 163 and the squadron leader made direct hits and the Me 163 went down.

We continued on our way still losing altitude and soon spotted water and decided to ditch our aircraft. Hopefully it was the English Channel but it turned out we were farther north and the water was the North Sea.  We ditched the B-17 around noon, July 29, 1944.  After surviving the ditching, John Vuchetich our flight engineer and I were the last two of the crew to leave the aircraft.  We had remained in the radio room in hopes of saving the wounded gunner.  Since the nose hatch had been opened earlier and the ball turret repositioned for ditching water was rushing in fast and furiously.  I soon realized the situation was hopeless and told John to exit the top hatch.  As I climbed out the top hatch, Bernie, half covered with water, called out my name.  What a feeling!  From the top hatch I could see that the B-17 was at about a forty-five degree angle to the sea and the wings were half covered with water.  As I dove into the sea and started swimming towards the two dinghies, something touched my feet.  Looking back I saw it had been the tip of the B-17’s rudder that had touched my feet and the aircraft disappeared from sight.  Eight of us survived the ditching and Bernie went down with the B-17.

We spent four days at sea. On the second day, a sailing vessel appeared on the horizon and seemingly heading in our direction.  As it became closer, we fired flares and pistols into the air in hopes of attraction their attention. The ship became close enough that we could see a flag painted on the hull and took it to be Danish.  What seemed like eternity, the ship proceeded on its way, choosing to ignore us and left us floundering in our frustrations.  The two dinghies had been tied together to prevent our being separated.  During the second night, I was awakened by the angry sea and found our dinghies starting to break apart.  At about the same time, John, who was in the second dinghy, awakened.  He and I sat the rest of the night with our arms interlocked together.  Finally daylight arrived.  We had won our battle.  That night has to be one of the worst nights in my life. 

During the four days at sea we could hear aircraft flying over but the overcast prevented us from seeing them and in turn preventing them from seeing us.  Late afternoon on the fourth day at sea, land was sighted.  Separating the two dinghies, we raced, paddling to shore, firing flares into the air only to be met by German soldiers who took us prisoners.  We were told, “For you the war is over!”  Actually it was only the beginning.  We had landed on Ameland, one of the Frisian Islands north of Holland.

We had no food while at sea and when the Germans finally gave us some food the following day, it had been over five days since we had eaten!  The Germans gave us cold potatoes and cold gravy served in two mess kits from which the eight of us took turns eating.  After a few days in Holland, of all places in solitary confinement in a convent, nine months in Germany as POW’s, which included two forced marches, General Patton and his forces liberated us at Mooseburg, Germany, April 29, 1945.

           AND NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY 

The evening of November 18, 2003, I received a telephone call from a Jeff Grosse, a writer in Cincinnati, Ohio who informed me he was researching an incident that occurred during World War II involving P-38’s from 434th Squadron, 479th Fighter Group, a B-17 bomber and a German Me 163 KOMET rocket fighter on July 29, 1944.  The writer told me he had obtained my name from Missing Air Crew Reports (MACR) and wanted to talk to a survivor of the B-17.  He also told me Art Jeffrey, the P-38 squadron leader, and Dick Simpson, his wingman, were alive and furnished me with their addresses and telephone numbers. I called both men and thanked them for saving our lives on that eventful day in July 1944.  Art flew 82 missions in World War II, stayed in the Air Force and retired a Full Colonel.  Art was the first pilot credited with shooting down a Me 163 and had fourteen victories to his credit ranking him among the 8th Air Force Aces.  He told me his group was called for a special briefing a half hour earlier than usual at 3 Am on July 29, 1944, to be briefed on the Me 163 that had just gone operational for the first time on July 28, 1944.  Lo and behold, late that morning Art’s squadron spotted a Me 163, the Me 163 that had just spotted us!

The 479th Fighter Group will be holding their annual reunion meeting in Denver the fall of 2004. The two P-38 pilots have invited me to join them at their meeting. Needless to say, it will be a thrill for me to have the opportunity to meet them in person and thank them for saving our lives on July 29, 1944, some sixty years later!

P.S. Chuck Harris, 8th AFHS member living in Colorado Springs was the Lead Pilot for the 100th Bomb Group B-Group at Merseburg, July 29, 1944.  I was flying with the B-Group but did not know Chuck at that time. I met Chuck for the first time several years ago at one of our 8th AFHS functions at the Air Force Academy.
*************************************************************************************************************

S/SGT ROBERT. L. "RED" MCDANIEL  (nicknamed red because of his RED hair)

Date            Crew Nbr  Mission Nbr  Last Name         Initial         Rank         Position    Aircraft Nbr     Target
3/18/1944         19         132         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         RWG         36               MUNCIH
3/19/1944         19         133         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         RWG         856             MARQUIS, MIMMOYEQUES
3/19/1944         19         133         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         RWG         856             MARQUIS, MIMMOYEQUES
3/22/1944         19         134         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         RWG         31389         ORANIENBURG (BERLIN)
3/23/1944         19         135         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         RWG         18              BRUNSWICK/ WAGGUM
3/26/1944         19         136         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         RWG         31066         SCHKEUDITZ/JU-88 PLANT
3/27/1944         19         137         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         RWG         31066         BORDEAUX/ MERIGNAC
3/28/1944         19         138         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         RWG         31066         CHATEAUDUN/ EVREUX
  4/7/1944         19         141         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         RWG         31066         QUACKENBRUCK (SCRB)
  4/8/1944         19         142         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         RWG         31066         QUACKENBRUCK
4/13/1944         19         147         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         RWG         31066         AUGSBURG
  5/1/1944         19         110         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         LWG         31389         SAARGUEMINES/WIZERNES
  5/7/1944         19         111         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         LWG         31066         BERLIN
  5/8/1944         19         112         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         LWG         31066         BERLIN & LAGLACERIE
  5/9/1944         19         114         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         LWG         31066         LAON/COUVRON; ANTHIES
5/24/1944         19         121         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         LWG         31066         BERLIN
5/28/1944         19         124         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         LWG         31066         MAGDEBURG
5/29/1944         19         125         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         LWG         31066         LEIPZIG
5/31/1944         19         127         MCDANIEL         R.L.         S/SGT         LWG         38047         OSNABRUCK (wounded by flak)


Fools Rush In
by Robert L. "Red" McDaniel
(RWG - Pete Greiner Crew)
  

She's battle scarred from nose to stern,
At times her props too tired to turn;
The guns are worn that're in the chin,
Fighting the life of "Fools Rush In." 
The glass is scratched and not intact,
From the overpounding, Smoky Flak;
Cutting the metal in strips so thin,
Destroying the beauty of "Fools Rush In."

The olive drab is beginning to fade
Losing her color, shade by shade,
Of course her body is only tin,
Revealing the Flesh of "Fools Rush In,"

The dorsal fin that stands so well,
Carrying the scars of Cannon Shell;
And above the waist that I am in,
There's another hole in, old Fools Rush In."

The Tokyo tanks, are forever full,
For the longest missions she always pulls,
Poland, Brunswick, and Berlin,
But she's always back, old "Fools Rush In,"

Sometimes an engine or two we feather,
But Skipper smiles and observes the weather,
Touching the ground the begin to spin,
Home once more in "Fools Rush In."

Not one abortion, to her name has she,
And so very proud of this are we,
Why to break this record would be a sin,
And blacken the name of "Fools Rush In."

Forty and ten is the total score,
Good for a hundred or maybe more,
Fifty missions will only begin,
The adventurous life of "Fools Rush In."

Swastika stickers strewn all over the nose,
Dealing them death, with mighty blows,
Credit all claimed by the fighting men,
Who fly the ship ole "Fools Rush In."

Skipper is tender, he handles her mild,
At times you'd think she was only a child,
He loves that girl as we have him,
Who pilots us home, in "Fools Rush In."

Oh God let her see Germany fall,
For many a day she's answered the call,
Tokyo's streets will see us then,
The fighting life of "Fools Rush In."

*****************************************************************************************************************
LETTER FROM CHET BOWERS TO HIS CREW IN 1990

To: An Old Aircrew of The Bloody Hundredth
8th AF England 1944

Pete Greiner Pilot (deceased)
Chet Bowers Co-pilot
George Lewis Navigator
Bud Meyer Bombardier
Jack Poage Engineer-Top turret
Warren Wakefield Radio operator
Chuck Wehner Left waist gunner
R. L. Red McDaniel Right waist gunner
Ed Buchanan Ball turret (deceased)
Ernie Farkas Tail guns

Sorry we can’t be there, and hope there’s another chance to get together before too long.

I can remember getting together as a crew at Ephrata, Washington, then on to Ardmore, OK. We headed East stopping briefly at Manchester, new Hampshire, and then on to Gandor or Goose Bay, New Foundland where we were snowbound for 10 days. I had some enthusiastic ski students—believe Wakefield hurt his knee, and Wehner his shoulder.

Remember the long trip over the Atlantic –endless skies and ocean and a couple of times when both pilot and co-pilot fell asleep, although we had a definite agreement about who was to drive when. Our young bombardier Bud Meyer from Rochester, N.Y. looking back from the astrodome quickly corrected the situation!

Nutts Corner, Ireland, a cold, wet stay, was followed by Hemel Hempstead, England, where we heard from battle-wise pros.

Finally, we traveled to Thorpe Abbotts, arriving in late January or February on a cold, wet English night. I distinctly remember the G.I. 2 ½ ton truck dropping us off at our new home (Nissen Hut). There were two fellows in there with their feet propped up on the stove. We asked which bunks were ours. One man answered, “All but two”, designating their beds. After looking around, I reported that all the bunk stations had personal effects nearby, and were apparently occupied. The same droll faced fellow informed us that they had all been emptied that day! A cheerful greeting for a replacement crew!

On about March 6 or 9, 1944 we took off as a combat crew for occupied Europe. It was a doozie; it was Berlin! The second or third trip to that city by the Eighth Air Force. It that day, the group in front of us, a little high and to the right were hit by fighters. I can’t recall how many forts went down, but distinctly remember pieces of airplanes, chairs, charts, and probably bodies going through our group. There’s something very awesome about the sight of a fort breaking formation and going in to a ‘dead man’s” spiral before breaking up or to observe another fort to simply explode in midair. Anyway, it prompted the writing of many letters to our respective homes.

Pre-dawn take offs were another thriller –600 to 1000 aircraft setting off east Anglia at the same time almost always brought on a number of operational accidents. A ball of orange flame told the story. I remember Poage, on a black morning uttering some kind of exclamation—he never swore—we had just missed another B-17 on climb-out. Finally, in the clear, after assembly, we tooled off across the channel to Fortress Europe with Greiner’s capable hands on the yoke. Checking stations and firing guns. B-17s in front of us and B-17s behind us as far as you could see –all streaming ethereal contrails.

We were off on a mission of from 6 to 11 hours duration depending on the target. No one was every warm up there—it was just varying degrees of cold! From the aircraft (and occasionally crew) the crackling and whistling from the VHF Radio put us in a different world.

Urinating was a major chore—Unhook oxygen, climb out of your seat or position, attach the portable oxygen bottle, and get to the nearest relief tube. On one trip I had followed the procedures, but, in squeezing through the bomb-bay, I accidentally disconnected my portable oxygen bottle. If Greiner hadn’t looked around and seen that I was sinking to my knees, I wouldn’t be writing this.

I remember two fighter attacks on our group, our element. Can’t recall whether they were both in FOOLS RUSH IN or if I was flying with another crew. On this occasion we were hit by FW190s after ME 109s had drawn off our fighter cover. One FW 190 pilot crossed our bow from 10:00 to 3:00 o’clock knocking out one engine. I believe the downed one of our wingmen. I can remember Poage, in his Missouri drawl calling over the intercom, “Here they come. Here they come!” In fact there was lots of chatter on the intercom as everyone was calling out targets. Lots of racket with all guns firing, and shortly after the attack we lost a supercharger on #3 engine. We couldn’t keep up with the formation, so just a few minutes short of the target we dropped out and headed back to England in one of the loneliest flights ever made. Total silence lest we attract enemy fighters.

“Bird Dog” Lewis navigated skillfully that day. We could only maintain about 120 knots at 10,000 feet, and he must have taken us over every flak battery between our position and the coast. We finally sighted two specks off in the distance – 12:00 o’clock high. If they were FW 190s we had probably “bought the farm”. We didn’t ever fire green flares calling for fighter cover. They turned out to be P47s (bless the little brothers!) and they escorted us back to the French coast. 

On that ay, when it was doubtful that we would see England again, we landed without hydraulics, aforementioned engine problems, and 19 hole in our aircraft at a coastal RAF strip which, I believe, was a football field wide and three miles long.

They were well equipped for arrivals. If an aircraft crash landed or appeared beyond repair roll out, they simply bull-dozed it off to the side. After we debarked from the tired “Fool” the RAF gave us a bit of rum, a bunk, and after repairing our machine that night we were again off to Thorpe Abbotts.

We watched flak, our constant companion, take many aircraft out of our formations. One sizeable piece caught Red in the chest, hurling him across the waist and into the opposite side of the fuselage. He was our closest candidate, next to Pete, for the Purple Heart.

On another memorable occasion, we were on our way deep into Germany when we noticed a strange vapor trail coming up the bomber stream. Poage, again with his Missouri drawl, reported, “Say, that thing just whistled down the stream, and now it’s coming back up just as fast.” We had sighted probably the first ME 262 (jet) in operation with the Luftwaffe!

Coming back to the base was always a thrill. Getting back was one thing, but dodging a few hundred other bombers (or occasional JU88) all trying to get down into little Est Anglia was a “high pucker” situation.

Next, climb out of the “Fool”, get into the truck and go to debriefing where we reported on the action. Following that session we were offered a shot of the booze of our choice, and, inasmuch as at least 5 of our crew of 10 didn’t drink, I tried to make sure our ration wasn’t wasted.

Meanwhile back at the base, I remember a few sunny days when we were “stood down”--no mission. It was a time for a complete bicycle overhaul, washing, and in my case, training my dear English Spaniel, the “Deacon”. The Deacon and I used to hunt the King’s partridges and pheasants on farms adjoining the aerodrome. Armed with a few skeet shells, chocolate bars, and soap, I launched a good-will campaign which got me into some nice beet and grain fields. At first I used an issue skeet gun off the Base. But sometime in April or May 1944 Red McDaniel, an ardent bird hunter from Louisiana, told me of a beautiful Churchill 12 gage over/under in a Bond Street gun shop in London. On my next pass, I went to London to look at the gun. It was indeed a piece of art. The price (not asking price) was 55 English pounds – about $255 in our money. I had been sending most of my pay home, so prevailed on the crew to loan me enough to buy the gun on my next pass. I’m forever grateful to all of you and especially to Red for making this possible. 

Ed Stidel, our great crew chief, also used to procure a pheasant once in a while with a 30-30 carbine. He was a “meat hunter”. On several occasions we would be out in the line tent on a cold dark morning waiting for take-off, and Ed would serve up some delicious fried pheasant as we listened to “Calais Mary” on the German radio. A serenade or a great Glenn Miller ttune would be followed by “Hi Yanks! I know you’re enjoying the music, but we thought you would be interested in some events that happened on yesterday’s raid. The Luftwaffe Ground Forces and Wehrmacht are always conscientious about picking up downed American aircrews, but yesterday, some of our irate farmer civilians pitch forked your boys to death before the authorities could get to them.” Oh well, off into the wild blue yonder.

Our combat tour started with 25 missions. Then after the odds improved with better fighter support we were assigned 30 and later 35 combat missions. –Very disturbing at the time.

We finally finished. My last mission was on D-Day with the old crew. I believe most of us went home shortly after that. But dear Pete, “The Skipper”, was shot down by an ME 262 while checking out a new crew. They ditched in the channel and were picked up by the wrong air-sea rescue boat. Pete spent on year in a stalag before being liberated.

I stayed in England joining a Wing H.Q. while deciding whether to fly another tour or get into 8th A. F. Fighters. Neither materialized and I came home in October 1945 to be discharged in December at Sioux Falls, S. D.

We were young men then and there were few thoughts about growing old. In fact, our lives were measured a mission at a time. And I know all of us prayed for one more round trip. 

It was a rare honor to have flown with you men in the last “Romantic War”. 

Good health and pleasant times to you

Chet Bowers

MEMO 2:

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: DATE:  
AIRCRAFT: CAUSE:  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  
ID: 467