One of my advisors this summer on my Air Corps novel is my old friend DeWayne 'Ben' Bennett.
Ben was the command pilot on the 384th Bomb Group B-17 'Squawkin' Chicken' during World War Two. He remains dedicated to preserving the history of the air war, and currently serves as a tour guide at the 390th Museum in Pima, Arizona. His memory is sharp, his humor is always a treat.
For many years the aviation art industry has flourished through the painting of famous scenes from the air war. Artists will select a scene, research it thoroughly, and then reproduced it in incredible detail. The artist will then have participants in the battle counter-sign the print, and these signed prints sell very well to historians and collectors. The price of a signed print can run hundreds of dolllars.
This painting, entitled 'Last Man Standing' is by artist Heinz Krebs. It shows Ben's 'Squawkin' Chicken' limping home after a tough raid to Schweinfurt, Germany in 1944. German fighters attack, moving in for the kill. But Ben and the crew make it back to fight another day. This print is signed by Ben and two of the German Luftwaffe pilots who served in the JG-1, the fighter group that attacked the plane. This print is still a great bargain at a little over a hundred dollars, signed by the artist, Ben, and two Luftwaffe fighter pilots. You can see it at http://www.brooksart.com/Lastmanstanding.html.
In a side note, Ben introduced me to a friend of his named Charlie Johnson, in 2000 or 2001. Charlie was a gunner who was shot down on a mission and became a POW. He became a friend of my youngest daughter, and the class learned about him and in return wrote him a thank you letter for his service as part of a history unit. Sadly, Charlie passed away shortly after this.
Ben and crew. Ben is back row, far left.