I am going to retrieve my photo of Patsy Ann Cozens shortly. It's on the other computer. But here is Bob's plane, named after Pat. (Photo from 95th BG website)
Geri and Fred Delbern, 1943. (Photo courtesy Geri Marshall)
Geri today. (Photo courtesy Geri Marshall)
Geri and Fred Delbern on their wedding day, 1942. (Photo courtesy Geri Marshall)
Robert and Bettylou Capen on their wedding day, 1943, Sheppard Field, Texas, shortly before Bob shipped to England to fly 34 missions on a B-17 as a ball turret gunner. (Photo courtesy of Bettylou Capen)
The 95th Bomb Group's commitment to telling the entire story of the Group during its existence included a last-minute addition of a chapter about the wives of the men who flew. These brave women endured frequent moves during training, and then a long period of 'sweating out the missions' as their spouses flew dangerous combat missions over Europe. I have had the honor of interviewing three of these ladies in the past few months for the book--Bettylou Capen, wife of ball turret gunner Bob Capen; Patsy Ann Cozens, wife of pilot Bob Cozens; and Geri Marshall, widow of pilot Fred Delbern.
Though I don't want to give away any spoilers from the upcoming book, I did want to share some photos of these incredible ladies. In researching and writing this chapter, I found that they are true heroes as much as their husbands.
Bob Capen and Bob Cozens returned from the war. Fred Delbern did not. He was killed on a mission in 1943, making sure all of his men had bailed out of his stricken B-17 'Lonesome Polecat II' before the aircraft crashed into the North Sea a few hundred yards offshore of Texel Island. When the plane hit the water, Delbern was the only living man aboard. His copilot, Donald Neff, had been killed and sat in the seat next to him. It must have been a lonely end for this brave man. Sadly, though Geri had written to Fred every day, he had not received a single letter when the Lonesome Polecat II made her final flight.