Monday, August 16, 2010

Photo of 95th BG Rongstad Crew Discovered after Years of Searching

Three 95th Vets pay tribute to the fallen crew in June 2010. Redlingfield, Suffolk. (Photo by Richard Flagg)
Monument to the crew, erected in 2010. (Photo by Richard Flagg)

The Rongstad Crew. Front Row: Left to Right: 2nd Lt. Kenneth B. Rongstad of Montana, 2nd Lt. Warren M. Strawn, 2nd Lt. Richard E. Diete, 2nd Lt. Joseph F. Spicer.

Back Row, Left to Right: S/Sgt. Gordon V. Sorensen, Sgt. Julius W. Torok, Sgt. Charles E. Phinney, Sgt. Louis M. Mirabel, Sgt. Aloysius L. Godek, S. Sgt. Agnew R. Eckert.

(Eckert was not on the crew at the time of the crash) S. Sgt. Gail A. Richmond is not in the photo)

Just received news from James Mutton in Suffolk that a crew photo of the ill-fated Rongstad crew has been donated by a neice of crewmen Warren Strawn. James has been looking for a photo of this crew for many years, as the crash of this crew was one of the things that drew him into his interest in the 95th Bomb Group and the air war in World War Two. Rongstad's B-17 crashed shortly after takeoff when it stalled in a banking turn. All the crew were killed in the accident. In June, a memorial was erected at the crash site. For more on the Rongstad crew, see the related stories on this blog by typing in "Rongstad" in the search box in upper left corner of blog.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Two B-29 Bomber Crewman Meet in Idaho Falls

Marshall Dullum's crew in Korea. Marshall is front row, second from left.
Dean's crew, India. 1944-45.

Marshall and Dean and a model of the B-29. Marshall commented that if he and Dean could find two more old B-29 crewmen, they could form a new crew.

On August 13, 2010, two bomber boys who flew in the B-29 Superfortress met each other for the first time in Idaho Falls. I have known Marshall Dullum for three or four years, but only recently found out about Dean . Marshall trained in bombers in WWII, but did not fly combat. He did, however, fly in the Berlin Airlift and in the United Nations peacekeeping action in the Middle East. He flew combat missions in a B-29 during the Korean War, near the end of the period when the 29 was used as a combat bomber. Dean flew in B-29s during WWII. He first trained crews in 1942 and 1943 in B-17s and B-24s, and was one of the first to train in the new B-29, which he says is the best of the three by far. Dean flew with the 20th Air Force in Asia. A flight engineer who had mechanical aptitude, he was responsible for keeping the mechanical components of the 29 working in flight. His crew "flew the Hump" over the Himalayas 25 times. The crew took off from a secret base in India, flew over the Himalayas--or, if the weather was good---through the Himalayas, threading its way between the jagged peaks. They landed at another secret base in China, and then took off to bomb Japanese-occupied areas in East Asia. Dean remembers that on a clear day you could navigate your way across the Himalayas by following the carcasses of crashed aircraft on the mountains below.

Book Review: 'Last Roll Call: The Adventures of a B-17 Tailgunner, 15th Air Force, 97th Bomb Group, Amendola Italy"

I had the good fortune recently to read a book by B-17 tailgunner Kenneth S. Tucker, who flew with the 97th Bomb Group in the 15th Air Force in World War Two. I also had the pleasure of communicating with his daughter, Wanda Tucker Goodwin, who helped her dad write the book. Though I've read literally hundreds of books about the air was in Europe, I was surprised at how much interesting information was in Mr. Tucker's book that I did not know about.

Most memoirs of the European air war are about the Eighth Air Force, which during and after the war garnered the lion's share of the publicity. A large part of this was simple proximity to those who reported the war. London was teeming with reporters looking for a good story, and the Eighth's bomber boys were only a few miles away. On the other hand, there were very few reporters willing or able to go to Amendola, Italy, and live in the alternately muddy and dusty tent cities there, surrounded by the crushing poverty of the Italian natives.

Mr Tucker covers his life from his early days as a son of a fisherman in Florida, though his training, and into combat in the flak-filled skies over Europe. His writing is clear, unembellished, and honest. He develops the personalities of the various members of the crew as he recounts the missions, so that one feels like one knows the young men on the crew. He also tells of his visits to various places of interest on his time off, such as Pompeii and the Isle of Capri.

Many readers of WWII memoirs are on the lookout for signed memoirs. Here is your chance to pick one up. Follow the link below to Ken's website, and put in an order for a copy of this book. He'll personalize it and autograph it. 186 pages. Soft cover trade paperback. Illustrated with black and white photographs.

Click link below or phone 850-624-8081.