Teen Age Air Warrior
Teen Age Air Warrior
Addendum II Part I. Honored by My Grandaughter
To: George Menzel
Editor (Poop From Group)
401st Bomb Group (H) Association
P.O. Box 15365 Savannah, GA
Subject: Proud Grandpa... Grandaughter's "Honors"
I am greatly suprised and honored by my grandaughter (Melissa Toole) USAF-R EMT (S/SGT)
Melissa honored her Grandpa with her right shoulder tattoo art of my WWII 8th AF Combat B-17 named "GRIN-N-BARE IT", aka "BABY LU", Serial No. 42-106992, 401st BG/612 th BS.
Grandpa is not an enthusiastic endorser of tattoo art, but this is an exception.
Note ther are 35 bomb symbols to represent Grandpa's 35 combat missions in WWII, all targets in Germany.
Melissa was quite taken with the display of "Bomber Flight Jacket" art as printed in the "Blue Book" 401st Centerfold.
I understand that B-17, GRIN-N-BARE IT went on in combat to complete 100 + missions.
Years later, I noted that this aircraft was listed on a large display at the Lockheed Air Terminal, Burbank, CA as a WWII "Hero Aircraft".
Addendum II Part II. Retelling
My son Allen, greatly pleased me by starting to write narratives of my 35 WWII 8th AF Combat Tours.
Here is his narrative (originally posted on FaceBook):
Teen Age Air Warrior - My father as a B-17 Ball Turret Gunner, WWII Europe Monday, July 27, 2009 at 10:36pm
S/SGT. Eugene H. Hall, USAAF 8th AF, 1st Air Division, 401st Bombardment Group (H),
I thought I would put this up about my father ...it's an interesting story that has gained significance to me as I have grown older. My father was born in 1925 rural Iowa. His parents were of very modest means, struggling to raise three young boys when tragedy hit. In 1929, my father's father was killed in a car accident. His mother, now a widow with no means, was left to raise three young children alone during the Great Depression. The oldest of which, my father, was just four years old. To say things were tough is an understatement. When WWII started, my father, a country boy from Iowa was anxious to see the world. The glamorized images he saw in the theater news reels and the promises of the many armed services recruiting campaigns were feeding a young boys imagination about the world beyond Iowa.
They were irresistible and at 17 he enlisted under a promise to become a fighter pilot. Unfortunately, the promise was not real. Quickly, it was becoming clear, things were not going to work out the way he planned. Instead of flight school to become a pilot he was directed to gunnery school where he learned the bare essential skills required to operate the twin Browning M2 .50 caliber machine guns found in the ball turret of a B-17. Not the glamorous fighter pilot job he had hoped for ... and worse yet the survival rate for the aircrews were terrible. The day he arrived he sorted out his bunking arraignment and noted that the new guys had to take the top bunks. Being greeted by his senior peers in the bunks below, he took no particular note of the moment. That was until the next morning when he was informed that he could move his stuff to the bottom bunk. The young men he had only briefly met were all dead, shot down with no parachutes seen escaping from the B-17 as it spiraled wildly from 29,000 feet on fire through the clouds over Nazi Germany. His group based out of Deenthorpe UK, was a heavy bombardment group sent on missions deep within Germany that had little Allied fighter support The casualty rate was incredible, only 1/2 of the crews survived the 25 missions a normal tour of duty required ….. my father would survive 35.
J. A. Roadman Crew" Baby Lu " aka " Grin'n Bare It "
United States Army Air Forces 8th Air Force 1st Bombardment Division 94th Combat Bombardment Wing 401st Bombardment Group (Heavy) 612th Bombardment Squadron
TOP ROW LEFT TO RIGHT
2nd Lt. Henry W. Compton – Copilot
2nd Lt. James P. Whitlock - Bombardier
F.O. Robert H. Knuese - Navigator
1st Lt. Julian A. Roadman - Pilot & Crew Commander
BOTTOM ROW LEFT TO RIGHT
S/Sgl. Alfred Elchisak – Radio Operator
S/Sgl. John H. Landers – Engineer & Gunner
S/Sgl. Earl R. Hill - Waist Gunner
S/Sgl. Donald S. Wood - Tail Gunner
S/Sgl. Eugene H. Hall – Ball Turret Gunner
IAW Stars & Stripes December 8th, 1944: The Roadman crew is featured as " The youngest Heavy Bombardment Crew flying in the European Theater of Operation (ETO). "
The crews average age was 20, whereas the average age for American servicemen in WWII was 26.Photo Taken: 23 Nov 1944Photo Courtesy of National Archives.
Ice Cold Katy
Ice Cold Katy over German V2 Rocket Research
Establishment at Peenemunde in late 1944
My first mission was nearly my last.
" It could have been right out of a Hollywood movie. A new crew on its first combat mission is accompanied by a seasoned officer flying copilot. In our case, it was Lt. Ralph W. (Rainbow) Trout who I met again at the 1980, 401st Reunion in Savannah, Georgia. Rainbow upon seeing our crew he exclaimed, ‘You almost got me killed on that mission!’
Sunday, October 15th, 1944, my first mission…. and it scared the hell out of me. The mission briefing took place at 0300 hours, and all operational aircraft were airborne by 0704 hours. My crew was assigned to the Lockheed B-17G serial number 42-39993 - " Hell's Angel Out of Chute 13 ". The target was the railroad marshalling yards in Cologne, Germany.
The 401st provided three 12 ship squadrons to make up the 94th Combat Wing "A" unit. The Group also led the 1st Division on this mission, with Colonel Bowman as Air Commander. While the Lead and Lows Squadrons were forced to bomb using PFF (radar) techniques because of heavy cloud cover, but some of the crews were able to see and confirm the strikes on the Cologne marshalling yards through the occasional break in the clouds. As we approached Cologne with 10/10 clouds under us the sky filled with black puffs of flak, some so close by that the plane would buffet from the exploding flak with a loud WOOF! Our PFF (radar) told us that Cologne was hidden by the clouds below us. Suddenly the clouds opened and what I saw was an image from my 4th grade geography book at the Orange Township School in Waterloo, Iowa. An aerial view of the dark medieval twin towers of the Cologne Cathedral. Next to which was a railroad suspension bridge that connected to the railroad marshaling yards across the Rhine River. As a ball turret gunner, I had an excellent view of the squadrons bombing runs. Being strapped in a glass ball on the underside of a B-17 gave me a unique vantage point and a very unnerving one when being fired upon from below. I could see the bomb bay doors open on my aircraft with all the details intimately and to a lesser degree I had the same view for all the aircraft in the squadron. At the bombardiers cue all the aircraft would release their bombs onto whatever doomed target we had been assigned. Below me now I could see enormous clouds of spray ensuing as the bombs did their damage and the bridge came down into the Rhine.
The flak began to intensify with notable accuracy as the plane lurched suddenly. We had taken a direct hit in the number 3 engine. Looking from my vantage point, I could see the underside of the wing was coated with oil. Smoke, oil and then fire was streaming from an engine as we dropped like a rock out of formation at 25,000 feet and through the clouds below. We managed to regain control and leveled off at 5000 feet, a bit too close to the now the clearly detailed German farmland below us. First Officer Knuese, our navigator, announced that we were over unoccupied France. With that relief and the reduced altitude we removed our oxygen masks and started to tour the damage. A few minutes later a somewhat more excited First Officer Knuese announced that he had made a mistake – we were not over France, instead we were heading back into Germany! The wounded B-17 made the turn but was struggling to maintain altitude. Anything that could be thrown out of the B-17 was thrown out onto the fields below in an effort to lighten the aircraft for the long journey back to Deenthorpe. We arrived, hours after everyone else, noting that our crew was reported as shot down over the target – no parachutes. A tradition at our airbase and many others was to give each man was a shot of whiskey to help settle our strained nerves before we were debriefed. With the whiskey’s warmth still soaking into me, I reflected upon the events of the day. I was just 19 by 2 months and found myself facing my own mortality for the first time. At that moment a chilling awareness crept over me... I didn’t think it was possible for me to make it through my tour of duty alive.”
Excerpts from crew Commander Julian Roadman’s account of the mission:
“No. 3 engine was struck by flack and caused a massive oil leak. The oil flowed to the rear and down onto the red hot super charger and caught fire, I shut off that engine's ignition and fuel and pushed the feather buttons however there was insufficient oil left to feather the propeller. The prop wind milled at dangerously high speed while the oil pressure slowly dropped. Fearing that the engine would seize from lack of oil, I ordered everyone into their parachutes and the navigator and bombardier to the rear of the ship. I then attempted to force the over speeding propeller to break away from the ship by diving and putting the engine back into operation, but the engine did not seize. We were flying alone and returning to England in a strong headwind. I was flying the ship at 115MPH (just above the stall speed) because of the over-speeding propeller. Our experienced co-pilot, Rainbow Trout recommended that we bail-out, as we were in jeopardy of being intercepted by enemy fighters at any time. However there were no enemy aircrafts in sight and we were heading for friendly lines. The ship was holding together and maintaining altitude albeit at a minimum speed and we had sufficient to fuel to reach England. Hence I reasoned that we were not yet in sufficient danger to abandon ship. Conditions did not deteriorate further and we landed at Deenthorpe an hour after the rest of our formation. I was told the ship's damage included about 400 flack holes.”
B-17G #42-106992 "Baby Lu" aka "Grin'n Bare It" of the 612th BS/401st BG, Deenthorpe, April 1944
Deenthorpe UK airbase in the winter of 1944
The various B-17's and their crew jackets that my father flew missions in
Addendum II Part III. Private to Major General
In December 1944, on my way to Ft. McArthur located in San Pedro, CA, I was aboard the "Red Car" RR to San Pedro were I met....
Donald L. Evans
Leland H. Funk
I never forgot those guys and we became friends from our first day joining the Army Air Corps.
We were together through so-called Aviation Cadet (CDT) training at Denver, University of Colorado Class 44-D, "Washed Out" for "The Convenience of the Government".
The three of us went on through Air Gunnery School, Transition Training, POE Grenier Field, New Hampshir and onward to England. I lost contact with Leland as i went on to Deenthorpe 8th AF 401st BG and Donald went to bury St. Edmonds 381st BG. I visited Donald once at the 381st but lost contact with him after he was wounded. We met for the last time in 1949 during my Sigma Phi Nu Fraturnity dance and Newport Beach CA.
Recently i asked my son Allen, to try and locate my old friend on Facebook for me. He did! Wow! Don died in 2000 and now I am trying to locate surviving family.
MAJOR GENERAL DONALD L. EVANS
Retired April 1, 1984. Died Nov. 3, 2000. Major General Donald L. Evans is the joint program manager for the Worldwide Military Command and Control System Information System, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C. He is the focal point for coordination and control of all Worldwide Military Command and Control System Automatic Data Processing upgrading and modernization activities.
General Evans was born in 1925, in Palmer, Neb. His family later moved to Monrovia, Calif., where he graduated from high school in 1943. He received a bachelor of arts degree in English literature from the University of Southern California in 1949. He completed Squadron Officer School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in 1957, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., in 1971.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in December 1943 and flew 27 combat missions over Europe in World War II as a B-17 waist gunner. On his 27th mission, he was wounded and hospitalized until October 1945. Following discharge from the service as a sergeant, he attended the University of Southern California. After graduation in 1949, he enlisted as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, and in December 1950 was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation from Officer Candidate School.
After a short assignment as squadron adjutant for the 3752nd Student Squadron at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, General Evans began navigator training at Ellington Air Force Base, Texas. He was awarded his wings in July 1952. He next completed B-26 combat crew training and in March 1953 was assigned to the 95th Bombardment Squadron at Pusan Air Base, South Korea, where he flew 25 combat missions in B-26s.
From December 1953 to June 1956, General Evans was a B-26 and B-57 navigator in the 461st Bombardment Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, where he became the group and later the wing navigator. He then flew B-47s at Chennault Air Force Base, La., as a navigator on a lead and select combat crew. During this period he also attended Squadron Officer School.
In December 1960 General Evans transferred to Carswell Air Force Base, Texas. After completing B-58 upgrade training, he was assigned on base as chief of the Emergency War Order Operations Branch in the 43rd Bombardment Wing. From April 1964 to June 1966, he served with the inspector general's team at Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., as an intelligence and operations plans inspector. He was assigned to 3rd Air Division, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in July 1966, as chief, Plans Division. He later become director of operations plans, with responsibility for Arc Light mission planning for SAC B-52s and KC-135s in Southeast Asia.
In January 1969 General Evans returned to SAC headquarters where he served as chief of the Threat Division and as deputy director of estimates. Upon graduation from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in June 1971, he was assigned as director of intelligence for Task Force Alpha at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, until August 1972. During this period General Evans provided intelligence data for the Commando Hunt VI and VII campaigns. While at Task Force Alpha, he was instrumental in the development of automated sensor readout techniques.
General Evans was again assigned to Offutt Air Force Base as the Strategic Air Command's director of reconnaissance. During the intensive B-52 Linebacker II campaign over North Vietnam in December 1972, he was director of targets. Linebacker II was the air campaign credited with causing North Vietnam to release the American prisoners of war. Following this assignment he become director of estimates. In this capacity General Evans directed several innovative applications of computer-assisted intelligence analysis. In June 1973 he was named assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence. From May 1975 to June 1978, he served as assistant chief of staff for data systems and was then appointed deputy chief of staff for data systems. He assumed his present duties in January 1982.
He is a master navigator and has flown combat sorties in World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters and Purple Heart.
The general's extensive activity with military automated data processing has placed him in the vanguard of computer technology exploitation. As the SAC single manager for data automation, he had unique responsibility for all resources including personnel, funds and equipment comprising the largest military operational and intelligence computer systems organization in the Air Force. His management authority included all phases of base level data processing as well as the direct computer hardware and software support of the Strategic Air Command, Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff and the Joint Strategic Connectivity Staff.
He was instrumental in the realignment of automated strategic missile warning assets. General Evans' impact on the automation community was documented in 1980 when he was selected as the Federal Government's Automated Data Processing Senior Executive of the Year. He has served as a general officer representative to both the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and the Defense Science Board regarding automation activities throughout the Defense Department. He was promoted to major general June 1, 1981, with date of rank Sept. 1, 1977. His hometown is Arcadia, Calif. (Current as of May 1982)
This Biography can be found at this link:
Addendum II Part IV. Other WWII Things of Interest
Over the years since my WWII 8th AF combat experience, I have accumulated various photos and clippings that tend to have a bearing on those experiences. The following is a group of some of the data I have collected and is not necessarly in chronological order.
This photo was taken of me at Deenthorpe (401st BG) England, 1944.
Below is part of an article about the B-17's:
Here is a handwritten correspondence that was later sent as an email:
Here is another clipping:
As a BT Gunner, I easily related to this account:
Brian Gyles sent me an email with this photo of Deenthorpe where my barrack is visible:
Article: The Ball Turret