Frank entered the USAAF March 29,
1942 intent on being a fighter pilot but then switched to bombers attending
Primary training at Hicks Army Air Field, (Ft. Worth,TX ) November of 1942.
He was transferred to Waco Field, TX for Basic Flight training spring of
1943. Later in the fall of 1943 he graduated from Advanced Training at
Foster Field, TX and was transferred again to Rapid City, SD. He completed
his overseas training at Great Falls AAF, Montana.
Cool and collected at 19 yrs. of age he was called "Junior" by his crew because he was the youngest member. As a co-pliot in the 351st BG he flew several 510th bombers. On 31 Dec.1943 after a mission over Bordeaux, France his B-17 "Nobody's Darlin" TU-K ran out of gas on the way into Polebrook and had to be belly-landed on the beach at Burnham-on-Sea without further mishap. As 1st Pilot he flew a lucky B-17 called "Black Magic" which always brought his crew home safe.
"The B-17 was one tough, beautiful airplane. We departed for a mission over Germany knowing that our aircraft might get shot up. After we landed at Polebrook we counted over 150 holes in our ship. On the upper deck underneath my pilot seat a 20mm cannon shell had penetrated through the metal and lodged inside without exploding. It had entered from the nose and passed right between my legs. That was one lucky day." In early Sept. of 1944 after 11 months overseas he was processed for stateside reassignment at Miami, FL. He had finally made it back. Frank was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf clusters for "meritorious achievment." He flew 30 combat missions serving his country with distinction and personal courage and retired from the USAF after 20 years.
Today Frank lives in the beautiful NW and is the editor's step-father. 1. *
Lee Gingery B-17 radio operator 351st BG Polebrook, England
“Though I was handed a commission
after getting a BJ degree at the University of Missouri in Feb. 1950, (Korean
War outbreak), I chose marriage instead. My Aviation Cadet experience ended
in March, 1944 when the program was temporarily closed due to flooded pipelines
of candidates. Most of my classmates were sent to the ground forces in
time to hit the beaches of France on June 6, 1944. I was sent to radio
school and became a radio operator on my crew, flying combat the last six
months of the war.”
Lee Gingery 351st BG Association Public Information Officer
Dr. Stan Edelman Bombardier, 351st BG Polebrook, England Our plane, the B-17G, was named by our pilot, Bob Kasper , after his niece, "Merrie Christie", was badly damaged on a mission to Kassell, Germany on January 1, 1945. Two of our engines were feathered, after being badly damaged. Our waist gunner was seriously injured by shrapnel. I crawled back to him from my Bombardier's post, breathing from my portable oxygen tank, to administer Morphine to him. We dropped out of formation, chased by two Messerschmidt 109's, and lost them in the clouds. Our pilot, Bob Kasper, made a marvelous landing just over the German lines, near Brussels, Belgium. An ambulance took our wounded waist gunner to the hospital, while I took the Norden Bombsight from the plane and gave it to the M.P.'s. Our crew was put up for the night at a nearby brothel. All the guys tried to make out with the maid, but never succeeded. The following day we were air lifted back to our base at Polebrook. We had been reported "missing in action". When we arrived at our bunks, we found all of our personal stuff missing. We went for lunch, and upon our return, we found all of our belongings back where they belonged, including personal pictures, shoes, uniforms with all the emblems in place, etc. That was our 21st mission. We completed our 35th mission of February 22, 1945. Stan Edelman, M. D. Giant4@aol.com
Pilot Jules H. 99th Bomb Group in Italy
TT Gunner Jim Peters Sr.
"The Muddy 15th" Italy in the Spring
Living in the mud of Italy's farmland
could be hell especially during takeoffs and landings. Aircrews slept in
tents and often ate their chow outdoors. Sick call saw bouts of coughing
from colds and stomach upsets stemming from nerves. According to TT Gunner
Jim Peters Sr. from his days at Tortarella; "On the north end of the runway
our pilots had to clear a 15' dirt railroad embankment and some telephone
poles.With a full load of fuel and bombs we held our breath as our B-17s
struggled to get off the steel plank runway. One morning after a particularly
nasty crack up I heard the engineers blowing up the left over bombs.
Originally I went into the Infantry to be an Engineer. I applied for Aerial
Gunnery and went to tech school at Amarillo, TX. In 1948 after 3 yrs. I
returned to the USAF and was at Fairchild AFB"
Jim lives in picturesque Arizona in the peace and prosperity he helped bring about.
Gunner William Somers 99th BG Foggia Italy
Ex-gunner and author Bill Somers has a book out called "Fortress Fighters" in which he details his role of the 99th BG and gives the reader a personal perspective of the air war.
"We shipped out of Camp Patrick Henry,
VA arriving in Naples, Italy in Oct. 29th 1944. V-2 rockets were hitting
England and Humphrey Bogart was starring in To Have And to Have Not,
...It wasn't unitl Nov. 6th, a week later,
after a cold and unpleasant ride in an Italian box car over the mountains, that we arrived on the plains of Foggia....
It was a bleak and trying time that Christmas of 1944. Our Flying Fortress crew had received its baptism of fire.
We'd only flown three missions but the second one cemented our relations as a crew. That second mission saw our ship hit by flak and burning. We were 28,500 feet over Linz. It was Dec. 15, 1944. We were hit five minutes after bombs away...the pilot cut the fuel and feathered the prop... As a crew we were learning to fight together, but we also had to learn how to live together ... six enlisted men to a pyramid tent...Our four officers shared another tent in another area."
From "Fortress Fighters" Copyright 2000 by William F. Somers $20. ISBN No. 0-9705799-1-8
Today Bill lives in Arizona and is the editor of a local newspaper.
Tinian: where many B-17
pilots went to fly B-29s "to the Empire"
Rob's 351st BG Web Page Links (click on the buttons)
Enter 351st BG Main Gate Come on in....
Admin & Maint Life at
Crew Training Pilots, Gunners,
* 1) Lt. Needham: South Bend Tribune
"Service Notes" - St. Joseph County Public Library,
Official USAF 351st BG combat diary.