All posts tagged 'World War II'

97-year-old WWII Naval Intelligence Officer takes first flight in a B-25J Mitchell

B-25 Mitchell - Show MeWorld War II era B-25J Mitchell lands on the runways of Bowman Field (KLOU) to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. World War II veterans are being treated to honor flights during WWII Operation Gratitude.

The B-25J Mitchell, affectionately nicknamed “Show Me”, is best known for its role during the raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942. This raid, led by Col. Jimmy Doolittle, is often cited for boosting America’s morale after the attack on Pearl Harbor just months before.

“Show Me” flew from the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, which is located in St. Charles County Smartt Airport (KSET), to Louisville’s own Bowman Field Airport (KLOU) specifically for the celebration. 

WWII era B-25J Mitchell, Bowman Field, June 2019

 

Twenty veterans from all branches of the military were carried five at a time in “Show Me” across the rolling hills of the Bluegrass State.

 One of those passengers, Norma Lewis, admits she spent most of the flight with her hands clenched. Not in fear, however, but exhilaration.

“The engine is like a thousand violins in my ears,” she said before pausing. “The feeling of being in the air is just… wow.” Norma smiled, recounting the flight in “Show Me”.

At 97 years-young, as she will be sure to remind you, Norma has lived an altruistic life.

In 1943, at the age of 21, she joined the Navy. She was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina as part of a mission of tracking German submarines.

After three and a half years as a Naval Intelligence Officer, Norma retired from the Navy.

She came to Louisville in the 1960s as a sign language interpreter, something she picked up around the age of 10 after having been raised by her deaf aunt and uncle in Connecticut.

In 1977, “Mass of the Air”, a televised weekly mass on local news station WHAS, began to air. Norma volunteered for the program as an interpreter and has since been with the station for 40 years. 

WWII Operation of Gratitude is presented by Honor Flight Bluegrass Chapter during the week of June 3-7 to recognize the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

Jeff Thoke, chairman of the board of Honor Flight Bluegrass, said: “I am thankful to be able to put on such a truly special event for these veterans.”

From left: Norma Lewis, Jeff Thoke, and Ernie Micka pose
in front of the B-25J Mitchell, Bowman Field, June 2019

 

Honor Flight Bluegrass was selected as a recipient of a $75,000 grant from the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund, administered by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs to fully sponsor the honor flight.

For more information, visit www.honorflightbluegrass.org

B-25J Mitchell lands at Bowman Field to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, June 2019

 

History In The Making For Ms. "Memphis Belle"


 
 

“We Used To Call It Luck” - Wayne Tabor

         On a non-stop flight from Brazil to Africa, Wayne Tabor is 21 years old. He is riding on the right side of the Boeing B-17, alert at all times because their carrier is under attack. He is a waist gunner and completely exposed as his squadron is rapidly approaching enemy boarders. He will complete 30 missions in a matter of 72 days averaging out to a rugged 6 missions per day over Nazi occupied Europe. Everything seems to move at the speed of light until you hear a “THUMP,” and then another “THUMP” all at once you realize, “these guys are trying to kill us!” Brace yourself as the enemy aircraft approaches you at 400 mph, too fast to rebut the blow; too fast to shoot down. “But fighting doesn’t solve anything” says Tabor “More than 26,000 lives were lost, 26,000 stories were never told. It’s just not worth it.”

          Tabor’s squadron eventually completed so many missions that they were grounded. Wayne Tabor stepped up and out of that Boeing B-17 and he did not return. That all changed September 24, 2012 when 93 year old Wayne Tabor made his way to Clark County airport and ventured back on to this aircraft after 72 years. “It brought back a lot of really good memories!” he stated with sheer certainty. “Whenever you watch television now-a-days, you see all of these crazy reality shows! THIS he said, while pointing to the B-17; fighting a war in this aircraft is the ultimate reality.”

         Upon meeting the pilot of this novel aircraft I quickly learned of the true value that has been invested here. The Pilot’s name was Mr. Ray Fowler; turns out he is an extremely successful and well rounded pilot. Mr. Fowler has been flying B-17 aircraft for 12 years now and everyday is a new adventure. “It never gets old” he declares. This beautiful four engine aircraft belongs to a 501(c)(3) non-profit flying museum known as The Liberty Foundation. Any funds that are generated immediately go back into this aircraft, simply offsetting the aircraft’s high cost of maintenance. The mere interest of the people is what keeps this aircraft alive and on tour. Thanks to the prevailing interests and generous donations of aviators throughout our country, this historic aircraft is still in flight today. Without the help of others, the Memphis Belle would surely be silenced and permanently placed in a museum.

         The Liberty Foundation’s Memphis Belle is in fact, one of only 13 remaining B-17’s that still fly today, as most of them were lost in European combat during the war. Lucky for us, this particular “Memphis Belle” was built toward the end of the war and never personally experienced any combat. It has however been painted to exactly match the original, historic “Memphis Belle” B-17 that flew countless missions with the 91st bomb group of the mighty 8th Air force; the first B-17 to complete 25 missions. Interestingly enough, The Liberty Foundation’s Memphis Belle happens to be the very same Memphis Belle that was hired for the filming of the Memphis Belle movie in England, 1989.

         The Liberty Foundation’s World War II Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Memphis Belle” is taking to the skies over Louisville, Kentucky on its first ever national tour. The Liberty Foundation’s B-17 is now on tour providing visitors with an exciting opportunity to take a step through time and learn more about the men and women who gave so much to protect our country. The Memphis Belle will be on tour for the next few weeks, making flight “missions” possible, without being shot down from the sky (we hope). With each “Mission” curious aviators will be invited to take wing in this historic aircraft where participants will receive a pre-flight safety briefing that contains historical significance of the aircraft as well as a spectacular scenic air tour around the city. During this flight, passengers will be encouraged to move freely about the cabin in order to enjoy the unique opportunity of visiting the various positions of a combat crew.

         Over the next few weeks the B-17 flight experience will also be available in the Indianapolis, Indiana, followed by St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee. Public flights will begin in the mornings, followed by ground tours in the afternoon; the hours of operation are from 10am to 5pm each day. Your “mission” will take roughly 45 minutes to complete with approximately half an hour in flight. B-17 flights are $410.00 for Liberty Foundation members and $450.00 for all non-members. Passengers can become a Liberty Foundation Member for $40 and will in turn receive the member discount for all family and friends.

This is your invitation to take part in this upcoming weekend’s mission. The Liberty Foundation’s Boeing B-17 Memphis Belle will be in the Louisville, Kentucky area September 29 – 30, 2012 and it will be located at the Clark County air port in Sellersburg, Indiana. Have you gone for a flight in this aircraft previously? Tell us about it in a comment below! We would love to hear your stories!

Clark County Airport (KJVY)
Aircraft Specialists FBO
6005 Propeller Lane
Sellersburg, IN 47172


Call 918-340-0243 and schedule your flight today! To view the full schedule: follow - https://www.libertyfoundation.org/schedule.html

Tuskegee Airmen Return To Historic Airfield And Share Memories

Article By: www.aero-news.net
Four Of The Unit's Original Members Head Back To The Site Of Moton Field

As part of a special trip sponsored by a non-profit organization, Wish of a Lifetime and the Dallas chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., the men have been given the opportunity to visit the Tuskegee Airman National Historic Site at Moton Field. The group and their friends and loved ones will be given a private tour by the National Parks Services on Saturday morning.

Later, the men will take part in a public seminar to share the history and legacy of the airmen at the auditorium in the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center at Tuskegee University. The seminar, “An Evening with the Red Tails,” is being hosted by retired Col. Roosevelt J. Lewis, president of the Tuskegee chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
The Airmen:

Retired Staff Sgt. Homer Hogues (pictured, top left) was drafted into the military after he completed high school. After basic training, his orders were to go to Japan for clean-up duties. Upon the advice of a fellow airman and friend, his orders were changed and further testing resulted in Hogues’ assignment to the Tuskegee Airmen. At Lockbourne Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio, Hogues was assigned to the famous 99th Fighter Squadron 332nd Fighter Group. He was a mechanic on airplanes with pilots such as Daniel “Chappie” James, who helped win World War II.

Retired Flight Officer Robert Tennerson McDaniel (pictured, top right) entered the military in 1943 and was accepted into the Aviation Cadet Training Program at Tuskegee Institute. He flew the TB-25J serving his country as a flight officer with the 477th Bombardier Group. McDaniel suffered an unjust court-martial and was put under house arrest because of his courageous resistance against racism and segregation. The charges were eventually cleared and he was honorably restored.

Retired Capt. Claude R. Platte (pictured, bottom left) served as a primary flight instructor, training over 300 blacks to solo and fly PT -13s, PT-17s and PT-19s. He was assigned to the 301st Fighter Squadron and the first black officer to be trained and commissioned in the newly reopened Air Force Pilot Training Program at Randolph Field Air Force Base, Texas the "West Point of the Air."

Retired Lt. Calvin Spann (pictured, bottom right) went into the Army Air Corps to start aviation cadet training in 1943. He was sent to Tuskegee, Ala. for training. Spann received his wings at Tuskegee. At the completion of training in 1944, Lt. Spann was sent to Italy and became a member of the 100th Fighter Squadron, a part of the 332nd Fighter Group under the command of Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Lt. Spann flew 26 combat missions before the end of the war in Europe.

(Image credit: www.aero-news.net)

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