B-29 Gunner Flew 33 Missions; Met FDR

Homer Bates 1943

Homer Bates flew B-29s during WWII

In 1942, after enlisting with the Army Air Corps and testing high for skills needed to work with aircraft, Homer Bates of Markle, IN, was assigned to the 20th Air Force 58th Bomber Wing. His assigned duties would be manning a gun turret on a B29. As B29s were still in production, gunners practiced on B17 simulators since they had similar controls. When it came time to practice shooting, the gunners experienced a problem.

“Several of us were told to shoot painted ammo simultaneously at a banner flying behind a tow plane,” he said. “It served as a moving target and we were judged on our shooting abilities. At first the judges could not tell whose shots went where. So we were given ammo painted different colors. The judges could then tell by colors of holes which gunners needed more practice.”

His first mission over Japan took place June 1944. “For more than a year it was a steady routine of dropping bombs and encountering enemy fighters and heavy accurate flak,” he said. His longest mission to Nagoya lasted 18 hours. During the war, Bates flew 33 missions over Japan in B29s.

In February 1944 Bates’ crew was ordered to fly a B29 Typhoon McGoon III to Washington D.C. No reason was given for the special trip. Upon landing at Bolling Field, the crew commander was met by General Hap Arnold and his staff. Each of the crew members was greeted and asked to explain the aircraft so he could brief the president. The following morning the crew was completing their pre-flight check of equipment when they saw a limousine pull up beside the plane, along with an official-looking motorcade. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had arrived!

He and members of his family began questioning the crew about the aircraft. Anna Roosevelt Boettiger and her two teenaged children, Eleanor and Curtis, went into the nose section and asked questions of the crew. “It was obvious she was well versed about the plane,” said Bates.

The president remained in the vehicle but appeared pleased with the aircraft. “That was perhaps the only time the President ever saw a B29,” said Bates. Considering that the B29 project cost $3 billion and the A-bomb $2 billion, the president’s approval was a relief to the crew. The president ended the session by shaking hands with each crew member.

bates-medals-table

Staff sergeant Bates was discharged November 2, 1945. For his bravery and contribution to the war effort he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and several other medals. In 1990 the Chinese Air Force recognized Bates’ efforts and sent him a certificate of appreciation.

bates-chin-af-doc

Military life had gotten into Bates’ blood. He joined the Indiana Air National Guard from 1954-1961. He re-joined the Air Force, spent a year in France during the Berlin Wall Crisis, then re-joined the Air National Guard full time until 1982, retiring as a Master Sergeant.

I was privileged to include Homer’s story in my book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans. Homer is my husband’s uncle and in recent years we became good friends. Sadly, Uncle Homer passed away in Nov. 2016. We often thanked him for his service. As my husband and son have both served in the Air Force, they always had lots to talk about!

Veteran’s Day–Opportunity to Recognize Military Service People

This week we have the official opportunity to recognize military service people! Veteran’s Day will be celebrated on Wed, November 11. Remember to thank a veteran!

My wonderful husband John retired after 21 years of serving in the  Air Force and Air National Guard. We're proud of him!

My wonderful husband John retired after 21 years of serving in the Air Force and Air National Guard. We’re proud of him!

On a personal note, my husband will celebrate his birthday on November 10. He is retired with 21 years of service in the Air Force, Grissom Air Reserve Base  in Peru, Indiana in Peru, Indiana and finally at the 122nd Fighter Wing at Fort Wayne Indiana

We are proud of him and the effort and commitment he has always had to our nation’s security. Happy birthday, John!

**

Marine poster

November 10 is also the birthday of the US Marine Corps. You can read a nice blog post about the Marines at GP Cox’s Pacific Paratrooper blog. I subscribe to this informative and well put-together blog which frequently sends out information about our nation’s vets and their experiences.

Carl Mankey earned two Purple Hearts while fighting in World War II.

Carl Mankey earned two Purple Hearts while fighting in World War II.

In honor of the Marines I’ve included an excerpt of the story from the sole Marine in my book—Carl Mankey.

“On June 22, 1944, Marine Private First Class Carl Mankey led 20 men from his squadron up a mountain in Saipan in the Mariana Islands. Mankey’s goal was to destroy a Japanese machine gun nest that had fired for hours on Allied troops.

Disregarding heavy fire from the enemy, Mankey moved into the open to shoot at the nest with his rifle, tthrowing grenades and hoping to disrupt the firing. Failing to hit the target, Mankey refused to give up. He returned to the machine gun nest, repeating his brave actions. This time he completely destroyed it.”

The story goes on to relate this Marine’s being awarded two Purple Hearts for valor in service in World War II.

This story is one of 28 in my book which is available for $20 at this site and Amazon. It would make a great Christmas gift for military/history lover.

front aud

This season I’m speaking at several locales about my World War II book and project of interviewing more than 100 (now 103 to be precise) vets from that era.

Last week the Fort Wayne History Center hosted a lecture featuring my book. A crowd of 60 people listened attentively and later expressed support of the subject.

Roger Myers served as a bombardier during WWII.

Roger Myers served as a bombardier during WWII.

Pelfrey Wyall K

I was thrilled to see two of the vets from my book in the audience—Roger Myers (Army Air Corps) and Marty Wyall (WASP).

Thanks to the staff of the Fort Wayne History Center and Director Todd Pelfrey for allowing me to have this unique opportunity!

John and I also participated in the Fort Wayne (IN) Veteran’s Day parade. He rode in the 122nd’s nice bus. I walked with the Blue Star Mothers—women whose children are or have been in the military.

**

Finally, these vets are among those I’ve interviewed who have November birthdays. Some have passed on– Richard Willey, Wallace Avey, Richard Block. We remember them all for their courage and selflessness.

Wallace Avey-Army

Wallace Avey-Army

Richard Block-Navy

Richard Block-Navy

Robert Kiester - Army Air Corps

Robert Kiester – Army Air Corps

Wayne Sauers- Army

Wayne Sauers- Army

Albert Silk-Army

Albert Silk-Army

Richard Willey-Army

Richard Willey-Army

If you know a veteran, please make an effort to honor them on Veteran’s Day, Christmas, their birthdays, any day.

Opportunity to Meet/Honor WWII Vets!

Paul Sell (1926-2014)

Paul Sell (1926-2014)

A big FREE event is coming up one week from today for all of you military supporters/ history lovers around Fort Wayne!

 

On November 1, starting at 2pm at the Fort Wayne History CenterI will talk about my project of interviewing World War II vets as part of the George Mather lecture series.

 aaBurns Virgil uni

A year ago, I wrote a book with 28 stories from WW II vets in Adams, Allen, Huntington, Whitley and Wells counties. The book’s title is World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans.

 

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

There will be a book signing that day. The book sells for $20 on Amazon and through this website. If you purchase a copy and like the stories, would you please post a review at Amazon? Thanks!

  

I’m excited to talk about the writing of my book and my ongoing goal to interview as many World War II vets as possible. I believe they could all be deceased within the next five years. Keep in mind their minimum age is now 88 years old!

 aaSchultz Cal old

Their stories are too valuable to lose!  

Recently I interviewed my 100th World War II vet! The photos on this blog are among those WWII I’ve interviewed who were born in October.

 100 WWII vets 2015

This poster I made contains all of their precious faces. I’ll have the poster at the lecture for you to examine.

Dr. Justin Arata--Navy

Dr. Justin Arata–Navy

I’ve asked several World War II vets to attend the lecture. We’ll recognize the vets by branch and then allow time for the public to greet them.  

It will be a chance for people to meet/greet World War II vets they may not have known were in their community. It’s also a great way for them to see people they may have known in the past and served with. Wouldn’t that be a cool occurrence?

 

I hope this event is something those of you who live in the northeast Indiana area will put on your calendars and choose to attend with family and friends. Better yet, bring another veteran of any era with you so he/she can participate in the special event!

 

And bring kids with you so they have the experience to meet a World War II veteran. You never know what impact this meeting may have on their lives!

 

The Fort Wayne History Center is located at 302 East Berry Street in Fort Wayne. They have a convenient parking lot (free) next to the door. There is an elevator to the floor with the lecture, which is also free.

Also the News-Sentinel newspaper in Fort Wayne has been publishing new World War II stories I’ve written of vets in our area every other Monday since February. The next story is due out tomorrow. Please read it and if you like it, please let the editors know. I’m hoping they’ll allow the column to continue as long as we have vets around to tell their stories!

 Always remember to thank a veteran for his/her service!

 

 

Birthday Tribute to World War II Vet Don Shady

Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.

Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.

Today I want to say ‘Happy birthday’ and give tribute to a World War II vet that I’m happy to call my friend.

We attend the same church and usually see each other weekly, but I didn’t know Don Shady well when I interviewed him about his experiences in the Army Air Corps during the war.

In fact, I had not interviewed many Army Air Corps members at that time and fear I may have burdened him with some silly questions about the American military’s newest branch (it became the Air Force in 1947).

But Don was patient with me and believed in me enough to allow me to put his story in the book World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans.

His is one of 28 World War II stories from Allen, Adams, Wells, Whitley, Huntington counties.

Don shared accounts of when he was piloting a C47 during battle. The following is an edited excerpt from my book:

In December 1944 Lieutenant Shady was involved in the Siege of Bastogne. It was a battle between American and German forces at the Belgian town of that name.

Weather aided the German army’s efforts. “A low ceiling from cloud cover prevented us from taking in supplies early by air, but we flew on Christmas Day and the day after,” said Shady. The siege lasted one week until the nearly depleted American forces were relieved by General George Patton’s Third Army.

Since the book has been published, Don has helped with its publicity.

Front row: Bob Foster, Don Shady. Back row: Nelson Price, Kayleen Reusser

Front row: Bob Foster, Don Shady. Back row: Nelson Price, Kayleen Reusser

On February 28, Don and another vet featured in my book, Bob Foster, accompanied John and me to Indianapolis to be interviewed by Nelson Price on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis. The hour-long show, Reflections of World War II veterans, was a success largely due to Don’s contribution in recounting his war experiences.

He had shared with me that he had never been on the radio in his life. It meant a lot to me that he was willing to venture out on a snowy day to go with us on an all-day trip.

WWII vet Shady good

More recently Don and three local World War II vets participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Wells County Public Library. Don shared his story of helping to liberate Polish prisoners of war back to their homeland. “They were filthy and we had to delouse the plane after each trip, but it was rewarding,” he said.

Thanks Don for being such a gentleman and kind friend. I’m glad we’ve gotten to know each other.

**

WWII Legacies: Stories of NE IN Veterans is available at this site’s homepage using the Paypal button.

WWII Vets to Share Stories on Upcoming Radio Interview

Bob Foster fought with the US Army in WWII.

Bob Foster fought with the US Army in WWII.

On Sat 2/28 my husband John & I will accompany 2 World War II vets from my book — World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans — to University of Indianapolis to be featured on a Hoosier History Live radio show. It airs each Saturday, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM. You can listen live on WICR Online.

Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.

Don Shady fought in Army Air Corps in WWII.

Don Shady was a pre-med major at Indiana University before enlisting in the Army Air Corps. He co-piloted a C-47 in Allied attacks on Germans, then at war’s end his crew transported Polish prisoners of war who had been liberated back to their homeland from German-held territory.

Bob Foster (pictured at top of this post) of Fort Wayne was among the thousands of Allied troops who arrived in Normandy, France, in mid-June 1944 for the Battle of Cherbourg. Six months later, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, one of the war’s most brutal conflicts.
Please show your support of our World War II vets by listening in and maybe even placing a call of support during the show! 317) 927-9101 Thanks!

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

Our host, Nelson Price, has conducted this weekly show for many years. Please tune in and call with a question and thanks to these vets who served our country so well!
WWII Legacies: Stories of NE IN Veterans can be purchased by clicking the Paypal button on this site’s homepage ($20+$4.95 P/H).
Thank a vet today for his/her service!

Marty Wyall Last WWII WASP in Indiana

Marty Wyall served as a WASP during WWII

Marty Wyall served as a WASP during WWII

“Being a WASP changed our thinking about everything,” said Marty Wyall of Fort Wayne.

Among the 25,000 applicants for the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots), Mary Anna Martin of Indianapolis was one of 1,830 women accepted and one of only 1,074 who completed the program.

Marty showing her WASP uniform.

Marty showing her WASP uniform.

This is an excerpt from my book,

World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans. It deals with the life of Marty Wyall, a former WASP during World War II.

 

Spending time w/ Marty on her birthday was a joy.

Spending time w/ Marty on her birthday was a joy.

It was a privilege to spend time with Marty on her birthday recently. She is just as vivacious and energetic as I imagine she was in her early 20s when she finished the WASP training.

 

Marty thinks she is the last living WASP in Indiana.

If you’d like to know more about her story and that of 27 other World War II vets, please send $20+$4.95 P/H=$24.95 via the Buy Now button on my home page. We will send the book to you ASAP.

 

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

I’m also available for speaking to your group about interviewing my mission to interview as many World War II vets as possible to preserve this part of our nation’s history. At this point I’ve interviewed 50+ from all branches except Coast Guard. Most stories have been published in magazines, newspapers and books.

 

Even if you can’t write a story, you can tell a vet thank you! Don’t wait for Veteran’s Day or another military holiday—do it today! It could make a big difference in the life of a vet!

Meet Distinguished WWII Vets at Free Event!

Ruth Licking

Ruth Licking

Homer Bates

Homer Bates

If you’ve wanted to meet a World War II vet and ask questions about his or her service, you’ll have a unique opportunity to do so on Sat, Jan 24 at River Terrace Estates in Bluffton, Indiana.

 

Ruth Licking married while in service.

Ruth Licking married while in service.

Two vets from my book, World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans, have agreed to talk about their military service and answer questions about it.

Homer Bates flew as an aerial gunner in B29s, F47s and F51s. He flew 33 bombing missions over Japan in 1944 and 1945. His planes were often involved in combat and received heavy flak from the enemy.

He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross medal. He also met American president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

 

Another World War II vet from my book who will attend is Ruth Licking. She was enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) assigned to a clerical position at Kelly Field in San Antonio. “I kept track of paperwork for officers’ transfers and those headed overseas,” she said. Her assignment at HQ earned her the rank of corporal and later, sergeant.

 

In December 1943, Cooper received a special honor when the other WACs at Kelly Field chose her as their representative for ‘Miss Victory’. “I was thought to be the female counterpart to the male soldier,” she said. “The other WACs saw me as someone who was willing to work hard, sacrificially and with little fuss.” Cooper and two other WACs from neighboring bases were recognized at a military ball during which the acclaimed Andrews sisters sang.

 

The hour-long meeting will be held in the River Terrace Independent Living front room at 10am.

 

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

World War II: Legacies of Northeast Indiana Veterans

My book will be available for purchase ($20) and as a special bonus, you may ask these vets to sign it!

 

Please come and honor these vets with respectful questions and comments about their military service.