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485th Bombardment Group

485th Bombardment Group



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485th Bombardment Group

History - Books - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To

History

The 485th Bombardment Group was a B-24 group that fought with the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy from May 1944 to April 1945, mainly taking part in the strategic bombing offensive.

The group was formed in the United States in September 1943. In March-April 1944 the group moved to the Mediterranean with the ground echelon going to Italy and the air echelon to Tunisia for extra training. The group entered combat in May 1944 and spent most of the war attacking strategic targets across occupied Europe and Germany. The group was awarded a distinguished unit citation for an attack on an oil refinery at Vienna on 26 June 1944.

The group also took part in a number of tactical missions. During the advance on Rome the group was one of ten B-24 groups that took part in a 17 May 1944 attack on the harbours at Piombion, San Stefano and Porto Ferraio on Elba as part of the campaign to prevent supplies from reaching the German front line. In August 1944 it attacked bridges, harbours and German troops to support Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France. In March and April 1945 it was used to support the British Eighth Army during the final offensive in the north of Italy.

In May 1945 the group returned to the United States, and in August it was redesignated as the 45th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy). It began to train with the B-29 but never used it in combat. It was assigned to Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946 but was inactivated on 4 August 1946.

Books

Aircraft

September 1943-May 1945: Consolidated B-24 Liberator
c.August 1945-August 1946: Boeing B-29 Superfortress

Timeline

14 Sept 1943Constituted as 485th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
20 SeptemberActivated
Mar-April 1944To Mediterranean and Fifteenth Air Force
May 1945To US
August 1945Redesignated as 485th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy)
21 May 1946To Strategic Air Command
4 August 1946Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Col Walter E ArnoldJr: 27 Sep 1943
Col John P Tomhave:c. 29 Aug 1944
Col John B Cornett: 17Feb 1945
Lt Col Douglas M Cairns:, 23Mar 1945-unkn
Lt Col Richard T Lively:6 Aug 1945
Col John W White: 15Sep 1945
Col Walter S Lee:, 1946-Aug 1946

Main Bases

Fairmont AAFld, Neb: 20Sep 1943-11 Mar 194
Venosa, Italy: Apr1944-15 May 1945
Sioux Falls AAFld,SD: 30 May 1945
Sioux City AAB, Iowa:24 Jul 1945
Smoky Hill AAFld, Kan: 8 Sept 1945-4 August 1946

Component Units

506th Bombardment Squadron: 1946
828th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
829th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
830th Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946
831st Bombardment Squadron: 1943-1946

Assigned To

1944-45: 55th Bombardment Wing; Fifteenth Air Force


485th Bombardment Group (H)

Location. 39° 0.979′ N, 104° 51.31′ W. Marker is in United States Air Force Academy, Colorado, in El Paso County. Marker is in the United States Air Force Academy Cemetery, on Parade Loop west of Stadium Boulevard, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: USAF Academy CO 80840, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 379 th Bomb Group (H) (here, next to this marker) World War II Glider Pilots (here, next to this marker) 306 th Bombardment Group (H) (here, next to this marker) 95 th Bomb Group H (here, next to this marker) 492nd Bomb Group (H) & 801st Bomb Group (P) (here, next to this marker) 416th Bombardment Group (L)

(here, next to this marker) 20th Fighter Group (here, next to this marker) 344 th Bomb Group (M) AAF (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in United States Air Force Academy.

More about this marker. Must have a valid ID to enter the USAF Academy grounds.

Also see . . .
1. 485th Bomb Group Association. (Submitted on April 7, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. 485th Bomb Group on Facebook. (Submitted on April 7, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. 485th Bombardment Group. (Submitted on April 7, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. 485th Bombardment Group. (Submitted on April 7, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
5. 485th Bomb Group. (Submitted on April 7, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
6. 485th Bombardment Group. (Submitted on April 7, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)


485th Bomb Group

A B-24 Liberator (serial number 44-41068) of the 485th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force in flight. Handwritten caption on reverse: 'Yellow? 44-41068.' B-24J-195-CO #44-41068 485th BG - 828th BS - 15th AF This a/c was destroyed by fire on the ground at Venosa Airfield 10 October 1944

2LT John D. "Dud" Crouchley Pilot 485th BG - 828th BS - 15th AF KIA - 28 June 1944 Held his severely damaged aircraft steady allowing his crew to bail out safely.

John D. Crouchley Crew 485th BG - 828th BS Standing L to R: Ralph F. Perillo (G), Thomas A. Langstaff (TG), Edward G. Johnson (BTG), Eugene A. Lascotte (NG), Donald R. Turner (FE), William J. Van Meer (RO) Kneeling Left to Right: John D. Crouchley (P), Allen G. Meister (B), Forrest J. Leveille (N), William J. Hays (CP) This crew was shot down on 28 June 1944. Crouchley was KIA. The rest of the crew (minus Meister) survived and were made POW. Meister had been made squadron bombardier days before and was not aboard when this crew was shot down.

F/O Elmer D. Kohler Co-Pilot Jonas Latwaitis Crew 485th BG - 829th BS KIA - 9 June 1944 near Thal, Austria

2LT Marion E. Shelor Navigator Jonas Latwaitis Crew 485th BG - 829th BS - 15th AF Shot down and captured on 9 June 1944 near Thal, Austria. One of only three surivors from his crew.

TSGT Jack D. Mizrahi Radio Operator Jonas Latwaitis Crew 485th BG - 829th BS - 15th AF

2LT Morris Burney Navigator Jonas Latwaitis Crew 485th BG - 829th BS - 15th AF Shot down 9 June 1944 POW

John Latwaitis Crew 485th BG - 15th AF Standing Left to Right: Ed Wals (NG), Otis Vinson (FE), Jack Marahi (RO), Paul Combs, TG, Simon Ventimiglia (BTG), Edgar Pierce (TTG) Kneeling Left to Right: Marion Shelor (B), Jonas Latwaitis (P), Elmer Kohler (CP), Morris Burney (P) Sitting: unidentified ground crew man This crew were shot down on 9 June 1944. Only Shelor, Burney and Vinson survived

831st Bomb Squadron emblem The 831st BS was part of the 485th BG - 15th AF

The wing was originally constituted as the 485th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and activated on 20 September 1943.[6] Its original squadrons were the newly activated 828th, 829th, and 830th Bombardment Squadrons, which were joined a few days later by the 831st Bombardment Squadron at Gowen Field, Idaho.[7] The 831st was an experienced Consolidated B-24 Liberator squadron that had been performing anti-submarine warfare missions as the 11th Antisubmarine Squadron.[7] The group deployed to Gowen, where it derived its initial cadre from the 29th Bombardment Group[8] and was assigned to Second Air Force for training with B-24s at Gowen and at Fairmont Army Air Field, Nebraska. The group deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in March and April 1944.[6]

Although the ground echelon had deployed to Southern Italy by April 1944, the air echelon was detained in Tunisia for further training. The group entered combat with Fifteenth Air Force in May 1944. The 485th engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia, bombing marshalling yards, oil refineries, airfields, heavy industry, and other strategic objectives.[6]

The group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for combating intense fighter opposition and attacking an oil refinery at Vienna on 26 June 1944. The 485th also carried out some support and interdiction operations. It struck bridges, harbors, and troop concentrations in August 1944 to aid Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France, It hit lines of communications and other targets during March and April 1945 to support the advance of British Eighth Army in northern Italy.[6] It flew its 187th and last combat mission against Linz, Austria before preparing to return to the United States and re-equip.[9]

The 485th returned to the United States in May 1945 and was programmed for deployment to the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment group.[citation needed] Many combat veterans of MTO demobilized upon arrival in the United States, and a small cadre of personnel reformed at Sioux Falls Army Airfield, South Dakota at the end of May.[citation needed] The group was reassigned to Second Air Force for training in Iowa. Because B-29 groups had only three combat squadrons, the 831st Bombardment Squadron was inactivated in August.[7] The group then moved on paper[10] to Smoky Hill Army Air Field, Kansas in September.[6]

The group remained on active duty after the Japanese surrender. In March 1946 Continental Air Forces became Strategic Air Command and Second Air Force was replaced by Fifteenth Air Force as the group's intermediate headquarters. Simultaneously, the 506th Bombardment Squadron was assigned to the group from the 44th Bombardment Group.[11] In August 1946 the personnel and equipment of the 485th were reassigned to the 97th Bombardment Group and the 485th was inactivated.[6][12]


History [ edit | edit source ]

World War II [ edit | edit source ]

Consolidated B-24 Librator

The wing was originally constituted as the 485th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and activated on 20 September 1943. Δ] Its original squadrons were the newly activated 828th, 829th, and 830th Bombardment Squadrons, which were joined a few days later by the 831st Bombardment Squadron at Gowen Field, Idaho. Ε] The 831st was an experienced Consolidated B-24 Liberator squadron that had been performing anti-submarine warfare missions as the 11th Antisubmarine Squadron. Ε] The group deployed to Gowen, where it derived its initial cadre from the 29th Bombardment Group Ζ] and was assigned to Second Air Force for training with B-24s at Gowen and at Fairmont Army Air Field, Nebraska. The group deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in March and April 1944. Δ]

Although the ground echelon had deployed to Southern Italy by April 1944, the air echelon was detained in Tunisia for further training. The group entered combat with Fifteenth Air Force in May 1944. The 485th engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia, bombing marshalling yards, oil refineries, airfields, heavy industry, and other strategic objectives. Δ]

The group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for combating intense fighter opposition and attacking an oil refinery at Vienna on 26 June 1944. The 485th also carried out some support and interdiction operations. It struck bridges, harbors, and troop concentrations in August 1944 to aid Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France, It hit lines of communications and other targets during March and April 1945 to support the advance of British Eighth Army in northern Italy. Δ] It flew its 187th and last combat mission against Linz, Austria before preparing to return to the United Statesd and re-equip. Η]

The 485th returned to the United States in May 1945 and was programmed for deployment to the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment group. [ citation needed ] Many combat veterans of MTO demobilized upon arrival in the United States, and a small cadre of personnel reformed at Sioux Falls Army Airfield, South Dakota at the end of May. [ citation needed ] The group was reassigned to Second Air Force for training in Iowa. Because B-29 groups had only three combat squadrons, the 831st Bombardment Squadron was inactivated in August. Ε] The group then moved on paper ⎖] to Smoky Hill Army Air Field, Kansas in September. Δ]

The group remained on active duty after the Japanese surrender. In March 1946 Continental Air Forces became Strategic Air Command and Second Air Force was replaced by Fifteenth Air Force as the group's intermediate headquarters. Simultaneously, the 506th Bombardment Squadron was assigned to the group from the 44th Bombardment Group. ⎗] In August 1946 the personnel and equipment of the 485th were reassigned to the 97th Bombardment Group and the 485th was inactivated. Δ] ⎘]

Matador and Mace era [ edit | edit source ]

585th Tactical Missile Group Patch

TM-61 Matador Missile on its launcher in Germany

In 1954 USAF began deploying TM-61 Matador cruise missiles to Germany. By 1956, three squadrons were in place and USAFE organized the 701st Tactical Missile Wing with a subordinate group at each of the main bases where Matadors were stationed. ⎙] The 585th Tactical Missile Group was activated at Bitburg Air Base, Germany in September 1956 to command the 1st Tactical Missile Squadron and two support squadrons. ⎚]

Shortly after activation the group began upgrading its TM-61A missiles to TM-61Cs. ⎛] The TM-61C was equipped with the Shannicle guidance system which generated a grid the missile could use to navigate, replacing the ground to air steering systems of the TM-61A. The group participated in periodic test launches of Matadors at Wheelus AB, Libya. ⎜]

In 1958, USAFE replaced the 701st wing with the 38th Tactical Missile Wing in an admistrative move to keep on active duty units whose roots could be traced to World War II. ⎝] Simultaneously, the 1st squadron was replaced by the 71st Tactical Missile Squadron, one of the historical elements of the WW II 38th Bombardment Group. The Matador was growing obsolescent and the last Matador was taken off Victor (nuclear) Alert on 30 June 1962. ⎞]

The group replaced its Matadors with TM-76 Mace (later MGM-13) missiles. [ citation needed ] These missiles did not rely on ground signals for guidance, but used an onboard radar to match the terrain with a map stored on board the missile. In 1962 the 585th and its companion groups in Germany were inactivated and the missile squadrons assigned directly to the 38th Wing. ⎝] On the same day, the last Matador at Bitburg was decommissioned. ⎞]

Ground Launched Cruise Missile era [ edit | edit source ]

BGM-109 Gryphon transporter erector launcher

The 485th Tactical Missile Wing was activated at Florennes Air Base, Belgium in August 1984. The first Gryphon missile arrived on 28 August ⎟] and the wing began operating the Gryphon from 1985 until the implementation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1988. Ώ]

The wing and its base were the target of periodic peace movement protests near the main gate. ⎠] In August 1988 a ten-man Soviet Inspection Team visited Florennes to insure treaty compliance. ⎡] The wing was inactivated in 1989 with the withdrawal of American forces from Florennes. Ώ]


Contents

When activated in 2003, the 485 AEW was a composite wing of 24 McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle fighter aircraft and 46 Lockheed C-130H Hercules airlift aircraft and more than 3500 personnel from 82 different locations. The C-130s represented one of the largest combat groupings of this aircraft ever. [4]

The wing was activated for Operation Iraqi Freedom and was composed of aircraft and regular Air Force personnel from Langley AFB, Virginia and Eglin AFB, Florida. It also included aircraft and guardsmen from the West Virginia, [4] Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Delaware Air National Guards, [5] and reservists from Niagara Falls.

By 3 May 2003, the C-130 portion of the wing had flown 1199 missions, 3354 sorties, 7451 hours, hauled 9382 tons of cargo and 8800 passengers, and boasted a mission capable rate greater than 90 percent. When the F-15s completed flight operations 17 April they had compiled 581 sorties, flown more than 4000 hours and maintained a mission capable rate greater than 83 percent. [ citation needed ]

The wing was inactivated in early May 2003 with the last members returning to the United States in September of that year. [ citation needed ]

World War II Edit

The wing was originally constituted as the 485th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and activated on 20 September 1943. [6] Its original squadrons were the newly activated 828th, 829th, and 830th Bombardment Squadrons, which were joined a few days later by the 831st Bombardment Squadron at Gowen Field, Idaho. [7] The 831st was an experienced Consolidated B-24 Liberator squadron that had been performing anti-submarine warfare missions as the 11th Antisubmarine Squadron. [7] The group deployed to Gowen, where it derived its initial cadre from the 29th Bombardment Group [8] and was assigned to Second Air Force for training with B-24s at Gowen and at Fairmont Army Air Field, Nebraska. The group deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in March and April 1944. [6]

Although the ground echelon had deployed to Southern Italy by April 1944, the air echelon was detained in Tunisia for further training. The group entered combat with Fifteenth Air Force in May 1944. The 485th engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia, bombing marshalling yards, oil refineries, airfields, heavy industry, and other strategic objectives. [6]

The group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for combating intense fighter opposition and attacking an oil refinery at Vienna on 26 June 1944. The 485th also carried out some support and interdiction operations. It struck bridges, harbors, and troop concentrations in August 1944 to aid Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France, It hit lines of communications and other targets during March and April 1945 to support the advance of British Eighth Army in northern Italy. [6] It flew its 187th and last combat mission against Linz, Austria before preparing to return to the United States and re-equip. [9]

The 485th returned to the United States in May 1945 and was programmed for deployment to the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment group. [ citation needed ] Many combat veterans of MTO demobilized upon arrival in the United States, and a small cadre of personnel reformed at Sioux Falls Army Airfield, South Dakota at the end of May. [ citation needed ] [10] The group was reassigned to Second Air Force for training in Iowa. Because B-29 groups had only three combat squadrons, the 831st Bombardment Squadron was inactivated in August. [7] The group then moved on paper [11] to Smoky Hill Army Air Field, Kansas in September. [6]

The group remained on active duty after the Japanese surrender. In March 1946 Continental Air Forces became Strategic Air Command and Second Air Force was replaced by Fifteenth Air Force as the group's intermediate headquarters. Simultaneously, the 506th Bombardment Squadron was assigned to the group from the 44th Bombardment Group. [12] In August 1946 the personnel and equipment of the 485th were reassigned to the 97th Bombardment Group and the 485th was inactivated. [6] [13]

Matador and Mace era Edit

In 1954 USAF began deploying TM-61 Matador cruise missiles to Germany. By 1956, three squadrons were in place and USAFE organized the 701st Tactical Missile Wing with a subordinate group at each of the main bases where Matadors were stationed. [14] The 585th Tactical Missile Group was activated at Bitburg Air Base, Germany in September 1956 to command the 1st Tactical Missile Squadron and two support squadrons. [15]

Shortly after activation the group began upgrading its TM-61A missiles to TM-61Cs. [16] The TM-61C was equipped with the Shannicle guidance system which generated a grid the missile could use to navigate, replacing the ground to air steering systems of the TM-61A. The group participated in periodic test launches of Matadors at Wheelus AB, Libya. [17]

In 1958, USAFE replaced the 701st wing with the 38th Tactical Missile Wing in an administrative move to keep on active duty units whose roots could be traced to World War II. [18] Simultaneously, the 1st squadron was replaced by the 71st Tactical Missile Squadron, one of the historical elements of the WW II 38th Bombardment Group. The Matador was growing obsolescent and the last Matador was taken off Victor (nuclear) Alert on 30 June 1962. [19]

The group replaced its Matadors with TM-76 Mace (later MGM-13) missiles. [ citation needed ] These missiles did not rely on ground signals for guidance, but used an onboard radar to match the terrain with a map stored on board the missile. In 1962 the 585th and its companion groups in Germany were inactivated and the missile squadrons assigned directly to the 38th Wing. [18] On the same day, the last Matador at Bitburg was decommissioned. [19]

Ground Launched Cruise Missile era Edit

The 485th Tactical Missile Wing was activated at Florennes Air Base, Belgium in August 1984. The first Gryphon missile arrived on 28 August [20] and the wing began operating the Gryphon from 1985 until the implementation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1988. [1]

The wing and its base were the target of periodic peace movement protests near the main gate. [21] In August 1988 a ten-man Soviet Inspection Team visited Florennes to insure treaty compliance. [22] The wing was inactivated in 1989 with the withdrawal of American forces from Florennes. [1]


Looking for Mission Reports (especially the "Loading Lists") for 15th Air Force, 485th Bomb Group, 828th Bomb Squadron. WWII

I am trying to find loading lists for the missions flown by the 485th Bomb Group's 828 Bomb Squadron out of Venosa, Italy during WWII.

I have received two rolls of microfilm from the

Air Force Historical Research Agency, 600 Chennault Circle, Building 1405, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL 36112-6424.

BUT, most of the pages are too faded to even read and, the few loading lists that are visible are for flights that failed to return-- either KIA or taken prisoner.

I have also purchased books from the 485th Bomb Group organization.  They have mission summaries, but most of them appear to be written by a single navigator and are not official.  And again, the only times loading lists appear is when the crew is missing.

Re: Looking for Mission Reports (especially the "Loading Lists") for 15th Air Force, 485th Bomb Group, 828th Bomb Squadron. WWII
Rebecca Collier 09.10.2018 10:42 (в ответ на Peter Rhoades)

Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

The U.S. Army Air Force units you seek are only available from the National Archives on microfilm. The contents are probably the same records that you already received from the Air Force Historical Research Agency. To double-check, please search the index to the Air Force History microfilm available at https://www.airforcehistoryindex.org/ and read the summary to make sure they do not duplicate what you have received.  For the National Archives in College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) to retrieve the rolls in their custody, RDT2 would need to have the IRISREF number listed and it must begin with A, B or C. Otherwise, they are still classified and RDT2 would be unable to make these reels available to you. 

The original paper copy from which the film was created is still in the custody of the Air Force Historical Research Agency and has been declassified. They also may have unit histories and other supporting documents available for the 485th Bomb Group. We suggest you contact the Air Force Historical Research Agency, 600 Chennault Circle, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL 36112-6424, for further information concerning these records. The web site is https://www.afhra.af.mil/

We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

Re: Looking for Mission Reports (especially the "Loading Lists") for 15th Air Force, 485th Bomb Group, 828th Bomb Squadron. WWII

Thank you, Rebecca, for your prompt reply.

On the airforcehistoryindex, I have found few hits when searching for "0485"  or "0828" or Venosa Italy.  Mostly Aircraft accident reports.  The summary of these documents is "Unclassified" --yet the IRISREF numbers do NOT begin with a letter.

Are you recommending that I contact AFHRA a second time asking for further information?  If so, what specific terms or wording should I use?   Should I ask if the information I'm seeking is "CLASSIFIED?"   I didn't specify any degree of classification in my original request.

In your experience, is it unusual for mission report "loading lists" to still be classified after this many years.

Re: Looking for Mission Reports (especially the "Loading Lists") for 15th Air Force, 485th Bomb Group, 828th Bomb Squadron. WWII
Rebecca Collier 10.10.2018 9:35 (в ответ на Peter Rhoades)

Thank you for posting your follow-up request on History Hub!

We searched the Air Force History Index using &ldquoGROUP/0485/BOMB” and  &ldquoSQUADRON/0828/BOMB”. We located a listing of 14 documents for the 485th and 2 for the 828th. If you click on the pdf icon on the listing, the information you need to request the reel is provided. If you click on the highlighted number beside the icon, the same information is provided in a different format. At the bottom of that form to the left is a box containing this sentence --  &ldquo For information on obtaining a copy of the document described above, please click here ”. That will take you to another page that will explain what is needed to request the records from AFHRA. Only do this if you have not received these records before. They are all declassified so a FOIA request is not needed. RDT2 needs the IRISREF and the Reel numbers.

As stated in our earlier response, the AFHRA also has paper copies of all of the records on the  microfilm. If the microfilm you requested is unreadable, we suggest that you ask to see the paper. That may require that you go to Maxwell AFB to see them in person. Please keep in mind that not all mission reports included loading lists. It depended on the clerk what documentation was submitted with the report. Also, the AFHRA has other records that may be helpful to you such as histories and supporting documents.  

We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

Re: Looking for Mission Reports (especially the "Loading Lists") for 15th Air Force, 485th Bomb Group, 828th Bomb Squadron. WWII

Thank you, Darren Cole, for your very helpful email.

I repeated your Air Force History Index search using the slash "/" delimiters for GROUP/0485/BOMB and SQUADRON/0485/BOMB and found the entries you noted.

In those documents I found, unfortunately, the same microfilm spool numbers that were sent to me by AFHRA.

You have most likely saved me a trip to Maxwell AFB:  I suspect that the clerks of that time and unit did not type out exhaustive loading lists as you said.


485th Bomb Group (Heavy)

In honor of the men of the
485th Bomb Group (Heavy)
15th Air Force, World War II.
Activated 1 Oct 1943
Gowen Field, Idaho. Trained at
Fairmont AAF, Nebraska.
Flew B-24's from Venosa, Italy
over Southern, Central, and Eastern
Europe 10 May 44 to 25 Apr 45
Distinguished Unit Citation.
Ten campaigns. Inactivated
20 Aug 45 Sioux City AAF, Iowa

Erected 1982 by 485th Bomb Group Association.

Topics. This memorial is listed in these topic lists: Air & Space &bull Fraternal or Sororal Organizations &bull War, World II. A significant historical date for this entry is May 10, 1945.

Location. 39° 46.81′ N, 84° 6.755′ W. Marker is in Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in Montgomery County. Marker (Memorial #35) is in the Memorial Park of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, with museum access off Springfield Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1100 Spaatz Street, Dayton OH 45433, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Khobar Towers Memorial (here, next to this marker) 98th Bomb Group (a few steps from this marker) 483rd Bombardment Group (H) (a few steps from this marker) 385th Bomb Group (H) (a few steps from this marker)

10th Air Depot Group (a few steps from this marker) 11th Bombardment Group (H) (a few steps from this marker) 5th Air Force (a few steps from this marker) 75th Troop Carrier Squadron (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Also see . . .
1. NMUSAF Memorial Park Diagram. (Submitted on December 27, 2009, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. 485th Bomb Group Association. (Submitted on December 27, 2009, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)


Want to know more about 485th Bomb Group, USAAF ?

Theodore Andrew Brown 485th Bomb Group

The recent Swampscott Historical Society Antiques Appraisals Night was successful. It was fun to see nearly 100 people learn the value of their antiques and collectibles. I brought ceramic Stengal birds given to me years ago. They were vintage 1940s, valued at about $100. Many paintings brought in for appraising were in the $300 to $400 range. But, to me, the most exciting item was a kerchief-sized heavy silk fabric with a detailed map of Germany and Belgium on one side and Germany and France on the other side. Teresa Vatcher asked everyone in the hall if they knew what the maps were from. Two people in the hall recognized the maps. These detailed maps were issued to airmen flying over hostile territory during World War II and were included in their survival kits. Of 35,000 servicemen who found their way home from enemy lands, more than half used these valuable maps. They could be folded up small and hidden if the owners were captured. They could be sewn into their clothes, or hidden in a hollow shoe heel and they didn't crackle like paper or disintegrate when wet. Soldiers in cold areas used the silk maps for warmth, in hot areas men used the maps to shield them from bugs.

Teresa, who brought the silk map in, said she used the silk maps as a kerchief and treasured it because it belonged to her brother, John Pagnotta, World War II top gunner on an 8th Air Force B-24 bomber. John told her his gun position had no heat, no bathroom, no windshield wipers. When she left to go home, without bringing her silk map to be appraised, I stopped her and said, “Aren't you going to even show your map to the appraiser?” She said, "Do you want to take it up?" I said, enthusiastically, "Yes." So she left the map with me and as she went out the door she said, "Give it to my sister to bring home." I said I’d certainly return it to Catherine Valeriani after it was appraised. I wrote a short blurb about the silk map belonging to John Pagnotta on a scrap of paper and put it with the silk map to give the appraiser a clue. (John Pagnotta was in the 453rd Bomb Group and Jimmy Stewart, the movie actor, was his commanding officer.) The appraiser was intrigued. She'd never seen a silk map before in her many years in the field. She couldn't put a value on it, for she had no idea how many were made, but she was aware of its sentimental value to the Pagnotta family. Curious, I went online the next day and typed in “silk maps WWII” on a search line. I got back the history of silk maps. I printed it out and phoned Terry and read it to her. I told her she was wearing a $300 kerchief. I’d read about old silk maps selling on eBay for $300+. Terry said I’d made her day. Perhaps she'll give it to a museum someday.

Then I called my former neighbor, Mary Brown, because her husband, Ted Brown, was a waist gunner on a B-24, and did bombing raids over Germany. I wanted to ask her if he had a silk map. Mary said, “He’d never mentioned a silk map, but he did have a thumb-nail sized compass.” She began to tell me the story of his last flight over Germany. I asked her if I could write it down for her children. She agreed and what follows here is the story she told me:

The bomber was a B-24 and Col. “Hap” Arnold was the first commander of the 485th Bomb Group, stationed in Venosa, Italy. Their mission was to bomb the synthetic oil plants in eastern Germany. After a certain number of missions, the exhausted plane crews were given rest and recreation time. The men were sent to the Isle of Capri for a rest before the next group of bombing missions.

The lead bomber of a hundred B-24s, where Staff Sgt. Ted Brown was a waist gunner, was on the way home, August 1944, from a bombing run to the Ploesti Oil Fields. They were about 100 miles from Berlin. They were under heavy ack-ack fire and the plane was hit. It was on fire and the crew had to bail out. Ted Brown said the crew never had any training in parachute jumping, or even any last-minute instruction. Over enemy territory, with the bomber on fire, they had to get out of the plane fast. The man directly in front of Ted got to the escape door and froze. He could not move. He could not force himself to jump out into the unknown through the ack-ack fire.

Ted quickly booted the terrified man out the door and Ted jumped out right behind him. (Later, the man thanked Ted for booting him out the door, saving his life.) The whole crew parachuted down into Germany. On his way down, Ted was wounded in his elbow by the ack-ack fire and his groin was cut by a twisted strap on his parachute when he landed in a tree. Ted cut himself free and fell to the ground. He was all alone, no other parachutist in sight.

He ran away from his parachute as fast as he could, and hid, for the Germans would soon find the parachute. He buried his pistol, knowing he’d be shot if he was found with a gun. He hid for five days, travelling by night, hiding by day, eating the watercress, Brussels sprouts, and Swiss chard he found growing in the fields. He recognized the plants as edible because he’d grown up on a farm in Vermont. He used the tiny compass in his survival kit, hoping to find friendly forces, and he hid and slept during the day.

One day he was hiding in a cornfield, and woke to find a group of Polish men, a forced work crew, coming through the field. The men saw the airman on the ground, but never let their German guards know he was there. As they walked past him some men dropped bread for him without looking down so the Germans never knew an American airman was hiding in the cornfield.

The fifth day he was asleep in a field and woke up to find a German policeman with his spike- topped helmet, holding a gun on him. He was brought to a nearby farmhouse, and taken to the cellar where a German officer, who spoke excellent English, interrogated him. When Ted gave only his name, rank and serial number, as required by the Geneva Convention, and would say no more, the German officer smashed him across the face with his rifle butt. Eventually the entire crew of the bomber was captured and imprisoned.

Mary Brown, back at home, received news Ted was missing in action. She did not know for three months if her husband was dead or alive. She only knew his plane was shot down on the way home from a bombing raid. Mary was working at Cushman’s Bakery in Lynn and her co-workers were amazed at her belief that Ted was alive. She felt she’d know if he’d been killed.

Lt. Cummings, who’d trained with Ted, wrote a letter to Mary. As an officer, Cummings censored his own letters and he was able to tell her, “Mary, I haven’t seen Ted for a while, but I know he is all right.” She was grateful to hear the news. Ted was alive! This was before the Air Force informed her he was in a prisoner of war camp. Ted spent 10 months as a prisoner of war in Germany. Once Mary knew he was alive, and in a POW camp in Germany, she sent him many letters and packages of food. POW mail went through neutral Switzerland. He only received one of her letters and none of the food packages.

Living conditions were harsh in the POW camp, with little food. In cold weather, the men slept head to toe, side by side, and kept their feet warm under each other’s arms. One of the prison camp guard dogs slept at night right under their compound. The men, desperate for food, got a floorboard loose, killed and ate the dog.

One day Mary Brown was invited to Boston and with a troop of soldiers standing at attention, she was presented with Ted Brown’s medals. Ted had been awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross, with oak leaf clusters. The medals he’d been awarded were pinned on Mary.

As the Allied forces pushed into Germany, the English from one side, the Americans from another and the Russians from a third side, the thousands of men in POW camps were moved from camp to camp, away from the advancing armies. Ted was forced into a boxcar with so many others there was only standing room and no latrine. Ted remembered the stench in the boxcar was awful. The men standing in these boxcars moving from camp to camp would be shunted to a siding for frightening hours when the Allies were bombing. As they travelled through little towns they were warned to make no sound lest they be shot. At that time there were roving bands of the retreating German army and SS troops.

On one move from a POW camp, the men went on a forced march of 100 miles, in the winter, which took 12 days, and if you didn’t keep up, you’d be shot. Their German guards were older men who didn’t really want to shoot anyone. The prisoners would get on each side of a faltering comrade and almost carry him along. They helped each other. They travelled on back roads to avoid the retreating German soldiers and SS troopers.

Ted Brown ended up in Stalag Luft III located in Sagan, near the Baltic Sea, about 100 miles southeast of Berlin. Stalag Luft III was run by the German Air Force. One day in April 1945, the prisoners woke to find all the German guards were gone. Later that day, the Russians liberated the POW camp. Ted commented, “The Russians were a wild bunch.” During the war the Germans had raped Russian women and the Russians couldn’t wait to catch and kill as many Germans as possible.

When the Russians saw the emaciated condition of the men in the prison camp, they went out into the countryside and rounded up livestock. They put on a giant barbecue for the prisoners. The Russians even supplied vodka for the celebration, which they insisted everyone should drink. With his shrunken stomach, Ted could not eat much and he only put his lips to the vodka bottle, not daring to drink a drop. The men who ate and drank too much were soon very sick.

The former prisoners of war were flown out of Germany in B-17s to France, where they lived in tents and were put on a liquid diet for several weeks before they were able to tolerate solid food. The men were told they might never be able to have children as they had been so starved. Mary said, "Our three children are proof of how wrong the doctors were about that." The men waited their turn to get on a Liberty ship and head home.

Ted arrived back in New York in late May 1945. He called Mary and said he wanted to see her alone for a couple of days, then after a couple days, he’d be ready to visit with the rest of his family. So Mary rented a room at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem for two days and told no one (except his brother Fred) where they were staying. When Ted arrived, Mary hardly recognized him, he was so thin. Mary told Ted to sit down, as she had a surprise for him. She told him about her going to Boston and being awarded his medals. She gave him his medals. He was flabbergasted for Ted was a modest man. He didn’t think what he’d done was so special. But it certainly was. The second day at the Hawthorne Hotel, Ted’s brother Fred, with whom he was very close, couldn’t wait any longer, and he came to Salem to see Ted. Ted was finally home.

Betty Dean Holmes typed up this story “from Mary Brown’s wonderful memory.” Copyright 2007 The Swampscott Reporter. Some rights reserved. Mary and Ted Brown were my neighbors for many years.


Original U.S. WWII B-24 Liberator Tail Heavy 831st Bomb Squadron Named Pilot Grouping - DFC

Original Items: One-of-a-kind grouping. First Lieutenant Robert R. Baker ASN 16086294 was a pilot on the B-24 Liberator TAIL HEAVY and flew 33 successful missions. He was assigned to the 831st Bomb Squadron, 485TH Bomb Group, 15th Air Force. According to the Army Air Corps Library and Museum he received the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster on February 26th, 1945 and again on April 20th, 1945. He also was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In a 485th Bomb group reunion newspaper from 1990 Baker and Tail Heavy are a featured article. It reds as follows:

"Tail Heavy" Ends 100 Missions. One of the few B-24 assigned to the 485th Bomb Group to complete 100 missions was one, dubbed "Tail Heavy." It was assigned to the 831st squadron and was one of the original aircraft assigned to the 485th. Thanks to Pilot Robert R. Baker, now of Hickory Corners, Mich., photos of the plane and its crew as it completed its 100 mission are available. The above photo shows the crew after it had completed the plane's 100th mission. The exact date of the mission has not been determined. In the middle left is the pilot, Robert Baker. In the middle right is the co-pilot, Jim Schieb. Other members of the crew were Hazen O. Suttkus , navigator Richard McLawhorn, bombardier Bryan Nauman, engineer Bill Argie, ball gunner Mill Miller, radio operator Fred Hosier, upper gunner John Manfriedo, nose gunner, and Wayne Whiting, tail gunner. The photo of Tail Heavy dropping bombs was sent to Pilot Baker by Bob Placica, who was on the crew assigned to Tail Heavy in the States and who flew it to Italy. During the year 1989 Bob Baker visited all of his living crew members in their homes. Dick McLawhorn is the only one not living. He discovered that Lewis Baker was his co-pilot on his first mission, but that Jim Scheib was his regular co- pilot after the initial mission.

The 831st Bomb Squadron was deployed to Southern Italy in April 1944 on 20 April 1944 154 members of the Squadron were lost when the Liberty ship SS Paul Hamilton was sunk by an aerial torpedo. Entered combat in May 1944, being assigned to Fifteenth Air Force. Engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia, bombing marshalling yards, oil refineries, airdrome installations, heavy industry, and other strategic objectives. Also carried out some support and interdiction operations. Struck bridges, harbors, and troop contingents in August 1944 to aid the invasion of Southern France. Hit communications lines and other targets during March and April 1945 to support the advance of British Eighth Army in northern Italy.

Included in this wonderful set are the following items:

- Named officers gabardine wool 4-pocket class A uniform with all original insignia and ribbons. Features Italian made bullion pilot wings, rare Italian made bullion 15th AF patch, and Italian made bullion Lieutenant bars. His uniform is tailor made with his name R R BAKER typed on label inside pocket. Medal ribbons that include: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, European-African-Middle East Campaign with 2 battle stars and Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation.

- Officers khaki wool 4-pocket uniform coat with bullion AAF patch.
- Officers “pink” long-sleeve shirt.
- Officers dark gabardine overseas cap with Lt. bar.
- Khaki cotton tie.
- Photo of his crew with crew members named on back.
- Photo of his plane on bomb mission and marked on back by Lt. Baker.
- Photo of his crew in Italy with his notes on back.

History of the 485th Bomb Group:

The wing was originally constituted as the 485th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and activated on 20 September 1943.[6] Its original squadrons were the newly activated 828th, 829th, and 830th Bombardment Squadrons, which were joined a few days later by the 831st Bombardment Squadron at Gowen Field, Idaho. The 831st was an experienced Consolidated B-24 Liberator squadron that had been performing anti-submarine warfare missions as the 11th Antisubmarine Squadron. The group deployed to Gowen, where it derived its initial cadre from the 29th Bombardment Group and was assigned to Second Air Force for training with B-24s at Gowen and at Fairmont Army Air Field, Nebraska. The group deployed to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in March and April 1944.

Although the ground echelon had deployed to Southern Italy by April 1944, the air echelon was detained in Tunisia for further training. The group entered combat with Fifteenth Air Force in May 1944. The 485th engaged in very long range strategic bombing missions to enemy military, industrial and transportation targets in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia, bombing marshalling yards, oil refineries, airfields, heavy industry, and other strategic objectives.

The group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for combating intense fighter opposition and attacking an oil refinery at Vienna on 26 June 1944. The 485th also carried out some support and interdiction operations. It struck bridges, harbors, and troop contingents in August 1944 to aid Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France, It hit lines of communications and other targets during March and April 1945 to support the advance of British Eighth Army in northern Italy.[6] It flew its 187th and last combat mission against Linz, Austria before preparing to return to the United States and re-equip.

The 485th returned to the United States in May 1945 and was programmed for deployment to the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bombardment group.[citation needed] Many combat veterans of MTO demobilized upon arrival in the United States, and a small cadre of personnel reformed at Sioux Falls Army Airfield, South Dakota at the end of May.[citation needed] The group was reassigned to Second Air Force for training in Iowa. Because B-29 groups had only three combat squadrons, the 831st Bombardment Squadron was inactivated in August. The group then moved on paper[10] to Smoky Hill Army Air Field, Kansas in September.

The group remained on active duty after the Japanese surrender. In March 1946 Continental Air Forces became Strategic Air Command and Second Air Force was replaced by Fifteenth Air Force as the group's intermediate headquarters. Simultaneously, the 506th Bombardment Squadron was assigned to the group from the 44th Bombardment Group. In August 1946 the personnel and equipment of the 485th were reassigned to the 97th Bombardment Group and the 485th was inactivated.


485th Bombardment Group - History

485th Bomb Group in the 15th Air Force in Italy

The 464th Bomb Group also flew B-24 Liberators with the 55th Wing of the 15th Army Air Force. We in the 485th Bomb Group flew the same missions as did they, enjoyed the same results, suffered similar losses. Their site presented by Webmaster Wendy Butler, is an excellent site that will add much to your understanding of that big event, WWII. You can move directly from my site to either 464th or 485th., and back.

What do you know about the U.S. during WWII?

1. In 1939 most americans lived in . A] Cities. B] Small towns and Farms . C] along the East Coast.

2. In 1939 how many farms had electricity? . A] 51% . B] 74% . C] 11%

3. In 1940 the National Unemployment rate was . A] 5% . B] 15% . C] 25%

4. Hitler started WWII by attacking . A] England . B] France .. C] Poland

5. WWII began on . A] 9/30/39 . B] 12/7/41 . C] 6/6/44

6. In 1942 the minimum age of the military draft was . A] 20 . B] 19 . C] 18

7 . WWII ended on . A] December 1941 . B] May 1945 . C] August 1945

Our Escort
I never knew how our fighter escort was assigned, but usually we were joined by a bunch of P-51s somewhere near the head of the Adriatic. That was welcome, because mission briefing almost always mentioned a Luftwaffe base near Trieste. These fighters were based somewhere further north in Italy, above the spur, so we saw them only in the air. We knew nothing about them, except that we felt reassured when they were at hand. Knowing that for some five minutes over the target approach we must fly straight and level while the bombsight did its thing, just the thought of enemy fighters is pretty nasty.

We didn&rsquot know these were some of the Tuskegee Airmen , black men striving to prove their ability as a race. Heck we had never heard about this whole experiment, but we would not have cared who or what they were, as long as they were ours, and they were there with us at a time of trial.

There were other Groups of P-51s, but we only saw them at a distance. These guys had brightly painted red empennage[tail], and they flew with us. One brave fellow one day actually flew right through a barrage, passing us about 40 feet beyond our wingtips, doing slow rolls as he went by. It was an awful barrage, too. I remember thinking &ldquoIf he can do that, I guess I can also sit here and take it&rdquo. Somebody said &ldquoIt only hurts for a little while&rdquo.
However, the knowledge that we must only endure FLAK, that there would be no Messerschmidts or Folke-Wolfs to bother us, endeared these escort pilots to us.
In these later years, I have met a few of them, and see one often. . .

FLAK is an acronym for some German words I cannot remember, and never could say properly. But 88mm FLAK is ugly stuff. During the winter and spring of 1944-5, we in the 15th Air Force were flying north from Southern Italy to targets in northern Italy, Austria, Germany, and Hungary. On the ground, the defense forces were firing the 88mm cannon that was so versatile, so effective, and so nasty. It shoots projectile a bit less than 31/2 inches in diameter. It is made of steel, and loaded full of high explosive. The inside surface of this container was deeply scored so that it would break up into small fragments, which became tiny projectiles themselves. Each burst flung hundreds of these little devils in all directions. Flying through a barrage, we could hear a veritable hailstorm of fragments falling on us from above. They were they were the result of near misses. The shells had flown right on past us before bursting. The nearest miss I experienced burst just 3 feet below our left aileron, and it put nearly 300 holes in our plane, from nose to tail. This was the notorious &ldquoHarms Way&rdquo into which so many of us flew regularly.
( As Patton and Bradley pushed forward, the German perimeter became smaller and smaller. But they just pulled their FLAK batteries back too. They in turn became closer to gether, batteries grew exponentially. Years later I learned some of those damn things could fire 6 or 8 rounds a minute. Had we been able to pave over that stuff we might have hauled those bombs in trucks.)
The hull of the airplane was aluminum sheet metal thin, easily pierced, easily patched. The two pilots were sitting on ¼ inch armor plate. More armor plate ran up one side, arched overhead, and back down the other side. Another sheet covered the back. We were sitting in a shallow cave, protected except from the front. Oh well, nothing&rsquos perfect. I guess they figured that unless the pilots survived, the whole plane would be lost. Of course, all ten aboard were issued FLAK vests. They were in two parts a front and a back. Quick-release snaps fastened the two together on the shoulders. They were made of either heavy denim, or light canvas. Pieces of armor plate, some 2&rdquo x 2&rdquo, were sewn into pockets as close together as possible. When fragments struck the vest, they tore the denim, which could be patched and re-sewn. It was not lost on the occupant how much tougher the vest was than his own skin. They were heavy to wear, but had a good reputation. The two waist gunners, aka engineer and radioman, went through the barrage standing at a swivel gun mounted in the open window. Ribald jokes about the danger to their un- protected &ldquonether parts&rdquo were standard. Truly, it was scary stuff.
But I had a special problem. My short legs barely reached the rudder pedals. I really needed a cushion behind me. There was not always a cushion at hand. Large pilots had a disinterest in cushions. They were thrown aside, and sometimes disappeared. One long flight with me so handicapped convinced my first Pilot that something must be done. At the supply room they solved the problem, or at least replaced it with another. They issued me a backpack parachute, which also served as a very thick cushion. It was mine to wear, and to keep, store between missions, and bring to the plane. But it was about twice the thickness of the cushions. The result was I was crowded out of my cave. Now there were ribald jokes about the danger to my &ldquoforward parts&rdquo. Nothing, as I said, is perfect. But it all seems to have been good enough, because here I am, totally unscathed. [I never heard anyone described as &ldquoscathed&rdquo]
Flying that pig of an aircraft in formation with 27 others was fatiguing. We relieved one another every 15 minutes, but after six hours each of us was pretty much done in. But for me the worst part was the bomb run about 5 minutes long. The run began as we reached the I P, the initial point. Once our leader found the IP, he knew the course to take to the target. For that distance, about 20 miles, we all had to fly straight and level so the bombsight could work its magic. The lead ship was being controlled by that bombsight our job was to fly as close together as we could. Rather, that was skipper&rsquos job. Mine was to watch the lead ship carefully. When I saw his bombs dropping, I had a button to push, releasing our load. As we left the IP another Group was over the target, still another was about halfway there. Staring ahead as I was, I couldn&rsquot miss seeing what those gunners were doing to those poor guys in the barrage. And again, as the next Group reached the target, it only confirmed what I&rsquod seen before. In five minutes, that&rsquos where we will be. Oh Boy! Of course, throughout those 5 minutes, I kept my feet on the rudder pedals, and one hand on the wheel, just in case Skipper caught one.
The moment our bombs were clear, the lead plane began &ldquoevasive action&rdquo. A tight bank right or left, then back the other way, wheeling around to make us all into a more elusive target. Although I never saw a German fighter pointed at us, and we had a wonderfully faithful escort, there was still a chance of fighter attack, so tight formation was worth the effort. One day, when we were in the number 5 position, a shell burst just close enough below our left wing to roll the plane more tightly to the right. Unfortunately, the number 6 plane, opposite us caught one under his right wing. Glen climbed, Max dove, and we missed each other by mere feet. Finally, we left the target area and headed home.

Best Duty of WWII

I have written of my most unpleasant occasions of the War. But in May of '45 I had a great time on a great duty. Flying with the 485th, we returned on April 25th to find that our Group had flown its last mission. For the 15th AAF the strategic air war in Europe was over. Those of us with 15 missions or more were invited to volunteer to join a cadre to return to the States and train as lead crews in a Group of B-29s'
I had learned not to volunteer for anything, so I was among a number who were sent to the 465th Bomb Group, 780th Squadron at Cerignola. Our status there was "attached-unassigned". We had no duties. Soon we were thoroughly bored. You can only play so much cribbage and checkers.
A day or so later, as I walked past the Officer's Club the Squadron C O came out. I was the first person he saw, and he called me to him. He said "Wilder. I have a job for you." It seems they were planning a V E Day Party. They had booze coming in, a Master Sergeant, with ulcers, who was a teetotaler, to run the bar, but no ice ! He appointed me Ice Officer of the 780th Squadron. He assigned to me two Sergeants and a 6x6 truck. He made out passes for all three of us, good anywhere in Southern Italy (south of Rome), and access to any motor pool fuel dump.
Everyone could see that the War was ending. It was planned that when the announcement came, a General would come up from Wing, make a speech for posterity, and throw open the camp for the Party. The Major said, "do what you want, but when he's finished, I want ice in the Club".
None of us had any notion that there was any ice in all of Italy. But you don't argue with a Major at a time like that. We had no road maps or yellow pages. We had no connections, no network. We just started cruising. Next day, a miracle. 5 miles from camp there was an engineering detachment that had been maintaining the roads. They had a really big U S Navy ice machine. The kind that are found on carrier and cruisers. They had never used it. Had never had a customer. I explained it all to the Lieutenant in command. All he said was "I want to come to the party". Nobody had given me a job description for my duties, so I just assumed I had the authority to invite my source.
Now we had a truck, fuel, and passes, and our mission was assured. So we went swimming in the Adriatic at Barletta. We drove over to Naples, and down to Taranto. Being generous souls, we picked up GIs and Officers who needed transportation. Being generous souls, with very little persuasion, they shared with us such things as real Scotch whiskey, wine and other goodies. We had a grand time for over a week. And it was all legal.
However we could see from the Intelligence bulletins that the big day was at hand, so we reduced our radius of exploration. We were on hand when the General came by. After his speech, we took off for the ice. They were waiting for us. We backed our truck up to the machine, and they loaded 3 layers of 50# blocks of ice, over which they poured crushed ice to fill the truck.
Arrived at the O club, I reported to the Major and asked where he wanted the ice. I guess he expected me to deliver a 10# bag, or something, because he told me to &ldquo just put it back of the bar&rdquo. When I told him it wouldn't fit there, he came out to see what we had. He expressed his approval in colorful language, and then told the driver to go down to the E M Club, unload half, and bring the rest back
"Wilder, come with me. Give me your ration card" At the bar he called the Sgt over and tore up my ration card. I was wondering what you had to do to please this guy when he said, "Give the Lt. a drink whenever he asks.&rdquo Well now! Nothing wrong with that!
The party went on for a couple of days. The word got around that I had supplied the ice. My list of friends soared. Then some idiot mentioned that I had the key to the bar, and things got really crowded.
At last most had worn out, passed out, or whatever. But I had a Major making up to me because I could still order drinks. I don't know what he did when I caved in. But it was fun, and the shooting had stopped. And nobody asked me for my ration card again.
Now, Turn back to the opening paragraph of this story. We were asked to volunteer for duty in B-29s. The offer was baited with a visit to our homes for 30 days, before reassignment to more combat. Suspicious, and following my own principles, I declined. The result was that I frittered my time away in sunny Southern Italy and did not get home until the others had returned to duty. But by that time events in the Pacific War had made the need for more Pilots go away. I went home to stay in June. Some of them had to wait several more months.