Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Tribute to the Crew of the 415th Squadron of the 98th Bomb Group

March 15th, 2012 marks the sixty-seventh
anniversary of the last mission of the 415th
Squadron of the 98th Bomb Group.  After
their successful bombing of the Schwechat
Oil Refinery in Vienna, Austria, the crew
was forced to bail out over Yugoslavia
after being hit in their #2 and #4 engines.
With the help of a small village and Marshal
Tito's men, the crew walked back over the Alps
and onto Split, Yugoslavia where they traveled
by boat across the Adriatic Sea to Bari, Italy.

It has been two years since I first posted my
father's war memoirs and it's been the most
rewarding experience of my life.  I hope I have
honored these fine men in a way they would
be proud.  Along this journey I have found
several of the crew's family members and
I've enjoyed getting to know them and so
privileged to be able to honor their fathers'
stories as well.

Sadly, this past December, the last of the
crew passed away, Sgt. Donald Brown,
nose turret gunner. 

Each of these men are our hero's who
deserve our respect for their willingness
to serve their country and defend its

May we always continue to remember
and honor them.

A few weeks ago I toured a B-24 Liberator
at the Keystone Heights Airfield hosted by
the Collings Foundation.  It was a thrill to
finally see a B-24 up close and to be able to
walk around and imagine where the crew
would have been situated within the plane.
Here are some pictures from that day.

This link is amazing! 
It is a virtual panoramic view
of the B-24 Witchcraft from
the Collings Foundation.

I brought the crew along with me


Crew member Raphael Gonyea.  Picture provided
by Steve Gonyea, his son as they toured a B-24.

The crew of the 415th Bomb Squadron
of the 98th Bomb Group
(Bottom row from left to right) John Norris -
lower ball gunner; Red Cockran - waist gunner;
Harry Henry - tail gunner; Raphael Gonyea - top
turret gunner and radio man; Don Brown - nose
turret gunner.
(Top row from left to right) Charles Estes - Pilot;
Frank Delois - Flight engineer and waist gunner;
John Congleton - copilot; Bob Swain - navigator.
Not pictured: Jim Mulligan, Ernie Swanson and Joe Dobkin