Thursday, March 12, 2015

70th Anniversary of the 34th Mission of the Green-Eyed Ikey

     In the early morning hours on March 15th, 1945, seven B-24s sat idling on the runway of Lecce Air Field Italy awaiting the signal from the tower to begin their bomb the marshaling yard at the Schwechat oil refinery in Vienna, Austria.  

     Today marks the 70th anniversary of this mission.    Of the seven planes, four were lost.  
The Green-Eyed Ikey was the lead plane. This was their 34th and final mission.  There were eleven men aboard this particular B-24.  
                           Captain Charles H. Estes, Jr. (Pilot)  - My father
                           Lt. Col. John Walter Congleton (Co-Pilot)
                           1st Lt. Bob Swain (Navigator)
                           Sgt. John Norris (Lower Ball Gunner)
                           Sgt. Raphael Gonyea (Turret Gunner and Radioman)
                           Don Brown (Nose Gunner)
                           Sgt. Red Cochran ( Waist Gunner)
                           Sgt. Walter Scott (Flight Engineer)
                           2nd Lt. James Mulligan (Air Discipline Officer)
                           Lt. Ernie Swanson ( Bombadier)
                           Lt. Joe Dobkin (2nd Navigator)

                           Sgt. Frank Delois, flight engineer, a member of the crew was unable to fly 
                           that day due to illness and Sgt. Walter Scott took his place.  

     For those of you who have followed this blog since my first posting March 3, 2010, it detailed my father's personal accounts of his WWII experiences; in particular their
last mission and their safe return home to the states.  

     Since that time I had been searching for any remaining crew or their family members.  The task seem daunting at times with just old addresses to go by.  After five years I was able to make contact with family members of five of the crew.

                              Steve  Gonyea, Ray Gonyea- sons of Sgt. Gonyea
                              Wendy Gonyea - daughter of Sgt. Gonyea
                              Robin Swain - wife of 1st Lt. Robert Swain
                              Sue Swain Vaterlaus and Cathy Swain Cakebread,
                              daughters of 1st Lt. Robert Swain,
                              Marion Congleton - wife of 1st Lt. John Congleton
                              Kristen Stubbs - granddaughter of 1st. Lt. John Congleton
                              Retired Col. Don Brown - son of Donald Brown
                              Frank Delois - son of Sgt. Frank Delois
                              Tony Delois - grandson of Sgt. Frank Delois
                              Sherrie Delois and Jeanne Delois Stanich - Sgt. Frank Delois
                              Greg Mulligan - son of 2nd Lt. James R. Mulligan

     It has been a joy meeting so many of the families of these great men.  I will always cherish their friendship.  I am honored to know them.

     It has been my sincere hope that this blog will pay tribute to these fine men now
and for many years to come.  It was their great sacrifice and call to service that allows 
each of us the freedoms we enjoy today.  

* * *

The following are pictures that family members provided me.

Sgt. Raphael Gonyea

1st Lt. Robert Swain

Don Brown

Sgt. Frank Delois

Lt. Col. John Congleton

2nd Lt. James R. Mulligan

Captain Charles H. Estes, Jr.

Charles H. Estes   (Our Papa)

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