Monday, March 14, 2016

71st Anniversary of the Green-Eyed Ikey's 34th Mission

     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.  After successfully completing their mission their B-24 Bomber suffered heavy flak damage while over Yugoslavia. 
 After being hit in their #2 and #4 engines the crew was forced to bail out, and with the help of a small village and Marshall Tito's men, the crew was able to walk back over the Alps and into Split, Yugoslavia where they traveled by boat across the Adriatic Sea back to their base in Bari, Italy.

     Today marks the 71st anniversary of this mission.    Of the seven planes, four were lost.  
The Green-Eyed Ikey was the lead plane. This would be their 34th and final mission.  There were eleven men aboard this B-24.
After the war my father and his fellow crew members returned home to the States where they married, raised a family and began a career.   They were the lucky ones.
Over 500,000 Army Air Corp men and women  died in air combat during WWII, and with them went their untold stories of  heroism and acts of valor.  

Six years ago I began this blog to honor my father and the men who were aboard this B-24 and to tell their story.  As a proud daughter of a WWII veteran, I am honored to remember their efforts.    For it is in remembering them that we continue to honor their devotion and commitment to the service of their country.

  May their story always live on in our hearts for many, many years to come...


                           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.  

To the brave crew members of the B-24 Green-Eyed 
Ikey, may I dedicate this poem.

High Flight

"Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies,
on laughter- silvered wings;

Sunward, I've climbed, and joined,
the tumbling mirth, of sun- split clouds.
Done a hundred things,
you have not dreamed of, 
wheeled and soared,
swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hov'ring  there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, 
flung my eager craft,
through the footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the wind swept heights,
with easy grace,
where never lark or eagle flew.

with silent, lifting mind,
I've trod the high, untrespassed,
sanctity of space,
I put out my hand,
and touched,
the face of God."
                                                 Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee   Jr.                                                        
No. 412 Squadron, RCAF
Killed December 11, 1941