Sunday, March 19, 2017

72nd Anniversary of the Vienna mission of the 415th Bomb Squadron of the 98th Bomb Group - A Special Dedication to 1st Lt. Hubert D. Clemmons, Jr.

March 15th, 1945 marks the last mission for the crew of the Green-Eyed Ikey.  Their
mission was to bomb the Schwechat oil refinery in Vienna

When I first started this blog seven years ago I had wanted to honor my father's
service as a WWII pilot.  In the course of writing this blog and doing research,
I was able to find many of the family members of the crew.  They shared their
father's war experiences and pictures and they became a part of this amazing story.
I soon realized that this blog had taken on a life of its own.  So many wonderful
emails I have received over the years from sons and daughters  who had read
the blog, looking for answers, clues as they researched their own father's
war experiences.  My most treasured emails though were those from
WWII vets who after reading my blog would add details to different posts.

This brings me to an email I received several months ago.  Tom Clemmons,
son of 1st Lt. Hubert Clemmons, Jr., had served in the 98th 415th squadron
based in Lecce Italy.  He also added that his dad had flown in the same
mission March 15th to Vienna.  I was thrilled with this discovery.
I immediately contacted Tom and he informed me that his dad
was still living and soon to be 94 in February.  I asked Tom for pictures
and a bio on his dad so I could do a special post.
Regrettably Tom's dad passed away February 10th...just shy of his
94th birthday.

I hope that this special post on the anniversary of their mission to Vienna
72 years ago today will bring honor to his service to his country, and
our deepest gratitude for the lives and freedoms we have today.

                                                    * * *


 1st Lt. Hubert D. Clemmons Jr., 98th B.G., 415th Squadron
Born February 24, 1923, Lebanon, TN
Hubert worked in family grocery business, Eskews Grocery as a youth
War breaks out in Europe in the fall of 1939
  • Was there a feeling of concern about the  war in Europe and possible U.S. involvement or was it viewed as a “war” over there
Graduates from Lebanon High School in 1940
Enrolled at Castle Heights Military Academy as a Post Graduate in fall of 1941 for a full school year ending in May 1942
  • Sensed the U.S. was going to be involved in the war and that was the reason to enroll at Castle Heights 
  • During his tenure at Castle Heights U.S. declares war on Japan following Dec. 7, 1941 attack, Germany follows suit and declares war on the U.S.
Enlists in the Army Air Corps in Nashville at the Custom House Building Dec. 8, 1942 (19yrs. Old) – Why did he choose the AAF?  He said he had always had a desire to fly a plane and didn’t want to be in the infantry.
Basic Training - Centre College Danville, KY
Primary Flight Training: Camden, ARK. – Nov. 1943 – Feb. 1944
Basic Flying School (BT-13A): Walnut Ridge, ARK. – Feb. 1944 – March 1944
Advance Training: Blytheville, ARK. – June 1944
Transfer to Harlingen, TX (ANT-18, B-24D, B-24H) – July, 1944
Transfer to Leemore, CA (B-24D, B-24H) – Aug. 1944
Transfer to March Field, CA (Link Trainer, B-24D, B-24J) – Sept., 1944 – Dec. 1944
  • Crashed while on training mission at night, both engines failed on take-off at 500 ft. resulting in a crash that killed the navigator, Lt. R.K. Davey.
  • Crew had to train with a new navigator, which resulted in their being delayed in deployment to Europe.
98th Bomb Group Stationed in Lecce, Italy - Active Duty Dec. 1, 1944 to Oct. 2, 1945

16 Missions:
  • 1st  Mission - Feb. 1, 1945 – Mossbierbaum, Austria (close to Vienna)
  • 2nd Mission – Feb. 13 – Vienna, Aus.
  • 3rd Mission – Feb. 15 – Vienna, Aus.
  • 4th Mission – Feb. 19 – Vienna, Aus.
  • 5th Mission – Feb. 20 – Fiume, Italy
  • 6th Mission – Feb. 23 – Verona, Italy
  • 7th Mission – March 1 – Moosbierbaum, Aus.
  • 8th Mission – March 4 – Zagreb, Yug.
  • 9th Mission – March 8 – Maribor, Yug.
  • 10th Mission – March 9 – Vienna, Aus.
  • 11th Mission – March 12 – Regensburg, Germany
  • 12th Mission – March 13 - Maribor, Yug.
  • 13th Mission – March 15 – Vienna, Aus.
  • 14th Mission – March 17 – St. Polten, Aus.
  • 15th Mission – March 22 – Vienna, Aus.
  • 16th Mission - March 24, 1945 – Neuenburg, Germany
May 8, 1945 V-E Day
Returned to U.S. Hunter Field, GA (B-24G) – June – July, 1945
Transferred to San Antonio, TX (Hondo Airfield, Hondo, TX)(TB-24J) – August, 1945
August 14, 1945  V-J Day
Separation Center, Ft. McPherson, GA. – Sept. 1945
Memphis, TN (T-6C, C-82) – June, 1948 – June 1949 (Reserves) 
Transferred to Smyrna AFB (C-82A, T-26, T-13, C-45F) – Aug. 1949 – Jan. 1951 (Reserves)
Had planned to stay on Active Duty except upon returning to Lebanon in 1945, he met a woman, Rosemarie Phelan, whom he married in March 1947.
Together Rosemarie and Hubert had 3 children (Rusty, Tom & Carol), later expanding to 3 grandchildren and 2 great grandchild.
Hubert returned to work in the family business, Eskews Grocery following the war.
In 1965, Hubert purchased the Western Auto store in Lebanon, owned and operated this business until retirement in 1985.
Hubert enjoyed fishing and hunting, playing golf and even attempted tennis until he tore a ligament in his knee, so much for tennis!
Hubert enjoyed attending many annual reunions of the 98th Bomber group.  He jointly attended many of these with the pilot of his plane, N.D. “Bud “Lassiter of El Paso, Texas.  Hubert and Rosemarie, Bud and his wife Rena shared a close relationship over the years and I (Tom) enjoyed Bud’s Texas size tales while attending the reunions with Dad.  Below is a 2005 reunion photo of Hubert (co-pilot) and Bud Lassiter (pilot), lifelong buddies!

Hubert Clemmons co-pilot and pilot Bud Lassiter

In March 1997, Rosemarie passed away unexpectedly.  Two (2) years later Hubert married a widow, Maud Butler McClain that he knew from previous dinner and birthday parties held in Lebanon.  Maud’s husband, Allen Ross McClain, a WWII army veteran, survivor of the Battle of the Bulge, passed away several years earlier.  Hubert, Maud Butler and his children enjoyed attending the 98th reunions with Dad all across the U.S.

In 2014, the B-24 Witchcraft flew into the Smyrna, TN Airport.  It was a hot summer day and Dad and I enjoyed spending some time around the plane and speaking to its keepers.

Hubert had Parkinson’s disease for over 20 years.  During the past year he developed difficulties in swallowing, which we came to find out was due to advanced Parkinsons.  In late January of this year, he developed pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital.  Come to realize he had an infection in his lungs and his blood oxygen was low.  He was placed on a Bpap breathing device to help get more O2 in his system.  When the Bpap device was removed his lung collapsed, he suffered a seizure and he had to be intubated (feeding & O2 tube inserted into his throat).  After several days, due to his living will conditions, the tube was removed and he was on his own.  Remarkably, he lasted for several days, much longer than the medical professionals estimated.  One nurse, said he was a ”tough ole bird”.  I called it steel resolve from a member of the greatest generation who fought a man’s war as a 21 yr. old boy.
Hubert passed away on February 10th, 2017. 

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