Friday, December 31, 2010

The Beginning...

This project was inspired by meeting the valiant veterans of the 384th Bomb Group.

Other WWII veterans have signed things like the doors in the EAA's B-17G "Aluminum Overcast", or artists prints, so it's not unusual.  But the desire was to use a unique object only for the WWII veterans of the 384th Bomb Group, a special object that had meaning for the veterans. The object should belong to the 384th Bomb Group, Inc. and be something that the veterans, families and friends of the Group could cherish for years. After discusssing it with other NexGen members, I found that there was support for the idea of our Group having a special B-17 part for our vets to sign. In 2010, the 384th Bomb Group Board was presented the idea of NexGen members finding a B-17 part to be donated to the non-profit 384th BG Inc. for the veterans of the Group to sign, and they approved the effort.

After a long search, Carl Scholl of Aero Trader very generously donated a B-17G right wing stress panel to the 384th Bomb Group, Inc. for all the veterans of the Group. Cory O'Bryan of Fighter Rebuilders donated his time and great talent to prepare the panel and paint the period group and squadron emblems of the Group.

The project has grown and taken off on its own wings beyond my original contributions to be embraced by the members and veterans of the 384th Bomb Group as its very own, and for that I am very grateful to everyone, but especially to the veterans and their families.

Why We Do It...

A Heritage of Valor Passed to Future Generations

When the 384th BG arrieved in England in May of '43, they were part of a growing armada of bombers that attacked Germany in large formations. The 8th Air Force bombers fought in great aerial battles against enemy fighter planes and flak over Europe. They endured the trials of extreme high altitude and terrible weather. During the war, the 384th Bomb Group flew 316 missions, losing 159 B-17s shot down and 1,625 men killed. The Group received two Distinguished Unit Citations for missions flown on January 11, 1944 and April 24, 1944 and received numerous individual awards for actions in battle. In 1943, the group adopted the motto "Keep The Show On The Road", coined by Major Selden L. McMillin ("Major Mac") in a card written by him as a POW to Colonel Budd Peaslee, Group CO. It was in those early days that the young men of the 384th BG learned to carry the heavy load of hard work, discipline and sacrifice necessary to bring the battle to the enemy. Years later in his book "Heritage of Valor", Budd Peaslee wrote that the young men of the 8th Air Force "...have left a heritage of valor that will leave an indelible mark on future generations." The B-17 wing panel acts as a testimonial to the spirit and comaraderie of the veterans of the Group, and will help to represent their personal message to future generations.

Signing the B-17G Wing Panel...

The purpose of the B-17 Wing Panel Signing Project is to honor any WWII veteran of the 384th Bomb Group by him signing the panel.

The qualifications are simple: any person that served in the 384th Bomb Group during the years of 1943 to 1946 is eligible to sign the panel for free. They do not have to be a member of 384th Bomb Group, Inc. The panel can be signed at 384th Bomb Group reunions or in a pre-arranged meeting at the veterans home by a B-17 panel Host. Any signing meeting with a qualified veteran is free of charge and no payment for this is accepted by anyone.

To make this possible, the project requires people to donate their time and financial support as a Host of the panel. This allows the panel to travel to our elderly veterans that can't travel to the reunions.                                                             

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Donations...

Carl Scholl and Cory O'Bryan

Without the donation of the B-17 wing panel by Carl Scholl of Aero Trader in March 2010,  the 384th Bomb Group wouldn't be able to have a project like this for its veterans. Carl understood what this would mean to the veterans and made a special effort to help them by donating the B-17 wing panel to the Group. And for that we will always be deeply appreciative of him and remember his heartfelt contribution.

Carl Scholl,  August 2010

Cory O'Bryan, August 2010
Cory O'Bryan, who works at Fighter Rebuilders as an aircraft restorer, made the panel special with his beautiful hand painted artwork, accurately depicting the squadron emblems and Group markings, evoking the special time that our country fought in WWII.  The veterans love these images and we're very appreciative of Cory donating his time and talent for these heroes every time we see and display the panel. Without these images, the wing panels connection to the Group's storied past and lore would not be possible.

Our Special Hosts

The project would not be possible except for some very generous and caring people in the Group, and for that we can all be thankful that such people exist. These people have donated their time and financial support, physically transporting the B-17 wing panel themselves to the veterans as Hosts.  The Hosts are wonderful people who volunteer to bring the B-17 wing panel to each veteran that wants to sign the panel. It takes a great deal of love, time, care, and commitment to do this. And so being a special person or persons is the main requirement to be a Host for the panel. They have made it possible for the project to be shipped our veterans. The panel has been made available for signing by the Hosts in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Texas.

The following people have been Hosts for the project and have provided the panel to our veterans to sign or have taken care of the panel or have helped to ship it:

Fred and Gail Preller
Gordon Preller
Frank and Carol Alfter
Tom and Linda Rowley
Dennis and Patricia Bielskis
Sheldon Vernon
Ray Lustig and Susan Taylor

A special thanks also to Ken Decker who provided the project a copy of his list of veterans addresses and phone numbers he created during his own incredible research project interviewing veterans and documenting the stories and lore of the veterans of the 384th Bomb Group. This list was instrumental in reaching veterans in the Northeast that weren't members of the 384th BG, Inc. His support and encouragement was especially helpful.

Also, we have to thank the Pima Air Museum and the 390th Bomb Group Memorial Museum for providing their assistance in receiving and shipping the panel, as well as the Branson Military Museum who also assisted as a receiving and shipping address.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

384th BG Reunion in Branson, Missouri
September 11-13, 2010.

The panel was brought to the 384th Bomb Group Reunion in Branson, Missouri where it was signed for the first time.
In the photo below, the veterans that signed are from left to right: Gene Goodrick, Don Hilliard, Peter Bielskis, Jack Goetz, Buddy Ferrell, Bob Naum, Harry Swift, Henry Sienkiewicz, Bill Wilkens and Gene Voiland.

The following pictures were taken during the signing at the 384th Bomb Group Reunion at Branson, Missouri on September 10-13, 2010:

Eugene Voiland Signing - Branson 2010



Bill Wilkens Signing - Branson 2010
Don Hilliard Signing - Branson 2010

Gene Goodrick Signing - Branson 2010

Harry Swift Signing - Branson 2010

Buddy Ferrell Signing - Branson 2010

Henry Sienkiewicz Signing - Branson 2010

Peter Bielskis Signing - Branson 2010

Jack Goetz Signing - Branson 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

California Signing Events  - March 2011
B-17 Panel Host was Christopher Wilkinson.

C. Allyn Lewis

Roy Snyder Signing with C. Allyn Lewis

C. Allyn Lewis and Roy Snyder

Jack Kushner Signing

Jack Kushner

Robert Thacker Signing

Robert Thacker

William Connally Signing

William Connally

Seymour Fainberg Signing with wife Marta.

Seymour and Marta Fainberg

Monday, December 27, 2010

California Signing Events - May 2011
B-17 Panel Host was Christopher Wilkinson

Angelo Sabella Signing

Angelo Sabella

Arthur Beese Signing

Arthur and Josephine Beese

Don Brooks Signing

Don Brooks

Don Brooks with His Original A-2 Jacket.

Noal Long Signing

Noal and Joanne Long