Friday, April 29, 2011

Grandpa in World War II | B-26 Marauder Flight Engineer

Hi Colleagues,

Grandpa (FR-Ctr) and his B-26 crew (Bill, FR-Left)
My grandpa Reginald "Mac" served as a flight engineer in a B-26 Marauder, "Lucky 7," during World War II.  His crew mates included Howard G., pilot, William S., and Frank O. I do not yet know all of the names or persons in the above photo, but have connected with Bill and Frank over the last 10 years.  

I interviewed Grandpa Reg about his experience 6 months before he died.  Then I found one of his crew mates, Bill, with whom I've kept in touch and also interviewed.  I also connected with Frank, another crew member.  Recently Bill was kind enough to mail me photographs of Grandpa and the crew, which I had not seen before:

The crew, Savannah, GA, Nov. 1944 (above)
Grandpa's plane, "Lucky 7," in 1945 (above)
Grandpa, flight engineer N gunner, in flight, 1944 (above)
Bill S., radio operator N gunner, 1944 (above)
Howard G., pilot, 1944 (above)
Just before Grandpa shipped overseas, his mother died.  He was close to her, and though the Red Cross gave him an emergency furlough to go home for the funeral, his dad buried her before Grandpa arrived.  When I asked Grandpa what kept him going during those years, he said he "just wanted to come home."  I used to call Grandpa to thank him for his service on Memorial and Veteran's Days.  Now I honor him here.  What touches me most about these images is seeing Grandpa's face before and after his mom died, and feeling that I was present with Grandpa during a difficult moment, albeit years later and via a photograph.

Learn more about the B-26 and her crews via the 397th Bomb Group Association, of which Bill presided as President and his daughter now maintains, and the B-26 Historical Society.  Join the B-26 Marauder Group and "Like" the Martin B-26 Marauder  interest page on Facebook.  Also noteworthy is the BBC's WW2 People's War project, an oral history project where the public and even school children interviewed WWII survivors, and then wrote and published their stories online.

Who do you want to thank for their service?
What stories do you have to share?
Who in your family served in the military?

Thank you Grandpa for your service (I love you), Thank you Bill for your friendship and sharing, and Thank you for reading,
Dena