THE 36th BOMB SQUADRON
On May 6, my wife Pam and I were invited to attend the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron (36EWS) change of command ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The special reason for the trip was that our family had unanimously decided to loan the Florida squadron our father’s WWII 36th Bomb Squadron Radar Counter Measure Unit (36BS) A2 leather flight jacket – painted The JIGS UP on the back. Father was a B24 tail gunner with the so called “Gremlins” of the 36th and flew 55 missions, many them in The JIGS UP before it crashed in December 1944. All the siblings believed loaning the jacket to the Air Force would prove to be of inspiration to today’s airmen. On our way traveling South we visited the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum near Savannah, Georgia. That’s always guaranteed to be a fantastic stop ! Having thrown a 36BS reunion there in 2000 it was once again wonderful to see the many famous aircraft, exhibits, library, chapel and gardens.
Today’s 36th Squadron carries on the electronic warfare mission of father’s World War II unit. The 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron’s new commanding officer is Lt. Col. Thomas R. Moore. Lt. Col. Moore directs a 172 person squadron that is responsible for the operational electronic warfare capability of billions of dollars in resources installed on our combat air force aircraft. Today’s 36th leads the development, testing, and fielding of electronic warfare mission support software, thus impacting the success of operational combat missions. Lt. Col. Moore leads a wartime mission posture to rapidly reprogram the combat air force electronic warfare systems for changes to threat operations. He also manages millions of dollars in electronic warfare mission equipment.
The Air Force Master of Ceremony plus both the incoming and outgoing commanding officers made mention of me and my father and my 36BS unit history book titled Squadron of Deception. The Florida squadron has even engraved the WWII 36BS Gremlin insignia, and Squadron of Deception on their Challenge Coins. Neat huh ! Also, I am most honored and pleased that last year my book Squadron of Deception was used as part of the 36EWS Outstanding Awards Program. All this sure makes me very proud of my father and those of his special outfit.
Finally, to go along with The JIGS UP flight jacket I made for today’s squadron an Iredell Hutton notebook that pictured father, 36th Bomb Squadron crews, crash photos of The JIGS UP, father's mission records, photos with my mother and family plus news stories of father’s lifetime accomplishments during and after WWII.
So then my friends, know that when you go to bed tonight you can rest peacefully knowing that those U.S. Air Force Gremlin's of today’s 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron are really great people whose contributions and service that you can be most proud.
From my dear friend in England Janine Harrington we learn that her book RAF100 Group Kindred Spirits – Voices of RAF & USAAF on Secret Norfolk Airfields during WWII has now been published and available from Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd. and on Amazon. Autographed copies can be obtained directly from Janine by contacting her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a great book, over 500 pages and many photographs with heroic stories from the brave and noble airmen of the Royal Air Force and America’s Mighty 8th Air Force. The story I wrote for Kindreds on the 803rd and 36th Bomb Squadrons is found in Chapter Two. Click on the Book tab at the bottom of this page to find more details.
My wife Pam and I visited England in May and oh what a terrific time we had. To start with my English friend Chas Jellis arranged for me to get a local flight around my father's old WWII airbase at Cheddington. Boy, and what a thrill ! It was a most perfect day and I took lots of pictures. Seeing the country from above was so very beautiful, but undoubtedly very different from what my father experienced. The next thrill for us was with Chas’s Uncle Terry and his wife Christine who took Pam and me to see the Rothschild estate at Waddesdon. The mansion with its wine cellar, aviary and gardens, were simply the most beautiful and magnificent I have ever seen !
Next we attended the RAF100 Group Association annual reunion near Oulton where I was asked to be guest speaker. There we met our Welsh friends, the Brendan Maguire family and along with Chas and his girlfriend Heda visited the fantastic City of Norwich Aviation Museum where we saw the RAF100 Group and 36th Squadron exhibits plus many static display aircraft such as the British Vulcan. For another fun time we visited nearby Blickling Hall, the lovely home of Ann Boleyn.
Once at the RAF100 Group Association reunion yours truly was asked to join the board. How honored and proud it made me to have been elected to represent the 36th Squadron in such a fine organization.* Later on we all gathered at the Oulton memorial to acknowledge the contributions of the RAF100 Group in which my father’s squadron served. Poems were read in their memory as a gentle breeze blew and birds sang nearby. Finally, taps was played after a prayer then a few moments of silence. Before the crowd dispersed the audience looked to the sky to witness a flypast by a Navion, an American Air Force WWII era training aircraft. It certainly put on quite a show for everyone. We really loved it !
That evening was the grand event with an excellent dinner followed by my speech. Of course my speech with slide show centered on the 36th Squadron and its service in partnership with the RAF. My speech naturally included my father, his crew and the fate of the Lt. Boehm crew and the B24, The JIGS UP, the Liberator my father’s crew nicknamed. How thrilling it was to meet and talk to the veterans of the RAF100 Group, some of which aided in the sinking of the German battleship Tirpitz. From comments by the audience my speech and slide show on the 36th was well received.
Before returning home Chas’s girlfriend Heda took us on a tour of Bletchley Park where the British codebreakers broke the German Enigma code in WWII. That place was simply fantastic especially after seeing the movie The Imitation Game on our flight over. It’s a great movie. Check it out. Finally, just recently I received a copy of a letter from Air Vice Marshal Addison, who led RAF100 Group to a Mr. J.E.S. Cooper of the Air Ministry at Bletchley Park indicating the 36th Squadron in flying operations with the RAF had dealings with the codebreakers and were linked with them in sharing valuable information. See the letter posted here.
So yes, what fantastic time for us ! We’re sure looking forward to our next trip over !!
*As a new committee member to the RAF100 Group Association I would welcome and invite everyone interested in the air operations of the 803rd & 36th Bomb Squadron Radar Counter Measure units and the RAF100 Group to join the association and receive its quarterly news magazine Confound and Destroy. Just email me at email@example.com to receive a membership form and information.
Seventy years on, the Welsh people have done it again – honoring the Gremlins ! Airmen of the Lt. Harold Boehm crew and the 36th Squadron B24 Liberator nicknamed The JIGS UP have a new memorial in Wales. From all information received from my Welsh friend Brendan Maguire and Holyhead Town Counselor, Jeff Evans who rallied their countrymen and women, the entire occasion and ceremony of Dec. 20th was a terrific success. All this thanks due to a bit of help and inspiration by Bill Edsel, a fellow North Carolinian !!
Adding a most special touch in remembrance, at 5:30pm on the evening of Dec. 22, 2014, exactly 70 years after the tragedy, Brendan returned to the new memorial with his violin and played a tribute – the song Danny Boy in tribute to the service and sacrifice of the American airmen.
How it wonderful it is to see the airmen of the squadron – Gremlins of the 36th being honored with a new memorial. What a wonderful thing the Welsh have done again ! My deepest thanks go to them !
In May at the invitation of Janine Bradley, the Secretary for the RAF 100 Group Association my wife Pam and I journeyed to England to attend the RAF 100 Group reunion in Norwich. To begin our visit we booked a B&B near Cromer, a coastal town by the North Sea. My father and I had stayed in Cromer back in ’89 when we were traveling about from town to town with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra enjoying their big band gigs. You might say we were big band roadies!
To start off on Friday, May 9 Pam and I drove through the lovely seaside town past its 14th century parish church. Driving on looking out across the North Sea I could not help but remember it was there on Feb. 5, 1945 that all of Lt. John McKibben’s crew of ten was lost during a 36th Squadron mission.
Later that day we visited the City of Norwich Aviation Museum and were most happy to see our Welsh friends Brendan Maguire and his lovely wife Ann plus English friends Chas Jellis and girlfriend Heda Kootz. It was there for the first time we met Janine Bradley and her husband Tony. What a grand gathering of like minded enthusiasts it was! Inside the museum features RAF 100 Group exhibits that included the 803rd/36th Bomb Squadron display with some items I contributed some years ago. Outside the museum is a nice collection of aircraft on static display including a British Vulcan and Nimrod. What a thrill I had climbing into those cockpits!
Saturday morning I attended the group’s annual general meeting, saw the election of new officers and heard the latest association news and reports. It was announced during the meeting of an upcoming book entitled: RAF 100 Group - Kindred Spirits, Personal Experiences of RAF & USAAF on Secret Norfolk Airfields during WWII. The book brings together voices of those who served 100 Group during the war. The publishers are making the first 100 books “collectables”, including signatures of veterans from RAF 100 Group and the 8AF. Janine wrote the main portion concerning the RAF100 Group and I wrote the chapter on the 36th Gremlins. The book is scheduled for release on Veterans Day this year.
The main event Saturday afternoon saw our gathering of the group veterans, association members and friends to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the RAF 100 Group Oulton memorial. Speakers included Phil James, MBE, the new president of the group association, Roger Dobson, its new group chairman and 223 Squadron spokesman Richard Forder. Lying in front of the memorial stone were rows of crosses representing the airmen lost during the many RAF 100 Group operations
At that night’s dinner guest speaker John Lilley presented a most interesting story concerning the new construction of an RAF Mosquito fighter bomber while we enjoyed a delicious meal. What I enjoyed most, however, was meeting and hearing the stories from the veterans who served with 100 Group. Some of the stories were of missions supporting the attack on Germany’s mighty battleship Tirpitz.
On Sunday afternoon we went to Blickling Hall, a most beautiful English estate where my father, his brother Marion and Andrew Sturm in my father’s crew visited during the war. There we met Geoff Sykes, the curator for the National Trust whom I had been corresponding with. Geoff gave us a splendid tour detailing the history of Blickling Hall and its wartime military quarters. He showed us the expanded 803rd/36th display and accepted my gift of an 8AF cigarette case to be exhibited.
On Monday, after the reunion Pam and I traveled south toward my father’s old airbase at Cheddington to visit and stay with Chas and his mother Irene. Irene was such a fine and generous hostess and cooked us a delicious English breakfast each morning. Chas and Heda took me to the gunnery range at the old base where Chas picked up a spent WWII round. Of course I had to stop at the airfield memorial by main gate for a Kodak moment. Later on we also climbed the Ivinghoe Beacon for a splendid view of the area, took in the Pitstone museum where I climbed into a mock cockpit of a British Lancaster, and visited lovely Ashridge with its most beautiful Bluebell Woods.
How grand it was to spend time with Heda, Chas, his Mum, his uncle Tich and lovely wife Christine and friend Joe Marling. We all went out and feasted at a local pub and enjoyed the local brews.
Yes, it sure was great fun for me and Pam being with old friends again and also making new friends. Finally in the end, in doing and seeing these special things I think my father and the Gremlins would have been proud.
Thanks to the wonderful efforts of British friends Heda Kootz and Chas Jellis we learn that 36th Bomb Squadron memorials there in England honoring the Lt. Landberg crew in Ivinghoe and the Lt. McCarthy crew in Long Marston are now included within the United Kingdom Inventory of War Memorials. These Gremlin memorials were dedicated in 2009 and 2011. Thank you Heda and Chas !
Memorial Activities for the 36th Bomb Squadron Radar
Counter Measure Unit
(Click for larger image)
Memorial Activities for the 36th Bomb Squadron Radar Counter Measure Unit
My wife Pam and I returned from Ivinghoe, England last November where I was invited by my English friend Chas Jellis to speak at a memorial ceremony to honor the Gremlins as they were called airmen of the 36th Bomb Squadron Radar Counter Measure (RCM) Unit and airmen of the Lt. Norman Landberg crew in particular. Pilot Norman Landberg and his tailgunner George Eberwine were there to meet again and to dedicate a memorial at the place where their B24 Liberator, #42-51219, R4-I had crashed at Ford End Farm 65 years ago. It was there in a field on the night of November 15, 1944 that squadron navigator Lt. Walter Lamson and aerial gunner Pfc. Leonard Smith of the Landberg crew perished.
Chas and his girlfriend Heda Kootz produced a magnificent experience for Norman, George and all those in attendance. During this time Norman had his grandson Chris traveling with him and George had his daughter Rosemary. Chas and Heda had spent a year organizing the events that included much activity.
On Saturday, November 14th, the first day Chas, Heda, Norman, George, and a large group of we enthusiasts traveled by coach to Cheddington airfield - the Gremlins old airbase. The weather was cold with rain and drizzle a day not unlike when the squadron would fly. There we saw remaining taxiways and many of the wartime buildings still standing the guard house, the parachute packing building, the canteen, administration buildings, the Nissen huts, and others. With South End Hill in the background our group paused for a Kodak moment. The hill served as a prominent WWII guide for the B17's and B24's to land at the airfield. Then the rain came a pouring so it was back to our coach.
That evening Chas arranged for all to gather at Ivinghoe Meeting Hall for a 1940's dance and a traditional fish and chips dinner. We enjoyed seeing pretty girls in WAAF uniforms and guys in Army GI outfits all dancing, cutting a rug ! The packed hall also included displays of bits and pieces of 36th Bomb Squadron B24 aircraft and other British and American wartime artifacts for all to peruse. Following the meal were speeches by Chas, George, and myself and we all socialized in great fun and harmony.
Sunday, the day of the memorial ceremony turned breezy, sunny and bright. Before the ceremony started Norman and George arrived to a crowded memorial site in a beautifully restored 1939 Chrysler staff car. A wonderful applause from the large audience greeted them. It appeared that hundreds were there. The ceremony itself included honor guard riflemen, an active duty USAF color party, the Royal British Legion, WWII re-enactors dressed in original period uniforms who came from all over Britain to attend, along with a large assembly of military vehicles. With American Air Force commanders from Alconbury and Waddington and a RAF commander from RAF Halton among the crowd a USAF Chaplain from Molesworth and a local Vicar, Tracy Doyle blessed the memorial. Chas took the podium greeting everyone and then spoke the details of the nighttime B24 crash. Next came my speech concerning the 36th - the Squadron of Deception, the American-British cooperation in the countermeasure campaign, and the contributions of the squadron to the war effort. The 36th had flown half of its missions in night operations with the Royal Air Force. Finally time came for unveiling the memorial. Old Glory, the red, white, and blue 48 star American flag was removed to reveal the beautiful black stone and brick memorial. In the background, just behind the new memorial stood nine men wearing original flight gear - a B24 Ghost crew representing the entire Lt. Landberg crew. The flag was folded by two uniformed sentries, then given to the Parade Commander who then presented the flag to Norman. Taps was played followed by numerous wreaths laid at the base of the memorial. It was so wonderful ! Capping off the special event Chas read a letter from Britain's Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales who congratulated Chas for organizing the memorial ceremony and gave his best wishes to Chas, Norman and George, and everyone there. Wow !!
After the ceremony it was my pleasure to see my Welsh friends Brendan and Ann Maguire along with their daughter Hayley and her new husband Jason. Some years ago Brendan retrieved a piece of the propeller blade from the 36th Bomb Squadron B24, The JIGS UP that crashed on the edge of Holyhead Mountain and the Irish Sea in December 1944 with the loss of eight men from Lt. Boehm's crew. Brendan was instrumental in establishing a memorial there at Breakwater Park to honor that crew. Another treat was meeting Eric Dickens, whose father T.C. Dickens was the Station Commander of RAF Oulton when the 803rd Bomb Squadron (Provisional) formed in March 1944. The 803rd was soon to evolve into the 36th Bomb Squadron Radar Counter Measure Unit. I had corresponded with Eric, a wonderful fellow via email. We both are members of the RAF 100 Group Association.
On Monday Chas, Norman, George, and our gang of supporters visited the American War Memorial at Madingley to view the graves of Lt. Lamson and Pfc. Smith to pay our respects. The two are buried along side one another. Norman and George placed flowers in honor and remembrance of their crewmates. After Madingley, it was then on to Duxford England's premier RAF museum and the American Air Museum. There we saw a B24 on static display a Liberator like that of the 36th Bomb Squadron.
Lastly, the day before we returned home Chas and his father Reg took Norman, his grandson Chris, along with Pam and I to see the crash site where Norman's Liberator went down. How so profoundly moving ! We found it most amazing that we were still able to pick up wreckage bits and pieces from that crash of so very long ago. I believe the camaraderie we shared during this time with our veterans, their family, and our British friends shall forever remain in our hearts. (See media coverage in Links.)
(See Pictures Below)
I have recently heard from my good English friend Chas Jellis about an upcoming special ceremony there in Great Britain to honor airmen of the 36th Bomb Squadron. The event is scheduled for noon on Sunday, November 15th, 2009 near Station 113 Cheddington the Gremlins old World War II airbase. The ceremony is to dedicate a memorial to honor and remember the 36th Bomb Squadron and pilot Lt. Norman Landberg's two crewmen, navigator Lt. Walter Lamson and gunner, Pfc. Leonard Smith who perished in a take-off crash 65 years ago. Program arrangements are now in the process of being made. If anyone reading this would enjoy traveling to Great Britain during this time to attend, please let me know so I can send program details as they develop. Contact me via my email address seen at the bottom of this page.
I visited the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida to attend the change-of-command ceremony for the new commanding officer. There I was given a tour of the facility with its new Heritage and Grotto Room. To honor the World Was II veterans the squadron hallways were adorned with enlarged framed photographs of the Gremlins with their B24 Liberators. As a gift for my visit the outgoing squadron commander presented me with their challenge coin, #219 which just happens to be the side number of the 36BS B24, R4-I that crashed at Cheddington on 11/15/44. It's an impressive coin that features the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron insignia on one side and the Air Force eagle on the other with the words "You'll Never See Us Coming" and "We Strengthen the Shield."
S/Sgt. Stanley Walsh - The Man Who Made the Gremlin display was created and presented to the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida.
Stanley Walsh - The Man Who Made the Gremlin
36th Bomb Squadron RCM Bits and Pieces display formerly on display at the 8th Air Force Heritage Museum, Savannah, Georgia was relocated to the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida at the request of the commanding officer, Lt. Col. John T. Hap Arnold.
36EWS Major Andy Proud and myself with display at Eglin AFB
Verification was received from the U.S. Air Force Historical Research Agency that 36th Bomb Squadron Radar Countermeasure Unit veterans are entitled to wear the blue and gold Distinguished Unit Citation ribbon.
36th Bomb Squadron Reunion - Dayton, Ohio - June 6-8
Our 36th Bomb Squadron reunion began at 2:00pm on Thursday June the 6th when everyone met at the Hope Hotel and Conference Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. I introduced our special guests, Arbutus Topliff, Virginia Chatfield, and Alberta Tagtmeyer, who are the sisters of Charles Dautel of Lt. Boehm's crew, William M. Dub Vandegriff of the 95th Bomb Group Association, and Deacon Joseph Melita, the radio operator from Lt. Sandberg's crew. Deacon Melita officiated and led us in all our blessings and prayers of Thanksgiving during our celebration. From overseas our friends Chas and Debbie Jellis from England joined us again for another reunion. They traveled to Dayton with friends Norman Landberg, a 36th Bomb Squadron pilot and his wife Elizabeth. Those who attended the 2000 Savannah reunion remember the connection between Norman and Chas. Chas again brought some mementos from England, bits and pieces of 36th Bomb Squadron aircraft that had crashed in his neighborhood.
On the display tables were 36th Bomb Squadron Radar Countermeasure (RCM) unit memorabilia and albums showing photographs that I collected during my research, plus items brought by the veterans who are known as the Gremlins.
To start off I briefed everyone on the schedule of upcoming reunion events. Following my brief we viewed a 10 minute video titled The Mighty 8th Air Force Story, provided by the Commanding Officer 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. That seemed to stir the gray matter for the vets and offered all of us a good glimpse of what the 8th Air Force was all about.
After the video it was Hanger Flying time, allowing our veterans the opportunity to take the podium to speak about their days in the Gremlin radar countermeasure squadron. This was an informal thing and the audience enjoyed some personal stories offered by 36BS pilots Art Brusila, Paul Pond, and navigator Des Howarth.
At 6:00pm we ate and then following our
dinner I spoke about the 803rd Bomb Squadron, the fledgling electronic
warfare unit that was to become the 36th, and their first mission on the
morning before D-Day. Our featured guest speaker that evening was William
M. Dub Vandegriff, President of the 95th Bomb Group Association
who spoke on the role of his outfit during WWII and their association
with the 803rd. We heard that not only is the 95th known for sending men
to start the 803rd, but it was the 95th that put the 8th Air Force's
first B17's over Berlin in March of 1944. Joining Dub from the 95th
was Col. Bill Owen who was the pilot of the first B17 to bomb Berlin.
Seeing the USAF Museum is such a wonderful thrill. It is the largest aviation museum in the world with 10 acres of exhibits featuring over 300 aircraft and missiles, and includes thousands of personal artifacts, documents, photos, and mementos.
Now the highlight of our reunion celebration was to unveil a memorial plaque to honor the men of the 36th Bomb Squadron. This took place at the U.S. Air Force Memorial Park. Everyone arrived at 11:30am to commence the ceremony. Again, WKEF-TV was there to capture the story. Diane Zukoski, the Special Events Coordinator for the USAF Museum opened the ceremony by welcoming everyone and introducing me as the MC. I first introduced our special guests and then our Air Force honor guard was posted. Next Deacon Joe Melita came forward and offered a prayer remembering the men the squadron had lost during World War II. After that I asked 803BS aerial gunner Jack Kings and 36BS navigator Chris Chrisner to come forward to unveil the 36th Bomb Squadron memorial plaque. They lowered the drape and it revealed a beautiful bronze and gold plaque. After the unveiling taps was played by Keith Brown. Next pilot Art Brusila representing the 36th Bomb Squadron gave a Certificate of Presentation to Maj. Gen. Ray Moorman who represented the USAF Museum. Following the presentation I told the audience to expect an Air Force B52 Stratofortress flyover to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the Gremlins. Initially my plans had called for a B52 Stratofortress and a B1 Lancer to fly over at high noon, however, I was notified just before the ceremony that the Pentagon was canceling the B1's participation. This I told to our gathering.
The weather that morning had started out
clear, but by the time our service started an overcast to broken ceiling
of clouds had formed. Right on time and just as scheduled at twelve o'clock,
upon hearing a tremendous noise from above the clouds, the audience looked
up and saw a big black B52 punch a hole through the ceiling and come roaring
over. Everyone stared in awe. Then after only a dozen seconds or so we
saw the Stratofortress drop its tail, begin climbing and finally disappear
into the clouds. Wow! What a thrill! Some sixty seconds later another
roar was heard. I figured it must be the B52 coming back around for another
pass, like what we had seen in Savannah at our 2000 reunion. However,
to our shock and amazement a black B1 Lancer with its sleek and elegant
profile came streaking past. Everyone was so astounded, especially me.
This was not supposed to happen because as far as I knew the Pentagon
had restricted our ceremony to only one aircraft. I later learned that
the B1 Lancer squadron had still scheduled their aircraft to operate in
the traffic pattern at Wright-Patterson AFB and that air traffic control
conveniently put the aircraft over Memorial Park at 12:01pm in order to
accommodate us. It was so stunning! I believe that we all felt tremendous
pleasure and satisfaction in knowing that today's Air Force was
paying special recognition to the Gremlins in such a grand way
by providing a double flyover.
That evening at 6:00pm we again gathered for our dinner and festivities. The folks at Hope Hotel placed a wide screen TV in our banquet room where we all were thrilled to witness WKEF's coverage of our reunion. It was fantastic. Deacon Melita then offered our blessing to the Almighty and we ate. Following the meal I gave my speech on the history and the accomplishments of the 36th. Capping off the evening Lt. Col. Luke Shingledecker, the new incoming Commanding Officer of the present day 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron spoke to the audience about the mission of the squadron today. How satisfying it was for us to hear that the lifesaving efforts of the 36th continues into the 21st century in hi-tech fashion.
On Saturday, June 8th the last day of our celebration we gathered at 10:00am at Memorial Park, the site of the newly dedicated 36th Bomb Squadron memorial for a final prayer and farewell. I addressed the audience and thanked everyone for coming. Deacon Melita then came forward and offered a prayer of Thanksgiving and remembrance. Next for the audience I read from Squadron of Deception, S/Sgt. Arthur Clemens favorite poem titled Be Strong. The poem is just as powerful and fitting today as it was back then.
Ending our service Deacon Melita came forward again and read the 23rd Psalms. He then asked the Almighty to give us safe journey as we parted ways. But as we were beginning to leave squadron mechanic Kent MacGillivray stepped up and showed me something that he had had during the war. It was a poem titled The Mechanics 23rd Psalm. I immediately spoke up and stopped everyone from leaving and read the poem. It was just great!
So, in summary I think I can safely say that we all truly had a wonderful experience in Dayton, enjoying the tremendous museum, our memorial ceremony, good fellowship, delicious food, fun, and remembrance.
The Air Classics magazine (Volume 37, No.7) issue features part one of an article about World War II's Squadron of Deception. Part two coming in July.
36th Bomb Squadron airmen and their families gathered in Savannah, Georgia at the Mighty 8th Air Force Heritage Museum for their 2000 reunion. This wonderful gathering was a resounding success. The entire experience exceeded my wildest expectations and dreams. Here is a rundown on what happened.
First, on Wednesday afternoon, October 11th seventy-some attendees flowed into the High Wycombe Room of the Mighty 8th Air Force Heritage Museum to register for the event and to join in fellowship and remembrance. On display for guests to see were many squadron photographs, research material, and memorabilia. I had my book Squadron of Deception on hand for sale (at a discount) plus I signed many others the folks brought from home. Before our evening dinner I spoke to everyone telling them of the next day's events and ceremonies. We then enjoyed our meal with delightful conversation and fellowship.
Thursday morning there was an unveiling of a display I created featuring bits and pieces from five of the six B24 Liberators that the 36th Squadron lost. The unveiling of this beautiful mahogany framed, double matted display was performed by Arbutus Topliff and Louis McCarthy. Arbutus's brother was Charles Dautel who was with Lt. Boehm's crew which was lost to the Irish Sea in December 1944. Louis was a pilot who lost three men of his crew in a take-off crash in February 1945. For me, the ceremony was very moving. Wade Scrogham, Director of Collections and Exhibits accepted this display on behalf of the museum. On hand were two Savannah TV stations cover this event and interview squadron members and guests.
Following the presentation everyone viewed a World War II home movie made at Alconbury, England airfield in 1945 by 36BS pilot Lt. Royce Kittle. The film was just beautiful. I know it brought laughs and tears to the eyes of many. After the movie we all moved outside under beautiful crystal clear blue skies to witness a U.S. Air Force B1 bomber in a flyover to honor the Gremlins - the men of the 36th Squadron. The B1 bomber flyover passed first from South to North and then from East to West. This sight gave us all a great rush and thrill. At that moment I believe we all knew and realized that the work of the this secret WWII outfit was appreciated and recognized by our present day Air Force. After the flyover all the Gremlins gathered in front of the museum flagpole for a group photograph.
On Thursday evening we all gathered in the museum's art gallery for dinner and to listen to our speakers. I began with my speech on the life of the 36th and detailed some of its missions and accomplishments. I was followed by Chas Jellis, a British crash researcher who spoke of his finding bits and pieces of two squadron aircraft in his backyard near Cheddington, England. Because of this research, Chas and Norman Landberg, a pilot of one of these aircraft and also in attendance, have become friends. Chas presented Norman with a special gift in friendship. He then offered 36BS B24 bits and pieces mementos to anyone wanting them.
Topping off the night's festivities was a speech by Major Wayne Canipe, the Assistant Operations Officer of today's 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron. Major Canipe spoke on the current activities of the squadron which involves operational testing and reprogramming of all electronic warfare systems in America's combat Air Forces. His speech was very interesting. Major Canipe then gave both Dad and I a beautiful oak framed display featuring the insignias of the 36th Bomb Squadron of 1945 and the 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron of today. This priceless gift shall always hold a special place in our hearts. He also gave out 36EWS patches to all wanting one.
Time seemed to pass too soon and our festivities
came to a close. Long good-bye hugs, handshakes, and goodwill filled the
room from end to end. I believe I can say we all experienced a most memorable
and wonderful time.
My wife Pam and I traveled to France and Great Britain. There I found bits and pieces from crash sites of 36th Bomb Squadron B24 Liberators to be displayed in an exhibit to honor airmen of the secret squadron.
August 23, 1999
The first 803rd and 36th Bomb Squadron reunion celebration was held in North Carolina in June of 1995. Special guest speakers included Deacon Joseph Melita offering an opening prayer followed by George Hood, President of the Eastern Wing of the North Carolina 8th Air Force Historical Society extending a welcome to the guests. As host, I delivered a speech on 803rd and 36th squadron missions and accomplishments. More guest speakers included, Dr. Daniel Kuehl who spoke on the employment of electronic warfare in the decade after WWII. Next, Col. Damaso Garcia, the past commanding officer of the 36th Engineering and Test Squadron at Eglin AFB, FL. spoke on his Persian Gulf War experiences in electronic counter measures and finally Lt. Col. Grant Herring, the new commanding officer of the 36th Engineering and Test Squadron spoke on today’s electronic warfare program and its outlook for the future. A barbeque dinner delighted the crowd with live big band music adding to the joyous mood and group fellowship. Some thirty veterans joined in the festivities along with many family members and friends. A most grand and memorable time was enjoyed by all !
I attended a wonderful memorial ceremony at North Stack, Wales with my father, Iredell Hutton, mother Caroline, and my wife Pam. My father unveiled a fitting memorial to honor airmen of Lt. Harold Boehm’s crew lost in Dec. 1944 during the crash of the 36th Bomb Squadron B24 Liberator nicknamed The JIGS UP. Diver Brendan Maguire along with John McGuigan and Graham Wright retrieved a propeller blade from the aircraft from 40 feet below the Irish Sea to be used on the memorial. Brendan rallied the Welsh people to create the memorial near the crash site.
Pam and I visited North Wales to find crash site of my father’s B24 Liberator nicknamed The JIGS UP. My father flew many of his 54 missions in The JIGS UP as the tail gunner in the Lt. Mac McCrory crew.
For more information,
questions, or to send photos email Stephen M. Hutton at firstname.lastname@example.org